In essence, the tantalizing possibilities that “Star Wars” enthusiasts spent two years analyzing and debating after “The Force Awakens” were largely dismissed by director Rian Johnson’s movie, in a way that left many (including this critic) feeling disappointed.
Whatever the explanation, bringing the Emperor back creates a powerful link to the original trilogy, and the promise of a denser addition to the “Star Wars” mythology. It also gave an additional wallop to a line spoken in the trailer by the unseen presence of Luke Skywalker, “No one’s ever really gone.”
Obviously, the concluding installment in what has been billed as the Skywalker family saga was going to be a huge deal, and the anticipation for the December release was destined to be enormous, even with the naysaying about Episode VIII.
But seeing McDiarmid on stage, somehow, just made “The Rise of Skywalker” feel a whole lot bigger — a movie where, after some misgivings, suddenly the sky’s the limit.