Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Buena Vista, 2 Blu-rays or standard DVD, PG-13, 141 min.). With J.J. Abrams back at the helm – he also co-wrote the screenplay here and he co-wrote and directed “Episode VII – The Force Awakens” – the nine-film “Star Wars” saga comes to a satisfying end, with many callbacks to previous films, including two cameos – one of which is very emotional – and a return to Luke Skywalker’s home on Tatooine. Plus, Billy Dee Williams returns as Lando Calrissian for the first time since 1983, other than voice work in animation and video games.

In many ways the film ignores the divisive “Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi,” which was written and directed by Rian Johnson. Abrams came on board after original director Colin Trevorrow was let go and refashioned the film to more mirror his Episode VII and, indeed, the original “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” which launched the series in 1977.

Some time has passed since the events of the previous film, which left the remnants of the rebel alliance in disarray. Rey (Daisy Ridley) seems much more proficient in use of the Force and indeed appears to be a full Jedi. The rebels, still led by General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher through archival footage and other tricks, including her daughter playing her in one sequence), realize they have one more fight ahead of them when they hear a mysterious broadcast of revenge in the voice of the late Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), seeming to indicate that news of the Sith lord’s death was greatly exaggerated.

I found the film’s beginning to be a bit uninvolving, but it got better as it went along. Not only isn’t Palpatine dead, but it is revealed he is on Exegol, an untrackable planet, plotting the return of the Sith in what he calls the Final Order. Thus, much like in Abrams’ previous Star Wars film, when clues to Luke Skywalker’s location had to be tracked down, this time it is a device, a Sith Wayfinder, that will lead to the planet where Palpatine has amassed a huge new fleet, with each starship able to destroy a world, that he plans to launch in 16 hours. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has been tasked with bringing Rey to Palpatine. Sent out to find the Wayfinder are Rey, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels).

There are good action sequences, even early on. We see Kylo involved in a fierce battle in which he seems to be the sole survivor. Our heroes land on a desert world during the Acky Acky Festival, a celebration of ancestors held every 42 years (think Coachella with lots of balloons and bouncing aliens) and soon are being chased by Stormtroopers across the desert. One of the few worthwhile new characters is Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell), an old friend of Poe’s. Not long after, Kylo and Rey have an awesome, water-soaked lightsaber duel. Overall, though, there is a sense of already seen that as scenes are more variations on scenes in previous Star Wars films and nothing really new.

As always, the film ultimately proves to be about family. The technology used to make the film is outstanding and some of that is detailed in the feature-length “The Skywalker Legacy” (126 min.) making-of documentary on the second Blu-ray disc. “Legacy” also dives into the history of the franchise, with emphasis on the original trilogy and the final trilogy. Brief extras look at the speeder chase (14:16), filming the Acky Acky Festival in Jordan (5:59), the ship that ties to the past (5:33), a nice look at actor Warwick Davis, who again plays an Ewok, only this time alongside his son Harrison (5:37), and the cast of alien creatures (7:46). Grade: film 3.25 stars; extras 3.75 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

The Current War: Director’s Cut (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 102 min.). This is called the director’s cut because director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon reworked the film after its premiere in 2017 at the Toronto Film Festival. While the film’s period look – it is set in the 1880s and 1890s – looks wonderful thanks to cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon, the story it tells is rather dull. The title refers to the battle between inventor Thomas Alva Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and industrialist George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) over whose system would bring light to America.

Edison, who had developed the better lightbulb, was developing direct current, while Westinghouse was using alternating current, which was a third less costly and could cover miles between power plants, whereas Edison’s reliance on copper required a new power plant every mile or so. While alternating current could be strung in the air between poles, Edison was placing direct current underground. Edison always maintained that alternating current was dangerous and could kill a person and maintained he would never work on something that would kill people. Thus, Edison turned down the federal government’s offer of funding if he would develop weapons for them. Ironically though, in order to derail Westinghouse’s alternating current, Edison secretly helped the State of New York develop an electric chair to kill those on death row more humanely, with the stipulation that Westinghouse’s name be attached to the chair.

Edison is backed by financier J.P. Morgan (Matthew Macfayden), who eventually forms General Electric, and his assistant is Samuel Insull (Tom Holland in a rather thankless role). Edison is married to Mary (Tuppence Middleton) and they have two children, Dot and Dash. Early in the film, after a failed visit to President Chester A. Arthur (Corey Johnson) for funding, Edison stands up Westinghouse and his wife (Katherine Waterston as Marguerite), who had planned an elaborate dinner for him. It is only suggested that this might have sparked the rivalry between the two pioneers.

Given a bit of short shrift is European inventor Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), who works briefly for Edison, but quits when monetary promises are not kept. Tesla then helps develop the ability of alternating current to power machinery via motors he designed for Westinghouse.

Due to current manufacturing restrictions, the bonus material was not available to be viewed. Reportedly it includes deleted scenes and audio commentary by Gomez-Rejon. The film does feature three stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Cumberbatch is Dr. Strange, Holland is Spider-Man and Hoult is the X-Men’s Beast. Grade: film 2.5 stars

Abigail (Russia, Well Go USA, Blu-ray or standard DVD, NR, 110 min.). Although the film, which ultimately turns out to be a steampunk fantasy, is Russian, it was recorded in English and features Londoner Eddie Marsan of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” as character Jonathan Foster. The vocals are a bit weird and flat though for many characters, but clearly, by reading lips, one can tell English was spoken on the set.

The film is set in a remote city that has been walled off to stop the spread of an infection. During flashbacks we see Abigail’s father (Marsan) dragged from his home, never to be seen again by his daughter. It is a time when the some of the infected are put to death. Later, it is revealed that Jonathan had been working with the same authorities who arrested him. Eight or 10 years later (both timespans are mentioned), grown-up Abigail (Tinatin Dalakisishvili) still has hopes of finding her father, as another man taken the same time as her father has returned as an inspector for the authorities. Early on, we see that Abigail is special, as she levitates over her bed while sleeping.

Well it turns out that those “infected” actually have magical abilities and there is a whole subculture of them living hidden in the city. Ultimately, both sides have debates over the haves and have-nots with regard to magical abilities. Abigail falls in with the “infected,” who are led by Bale (Gleb Bochkov), who is planning an uprising against the authorities.

The film, which at times seems cobbled together, has far too many coincidences, but does have an interesting look, especially towards the end when it embraces its steampunk touches, including a giant airship. It also could serve as an allegory for current day United States. There are no bonus features. Grade: film 2.5 stars

The Captain (China, Well Go USA, Blu-ray or standard DVD, NR, 110 min.). This film is based on a true story. On May 14, 2018, a Sichaun Airlines flight from Chongqing to Lhasa, Tibet had its cockpit windshield suddenly shatter while the plane was 30,000 feet above the Tibetan Plateau. Not only did the airplane lose cabin pressure, but the copilot was sucked halfway out through the windshield. The pilot managed a miraculous emergency landing, with no loss of life.

Directed by Weiqiang Liu (“Kung Fu Monster”), the film takes a very nuts-and-bolts approach to recreating the story. After showing the pilot (Hanyu Zhang as Capt. Liu Changjian) promise to return home in time for his young daughter’s birthday party, we get to see the nine-member plane crew do their pre-light preparation, meetings and even eat breakfast together. Then the film turns to the passengers as they assemble and board the plane. The flight does not begin until 22 minutes into the film. While there is some initial turbulence, the blown-out windshield does not occur until the 34-minute mark.

While the situation must have been harrowing for the real passengers, here it is mostly people yelling, praying or being jostled about, alternating with shots on the ground in airport control towers, including a military one as, because of a storm, the Captain has to change course. There are individual moments that are quite intense, but far too much of the film is sedate. The two highlight moments are when the windshield shatters and when the plane has to be flown through a narrow lesser portion of a raging storm. The nuts-and-bolts process continues with the ground crews getting ready for the emergency landing.

The China Film Critics Association names Quan Yuan (she plays flight attendant Bi Nan) as Actress of the Year and she won the Golden Carp Film Award as Favorite Actress. The film was named Best Film at the Chinese American Film Festival, while Liu was named Best Director and Zhang was named Outstanding Actor at the Macau International Movie Festival. There are no bonus features. Grade: film 3 stars

Midsomer Murders: Series 21 (Acorn, 2 DVDs, NR, 371 min.). The long-running series continues with Neil Dudgeon (“Life of Riley”) as Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby, Dudgeon having replaced John Nettles, who played DCI Tom Barnaby, an older cousin, for the first 13 series, ending in 2011. Nick Hendrix plays Detective Sergeant Jamie Winter, the fifth in a lengthy line of assistants throughout the years. Unfortunately, Winter is the least interesting of the assistants and, for three of the four episodes here, he is given very little to do.

Over the four episodes, the murder count and each story’s appeal grow. The rather bland first case is “The Point of Balance,” with the murder occurring during an annual ballroom dance contest. The mystery, which mixes in a biorobotics institute owned by the sister of one of the male dancers, is a bit boring until a good ending. A side plot has Barnaby dealing with the visit of his estranged father (Christopher Timothy as Ned Barnaby).

The second case, “The Miniature Murders,” involves the Life in Miniature Charity Fundraiser, with a new patron murdered with the rare wooden bullet being fired through a dollhouse. (Note: The British are a bit weird here, referring to them as dolls’ houses instead of dollhouses.) By now, one realizes that most of the fun of the series lies with pathologist Fleur Perkins (Annette Badland of “EastEnders”), who joined the show in Series 20. She has a bit wicked sense of humor, rides a motorcycle and ropes Barnaby into helping her unpack after her move.

In the third episode, “The Sting of Death,” a master bee keeper is attacked and suspicion falls on his nephew, who believes in cross-breeding rather than his uncle’s “purity of the line,” and who, along with his mother, was forced out of a very fine home. The town for this episode is Granville Norton, while the fourth episode, “With Baited Breath,” takes place in Solomon Gorge. Two conflicting events are scheduled for the same weekend: the first fishing derby in 10 years, aimed at capturing Ahab, the purported monster of the lake; and the annual Psycho Mud Run. Both DS Winter and Barnaby’s wife (Fiona Dolman as Sarah) are participating in the latter. Barnaby is assisted on the case by a retired DCI (Vincent Franklin as Artie Blythe).

There is a brief (about 3 min.) behind-the-scenes look at each episode, plus special looks at the dance sequence and the Psycho Mud Run. Grade: series 3 stars; extras ½ star