After more than forty years and nine films, The Skywalker Saga has come to a close with the ultimate chapter The Rise of Skywalker. This mammoth mythic film series has been the bedrock of the Star Wars universe since 1977, telling three-generational tales about a single-family in this far away galaxy.
With The Rise of Skywalker, another trilogy comes to a close as well, with the story starting with 2015’s The Force Awakens completed. Perhaps no other trilogy or series had more pressure on it. Now that it is finished, it’s time to look at where the trilogy excelled and where it could have used a bit more work.
10 Worked – The Treatment Of Legacy Characters
While some feel that the deaths and ends of legacy characters were disappointing, in reality, they were exactly what they needed to be. If this trilogy excelled at anything, it was the reverence and respect for what came before it.
Not since Empire had Harrison Ford given such an ecstatic performance as Han Solo. Carrie Fisher’s profound legacy couldn’t have been celebrated in a better way, especially after her untimely passing. And perhaps the most controversial opinion of all, but Luke Skywalker, not only lived up to his legend but became a more complex and profound version of the character than ever before.
9 Disappointed – Not Enough World Building
The Prequel Trilogy is often lambasted for its heavy exposition and dry treatment of its political elements. The Sequel Trilogy, on the other hand, went too far in the other direction, not giving enough explanation for some crucial aspects of its story.
Unlike the Prequels, there was little groundwork from the Original trilogy that established what came after. These films needed to give fans a little more (but not too much more) establishing dialogue to explain the current state of regimes, governments, and character relationships.
8 Worked – It Brought Heart And Soul Back To The Franchise
Another thematic and emotional element that had been severely lacking from the Saga for years was the fun and heart of the original trilogy. While the Prequels embraced its mythic status, a lot of the all-ages fun and spirit of the originals was a second thought.
There is no denying that the filmmakers tried really hard to bring back the charm of the zippy dialogue, weird practical creatures, and uplifting musical score of the original. While some of these elements can be dismissed as pure nostalgia, a lot of it was the successful recapturing of why we love Star Wars.
7 Disappointed – Lacked In Prequel Connections
The Prequels left a stink on the Star Wars Saga until fairly recently. Thanks to its younger audience aging into primary viewers and the work done in The Clone Wars series, this trilogy became revered nearly just as much as the Original Trilogy.
Sadly, the fear of embracing the Prequels has remained a consistent issue with the current era of Star Wars. When the current creative team does include references or characters from this era, most fans enjoy it, so it’s a shame that so little was utilized for the Sequels.
6 Worked – Expanded The Racial And Gender Representation
For so long, Star Wars lacked in any meaningful strides in representation outside of Princess Leia and Lando. The Prequels failed the character of Padmé profoundly, and most people of color were designated as small supporting roles or dressed up in alien makeup.
With the Sequels, the entire new trio, as well as a lot of the supporting cast, were played by a hugely diverse range of actors. People of color and women finally found a place in the galaxy, becoming the heroes they always looked for in this series.
5 Disappointed – Failed To Represent LGBTQ+ Audiences
It’s no secret now that many fans are upset at the still lacking LGBTQ+ representation in Star Wars, let alone most major film franchises. Fans have clamored since The Force Awakens, for example, to see Finn and Poe become the first queer couple in the series.
Sadly, that never came to fruition, much to the disappointment of Oscar Isaac. While it is great to see a small moment of queer representation in the final moments of the saga, it still isn’t anywhere near enough to feel much more like a token offering.
4 Worked – Completed The Original Nine Film Saga
Ever since the release of Star Wars in 1977, George Lucas remarked on how the films were always meant to round out to a complete nine-film saga. Though Lucas didn’t stick around to complete this vision, Disney and Lucasfilm finally completed it with the Sequels.
The balance of three series of three films fits just right into the themes of the Skywalker Saga. With its completion, the franchise can finally move forward into new and uncharted territory, leaving the past to rest (hopefully).
3 Disappointed – The Restrictions Of Release Dates
The former director of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Scott Derrickson, took to Twitter in December, stating, “Studio release dates are the enemy of art.” If that isn’t a more fitting statement on modern Hollywood, we don’t know what is.
This is an issue, especially for Disney, which has to keep to as tight a timeline of releases as possible. The synergy of all of their products and franchises have to fit into their plan. There is little doubt that many of the issues of current Star Wars films, let alone Marvel and other properties, couldn’t be solved with more lenient time frames.
2 Worked – Practical Effects
Perhaps the greatest success of the current era of Star Wars has been its hiring of practical effects artists. The success of the original films was creating a world that fans believed existed. Neal Scanlan and his team made that possible in these new movies.
The best part about modern-day practical effects is that they don’t need to work alone. All of them can be touched up or enhanced with CGI technology, creating a marriage of the two art forms and resulting in some of the best blockbuster creature work in decades.
1 Disappointed – Balancing The New And The Nostalgic
For the most part, the Sequel Trilogy was able to craft a world of brand new characters, planets, and heroes that fit right into the established worlds of the Originals and Prequels. Sadly, there was often a tug of war between old and new that held many of these characters back.
The power of generations and history is a dominant theme in this saga. Still, the amount of callback and thematic reuse from the original Star Wars films often felt more like a distraction, if anything. Though never purely shallow fan service, some could have taken more of a backseat to flesh out the new ideas and characters.
NEXT: Star Wars: 5 Ways Rise of Skywalker Is A Better Trilogy Closer Than Return of the Jedi (& 5 Ways It’s Worse)