A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one!
Filled with references spanning back to Phantom Menace and beyond, along with a tremendous amount of newfound, diverse inclusion within the universe, director JJ Abrams restored balance to the force with Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
It’s a film that brings both new, on and off screen adaptations to Star Wars while properly executing those that have been previously utilized throughout the galaxy.
Daisy Ridley brings passion and raw emotion to Rey in a depth that wasn’t seen in neither episodes VII nor VIII while Adam Driver does similar with the ongoing conflict that makes up Kylo Ren’s persona.
Meanwhile, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac continue to delight with humorous exchanges between their characters of both Finn and Poe Dameron in ways that were not seen in Star Wars movies prior to Abrams’ directing.
The more mechanical cast of droids like C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8 also help to show a much more comedic, human side of George Lucas’ creation; that’s in addition to everyone’s favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca.
Billy Dee Williams’ reprise of Han’s old buddy, Lando Calrissian brings some touching moments in the two hour and twenty one minute epic as well.
Another old figure in Star Wars, Ian McDiarmid plays the return of Emperor Sheev Palpatine with malice, fright, and all that makes an evil, fan favorite Sith Lord.
Unlike many of its prior films, Episode IX wastes no time getting into its main plot from the opening crawl.
That crawl is most like the opening to Revenge of The Sith and given the premise of both films, it’s a rather fitting comparison.
The Rise of Skywalker is also packed with call backs to all the prior generations of Star Wars.
They’re the kind that make you want to pat the leg of the person sitting next to you in excitement; particularly during one scene, which will remain anonymous in this article—but you’ll know it when you watch.
Planetary diversity is something Abrams also focuses is on, expanding greatly from the typical Star Wars trend of having only a desert, forest, and sometimes snow planet appear on screen.
Also, more Nazi-esque parallels are drawn to the First/Final Order from new Stormtrooper uniforms, to on screen set pieces ,and even with TIE fighter sound effects which ring out like German Stuka dive bombers used in World War II.
The difficulty of firing blasters accurately is subtly addressed in Episode IX too, which in turn got many previous battalions of stormtroopers off the proverbial hook.
This movie also develops the interpersonal relationships among The Resistance much more so than before—it’s the first time that the dynamic of Rey, Finn, Poe and company comes off as radiant to audiences.
They no longer feel like the new kids on the block.
As usual, John Williams (who makes a cameo appearance) shines through his musical score, particularly in the film’s opening minutes.
Episode IX also stuns with its use of detailed CGI for many different cinematic purposes as well…never underestimate a droid.
Currently, it seems that critics and fans differ greatly on how the film turned out; other reviewers seem to be less than blown away while fans left theaters in thunderous applause for a job well done.
This reporter agrees with those fans.
The Rise of Skywalker is not only a must see, but also the best of the new trilogy for many reasons.
So, to those naysayers, I ask you to search your feelings—you know it to be true.
This story first appeared on amny.com.