"Let the past die" wasn't simply a line of dialogue by Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It served as something of a mantra for Rian Johnson's entry in the saga. That also made the 2017 film most divisive chapter in the series. It killed Luke Skywalker, ruined the legacy of the Jedi, and ended the family dynasty the franchise had revolved around for 40 years. There's a reason many fans wanted to riot, but it's also why so many found The Last Jedi to be a breath of fresh air.
Disney, however, has little interest in taking chances with something pop-culture cornerstone like Star Wars. Sure, someone liked Johnson enough to hire him and give him his own trilogy, but there's no way a conglomerate that owns a majority of the successful properties you can think of would be willing to play with fire with this sacred brand.
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Despite its box office success, to the tune of $1.3 billion, The Last Jedi seems too controversial for the House of Mouse. Disney produces feel-good content, not films intended to spark intellectual debates. It's why the Marvel movies are all pretty much about the same, and why J.J. Abrams was brought back for Episode IX.
Disney likes playing it safe. Marvel's movies, as fun as they may be, are safe. Abrams, at this point in his career, is safe. Naming the trilogy's conclusion The Rise of Skywalker was a safe decision. It's unfortunate, however, that safety also means going back on a lot of what made The Last Jedi so good.
What is the Rise of Skywalker?
The first thing we have to decide is what the film's title actually means. The Last Jedi did its best to destroy the legacy of Luke Skywalker, for all the right reasons. He had failed Ben Solo, and as a result, helped to bring about the destruction of the Jedi.
On a larger scale, he had proved the path of the Jedi was never going to bring about a solution to the endless cycle of violence. The movie set up a finale that no longer involved Luke or the old rules that came with him. The entire point of him dying was to leave the future in Rey's (very capable) hands. But now there's a whole movie named after him and his dubious legacy.
It's difficult to see what kind of legacy Luke has left to leave behind, if it's not specifically talking about the Skywalker dynasty. And if that's the case, calling Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker feels reductive.
Hopefully, that doesn't mean Star Wars is retconing Rey's parentage, because that would be a real slap in the face. If the Skywalker in the title is referring to Ben, aka Kylo Ren, it's hard to see how the character can be redeemed. Does he even deserve redemption at this point?
Everyone is Here, Absolutely Everyone
Are you tired of seeing your heroes being propped up and put on display as a testament to your childhood? Well, too bad, because The Rise of Skywalker is doubling down on old friends to leave you with one final twinge of nostalgia.
Whereas The Last Jedi attempted to create some kind of new narrative around these characters, The Rise of Skywalker seems designed to do the opposite. It's more of the same, by showing you everything that is familiar and old. Basically, it looks like The Force Awakens 2.
If you were sad about Han Solo no longer being around, don't worry, because Lando Calrissian is here to play some kind of very important role. You absolutely needed to see Billy Dee Williams take one more ride in the Millennium Falcon before everything is said and done. This was definitely a story decision and not an excuse for Disney to play with your emotions.