The Skywalker saga started more than 40 years ago. I, like many of us, grew up with the fantastical world George Lucas created. It shaped my childhood. It followed me as I grew up. Then it reappeared when I was an adult with George Lucas feeling the need to release the “special edition” versions of the film. Yes, these were completely unnecessary. Yes, they ruined small moments, like having Han shoot first. Nonetheless, my love of Star Wars never waned.
Then came the prequel trilogy. Yes, they were a mess at times. When you have something as globally adored as the originals, nothing was going to live up to the hype. I think the biggest issue is that Lucas and company were trying to tell us a story that we didn’t need to see. In telling this story, they have to shoehorn everything to fit into the right timeline to match up with the original trilogy. The other issue is that they felt nothing like the OT. The spaceships were too shiny. The characters were too weirdly developed. The whole thing just didn’t feel right. Yet, even with things like the politics of a trade dispute, stiff acting, and yes, Jar Jar, they aren’t really that bad. Maybe that’s just how entrenched I am into the Star Wars universe.
When Disney bought the franchise, there was a lot of talk about what they would do with the movies. Would they become cutesy movies made for kids with the sole intention of merchandising? (Let’s be honest, though. After the success of A New Hope, everything about Star Wars was about merchandising. Just watch Spaceballs and you’ll see just how bad it is.) Instead, Disney gave us what we all wanted: a Star Wars sequel that felt like the originals. But that wasn’t good enough. “It’s just a retelling of A New Hope.” And you’re right. It was. It was the same storytelling, the same look, the same technology. They even brought back the characters we love. It was the nostalgia we all said was missing from the prequels. And people hated it.
Another sequel and a couple extra prequels brought us more of the same. Movies that felt like Star Wars. And people still weren’t happy. Yes, Solo was a misstep in the vein of the prequel trilogy – another story we didn’t need. One that didn’t need to be told. Let the mystique of Han’s past live in our minds. Aside from that one, the movies were solid, well made films.
That brings us to The Rise of Skywalker. If you haven’t guessed, I’m not giving you any details about what happens in the final chapter of the Skywalker story. Just know that it picks up with the characters we’ve met in this trilogy trying to stop the First Order with the fate of the galaxy at stake. It is, essentially, a retelling of Return of the Jedi. The acting is good. The effects are exactly what you expect from a Disney-backed Star Wars. It is, again, a solid film. It does an excellent job of not only wrapping up the saga, but tying it back to the OT.
The Rise of Skywalker gives us a little bit of everything that people have been wanting and hoping would happen. And, again, people hate it. Had J.J. Abrams gone any other route, and not given us some fan service, people would have hated him for not giving us what we want.
A fitting end to arguably the biggest film franchise in history, learn as little as possible about The Rise of Skywalker and go in without any preconceptions. All the characters you know and love get a fair, satisfying ending to their story. Is it a perfect film? No. But it definitely does not deserve the response it has received. Remember that Star Wars was meant to be a scifi soap opera/western. One that could be enjoyed by all ages. Watch it with an open mind and the intent of just enjoying seeing the end of the saga you’ve grown up with. You won’t be disappointed.