It was the moment we were all waiting for, if we’re honest with ourselves. From the moment the credits started rolling at the end of J.J. Abrams’ fabulous Star Wars reboot, “The Force Awakens,” we all wanted to know that Rey was the daughter of Luke Skywalker.
It made perfect sense, too. Luke’s long-missing lightsaber called to her, showed her transformative moments in Luke’s journey to becoming a Jedi, and ultimately led her to Luke, himself. At the end of the film, Luke was standing facing what looked like a gravestone (perhaps Mara Jade’s?) and when he turned, the look on his face could very clearly have been the result of seeing his daughter holding his lightsaber.
The Star Wars universe was jubilant! Star Wars was back, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia were back, and the stage for a new adventure was set with a hot new generation of heroes.
So what happened?
First of all, Abrams opted not to be directly involved with The Last Jedi, which meant the artistic vision that so adeptly rebooted the series was not part of the second installment. It desperately needed, him, too, as director Rian Johnson took the second film in many directions that were not true to the spirit of the saga. Mark Hamill, John Boyega and Anthony Daniels have been the most vocal about their displeasure with Johnson’s artistic choices, but from a fan’s perspective it needed the touch of someone who was deeply devoted to the Skywalker saga, which Johnson was not.
If you listened only to the trolls and critics of the film you would think The Last Jedi was a huge disappointment and completely tanked at the box office. Of course, that wasn’t the case at all. Not only was it the top grossing film of 2017, amassing $1.3 billion worldwide, it was also the second most popular blu-ray of 2018, selling over three million copies. Only Marvel’s Infinity Wars sold more. The Last Jedi was far from perfect, but it was a massive commercial success.
Overall, and I say this as someone who has watched the film 50 or so times, The Last Jedi is a lot of fun. Should the Canto Bight expedition have hit the cutting room floor in the editing process? Sure. Was Leia’s ability to use her Jedi powers to withstand the vacuum of space a bit of a stretch? Yep. But the only truly objectionable story element of the movie was the treatment of Rey’s parentage. If Luke had recognized her as his daughter and initially refused to train her because of his feeling that the Jedi were counterproductive, no one has a problem. Then, once Rey (perhaps with help from Yoda) convinces Luke to train her, the film could have taken the 30-minute silliness on Canto Bight and spent it developing the relationship between Luke and Rey and going more in-depth with her training.
That’s not what happened, though, and a lot of people were upset about it – myself included.
The obvious answer for Disney was to bring Abrams back into the fold for The Rise of Skywalker, and of course that’s exactly what they did. Abrams took the helm, corrected the mistakes of The Last Jedi, brought back Emperor Palpatine, got Chewy his medal, gave us another Han Solo “I know” moment, and gave the late Carrie Fisher a marvelous send off. I left the theater on opening night feeling completely fulfilled as a Star Wars fan, and that feeling hasn’t changed with (many, many) subsequent viewings.
So why is there so much negativity around The Rise of Skywalker, when it flat out fixed everything everyone was complaining about after The Last Jedi? I don’t pay much attention to critics and social media is overpopulated with fake accounts that want to stir things up, so I avoid it for the most part. When I read that Daisy Ridley, who brought life to Rey, was so inundated by negativity on social media that she opted to unsubscribe, I was a bit taken aback. After all, this movie was everything the last one wasn’t, and gave us everything we wanted! Ridley herself was brilliant in the role! Who the hell is complaining now???
Trolls, that’s who.
For some reason there are large numbers of people who find it to be a worthwhile pursuit to trash everything in sight, and the more popular something is, the bigger the target it becomes for internet trolls. There is no target larger than Star Wars, and the trolls have been busier than Jawas in a salvage yard trying to take apart everything that was wonderful about the final installment of the Skywalker saga.
The good news is that trolls are easy enough to stop. You don’t even need a lightsaber! All you need to do is stop clicking on their stories, stop following their social media accounts, stop clicking “like” or retweeting and stop allowing them to sway your own opinion on things you love.
The Rise of Skywalker is a hugely satisfying film for Star Wars devotees, and I have been one since first seeing A New Hope as a kid in 1977. Seeing Luke raise Red 5 out of the water as the theme from Dagobah played in the background brought tears to my eyes. I got choked up when Leia died, when Chewy got is medal and when Han appeared to Ben Solo. I was openly bawling when Luke and Leia appeared to Rey on Tatooine as she adopted their family name. There were a million things to love about Rise of Skywalker, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
As for the trolls? They should either be sent to the spice mines on Kessel or fed to the Sarlacc monster on Tatooine.
More Star Wars, please!