The Rise of Skywalker Succeeds As A Legacy Film But Illustrates The Flaws Of Disney Era Star Wars
The Rise of Skywalker is the culmination of Disney and Lucasfilm’s Sequel Trilogy. The 2019 film, which concludes the “Skywalker Saga” (the new names given to the nine main line Star Wars films) completes a journey that has its origins in the early 2010s, when Disney purchased Lucasfilm for a massive four billion dollars. Disney quickly began to work on plans for new Star Wars films after purchasing the franchise, which included plans for the creation of long awaited sequels to the original Star Wars trilogy.
In the years since Disney’s purchase, Lucasfilm and Star Wars have been the subject of immense monetary success but also become embroiled in seemingly endless controversy and criticisms from both fans and critics. The mix of success and controversy that has become the trademark of Disney’s tenure is perfectly represented in The Rise of Skywalker, a polarizing film that has deeply divided fans and critics. Forbes.com’s Scott Mendelson asserted that The Rise of Skywalker had the potential to bethe first “$1 billion disappointment”, a statement that demonstrate on how high the expectations are for any Star Wars film. 1
For better or worse, The Rise of Skywalker closes an important chapter in Star Wars history. The film was intended to be a clear conclusion to the first forty years of Star Wars. The impact of this film, both negative and positive, will have a ripple effect on the future of the franchise. Many debates about the film centered arounds the complex relationship between Star Wars‘s past and its present and how much these forces should be represented and addressed within the film. It’s a debate that the tortured Ben Solo would most likely appreciate.
In many ways, The Rise of Skywalker succeeds at being a “Legacy” film, a movie that successfully celebrates the forty year history of Star Wars. The film is a heartfelt and nostalgic look at a series that has millions of fans across several generations. In contrast, the film could be argued to be a failure as a satisfying conclusion to The Sequel Trilogy. Additionally, the film also demonstrates many of the flaws of Lucasfilm and Disney’s approach to Star Wars in this new era.
This article contains spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker.
Part I: The Rise of Skywalker Succeeds As A “Legacy Film”
The Rise of Skywalker honors Carrie Fisher And Her Star Wars Legacy
One of the most positive aspects of The Rise of Skywalker is the film’s generous treatment of Princess Leia, portrayed by the late Carrie Fisher. Fisher died in December 2016 after completing her scenes in The Last Jedi. Fisher death was a clear obstacle for The Rise of Skywalker‘s writers, producers, and director to overcome. The previous film, The Last Jedi, ended with Leia as the the last living member of the original three heroes. The creative team on The Rise of Skywalker had to find a way to appropriately portray the iconic Alderaan Princess in a way that worked with the limited options the team had available to them after Fisher’s death.
While Star Wars had brought Grand Moff Tarkin back for Rogue One. The event occurred long after Peter Cushing death, rather than months after the death of an actor. Rogue One used impressive CGI and voice and motion capture performance by actor Guy Henry to resurrect the Grand Moff, but the techniques and results divided many fans and critics. Ultimately, the company decided not to take this route for Leia’s role in The Rise of Skywalker. In an interview for Vanity Fair, director J.J. Abrams assert that the filmmakers found a way to honor “Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII”. 2 This unused footage allowed filmmakers to finish the story though it required some heavy adjustments to Leia’s overall role. While the limitations of this method is visible in the film, the footage used by filmmakers serves as a final tribute to the actress who helped make Star Wars a phenomenon
The clear respect for Fisher and her legacy is also seen in the handling of Leia’s death. Leia’s death, which is one of the most emotional moments of the film, is handled with reverence. After Leia’s death, a shroud is placed over the princess’s body for the remainder of the film. The white sheet covering the character is a reminder of the lose that the in-universe characters, filmmakers, and fans have experiences with the passing of Fisher, an actress who helped define Star Wars in its infancy.
The Film Connects To The Wider Star Wars Lore That Lucasfilm Has Been Developing In Books and Comics
The Rise of Skywalker also successfully connects to the wider Star Wars Universe that Lucasfilm and Disney have been developing in books, comics, and television shows. In this new era of Star Wars, the output of comics, books, and television has been an exciting explosion of content for fans. The company has been keen to connect content throughout the year to its upcoming films and story, symbolized by the “Journey To” line. Overall, this has been a successful approach that has primed fans for each successive film while also producing memorable content that can stand on its own. Books like Rogue One: Catalyst and The Aftermath Trilogy (Journey to The Force Awakens) were successful in filling in background and backstory that adds nuance to their respective films. Two main ideas that received payoff in The Rise of Skywalker is the importance of The Unknown Region as well as wider Sith/Jedi lore found in the Extended Universe.
Episode IX pays off on Lucasfilm’s increased focus on The Unknown Region. Since the release of The Aftermath Trilogy (2015-2017), there has been strong hints towards significant secrets hidden within the Unknown Region, an area beyond The Outer Rim. This area was the birthplace of The First Order with Imperial ships escaping to the area after The Battle of Jakku ended in disaster. In the new Thrawn Trilogy, characters repeatedly alluded to Emperor Palpatine’s interest in the area beyond the known Galaxy. This interest was part of the reason that the Emperor allowed Thrawn to become part of the Empire. The fore-mentioned trilogies have been steady building up The Unknown Region as an area of importance within the new Star Wars canon, which bears fruit in The Rise of Skywalker.
The final film in The Skywalker Saga rewards fans who have followed Lucasfilms stories with the film reveal of the hidden Sith planet of Exogol. Exogol is hidden deep in The Unknown Regions, a region that is perilous to navigate. The barren planet is nearly impossible to find without a mysterious tool known as a Sith Wayfinder, maps the dangerous area surrounding the planet. Exogol acts as a sanctuary for Palpatine, as well as a staging ground for his massive and mysterious Sith Fleet. The existence of Exegol cements the importance of The Unknown Region and the film could potentially act as a springboard for future stories that could further flesh out the region. Fans should look forward to Rae Carson’s novelization of The Rise of Skywalker, which could potentially flesh out Exogol or The Unknown Regions.
The Rise of Skywalker Is A Love Letter To All Eras of Star Wars
The Rise of Skywalker serves as a suitable “Legacy” film that celebrates the forty year history of Star Wars films, television, books, and games. The two hours and twenty two minute runtime is filled with nostalgic and heartfelt connections to many of the characters and moments that have made Star Wars a global phenomenon.
The Rise of Skywalker is especially reverent to the original Star Wars trilogy released from 1977 to 1983. Many of the actors from the original film were brought back to reprise their iconic screen roles. Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill both returned for short but significant cameo within the final film. Harrison Ford, who has had a complex relationship with the franchise through its forty year history, provided one of the most emotional moments in the film. Hamill returned as Luke Skywalker in a final exchange with his spiritual successor, a moment that provided one of the most impact lines in the franchise.
In addition to the trio of original heroes that first debuted in 1977, other characters from the original trilogy returned in some form. Billy Dee Williams reprised his role as Lando, even arriving in the same disguise that the character previously used in Return Of The Jedi. Lando took a role as a Resistance General, rallying people across the Galaxy for the final battle against The First Order. Anthony Daniels role as 3CPO was another highlight, one used in many advertisements and trailers for the film. Even Actor Denis Lawson, who previously declined an offer to return as Wedge Antilles in Episode VII, returned in a small cameo role.
Another intriguing connection to the Extended Universe was Rey’s gold/yellow lightsaber. The color has been featured in the old and new canon. In “Legends”, the pre-Disney Extended Universe, yellow lightsabers were a part of the ancient Jedi order. In Bioware’s acclaimed Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the Jedi Bastilla wielded a double bladed yellow lightsaber. The character was iconically featured on the cover of the game and plays a crucial role in the narrative. In the new canon, Asajj Ventress wielded a gold lightsaber in Dark Disciple, a novel that was build off unfinished arcs of The Clone Wars television shows after its cancellation. Finally, in Star Wars Rebels, Kanan and The Inquisitors experience visions where they are confronted by The Jedi Temple Guards. These masked spirits wield double bladed Yellow/Gold lightsabers.
Finally, one of the significant “Legacy” moments occurs when the Jedi speak to Rey during her final confrontation with The Emperor. One critical theme of The Rise of Skywalker is that the generation of Jedi and Sith “live in” Rey and Darth Sidious respectively. Luke asserts that the generations of Jedi have “passed on” their knowledge to Rey, who must fulfill her destiny as a Jedi. As Rey battles the last Sith Lord, she hears the voices of many of the Jedi from across film and television from the past forty years. This includes inconic characters like Luke, Leia, Yoda, Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Qui-Gon Jinn. In addition to these film characters, animated characters like Ashoka Tano and Kanan Jarrus are also included. For fans of the series, this was a emotional and powerful way to end the conflict between the Jedi and Sith, as well as a unique opportunity to bring together actors and actresses from forty years of Star Wars history.
Part II: The Rise of Skywalker Fails To Provide A Satisfying Conclusion To The Sequel Trilogy And Demonstrates The Flaws Of Disney Era Star Wars
Episode IX Takes The Focus Off Sequel Trilogy Characters
One consequence of the inclusion of so many characters from across Star Wars history is a reduction of focus on sequel trilogy characters. This can mostly clearly be seen in absurdly small screen time that Rose Tico appears on screen within The Rise of Skywalker. Tico, who is played by Kelly Marie Tran, was a integral part of The Last Jedi. Along with Finn, Rose helmed one of three arcs within the middle chapter of the sequel trilogy. According to Violet Kim’s article on Slate.com, the characters only appears in The Rise of Skywalker for a scant 1 minute and sixteen seconds. This is a reduction of “90%” from The Last Jedi. 3 This is especially concerning since Kelly Marie Tran was a victim of ruthless and often unwarranted criticism on many social media sites. While few would accuse Lucasfilm of giving in to online harassment, Kim asserts that Rose’s limited role in The Rise of Skywalker makes it feel like like the writers and director pushed Rose to the side without bringing any “closure to her character”. Overall, it is disappointing that Rose received such limited screen time and relevance after playing such a crucial role in The Last Jedi.
General Hux also receives a severely reduced role in The Rise of Skywalker. Hux, played by Domhnall Gleeson, was introduced in The Force Awakens as a rival to Kylo Ren. Hux represented the more structured military arm of The First Order compared to Ren’s more occult role. Unlike Tarkin and Vader, who worked side by side in A New Hope, the relationship between Hux and Kylo Ren was overtly hostile throughout the sequel trilogy. This set up interesting stages as these two young rivals vied for power, a struggle that seems to be won by Ren in The Last Jedi. This set up intriguing questions for the final act of the sequel trilogy. How would General Hux survive or maintain a role with his hated rival at the head of The First Order?
Unfortunately, The Rise of Skywalker constructed a visibly shallow storyline for General Hux, one that did not effectively build off Hux’s previous appearances. For much of the early film, Hux is superseded by Richard E. Grant’s Enric Pryde. The film leaves Hux with little to do and reveals him to be a rebel informant part way through the film. This leads to some excellent humor between Hux and Finn, but the entire sequence doesn’t feel adequately set up or explained in. This fast moving arc ends with General Pryde unceremoniously killing Hux shortly. This conclusion provides a dissatisfying end to a character that had been a major force in the previous two films.
Another character whose role was significantly changed with the return of previous character was Adam Driver’s Ben Solo (Within this article, I will use the names Ben Solo and Kylo Ren interchangeably to refer to the same character). The abrupt reintroduction of Emperor Palpatine completely changed the focus of the final film, changing identity of the main antagonist from Ben Solo to the resurrected Sith Lord. In The Rise of Skywalker, the haunted Solo becomes relegated to a strange role as one of many secondary antagonists and before he becomes an ally with Rey in the final battle against the Emperor.
More importantly, Ben’s acceptance of a new master feels painfully similar to his role with Supreme Leader Snoke. While Kylo Ren seems to feel confident that he can dispatch Palpatine like Snoke, the events of The Last Jedi seem to demonstrate that Ben has no more desire to serve any master, let alone one that is clearly identified with his family’s past. It’s a poor storytelling decision, perfectly symbolized within The Rise of Skywalker by the bizarre moment in which Kylo Ren’s helmet is reforged and redoned by Ben Solo after he deliberately obliterated it in the previous film. The choice to have Kylo Ren kill his master in The Last Jedi only to receive a new master immediately following these events altered Ben Solo’s arc and destroyed much Solo’s character progression within The Last Jedi.
The Film Ignores Critical Character Developments That Rey and Ben Experience In The Last Jedi
Rey and Ben Solo are arguably the two most important and most hotly debated character in the sequel trilogy. The two characters, both gifted with extraordinary power, are similar enough that they serve as fascinating foils for each other. Ben Solo, the heir to the Skywalker legacy, is torn apart by his family legacy. Ben seeks to change his identity and conquer his internal demons by becoming Kylo Ren. In contrast, the orphaned Rey desperately searches for the truth about her own lineage and her role in the larger narrative that she stumbles into. Both characters are haunted by their pasts and both character seek mentors in the attempts to understand and exorcise their internal pain.
After The Force Awakens introduced these two critical new characters, director Rian Johnson puts a huge emphasis on the relationship between Rey and Ben in The Last Jedi. The film used a force connection between the two characters, allowing these two rivals to communicate in an intimate way. This was a convenient but effective storytelling technique that allowed the two characters to communicate across the galaxy, developing a deeper bond. As the characters are finally reunited in Snoke’s Star Destroyer, both characters believed that they could turn the other to their point of view. Each character sees a “vision” of their desired outcome. Their relationship reaches its zenith in Snoke’s Throne Room where Ben defends Rey by slaying his master and the two battled together against the Snoke’s Praetorian Guards.
At the end of the conflict, Rey asks Ben to end the battle between The First Order and Resistance (that includes Princess Leia) but Ben refuses. Understanding that both characters are haunted by their past, Ben desires to “let the past die…kill it if you have to”. Ben asks Rey to join him and rule the galaxy and define the future together, but Rey refuses. This refusal results in a battle for Luke’s lightsaber, a symbol of the character’s shared destiny. The mental conflict between the two foils rips the lightsaber to pieces, symbolically representing the divergence of Rey and Ben’s paths. In their final scene, Ben watches Rey leave on the Millenium Falcon, severing the bond between them and fundamentally ending their relationship.
With this dramatic and powerful closing, The Last Jedi teases an Episode IX where Rey and Ben Solo, both firmly set upon their divided path, battle for the future of the Force. Despite this clear set up, The Rise of Skywalker completely reshapes the final act by reintroducing Emperor Palpatine as the final villain. This addition feels incredibly rushed, with little to no clear evidence of the Darth Sidious in the previous two films. While some fans hinted that Snoke was related to Palpatine in some way, there is very little clear evidence of that in the films. This decision radically changed the role of Ben Solo in the final film. Where The Last Jedi teases Ben Solo as Rey’s final antagonist as antagonist, The Rise of Skywalker rephrases him as a secondary antagonist and eventual ally.
The Rise of Skywalker Revelations About Rey’s Parentage Ignores Her Growth In The Last Jedi
The Rise of Skywalker also revised The Last Jedi by making startling revelations about Rey’s lineage. Rey’s parentage had been a topic of controversy since her introduction in The Force Awakens. Despite many fans theories about Rey being related to famous Star Wars characters, The Last Jedi seemed to make a definitive statement about Rey’s lineage: she was an orphan with no connections to any other Star Wars characters. This was a clear choice by writer director Rian Johnson who asserted that if Rey had a legendary heritage it would “the easiest thing she can hear”. 4 For Rey, the real challenge is for the abandoned girl from Jakku to her own “choice to find… [her] identity in this story”. This is the challenge that is most difficult for Rey, just as Darth Vader’s revelation is the most challenging for Luke to confront.
Throughout The Last Jedi, Ben is keenly aware of Rey’s insecurities and designs his final argument to make Rey feel like she has to “lean on him for your identity”. Ben Solo cruelly uses the “truth” about Rey’s past to draw her closer to him, saying that Rey is “nothing… but not to me”. In this painful verbal confrontation, Rey accepts the truth about her past, but denies Ben the ability to define and control her identity going forward. By confronting and accepting her origins and lack of lineage, Rey closes The Last Jedi prepared to define her own identity going forward, rather than desperately questioning and seeking answers in the past.
From a character perspective, The Rise of Skywalker undos much of the growth that Rey has undergone in The Last Jedi. At the start of the final film of the trilogy, Rey finds herself once again worrying about her “lineage”. With the abrupt and somewhat contrived revelation of her parents and grandparents could have worked if more clearly hinted at or build up to in the past two films. The Rey’s character growth from The Force Awakens to the Last Jedi, her acceptance of her past, is completely undone with the revelation of her Palpatine bloodline. This poorly planned revelation forces Rey to once again confront her past, something that she has already done in the previous film. This makes much of her arc within The Rise of Skywalker feels incredibly inconsistent with the direction of The Last Jedi and Rey’s overall character arc.
The Rise of Skywalker Illustrates Disney and Lucasfilm’s Lack of Overall Planning And Clear Vision For The Sequel Trilogy
Overall, the inconsistencies with the sequel trilogy illustrate a lack of overarcing planning and the lack of a clear vision for the sequel trilogy. The lack of planning is especially curious as Disney and Lucasfilm had no real deadlines for creating their new trilogy. History had already shown that Star Wars is a steady, reliable winner at the box office across four decades and 6 separate release. There seemed to be no need to rush through development of the sequel trilogy.
A clear plan from Lucasfilm’s Story Group or another guiding voice could have helped the sequel trilogy feel cohesive. An overall outline would have been beneficial for Rey’s Parentage and Palpatine’s return. If these arcs were planned at a process early in development of the trilogy, hints and ideas could have been inserted in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi that paved the way for key revelations in The Rise of Skywalker. Writing for Forbes.com, Paul Tassi asserts that all three sequel trilogy films have merits separately, but the films don’t make sense “together, and the series really only works narratively if you cut out The Last Jedi and cut and paste some of its spare parts in a way that make The Force Awakens/Rise of Skywalkerduology work”. 5 This comments epitomizes much of the frustration that many fans and critics express about the sequel trilogy as a whole. While each film is enjoyable the overall arcs from The Force Awakens to The Rise of Skywalker feels extremely inconsistent and poorly planned.
While all trilogies, including the original Star Wars trilogy, go through various changes during their existence, it is important to remember that the Star Wars franchise always had creator George Lucas providing the guiding vision for the first two trilogies. For the animated universe, Dave Filoni seemed to play a major role in defining the direction of Clone Wars and Rebels, shows that have characters whose arcs and storylines feel consistent and authentic. It is not unreasonable to think that the overall cohesion of the trilogy would have benefitted from writing cohesion across all three films.
The overall lack of planning also hints at the overall creative conflicts that have plagued Lucasfilm in the past few years. Colin Trevorrow, the original writer and director hired for Episode IX, agree “mutually chosen to part ways” without the company using any of the script proposed by Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly. The decision to fire Trevorrow and not use any of his script ultimately changed Lucasfilm’s original plan for the trilogy, which seemed to be three different directors for three different films within the trilogy. The return of J. J. Abrams further exacerbates dissonance between The Last Jedi and the other Sequel trilogy films because both The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker now had the same director and similar identities, where the original intention seemed to be three films with three different identities.
This lack of planning can also be seen in the reintroduction of The Emperor in The Rise of Skywalker. After teasing Snoke as the key villain in The Force Awakens, then transitioning to Ben Solo as the key villain in The Last Jedi, Lucasfilm opted to introduce a third villain into the final film: The Emperor. This decision did not feel natural from a storytelling perspective as The Emperor has very little presence in any aspects of the sequel trilogy leading up to The Rise of Skywalker‘s release and is presumed dead at the end of The Return of The Jedi. In an interview for Empire.com, Trevorrow acknowledge that his version of Episode IX did not seem to include the resurrection of Emperor Palpatine. Trevorrow stated that the return of the Emperor was an “idea JJ brought to the table when he came on board”. 6 Overall, the lack of consistency across the three films can be placed at the feet of Lucasfilm and Disney, who had the option to create a more consistent trilogy.
From A Certain Point Of View
The conversation around The Rise of Skywalker is most clearly defined by the viewers expectations going into the film and their perspectives on its crucial narrative decisions. Movies goers looking for a love letter to the entire history of Star Wars, one filled with dramatic lightsaber duels and epic battles, found much to enjoy in the film. In contrast, fans following the trilogy and characters with great skepticism were treated to a film that further exacerbated issues with the previous two sequel trilogy films and ultimately failing to conclude some characters’ stories in satisfying ways. In the end, the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi ring especially true; each person’s beliefs about The Rise of Skywalker depend greatly on “our ownpoint of view”.
- Mendelson, Scott. “Box Office: ‘Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker’ Is The First $1 Billion Disappointment.”Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 12 Jan. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2020/01/12/box-office-star-wars-rise-of-skywalker-is-the-first-1-billion-disappointment/#d42126a1308a. ↩
- Robinson, Joanna. “Star Wars: How ‘Princess Leia Lives’ in Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.” Vanity Fair, Vanity Fair, 12 Apr. 2019, www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/04/star-wars-episode-ix-rise-of-skywalker-princess-leia-carrie-fisher. ↩
- Kim, Violet. “Kelly Marie Tran Is in Even Less of The Rise of Skywalker Than We Thought.”Slate Magazine, Slate, 24 Dec. 2019, slate.com/culture/2019/12/the-rise-of-skywalker-kelly-marie-tran-rose-tico-time-onscreen.html. ↩
- White, James. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 10 Revelations From Director Rian Johnson.”Empire, Empire, www.empireonline.com/movies/features/star-wars-last-jedi-10-revelations-director-rian-johnson/. ↩
- Tassi, Paul. “’Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker’ Didn’t Just ‘Fix’ The Last Jedi, It Erased It.”Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 Jan. 2020. ↩
- Semlyen, Nick De. “Star Wars: Colin Trevorrow On His Rise Of Skywalker Writing Credit And His Last Jedi Contribution – Exclusive.”Empire, Empire, 22 Nov. 2019, www.empireonline.com/movies/news/colin-trevorrow-star-wars-rise-skywalker-last-jedi/. ↩
What do you think? Leave a comment.
I couldn’t watch The Rise of Skywalker. Not after what they did to Luke in The Last Jedi. Really, did we need a sequel trilogy? Especially when it turned out like this?
You genuinely nailed it. This is pretty much spot on to how I felt after watching this movie. I think the biggest issue with this movie (at least for me ) though, was the ending. If they had fixed the last 30 minutes the rest may have been forgiven. I left the theatre feeling confused and upset, which is the OPPOSITE of what Star Wars should be. That’s why I think they missed the mark. Amazing work though loved it!
This happens when a multibillionaire company owns such an amazing idea
I felt “The Last Jedi” made great strides, breaking the stupid and noxious “midi-chlorians” idea of genetics for the force (random orphans summoning brooms!). Then along came “The Rise of Skywalker” and reasserted geneticist supremacies: homophobic and racist ideologies. “No Homo, Bro!” reigned supreme between Poe and Finn with the added sprinkle of Finn getting paired off with a “race appropriate” partner. What a lack of vision! What a lack of daring! Then the jack-in-the-box Juliette’s Tomb scene was laughable. One up -= and dying! The other now up – then dying! Oh – now the first one is back up and… dying…
Add in all the mystical ghost crap, vanishing bodies, bizarre mass production of an über-army that no one notices, and an Emperor who can regenerate his stumpy, wrecked fingers with life force but cannot get rid of his puffy, pale face and swollen lips! (He should have transformed into an Arian fantasy blonde with a huge endowment – a “beautiful” figure for a change who is actually evil. But no: all good characters look good; all evil characters look ugly. Hackneyed.)
In short – no way would I recommend this finale. And I saw the first one 7 times in the summer of of my seventh grade… What a sad ending.
The storm trooper backstory did look quite off through unnecessarily using two characters from a similar ethnicity – Rose would have been better saved for IX – but the homophobic idea is I think imaginary and what you think you saw being more about fleshing out Poe as having been a bit of a macho fool. They didn’t do a great job of it, of trying to not let what Johnson had began to embroider become a knot, but seeing what was done as trying to unknot a strand of fan discourse makes more of a knot.
Far too many human characters in the main cast. It’s a sci-fi movie. Why does everyone have to be some dull little human?
Alien actors are quite hard to find.
Well it finished the series. It was a relief by the end, sitting there in the cinema. The baffled and bored children wanted to go, the adults breathed a sigh of relief. We wouldn’t have to go through this again. It’s over now. Closure at last. No one asked for it and now it’s over. It was worth going just for that. Now we can forget them and go back and enjoy the original trilogy.
There’s a leaked scene (won’t spoil it) in youtube which is supposed to be emotional, touching and sad. As it unfolds you can hear how the audience laughs in the cinema.
I think that most people forget that when Star Wars originally came out, most people saw it as a fun adventure and a harmless way to spend two or three hours. It has morphed into something akin to a religious cult but it was never a massively brilliant film in terms of plot (in terms of spectacle it was amazing). It was however, fun and the relationships in the film made it even better. This film is similar. I enjoyed it immensely but it is not Greek philosophy or divine revelation – it is entertainment. Many fans of the original Star Wars seem to have forgotten this.
It wasn’t for The Empire Strikes back then Star Wars would be remembered alongside The Black Hole and Battle Beyond The Stars.
Star Wars was the highest grossing film ever in its time & held that position for years. Even before Empire, it was a cultural phenomenon that pervaded nearly every part of the culture — especially for kids. It might not be high art, but it remains iconic & would have done so even without Empire (which I agree is superior). Its characters and settings remain an accessible symbolic shorthand for use in many areas of life.
Those other movies wouldn’t have existed without Star Wars, nor would many other more popular films in the sci-fi/fantasy/adventure genres. Cinema is not just for cynical sophisticates who love nothing more than wallowing in bleakness and pessimism.
The whole saga now is ending with a bit of a whimper now unfortunately. After the disaster of the prequels episodes 7-9 were a chance to restore some quality back to the series and repair the damage. And it feels like that opportunity has been missed big time.
Each film is probably a 3 out of 5 effort, and there has been no coherent overall story line between the episodes. Whilst some of the major flaws of the prequels were addressed (the new films all successfully feel like Star Wars films), there is just too much retread and similarity to episodes 4-6 in terms of story. There was sufficient time to give the latest films a proper and original narrative but we have a disjointed overall experience instead.
If there wasn’t so much money to be made you would have thought that at the initial meetings to kick off episodes 7-9 when the storylines were proposed, the writers would have been told not to bother and just leave things at Return of the Jedi.
You just can’t shake off the feeling that there was never much of an “arc” to this new trilogy. Directors “winged” it as they saw fit. Even the Emperor’s resurrection, in all its truly delectable, camp-satanic splendour, now feels like a fumbling course-correction after Snoke’s untimely dispatch.
Personally I’ve long felt that Star Wars fell victim to its own obsession with “family sagas”.
In the original film, Luke vows to became a Jedi to fight against a regime whose atrocities finally hit home. The Force is thus an allegory for the moral that “superhuman feats are possible in pursuit of a just cause”.
The more the Force was subsequently described as a hereditary or genetic trait (midichlorians, “the Force is strong in my family” etc), or the subject of “prophecy” (the “chosen one” etc.) the more this central message was diluted and disconnected from the rebels’ “underdog” fight (the whole blockade-runner vs star destroyer opening shot).
We are reminded of this disconnect in the new film, when Rey repeatedly wanders off into face-offs with her theological counterpart, Kylo Ren, leaving the rest of her friends in clear and present danger. You just get the sense of the Jedi and Sith as messianic narcissists, absorbed in their own drama while the world burns.
I personally hope that whatever new trilogy emerges, it lays rest to the whole “Skywalker” saga once and for all, and recaptures some of the original character motivation and heart, like Rogue One managed to do.
Either way, the new film is worth a watch––if nothing for the Emperor alone.
The tragic thing about the disney trilogy is the wasted potential.
Contrary to the bashing of critics, SW fandome isn’t behoven to the original films as some of the most beloved expanded universe installments occur thousands of years prior the Skywalker saga.
TFA was a blatant unimaginative cash grab however… and whereas you can’t fault TLJ for trying to go a new direction, you can very much fault it for doing it mid trilogy and in a way that took an elephant dump on all that came before. You can move forward without burning everything behind. And as the brand started to hurt economically TROS was the inevitable damage control installment.
All in all when the dust settles this will go down in history as a cluster*beep* of a trilogy due to the truly astounding ineptness of people in charge of the nonexistent creative vision.
I’m hoping against hope Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni take over LucasArts for whatever comes next.
Having rewatched the prequels with my kids, The Phantom Menace, minus Jar Jar, is actually a lot of fun. It feels much more like Star Wars than Attack and Revenge. Fewer CGI worlds help for starters, and it has a 90s charm in the way the middle three have a 70s and 80s charm. There is no such thing as 00s charm. It’s a mess of CGI still in it infancy. This new film is deeply problematic in that the only character development that was moving, was Ben / Kylo. Adam Driver is a cut above Ridley in terms of acting ability (she’s so wooden). Dialogue is thrown under the bus in pursuit of crash, bang, wallop. It made me feel like I was watching a computer game. Also, giving into trolls by reducing Rose’s part is unforgivable.
I just can’t bring myself to watch the new movies. I saw episode 7 in theaters and saw Rogue One, and they were so underwhelming I haven’t given the others a chance
I’m wondering if this film was almost doomed to disappointment from the very beginning. As the final film in a series that spans decades, it had to offer something both to the diehard fans as well as bring the final trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to juggle these two different objectives in a way that would please everybody. And because Star Wars is so iconic, everyone is going to have impossibly high hopes for its ending.
It was horrible. Abrams has a talent for standing on the shoulders of giants, and completely cocking it up.
Contrived rehash of Return of the Jedi. And that’s being kind. First half us a mess, second half moderately better but that’s not saying much.
What did everyone expect?
Abrams had to finish the series and tick all of the boxes, leaving nothing unanswered. He did it.
It continues to amaze me that people who call them selves Star Wars fan’s criticize 6 of the 9 films. If you do not like the majority of the series then you are not a fan. I just enjoyed them for what they.
This is… actually a good comment.
“You’re either with us, or against us.” – Liking Star Wars isn’t a zero-sum game, Empire Recruiter SimonPears.
And if you think Rise of Skywalker ticked all the boxes and left nothing unanswered, then I would argue you are not the true fan and haven’t been paying attention.
Many threads were left to dangle; our 3 new “inseparable” heroes were on one adventure together in 8 hours which had to happen in TROS; also in these 8 hours of the new trilogy there was never a real “threat” until they raised Palpatine back from the dead for TROS; legacy characters never had one moment of all being back together; and in these 8 hours we learned nothing new, re-enacted old plot points and…
Wasted so many fresh opportunities because they inexplicably ignored the basic fundamentals of writing and DIDN’T MAKE A WELL-THOUGHT OUT SYNOPSIS FOR THIS NEW TRILOGY.
Boyega’s Finn was the most intriguing character: A stormtrooper brainwashed and raised in the system and then defects? Tell me that story! He was given no growth…. No one was.
Rogue One and The Mandalorian with its eight tiny episodes offers more excitement and better story-telling than whatever Abrams vomits.
You know, it’s actually reaching that point now. It’s like if someone asks me if I’m a Simpsons fan. On aggregrate, probably not.
Someone at work did recently ask me if I’m a Star Wars fan, and after a long think I said “Well… I like the original trilogy. And Rogue One was pretty good.”
I’ve pretty well given up of sequels of Star Wars. The actors do not even come close to the originals, some are miscast and there are too many poorly made action scenes which leave one with a feeling of ‘huh’…… Even the story line is all but missing. Whilst I may watch the first 5 minutes of the next one I’ll be switching program very quickly if its more of the same.
JJ may have had an impossible task to attempt to course correct after the backlash of the Last Jedi but he surely could have done better than this.
Unengaging and poor.
I am a life long Star Wars fan but this was excruciatingly bad. It was like watching a 2 1/2hr long video game running too fast to focus on anything and no plot beyond setting up the next fan reference. I walked out 3 times but forced myself to go back giving the benefit of the doubt that something would happen to redeem it. Nothing did. Save 3hrs (45 minutes of previews) of your life you will never get back and avoid subjecting yourself to this.
Rogue One(mission impossible meets dirty dozen) is the only good modern star wars movie, everything else is rotten tomatoes/eggs/lemons, pick your choice.
One of the many, many problems with the now-irrevocably soiled Star Wars universe is the overuse of lightsabres. They used to be so damn cool – things of great wonder – and for the most part their screen time was relatively limited. Fast-forward beyond the end of the only three decent movies (I know – muppet bears notwithstanding) and it’s lightsabre time ALL the time. They became utterly mundane. One can have too much of a good thing.
The Mandalorian is really very, very good.
I feel like the Mandalorian, planned Cassian show, and other animated television shows demonstrate that more of the future of Star Wars may be on streaming and television rather than film. The Mandalorian, Rebels, and Clone Wars have been some of the best things about Star Wars in the past ten years.
There are a few things I’m not keen on, but there will be plenty who think I’m stupid for feeling so. I preferred Johnson’s take on the origin story of the lead. It is more egalitarian and offers more openings. And I was really disappointed that (Spoiler) Rose was marginalised so much. I don’t care that a vocal minority found her annoying for whatever reasons they had. She was now a core part of the central characters and if people didn’t like the way she was presented or her lines in VIII, then that can be adapted. It looked to me like a shocking cave-in and is more blatant on second viewing. But that’s just my opinion.
The rest of it is a good romp. Is there any sense of doom for the main protagonist? Maybe not. But there never was for Luke, either. The frenetic pacing is easier to handle second time around and there is plenty to enjoy.
It does represent the biggest flaws in Disney’s helming of the series. They try and shoe-horn in too many characters. They really needed a more coherent long term plan as they had with Marvel (although they had more chances to make mistakes with that franchise. Nothing they’ve done is as bad as Dark World/Iron Man 2 & 3 etc).
And they played it too safe too often. Of course, as the criticisms of the first two sequels showed, they were on something of a hiding to nothing. “too rebooty, too much of a copy of IV, innovate!” OK, here is the Last Jedi “No! Not like that!”
Daisy Ridley was excellent in this, I thought. She may not be Olivia Coleman – she’s not Hayden Christensen, either – but she makes up for that in her handling of the physical stuff. And she will grow with experience.
Far from perfect film. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Abrams work, in general. But it was a hard task to fill and, by the look of it, they really needed a two-part finale as other films have been afforded.
I feel pity and amusement at people continuing to waste their time and money on a product that’s been deeply defected for so long. It means the product is you, with pin chips on your foreheads when you buy a ticket.
The excuse about it only being entertainment doesn’t wash. It is possible to make entertaining movies from the concept material without insulting anyone’s intelligence, so the talentless hacks behind the series have no excuse. Other than being talentless.
I still remember seeing the original for the first time, and then going back about two days later as it really was something very special. Every Star Wars film has done its best to try to recapture the real magic of A New Hope, but none have succeeded. I actually think that Rogue One came closest.
I really have to point out my theory of the problem that’s driving all this mania about Star Wars being uninteresting etc. (which it is). The problem is that the Star Wars universe (including its main story lines) started out being too small, and is not the expanding universe type of universe (that we see in Star Trek) that can encompass all manner of variety of races and meta and sub plots. There is only one empire in Star Wars. Only one merry band of a rebellion (and its variants). Only a few types of scenery-driven worlds. That plus Lucasfilm has maintained overly tight control of the franchise before. I don’t know if they still do, but the hangover is clear. As a result, I don’t think the universe was ever able to support more than a 3-movie type of sequence.
So we have a limited set of worlds, only added to with the intention to create more backdrops (e.g., ok, must have another desert planet now, then sprinkle in one jungle, then one more ice planet there). There is no culture to most planets, other than some hubbubs thrown in to spice it (ok, another cantina to satisfy the masses). Ironically, the only movie to make an elaborate culture was Episode 1, and I’m guessing that the Jar Jar debacle burnt them and caused them to only focus on environmental storytelling, not cultural storytelling (which was never the strong suit of the franchise). The recent spinoffs like Rogue 1 are a success to many because, they go back to fun (newish) character-based storytelling, without letting the environment (or lack of one) detract, and avoiding all the baggage of the limited worlds of the franchise.
Well, that’s just my point of view…
An interesting point of view. However, I think Lucas proved in Episodes 1-3, however dreadful those films were, that there are terrains left to explore (water, city, jungle, lava, etc.) and I assume there’s an endless amount of species and creatures to imagine.
The problems with 1-3 and 7-9 have nothing do with the Star Wars universe. Just a lack of imagination and vision for what the Prequels and the Sequels could have been. A lack of taste in writing the scripts.
JJ made a remake of a New Hope and destroyed any chance for the sequels to be good, fresh, the best sci-fi adventures of this era (as they should have been). Rian just made a plain terrible movie as did Lucas with 1, 2, and 3.
Thanks, my point was a little bit subtle, that by relying on terrains, they got caught up in the fact that there’s only a few recognisable biomes to people, and even that’s an environmental trait, not one you can go too deep into (unless like Raiders, you choose to explore ruins and mythos – a little bit what they did with episode 7). So you’re right, somewhat the lack of imagination, but I suspect the lack of derring do and will to overcome the constraints of old IP. And you’re right, its JJ pandering to the fans too much in the way he thought right. I hope this reconciles our two views of “the world” 😉
So many people here have forgotten what it is the have the viewpoint of a child entranced by wonder and spectacle.
Well I liked it. It sped along with all the plot holes and contrivances of the early films, cameos from old friends and some frankly rubbish bits. Lucas must be proud.
The problem is they essentially had to fit two movies into one. Plot holes aside, there would be a great movie there if there was an extended edition where they just gave the audience the chance to breathe. Think back to Return of the Jedi when Luke confesses to Leah that she is his sister and that he has to face Vader alone, the new one lacks moments like that because it goes at such a pace there just wouldn’t be time for those sort of scenes.
Plot holes and loss of jeopardy aside, it really needs an edit. For something so frantic and one-paced there’s a lot of flab, and the lack of pace variation means there’s no gravitas or involvement, which should be part of the SW experience.
My son thoroughly enjoyed it when we saw it the other day so as far as I’m concerned, job done.
Back in 77, when the original came out, no-one even pretended it was for anyone above the age of 13…
A movie to be suffered, for the sake of your kids
I saw it in 77 when I was in my 20s. it was fun and refreshing compared to the Dirty Harry/miserable, boring, predictable, sweary, misogynistic and violent films around at the time. lots of young adults loved it. We are oldies now but we still remember the thrill of the big space cruiser coming over our heads in the big cinema with Dolby surround sound. Star wars music still gives me goosebumps.
You all need to watch Star Trek.
The Star Wars Franchise hasnt just been flogged to death,its been disembowelled,eviscerated,blinded,had its tongue torn out,ears clipped,nose disfigured,head removed then sewn back on and suffered terrible torment. May it finally be allowed to rest in peace
Chewy got his medal, I can finally rest up!
If the log line for the Last Jedi was “forget everything you know” then the one for Rise of Skywalker should be “It’s ok you can remember it all again”.
The Last Jedi had its flaws, but it was ambitious and interesting and looked to take the series somewhere new. The Rise of Skywalker undoes all that and the result is a fun but ultimately shallow finale, more interested in wallowing in nostalgia than telling an interesting story.
It’s not perfect but it’s good enough.
I thought it was entertaining, and completely ludicrous. But that’s star wars.
The Star Wars franchise is one that is being debated about for quite some time, the quality of the films since Disney gained rights is subject to opinion. Depending on how deeply invested and analytical an individual is will influence their interpretation of the film. For someone who has a deeply rooted appreciation for these films, they will likely share similar perspectives as you do, as your piece is very insightful and encapsulates the loopholes created. However, for someone who is merely a consumer, they are likely to just simply enjoy the films without any acknowledgment of these factors brought up.
I agree. I really think these films would have benefitted had they all been directed by the same person, or if they had been filmed with a sturdier plan in relation to the overarching narrative of all 3 movies.
You’re sadly never going to remake or sequel a classic and have it come equal to or better than the original. It is only about marketing and keeping the money coming in rather than continuing or developing the story.
I consider The Star Wars franchise along with Marvel to be stellar examples of people poorly milking a good idea just to rake in more moolah. It would be interesting to see what James Cameron does with Avatar.
I was so deeply disappointed in RoS. I wish they had made Trevorrow’s script.
“The impact of this film, both negative and positive, will have a ripple effect on the future of the franchise.”
This implies that a sequel to the sequel may be made at some point.
Excellent point about Rey and Ben being foils for each other in terms of their divergent lineages and about Rey mirroring Luke in overcoming her family revelation. I would have loved to have seen Rey actually be from nowhere. Her attempts to place herself within the Star Wars hierarchy would have been in vain, much like Ben’s attempts to stray from his family legacy. In the end, it would make for a more perfect union between the two of them, finding their respective purposes through their unity in the force. That being said, most of the Rise of Skywalker’s flaws took time to dawn on me. My initial reaction was one of fondness due to the nostalgia, and so I find myself thinking of it much as in the same way as I do the prequels.
I think it is the sum of the part of Rise of Skywalker that ultimately makes it disappointing. The storylines and character arc don’t feel effective when viewed critically/over multiple viewings. Multiple viewing are a great way to break down films and determine what is working and what isn’t.
I think this article makes some good points, but I strongly disagree on two points.
1. First, I don’t actually think the Disney/Lucasfilm era has done a good job with their supplementary material surrounding the movies. Before Disney acquired Lucasfilm, the books, comics, video games, etc. that surrounded the main films were purely supplemental. With very few exceptions, there was no information contained in these companion materials that affected the story of the film itself. This is not the case for the Disney-era materials. They are no longer supplementary, but rather required reading for understanding the full story of the film they are accompanying. For example, throughout the entire movie, Finn is trying to tell Rey something, but keeps being interrupted. What is it? Is it that he loves Rey? Does he know who her parents are? The plotline gets dropped halfway through the movie, so audiences never know. It’s only by reading the official Star Wars Visual Dictionary that we learn he was trying to tell her he is Force-sensitive. It’s not super important to the plot, but the film teases it as important, then never answers their question, then hides the answer in a $15.99 book. This is only one of many examples. Overwhelmingly, the supplementary material is not so much supplementary to the movies, but retroactive explanations of plot points the filmmakers forgot to include in the film itself. That is not a compliment to how the film succeeds; it’s bad storytelling.
2. More importantly, I disagree that “Rise of Skywalker” should be considered a “love letter” to everything that came before it, especially the Original Trilogy. In fact, I think it actively undermines some of the most important parts of the original movies, particularly the ending of “Return of the Jedi.” If we see the Prequel and Original Trilogies as the story of Anakin Skywalker’s fall and redemption, then “Rise of Skywalker” is specifically egregious to him. In the Prequel Trilogy, Anakin Skywalker falls to the dark side because he is afraid of losing the things he loves (his mother, his wife, the Jedi, etc.) and his attempt to control those things leads to him losing them. He is manipulated by Palpatine and gives in to his suffering, becoming Darth Vader. At the end of “Return of the Jedi,” Anakin is redeemed by the love of his son Luke, who shows him what real healthy love looks like and inspires him to kill Palpatine in a selfless act of love for his son. By ridding the galaxy of the evil influence of Palpatine, Anakin also does something selfless for the entire galaxy at the cost of his life. Bringing Palpatine back as the overarching villain of the Sequel Trilogy undoes Anakin’s sacrifice. Palpatine wasn’t killed, he didn’t lose any influence or power; this was all according to plan. He didn’t bring balance back to the Force, nor did he save the galaxy from supreme evil. So Anakin’s redemption through his sacrifice means nothing, or at least significantly less than it did. If for no other reason than this, “Rise of Skywalker” actively disrespects one of the main themes of the Lucas saga, that of love and how to have a healthy relationship in love with others and with one’s self. There are other examples as well (Rey undeservedly taking the Skywalker name comes to mind), but this is the most egregious. Simply having older actors reprise their roles and alluding to objects or catchphrases from previous films does not make this movie a “love letter,” it makes it at most an homage.
I agree that the Sequel Trilogy’s biggest mistakes lie in how it was not planned out from the beginning, and as the last film in the trilogy “Rise of Skywalker” was in an almost impossible position to give a satisfying experience. But this film doesn’t earn the few compliments given here.