May the Fourth be with you!
Now that the important part is out of the way …
As I’ve written before – like here, here, and here – I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan for pretty much my entire life. For me as a kid, one of the biggest deals about it all was the fact that there were supposed to be nine movies in total. It blew my young mind that there could be that many stories to tell, and I couldn’t wait to see them.
Of course, it took over 40 years for all nine movies to get made, which meant my experiences for each trilogy were quite different. When the original three from the ’70s/’80s were released, for example, I was so young that my ability to see them was dependent on others. I expect that restriction is at least part of the reason I loved them – they were unattainable and I experienced months of extra anticipation as a result.
When the prequel trilogy from the ’90s/’00s was released, I indulged in a lot of silly fangirling, allowing myself to do the things I would have done as a kid, had I been able to. For The Phantom Menace, I took vacation time and sat in a parking lot for 12 hours to get tickets for opening night. I saw it three times in the first week – twice on opening weekend – and a friend and I made a pact that we would go to see it together once a month until it left theatres. And that’s how I saw it nine times on the big screen. I actually (mostly) enjoyed the prequels. Revenge of the Sith is even my second favourite of the core nine films.
I was a bit concerned about the direction Star Wars would take once Disney got involved. They’ve got such a history of homogenizing films, I wondered if that would happen here.
It did. (Final trilogy spoilers ahead.)
The films became very quippy – I can’t watch them without feeling like they’re yet another offshoot of the Marvel universe – and there are just too many of them. It used to be that the release of a new Star Wars movie was a big event. When they’re coming out annually? Not so much. Although it wasn’t one of the core nine films that first started to turn me off. No, that honour was reserved for Darth Vader using puns in Rogue One.
I didn’t mind The Force Awakens. The fact that it was essentially a remake of A New Hope wasn’t great, but at least I was seeing all the old faces again. The Last Jedi, though, that was another story. The juvenile, “Can you put a shirt on?” humour, along with the whole casino storyline mostly killed my enjoyment of the movie. And then there was Leia. After Carrie Fisher’s death, a few reshoots could have given Leia a worthy ending. Instead, she flew through the air like one of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty to spend most of the rest of the film unconscious so she could be digitally inserted in the final installment.
Ah, yes. The final installment.
Until a friend talked me out of my decision, I had no intention of seeing The Rise of Skywalker. After 40 years, the shine was gone. Like me until that point, he always sees the films on opening night, and we’ll have a fun chat about them the next day. This time, when he asked what I thought, I said I hadn’t seen it. He encouraged me to go, saying straight up that while I wouldn’t like it, he still thought I should go.
In the long run, he convinced me, and I’m honestly glad he did.
It’s not that it was a good movie. The fan service it was stuffed to the gills with was facepalmingly annoying, and kept pulling me out of the story. There was a plethora of “Seriously?” moments.
But there were three scenes I liked. (Which is three more than in The Last Jedi.) Chewie’s reaction to Leia’s death, the moments before C-3PO’s memory wipe, and Lando telling the young ex-stormtrooper that together they can find out who she is, all touched me in some way. If it had been just another movie, it wouldn’t have been enough to make it worth seeing. But in this case it was.
Because I owed it to six-year-old me to see the whole story.