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Arts & Culture
KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to, and which are a pass.The Friday Film Review airs after the Noon News at 12:30PM and during The Local View.KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are:Barb BretzRick BroughMark HarringtonLinda JagerLibby Wadman

Friday Film Review--"Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker"

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“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is out in theaters.    And Rick Brough tries to make sense of it for the Friday Film Review.

Let’s face it, the people behind “The Rise of Skywalker” have some nearly impossible challenges.

How do you wrap up a story after nine movies?  Or—find the balance in a universe that gave us both Yoda and Jar Jar Binks?   Or-- bid a respectful farewell to a beloved character, when the actress playing her died three years ago?   

Worst of all, how do you repair the plotholes left by “The Last Jedi” and its creator, Rian Johnson?

If you’re director J. J. Abrams,  you and three other writers patch up the story as best you can.    So the Jedi heroine Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) was told in the last film there’s nothing special about where she came from.    Wait, strike that, now it turns out there’s a very important secret about her background.

And the evil mastermind, Supreme Leader Snoke, was bumped off in “Last Jedi.”    But hold on, it turns out the real power behind him is—the legendary Emperor Palpatine, who’s still alive somehow, hiding out on an ice planet and preparing to launch a massive military force called The Final Order.

At the direction of General Leia, Rey sets off  to find him, accompanied by her friends, fighter pilot Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) former Storm Trooper Finn (John Boyega) Chewbacca (now played by Joonas Suotami) and C-3PO (played by old stand-by Anthony Daniels.)

Where the previous movies separated the heroes, here they’re together much of the time.    They sort of look like a Scooby Gang, and Abrams’ strategy is to keep them constantly moving, through chases, shoot-outs, aerial battles,  jumping from forest backdrops to deserts to stormy ferocious seas—only slowing down long enough to throw out snappy dialogue.

Meanwhile, we’re also following the psychic bond (and hate-love relationship) between Rey and Kylo Ren (who, before he turned to the Dark Side, was Ben Solo.)     Ridley and Adam Driver are effective playing these tough, conflicted characters, but it seems like they’re going over territory we’ve seen in the previous two films.

The movie is over two hours and 15 minutes, and even so, the film makers are still working hard to cram in old characters, new characters and glimpses of beloved icons.

Among the new performers, Richard E. Grant is a sneering military villain; Keri Russell is an old girlfriend of Poe’s (hidden in a Power Rangers outfit); Naomi Ackie plays a new girlfriend for Finn (and leads a cavalry charge at the climax.) and a new cute droid named Deo appears.

Billy Dee Williams, returning as Lando Calrissian, isn’t seem much, but his sturdy presence gives you a good feeling.    On the other hand, you’ve got to feel sorry for Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico.     Her feisty character in “Last Jedi” was wasted on a go-nowhere subplot.    Now she’s a side character stuck in a gaggle of Resistance officers and fighters.

Carrie Fisher gets her final sentimental send-off as Princess Leia, (thanks to CGI effects) after the previous two films focused on, respectively, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.

But you could argue it’s another performer who captures the spotlight.     Ian McDiarmid, as the pustulent, croaking ogre, Emperor Palpatine, has now spanned all three trilogies, over a period of nearly 40 years, a record exceeded only by Anthony Daniels.

Measured by what the film achieves, I would give “The Rise of Skywalker” three stars out of five.    Measured by what they hoped to achieve, I might say three and a half.    After all, isn’t “Star Wars” about Hope?   For the Friday Film Review, I’m Rick Brough.