Star Wars Movie Franchise is Dying, But the TV Shows May Save It

By Abbey Kinzel, ’23

Staff Writer

If you asked someone what movie comes to mind when you think of science fiction, they are likely to answer Star Wars. The franchise is a classic in the world of sci-fi and is referenced in many other movies and TV shows. To a lot of people, the series will never get old. But to me and many others, it has become repetitive over time and the direction taken with the storylines in the latest movies has been very questionable. Rotten Tomatoes still thinks the franchise is the best thing since the invention of the iPhone. But while the visuals may be good, from a plot and canon standpoint, the recent movies have been appalling. At the beginning of a film, we’ll learn about the newest characters and what makes them who they are, but then later they’ll do things that don’t make sense. You could say it’s “character development” but I think there is little to no development at all. I’ll get into that more when I discuss the latest three films.  I’ll start by going over every Star Wars movie in order of release date, and then touch on the television shows. It may be that, despite the place in pop culture the Star Wars movies hold, their future may be better on the small screen.

Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope (1977):  This is a classic for multiple reasons: unforgettable characters, quotes that are still relevant, a villain that has become a staple of pop culture and the introduction of a very influential weapon, the lightsaber. And who can forget the Death Star, the Millennium Falcon, “It’s a trap,” C3P0 and R2D2? Of course, after you watch it for the 17th time, you lose that feeling of excitement and pure joy. To quote my cousin after we were forced to watch it with our younger cousins, “Wow . . . It’s just like the first 200 times I’ve seen it.” Rotten Tomatoes gives this a 93 percent fresh rating, but my opinion at this point is probably a little more mixed.

Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back (1980): Ok look, trust me, some of these I watched tons of times when I was a kid, like A New Hope, The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to go hard on them. This isn’t one of them. All I remembered before I rewatched it recently was carbonite, Boba Fett and Darth Vader. After seeing it again, I realized I had forgotten about Leia kissing Luke for some reason that still puzzles me, Yoda (yeah he’s in here), the Planet Hoth, XT-XT’s, AT-AT’s and Lando. It has a good plot twist, but it’s a plot twist that has been ingrained into Star Wars fans’ heads forever. This movie wasn’t the best and greatest, it did feel better story-wise than the first. That’s probably why this movie is actually rated one percent better on Rotten Tomatoes than A New Hope.

Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi (1983): This installment wraps up the original trilogy (although creator George Lucas always had ideas for prequels in his head). Episodes 1-3, made almost 20 years later, tell the story of Anakin, Luke’s father. But episodes 4-6 serve as Luke’s story. The film features the rescue of space pilot Han Solo, the death of Boba Fett and Yoda, and the reveal of the real evil Darth Sidious aka Emperor Palpatine. With Darth Sidious defeated and Darth Vader dead, Luke and his friends have officially defeated the empire for good. Now it’s time for the prequels. This has gotten 83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace (1999): This starts the story of Anakin Skywalker, and we meet him when he is a little kid. Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn are escorting Padmé Amidala, queen and senator of the planet Naboo, who Anakin later gets a crush on. We are introduced to Darth Maul and he dies 45 minutes later. We are also introduced to the second best character in the franchise, suspected sith lord Jar Jar Binks. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon sense that Anakin has the force and want to train him. Anakin wins a race, Qui-Gon dies, Anakin blows up an empire space station, and Anakin is evaluated by Yoda and other Jedi masters. Yoda says  he is too old even though Anakin is like 6 or 7 years old, but Obi-Wan convinces them to let him train Anakin. This movie received a 51 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The kid actor that played Anakin is named Jake Lloyd, and after this role he was bullied intensely at school for his portrayal, leading him to quit acting in 2001 and get into legal trouble later in life.

Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones (2002): This second installment of the prequel trilogy is much better. Obi-Wan discovers a planet that makes clones of Jengo Fett, father of Boba Fett. There are also assassination attempts on Padmé. Jar Jar Binks is an ambassador, teenaged Anakin is tasked with keeping Padmé safe, and he acts really creepy. I’m surprised Padmé eventually gets married to this guy. Anyway, Jengo dies, and Boba decides to become a bounty hunter just like his dad. This one got 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith (2005): Upon a recent rewatch, this is better than the first two movies. Anakin and Obi-Wan save Palpatine, kill this guy Count Dooku, and Padmé becomes pregnant. Anakin is torn between staying with the Jedi Council or helping Palpatine. Eventually Anakin joins the dark side since Palpatine manipulates him with the promise of finding out how to save Padmé, who Anakin dreams will die in childbirth. Palpatine orders the clones to initiate Order 66, which is basically the order to kill all Jedi and children with the force. Anakin takes over this one lava planet and is visited by Obi-Wan and Padmé. Anakin hurts Padmé and Obi-Wan & Anakin fight. Anakin loses the fight and is somehow still alive, even though he lost an arm and both his legs and suffered extensive burns. He is rescued and taken back by the dark side for recovery. After losing the will to live, Padmé gives birth to her twin babies. One of the babies was given to, I think, Padmé’s advisor, and the other was given to a part of his family on Tatooine. I don’t know, it’s really confusing. Padmé dies and the babies are officially given to the families and the movie ends. This movie ties up a lot of loose ends, but if anyone finds any new loose ends or plot holes let me know quickly. This movie received 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008): Let me explain why I found it really hard to initially write this. This was one movie I couldn’t stop watching. It’s one of those movies where you can’t quite remember the plot of but you know it’s good. Surprisingly, it is the lowest ranked movie of all of them, getting just 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s really hard to explain. The animation was fine but at times it looked cheesy and flat; some characters felt two-dimensional, dull and sometimes annoying; and the plot is spotty at times. I have zero clue why no one hates Jabba the Hutt’s ugly baby, since so many people hate the Ice Age baby. I found it very hard to stay engaged when watching this movie.

Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens (2015): Since it has been seven years since a Star Wars installment (and 10 years since a Star Wars movie with a Rotten Tomatoes score above 50), a lot of people forgot how good they could be and must’ve lowered their expectations. This movie wasn’t great or awful; it was just ok with an alright comeback. The characters are blah with just one standout, Oscar Issac’s Poe Dameron, who has recently appeared in the insanely good TV series Moon Knight. The plot is sometimes spotty and left open-ended which is perfect for building terrible sequels. Some of the characters don’t make sense, including a villain who is a man-child who has temper tantrums. It feels like this movie fooled everyone including Rotten Tomatoes, since it has a 93 percent rating. If you get rid of all the weird choices in this movie, it has potential to be good.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016): Rogue One is a prequel movie that comes directly before A New Hope. The only character’s name that I recognize is Cassian Andor, hero of the rebellion. This is one of the movies that you didn’t quite expect in terms of the ending. This movie introduced deep fakes to me in the form of Wilhuff Tarkin and Princess Leia Organa, the younger CGI versions of deceased actors Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher. It’s really hard not to spoil this without spoiling A New Hope. This movie received an 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Star Wars: Episode VIII-The Last Jedi (2017): This movie has been memed to death thanks to Adam Driver and the weird things the directors decided to include. Basically, Luke Skywalker is a big jerk and tells everyone he is a jerk and he sucks, but Rey is like “but you don’t suck” and won’t stop begging him to train her. Finn and Rose’s storyline is just to extend the runtime and is one big waste of time. Also, Rose kisses Finn and the writers thought they could pull a fast one on us and have absolutely no romantic tension or show any romance at all. The producers also hyped up Rey’s parents as being important but it turned out they weren’t. I’m even more surprised that it got a high score on Rotten Tomatoes, 91 percent I really hate this movie. I laughed at the movie and they screwed up the story and destroyed my respect for the franchise.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018): I’m not going to say a lot about this movie. It was just a big letdown for me. The only person I cared about was Chewbacca, and I hated everyone else. There was the underlying feeling that they aren’t remotely redeemable. Also, can someone help me understand how, if you were cut in half at the waist, you are still alive? The only thing that kept me going were the references to other Star Wars films. Might I add this is the second lowest rated movie of all of them, earning a 69 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019): Ok I literally laughed at this movie. There were giant plot holes, moves that didn’t make sense and almost all of the classic characters die. Having Rey’s parents be nobodies but her grandparents be somebodies just doesn’t make sense. Also, rewriting the force to make specific powers genetic is dumb and against canon; everything we thought we knew about the force and what the previous movies had established over the years was just thrown out the window. It pains me to watch the Skywalker saga go out with a whimper, and this movie received just 52 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

How Do The Shows Help Star Wars as movies? You may be asking, if these movies keep going up and down with their ratings, how are they still pumping out successful TV shows like nothing happened to the franchise? Well, it’s because the TV shows have a completely different tone and story compared to the movies. The shows add more to the Star Wars films and fill in some plot holes, but they’re not just some bland productions to answer questions we didn’t ask. They get you invested and fearful when you think the protagonist’s story is going to end, even though we know which characters are going to make it. Shows like The Mandalorian, The Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi and most recently Andor are all respectfully rated in the 80s or above on Rotten Tomatoes. The Book of Boba Fett earned a 66 percent.

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