Star Wars, Star War, Star Wars…what is there to say that hasn’t already been said a million times over. This post is going to serve a singular purpose: I’m going to highlight why ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ will be better than ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’, but still a bitter end to a rather disappointing and ultimately empty-feeling trilogy. We’ll have to consider the way this trilogy has been written (including structure and tone), the backlash of the middle movie, and the desperate grasping at straws that presents itself in the form of Ian McDiarmid i.e. Emperor Palpatine.
The Trilogy Structure
Star Wars as a cinematic universe has its fair share of problems, especially since being bought over by Disney. The ‘Disney Effect’, (similar to my ‘Sequel Escalation Theory’)which involves the churning out of as many movies as possible, has led to an oversaturation of Star Wars, live-action remakes, and superhero movies. ‘Solo’ is a bland, lacklustre disappointment. ‘Rogue One’, while unnecessary, at least packed a bit of an emotional punch. But ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’ face a different problem. What’s that famous saying: Too many chefs spoil the broth?
When Star Wars returned with ‘The Force Awakens’, you had three writers behind the story. J. J. Abrams was arguably the driving force, but you also had Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. When you get to ‘The Last Jedi’, you have Rian Johnson. This marks our first problem. A trilogy is meant to represent one larger story, typically the beginning, middle, and end of a character’s/characters’ journey or a plot, typically demonstrated through conflict and change.
For example: The prequel trilogy represents the three stages of Anakin’s journey from an innocent, hopeful slave boy, to an angry, stroppy, emo-kid, to a child murderer. It also shows the uprising of the Empire, the moving of Palpatine from out of the shadows, etc. You get the idea; you’ve undoubtedly seen the movies or at least understand how a trilogy typically works.
The Force Awakens
Abrams set the first part of this trilogy into motion by setting up various questions: who are Rey’s parents? Why is she so powerful with the force? Who is Snoke? How did Maz Katana get Luke’s lightsaber? How did the First Order get so powerful? Why is Luke in exile? This movie cut many corners without explanation, but in terms of setting up the direction of the trilogy (all be it as a hollow copy of the original trilogy), it did a decent enough job.
My main issue with ‘The Force Awakens’ is that it went too big too early. I mean the idea of them making another Death Star is even commented on by Han Solo within the movie. What will they build in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, a Death Star that destroys entire galaxies? The end of ‘The Force Awakens’ marks the downfall of this trilogy, in my opinion. We see the Death Star being destroyed, we see Rey beginning to beat Kylo Ren (after mastering her force abilities in a matter of minutes), and we see most of the First Order being destroyed.
So, what comes next? The movie ends with Rey handing Luke his lightsaber, and then the credits roll.
The Last Jedi
I’m trying my best not to rant endlessly about these movies, but ‘The Last Jedi’ was SO bad that I need to mention a few things. Firstly, I can appreciate what Rian Johnson was trying to do. Everyone enjoyed Game of Thrones because the unexpected could happen. Johnson’s aim was to subvert fans’ expectations. An admirable goal, one that he lacked the experience and knowledge to pull off.
Look at this way. Imagine Abrams is building a snowman. He builds the body, he gives the snowman a head and arms, but then his mother calls him in for dinner. So, he gives a box to Johnson which contains a range of hats, jackets, various items for facial features, and maybe even a couple of pipes. When Abrams comes back outside, he finds that the snowman is just a giant snow dick with misshapen, lumpy, cancer-ridden testicles.
Why? Because Johnson wanted to create something unexpected. He wanted to be funny (because we’re an immature species that for some reason laughs at cocks), but also serious (because cancer is a hard-hitting topic). That’s what ‘The Last Jedi’ is: a mismatch of dire, intense moments, with cheesy one-liners, out of place humour, and unexpected moments that are moronic rather than clever. Sprinkle in some unnecessary social commentary, and you’ve summed up the movie.
Who are Rey’s parents? Who gives a shit! Why is she so powerful! She just is. What is Luke doing in exile? Hiding for reasons that even Mark Hamill views as moronic. Where did Snoke come from? Fuck Snoke, he got killed by Kylo Ren despite being the most powerful person to appear in the Star Wars cinematic universe. Unsurprisingly, ‘The Last Jedi’ divided the fanbase quite drastically.
The Rise of Skywalker
This brings us nicely to the upcoming movie ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. Disney has received a lot of backlash as a result of their recent Star Wars movies. But the only new Star Wars movie I want to see (an Obi-Wan spin-off) seems to have been put on hold indefinitely, most likely as a result of this. I haven’t heard anything else about Johnson’s own trilogy (which I won’t be watching), and the writers of Game of Thrones and their own trilogy (which I also won’t be watching).
So, why do I believe that ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ will be the best of this trilogy? Firstly, J. J. Abrams is writing and directing the final instalment. I don’t imagine that he would have accepted that role if he felt that the trilogy was doomed.
There is a lot of pressure on this final movie. Star Wars fans who feel let down by ‘The Last Jedi’ and ‘Solo’ aren’t going to give Disney unlimited chances. I’m not even that big a Star Wars fan (unless you’re talking about Star War Battlefront for Playstation 2) and even I’ve found myself abandoning the series. So, given that Disney has just invested a lot of money into new Star Wars themed section of Disneyland, they need to keep the franchise alive.
However, this is also why I feel that ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is going to be a bitter pill to swallow. The easiest way to explain this is to consider the Star Wars universe as a whole, and how the threads connect between all the movies.
Star Wars: Forcing Nostalgia
Once we move past the original trilogy, we rely heavily on the existence of already-established characters to make Star Wars movies feel connected. I’m not talking about main characters, obviously. We have Ob-Wan, Anakin, Emperor Palpatine, etc, who all appear in the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. However, we also get other characters pushed into the movies for the sake of making them feel connected, forcing nostalgia down our throats.
A prime example would be Jabba the Hut. There’s no reason that we need to see Jabba again, and yet he’s hosting pod races in ‘The Phantom Menace’. Speaking of which, Darth Maul pops up at the end of ‘Solo’. Why? Not to push storyline, but to add a sense of mystery that forces you to explore the non-cinematic sources of Star Wars storytelling. Through which you learn that Darth Maul didn’t actually die in ‘The Phantom Menace’. This would be all well and good if it led to an Obi-Wan spin-off, but as it currently stands its simply nostalgia, nothing more.
Why does Yoda appear as a force ghost in ‘The Last Jedi’ but not Obi-Wan? We’ve seen Obi-Wan as a force ghost too many times, yet Yoda only appears at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’. Chewbacca appears in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ for no real reason beyond fuelling fan theories. You get the idea.
What has this got to do with ‘The Rise of Skywalker’?
What We Can Expect
For those of you who have seen the trailer (which I’m sure is all of you), you’ll already be aware of where I’m going with this. The trailer for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ ends with Luke saying, “we’ll always be with you. No one’s ever really gone.” This is followed by the unmistakable cackle of none other than Emperor Palpatine. This is where the dread I hold for this movie originates.
Hearing Palpatine laughing means one of three things: 1) He somehow survived the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’. 2) He is appearing as a dark side force ghost. 3) His consciousness has somehow been stored on some otherwise unheard-of Star Wars tech.
However, these three things combine into one reason why Ian McDiarmid has returned to reprise the role: they are grasping at straws. Disney need to drag everyone into this movie that they can in order to generate hype and reignite the passions of fans.
What can we expect? I’d imagine some ridiculously contrived story that aims to explain character actions and motivations in ‘The Last Jedi’ e.g. how Snoke was killed so easily, how Rey is so powerful, and why Kylo Ren seemed to be swithering between good and evil in ‘The Force Awakens’ before turning psycho in ‘The Last Jedi’.
Beyond how idiotic this will be for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, you also have to consider the larger implications of Palpatine being alive (if he is still alive). For starters, it kind of fucks up the entirety of Anakin’s redemption arc and the whole fulfilment of the prophecy. Sure, Anakin died saving Luke, which is lovely, but he wouldn’t have defeated the Sith.
The trailer alone suggests a near-endless string of call backs to the original trilogy. We have Billy Dee Williams returning as Lando Carlrissian. We see the medals that the heroes were awarded at the end of ‘A New Hope’. Some of the speeders resemble those used in ‘Return of the Jedi’. I could go on, but the worst part is that we’ll still get nothing from the new main character: Rey. Luke had more development in the first act of ‘A New Hope’ than Rey has had in this entire trilogy.
Just to sum up this rather incoherent babbling: this trilogy isn’t really a trilogy, but rather a series of sequels that are connected through the use of the same main characters. It doesn’t perform the function of a trilogy at all, and we will see that this final movie will stoop to any low in order to desperately claw back any fans it can.
Thanks for reading! Are you excited for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’? What have you thought of the trilogy so far. Let me know down below!
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