Well, Star Wars Celebration came and dropped a trailer many people have been waiting to see. At this point, the fans are divided. The Last Jedi did a lot of damage to the older legion of fans, and while the movie was fun to watch in an IMAX theater, quickly after leaving, I started to question the story.
It really wasn’t difficult to punch holes in the story. We’ve discussed The Last Jedi already, so I’m not gonna revisit this (much) because truth be told, if I do, this blog post may turn into a short novella. There are so many things that this movie did wrong, and I’m so passionate about the subject that it’s best I not try to write an essay on why I think it was mostly an abject failure (Richard Fox might be laughing at reading this; I texted him I liked the movie when I got out of the theater, and he was not amused. LOL).
Let’s just say I agree with Mark Hamill on the direction Johnson took for his character. I fundamentally disagree with it. Enough said.
Now, back on the trailer. For mega fans, and I include myself in this group, I think you must have seen the trailer over and over again since it dropped. I probably saw it ten times, which for me, is quite a lot. I think the only trailer I must have seen more than 100x before the movie hit its release was Star Trek First Contact. I would literally start my day with the trailer.
And back then I lived in Geneva, which had the terrible habit of releasing Star Trek movies 4 to 6 months after the U.S. release, so I went with two of my friends to the German part of Switzerland to watch it early. Sorry, I digress again.
So the trailer—it’s more of a teaser. It has some great elements. Spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to be spoiled until the movie release, stop reading now.
Lando is back, and my heart ached at seeing him. Why? Well, with the trend of these movies to kill the older characters with each episode, it would be a minor miracle if Lando Calrissian made it out alive by the time the credits roll. Just sayin’… Then there’s that fantastic and cool looking stunt that’s abruptly cut where Rey does a backflip and might or might not split the top of that Tie Silencer. Unless JJ is pulling a Copperfield and Kylo isn’t in it, or it’s an ally ship and she’ll grab it to get to where she needs to be faster. I realize that as I say these things I’m not really buying it. But hey, I like challenging the obvious that is being shown, especially in such an early teaser. My money is on she’s slicing that thing in two.
I love it when JJ does these set pieces as he did with the Force Unleashed; I only wish he followed up on the cool things. Because if Cry Baby Vader, sorry, I mean Kylo Ren could sense a blaster shot from behind and stop it in mid-air, why on Earth didn’t he do that when Chewie screamed and fired upon him? One can make the case that Kylo, at this particular point in time, was distraught from killing his own father in cold blood. I’ll accept that excuse, I just think it would have been cooler if he had stopped the blaster there too.
Then we see a couple of scenes: Leia with the older footage of Carrie Fisher (may she rest in peace), was poignant to see, though obviously her character now has to be a casualty, there’s no getting around that since the producers say they won’t CGI her in.
Fortunately, throughout the trailer Mark Hamill narrates in the background which makes us think we’ll at least see him as a force ghost, anything less than this would be an insult to this universe, so I think that’s a given. And let’s be honest, Rian Johnson single-handedly undid EVERY plot point that JJ kept open at the end of Episode 7. Why? I’m still asking myself that. Look at the picture below (it may be small to see), but see how insidious he’s being by striking one of the Js in JJ on the millennium falcon and adding an R in front, taking ownership with a smirk that doesn’t exactly tell me this isn’t as friendly a back-and-forth playfulness between the directors as some say it is.
To me, it’s a dick move if I’ve seen any. And JJ has been nothing but polite addressing what was done on Episode 8, and I would award him a medal for the amount of self-control he has displayed in the matter. I can totally see him fuming with rage in private and smashing a mirror, Kylo style, when he first saw the movie, though ;).
And that’s my take on this trailer—it’s very polite, but similarly giving the finger to Rian from JJ. “You’ve removed or killed all my plot points? Doesn’t matter, I’ll bring as many as I can, and I’ll up the ante by raising you a Palpatine!”
Then we see a shot of what looks like a part of the death star, and we’ll assume we’re on Endor in the rainy season or something. Except, the explosion in the Return of the Jedi didn’t really account for such a big piece of the station to have survived, but then again, it’s Sci-Fi, so anything is possible.
I love how people are already talking about long theories as to how it’s possible, and how Palpatine has to be a force ghost…to not break canon. Once upon a time, the extended universe (which was stamped and accepted by Lucas himself) and the emperor returned. Again, Sci-Fi basically means you can do whatever you want, as long as it’s slightly plausible, then it can work. More often than not lately, people forget that in science fiction there is fiction that plays a very important role. How many times did a beloved or hated character come back? Heck, if Maul can be brought back after being slashed and thrown into as deep a chasm as Palpatine, why couldn’t one of the most powerful siths of all time?
I would be sad if Palpatine were just a force ghost, I’d rather we get a flesh and blood villain, something Episode 8 robbed us of by turning Snoke into a kebab without even hinting at who he was, how he assembled so many troops, and so on and so forth. Not to mention a being so powerful that he could bridge two consciousness over thousands of lightyears, play with the force and force users as if they were dolls, and then not feel a lightsaber move three inches away from him (can I get a thank you, Rian?)? The less said about all these decisions, the better, I get it that as Star Wars fans we all have expectations of what we want to see and that no movie will match these expectations, but Empire Strikes Back not only met them, it shattered them. Then again, I’m sure back then it got all kinds of flak too by those who expected something else.
At the end of the day, I think it’s a very human thing. We want to be awed and recapture that moment of magic we experienced when we first saw these movies. We create these mini-films inside our heads and hope we’ll see some of it on the day we go watch the movie or hope that what we see is even better than what we hoped for. In a way, we may be doing a disservice to ourselves, because we each place the bar of expectation pretty high in doing so.
I’m digressing again, aren’t I? But well, that’s the end of the overview of the teaser and the end of this article as well. Or is it? We do have to ask about one of the biggest elements of this teaser though, besides Palpatine: why is the movie called “The Rise of Skywalker”.
I could probably write a small novelette about all the possibilities, but I’ll spare you that mental torture. I think, and this is just my interpretation, that at this point, without Skywalker in the title, I don’t think all the fans of the series would have shown up came release day/weekend this December.
The backlash of the Last Jedi was clear, fans have united and voted with their wallets by boycotting Solo, which, while it has its problems, nonetheless, the hectic production with three different directors giving it a go and was actually not a bad movie at all. I was entertained by it, I wish they didn’t try to tie up Han with the birth of the Rebellion, that was both pathetic and added nothing to the movie but free (and not really smart) fan service. Add to that Lord Maul himself, and I was cringing. The movie stood on its own without both these elements, and like Rogue One (so far the strongest of ALL Disney’s offerings if you ask me), I enjoyed it very much. But then again, I was ecstatic getting out of Episode 7, thinking JJ had rekindled the nostalgia of my youth, and by the time I arrived home my brain informed me that I had basically seen an Episode 4 reboot of sorts. Which again, not the best way to start this new trilogy, but not the worst either. A sentiment confirmed once The Last Jedi sunk in.
So I’m not gonna try (much) and guess what the title means. Luke is still around, somehow, maybe he’s the Skywalker alluded to in the title, or maybe JJ will invent a new force power and he will rise; that’s unlikely, but hey, we have a laughing Palpatine in that teaser, all bets are off. Kylo has Skywalker blood, and JJ loves trying to keep elements from the first (original) trilogy, so maybe we get a Vader redeemed, so Kylo will too, and he’ll take the Skywalker name? (He’s Ben Solo though… but whatever, he’s a Skywalker too). Or it will be something else altogether, Rey, who knows…
Hey! Would you look at that? I said I wouldn’t try to theorize, and that’s exactly what I did. I’m happy I didn’t go into too much depth or this would be a longer article, and I think I overextended my welcome already.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, if you have theories, and if you’ll be there on release day. Can movie 9 redeem this trilogy? Does it need to be redeemed? (I know a lot of people, most of them on YouTube mind you, that have loved these films). Drop your thoughts below.
And… you know what I’m going to say next: may the force be with you.
-Christian Kallias (Free ebooks at christiankallias.com)