Friday, January 3, 2020
Some thoughts on the Rise of Skywalker and the future of Star Wars...
So The Rise of Skywalker has come and gone. I was there opening night, drinking in all the fan costumes and excitement for the “final” movie in the Skywalker saga ("final" = we’ll make many, many more Star Wars movies. This is just marketing b.s.)
RoS had a lot of things to accomplish after The Last Jedi. Love it or hate it, TLJ really upended the story Abrams tried to start in The Force Awakens. It effectively ended it early, forcing Abrams to figure out some new story to close out this new trilogy.
For the most part, RoS accomplished what it needed to. It was an okay ending to the trilogy. A lot of stuff happened and it made enough sense and worked well enough to get the job done.
Was it a great film? No. Do I have any idea why this sequel trilogy is even part of the "Skywalker Saga"? Not really. Hastily forming a connection between Rey and the Skywalkers in the very end of the movie is not a great justification for it. Really, it feels like an afterthought. An “oh yeah, I guess we have to make some sense of it”. The movie is “The Rise of Skywalker” and I guess we can say that’s Rey then.
Say what you will about the Prequel Trilogy (The Phantom Menace/Attack of the Clones/Revenge of the Sith) at least there was an over-arcing story to it all. Anakin is a kid; he rises; he falls. I have no idea what the point of this new trilogy was (other then to make money on merchandising anyway).
We were introduced to Rey, a character with no real arc and not much of a personality either. Finn and the other characters also have little of real consequence to do throughout the story as well. There are legacy characters present as well but none of them do much really either. Han dies in the first one, Luke acts totally out of character then dies when he uses the force too hard (??) in the second one. Of course, Leia had to die in the third one since her actor died in real life. They might as well not have even appeared in this story at all–it would’ve cleared up a little bit of space for actual storytelling instead of this waste of time.
We have some new “Force Teleport/mind connection power” thing in RoS. It makes little sense and now the characters are essentially all-powerful (except when the plot decides they’re not). Also, there’s now “Force Heal” (which bothers me a little bit less. It’s also been shown in The Mandalorian and I believe goes back to some earlier video games. It’s at least a little bit better defined as an ability).
I didn’t like Rose Tyco in TLJ. They had a chance to redeem her character here but chose not to even bother trying. Supposedly the character had more scenes but they got cut for time. Either way, it feels like they didn’t like the character and just side-lined her as much as possible. After all she did in the last movie, this felt like a weird choice and they still seemed to have time to introduce plenty of new characters along the way...
We got to see more of the Knights of Ren in this one but they ultimately don't do anything or even add to the plot in any way. They show up and then die late in the film... Also, General Hux is mostly wasted here as well.
And, how did so much of the second Death Star survive (when it was clearly blown to smithereens in ROTJ)? Also, what is Palpatine in this movie and how did he survive? His body seems like a zombie/half-alive clone/something here but it’s never clearly articulated as to what his status is. He’s alive but still needs Rey to transfer his consciousness into and/or re-animate him properly. Huh??
Who are Palpatine’s legions of followers? Acolytes? Well-wishers?? The Sith Code says they can’t be fellow Sith, so what then? Where did he get all those new Star Destroyers with planet destroying guns and the thousands of crew to man them all?
Also, we went from having to build a moon-sized base that can destroy a planet to a planet that can shoot over Hyperspace to anywhere in the Galaxy apparently to just having a fleet of Star Destroyers with super cannons. I can accept that technology can advance over time (like in real life) but really?? The Empire/First Order/whatever has gotten technology that can pretty much accomplish anything at all that the writers want to do now. There’s no limitations at all. Shouldn’t they literally be unstoppable?
Back in 2015 I was concerned when Lucasfilm announced they were going to do one new Star Wars movie a year. Turns out, I was right to be worried. There was no thought put into this trilogy (at least on an artistic level, anyway). It feels like the cash grab it is (which is not to say that Lucasfilm under George Lucas didn’t try to make money off it’s Intellectual Property but there was at least some attempt at giving fans some meat story-wise. People may not have loved the Prequels necessarily but they got us the excellent Clone Wars animated series and other stories inspired by them in comic and novel form–some of which are non-canonical now, but I digress).
Of the new Disney era, all we’ve gotten for solid films in Rogue One (there are places even it could’ve been better but I haven’t seen many complaints about it overall). Rebels and now, The Mandalorian, give us some hope for a better tomorrow as well. But if LFL/Disney wants Star Wars to have a theatrical future, they really need to flesh out their story concepts better instead of throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the wall and seeing what sticks. Also, get some better talent to write/direct. JJ Abrams, Rian Johnson and others of their kind are not the right fit for this area.
Blockbuster film or not, we need stories that are well told and paced better then the product we’ve been getting. There needs to be a firm storyline through any movie, a logical setup and believable stakes. Special effects extravaganzas are great but they’re like junk food. Satisfying in the short-term but ultimately forgettable.
As for me, I’m no longer bothering to see SW films multiple times at the theater. Once is good enough for me. Also, I have no problem disregarding this whole Sequel Trilogy from my personal canon. It’s forgettable and adds nothing new.
I have spoken!