Movie review: Second take on Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
It is one week on and a slew of negative reviews has acted like chum in shark-infested waters.
You might wonder if my initial 4/5 take (available here) on Episode 9 was too hasty. Those hoping to see remorse and repentance, this is not the review you are looking for.
After a second viewing, The Rise Of Skywalker still ranks as the best of the sequels and one of the most enjoyable episodes of the entire saga.
It is gorgeously shot, has laughs, pangs of emotion, contains one of the best lightsaber duels of the past 42 years, and as the ninth and final chapter of a saga, brings everything together.
Like the big bloke with breathing issues said way back - now the circle is complete.
I can see why some might feel it tries to pack too much in.
Once that iconic title crawl is gone, it moves at light speed. You should not expect Rise to take pause any more than you would expect a runner to take his focus off the finishing line.
And yes, some of what happens requires you to know details from the previous eight films. It is a finale, not a continuation.
And it is an unenviable task for writer-director J.J. Abrams. People have been imagining the possibilities for this saga for over 40 years. As we well know by now, some find it hard to handle that the story might not play out how they envisioned.
If The Empire Strikes Back came out today, it will be easy to imagine that many would tear down the Darth Vader reveal as too convenient and preposterous.
For what is possibly the first time, Abrams has been made to sit down and craft conclusions to the mysteries and potential plot traps he happily set in The Force Awakens.
With Oscar-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio, he threads the narrative at high speed, still allowing for a few shocks and surprises along the way.
Some moments appear to be a direct reaction to the whiners.
While it is ridiculous to criticise a Star Wars film for having references to Star Wars in it, certain moments are, admittedly, cheesy. One in particular appears to be a direct response to a recent meme based on the original 1977 film.
But it has to be said that these sequels hit gold when they cast Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver.
Had lesser actors occupied their roles, key moments would collapse entirely.
Rise is not perfect, but it is hard to think of a better way to end the story.
And if you do not like it, a certain Baby Yoda has proved Star Wars will continue for some time to come.
FILM: Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
STARRING: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Richard E. Grant, Ian McDiarmid
DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams
THE SKINNY: The voice of Emperor Palpatine (McDiarmid) has been heard across the galaxy and brings with it the greatest threat the Resistance has ever faced.