Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has received mixed reviews ahead of its first wide screenings Thursday, so how will that impact the franchise on Disney+?
Critics haven’t been too kind to the Skywalker saga finale. Episode IX is set to have the worst reviews since the prequel trilogy, hovering in the high 50s on Rotten Tomatoes.
Although The Mandalorian on Disney+ is already shooting a second season, the movie’s critical reaction may not bode well for the other Star Wars series in development.
CHECK IT OUT: How The Mandalorian could tie into The Rise of Skywalker
“The Rise of Skywalker” further divides Star Wars fans
The sequel trilogy hasn’t been short on controversy. Critics of The Force Awakens chiefly argued it too closely paralleled A New Hope. When Rian Johnson wrote and directed The Last Jedi, many fans didn’t appreciate the massive creative risks he took.
By many accounts, The Rise of Skywalker is an Episode VIII course correction. However, J.J. Abrams may have gone too far in that direction to the point of excessive fan service.
Abrams co-wrote and directed Episode VII and filled those roles in the new film, too. It was impossible to please everyone no matter what he did. Even the critics aren’t on his side this time, though.
The dark side of Star Wars fandom really came out after The Last Jedi. The anthology film Solo: A Star Wars Story had a troubled production and disappointing box-office returns.
But the central theme of hope runs at the core of a galaxy far, far away. A brighter day could well be arriving on Disney+.
CHECK IT OUT: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker release date on Disney+
Can Disney+ make lightning strike twice — or thrice?
The Mouse House’s new streaming service really has to be careful. If The Rise of Skywalker were at least a runaway critical darling, maybe it’d be easier to proceed. Alas, such is not the case.
There’s no question The Mandalorian has built up goodwill with fans. Its debut season has garnered near-universal acclaim — and deservedly so.
On the other hand, Disney+ is investing a lot in Star Wars. In addition to the current series, the streamer has an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off show in development, along with one centered around Rogue One favorite Cassian Andor.
The Mandalorian is set only about five years following the events of the original film trilogy. Creator Jon Favreau has tapped into that nostalgia while also crafting a unique, fresh story. As we’ve seen with the sequel trilogy, though, that’s a hard balance to strike.
Where do we go from here?
What helps is Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan was among the most well-received elements of the prequels. Either a standalone movie or spin-off show has been advocated for a long time. But again, it has to be executed well.
Based on her direction of “Chapter 3” and “Chapter 7” of The Mandalorian, Disney+ picked a great visionary in Deborah Chow to shepherd the Kenobi series.
As for Cassian, he’s a compelling character whose long tenure in the Rebel Alliance can easily be explored further. If it’s too derivative of past Star Wars entries, though, it could fall flat on arrival.
The Rise of Skywalker‘s critical divide has to at least give Disney+ pause in proceeding with these projects.
Perhaps it’ll encourage bolder, more original storytelling not as beholden to the original film trilogy. Unfortunately, the flip side to that is the risk of further alienating the passionate fandom.