2015 was all about Star Wars for me. It was the year in which Disney would release their first installment on the Galaxy Far, Far Away since purchasing Lucasfilm back in 2012. This would be following what happened after Return of the Jedi, we had no idea what was coming next. It was not a prequel, in which we had a rough idea what would happen, just not the minute details and how’s. Two important highlights of the year for me were in April and October, in which new trailers were released. And when the movie, Episode VII- The Force Awakens, was released that December, I was more than satisfied, and I began to ponder what would happen next.
Now it is September, 2019. Episode IX- The Rise of Skywalker, will hit theaters in three months. And let me be frank: I worry that I don’t care.
I fell in love with the Skywalker saga when I was just five-years-old. I cannot tell you the countless items of merchandise I have owned over the years, from toys, costumes, books, models, collectables… Certain collectables include Force FX Lightsabers, and there would always be a disclaimer printed on the box: “Do not play with. These are collectables, not toys”. Well, then do not sell it at Toys R’ Us! (a relic of the past now)
There is no passion. There is no excitement. Why? Just three words are needed: The Last Jedi.
When the first trailer was released in April of 2017, I was caught up in excitement. And above all: confusion. Luke Skywalker stated in the trailer “It’s time for the Jedi to end.” WHATTTT???? Holy shit! I, like millions of others, began speculating what this was all about, and was anxious to see the movie then and there.
But as time went by, I started to learn more about how different this movie was from the rest. I could not forget how Mark Hamill shared that he confronted Rian Johnson, the writer and director, that he could not disagree any more passionately with the direction he was taking with this movie. However, he stated he got that off his chest and needed to proceed with helping Johnson bring his vision to life. Then when the full length trailer was released in October, I was warned on social media not to watch the trailer, as it would give away spoilers, but I eventually caved in and watched it, not noticing anything that had me thinking I could predict where the movie would go.
I finally saw the movie with my brother and a childhood friend of ours, and we were chatting afterwards about all the expectations that came from fan theories about the backgrounds of Rey and Snoke being completely different… Well, there were not any differences, there were no explanations for their backgrounds. I chuckled thinking of the hardcore fan theorists who were let down by this installment.
I noticed something was different this time. I was putting up an effort to like this movie when I was reflecting on what I had just seen. This lasted for not even a month until I conceded to myself: I hated it.
I had countless complaints about the movie. The character Admiral Holdo, the Canto Bight storyline serving no purpose except promoting an anti-rich people agenda, the use of flashbacks, Johnson attempting to make the characters morally ambiguous, and above all: killing off Snoke and saying Rey had no important backstory.
The Force Awakens left us scrambling left and right to understand who this mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke was, on top of who are Rey’s parents? This mysterious man (or whatever species) who seduced the son of Han Solo to the dark side and create the First Order, the Galactic Empire’s successor, was tossed aside as trivial. Rey, who explained that she remained in Jakku waiting for the return of her family who left her there (who turned out to be self-centered people who sold her), and was abnormally powerful with the Force is, well, simply powerful. There is no explanation as to why this girl could rival Yoda without ever been trained in the slightest way. She just WAS.
I could go on and on, but I feel this has been tackled by many other commentators before. It would be akin to beating a dead horse. But the best way to describe it is that JJ Abrams enticed me to come towards him in this journey through the Skywalker saga with The Force Awakens, and then he allowed Rian Johnson to continue the tour, and Johnson, through The Last Jedi, proceeded to pull the rug out from under me, which caused me to collapse. I asked him to justify his actions, and he said: “Just because. This is how I’m running this tour now.”
However, there is one tragic aspect of why I am not excited for Episode IX: the death of Carrie Fisher. I was crushed to learn that she had passed, and worried about how they would handle Leia’s story arc now that Fisher was no longer with us. I fear that there is no way we can do her justice by keeping her in the story. Not only did we love her character, but we also loved Fisher as a personality, which was an unusual blend of motherly love with a raunchy, provocative sense of humor.
I am depressed as I ponder what to expect in The Rise of Skywalker. Fan theories exhaust me, but there is always room to wonder what will happen next without diving into all the small details in the previous movies for clues. Billy Dee Williams has returned as Lando Calrissian, but that still is not enough. C-3PO is seen with red eyes, indicating a potential turn to the Dark Side, and I just shrug it off. But the Emperor/Chancellor/Sith Lord Sheev Palpatine laughing in the background of the trailer? Man, I don’t even know what to expect.
After the disaster of The Last Jedi, I pray that with JJ Abram’s return to the helm, The Rise of Skywalker will make up for the disappointment I have been experiencing for over twenty-one months. I have often re-watched the final scene from The Force Awakens: Rey has found legendary Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in self-imposed exile, and offers him his old lightsaber as his eyes widen in bewilderment… A PERFECT SETUP FOR THE NEXT MOVIES!
Only to see Luke toss the lightsaber behind him in a comedic manner and sulk past Rey.
This? This is what we were waiting for? That’s what that amazing setup was all about?
That was not funny, Johnson, that was a let-down! It depresses me to think that this is now how the story continues. There have been countless petitions to pull The Last Jedi from the canon and re-do Episode VIII. Unfortunately, this will be impossible without our beloved princess/general. We have no choice, this is how the story must continue.
In a strange manner, I echoed Leia’s immortal words: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!” thinking that Kenobi’s spirit was out there somewhere, and that those who had passed on to the Force could intervene and save this saga.
My brother, who is an even bigger fan than me, insists that we should give it more time, and that it will eventually be recalled in a nostalgic manner, as people are being kinder to the prequels over a decade after their release. There are still numerous valid criticisms, though, but perhaps he is right? But in this moment, my optimism has been drained. I pray that The Rise of Skywalker will provide the. joy and wonder that these movies have given me since I was in Kindergarten