It has been about two and a half years since the last star wars film. In the story of star wars release calendars, it’s not very long. The longest gap was the 16 years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace. Right now, we’re not even quite at the usual three years ago between active chapters in the trilogy. (However, we’d be at the stage where the hype machine kicked in and it looked like something was about to happen soon.) But, since Disney bought Lucasfilm, two and a half years is a long time. between the exit of the force awakens in December 2015 and The Rise of Skywalker in December 2019 – only four full years – there was, in a way, five feature film star wars movies. Anyway, my point is, at least in this the current era of star warstwo and a half years is a good amount of time to breathe and have enough distance to look back with at least some kind of introspective reflection on the Sequel Trilogy.
Certainly, with this piece, I thought of reviewing The Rise of Skywalker and somehow force me to appreciate Something in this film. Kind of a way of saying, hey, you know, maybe I didn’t like it at first, but there’s actually some pretty good stuff in there. Yeah, so it failed. I couldn’t get out of it without giving up. The Rise of Skywalker is, frankly, an unpleasant experience. My body reacts to it the same way it reacts to the thought of watching. nothing but problems. I could watch any movie ever made, why am I doing this to myself? So, yeah, I gave up on that idea pretty early on.
Even I don’t always trust my first enthusiastic opinions when it comes to star wars movies. I loved all of the Prequel movies the first time I saw them — each time at midnight, with a very cheering crowd — and it wasn’t until later viewings that the feeling took hold of “hm, maybe -maybe I was wrong”. (Although, as I wrote, I came on attack of the clonesprecisely because he’s the only one of the three who somehow knows what it is, and now I appreciate him for knowing.)
But with The Rise of Skywalkera bucket list event for me was a star wars first. Due to my job, I’m in the rare position where I can go to these. But they take place in Los Angeles and I live in New York, so I had never been there. So at my expense I flew to LA and slept on a friend’s futon only to see this movie. If anything, I was going to convince myself that I was having a good time. Nobody wants to admit that the thing that cost them a lot of money is “wrong”. Halfway through the film, I couldn’t even be wrong anymore. Me, the same person who on opening night thought The Phantom Menace was a masterpiece, resigned herself to the fact that The Rise of Skywalker was not a good movie. The way the premiere was organized, you leave the theater and it exists even in the after-party. So for the next two hours, I just sat there at a little table, frowning, drinking a blue drink with smoke coming out of it. (A publicist, who hadn’t seen the movie that night, told me that I was the first person that person asked for a reaction to the movie. The way the story is told, the look at my face was the first sign this publicist had that “oh, we might have a problem”.)
The reason why I write all this on The Rise of Skywalker is, since then, interesting things have happened that I did not expect. That night, and the first few weeks after, my attitude was basically, well, this movie sucked, but I still love the force awakens and The Last Jedi. And today it’s still technically true.
the force awakens does a great job of introducing some great new characters, and despite having a spin-off third act, it’s still a really fun movie. And his fantastic watch Harrison Ford have fun as Han Solo again, something he really hasn’t had since The Empire Strikes Back. (I really believe that Ford’s hatred of Han Solo comes from Return of the Jedi. He’s right that the character doesn’t have an arc in this movie and really doesn’t play a part in the plot, which is why he wanted to be killed off in Jedi because at least it is Something. He’s the best pilot in the galaxy, so of course in the final battle he’s racing with the Ewoks for some reason. And at this point, Ford is a big star (he wasn’t when star wars and Empire came out) which had just made the headlines The Raiders of the Lost Ark and blade runner and then played second violin again. Either way, I will always appreciate the force awakens for letting Ford learn to love Han Solo, at least a little, again.
And The Last Jedi is just all a modern star wars film with something to say should be. Letting go of nostalgia and the idea that maybe there are other people in this galaxy other than Skywalkers. My favorite scene in this movie is literally, almost like a starting line, Rey’s hopes and dreams are dashed by Kylo Ren telling her that she’s just the child of the junk dealers who abandoned her. it was a shocking reveal in the sense that there is no shocking reveal. It’s a truly fantastic plot point and character point, with Rey now not relying on some mythical legacy to save her, but now she’s just left alone to have to do it herself. It made Rey herself important. She was not a cog in the machine. She was now the machine. It is a brilliant and audacious story. I’ll never understand the backlash of the whole “Rey is nobody” thing. The fact that she wasn’t tied to someone with Force powers made her someone! Just being someone’s child doesn’t make someone someone. It may actually be the opposite. Also, not all of the Jedi we meet in the prequels are tied to anyone. They are not Skywalkers. Half of them could also be the offspring of bric-a-brac dealers. How did it become a thing?
But for The Rise of Skywalker undoing that by making Rey Palpatine’s granddaughter is unforgivable. (And, honestly, it doesn’t make sense.) That one decision, for me, retroactively ruined the other two films. I think I could have lived with the plot of a star wars the movie being silly, “let’s find the thingy, so we can find the other thingy, so we can find the magic card knife, so we can find the secret room” type of movie as long as the plot remained intact. It would have been a fluff, but whatever. But no, that’s not what happened. They made a treasure hunt movie and decided to ruin the previous film in the process. So I hope someday I can get to the point of pretending The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t exist and I’m just enjoying the other two films for what they are, but, two and a half years later, I’m not there anymore. Now trying to look The Last Jedi, I just have a sinking feeling at every story beat that I love and which I know now gets reversed in the next movie. So instead of just forgetting The Rise of Skywalker, I, unfortunately, somehow unconsciously forgot all three. I hope that will change, but that’s where I am. And that’s a shame, because I really enjoyed all the hype and the buildup for all three movies. It’s so strange that this could happen.
(I really think that’s why Solo is viewed in a better light today. At the time, it’s like, what is this? Back to the main story. Then we went back to the main story and saw what it really was, and now it’s like, hey, you know, Solo is very fun!)
A constant complaint I see is that “there should have been a plan” before these movies started. However, the fact is that there was a plan. Originally it was reported that Rian Johnson would write and direct 8, but would also write 9. If that was the original plan, well it actually is. a map and would have brought cohesion to the whole trilogy. I get it, maybe you don’t like Johnson’s The Last Jedi, but I won’t hear any argument that what he would have done with 9 would have been better than what we ended up getting. Now you might not have love that, but at least it would make sense. The other thing I’m pointing out here is that the original trilogy was put together as it happened. But the difference being that it was pretty much the same mastermind working on it all the time, led by, of course, George Lucas. So if he decides to go back on something, at least it’s his own story. (As opposed to “despite.”) But even then, it doesn’t always work out for the best. Any “other” that Yoda mentions in The Empire Strikes Back was originally supposed to be the hero of the Sequel Trilogy, so basically what turned out to be Rey. That would have been pretty cool, actually. Link these trilogies together. But, Lucas then decided he wanted to wrap up after the prequels and they needed to wrap up the whole “other” plot point, so at the last minute they came up with Luke and Leia being siblings.
It’s kind of weird that we don’t even know what the next movie will be. (The fact that there was star wars TV shows have probably smothered that a bit.) We keep hearing about high profile directors being attached, and then nothing ever seems to come out of it, or it’s “delayed.” Although today being star wars day, and star wars Celebration coming at the end of the month, I’m sure that will all change soon. But while all these other side projects are happening, exploring other parts of the galaxy, what will become of this Sequel Trilogy? Will it, over time, become more popular like the prequels? Honestly, I do not know. I think more children were in star wars in the late 90s than they are now. So I’m not convinced that the same effect will occur. But, for now, it looks like a disappointment. At least the Prequels had an arc and a story. So if I decide to watch them again, at least there’s a payoff and conclusion at the end. A strong case can be made that the Sequel Trilogy were better made movies, but with no arc or story, who cares? Why would I watch one movie, then two movies after that cancel each other out, so there’s nothing left? Something interesting was just there. But now it all feels like it was for nothing.
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