5 Ways Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker fixes the mistakes from The Last Jedi

How The Rise of Skywalker fixes the mistakes from The Last Jedi

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

By Marty

Star Wars hasn’t been in too much of a good spot lately. The quality of the franchise has decreased, fatigue has built up over time, and the treatment towards the fans that have criticized the new content under Disney is nothing but pure disgust. The latest film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, has been as divisive as the last few Star Wars movies made after Rogue One. While it makes sense to ridicule the film for its rushed story and blatant attempt at using fan service as a gimmick, other things like storytelling matter more. That being said, there is a bit of redemption that this new film has in regards to its improvements compared to The Last Jedi. As bold as it may sound, and adds to how low Lucasfilm has fallen under The Walt Disney Company, at least it manages to be better than what the last movie has to offer.

1. The Rise of Skywalker Attempts To Feel a Bit More Coherent

Star Wars films tend to go for a “bigger is better” route in recent days, starting from the more simple but effective storytelling of the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy’s visual storytelling. In fact, a lot of franchises have attempted to go for a much larger scope than before, with some doing a better job than others. The problem with the Star Wars franchise in recent memory is that it tried so hard to become a lot more “epic” than it needed to be when viewed from the trailers, and the final product ends up doing less of what it seemed to be going for. The Force Awakens promised to be a big turning point for Star Wars after its gap between itself and Revenge of the Sith (unless you count the 2008 Clone Wars cartoon’s movie), yet ended up as a rehash of A New Hope, and The Last Jedi seemed to do a couple of things that would probably change the series as we know it, but then it felt more like a fan fiction from Tumblr mixed with the “darker” tone of Empire Strikes Back.

The Rise of Skywalker isn’t a 100% improvement that puts it up along with better Star Wars films like A New Hope or Revenge of the Sith, but it at least manages to not stray away from what its trailers intended. Sure, it’s like saying that the dog leaving its droppings on the backyard is better than in the front yard; the movie contains many flaws that add up to the reasons why Star Wars and Lucasfilm under Disney has been received negatively, yet The Rise of Skywalker at least lives up to what the trailers, leaks, and other spoilers led up to. So instead some will say that its negative is that what it lived up to was already a failure, though choosing not to subvert expectations is a good thing, for better or worse.

2. The Rise of Skywalker Does Not Entirely Clash with what The Force Awakens Intended

Many hoped that The Rise of Skywalker would retcon what Last Jedi has done, which is easier said than done; retconning a movie released two years after its release won’t be as simple of a task as retconning events from a TV series. While it makes sense to want Last Jedi written out of the canon (then again, many would want the Sequel Trilogy to be written out entirely), Disney’s CEOs do know that there is a group of fans known as “Reylos” that will live by the film and attack even the most reasonable and harmless criticism of Last Jedi. The Rise of Skywalker was generally questioned if whether or not it would at least be as decent as The Force Awakens, and it kind of did. The film itself felt a bit more consistent with what started the Sequel Trilogy, even if there is an unpleasant reminder that Last Jedi happened years ago.

3. The Rise of Skywalker Doesn’t Take too Long Going Along with the Story

So many “finale” films rely heavily on making the runtime a lot longer than it needs to be, which can be reasonable when used sparingly; Disney’s done it not once but twice, with Endgame already having a massive runtime for Avengers: Endgame. Both films attempted to reach out beyond the “buy our product” motif and tried to market these films as the conclusions to end all conclusions, but the issue was that the approach in these instances made them feel bloated overall. On top of that, both movies really messed things up in terms of what occurred in the past; Endgame undid some events that took place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while The Rise of Skywalker made the family tree for the Skywalker family look a lot more nonsensical.

So The Rise of Skywalker did have its own downfalls, but in comparison to getting to the point, at least it managed to go a bit faster in comparison to Last Jedi. The first half was somewhat sluggish, but it did pick up in the second half, even if the other half wasn’t as smooth as fans anticipated. And as laughable as the Endgame riff was when Palpatine said, “I am the Sith”, and Rey said, “and I’m the Jedi”, at least it felt a bit more worthwhile than the battles that took place in Last Jedi. Again, not perfect, and certainly had issues that still needed to be addressed (or don’t even need to be since they’re front and center), but at least things happened in comparison to Last Jedi.

4. The Rise of Skywalker Attempts To Make Luke a bit Better than the Last Time He Was Seen

Luke Skywalker The Last Jedi

Luke Skywalker went from a farmboy that wanted to leave Tattooine to a Rebel Pilot that destroyed the first Death Star. He later grew into a Jedi after initially struggling with his training with Yoda and his defeat from Vader before he later perfected his experience and redeemed his father, who in turn defeated the Emperor before this new Sequel Trilogy made the defeat worthless. So what’s next for one of the greatest heroes in the galaxy? Those that have read the Expanded Universe will see more of what Luke has done since Return of the Jedi, but thanks to Disney, who has rendered the EU as non-canon, and they opted to make Mark Hamill return to the films with a wordless cameo in The Force Awakens (despite having lines from ROTJ in one trailer), and a role in The Last Jedi that’s far more cynical and uninspiring than what he’s done in the Original Trilogy. This has been one of the major criticisms of Last Jedi, with fans stating that Luke was nothing like how he was portrayed in the past. Director Rian Johnson may claim that Luke was consistent with his past, but if one were to judge how Leia and Han were portrayed in The Force Awakens compared to Return of the Jedi, then they’re more consistent than TLJ Luke is with his appearance in ROTJ. Making a character act different from what they’ve done in the past is not new, though there has to be a reason for them to act a lot different than they were in the past. Ones like the DCEU’s Batman or Fox X-Men’s Wolverine showed both characters with nearly all of their allies gone, but having them meet another person (Superman and Laura, respectively) show up and make them change who they are (Batman having hope in humanity after Superman’s sacrifice and Wolverine now wanting to keep mutants alive as he took Laura and her group to a Canadian border, respectively) before the story comes to an end.

Yes, Rey did attempt to be a character that sparked the flame in Luke’s Jedi past and tried to make him leave the caves he exiled into, but while Batman and Wolverine had different rules that established their status quo (Batman mentioning 20 years in Gotham on top of being a new incarnation, and Wolverine having been a man who went through a rough life before he met the X-Men he later lost), Luke Skywalker didn’t seem like he would be the kind of character who would go through their kind of radical change. On top of that, he was shown to get back into action after he was defeated by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, with Luke now portrayed as a capable hero that managed to look face to face with his father before they fought on the Death Star II. Some will defend Luke’s exile in TLJ by stating that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda were mentors that went into exile, but Revenge of the Sith later established that Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader, the events of Order 66, and the Emperor’s rise into power made both characters fall from their grace. What does The Rise of Skywalker do to make Luke better than he was in Last Jedi? He shows up, remaining as a Jedi Ghost after Force Projecting himself in the last film, and he tells Rey to face off against Palpatine with both his lightsaber and Leia’s. While the aftertaste of Luke’s portrayal in Last Jedi is still there, it at least is washed away with Luke having more of a hopeful outlook in this new film, and even if the final scene showing Rey calling herself as a Skywalker is ludicrous, at least the siblings reuniting after the lackluster meeting in TLJ makes the ending slightly better. Either way, Mark Hamill (and a majority of the cast in the Sequel Trilogy) deserve better.

5. JJ Abrams Doesn’t Leave much of a Bad Taste as much as Rian Johnson Does

Star Wars fans have grown regretful of the comments they made towards George Lucas in recent times, as they once felt his works after the Original Trilogy, including the Prequel Trilogy, were not great in their eyes. Now that they see the difference between stories they didn’t expect to go how they wanted with the Prequels and the outright lack of respect for what was established in the Sequels, many have wished they didn’t go all-in with Disney’s involvement with Star Wars, especially now with the monopoly obsessed company’s horrid treatment to the lore and the fans. Some of these criticisms especially come from the new directors of the Sequel Trilogy at least, who consist of JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson. JJ directed both The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker, while Rian Johnson was the director Last Jedi. In terms of the opinions shared by the fans, JJ is mixed in quality given his status in making content that’s either worth looking into like Star Trek or Lost or media that could be reliant on nostalgia, as seen with Star Wars and potentially with Superman.

Rian Johnson, on the other hand, has done content like The Brothers Bloom and Looper, yet his involvement with Star Wars is clearly hated by fans, to the point where no one knows if he is either continuing or dropping out of his work on a new trilogy. Neither director tends to be looked at equally when they’re compared to George Lucas, but JJ Abrams is at least the more satisfying of the two in terms of how he makes his movies. The Rise of Skywalker can be seen as a weaker movie compared to The Force Awakens, but in defense of that film, it at least attempts to slightly move back from what Last Jedi does and instead returns to the quality of The Force Awakens (even if it has its own problems). Additionally, JJ may seem like he’s the typical director that is said to be a fan of a franchise he’s involved with (despite it being one particular version of said franchise), but he’s at least more respectful than Rian Johnson is, who goes online to attack the “manbabies” that have opinions ranging from critical to unengaged in attacking others. To top it all off, JJ’s said to have brought George Lucas to work with the latest Star Wars movie, so even if he’s not as much of a creative man that George once was, at least inviting him shows he’s willing to do some changes for better or worse instead of continuing what Rian has done with his methods of subverting expectations.

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