SPOILERS FOLLOW – I saw the latest Star Wars film over the Christmas holidays, and then, because it’s a Star Wars film, noticed the debate that sprang up around it.
Star Wars creates debate over and above any other series – over forty years of films, a massive extended universe, and a fandom that sprang up as the very idea of fandom solidified – so of course there was bound to be debate. It wasn’t as toxic as the arguments regarding the Last Jedi, but, even so, it did get me thinking about the decisions that the film-makers made, and to what end they were guilty of one of the charges I’ve seen levelled at them – that of fan service.
I enjoyed the film, but I was surprised that they reneged on the story delivered in The Last Jedi. One thing (there were others) that I felt didn’t work (and which did have my eyes rolling) was the decision for Rey to be related to Palpatine, rather than “just” being another desert rat as was suggested in the previous film.
That was one of the things I found refreshing about The Last Jedi – that anybody could be a Jedi – but instead, they’ve made Rey “important” simply because of her bloodline. I much prefer stories where anyone can be the hero, and it did feel like something of a cop out that the only important people in the universe are all related to one another.
Anyway – I enjoyed the film, and I admit, I enjoyed the nostalgia rush of seeing some old faces “one more time”, though I do wonder whether feeding fandom is ever the best way forward.
I think I saw that eighteen of the top twenty films of 2019 were all existing properties or sequels. A bit of variety – a balance between the comfort of familiarity, and the challenge of new stories, which Rise of Skywalker decided to sidestep – has to be the best way forward.
It’s certainly something I’m mindful of, both with my desire for Milton to develop and change over the stories, and with the variety that a new character brings, with Atticus Priest debuting this year.