If that statement fills you with rage, perhaps it’s best that you stop reading here. The toxicity that has festered within the fanbase as of late has grown tiresome and the last thing I want to do is add onto that. But if we’re all being honest, the controversy surrounding the recent films is nothing new to the franchise. Each entry in the saga has been met with both detractors and enthusiastic fans, and this doesn’t look set to change with the upcoming release of The Rise of Skywalker later this month.
J.J. Abrams returns as the director after proving his worth on The Force Awakens (2015). Both he and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson have done sterling work in reviving the dormant Star Wars saga, each bringing their unique story sensibilities to the series and have expanded its scope as a result. Some say that the lack of a defined arc for the series has left directors and writers unsure of where to go next or where to leave things off, but I think that this has been the new films’ greatest asset. It has lead to open story structures that have allowed for surprise plot twists and the trimming of fat where necessary while expanding on some truly interesting dynamics between both new and old characters.
And that’s another point I’d like to bring up - the synergy between both the original cast as well as the new additions. Unlike what some are saying about the recent treatment of Luke Skywalker, I think that the developments explored through his recent appearances both harken back to the more volatile traits he displayed in the original trilogy, and give way to new growth and genuine closure on his arc. His interactions with Rey throughout Episode VIII were some of the most captivating moments of the film, and did a great job in adding more to her character beyond The Force Awakens.
Returning to the upcoming Rise of Skywalker, it’s clear that Abrams is hoping to unify each entry in the franchise and provide a meaningful conclusion regardless of which aspects of Star Wars you prefer. This is an ambitious goal, no doubt, potentially being the first film to have something for each era of fans. Of course, this could also go the other way and become the most derided of the bunch. Personally, I have high hopes following the promising trailers that have revealed the return of big-bad Emperor Palpatine in the absence of Snoke.
The trailers in general have been note-perfect, light on spoilers and remaining cryptic while always building anticipation for the next film. The early trailers also revealed a focus on more practical elements and traditional filmmaking methods that have thankfully remained in place throughout the new trilogy. That’s not to say that the CGI has been lacking - Snoke’s appearance in Episode VIII is worth a shout-out.
All that’s left now is to wait and see how the story ends. Regardless of the difficulties this trilogy has faced in the eyes of a vocal fanbase, perhaps the end of the Skywalker Saga will also provide some closure amongst audience debate. Or perhaps it’ll all continue as usual, and James and I will be writing yet another one of these opinion pieces in a year’s time. The debate will be with us. Always.
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is released nationwide on December 19th. Tickets available now.