The Force will be with you, always.
As the most beloved sci-fi movie franchise of all time comes to its (apparent) end with The Rise of Skywalker, there will be a lot of debate and conflict over the end for many years to come and there really would be no way to please absolutely everyone.
However, The Force Awakens helmer J.J. Abrams attempts to do his absolute best to please the fans above all else - and does it pay off?
More importantly, should fans also shell out more money to see the Star Wars franchise out one last time in IMAX?
The film certainly wastes no time in diving into the plot - and there’s a lot of it. One year on from the events of The Last Jedi, it would appear that the devilish Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) has returned to deliver his final nightmare upon the Galaxy. As the Resistance including an increasingly powerful Rey (Daisy Ridley) prepares for more conflict with the fascist First Order and their conflicted Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the return of the Sith leaves what is already sure to be a devastating final battle to cap the trilogy in danger of being even more apocalyptic.
In terms of the performances, the older cast members and the new both excel themselves. Driver remains the strongest of the newest generation as his devastating arc as the quietly raging and heartbroken villain reaches its end, as Ridley delivers her best material as the haunted heroine opposite him. Elsewhere, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac once more provide likeable support as Finn and Poe Dameron, respectively, and who get their characters' histories expanded on this time around.
The original trilogy’s classic characters also shine through as always, offering the biggest emotional gut punches. The use of previously unused scenes of Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa is respectfully and touchingly done, as Mark Hamill also gives grizzled heroism in his scenes as the late Luke Skywalker. The heart of a number of scenes, however, is Anthony Daniels as C-3PO who gets his best material of the sequel trilogy thus far.
The rest of this plot-stacked instalment is also populated by various unique supporting characters, expressive aliens, awe-inspiring worlds, hilarious creatures, and heart-stopping spirits from not just the sequel trilogy but across the entire franchise, alongside unique new additions, some of whom manage to stand out despite every possible thing going on - such as the very natural Naomi Ackie as Finn’s new ally, Jannah.
Sadly, the breakneck pacing of the film is also its biggest issue, as it bleeds through plot, huge character moments, earth-shattering twists, heart-stopping duels, and some of what should be emotional relationship-defining beats as though for some it is just ticking them from a list.
However, The Rise of Skywalker clearly has a reverence for its fans (sometimes very distractingly to its detriment) and Abrams continues to place his passion for the entire saga and its characters at the forefront, delivering the titanic scale of what a love letter to a community behind eight previous films should have, meaning that its most vital sequences are given the power they deserve.
The most unbeatable aspect of proceedings has to be the aesthetics and this is what makes the IMAX 3D presentation so effective. The 3D transfer itself is sadly not something to write home about, however, the sharp, eye-popping and utterly immersive IMAX Digital Re-mastering will be what Star Wars fans shall not want to miss, especially when Abrams has delivered arguably the most visually stunning instalment of the saga, particularly in its final grandiose act.
The superior sound quality that surrounds an IMAX screening also adds to the transportive effect of the expansive visuals. It is primarily at its most impactful when listening to the masterful score from legendary composer John Williams as he bows out from his work on the series, giving the evocative music of the Star Wars saga - the real secret weapon of the franchise - the send-off it deserves.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is above all else a visual celebration of the Star Wars universe and, while the 3D transfer may not be as effective as hoped, the scale and quality of an IMAX screening is incomparable - as is its sound system when you hear the emotional swells of John Williams’ last score for the franchise.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out now in IMAX 3D with more information on where this is available here.