If you search for “Star Wars” on my blog, you’ll notice I wrote about The Force Awakens in January 2016, the original movies in August 2016, and then skipped to Solo in October 2018. In between those, I had seen both Rogue One and The Last Jedi, because I mean, c’mon. I’m a nerd, and it’s Star Wars. C’mon.
Anyways, it’s not that I hadn’t written about them at all. I initially started separate entries for each one, but beyond a few paragraphs I kinda stalled out on both and left them hanging. It wasn’t that I felt less enthused or dejected by those movies; I just felt I’ve been running out of things to say about Star Wars. Recently, I’ve been combining several other related entries, so I figured I might as well do the same here so I can finally finish and post them! Also, The Mandalorian has done a lot to improve my outlook on the future of Star Wars, Onwards!
Note: As always, spoilers ahead!
The revival of Star Wars started with The Force Awakens, coming not too long after the sale of the franchise to Disney, which I briefly reviewed in a positive light. On further re-watches, my enthusiasm for it has declined. Make no mistake: I’m happy to get new Star Wars, but I began to wish for something that truly stood out on its own. Well, I wouldn’t have to wait long for that to come true, as the trailer for Rogue One gave me hope (a “new hope” you could say, eh? Eh?!) for something quite unique, while still being unmistakably Star Wars.
Taking place before the events of the first Star Wars, this movie covers the events of the group of rebels that stole the plans for the Death Star and facilitated its destruction. Since the original movie there was always the question of how the plans were stolen and smuggled out (isn’t “smuggle” such an odd word?). One of the best things about this film was how some little detail from the past could be expanded to lay the foundation for its own movie.
The movie follows Jyn Erso, daughter of a reluctant Imperial scientist, who reluctantly (noticing the pattern here?) joins the Rebellion to steal the plans for a new space station that will certainly bring planet-wide destruction and continued domination by the Empire. Joining a rag-tag team, they go to Scarif and attempt to retrieve the plans. I won’t give away the ending, but it’s incredible and perfectly fits the story; I commend the writers as well as Disney respectively for coming up with and sticking to it. This is a great place to start if you’ve never seen the Star Wars movies (gasp! clutch the pearls!) or if you’ve been away from this universe for a long time.
While I like this movie, there’s no doubt a few problems that makes this movie not quite as perfect as I’d like. As noted by Lessons from the Screenplay, Rogue One tells more than it shows, and its main characters reacts rather than acts (this is a huge fault of the prequel trilogy as well; everything happens to Anakin). This is in contrast to both Luke and Rey; yes they react to an initial tragedy and series of events, but from there on (through the rest of their respective trilogies) they act and push forward, risking everything to triumph over adversity and the Empire/First Order. But, overall I still personally rate Rogue One above The Force Awakens. In fact, I would rank it above most of the Star Wars movies, coming just after The Empire Strikes Back, the original (which I still refuse to call A New Hope, it came out as Star Wars dammit!), and Solo.
The Last Jedi
After my initial excitement for The Force Awakens cooled off, I went into The Last Jedi with at most moderate expectations. I knew it would be an almost direct continuation of the first movie in this new trilogy, along with a bigger part played by Luke Skywalker. Would it be worth the decades of wait, and would this movie nudge back into the fold of great sci-fi movies, let alone the Star Wars series?
Unfortunately, no. This movie seems to meander around too many plot-points, worse than The Force Awakens. Rey is stuck on Luke’s “long-lost island” dealing with the grumpy outcast, barely teaching her anything about the force let alone wanting to be a part of what’s happening, despite the death of Han Solo and the struggles of General Leia leading the ever-diminishing numbers of the Resistance. Fighting with her and another leader, Poe feels like a forgotten throw-away character. Taking up far more screen-time but lending little to the story, Poe and Rose travel to a distant city to find someone to disable a tracking device. Seriously? None of the Resistance members can figure this out? Or worst case, just evacuate the ship that is obviously transmitting an enemy signal and just blow it up. Not like any other ship, large or small, in Star Wars has been immune from destruction. While in the city we get to listen to Rose whine, and somehow it culminates to a kiss between her and Poe. Mmmk.
The only redeeming scene in this movie is the fight between Snook’s henchmen and Rey, fighting alongside Kylo Ren. That’s right, at least for this scene they are teamed up, and it’s the best thing about the movie. I really do hope it’s setting up the third and final movie for the two of them to remain teamed up (not romantically, ugh please) and finally bring balance to the force, neither good or bad, just “as-is”. Will we get that in The Rise of Skywalker? Doubtful, but I can always hope…