This review contains SPOILERS!
The end of the Skywalker saga is finally here, at least that is what Disney is selling us. I won't write off the Skywalker's quite yet because money makes the world go around and Disney loves it. JJ Abrams had a lot of work cut out for him after The Last Jedi basically ended the whole damn trilogy killing off the main villain and the hero in Luke Skywalker. Where to go from there? Bring back the big baddie himself, Emperor Palpatine of course. Palpatine wasn't in any of the early story drafts and was a last minute hail Mary by screenwriters Abrams and Chris Terrio so, if you don't like the fact he's in there, complain to Rian Johnson.
The story itself takes place a few years after The Last Jedi, The Rebels are rebuilding their forces and Kylo Ren, now the Supreme Leader of the First Order is out searching for Darth Vader's Wayfinder to find where Palpatine is holed up. Ren finds and old, decrepit Palpatine who reveals he was the mastermind behind the First Order all along and Snoke was a mere puppet he used. Pretty convenient story telling to be sure. All your favorite characters return, including a much expanded role for C3PO again played by Anthony Daniels. Carrie Fisher (General Leia) sadly passed away in December 2016 just after wrapping her filming on The Last Jedi. She returns here via reused and cut scenes from The Force Awakens. He role is very awkward at best because the dialogue had to be written around her lines and the emotion she showed the characters she was interacting with seemed very "off". In my mind it would have been best to have Leia pass away off screen between films. Trying to fit her in here just didn't work.
Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Issac) and Finn (John Boyega) journey to find the planet Exegol where Palpatine is hiding with thousands of Sith Acolytes who are keeping him alive with love. I'm kidding it's "Dark Magic" or so we are told. We never do find out how he survived being chucked down a nuclear shaft, exploding in a big blue puff at the end of Return Of The Jedi. But it works, he's so cool and evil we don't care. The trials and tribulations the trio go through and fun and entertaining and serve an actual purpose. Unlike the Casino planet of Canto Bight in The Last Jedi. Seriously, what did that group gain from their trip there? Absolutely nothing. But here, they are able to decode an ancient Sith message on a dagger that will lead them to Palpatine. A side quest that actually served a purpose!
The big showdown at the end between Rey, Palpatine and a newly-turned-to-the-good-side Ben Solo face off with Rey melting old Palpy Indiana Jones-like. Overall, The Rise Of Skywalker was a FUN ride and did it's fan service well. It poked some well deserved jabs at it's predecessor, The Last Jedi with some snide jokes. Like Luke telling Rey who just threw her Lighsaber away "That's no way for a Jedi to treat their weapon". Some issues I had were there were really no consequences they didn't backtrack on. Chewy is taken hostage and the ship he is being carried away on is destroyed. We find out Chewy was on ANOTHER ship, oops! 3PO's memory is wiped when he is reprogramed to read the Sith writing. There is a tearful goodbye to our old friend as he gets zapped. Only to have his memory restored 10 minutes later by R2D2. But, despite those issues I had fun with ROS, much more so that The Last Jedi which I found to be too dark even for Star Wars. Be sure to see this on the big screen to be able to take in the vistas and great effects. Will Luke be back? I don't doubt it for a moment.