I have a suspicion that there might be something wrong with my brain. Because when it comes to the Star Wars franchise, I find myself unable to dislike anything with that great black and yellow logo brandished over it. As a consequence, I’m unable to participate in this great fan experience that is dog piling onto the latest movie and getting super angry about Rise of Skywalker.
Wait, no. That’s not what I want…
Joking aside though, I did enjoy Rise of Skywalker. Simply because it was a Star Wars movie and I am clinically unable to see any Star Wars content and get enjoyment out of it on some level. The reason for this is, that to me, the Star Wars franchise is so much more than just a series of movies.
I am so deeply ingrained in the lore of this universe, it’s something that comes from decades of the movies, video games and more of the expanded universe novels than I care to admit I own. It’s become difficult for me to see this movie as anything else than just one more story in this vast sea of events and tales I’ve consumed in the Star Wars universe.
Sure, this story might not have been the best, but we’re so submerged in alternative stories that all you need to do it forget it and move onto the next story. Which, In my case would be The Mandalorian. Whenever That decides to come across to the U.K.
But if I had push this weird trained mentality out of my brain and just focus on the Rise of Skywalker as an individual movie; then yes it’s a movie riddled with problems and inconsistencies. Unlike everyone else who has been ragging on this movie though, my personal biggest issue with Rise of Skywalker isn’t with it’s writing, nor its lack of representation, or its seeming disregard for the consistency of its own universe. My biggest issue with Rise of Skywalker is just how cowardly the whole thing feels as a response to the Last Jedi.
Personally, I loved The Last Jedi. Was it a perfect movie? Nope, no Star War movie is without flaws. The thing that really attracted me to TLJ though, it was how many risks the movie was willing to take. As I previously mentioned, I can’t approach a Star Wars movie without some kind of long term plan somewhere in the back of my mind.
Knowing that Disney wanted to produce a lot of new Star Wars content in the future, just rehashing the older movies like they did with The Force Awakens would not stand. It was a disservice to the movies themselves and the fans who had obsessed with them for decades (or so I thought). With the Last Jedi, it felt like Disney were willing to take risks with the property and really mix things up for the future of the franchise.
But then that response happened. And Disney shit the bed. A tidal wave of criticism crashed against them after the movie, some of it justified, some of it (VERY) not so. Before any of this happened; in my mind, the franchise would be split into two parts: Anything that took place before Force Awakens would be more “Star Wars” in the classic sense, while all stories taking place after the first movie in the sequel trilogy would adhere to their new rules and story sensibilities.
I am adamant that Star Wars needs to evolve to survive. Telling the same story over and over is a short term solution that’ll turn people away. More invested fans even faster than the casual ones. The same stories happening over and over is a very real problem within the franchise, which is pretty much what the nine book Legacy of the Force series ended up being.
In the end though, Disney recoiled away from the backlash like some terrified creature of prey rather than the apex predator that the company actually is. Thus we ended up with a movie that seems to throw away a lot of the more interesting aspects introduced in The Last Jedi in favour of just rehashing the events of Return of the Jedi and leaving us in the exact same spot that movie finished.
Which was always the absolute worst outcome for this sequel trilogy in my personal opinion.
I really do like the characters introduced in the new trilogy. In the end Kylo Ren’s story was the one I was most deeply invested in seeing a conclusion to, and I’m incredibly bummed that he was killed off. It feels like too much of a “tidy” solution to his arc. They give him his moment of redemption, then kill him off so there doesn’t need to be any awkward conversations about him going forward.
All this talk of this being the end of the “Skywalker Saga” is fine, kill Ben, he’s the last member of the Skywalker line. But if that’s the case, why the hell have Rey dub herself a Skywalker come the end of the movie? I have no problem with Rey, but killing Ben and leaving her as the last Jedi (sans Finn), but it’s a boring position to leave the franchise in. As I mentioned before, it leaves the series in almost the exact same place Return of the Jedi left it in, and if that’s the case, then what the hell was the point in any of these movies?
I did enjoy Rise of Skywalker in the moment to moment of watching it, and I’m sure I will again in the future. Even more so when the story finds some continuation. But what really kills me about this entire new trilogy is how the fans and Disney’s fear of the fans is ultimately holding it back.
There are so many loud and angry individuals whose only context of the franchise is the movies. Before you jump down my throat, I’m not using that to say my fandom somehow has more value than those who only do watch the movies. But people really need to stop using the original trilogy as some kind of measuring bar to compare and contrast these new movies, Star Wars stories don’t start and end with the Jedi.
The fact that the vocal critics are so abhorrently opposed to any risks or change to the franchise, despite the books pushing all of these unpopular and difficult social issues for years before Rey was a thing, really frustrates me. Not just because of how closed minded people are, but because of how Disney ended up losing all faith in their own story and totally cannibalised it along the way turning it all into the big mess we ended up getting.
Can’t we just get a few years of Rogue One style spin off movies now… So that Disney can get their ideas together and move this franchise forward rather than pandering to nostalgia.