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Thursday, February 20, 2020
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURESDaisy Ridley (Rey), “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURESDaisy Ridley (Rey), “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker.”

Movie Review: All ‘Rise’ for ‘Star Wars IX’

Friday, January 10, 2020 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Star Wars” fans should be pleased.

The regular movie-goer should enjoy “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise Of Skywalker.”

I’m a “Star Wars” fan, but not a “Star Wars” devotee or expert. Michael “Movie Maven” Gontkosky, who accompanied me to the “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise Of Skywalker” screening, is a “Star Wars” aficionado, owning a copy of all eight “Star Wars” movies, and he will presumably own the latest, ninth edition, of “Star Wars” when it’s available for purchase. He also sees each “Star Wars” movie more than once in movie theaters and plans to do so with “Star Wars IX: The Rise Of Skywalker.”

I don’t usually see “Star Wars” movies more than once. I am, though, fascinated with the concept, lore and the development and making of the “Star Wars” franchise and all-things “Star Wars” (No, I don’t have miniature “Star Wars” figurines, bobbleheads or spacecraft, but I have been mightily tempted.) Other than “Jaws” (1975), no other movie than the original “Star Wars” (1977) has had an impact on the contemporary “business” of the movie business.

Having seen “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise Of Skywalker,” I’m not sure why the movie is subtitled “The Rise Of Skywalker.” I have my theories, but to disclose those here would be tantamount to a spoiler. I’m sure the reason is not only to give the movie one of the 2019 holiday season’s longest movie titles.

“Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise Of Skywalker” has a really good plot twist, a story development that I didn’t see coming. Again, I won’t play spoiler by revealing it here. What I can say is that the plot turn sets up a series of events and scenes that raise the movie to an emotional pitch that should satisfy the movie-goer, devoted “Star Wars” fan or not.

Crucial to the success of “Episode IX” are scenes with Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley as Rey.

Driver plays the role with a stoic sense mixed with a sense of sadness that works extremely well in advancing the film’s plot.

Ridley is really the star of the movie and is an intriguing, commanding and always thinking presence in her scenes.

Ridley and Driver are terrific in their separate scenes and tremendous in scenes in which they appear together, including some tension-filled light-saber battle scenes. Their rapport with each other, despite their being enemies, raises the movie to its emotional apotheosis.

Fine in supporting roles are John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron).

Others who are memorable include Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Richard E. Grant (General Pryde), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian).

The film includes the second posthumous film performance by Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa) through use of unused footage from “The Force Awakens” (2015).

Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) appears in a cameo.

The special effects are spectacular in “Episode IX.” There’s plenty of spacecraft battle scenes, fantastic views of worlds beyond our own and dollops of humorous dialogue to please fan and nonfan alike.

True to form, “Episode IX” stays away from the Marvel Universe “Guardians of The Galaxy” salacious and insult humor. It also doesn’t use pop music ironically or otherwise on the soundtrack. Why would you when you have the great Oscar-winning John Williams scoring the movie?

The film was seen in the 3D Imax format, which I am not sure is necessary to enjoy it.

“Episode IX” director J. J. Abrams (director, “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens,” (2015) doesn’t make any missteps in guiding the movie through its paces and to its conclusion.

The screenplay co-written by Abrams and Chris Terrio is based on a story by Abrams, Terrio and Derek Connolly and based on characters created by George Lucas.

“Episode IX” is the third installment of the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy, which includes “The Force Awakens” (2015) and “The Last Jedi” (2017).

“Episode IX” is said to be the final episode of the nine-part “Skywalker saga.”

That’s bittersweet, even if you’re not a die-hard “Star Wars” fan. From the opening notes of composer John Williams’s theme, there are few movies that can generate such anticipated excitement.

That will be found now in repeated viewings of the nine “Star Wars” movies. In that, I may have to join Michael “Movie Maven” Gontkosky.

“Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise Of Skywalker,” MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for sci-fi violence and action; Genre: Science Fiction, Action; Run time: 2 hr., 22 min. Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker” was filmed in Jordan, Pinewood Studios, United Kingdom, and Los Angeles.

Box Office, Jan. 3-5: “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker” continued at No. 1 for three straight weeks with a still robust, $33.7 million; $450.7 million, three weeks, as “Jumanji: The Next Level” stayed at No. 2 with a strong $26.5 million, $236.2 million, four weeks, “Little Women” moved up one place to No. 3 with $13.6 million, $60 million, two weeks, and “The Grudge” opened at No. 4 with $11.3 million, one week.

5. “Frozen II” dropped two places, $11.2 million, $449.8 million, seven weeks. 6. ”Spies In Disguise” dropped one place, $10 million, $46.7 million two weeks. 7. “Knives Out” dropped one place, $9 million, $130.2 million, six weeks. 8. “Uncut Gems” dropped one place, $7.8 million, $36.8 million, four weeks. 9. “Bombshell” stayed in place, $4.1 million, $24.6 million, four weeks. 10. “Cats” dropped two places, $2.6 million, $24.6 million, three weeks.

Box Office, Dec. 27-29. 3-5: “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker” continued at No. 1 for two weeks in a row, $72.3 million, $362.1 million, two weeks, as “Jumanji: The Next Level” stayed at No. 2 with $35.2 million, $175.4 million, three weeks,

“Frozen II” stayed at No. 3 with $16.8 million, $421.6 million, six weeks, and “Little Women” opened at No. 4 with $16.7 million for the weekend, $29.1 million, since opening Dec. 25, and ”Spies In Disguise” opened at No. 5 with $13.5 million, $22.2 million since opening Dec. 25.

6. “Knives Out” dropped one place, $9.8 million, $110.3 million, five weeks. 7. “Uncut Gems” moved up eight places, $9.5 million, $20 million, three weeks. 8. “Cats” dropped four places, $4.8 million, $17.8 million, two weeks. 9. “Bombshell” dropped three places, $4.8 million, $15.7 million, three weeks. 10. “Richard Jewell” dropped three places, $3 million, $16.1 million.

Unreel, Jan. 10:

“1917,” R: Sam Mendes directs Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays and Colin Firth in the War Drama. Two young British soldiers must go on a mission behind enemy lines during World War I.

“Just Mercy,” PG-13: Destin Daniel Cretton directs Brie Larson, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Rafe Spall in the Drama. Civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson tries to free a death row prisoner.

“Like a Boss,” R: Miguel Arteta directs Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek, Tiffany Haddish and Jennifer Coolidge in the Comedy. Two friends start a beauty products company.

“Underwater,” PG-13: William Eubank directs Kristen Stewart, T.J. Miller, Jessica Henwick and Vincent Cassel in the Horror Thriller. Oceanic researchers experience an earthquake that frees a creature from the deep.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes