But did the Skywalker Saga come to a successful end? Yes, yes it did.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (released in more than 4,400 theaters on Dec. 20) concludes not only the trilogy that began four years ago with “The Force Awakens,” but also the Skywalker Saga that started in a galaxy far, far away in 1977 with the debut of “A New Hope.”
Without giving away anything other than what’s in the trailers (and a few common sense conclusions), “The Rise of Skywalker” manages to wrap up the adventures of Rey, Finn and Poe in a rather succinct way.
Rey learns her true origin and becomes the Jedi she’s destined to be; Poe shakes off his “hot shot” attitude and evolves into the next leader of the Resistance; and Finn overcomes the constant need to run away and through an amazing show of bravery helps win the final battle against the First Order.
During the movie’s two hours and 22 minutes, viewers are rewarded with plenty of throwbacks to older Star Wars movies and television shows, amazing visuals, exciting battles in space and on land, a few choice cameos, some new and interesting characters and many loose ends neatly wrapped up.
It’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen at least once. Maybe even twice.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and plan on watching it again on the big screen a second time in the near future, not everyone was as excited about the release of the movie. And that’s fine. Some people aren’t happy with the direction Disney has gone with the Star Wars franchise since the company acquired the property from George Lucas back in 2012.
Of course, not everyone was happy with Star Wars being in the hands of George Lucas, myself included. I thought the prequels were poorly written and relied too much upon CGI; Lucas was squandering the possibilities of his intellectual property and needlessly kept meddling with the original trilogy.
I, like many others, will never forget that Han shot first.
Which brings me to another point: toxic fandom. Are Star Wars fans the worst type of fans? We’ve all heard the stories about how alleged Star Wars fans nearly drove Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) to suicide and forced Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) off social media.
The toxic fandom appeared to reach a critical mass with the release of “The Last Jedi” and the story told by director Rian Johnson. Some fans went berserk over the direction Johnson went with the second chapter in the sequel trilogy, complaining about the progressiveness of the film, as well as the casino scene, Rey’s origin (or lack thereof), Luke’s personality and the sudden death of Supreme Leader Snoke.
In the lead-up to the release of “The Rise of Skywalker,” I rewatched The Last Jedi. For me, the movie was better the second time around and many of my issues with the first viewing had faded away.
I’ve heard people complain that “The Force Awakens” was nothing more than a retelling of “A New Hope” and that Disney needed to try something new. Then in the next breath they complain that “The Last Jedi” was nothing like the original trilogy and that Disney went too far with the changes.
Sorry, you can’t have it both ways.
LIKE THE MOVIE YOU MUST
Back to my original question: Are Star Wars fans the worst type of fan? No, they’re not. I believe only a small, extremely vocal group of them are the ones causing the problems. And just because something is trending on Twitter doesn’t really make it so. The company has after all admitted to choosing topics to trend rather than letting topics organically trend to the top.
I take Twitter outrage with a huge grain of salt, if not ignore it outright.
There have been plenty of gripes made over the years about the Star Wars franchise, so that’s nothing new. I clearly remember the great Ewok debate of the early ’80s and the complaints made about “The Phantom Menace” in 1999. Do I even have to mention the “Star Wars Holiday Special”?
But back in the day, you only heard the complaints from friends and family. You talked about the movies at your friend’s house or the local comic shop, or, in the rare instance, at a pop culture convention. There wasn’t a thing called the Internet then and the perceived level of vitriol wasn’t clearly known.
Again, I seriously doubt the actual level of anger is as great as the Internet makes it out to be.
I say it’s OK to have a healthy and fun debate over the time it takes to make the Kessel Run or if you really can bullseye womp rats in a T-16 Skyhopper. Just ignore the Internet trolls, let folks enjoy what they want to enjoy and if a movie causes you that much duress, you can always do what I do. Just don’t watch it. Easy enough, it would seem.
Matthew Lane covers Kingsport city government for the Times News. Email him at [email protected]