If you’ve seen all the trailers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, then you know we may be in for something special. While J.J. Abrams’s The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of the Skywalker saga, fans believe otherwise. Either way, with Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as allies, the Resistance will confront the First Order in what may be one final battle. So, are you prepared for the conclusive installment in the latest trilogy? How well do you remember the last two films? If you don’t, that’s okay. Here is a refresher of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi and an analysis of whether this trilogy lives up to its predecessor.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It’s been three decades since the annihilation of the second Death Star and the Galactic Civil War. A new threat known as the First Order has taken the Empire’s place but, with the Galactic Republic’s support, General Leia Organa leads a Resistance to this organization. Leia sends pilot Poe Dameron on a secret mission to Jakku in hopes of finding a clue about Luke Skywalker’s location. A Sith named Kylo Ren, who leads the First Order, takes Poe captive and destroys the village, but his droid BB-8 escapes with the map and runs into a scavenger named Rey.
Poe is rescued by a Stormtrooper, whom he names “Finn,” but their ship is shot down over Jakku. Finn escapes the wreckage and stumbles upon both Rey and BB-8, but all three are tracked by the First Order. After escaping in the Millennium Falcon, they run into Han Solo and Chewbacca. It’s later revealed that Han Solo is Kylo Ren’s father, originally trained by Luke in an attempt to rebuild the Jedi Order but was corrupted by Supreme Leader Snoke
The First Order tests their Death Star-like superweapon on the Republic capital and a part of its fleet. They also attack Takodana in search of BB-8. During the chaos, Han, Chewbacca, Finn, Poe, and Leia are all reunited. Kylo Ren captures Rey and she discovers she can use the Force, using it to escape. Meanwhile, the Resistance devices a plan to destroy the superweapon. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn infiltrate one of Starkiller Base’s facilities, find Rey, and plant explosives. Tragically, Han is killed by Kylo Ren, causing Chewbacca to detonate the charges in rage and allowing the Resistance to destroys the superweapon. A lightsaber fight breaks out between Ren and Finn, who injures the latter but is ultimately defeated by Rey.
Rey and Chewbacca escape Starkiller Base’s planetary superweapon and reunite with Leia on D’Qar, where they mourn Solo’s death. R2-D2 awakens and reveals the other half of BB-8’s map. Rey follows it to an oceanic planet called Ahch-To and finds Luke Skywalker, presenting him with his lightsaber.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens plays like a copy of Episode IV: A New Hope, right down to a droid containing significant information for the Resistance. Both R2-D2 and BB-8 are separated from their masters on a desert planet, found by scavengers living in isolation who are revealed to be powerful Force wielders. Story-wise, The Force Awakens is unoriginal and pretty formulaic, so it doesn’t exactly surpass its predecessors. However, seeing brand new characters journey beside old ones is both refreshing and exciting. It’s interesting to see how Rey will turn out since she didn’t receive extensive Force training like Luke did from Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. She’s pretty much left to learn things on her own after Luke dies, creating a diversion for the Resistance survivors. It’s clear that the new trilogy was meant for a more modern audience rather than fans of the old trilogy.
What fans do seem to love about The Force Awakens is that the new trilogy maintains the scrolling yellow text at the beginning that sums up events and gives a bit of context of what goals the characters aim to achieve. They love the action scenes (Kylo Ren Force-stopping a blaster beam while Force-freezing Poe was pretty epic). And the chase/fight scenes with the aircraft are always a blast. The glossy, luminous CGI from the prequels is replaced with dust particles in the air, hand-stitched goggles, and visibly dirty clothing. Even BB-8 was real. So it’s not new, but it kinda is. It’s nostalgic.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Resistance forces led by Leia Organa flee D’Qar when a First Order fleet arrives. A counterattack led by Poe manages to destroy of the First Order’s big cruisers but Leia demotes him for disobeying orders and costing the Resistance some ships. Kylo Ren hesitates to fire on the lead Resistance ship after sensing his mother. His TIE fighter wingmen, however, destroy the bridge, which kills most of the Resistance leadership and incapacitates Leia, who survives by using the Force somehow. Vice Admiral Holdo takes command while Finn, BB-8, and a mechanic named Rose leave the ship to find a way to disable the First Order’s tracking device.
Meanwhile, Rey fails to recruit Luke to the Resistance, who remains disillusioned by his failure to help Kylo become a Jedi. Rey and Kylo discover they can communicate through the Force, and they learn about each other. Rey leaves to confront him without Luke, believing he can be reformed. Then Yoda makes an appearance and encourages Luke to learn from his failure.
Finn, Rose, and BB-8 travel to Canto Bight casino where they meet a hacker named DJ who claims to be able to help them disorder the tracking device. However, they are captured by Captain Phasma. Kylo brings Rey to Snoke and is ordered to kill her. Instead, he kills Snoke and defeats his guards with Rey’s help before offering her a position at his side while they rule the galaxy. Naturally, Rey refuses and Kylo Ren declares himself the new supreme leader of the First Order.
Resistance members are evacuated to an abandoned Rebel Alliance base on Crait while Holdo stays behind to mislead Snoke’s fleet, sacrificing herself to destroy their forces. BB-8 frees Finn and Rose, who escape after defeating Captain Phasma, and they join the survivors on Crait. As the First Order breaks through their defenses, Luke appears and confronts the army head-on, somehow surviving a walker bombardment and engaging Kylo in a lightsaber duel, telling him he will not be the last Jedi. It turns out Kylo was just fighting Luke’s projection, a distraction while Rey uses the Force to escort the Resistance out of their mountain hideout. Luke, exhausted, dies peacefully on Ahch-To. His death is sensed by Rey and Leia, but Leia tells surviving rebels the Resistance has all it needs to rise again.
At Canto Bight, one of the children, who helped Finn and Rose escape, grabs a broom with the Force and gazes into space. A new era of Jedi has begun.
The Last Jedi plays out in the same fashion as Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, continuing with some of the characters’ roles reversed from the old trilogy. It doesn’t, however, really give us too much of anything we haven’t already seen before, which seems to be the source of controversy. However, I don’t find this all bad. There are remnants left from the previous Galactic Civil War to make you go “I remember that!”, the Millennium Falcon makes a return, and we even get to see Yoda again. It’s polarizing, but still well-shot, well-acted, and contains well-executed practical effects, as well as a solid final performance from the late Carrie Fisher.
With Kylo Ren as the new supreme leader and Rey left without a teacher, this sets up the next film to possibly take a different turn or at least we hope. After seeing the trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, it looks like Rey and Ren’s visions might just come true. If this new trilogy was made to pay homage to the prequels and give something to the newer generation, then J.J. Abrams has done a good job. Being that the TFA and TLJ are copies, however it could be hard to steer this trilogy into a new direction for the Star Wars franchise’s future. Then again, this might be what standalone content like The Clone Wars, Rebels Rogue One, and Solo are for, as well as the upcoming video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and newly released Disney+ series The Mandalorian. One can only speculate, but Star Wars isn’t over yet.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to premiere in theaters on December 20, 2019.