By Sarah Meklir
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, released December 20, 2019, marked the end of a Star Wars saga spanning roughly 40 years. To celebrate May 4 and Star Wars Day, the film was released early on Disney+. With that addition, the entire saga is now available on Disney’s streaming platform, giving viewers their first opportunity to experience all of these adventures in one place. With turbulence and uncertainty ruling the airwaves around the world today, Star Wars offers a welcome escape to a universe full of nostalgia and heroes for all generations to enjoy. The Rise of Skywalker follows Finn and Poe in their quest to lead the Resistance under General Organa, as Rey trains and prepares for her final faceoff with Kylo Ren. In the midst of this chaos, a familiar adversary reemerges. J.J. Abrams returned as director, which granted a certain closure to the trilogy, as he also directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015.
As the culmination of the series, the most recent movie had a lot to live up to, and fans had strong opinions about contingencies in plotlines and tying up loose ends. Hammond students and teachers alike had bittersweet feelings about the ending to the Star Wars saga. WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
“I was disappointed by it. I think the most recent Star Wars completely undermined the storyline of the Skywalkers. Why do you even need the Skywalkers if the dark side needs to be defeated through the Palpatines? This movie makes the Skywalkers unnecessary, and I don’t like that, because that’s the crux of the story, it’s the Skywalker story. I didn’t like how it went down. And I’m an easy person for a movie to please. I don’t have huge expectations for things, but I was pretty disappointed by it. And when I saw it in the theater, it was a horrible crowd, like people were screaming at the screen and it made it even worse.”
- Ms. Lovaas, U.S. History teacher
“I was disappointed. Ms. Lovaas put it perfectly; the Skywalkers have nothing to do with it. If Palpatine was born, and then Palpatine made a child, and that child defeated him, all of a sudden all nine movies are about the Palpatines. And the Skywalkers basically didn’t help. So I think that was silly.”
- Mr. Dunlap, Band director
“The most recent trilogy was good, but the last movie has some twists and plot points I don’t agree with. Pushing Kylo Ren and Rey together after they were all sibling-y the whole time was weird, and if they were trying to add romance, why didn’t they put Finn and Poe together? What is a dyad, has it been referenced before? They needed to do Abrams’ cut of the movie.”
- Ama Stott, junior
“The Rise of Skywalker felt like a rushed movie.There were so many other routes they could have taken, and I feel like at the beginning of making the most recent trilogy, if they [the directors and producers] had sat down and discussed what they wanted to do with the movies, it would have been better. The movies felt very separate. When I was watching [The Rise of Skywalker], I was like, ‘this is amazing,’ but when I walked out, it felt like there wasn’t enough time to appreciate everything. Bringing Emperor Palpatine back made me so mad. That was such a cop-out. I liked what they did with Rey and Kylo Ren’s storylines, their character arcs and how they ended. I was happy with that. But the movie wasn’t the ending we deserved.”
- Shiva Sharma, junior
“I loved Star Wars; I watched the entire saga. But the way it ended made me a little angry… The fact that each of the most recent movies were directed by three different people [was a main factor, because] they didn’t connect as well as they should have.” The Rise of Skywalker lacked the clichéd “happily ever after” ending, exchanging it for a bait-and-switch of sorts. “The fact that they killed off Kylo Ren was horrible, because the force brought [Ren and Rey] together. Usually in movies when someone saves their love’s life, they both live, so the fact that [Kylo Ren] died was confusing. It also felt off for Rey to take the Skywalker name. She was just Rey, and part of her appeal and power as a character came from not having a last name. The fact that she decided she was a Skywalker seemed like a stretch.”
- Alara Sheriff, junior
“It showed a really inexcusable lack of cohesive planning for the new three movies. It really seemed like Abrams was just undoing—at some points quite obviously—what happened in the last movie. I think the reason some people thought it was bloated was their jamming of all this Palpatine stuff into a 16-hour time frame, when it needed more time to develop. It felt like Abrams didn’t have a better option so he went with one of the most popular fan theories online. The one thing I did really like about the movie was the relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey. The whole idea that they had this unique force connection where they could pass physical objects through space and time. For him [Ren] to figure out where she [Rey] was a couple times, especially with Darth Vader’s helmet, in the audience I was like, ‘Ok, well-played there.’
- Mr. Osborne, English teacher
People were also theorizing about the origin of the color of Rey’s new lightsaber. Alara Sheriff stated, “People think it’s because it represents the balance between both sides of the force.” Mr. Dunlap had an evidence-based approach.
“The original mythology was that the lightsaber color depended on the type of crystal you used to make the lightsaber. Jedi would specifically spend a period of their training seeking out the crystal they would use. But they kind of lost any coherent strategy to what the force is in the last movie. They were throwing ships around and healing people. Healing could have been used at some other point throughout the first eight movies. Maybe they’re claiming Rey has different force powers, and that’s why it’s a different color.” At any rate, these choices leave room for much expansion in the Star Wars universe in the future.