I have a not-serious rule that the only people whose opinions about Star Wars count are those under 16, ie children, and those between 45 and 55, ie people who were children when the first film came out. While this rule mostly exists to eliminate from the conversation those eejits who hated on The Last Jedi, most of whom by my reckoning were dudes in their 30s, and of course includes myself, a 45 year old man who liked The Last Jedi a lot, it now feels in need of a bit of clarification. Because when I talk of Star Wars in this context I’m now referring to the trilogy of trilogies, the Skywaker Saga, as it has been titled. Star Wars episodes one through nine. Until now the saga loomed large over all else. The other films, TV shows, cartoons, books and comics were ancillary, secondary to the main events. And now those events have concluded.
Hey, people who are also in their 40s - do you remember when you first heard the rumour there would be nine films? Three prequels about “the clone wars” and then three sequels about “Han and Leia’s kids”. Well, they now exist. The story has been concluded. There won’t be an episode 10.
There will doubtless be more Star Wars things, but they won’t be beholden to The Saga anymore. The Saga is now just another story told in that universe, in that franchise. And that actually feels quite good. Hopefully we’ll get fewer fan-service nonsenses like Solo and Rogue One and more interesting new stories like this new Mandalorian series, which I’m not completely sold on yet but I admire its attempting to tell a non-Saga story. More to point, it doesn’t belong to my lot. It’s for a new audience, telling a new story. Or at least it should be.
Anyway, so I saw The Rise of Skywalker and while it was flawed it was probably the only way to satisfactorily end this thing. JJ Abrams has certainly become the Safe Pair Of Hands, able to craft something that does the job of satisfying absurd expectations without feeling like it’s just doing the job. All the notes are hit, maybe a few too many notes at times but on reflection it was good to see those notes. More importantly, it all made sense, which is a big deal. And most importantly of all I clapped at moments in the finale and came out of the cinema smiling. Which is everything you want from a Star Wars film.
I definitely prefer The Last Jedi. That film was more coherent and attempted to do something novel with the mythology, to push it in new directions. And I hope the legacy of Last Jedi will play out in future Star Wars films, exploring the balancing of power in this galaxy. (As an aside, I really hope Ryan Johnson’s proposed new trilogy happens.) But a film like Last Jedi could not have concluded this monster.
I will, of course, need to see Rise of Skywalker at least five more times to be completely sure of what I think of it. But for now I’m happy with how the story, that has been disconcertingly and absurdly important to me since I went to the cinema in 1977, has been concluded. It could have been much worse, like prequel worse, but I’m not sure how it could have been better.