Star Wars sequels jump into a hyperspace of emotions

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

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Star Wars sequels jump into a hyperspace of emotions

Episode IX, released in December, concluded the third trilogy in the Star Wars saga.

Episode IX, released in December, concluded the third trilogy in the Star Wars saga.

LucasFilm

Episode IX, released in December, concluded the third trilogy in the Star Wars saga.

LucasFilm

LucasFilm

Episode IX, released in December, concluded the third trilogy in the Star Wars saga.

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The following review contains spoilers for The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker.

Since the reboot of the Star Wars franchise in 2015 with a brand new trilogy, it feels as if the latest sequel films have received nothing but criticism filled complaints. As a story that means so much to countless people, high expectations made the new films difficult to win over everyone’s hearts. For me, the newest trilogy had its share of things I did not like, as does every film I watch. However, it still stands out to me above other movies, and I believe it creates a worthy story to add to the galaxy far, far away. 

When Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, the prequel trilogy was not happily welcomed by all when it hit the box office. The prequels were constantly criticised for their let-downs after the thrilling original trilogy. The films felt like they went from epic space battles to boring meetings over trade disputes. Anakin was an annoying, bratty kid, and I do not think he became as relatable of a character as George Lucas was hoping for. Additionally, nothing can create hatred among fans like Jar Jar Binks, a failure of comic relief. However, I have noticed that as these films age, fans have grown to accept them more. It is a slow process, but these films age well because Star Wars has such a treasured legacy attached to it. 

The same thing that happened with the prequels is now happening with the sequels. It has not been everything people have hoped it would be. People are comparing them to the originals instead of looking at what is unique and different about the new films. Also, those who grew up when originals were released, grew up with Luke, Leia, and Han as their heroes. Seeing their stories change has created quite the backlash, as the characters have evolved over time. 

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Most of Episodes I, II, and III consisted of meetings between the Jedi Council, separatists, and chancellor. These meetings while insightful, were not the most exciting to watch.

Personally I have enjoyed episodes seven, eight, and nine far more than I did one, two, and three. The films have returned to the state of drama within force users and major fights within space. The storylines are far more interesting and hold the audience’s attention more effectively. 

I once read somewhere that The Force Awakens is “a love letter to A New Hope.” The seventh episode was the first to be released while LucasFilm became owned by Disney. It casted tons of pressure upon the newest director, J.J. Abrams, as he was the first one to direct a Star Wars film besides George Lucas. 

The beginning of the sequels did a fantastic way of creating set-up for new characters such as Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe Dameron, Maz Kanata, and Snoke. The search for Luke Skywalker combined with young characters learning about the force showed the legacy of these films in a nostalgic, emotional way. The mystery behind the story drew audiences in more, and created new ideas without too much slow introduction. This film was the most accepted one of the trilogy by fans, besides the uproar of Han Solo’s death. Despite this, The Force Awakens was my least favorite of the trilogy. The plot was simply too basic. 

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From Luke, Leia, and Han, to Poe, Rey, and Finn, the legacy of an amazing Star Wars trio lives on. The Force Awakens did a beautiful job of introducing these characters and growing them throughout the saga.

Because of the stress to make The Force Awakens feel like the hype of the originals, it basically copied the plot—a young hero who lives in the sand gets an opportunity to leave life in the sand and learn about the force. They are tempted by the dark side while a large weapon shaped like a moon blows up planets. A very complex mission is created to blow up the battle station if done correctly. The end. 

Does that plot feel familiar? The ideas of a space weapon so powerful it takes out entire planets and fleets is a major aspect of the saga. However, the plot surrounding the destroyer is too similar. I wished for more from The Force Awakens.

Shifting from J.J. Abrams to director Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi was the beginning of a major controversy among Star Wars fans. More than anything, the character journeys seemed to have the most backlash. Finn and Rose’s journey to Canto Bight was seen as pointless, leading to another one of Finn’s failures in the past two films. Although appearing unnecessary, I believe this was to show a grim and relatable theme—sometimes, no matter how much someone tries, things keep getting messed up and failing.

I will admit, Leia’s foce powers after being blasted into space was poorly done. Force sensitive or not, a Star Wars character does not have the ability to stay alive without protection like that, especially after being blasted into space. It also killed off legacy leaders such as Admiral Ackbar in a very anticlimactic way, one that does not bring justice to those who were lost. 

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He even throws his lightsaber, although I do not blame him—last time he had that lightsaber he got his hand cut off.”

The greatest amount of backlash came in response to Luke Skywalker, everyone’s childhood hero. He is depicted in this movie not as a patient and wise Jedi, but a man who has made mistakes that completely alter the course of history. He is messy, he is hopeless, he is isolated. He even throws his lightsaber, although I do not blame him—last time he had that lightsaber he got his hand cut off. Fans were crushed and infuriated by his death, taken by the force after exerting so much energy. After initial feelings of conflict about this death, I feel that it has the same sense of redemption that Anakin had at the end of Return of the Jedi. Luke finds himself again, within all the sense of shame and failure, to save the Resistance.

Within the entire Star Wars franchise, Episode VIII is the most visually beautiful film. Between all the breathtaking shots on Ach-To and Crait, every moment feels filled with a sense of purpose. The movie takes moments to show intimate shots of character’s faces and large shots of all the action in a battle at once. It is a colorful film from the locations and costumes. The Last Jedi is a stunning piece of art that, no matter what people think of the plot, will leave jaws dropped.

With a tragically triumphant end, The Rise of Skywalker was my favorite film in the trilogy. Back in J.J. Abrams’ fashion, the movie was a bit of a whirlwind. It went a little too fast, and so much happened that at times I was left saying, “what?” Some plot reveals felt rushed through, such as Rey’s lineage—it should have been a little more dramatic and drawn out, but not too much. After watching the film a few times in theaters I am happy to say the feelings of chaos disappear, and I find myself completely immersed in and enjoying the experience.

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Fans had mixed feelings about “Reylo,” the shipping of Kylo and Rey, within the film. However, I loved that theory since The Force Awakens. From the force connections to the chemistry, they are my two favorites of the sequels.

Although The Force Awakens follows more of a traditional Star Wars plot, this film felt closer to home. It brought back all my nostalgia and truly connected to the originals well. It brought in all the elements that people love about Star Wars and made them shine. John Williams continued to create an original score that went above and beyond, enhancing the entire experience of the film. During sequences on Exegol, the planet where Sith Lord Palpatine is reigning, shrill orchestral noises when lightning strikes made my experience thrilling. 

The playful sibling-like banter between Finn, Poe, and Rey was everything, and the stronger role C-3PO had created so much humor within dark times. The connection between Kylo and Rey during their force bonds continued the electric tension set up in The Last Jedi, and their battle together was my favorite part of the movie. Filmmakers seamlessly put Carrie Fisher into the film, honoring the loss of everyone’s favorite princess. They used entirely unused footage from previous films, and no CGI. Her legacy was honored while not disrupting the main plot.

Personally, I was hoping that since Snoke died in The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker would really focus on Kylo’s growing power as supreme leader. I thought that bringing in Palpatine made Kylo just submit to a leader again, instead of being the most powerful. However, the effects on Palpatine were amazing; he truly was a chilling character. He was way stronger with the force than expected, which still is not my favorite choice by Abrams. 

Putting the three films together as a whole, I am a bit disappointed. Because of the director changes between films, the setups constantly change. Abrams set up the entire trilogy and it felt as if Johnson thought, “scrap those ideas, I want to set up this idea.” Then, when Abrams returns, he tries to do the same and correct the path back to his vision. Together the three films do not feel like one cohesive story, jumping between main characters and ideas. Each movie has a plot that flows well, but the three plots do not flow well together. 

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The saga that will be forever a part of society and our culture lives on. This is the new generation, they carry the legacy of every film so far.

Compared to other Star Wars fans, I can confidently say that I love the sequels. I have come to respect the choices of the two directors and love the films as they are. Despite the problems I have, despite the negativity, I cherish these stories. I feel that I have grown up with this trilogy, it has helped me through some tough times within these past few years. As cliché as this is, the characters truly inspire me and empower me when I do not feel confident. Somedays the thing that kept me going and motivated was knowing that if I just made it to December, I would have the highly anticipated answers. The sequels have a beautiful place in my heart and through all the hate from others I will continue to treasure them.