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– by Campbell Clark

 

When director J.J. Abrams finished up Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he honestly did not think he would be back in the director’s chair, certainly not within this sequel trilogy. Abrams passed the franchise on to director Rian Johnson and it was supposed to be Colin Trevorrow who tackled the third movie, that being Star Wars: Episode 9. Of course, Lucasfilm decided to go in a different direction and Abrams was asked to come back for the third movie, this December’s The Rise of Skywalker.

Abrams has a tough task on his hands, to not only finish this trilogy, but to try and cap off the entire Skywalker Saga, and it’s the latter aspect I have my doubts about. One of the first things fans noticed in the trailers for The Rise of Skywalker was that the wreckage of the second Death Star from Return of the Jedi was used as a location. My first thought as a fan, was, “how the hell did that throne room all survive after the Death Star essentially exploded in a nuclear ball of fire?” Will we get an explanation for this that makes sense? I don’t know. However for me, it would need to be a doozy to get past my logic filters.

Abrams recently spoke with EW and explained why he felt it necessary to go back to that Death Star,

“It felt like going into the haunted house, the place that you have to go to. This is a story of people having to grapple with the burden the prior generation dumps on those that follow. So literally returning to this wreck of the past and having to fight it out felt like an obvious metaphor, but also felt incredibly cinematic.”

I get that it seems cool, and that it looks good, but again, how is that much of the dreaded Death Star intact after being in a massive explosion, followed by the pieces having to enter an atmosphere and also survive impact with the planet. I guess for me this one stretches the “who cares about physics in Star Wars?” a little too far into silly territory, but we shall see how things shape up in the movie itself.

Another thing Abrams had to deal with is following on from Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, not an easy task in itself seen as how divisive that film was amongst Star Wars fans, and the number of fans who disliked that movie seems to be pretty large. I still maintain that Johnson made a mistake in killing Snoke and that Abrams himself has made a mistake in going back to Emperor Palpatine instead of resurrecting Snoke in some way in this movie. So what did Abrams really think when he first found out Johnson had killed off Snoke? He spoke with Rolling Stone recently and was asked about following on from The Last Jedi.

“When I read his first draft, it made me laugh, because I saw that was his take and his voice. I got to watch cuts of the movie as he was working on it, as an audience member. And I appreciated the choices he made as a filmmaker that would probably be very different from the choices that I would have made. Just as he would have made different choices if he had made Episode VII.”

Again, my problem here is that no one has bothered giving us any world-building for who Snoke is and why he existed at seemingly the same time as Palpatine. Abrams was also asked about what surprised him most about Johnson’s movie?

“I felt the biggest surprise was how dark Luke was. That was the thing that I thought: “Oh, that was unexpected.” And that’s the thing The Last Jedi undeniably succeeds at, which is constant subversion of expectation. The number of things that happened in that movie that aren’t the thing you think is going to happen is pretty fun.”

And on how these plot points had an effect on his latest story or not?

“I had a real sense with [Force Awakens co-screenwriter] Larry Kasdan about where things would go, potentially. And I think that, when I read Rian’s script, what I felt was that with everything that happens in that movie, and quite a lot does, nothing sort of obviated a sense of inevitability where I thought the story could go.”

As a critic who didn’t like The Last Jedi, I’d argue that there wasn’t that much relevant story going in the movie that it would have a dramatic effect on the third movie, or ninth, depending on how you view it. I have a sneaking suspicion that Johnson went down the route of Kylo Ren being beyond redemption and being the true villain in the finale, only for Abrams to decide he wanted to redeem Kylo Ren and thus he brought back Palpatine to be a primary antagonist.

RELATED: JJ Abrams Addresses Criticism Of The Force Awakens Feeling too Much Like A New Hope

Either way, I will judge the movie as I see it and don’t forget that on LRMornings on the 20th of December, Kyle Malone and I will be having a spoiler-free discussion about The Rise of Skywalker, then later that day we have a special The Last Call Podcast where Kyle and I will be joined by as many LRM contributors as we can manage who have seen the movie, and we will be getting into all the spoilers in that one. So remember to check it out.

You can also catch Kyle Malone keeping Jammer and myself from fighting in this month’s The Last Call Podcast where we argue for almost four hours about The Last Jedi, spread across two parts you can find it in the LRM Podcast Network however you normally access it.

What do you think of Abrams latest comment around the Death Star, Snoke’s death and following on from The Last Jedi? Share your thoughts below as always.

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SOURCE: EW, Rolling Stone