J.J. Abrams took on something of a poisoned chalice when he agreed to return to Star Wars for a second spin in the director’s chair. In the wake of The Last Jedi, which saw Rian Johnson abandon or outright unwrite key plot threads Abrams had set up in The Force Awakens, anyone who took on The Rise of Skywalker was going to have a hard time sticking the landing.
And while it hasn’t inspired the level of vitriol that Johnson’s film did, Skywalker has nonetheless endured a bumpy response from fans and critics. Credit to Abrams then for being open about how he goes about deconstructing audience reception, both good and bad.
Speaking at the 2020 Upfront Summit in LA, the director alluded to the negative press, while proffering a rational approach to dealing with it:
“The truth is that these are things that are meant to entertain people, to make them feel something and hopefully make them feel good. Obviously, it doesn’t always work. It’s hard when it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, you have to understand it, you have to acknowledge it, you have to examine it.”
That’s probably as close as you’ll get to Abrams publicly acknowledging that not everything about The Rise of Skywalker succeeded as intended. I sympathize with him, too, as picking up the pieces after Johnson was a thankless task, and Abrams was clearly hamstrung from the start.
That being said, Skywalker was only marginally better than its predecessor. Disney have a troubling track-record when it comes to franchise fatigue, and this was as exhausted a movie as I’ve seen in years. Abrams may have been on a hiding to nothing, but he did little to arrest the slide. At least there are no more Star Wars films lined up for the near future (though I doubt it’ll be much more than near).
Take a holiday J.J. Let Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gather dust and any lingering sentiment wither and wilt. There are worse art-fiends at work in the film industry than thee.