Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will premiere in less than 5 days and looks to end the Skywalker Saga and conclude the Sequel Trilogy, and the man who kickstarted it all revisits The Force Awakens in a new interview to address the criticism that the movie did “nothing new” and was basically a rehash of A New Hope.
In his recent book titled The Ride of a Lifetime, Disney CEO Bob Iger recalls one instance where George Lucas couldn’t help but show his disappointment with the first movie in the Sequel Trilogy that brought Star Wars back to theaters after more than a decade. According to Iger, Lucas criticized Episode VII because it didn’t innovate the franchise in any way and or have “enough visual or technical leaps forward.”
Now, the director of the movie has addressed Lucas’ criticism in a new interview while appearing on Popcorn with Peter Travers. Abrams says that the similarities were intentional and that they purposefully revisited the old story to begin a new one, explaining:
“There are a number of things that we obviously intentionally did in a kind of ‘history repeats itself’ mold, to say we are introducing this brand new cast of characters,” He said. “This Stormtrooper (John Boyega) who runs from the First Order. This scavenger (Daisy Ridley) who is living, literally, in the wreckage of the history of the movies that we know. And this hotshot pilot (Oscar Isaac), we don’t know his history, but he’s joined the Resistance to find Leia (Carrie Fisher), years later, sort of unable to give up the fight because she can smell smoke from miles away. Where’s Han (Harrison Ford) at this point, what is he up to?”
Abrams isn’t wrong. In fact, wasn’t it Lucas himself that once said Star Wars movies are like poetry, where every stanza should rhyme with the last one?
“And look, is there a big, giant, planet-sized weapon in Force Awakens? Yes. And does it blow up? It does blow up,” the filmmaker continued. “And so there are undeniable parallels, but in a way, because there had not been a Star Wars movie in a long time — the prequels were the ones that preceded it — I very purposefully wanted to sort of revisit the old in order to start and tell the new. And that was the challenge.”
Abrams also feels that they did the right thing at the time, saying:
“For those who hate it, I could not respect your opinion more. And for those who love it, I question your sanity. It just… it felt right to us at the time, as does this one [The Rise of Skywalker] now.”
Iger actually echoes the director’s sentiments in his book as well by saying that Lucas wasn’t wrong, but he also couldn’t understand the pressure of bringing back Star Wars in a way that tonally and visually connected with the earlier films to not “stray too far from what people loved and expected.”
In any case, Disney has a lot riding on the last movie of the Skywalker Saga and while some of the actors believe a negative backlash to the pic is inevitable, Lucasfilm and Abrams absolutely have to stick the landing in order to save Star Wars for future generations.