Home Film Star Wars Trilogy review – What Reigns? The Rise of Skywalker, The Last Jedi or The Force Awakens?

Star Wars Trilogy review – What Reigns? The Rise of Skywalker, The Last Jedi or The Force Awakens?

by Ben Rolph

Now having seen the final entry in the Skywalker saga, the time is now to look back on the new era of Star Wars films and see how they hold up. In recent years, constant controversy has stalked the online fandom for Star Wars. With a sudden backlash to Rian Johnson’s film, contrasting to the love from critics was just the start, then came Solo: A Star Wars Story and now The Rise of Skywalker. I have no interest in such puny squabbles of fans pre-conceived notions of what Star Wars is.

Judge a film on its merits and a filmmaker too, it’s their choices and its a continuation so changes to lore are valid. You’ve always got the old films if you disagree with new choices made. I am a self-proclaimed Star Wars mega fan, I was brought up watching Star Wars and therefore I believe there can be some trust put into my thoughts?

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Coming ten years after the last Star Wars film, J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens was a nostalgic return to George Lucas’ beloved world. The film is a great success, it captured the feel of the originals while evoking and creating new ideas. However, the narrative feels a little recycled, in that it’s very familiar to that of A New Hope.

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The Force Awakens is grandly entertaining and riveting, with the piercing new visual and sound effects of the lightsabers, it acted as a surge of Star Wars excitement. It isn’t nearly the best Star Wars entry, it is of middling ground – which says a lot considering how great most of the series’ films are. Another success was the introduction to a whole new series of beloved antagonists and protagonists. Notably, Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Whilst visually it has some intrigue, I believe the biggest flaw is the direction of Abrams, it seems sloppy at points especially in comparison to watching The Last Jedi after.

In conclusion, The Force Awakens is a brilliant return to Star Wars that evokes extreme nostalgia and led to a spark that led onto one of the best entries in the Skywalker saga.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi, the second entry into the new Skywalker trilogy stirred intrigue after its release and has been much debated for the past two years. Bouncing off from J.J. Abrams’ ending, this film sees Rey attempting to console training with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Upon re-watching all these films back-to-back you can truly see the mastery of Rian Johnson and his direction. The Last Jedi is not only a fantastic film, but one of the best Star Wars films and could go toe-to-toe with The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. 

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There is something quite poetic to its somewhat relaxed form of storytelling, there is a philosophical aspect to its attempted themes, it feels more like the approach of the originals. Think re-Master Yoda consoling with Luke in The Empire Strikes Back.  The interest in building character over bombastic action (which it does have) is something of an admirable quality. Shot by Rian Johnson’s go-to cinematographer Steve Yedlin, the images they create are sincerely breathtaking and beautiful. The careful and calculated touch of their collaboration when seen in comparison to the more Blockbuster-coverage-type style of shooting in the prior film, clearly shows a mastery in visuals that The Last Jedi has.

Rian Johnson’s film is clearly superior in filmmaking and upon re-watch holds up incredibly well as a film, but also as a Star Wars entry. It’s beautiful, breathtaking and poetic in execution, clearly marking the best in the new trilogy.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The final entry in the new trilogy has arrived and The Rise of Skywalker is a great end to the new saga. Taking a little while to get used to the overload of exposition and changes made at the very beginning, it gets better and better. It is perhaps the most Star Wars-y film since perhaps the prequels? It is nostalgic, touching and head-turning in the crazy steps taken.

It represents a progression in J.J. Abrams’ touch on Star Wars, it’s directed better than The Force Awakens, whilst bringing back some errors that Johnson eradicated in his tenure. The matter of its cinematography, with the sometimes sloppy style of coverage shooting shows less control compared to The Last Jedi, but less-so than The Force Awakens. That being said, it has quite frankly some beautiful and chilling imagery that will send surges of chills down your spine.

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The scope of the film is frankly very vast, in that it has the challenge of creating a satisfying end for all the films, not just its own. Whilst it has occasional vivid scripting errors and the somewhat rushed beginning exposition, it delivers a mostly great storyline of clarity that becomes more and more clear as the film progresses. Some shots will have you screaming in that they REALLY did that? Delivering extreme doses of nostalgia that honestly ends quite perfectly.

Despite its flaws, The Rise of Skywalker is a fitting end. J.J. Abrams improves on his prior work in creating a packed finale that is sure to make fans go wild.

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On a personal standpoint it has been a pleasure to wait year to year for each new entry. It really works as a trilogy and Rian Johnson must be applauded in creating a film to rival the original trilogy, whilst also J.J. Abrams for lighting the spark that ignited this new reign of Star Wars.

Ratings:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 4/5 Stars ★★★★☆

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 5/5 Stars ★★★★★

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker –  4.5/5 Stars ★★★★.5

Ben Rolph

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is out in UK & US Cinemas NOW

FOLLOW WRITER BEN ROLPH ON TWITTER: @THEDCTVSHOW

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