Four years after a promising start with The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the last chapter in the Skywalker Saga, blasted on our screens and ended up being a huge disappointment for many fans. How exactly did we get here?
I’ve always considered myself one of the hugest Star Wars fan. Since the day I watch the 1977 original on VHS back in 1997, Star Wars has been a massive source of inspiration and is the reason I went to film school, and that I want to make films. It’s not only the original trilogy that inspired me, but also the story behind the making of the films. I’ve read the best books there is to read on the matter, in awe of what George Lucas accomplished.
So, naturally, when it was announced that Disney bought Lucasfilm, and the Star Wars franchise with it, I felt a little concerned. On one hand, Star Wars is the dream of one man. But on the other hand, long-time fans of Star Wars, who grew up with the same inspiration just like me, who made it into the film business will get their chance to pursue Lucas’ life work and make new Star Wars films. You got to at least give them a chance, right? After all, J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow are among the best working today.
Chewie… We’re home!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit every note right for me. The visuals, action pieces, performances, overall direction and, of course, John William’s music. Despite all my expectations, I came out of the theater with a huge smile on my face. Reassured that Star Wars was on good tracks and that I’ll be seeing more of them every two years. Star Wars came back and felt like Star Wars. Almost to the extent that it felt a little too much like Star Wars. The Force Awakens was criticized for its plot too similar to the 1977 original.
I think they did a very good job on Kylo Ren.
Do I disagree? No, it starts with a droid character on a sand planet, meeting our hero, who will leave his home planet for the first time of his life to join the Rebellion (sorry, Resistance) to fight a massive weapon that can destroy planets. Do I blame Disney? Hmm, no. They had to prove to the world they could make a good Star Wars before taking the risk to do something new with the franchise. And trust me, I was ready for that something new.
In Rian, we trust
When Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out, I thought I just saw the best Star Wars made since The Empire Strikes Back. I saw it 3 times on the day of its release and I loved each one of the screenings. I was surprised with every turn the script took. And pleased with it. Luke is not the character I expected, and it was all for the better. Though even at the time of its release I couldn’t agree more that the film had weak plot sequences like Canto Bight and the Fathiers chase, I felt everything couldn’t be better.
I liked where the story was going. I loved that it had the guts to cut itself from what was precedently done. And I won’t lie, I had a nerdgasm when Rey and Kylo Ren take on Snoke’s guards together. But then, what happened? Colin Trevorrow was supposed to write and direct the last film, with Johnson supervising the writing. His script was reportedly turned down by Disney/Lucasfilm and he quit. They brought J.J. back to finish what he started. Although most of what he started was flushed down the toilet by Johnson: Snoke? Out. Rey’s origin? Out. Luke? Out. The Resistance? Out, for the most part. Carrie Fisher? Not their fault.
Closing the saga
I believe J.J. Abrams did the best he could with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Damn, I even saw it 3 times in the theater and did not feel bored one second. I did facepalm a lot, though. Of course, how could he end the trilogy on a satisfactory note when none of it was planned before The Force Awakens? I know he had ideas on how to close characters act back when he was working on The Force Awakens. I love the scene when Kylo Ren talks to his father. That scene brought tears to my eyes. It felt earned.
A Jedi weapon should be treated with more respect.
But that’s about it. Kathleen Kennedy recently defended her point of view, saying that Star Wars cannot be preplanned. That, as a producer, she must make sure she gives the right to every director to go in the direction they want. She then compares the Sequel Trilogy with the Original Trilogy, in which each film was directed by someone else. I must agree with what she says, in part. Each film in the Original Trilogy was directed by a different director. But only one man wrote all three: George Lucas.
The Force is strong
In fact, he wrote all three before even starting working on Star Wars, then decided it was too much for one film, and divided his script into three parts. In the Sequel Trilogy, each film was written by someone new who had the opportunity to bring the story in the direction they wanted. This brings me to my subject. The Force Awakens ended on Rey, finally meeting Luke Skywalker, handing him his old lightsaber. His father’s lightsaber. The Star Wars legacy. It was J.J. handing the torch to Rian Johnson. Handing the legacy. And what did Johnson do with it? He throws it.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love The Last Jedi and have respect for Rian Johnson. I just think it’s funny to think of the whole thing that way. And it came to be even funnier when I just The Rise of Skywalker. Rey is back on Ach-To, she throws a bunch tree branches on Ren’s Tie on fire. Then she throws her lightsaber. Luke’s lightsaber. The Star Wars legacy, to the fire. And Ghost Luke catches it, walks to her and rightfully says “A Jedi weapon should be treated with more respect.” As if J.J. himself was saying to Johnson that the Star Wars legacy should have been treated with more respect.
I wonder why, when both J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson reportedly said they were grateful for what each other had accomplished, they would write such symbolism in their script. Because once you noticed it, it’s becoming so evident that you can’t put that aside. That’s it. I’m not ranting on the films, nor on the directors that made them, nor on Kathleen Kennedy, Nor on Disney that took George Lucas’ treatment for the films and throw it in the garbage and certainly not on the immense work that cast and crew put into the films for the past 6 years.
I think they did a very good job on Kylo Ren, I love the character, and I love his arc. Adam Driver delivered. The visuals are insane in all three films, so are the sounds. Exegol was astonishing to look at. John Williams has blessed us with new Star Wars themes for (supposedly) the last time. Anthony Daniels was actually given the best Star Wars moments for his farewell performance as C3-PO. In short, I have enjoyed the ride until The Rise of Skywalker. Felt disappointed in the end but, hey, what can you do?