Could “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” lead to the fall of Disney?
“Star Wars” is one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time, becoming recognized worldwide through its score by John Williams and iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. George Lucas created an entire galaxy of wonder and possibilities through his original trilogy, leading to an expanded universe through books and animated TV shows, then eventually the questionable prequels. Needless to say, “Star Wars” has an immense presence in pop culture and in the lives of people who grew up watching these movies.
As Disney has done with most franchises in the past decade, their acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 marked a pivotal moment for the franchise. So far, Disney has released two films: “The Force Awakens” in 2015 and “The Last Jedi” in 2017. Disney’s third film of the saga, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” is set to release in theaters this year just in time for the holiday season on Dec. 20. In the meantime, Disney recently released its final trailer for the movie on Oct. 21. To say the least, the trailers only led me to question if the foundation laid down by the first two movies would be adequate to give “The Rise of Skywalker” a fighting chance, especially in a time where “Star Wars” fans were so divided by “The Last Jedi.”
To understand the predicament that “The Rise of Skywalker” is in, we must look at the Disney films and compare them to the original films.
Firstly, “The Force Awakens” did very well in its presentation. The cinematography is jaw-dropping, especially with scenes involving the dog fights between space aircraft like the Millennium Falcon and the TIE fighters. Everything in the film looks stunning. Also, the scores by John Williams are great too. However, with so much flash, there is little substance to the movie itself. “The Force Awakens” is a glorified rehash of 1977’s “A New Hope.” By basically copying and pasting the plot of “A New Hope,” “The Force Awakens” lacks an identity as its own film, merely trying to cling onto the legacy of the original movies to get fans into theaters. Even then, the legacy of the original is spat on as Han Solo is simply killed off.
Also, “The Force Awakens” lacks any development of its central character, Rey. Rey is simply given everything to make her perfect. She instantly knows how to fly the Millennium Falcon, she knows how to use the force well enough to combat the interrogation by Kylo Ren and command others to do her will, and she knows how to use a lightsaber well enough to defeat Kylo Ren. In comparison to “A New Hope,” Luke had to work towards becoming proficient in using a lightsaber and the force upon his will, which took him all the movies in the original saga. Also, Rey lacks any sort of motive to do what she does. Her only real motive is waiting for her parents, but then she is coincidentally swept into saving the galaxy. Turning Rey into such a perfect character facing no real adversity makes her boring, as there are no stakes for what is to come. This issue continues into “The Last Jedi” as Rey again manages to defeat Kylo Ren, among many other First Order thugs.
Speaking of “The Last Jedi,” this film had similar positives as “The Force Awakens.” “The Last Jedi” had amazing cinematography and scores. Scenes like the battle on the planet of Crait, when the white salt ground is walked or traveled on to reveal the ruby red dust beneath, made the film visually stunning. Yet, the problem of Rey persists as her motives switch throughout the film as the plot dictates. First, it’s finding Luke, then trying to save Kylo Ren, and lastly saving the Resistance. In this film, Rey is still an overpowered character who cannot lose, with no reason to do the things she does. Also, similar to the disrespect shown towards legacy character Han Solo in “The Force Awakens,” “The Last Jedi” features the massacre of Luke Skywalker’s character. Luke, in this movie, becomes an indecisive old man who holds no reverence for the old Jedi traditions. Also, “The Last Jedi” saw the death of Supreme Leader Snoke, who, from the last two movies, was appearing to be the main antagonist of this saga.
Thus, with a weak central character like Rey, no respect for legacy characters, and now no real supervillain, Disney is clearly scrambling to make the franchise work, best seen in the final trailer. The final trailer shows yet another battle between Kylo Ren and Rey. Why should the viewer even feel any threat when Rey has handily defeated him in the two prior films? Also, the trailer features a voiceover from Emperor Palpatine. Disney believes they can easily play this off as smart writing that it was him behind everything the whole time, but this is simply just poor foresight from killing off the main villain in “The Last Jedi.” Lastly, the trailer hints at C3-PO sacrificing himself for the main protagonists. As a viewer, why should I care about C3-PO in the context of the past two films? He has little to nothing in the entirety of this saga. Also, in a previous trailer, Rey is seen in a dark robe and a red lightsaber. Does Disney expect viewers to believe that the character who’s faced no real adversity to her “motives” would suddenly turn to the dark side? Oh please.
Disney has massacred the franchise that is “Star Wars.” They have tried to milk the nostalgia of the original films, all the while not respecting the original material. They have centered the film around a character who was gifted all the power of the galaxy with none of the struggles. They have managed to shoot themselves in the foot with one the biggest plot stretches with Emperor Palpatine coming back. All of this, yet I still want to see Disney succeed. I don’t want to see Disney succeed as a company, but rather to not see “Star Wars” die. Disney could care less if one franchise fails as they rule most of the entertainment industry. However, “Star Wars” is too beloved of a franchise to see it go out like this. I know Disney can do a better job for “Star Wars,” as they have all the resources in the world to do so. “The Rise of Skywalker” is their last chance to do something great with this saga before it all comes crumbling down on them, and despite everything I have said in this article, I still have hope.