“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Uninitiated here again. “Star Wars” uninitiated, that is. Which is just to say, I’m not a fanboy. I’m not a master of that universe. It’s just not my thing.

Disclaimer over. Now for the recap. Remember: The rebels are on the run. It looked like they were toast, but that hologram-force-ghost Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) slowed down Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) just enough to preserve a sliver of hope.

As “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opens, the rebels have regrouped a bit, the Millenium Falcon gang—Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyegga), and Chewy (Joonas Suotamo)—are out looking for ways to defeat the Empire, and everyone’s hero, Rey (Daisy Ridley), is busy training for an inevitable showdown with, among others, Kylo Ren.

Speaking of Kylo Ren, it’s not just him anymore. He’s in league with a reborn/cloned Frankstein-y Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Somehow Palpatine has this whole massive fleet of Star Destroyers ready to rock on behalf of what he calls the “Final Order” (I guess like “The Final Solution”?). And he wants Kylo Ren to be part of it. All he has to do is kill that pesky Jedi, Rey.

So Kylo Ren heads out. But, as usual, he has a slightly different agenda. He intends to convert Rey to the Dark Side. And he intends to do that by revealing an interesting little nugget about her past—about her origins.

But will it sway her? Or will Kylo Ren back down? Or be defeated? Will the rest of the rebels find a way to fend off the onslaught? And what of Palpatine?

You could probably guess the answers to most of these questions. After all, this Disney-run franchise isn’t going to stray too far from their winning formula. Especially when the “Star Wars” bag of tricks—what’s needed to round all of the plot’s squares—evinces an ever-increasing vastness. Holograms, force ghosts, healing powers, psycho-telecommunication—there’s no stopping these characters (or, really, these writers) from ending up where they want to be.   

Which I guess takes some of the drama out of it. Your favorite character could be blown up, chopped up into little bits, thrown into a bottomless pit, lasered, tasered, light-sabered … but if J. J. Abrams’ formula doesn’t want them dead, they ain’t dead.

Still, I’ve got to admit, I had a good time. That’s coming from someone who is neither “Star Wars” initiated nor much amused by crazy action for its own sake. Especially enjoyable are the Rey-Ren scenes. They’ve got such chemistry. Their exploits in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” are … well, they’re just kind of cool, I guess.

Which is about as close as I’ll get to geeking-out about “Star Wars.” I’m not much into the Millenium Falcon contingent. It’s too cheesy, too cornball, too formulaic, too obvious, and too full of overly sentimental homages to count as anything but filler as we catch our breath between the Rey-Ren scenes.

But, hey, those Rey-Ren scenes, I was into them. Really into them, I guess. And, for this movie, and this franchise, and this director and this studio—that’s good enough for me.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action.

Matt Duncan, a former Coastal View News editor, has taken physical but not emotional leave from Carpinteria to be a philosophy professor at Rhode Island College. In his free time from philosophizing, Duncan enjoys chasing his kids around, watching movies and updating his movie review blog, duncansreeldeal.blogspot.com.

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