Emperor Palpatine, it seems, is not dead. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the leader of the First Order, obtains a Sith Wayfinder that leads him to the planet Exegol. Palpatine (Ian Macdiarmid), who may be alive but still looks like death warmed over, reveals that Kylo Ren’s late Master Snoke was his puppet, designed to lure Kylo to the Dark Side. Palpatine announces the Final Order and the existence of an armada of Star Destroyer ships. He orders Kylo to find and kill Rey (Daisy Ridley), who continues to grow more powerful under the tutelage of Resistance leader Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, appearing in footage shot before her death).
Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) deliver intelligence from a spy in the ranks of the First Order that Palpatine is on Exegol. Rey has learned from the journals of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) that a Sith Wayfinder can find him. One of these, they believe, can be found on the planet Pasaana, so Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and robots BB-8 and C-3PO leave in the Millennium Falcon.
Kylo bonds with Rey telepathically to discover her location, then heads there with his Knights of Ren. During an amazing and colourful alien celebration, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) turns up to help Rey and friends. With his aid, they find a dagger inscribed with a Sith text that may hold the information. Unfortunately, C-3PO (who speaks millions of languages, as we know) is programmed never to interpret Sith. Kylo appears in the desert and Rey goes to confront him. The First Order captures the Falcon, Chewbacca, and the precious dagger. In the battle with Kylo, Rey—who is still discovering her powers—destroys the transport ship that they believe Chewbacca is aboard with Force lightning, and they believe he is dead.
They travel to Kijimi, where a droidsmith extracts the Sith text from C-3PO’s memory, revealing the location of the Wayfinder. Unfortunately, 3PO’s memories are lost as well, and he has to re-introduce himself to the whole Scooby gang. Rey senses that Chewbacca is alive, and they leave to rescue him from Kylo’s Star Destroyer. Rey recovers the dagger in the process and has visions of it killing her parents. Kylo informs her that Palpatine murdered her parents because she is his granddaughter and he feared her power. Her parents, far from selling her for booze-money as she believed, sold her into obscurity to protect her.
General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is the mysterious spy and he saves Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca from execution and allows them to escape on the Falcon, but he is killed by General Hyde (Richard E. Grant). The escapees fly to a moon in the Endor system, where the remains of the second Death Star, destroyed by the Resistance long ago, litters the landscape. Rey finds the Wayfinder there, but is met by Kylo, who destroys the object and attacks her with his lightsabre. During the duel, in a dying act, distant Leia calls to her son Kylo, distracting him, and Rey impales him. Sensing Leia’s death, Rey heals Kylo and takes his ship to crash-land on Ahch-To, where she intends to exile herself like Luke. Luke’s ghost encourages her to confront Palpatine and gives her Leia’s lightsabre. He raises his X-wing fighter from the waters (Yoda would be proud) and sends her to Exegol using the Wayfinder from Kylo’s ship.
Kylo’s dead father Han Solo (Harrison Ford) appears to him. Kylo throws away his lightsabre and reclaims his identity as Ben Solo. Sensing all this, Palpatine sends one of his Star Destroyers to obliterate Kijimi as a show of force. The Resistance, led by Poe and Finn, prepare to attack the Final Order fleet. Rey sends her co-ordinates to R2-D2, which allows the Resistance to follow her to Exegol. She confronts Palpatine there. He demands that she use the Dark Side of the Force to kill him so his spirit can pass into her and she can take his place as Empress. Lando arrives at Exegol with reinforcements from all over the galaxy.
Ben overpowers his own Knights of Ren and joins Rey, but Palpatine drains their power with Force lightning and incapacitates Ben. Rey hears the voices of past Jedi, who give her strength. Palpatine attacks her with lightning, but she deflects it with Luke and Leia’s lightsabres, killing both Palpatine and herself. Ben revives her at the cost of his own life. The Resistance defeats Palpatine’s armada, as people across the galaxy rise up against the First Order. The Resistance returns to their base to celebrate. Afterwards, Rey visits Luke’s childhood home on Tatooine and buries Luke’s and Leia’s lightsabres. She tells a passer-by that she is Rey Skywalker.
It was thought Mark Hamill might not return after his unpleasant experience with The Last Jedi, but after reading the script he was happy to do so, I would think because of the tribute to Carrie Fisher. Adam Driver did all his own stunts. Kylo Ren’s mask is repaired by kintsugi, a centuries old art to repair pottery with gold which was thought to give new life. In this case, the gold was bright red. Lando Calrissian is back after 36 years. The lightsabre battle between Rey and Ren on the wreckage of the Death Star in the ocean required half a million gallons of water to be dumped on the hapless actors. Daisy Ridley’s workout consisted of weight training five days a week and kickboxing twice a week. Warwick Davis and his son Harrison reprised their roles as Ewoks. John Williams played a bartender named Oma Tres--an anagram for Maestro. On the shelves behind him were original props from each of the 106 movies he had scored in his career. Karl Urban has an uncredited role and even speaks a line, putting him in the very small club of actors who have been in Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings films.
The Aki Aki Festival of Ancestors on the planet Pasaana happens once every 42 years. That was how long between A New Hope and The Rise of Skywalker. In the scene are 70 foreground animatronics, 140 mid-ground and 250 background masks, 25 other alien characters and droids, and 14 hand-puppet children. The Babu Frik puppet was only nine inches tall but took seven puppeteers to make it work. It was voiced by Shirley Henderson--Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Among the droids in Frik’s workshop are a Battle Droid and Bad Robot. The wreckage of the Death Star is on the ocean moon of Kef Bir, in the same system as the forest moon of Endor. Serenity, the ship from Joss Whedon’s Firefly series appears among the 14,448 ships come to help the rebellion at Exegol. C-3PO’s last line in the movie. “Did you hear that?” was also his first line in Star Wars.
J.J. Abrams is the voice of the tiny robot D-O. They get smaller and cuter as time goes on. This one looks like a desk-lamp and speaks English. R2-D2 was played by Hassan Taj and Lee Towersey, as Kenny Baker had died at the age of 81. The film was criticised for its complexity and praised for its emotional impact. It was review-bombed by trolls on Rotten Tomatoes, as was Captain Marvel that year. This only happens to movies with uppity female characters. As Harrison Ford was the focus of The Force Awakens and Mark Hamill of The Last Jedi, Carrie Fisher was supposed to be the focus of The Rise of Skywalker. She died before the movie was begun, but unused footage of her was gathered and the film was, to all intents and purposes, made around her--an amazing bit of filmmaking and a fitting tribute. I guess we can be happy that her CGI appearance in Rogue One was so hated that they dared not attempt such a thing in this movie.