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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ***

It’s an uneven, action-packed and satisfying conclusion to the “Star Wars” saga.
 
Is it worth $10? Yes

After 42 years, nine movies, and the creation of a fan following the likes of which the world has never seen, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” brings the “Star Wars” saga to an uneven but satisfying end.

The pace is quick over the 141 minutes, and the action is frequent. This is a spoiler-free review, so here are the basics: Resistance fighters Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Leia (the late Carrie Fisher, in a combination of old footage and visual effects) try to stop Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order from taking over the galaxy. In the trailers we’ve heard the voices of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), and caught a quick glimpse of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams, who’s so happy to be there he’s practically grinning in each scene).

Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), Billie Lourd (Lt. Connix), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca) return in supporting roles. New to the cast are Keri Russell as an old acquaintance of Poe, Dominic Monaghan as a Resistance officer, and Richard E. Grant as a First Order general.

The visual effects are stellar (they better be), and the action is often exhilarating, particularly in the finale. Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams (who also directed the first film of the sequel trilogy, “The Force Awakens” (2015)) said he wanted to answer as many questions as he could as he brought the saga to a close, and for the most part he has done so with invigorating gumption and (lens) flair. You will learn: The truth about Rey’s parents, the reason she has such strong “force” powers, and why she and Kylo are in one another’s heads even though they’re on opposite sides of the fight.

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A warning: You may think you know how it’s going to play out, and you’d most likely be wrong. This is a credit to co-writers Abrams and Chris Terrio, who no doubt had to scramble to work their way out of the mess the last film, “The Last Jedi,” created. One imagines them in the writers’ room, bellowing “why the hell did they [fill in the blank with a brain dead decision]?” countless times, then pulling their hair out to find something that works narratively and wouldn’t insult the intelligence of passionate fans. It couldn’t have been easy.

Yet here they are having succeeded, not wonderfully, but competently. There are numerous gaps of logic and plot holes in “The Rise of Skywalker,” but as a whole it stands as a fulfilling conclusion to the most famous saga the film industry has ever seen.  

Did you know?
Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) is the only actor to appear in all nine “Star Wars” films.

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