Rise Of Skywalker
Let’s start off with the Good, shall we? I thoroughly enjoyed The Rise Of Skywalker. As far as the film ending the Sequel Trilogy, it completed the series as best it could without Carrie Fisher. Seeing Poe figure out how to lead the Resistance was a nice character arc as well as Finn finding his own calling in the Rebellion. With Rey and Kylo essentially becoming ‘frenemies’ near the end, we finally saw Ben Solo as he was meant to be. And yes, Chris Terrio did a splendid job with the script in certain character moments.
The Bad? Where to begin. The opening on Mustafar should have given us about 15 minutes’ worth of exposition. It felt like the opening of Batman v Superman in the theatrical cut where they edited the film to basic plot points. Why are these people fighting Kylo Ren on Mustafar? Why would they give ‘Fort Night’ the exposition of what Palpatine says to the Galaxy and NOT in theaters? Did I mention the film could have easily been 30 to 40 minutes longer with the overstuffed ending? Ay yes, the ending. Sure, this was a great Sequel Trilogy ending, but as far as ending the Skywalker Saga? Good, it was not.
If you’re not aware, Colin Trevorrow was initially helmed to deliver us the final chapter in the Star Wars Saga. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition. Trevorrow left director-duties in December of 2017 and whether that was due to The Last Jedi or not, remains to be unknown. What is known is that he turned in a draft for his script just a few days before Carrie Fisher’s untimely death. Nothing was mentioned as to the REAL cause of his vacancy but J.J. Abrams filled that void.
Now, with the leaked Duel Of The Fates script online, I think it’s pretty clear why he may have left. Leia Organa’s role in the finale was not only major but satisfying. With her being featured as much as she was, I can only imagine how devastating it was to Trevorrow knowing he would have to write ANOTHER draft. Only this time, figuring out a way to completely exonerate Carrie Fisher’s Leia in a way that would be respectful to her legacy. But at that time, they needed to start production relatively soon for their May 2019 Release date which most likely meant he was burnt out. That might be the only explanation for almost completely writing a different film than the one they already had lined up.
I’ll admit it, I loved what The Last Jedi did with Luke and the Jedi Mythos. It felt like Frank Miller’s seminal The Dark Knight Returns but in a Galaxy Far, Far away. What I absolutely despised in that film was the obscene amount of- what I felt was -useless humor and Rose and Finn with their side adventure. That easily could’ve been part of a comic series rather than actual film time. But I digress. DOTF seemed to continue the arc created by Abrams and Johnson to a satisfying end. And not just an end to the Sequal Trilogy but the entire 8 previous films as well. Did I mention The Clone Wars, too?
That’s correct. Not only would DOTF given us a proper conclusion to the Skywalker Saga, but it would’ve delved into the Mythos created by Lucas as well. We would have seen Kylo Ren be mentored by his version of a Yoda-like teacher, surrounded by Ancient Sith ruins. The primary battle would’ve taken place on Curoscant, tying the prequels into the sequels organically. Rey not only had a double-bladed lightsaber, but she would have fought Kylo Ren BLINDFOLDED in the Temple of Mortis. All of these events would have seamlessly stitched every single film and television series up nicely to finish what Lucas started. Unfortunately, that never happened.
The Last Jedi
I’m not one to listen to others’ opinions on film. It’s all subjective and no one can tell you or me that any film we enjoy is awful. But as a business model, having people’s opinion of a film lean more positively than negatively sells more tickets. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule. Critics praised The Last Jedi for its bold take on the franchise. Fans did not. This meant that both Star Wars films released after The Last Jedi needed to be amazing. And then Solo happened. I won’t go into detail but when a studio fires their directors 70% through completion, that should tell you the knee-jerk reaction they DIDN’T plan for.
So with Solo failing to meet expectations, all eyes were on Episode IX. Abrams knew he had to conclude a story while also realizing that fans were hesitant with what might happen. I think artists should be able to create what they want without fans dictating what should or shouldn’t happen. But that’s largely due to me being a DC fan and seeing how horrible Warner Bros. has dealt with those characters and Zack Snyder. We also never knew what Trevorrow had actually planned on until AFTER Rise Of Skywalker actually came out. Hindsight works wonders for this.
What Would’ve Been The Better Conclusion?
Now you’re probably wondering how this question can even be answered. Fear not, I’ll have another article going over the certain dialogue and character arcs made in DOTF v TROS. But as far as the better ending of the Star Wars Series? That goes to Duel Of The Fates. I’m a Die-Hard Star Wars nerd and can appreciate different tellings of this Universe. So after reading the script in its entirety and having watched The Rise Of Skywalker numerous times, it’s clear which would have been the preferred version. My main feeling for that is because the first 6 Films in the Saga are VERY well connected. Of course, to better explain that is to visit The Star Wars Ring Theory. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons the Sequel Trilogy feels so misplaced and why, even though they have the original cast, the films don’t connect.
While Terrio and Abrams miraculously included footage of Carrie Fisher from the archives, it felt off. Maybe utilizing what Duel Of The Fates COULD have done but with a different character might’ve worked. Or maybe using the structure of the plot to focus more on Mortis and Curoscant would have made for a better ending in The Rise Of Skywalker. But the superior film that should have been the final chapter for Star Wars would’ve felt earned. There are so many fan servicing moments in there without being glorified that its a wonder why Terrio wouldn’t adapt some of the ideas started by Trevorrow. Whatever the reason is, I believe Terrio and Abrams did what they felt was the right thing to do for fans spanning 3 generations.
Hope For The Galaxy
We know Duel Of The Fates will never be made in Live-Action. But there is hope for anyone that may want to see an alternate version of Episode IX. Star Wars fans have been known to be creative geniuses whether that’s in fan-made films or talents in video skills. As far as I’m concerned, my version of The Last Jedi is what I watch. So why not have a different version of Star Wars all together?
With the script out for the public to see, there are several ways for the content to be seen. I’ve even considered adapting it in Comic form because, visually, I can see how I would imagine it. I’m sure there are several, more highly skilled artist that could do a better version as well. And who’s to say some fans wouldn’t create their own version in a short film? If Disney even wanted to, they could create an Animated version for their Disney+ streaming service which would be a massive draw. The options are only constrained to the ideas of fans who want to see that version come to life. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Duel Of The Fates sooner than later.