March 28, 2023

The latest and final installment of the new “Star Wars” trilogy has been deemed the end of the “Skywalker Era.” “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” directed by J.J. Abrams, was released in theaters on Dec. 20, 2019.

With the highly anticipated film’s popularity, there have also been a variety of different reactions from long time fans and newer viewers alike.

Although the film has  earned mixed reviews from critics and fans and did not have as much box-office success as some of the other “Star Wars” movies, “Rise of Skywalker” has still been popular among loyal fans as the series has drawn a cult-like following for decades.

Michael Eaton, professor of film production, said nostalgia can be a big factor in drawing audiences to film franchises such as “Star Wars.” 

Eaton said he has seen this in his personal experiences with both the original movies and the new trilogy. 

“I saw the recent ‘Star Wars’ movie with my family and I actually remember standing in line for a whole city block with my parents to buy tickets for the 1977 original on the second weekend after it opened,” Eaton said.

He added that the nostalgic appeal even extends to current generations in addition to those who grew up watching the original series.

“For young fans, there is a nostalgia element in their fandom also because they get to go back and watch the original ‘Star Wars’ from 1977 and compare its quality with the newer films,” Eaton said. “It’s just as cheesy, but the storytelling and the visual effects of the original actually hold up really well because it was somewhat groundbreaking at the time.”

Despite this, Eaton said it is likely that fans may become tired of the constant reboots and sequels because the quality of the storytelling does not hold up as well over the years.

Torrin Diaz, junior film production major, said this final installment of the new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy did not live up to the hype it received.

“‘Episode IX’ is a solid film that tries its best to close out a trilogy that has suffered from creative division,” Diaz said. 

Diaz went on to describe the specific issues that he found in the film and how, despite its strong moments, it still falls short. 

“It might be the best of the newest trilogy but rushed character arcs and goodbyes are a clear sign that this trilogy has failed to live up to its potential,” Diaz said. 

Another difficulty with sequels and prequels to existing franchises is the pressure they face to live up to expectations.

Evan Tinker, junior film production major, also said he had issues with “The Rise of Skywalker” and emphasized how it fell short.

“It feels like the film was so focused on serving as a conclusion to ‘The Skywalker Saga’ and bringing back nostalgic callbacks that they forgot to actually tell a decent story that makes some sense,” Tinker said. “It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t what the franchise deserved.”

Eaton said he read a review in the New Yorker by Anthony Lane that had a line he found particularly relevant to the current state of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise which reads: “The Force is with us forever, whether we like it or not.”

This seems to be a common sentiment as fans and critics alike react to the concluding film in the latest ‘Star Wars’ reboot series. The highly anticipated ‘Rise of Skywalker’ has not met  expectations.

Although it is unlikely that any sequels will ever be as successful or well-liked as the original, big franchises continue to draw massive audiences because of beloved storylines and characters. 

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