Bloated but brilliant in the end.... Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (12A), (142 mins)

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 3:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th December 2019, 3:46 pm
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The film’s final flourish is thrillingly, brilliantly done, but that final flourish seems an awfully long time coming in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Right from the start, the whole Star Wars franchise has set out to be epic in every sense. Unfortunately at times – the first half of this film, for instance – it’s also epic in the sense of bloated and rather convoluted.

Arguably, the climax when it comes is all the greater for the patience the whole film has demanded, but there’s no doubting that greater sharpness in the first hour or so would have benefitted the whole thing enormously.

Otherwise, all the great Star Wars staples are there; we’ve got reappearances from characters who apparently died ages ago; we’ve got people who words speak in order funny; and we’ve got goodies who will never, ever get hit, no matter how many baddies are pursuing them. And then there is the cross-breeding between the two, goodies who shockingly discover they descended from baddies and baddies who turn out not to be quite so bad after all. You can also throw in some pretty odd little critters.

This time, we’ve also got the strange, strange case of Carrie Fisher who manages to take a fairly major role three years after her death. Presumably the film-makers consider this to be some kind of tribute. It’s not. It’s just sad. And frankly weird.

And that’s the kind of thought that’s fairly irresistible as you wait for the whole thing to spark to life. But when it does, the whole thing positively ignites. You’ll be shaken and stirred as all the threads come together, as all the grey areas between good and bad finally converge.

Holding the whole thing together are two remarkable performances, from Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver.

Ridley is the leader of the young guns who are leading the resistance against a may-or-may-not-be-dead evil emperor; and she has huge screen presence, giving a superb performance which adds poignancy to all her action-heroine qualities. Possibly more interesting, lurking in that good-bad middle ground, is Driver’s Kylo Ren. Again, a fine performance. It is Ridley and Driver who give the film its depth and help navigate us through the stodgy bits before all hell gets let loose.