Star Wars is one of the most famous franchises out there and with just recently announcing numerous projects for Disney+, Star Wars isn’t going anywhere for a while. Whether it’s movies, LEGO sets, television shows, or even comics, there is plenty of Star Wars content out there for just about everyone. Welcome to Vol. 6 of TCN’s Cultured Spotlight, today we will be discussing a galaxy far, far away. There is so much content to talk about when it comes to Star Wars, so that means that this will be the biggest Cultured Spotlight to date. So with that being said, lets get into it!
Star Wars: A New Hope kicked everything off when it released all the way back in May of 1977; they weren’t called Episodes back then. Did George Lucas know his Star Wars film will become what it is today? Maybe, maybe not. But we do know is that it has impacted us all in some way or the other. In this movie we get to see a young Luke Skywalker set off on the path of becoming the Jedi he is meant to be. We are also introduced to other iconic characters in the franchise such as Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Darth Vader, and many others.
Star Wars Rebels was announced all the way back in March of 2013. Details were scarce in the early days, people weren’t sure which characters would return, what new original characters we were in for. Many speculated the show would focus on Clone Wars characters finding their footing in the age of the empire. Others didn’t have much hope and assumed we’d be getting a show with a completely original cast of characters. The show premiered with “Spark Of Rebellion” TV special, showcasing an all new cast of colorful characters, and kickstarting a four season run. The show was met with a mixed reaction from fans but seems to be mostly positive. Rebels has actually won a number of awards, including the Saturn Award for Best Animated Series on Television.
But what does Rebels actually get right, is it worth the praise it receives? Yes, this show is a worthy successor to the Clone Wars while also managing to stand on its own. I believe Rebel’s best attribute is it’s well written and well developed cast of characters. They all work so well together and those dynamics really shine in their normal interactions with each other. The characters all feel like real people. The villains are also top notch, The Grand Inquisitor, Maul, Thrawn, Darth Vader, make for great and intimidating antagonists which challenge our protagonists. Rebels did so much right with it’s writing as well, introducing and properly finishing all manner of plot threads. The climax of Maul and Obi-Wan’s rivalry was handled with care and seeing that ending always gives me chills. Kanan’s death is emotional and hits hard in all the right ways. The finale itself wraps up everything nicely and still teases more to come in the future. Star Wars Rebels is a great series on it’s own and still deserves more attention.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is one of the movies that are pivotal in a franchise. At this point in the series, Hayden Christensen really has to commit to Anakin’s turn to the dark side. The moments leading up him becoming Darth Vader are really fun to watch and you can see all the pain Anakin has gone through. Christensen absolutely in this movie and that’s why it’s great news to hear that he is returning as Darth Vader in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series.
Coinciding with the Sequel trilogy, Disney saw fit to release spin off films that would focus on events in the wider galaxy or individual characters. In December of 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was released to acclaim from many fans. Some even claimed it was better than The Force Awakens. However the film was criticized as well for it’s lackluster characterization and weaker first 2 acts. Following the release of The Last Jedi, came 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. The film was met with mixed responses from both fans and critics. This film’s poor response lead Lucasfilm to put a hold on all the Star Wars spin off films. In my opinion Rogue One is a very decent star wars movie which really focuses on the war aspect. The last act of this movie almost feels like Saving Private Ryan but in space. I think this movie has a great sense of scale and scope, however I thought the characterization was a little weak. The first 2 acts of this movie can be a bit rough to get through but once the final act begins and we get to scariff this movie really shines. Solo: A Star Wars story on the other hand is a really fun space heist film. There were times I honestly felt like I was watching an episode of Firefly. The movie has such a good grasp of it’s tone and its characters. This movie gets a lot of hate but I’m really not sure where it comes from. Solo is a fun ride the whole way through.
The Mandalorian has taken the internet by storm in the last year and that’s mostly because because of Grogu or “Baby Yoda”; Pedro Pascal also does good as The Mandalorian. Fans were excited when we first learned of The Mandalorian releasing on Disney+, but things changed immediately as soon as the first episode ended. We were introduced the cutest internet phenomenon, “Baby Yoda” or Grogu if you’re caught up on Season 2. Season 2 of The Mandalorian has been amazing with characters from previous Star Wars adaptations returning and some of them even getting their first live-action appearances.
At the moment of typing this, there is currently one episode left in this season and it’s highly anticipated that we might get a big reveal in the finale. So catch up on the episodes beforehand!
After Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars back in 2012, it didn’t take long for Disney to announce they would begin work on an all new trilogy of Star Wars films. Fans around the world were beyond hyped to see Star Wars return to the silver screen, and were determined to see it take its rightful place at the top of the box office. In December of 2015 Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens was met with fans praising the movie then almost immediately completely hating it. Many critiqued the films similarities to the original Star Wars. A couple years went by and Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi was released to equal amounts of praise and disgust. Some fans detested the movie for it’s betrayal of fan favorite characters and bad pacing, while others applauded the movie for it’s subversive writing and character writing. It’s clear it was a very love it or hate it movie and fans were not shy about voicing their opinions. Finally, in December of 2019, Star Wars Episode IX The Rise Of Skywalker was released as not only the conclusion of the sequel trilogy, but the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga. This one was also met with mixed fan reactions, as has the rest of this sequel trilogy. Personally, I believe these movies are better than people make them out to be, however they are not without their share of problems. As a whole, the series obviously suffers from a lack of clear direction. Each movie kind of feels disjointed from the last and causes some confusion on where characters stand and how they should progress. While the Force Awakens isn’t an original story, it’s still a fair amount of fun to re-watch, and introduces the audience to a cast of interesting characters.
The Last Jedi is the most divisive and I’m prepared for the hate I’m gonna get by saying I really like this movie. I’ve liked it ever since I watched it with a cynical attitude for the first time. I have always respected Rian Johnson for daring to try new things and take risks in this film, and Luke’s death is handled with the most care, It still gives me chills to this day. The revelation that Rey is a nobody is a great progression for her character and serves to make the force feel more mystical by showing the force can be strong in even a nobody. The Rise Of Skywalker is definitely the weakest movie in the trilogy for me. The disconnect from the previous movies is most apparent here and the movie has such a cracking pace it’s hard to get into individual plot points before the movie thrusts you into the next scene. Darth Sideous’ return is so out of left field and an obvious bit of fan service, it makes for a weak antagonist. Rey’s character arc also takes a sharp left turn and takes away the great character point she had before. All that said, I think this film has some amazing action scenes and all the other characters are great here. The ending shot of Rey walking into the twin suns is the best final shot I could ask for. Still at the end of the day, the sequels aren’t connected to each other that well but each movie has individual parts that work very well, and no movie is bad in my opinion, just disconnected.
Ben Hurley: Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars and Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Michael Wayne: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, The Mandalorian, and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.