The Trailer is Here. Everything is Proceeding as I have Foreseen..
So, in case you have been in space? STAR WARS CELEBRATION has been showing some awesome stuff. And as expected, there was a panel about the new and to an extent final film in the Skywalker legacy trilogies. Hence that title: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER!
The trailer kinda speaks for itself and was, as expected: fine and fun! Watch for yourself below if not done so already. Then watch it again, anyway?
1: THAT laugh at the end: cackles = goosebumps!
2: Visually imaginative and stunning.
3: LANDO! Looking cool even in his 80s.
4: Great music / effects /atmospherics.
5: A sense of closure yet also some open expansion of the mythology, moving forward?
6: Respectful yet clearly, significant as much as sparing deployment of Leia (Carrie Fisher, RIP).
7: Kylo Ren unleashed / developed; questions no doubt answered and endless ways that character could go, relative to Luke Skywalker and that title’s meaning..
In short? It gives us enough to chew on between now and the release of more substantial materials as marketing heats up towards release later this year.
BUT: Reservations, naturally..
WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS?? Seriously. No CLEAR sense of objective /conflict / macguffin. Sure it’s a teaser and that’s fine. But Episode 8/LAST JEDI did not set up a ‘thing’ for goodies/baddies to ACHIEVE. There is no Han frozen in carbonite here; no imminent reveal of the odds / stakes in terms of a ‘final’ battle. And, even if they DID have those core essentials..
We are meant to be moved, here. There is supposed to be a sense that Rey/Poe/Finn are somehow beloved, cherished treasures of popular culture. They’re not. They simply have not earned enough of an investment, emotionally. I love Boyega: he is a star and Daisy, ditto. Oscar is a great actor.
But the fact is that these characters have not been tested or even breathed long enough; both on and offscreen, for anyone to care sufficiently about their fates. This ‘final’ trilogy has been around a mere 4 years including this year. Compare that to the original and prequel trilogies, where the 3 year gap between movies (without saturated additional content) enabled the actors to grow /mature, between roles and then bring that to the screen by their final bow. There was also an attempt at giving each character stuff to do, in each episode, in a manner that served an overall arc.
Not so here, because..
There is a massive problem of trying to be closure to a trilogy that never had a cohesion to it? I am not among those who made a religion of persistently dissecting and destroying THE LAST JEDI. In fact, if I fast forward all the Poe Dameron ‘Crimson Tide in space‘ nonsense (about a quarter of that movie, in fact?) then I have a genuinely philosophical, profound, satisfying, substantial yet fun piece of Star Wars entertainment. But it had little if any true continuity with what JJ Abrams seemed to set up in FORCE AWAKENS. And a house divided cannot rule.
So this sudden shift BACK towards the tone / pace / motifs set up by episode 7, simply feels like an extended apology for part 8. And that never bodes well. It forces the film to extend its own narrative and logically invites a didactic, expository, ‘tell, do not show’ approach. Granted, that’s a plague for many a third movie (Dark Knight RISES: similar title, similar difficulties, having been written into a corner, much as I adore THAT ending Cafe scene!). But it places an inordinate amount of pressure on the director, meaning he can never truly deliver HIS vision, which MIGHT explain why JJ Abrams has been entrusted with this..the safe pair of hands? As in..
JJ can evoke Spielberg / Lucas /Hitchcock and give a modern spin on all of those. It’s an undeniable TALENT. He can rescue good-will for dormant or endangered movie brands from Star Trek to Wars via Mission:Impossible. The man IS Hollywood and he knows what WORKS. Great!
Except, like a clone trooper, he was effectively born /bred TO that. From an early age, he was known to top flight personnel in the business and could write, to order. Yes, he had to work like any other candidate seeking power in the biz; but he had a headstart in understanding the politics, perhaps? Notice Regarding Henry was written by JJ, and Harrison Ford played the lead (Oscar bait imho that never did Harrison justice because he’s better at natural character work than he is the spectacular medical drama gesture acting of Dustin Hoffman /Tom Hanks et al; hence WITNESS being Ford’s best / Oscar nominated performance?).
Notice, also, that Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg and the like talk about JJ as though they always knew him, brought him into the fold, anointed..because in effect? They did! They have a relationship with this guy in a manner that the very counterpart characters onscreen in this new Star Wars film..do not.
Compare that with the organic, rough, experimental yet charming joy of the original trilogy, which was born from and to an extent reflected, the adventurous risk taking and new frontiers of cinema charting engaged in by Lucas, DePalma, Spielberg, Scorsese and Coppola.
Francis Coppola, indeed, was the inspiration behind the Han Solo character: a middle class rebel with talent; something SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, for all its underrated merit, failed to harness.
One therefore could get a feeling that whilst THE RISE OF SKYWALKER will indeed be competent, polished, professional and even satisfying as an entertainment, it will lack an organic impulse of true inspiration and its attempts at either originality or a golden glow of nostalgia feel like a mawkish and manipulative misfire.
LAST WORDS (For Now):
Ok so my points in the reservations are longer /more detailed, by their very nature! But the positives are succinct and brevity is a GOOD omen. They also outnumber the bad by a LONG shot and I AM left still curious. My expectations are not set alight and i do not expect those to be either ‘subverted’ or satisfied..but they ARE there. And to that extent, this is very much a case of mission:accomplished! A solid trailer: well done to JJ and co. Under less than ideal circumstances, you have delivered. THE FORCE IS STILL STRONG IN THIS ONE!
STAR WARS EPISODE 9: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is released in December. We will keep you posted on its promotion and review the final product ‘WITH GREAT INTEREST’ 😉