“Star Wars” has had a rough couple of years.
In 2015, after buying the franchise from George Lucas, Disney began to produce its own series of “Star Wars” film, picking up where the original saga left off. The initial two entries — J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” directed by Gareth Edwards — were both fairly well-received by the fanbase and made a large profit.
But “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Rian Johnson’s 2017 entry to the saga, marked a schism in the franchise. Its release divided the “Star Wars” fanbase into people who liked the direction taken in the film and people who didn’t, kicking off a wave of online discourse as well as a constant storm of harassment against those involved in the making of the film.
The next “Star Wars” film to be released, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” was the lowest-grossing “Star Wars” movie in North America. Critically, it was fairly well-received, but there was a general wave of fatigue for “Star Wars” in general. Back when Lucas made them, there was one film every two to three years, maybe even more. But ever since 2015, there has been at least one “Star Wars” film per year. For the first time, “Star Wars” wasn’t an event: It was just another movie, another franchise, another product to be consumed.
This brings us to last year’s entry — “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” directed by Abrams yet again. It’s a film that is meant not only to finish off the Disney trilogy but also the entire six-decade-long Skywalker Saga.
It is a complete and utter failure in both regards.
It is clear that the executives at Disney, after receiving the controversial reactions to “The Last Jedi,” were determined to produce something that would satisfy everyone, but in the process did just the opposite. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” attempts to reverse many decisions in “The Last Jedi” that people were unhappy with — the portrayal of Luke, the killing of Snoke, the reveal of Rey’s parentage — but provides nonsensical answers, panders to the audience and sacrifices theme and character along the way.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is what happens when you take a brave artistic creation like the original “Star Wars” saga and hand it over to what is ostensibly a corporation with little to no interest in creating something truly great, more concerned with being able to release one to two focus-tested products into theaters each year and consistently making money with it.
As someone who loves “Star Wars,” it was a sickening experience. As someone who loves film, it was a sickening experience.
I could go on and on about the shoddy writing, incoherent plotting and muddled character arcs. I could talk about how each and every decision made in this film is the wrong one or how flat and joyless the whole thing is.
But ultimately the most powerful thing I can say, as someone who has loved “Star Wars” for as long as I can remember, for someone who applied to USC because it’s the school Lucas went to, for someone who has spent countless hours in this universe is that I hope we get no more “Star Wars” movies for a very, very long time.