The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.
As visually impressive as the film is (and it is), it’s the quiet moments that resonate. Leia’s final scene is the grace note the character deserves, while the revelation of Rey’s lineage is a shocker that lands with the proper amount of emotional gravitas. More than anything, nostalgia is the driving force of the film as Abrams does his best to tie in characters and moments in this episode to Lucas’ original trilogy, echoes of seminal events from those adventures still reverberating some 50 years along the timeline. Each of the characters, new and old, gets a turn in the spotlight, while the film’s final scene proves to be a beautiful and wholly earned moment that will satisfy the faithful. “Rise” wows you, but more importantly it moves you.
In the end, Abrams brings it all together by driving home the franchise’s main theme with uncommon emotional force. Redemption has been the saga’s narrative through-line and “Rise’s” moment of atonement is one of the strongest scenes in the nine-film story. It’s been a longtime coming, but it proves worth the wait
This is a special effects film that far exceeds expectations in that category. If only it could have been equivalent in the story telling category as well! This lackluster continuation of a saga that has been a part of generations pulls at our nostalgic heartstrings, but even this isn’t enough to keep us focused on the shell of a story and its “new” characters. When you connect more with Chewbacca and the emotional trauma he or any of the droids go through than with the humans, it’s not a good sign. While Daisy Ridley portrays Rey, a strong woman attempting to be the next Jedi, her co-horts comprised of Poe (Oscar Isaac) who is completely miscast, and Finn (John Boyega) who finds one note throughout the film and plays it, unfortunately she can’t carry the film. General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) have some of the best scenes, but there aren’t enough of them. With a couple nostalgic twists and turns, this newest and very long final (?) installment will be as memorable as “The Phantom Menace.”