Star Wars Episode IX: Is it really over?

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“The Rise of Skywalker” is the final episode in the latest Star Wars trilogy, and perhaps the Star Wars finale. But although the 40-odd year sci-fi marathon will likely continue, could franchise fatigue set in?

The film is a lengthy two hours and 20 minutes, but once The Rise of Skywalker is over it will be curtains for a decades-long sci-fi saga. Star War fans will likely make the most of it.

The third part of the last Star Wars trilogy is packed with action, speed, wit, surprising twists — and answers.

After its world premiere in Los Angeles on Monday, the first reactions on social media were mostly enthusiastic.

Questions answered?

J.J. Abrams is back as the director on the final episode. After his brilliant Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015), Abrams had left the director’s chair to Rian Johnson, who had given an almost mystical and melancholic twist to The Last Jedi.

Released in 2017, Johnson’s film left a lot of questions unanswered: Who are Rey and Kylo Ren? Whose child is Rey? Is she a Jedi or does she just believe that? And who is really behind the evil First Order?

Abrams took up the challenge of creating a coherent and satisfying conclusion to the storylines developed by Johnson, and he successfully pursues the portrayal of the characters that had obtained more depth through Johnson’s direction.

The way Rey (Daisy Ridley, who is way more expressive than in the last part), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) interact shows that they have become good friends. The Wookie Chewbacca is still at their side.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), facing the dark side of the Force, is still Rey’s adversary. Yet he is also spiritually connected to her by an invisible bond — which leads to several exciting twists and turns in the new film.

Full circle

Princess Leia — or to be precise: General Leia Organa — was initially supposed to play a central role in this film, along with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), as was the case in the two previous films. However, actress Carrie Fisher died after shooting The Last Jedi in 2016.

Disney and Abrams wanted her to appear in the finale, but without recreating her image through CGI. They successfully recycled unused footage from the previous films and built it into the last episode instead. Even if Fisher can only be seen for a few minutes, she undoubtedly embodies the resistance to the sinister First Order, which is violently trying to take control of the galaxy.

Despite his loving approach with the characters, Abrams gives some of them exaggerated traits. The director not only wanted to tie up all loose ends — and he doesn’t forget a single one of them — he apparently also wanted to add new unexpected features that are sometimes overdone.

However, this should not spoil the fans’ joy of once again plunging into the universe of their beloved saga. And not giving anything away, those who feared that the Star Wars finale would evoke the kind of disappointment felt by fans at the conclusion of the Game of Thrones series should rest easy.

It never ends

After 42 years, is it really the end of Star Wars? It’s hard to believe. The story might have reached a conclusion for now, but for fans who grew up with the saga it will be hard to let go.

When Episode IX was announced, Disney did not discount another Star Wars film, only saying that there will be a significant break before another release, especially after the failure of the 2018 spin-off, Solo: A Star Wars Story. But another sequel added between the release of the main films in the trilogy, Rogue One (2016), was a highly successful addition to the core saga.

Other standalone films on Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Yoda are in development but have been put on hold for now. The new Disney+ streaming service also offers a new TV series, The Mandalorian, also set in the Star Wars universe. It’s not all over yet.

DW

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