Recently, I have been rewatching all the Star Wars movies in chronological order, including all the films outside all the main nine episodes. With the release of a new trailer, and a trailer from a couple of months ago, for the closing episode of the entire saga, I should feel more excited. Sadly, I don’t.
Not because I hated Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In fact, I am part of that small faction within the fandom that enjoyed the controversial changes and subversions to the established formula. Rather, The Rise of Skywalker seems less exciting because it deliberately trying to reverse these controversial changes. Palpatine’s return seems to be a direct response to the criticism over Snoke’s death, for example. The trailers for Episode IX, so far, have felt like apologies for the last film, which is hardly the most exciting message to send.
Trilogies are meant to build momentum, and feed off the emotion and enjoyment you felt for the last two. There are meant to be high stakes as the third film is meant to be the boiling point for all the developing storylines so far. Star Wars Episode IX’s trailer gives us none of that. The trailer is vage on plot details, showing only cool shots, impressive special effects, and hints towards character growth, all to the familiar Star Wars score. It wants us to feel like The Last Jedi never happened.
Further, this desire to appear more familiar and less subversive than The Last Jedi creates for an uneven tone across the whole trilogy. The Force Awakens heavily borrowed from A New Hope and effectively created an appealing feel of nostalgia. The Last Jedi wanted to take the series in a new and unexpected direction. This latest film appears to be going back to the nostalgia and sameness of The Force Awakens. It is hard to get excited when the phrase “the saga concludes” appears on screen because this part of the saga does not feel cohesive, neither in tone nor direction. This does not feel like a big finale; rather, it just feels like the third of Disney’s Star Wars episodes.
From the trailer, it does seem like it will be a solid episode in its own right. There is an impressive shot of Kylo Ren walking through the rain. The shots of spacecrafts promise skeptical. The shots of Kylo and Rey together tease possible, interesting avenues for the character development of both characters.
Whilst it may feel like a solid Star Wars film that I have no doubt will be a success, this film trailer does not sell The Rise of Skywalker as a conclusive finale to a cohesive trilogy. Instead, the trailer feels like a “let’s start again? I’m sorry” message. The wrong message to send for the final film in a nine part saga.