Dear JJ Abrams,
We all know that the Rise of Skywalker is going to be a terrible movie. Oh, what? You don’t know? I’m sorry that I have to be the one to break it to you, but the Rise of Skywalker is going to be a terrible movie, no matter how much lens flare you add.
“Remember how everyone loved the Force Awakens?” you might interject. That’s half true. Yes, moviegoers generally enjoyed the film and it was a box office success. In part, the success came from it being a soft reboot of the original Star Wars. In part, it was due to the Disney-Lucasfilm marketing machine that ensured you couldn’t go to a kid’s birthday party in 2016 without seeing Kylo Ren paper plates and Chewbacca party balloons.
Since its release, I have seen the Force Awakens five times, three of which were in theaters. The first few times, I enjoyed it immensely. It was a breath of Star Wars fresh air after the prequel trilogy. To share a secret with you, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, with the angry thought stuck in my mind: “why is Attack of the Clones such a terrible movie? It makes no sense whatsoever!” So when I first saw the Force Awakens, I was ecstatic to see a movie that reminded me of the originals and that wasn’t just blatantly terrible. Your clever first line of dialogue “this will begin to make things right” was a direct shot at the prequels and we all know it.
But the more I watched the Force Awakens, the more I realized that it was basically the same plot as the original Star Wars, with better special effects and leaning heavily on nostalgic elements. So why would I watch the Force Awakens when I could just watch Star Wars, which is just a better movie?
Then came the Last Jedi. I know, I know, JJ, you didn’t make the Last Jedi. That was Rian Johnson. I really, really wanted to like the Last Jedi. I was even in denial the first time seeing it, believing that it was a good film and the Star Wars film we needed in world of 2017. And I would say that if you see it in full IMAX and don’t think at all about what you’re watching, it’s a lot of fun. But the last Jedi is a terrible move that doesn’t make any sense. A movie filled with ethnic diversity and strong female characters seemed a fitting feel-good escape from a world just beginning to feel the effects of a Trump presidency and rising right-wind authoritarians globally. But the strong female characters were written poorly and made terrible decisions. JJ, please tell Rian that if he wants to write strong female characters that he needs to make them competent.
OK, I am digressing here. The point is that Disney has handed the reins back over to you and you have to deal with the shit show of a story line at the end of the Last Jedi to tie up this trilogy that exists for no reason other than to make Disney shareholders money. Of course, Disney is not going to give you completely free rein here. That’s what they did with Rian Johnson to disastrous effect. And the creative brilliance of Rogue One, arguably the best Star Wars film made since 1980, was a bit too wild for the execs at Disney to let happen again. You’re on a tight leash, JJ, with a huge task in front of you.
I hope you can now understand that no matter what you do, the Rise of Skywalker is not going to be a good movie. There’s nothing you can do here.
So let me cut a deal with you. There is one way that you can make the Rise of Skywalker somewhat tolerable for audiences: include Porgs.
Yes, Porgs—the puffin-like creatures on Ahch-To in the Last Jedi. The only aspect of the Last Jedi that everyone can agree is good is the Porgs. They’re fucking adorable and everyone loves them.
Just include Porgs in the Rise of Skywalker and I’ll go see it. Hell, I’ll even go see it again in IMAX so I can see them bigger and hear their cute Porg noises from the speakers under my seat. If there’s anything that we need more of in the Star Wars universe, it’s Porgs. As a bonus, if you feature them prominently in the film, maybe they’ll get their own ride and section at Galaxy’s Edge. They’ll fill the Millennium Falcon model with animatronic Porgs that are distracting enough that everyone will forgot how much money they spend to get in. You know what? You should just go for broke and end the film with a Porg and Chewbacca becoming co-chancellors of the Third Galactic Republic. At least it will be a better ending than Game of Thrones.