Finally, the long-awaited episode IX of Star Wars came out. The theaters are full and fans are waiting to see if it will outgrow his predecessor, episode VIII. The movie that came out two years ago was a complete fiasco and deservedly earned the status of “worst” in the series. The recent holder of this title, episode I, remained in second place. Something that was unthinkable until that moment. Even though critics have declared episode IX a failure, viewers doesn’t seem to think like them. I will review whether or not it is successful in the following paragraphs.
After Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, they immediately set about expanding the Star Wars universe. First, they announced the plethora of comics and additional material as non-canonical or outside the official universe. They then set about creating a new trilogy, the story of which would unfold after the events of episode VI. The fans naturally reacted sharply to most of the events that followed the deal. But on the other hand, they welcomed the new animated series, Clone Wars and the subsequent Rebels. But somewhere there, the magic broke after the newly released episode VII, directed by JJ Abrams, was announced as a copy of New Hope, simply on a larger scale. And from there, the Star Wars story went on a wild roller coaster of success and failure.
Following the mixed reception of Episode VII, Disney has announced that, among the Skywalker films, there will be “stories” for individual characters in the saga. Although part of the universe, they would rather be links between official episodes. The first was Rogue One, whose story unfolds just before the events of Episode IV. This story introduced us to the members of the Resistance, thanks to whom Princess Leia got hold of the Death Star plans. The movie was very well received, and the final scene featuring everyone’s favorite, Darth Vader, made the audience shudder. Once again, we have witnessed the power of the dark side.
This story in the series brought even the most vicious critics back to anticipation of episode VIII, which was expected to be completely different from anything we had seen so far. And it really was, but in a rather unpleasant way. All the anticipation and tension that Abrams had built up in the previous episode was destroyed in a rather stupid way. Luke Skywalker was reduced to a ghastly uncle, Leia to a minor character, Finn was struck by an unnecessary romance, Snow was killed without even getting to know him, half the movie was just a side quest, with no meaning or positive effect. And the protagonist Ray was left without any Jedi descent. She was said to be just another force user. In the Skywalker series, a Jedi without Origin, was a real shock to everyone. The only good thing about this movie was the effect when the main resistance ship crashed into the destroyer.
Another story followed. It was for Han Solo and absolutely no one wanted it. The fan favorite had to remain a mystery. No one was interested in how he got hold of the Millennium Falcon or how he met Chewy. He was a wonderful puzzle for everyone, and so it had to remain. But someone in Disney thought we were interested in his origins. The outcome was an anticipated disaster and the movie turned out to be the biggest box office bomb of all time. It struggled to reclaim its budget, putting Disney on their knees. The time for experimentation seemed to be over and Abrams was returned as director of Episode IX. And what happened in the end?
It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. A full on fiasco as well, but at least it delivered something. The last episode of the series, at least for the time being, tried to weave in itself all the adjustments to the previous one. It tried to make sense of even the strangest directorial decisions of episode VIII. Unfortunately, it couldn’t do it completely. And because of this, the action is quite fast-paced and even confusing at times. However, I still claim that Episode IX is a pleasant surprise. We got a character growth that was missing in the previous episode. There were no side-quests, the annoying characters were left in the background, Luke finally received the well-deserved respect, albeit briefly, and the force was revealed to its full potential.
Episode IX, revealed several new aspects of the force that are well known to fans. One of them appeared in the last episode of the Mandalorian as well. I don’t know if it was an accident or not, but it was definitely a surprise. Force heal, defectively allows the Jedi to transfer some of their energy to a wound or other wounded creature and heal it. This power has been a trademark of the Jedi since the old republic. Sith, does not possess it. However, force choke and force lightning are exclusively Sith forces. But there is one type of Jedi that can command both sides. They are called Gray Jedi and, to this point, have not been featured in any episode.
What is special for them is that they neither share the ideology of the Jedi that the only state of mind should be peace, nor of the Sith, who, in turn, believe that chaos is the right path. They walk on the border between the light and dark sides of the force, commanding both Jedi and Sith skills. Most often, their swords are gray or orange. There are an enviable number of representatives of this aspect in the history of Star Wars. Gray Jedi should not be confused with those who move from one end to the other. Siths who have become Jedi and vice versa are not members of this code. From the outset, the Gray Jedi did not share the ultimate understanding of either faction.
In Episode IX, we got one transformed Sith and one Gray Jedi. Finally, Rey was given a background characterizing Skywalker’s history, making her the first Gray Jedi in this saga. She commands both Sith and Jedi skills. She believes that neither side is completely right, and though the Jedi stand behind her, it is because they recognize her as their heir. On the other hand, the growth of Kylo Ren shows that no one is truly lost. The light is always ready to receive its most deluded sons. Indeed, the dynamic between the last two force users is great. Evert time when the two are together, there is no tension between them.
With all that said, I must address the issues. First, the villain. As shown in the trailers, Palpatine came back stronger than ever. And the way they explain this phenomenon was lazy and stupid. As episode VII, had to prepare us for a big bad dude, it never delivered and Abrams had to think of something. And because of all that, we couldn’t get the qualitative preparation for an epic clash, in episode IX. However, there is no going back. I want to acknowledge Abrams’ attempt to make this episode at least exciting, if nothing else. Given the hole in the story between Episode VIII and Episode IX, it could have been a lot worse. Yes, there are the usual clichés that storm troopers cannot hit a stationary target if it hits them in the head, but that is part of the magic of Star Wars.
Another problem is the extremely fast pace. The movie is galloping through the story, not giving even a moment for the viewer to think. Still, I liked the movie. Episode IX exceeded my expectations. The epic and grand scene on which the action unfolds is unique. JJ Abrams once again proved himself a visual virtuoso. The battles are epic in size, and the choreography is great. I recommend the movie to all fans of Sci-Fi, but OG SW fans will be disappointed. As the finale of the saga, episode IX did give it a closure. We are yet to see new content from the universe, in the face of individual stories and series. But at least for now, Rey “Skywalker” has taken the mantle of Jedi. Have a nice Christmas and Happy New Year and may the force be with you!