Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Release Date: December 20, 2019
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega
Growing up in the ‘90s, the original Star Wars trilogy was one of my favorite things. Like Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones, they were some of the films I watched again and again the most throughout my first decade, and I still remember the palpable excitement of the summer of 1999 when The Phantom Menace arrived. And while enough has been said about the prequel trilogy’s highs and lows, my view on the prequels has always been in opposition to the outright vitriol spewed their way over the years.
They’re imperfect, sure, particularly in terms of the writing and some very poor decisions (like the existence Jar-Jar Binks), but there’s a lot to love about them, from the music, the action, the incredible world-building, and the overarching tragedy at its center about Anakin Skywalker’s descent to the Dark Side. The prequels, as flawed as they are, feel like they carry purpose, charging ahead with forward momentum in a way that really makes the original six-film saga of the original and prequel trilogies satisfying and complete, with 1983’s Return of the Jedi – my favorite Star Wars film, period – serving as the perfect cap to it all, completing the redemption of Anakin Skywalker and setting up Luke as the future of the Jedi.
Like so many people, I was excited when The Force Awakens arrived in 2015, and though it caught its fair share of criticism, I thought it laid a great foundation for new films to leap forward and away from the past that also respected what had come before. This was the chance for a new saga to begin, and that was exciting only four years ago. Then The Last Jedi happened, a film that’s neither great or terrible, in my opinion, but one that felt like it squandered all sorts of opportunities its predecessor set up while quite literally “killing the past” in the process. In particular, I didn’t appreciate how the character of Luke Skywalker was handled, the original trilogy’s beacon of hope reduced to a caustic hermit who ultimately accomplished nothing in rebuilding the Jedi and was killed off.
All this is to say that, going into The Rise of Skywalker, my expectations were pretty low. While I enjoyed the Rogue One and Solo standalone films to different degrees, the actual sequel trilogy never felt like it had a purpose after The Last Jedi, that it was building up to something big in its third and final outing in the way that Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith had. And it’s that issue, that notion that this film had to find a way to wrap up its own trilogy in a satisfying way, that makes it all the more problematic that it’s been marketed instead as the end of the nine-film saga as a whole, because the original saga ended in an immensely satisfying way already in 1983.
Pick a Month: