Star Wars: The New Trilogy review
In what is sure to be the first in a series of nerdy posts, I'm going to review the trilogy of Star Wars trilogies and I'm making my way through the original series of Star Trek so that's on the horizon too. Spoilers below.
I remember when the new trilogy was announced, it didn't feel me with excitement. I thought the story that was told before ended in the right way and a direct continuation of that wouldn't be up to much. The much better route would be other films set in the Star Wars universe like we would see later such as Rogue One. Despite that, I knew i was definitely going to end up watching them.
The prequel trilogy may not be remembered too fondly but at least it tried to have its own identity and not rely on too much nostalgia.
This is the biggest trap of Episode 7. Of course with the original trilogy being the standard bearer for a 'proper' Star Wars film, bringing back old characters from the original films was always going to be a crowd-pleaser and I enjoyed watching it too.
The problem is a little while after the movie, I recognised that the reason I liked it was because it followed the same lines of A New Hope. Droid has information which the enemy is after, our new heroes have to work together and have everything explained to them by the old veteran (Han Solo this time rather than Ben Kenobi) and the old veteran is killed by the villain. Add to that the 'not' death star (in the form of a planet this time) and it is hard to say the movie is taking a bold new step.
Even the villain was someone who was trained as a Jedi, turned his back on them and became a Sith and sent the Jedi into exile for 30 years, exactly the same as the start of Episode 4.
The thing that works best with Episode 7 is Kylo Ren- the first time he reveals his face, it may seem a little underwhelming that this guy is the top villain. I soon realised thought that that's almost the point. This guy wants to be as iconic as Darth Vader, as menacing and feared so he copies him to the extent of having a mask but the truth is he is little more than a kid, as shown by his temper tantrums. Ren gets the 'there is still good in you' treatment early so you might think that he will end up doing the same as Darth Vader. Rey gets the 'I don't know my parents' so you know it will be someone important but you hope it doesn't follow the old trilogy's great original twist.
Snoke seems to a like for like replacement for Emperor Palpatine (but with a lot less gravitas) and Poe Dameron is a like-for-like replacement for Han Solo in the films but Rey and Fin have a bit more about them. It is a nice story about Finn turning to the good side and the tease is that at some point in the movie he will realise his destiny to become a Jedi (even to the point that he is the first one to pick up a lightsaber) while Rey just appears caught up in it all.
It was a nice twist to have Rey become the Jedi instead with all the attention on Finn but the only problem is that once Finn isn't a Jedi, he becomes a massive afterthought in the next two films.
I wouldn't say I outright dislike The Last Jedi but the worst thing I can say about it is that I can barely remember any of it. The key plot points are Finn and company having to hold their ground against the enemy (in two or three different places)- this feels like the only thing they do throughout the movie and accomplishes little. Rey trains with Luke to become a Jedi while Ren decides to continue being evil but be evil on his own and take control of the forces ahead of Snoke.
As far as I'm concerned, the film only needed to last fifteen minutes for all that the film achieved plotwise or for character development. Luke Skywalker's death defending Finn and company seems like a wasted sacrifice for such an iconic character. It does introduce a connection between Ren and Rey through the Force which is their only real confrontation in the film.
The Rise of Skywalker feels like the freshest one of the three movies with the right level of telling its own story, use of nostalgia, action scenes and being fun to watch. I was a bit worried when the trailers showed that Emperor Palpatine was returning to make this another nostalgia trip along with the tease of Rey becoming a Sith like when they tried to convince Luke Skywalker.
This film stands on its own this time though as Rey's parents, more importantly, her grandfather is revealed which was a neat twist given the amount of more 'obvious' people it could have been.
The tide keeps turning throughout the film on whether Ren might become a good guy which is fairly well done throughout the films- every time you think he might be on the turn, he does something more evil.
We never truly see a full turn but the end of the film and Ren's fate makes him a good guy in the end but it is never as if he really turns his back on the Sith or his plans for domination.
As I think back on the trilogy now, the disappointing thing is that there are no lightsaber fights or any other action set-pieces that live long in the memory although Ren and Rey fighting with a stormy sea in the background is at least a strong image. The prequel trilogy has two standouts with the battle against Darth Maul as well as Obi-Wan and Anakin's battle surrounded by fire.
I would say the new trilogy is worth a watch but it doesn't feel like a necessary addition to the Skywalker saga. Whatever people want to say about the prequel trilogy, there was definitely a story there that needed to be told. Overall this feels like, as one might suspect, a cashgrab from Disney which they can't be blamed for but new Star Wars stories outside of the current Skywalker saga would easily make money as long as you place Star Wars in the title.