The Star Wars trilogy of trilogies ends in a week, after a breathtaking 42 years. With J.J. Abrams back at the helm, the ironically titledmarks the end of the nine-film Skywalker saga. Here's the big question: can Abrams hold the landing? After his generally well received first Star Wars action and the extremely controversial episode of Rian Johnson Abrams has the chance to broadcast the trilogy: ̵
Can he do it? Will he tell a story that is both exciting and satisfying? Provide answers to burning questions? Are you surprised on the way?
Let's discuss it. Don't worry, no spoilers. But to fully understand my predictions and perspectives, you need to know me a little better. So here is my Star Wars story of origin.
It is 1977. I am 9 years old and I am after my parents who have told me nothing about the film that we will see. War of stars? Sounds completely uninteresting. Admittedly, films had never played a defining role in my life. I remember laughing at Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Silver Streak and Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. In fact, the latter opened the same weekend as Star Wars, and I'm sure I saw it first.
But on that fateful day, I had experienced valuable little science fiction, apart from a few Star Trek reps. I liked the spaceships, but beyond that it hadn't been well received. So it was a very depressed little Ricky who dropped into his seat. No out of control trains? No trans-ams? No thanks.
I don't remember how long it took for my brain to catch fire. Was it when robots Laurel and Hardy strolled through a flood of blaster fire and the theater burst out laughing? Or when the monstrous figure in a black cloak lifted a man by the neck and gasped collectively? My general memories of this first look are blurry, but I know that for sure: two hours later I turned up. Overnight my world became Star Wars and all of its secondary aspects: computers, robots, technology, space, spaceships, film binding books, magazines, action figures, soundtracks.
I can still remember exactly how I went crazy when a television commercial. (Little did I know what I was getting at.) I remember exactly how I argued with friends who insisted that the film was fantasy, not science fiction. (Technically they were right – because of The Force – but they were also crazy fools. When I think of science fiction, I think of Star Wars.)
Looking back at 1999. I'm 31 and, like everyone else on the Planet holding a ticket to The Phantom Menace, the first of three Star Wars prequels. Three! If the original films looked incredible with the technology of the 70s and 80s, imagine what they would look like at the height of the 21st century.
Two hours later I showed up … now, like everyone else on the planet, confused and disappointed. What the hell was that? Trade disputes? Midichlorians? Jake Lloyd?
Well, George Lucas can also sniff every now and then. He'll pull it together for Attack of the Clones. And the revenge of the Sith.
No. And no. I'm not saying the prequels are bad, just that I don't feel like ever seeing them again. They are boring and soulless and dumb, and I hate them, I hate them, I hate them.
Looking back at 2015. Star Wars continues! Fortunately, George Lucas' misdirected pen was nowhere to be seen. Instead, power would be under the careful eye of J.J. Abrams, the man behind Alias, Lost, an excellent mission: impossible trip and damn good Star Trek restart. This is going to be good.
But it was not a good thing. Although The Force Awakens had more nuances in the little fingertips than all three predecessors combined, it gave us flat characters and a nonsensical (not to mention overworked) plot. It asked us to love Rey and Finn, not because we felt for them or identified with them, but simply because they were the stars of a Star Wars film. Nothing in the story felt organic; Instead, we were force-fed by our heroes, villains, and action points. The Millennium Falcon is just sitting with the keys in the ignition? Finn and Poe Dameron are BFFs after spending five minutes together. And, come on, another Death Star?
I will not say much about The Last Jedi because it was a Rian Johnson joint and we are here to talk about Abram's latest. I will praise it if I at least try to confuse the formula, even if it failed miserably at times. The worst offense is turning our innocent Tatooine Farmboy-cum-Jedi, our beloved hero, into a cock. If you want to dig out Luke Skywalker, don't make him grumpy and unlikely. And if you want to end up killing him, think of a way that doesn't make everyone scratch their heads. "Huh? He died of … exhaustion from projection of power?"
Now we have a film left and Abram's quarterbacking is back. Sure, I hope it will be great or at least good, but my inner child, who has been sulking in the closet since 1999, is doubtful. The truth is that I have little hope for The Rise of Skywalker, partly because Abrams has a mixed track record of closure (see: Alias, Lost, etc.).
But the bigger problem could be the script: Abrams wrote it together with Chris Terrio, who wrote the two incredibly bad films Batman vs Superman and Justice League. Part (maybe most) of the blame goes to director Zack Snyder, but I'm afraid The Rise of Skywalker has putrefaction. There is no solid foundation to build on, no way to end a story that, let's face it, ended at the end of the Jedi return. Where I ask for something original or at least logical, we expect more nonsensical moments (a decade-long R2-D2 suddenly wakes up because … the film is about to end and it's time to find Luke?) And intelligence-abusive actions ( the First Order fleet cannot catch the Resistance Ships until they run out of fuel?!).
Ah, but what about the followers? You look cool, don't you? I have to take my word for it because I don't watch trailers. Trailers ruin films. I don't want to spoil jokes, reveal pictures, wire surprises. I want to go cold into the film, with an almost zero idea of what's coming. The more you've seen in advance, the less you'll enjoy the movie. Period.
Full disclosure: I briefly violated my rule just because I feel quite overwhelmed with the entire franchise. I saw the first teaser, the one with Rey staring down and then running away, a TIE fighter that just seemed out of context.
Then, at the end, I heard this familiar, menacing cackle, and then I knew I was going on another disappointing Star Wars trip. So Emperor Palpatine is apparently alive? How original. The Force Awakens gave us Death Star 3.0; looks like The Rise of Skywalker goes for Big Bad 1.0. Yawning.
Another shadow looms over The Rise of Skywalker, which is sad and inescapable: Although the film gets to grips with Princess Leia's death, it will feel artificial and artificial, since it forces us to love the loved one who died To remember Carrie Fisher. It will take us out of the history of collective in-memory recognition.
Think of the best moments in Star Wars. Luke and Leia swing over the abyss. Han appears at the last second ("Yee-haw!") To give Luke the all-clear. Yoda lifts the X-Wing out of the swamp. Darth Vader spilled the beans; Luke's nervous reaction. The shock of Lando's betrayal. Vader saved his son from the emperor (before George Lucas ruined him with this bland "Noooooo!").
No modern Star Wars film has given us a single goosebump moment that could compete with one, and this is proof that the Skywalker saga is broadcast with very little effort. Prove I'm wrong, Abrams.
Originally published October 12.