There is a small pocket of fans who believe that JJ Abrams — director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker — hates Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. That JJ Abrams is definitely going to retcon and erase a lot of story beats and character arcs brought about by Johnson in Episode VIII, in the finale. These are of course the same fans who think Rian Johnson ruined Star Wars and destroyed their childhood. However, this school of thought seems to be very far from the truth. In fact, it looks like if anything, The Last Jedi has given JJ Abrams the confidence and motivation to step out of his comfort zone, experiment and push the boundaries even further.
In the latest issue of Total Film (via sister site Games Radar), Abrams talked about how The Force Awakens differs from The Rise of Skywalker, as far as his filmmaking approach is concerned.
On this one, I let myself be, at least in the way I was approaching the thing, freer. In Episode 7, I was adhering to a kind of approach that felt right for Star Wars in my head. It was about finding a visual language, like shooting on locations and doing practical things as much as possible. And we continue that in Episode 9, but I also found myself doing things that I’m not sure I would have been as daring to do on Episode 7.
Abrams also talked about how Rian Johnson inspired him to swing for the fences without feeling constrained or worrying about following and established formula.
Rian helped remind me that that’s why we’re on these movies – not to just do something that you’ve seen before. I won’t say that I felt constrained or limited on 7, but I found myself wanting to do something that felt more consistent with the original trilogy than not. And on 9, I found myself feeling like I’m just gonna go for it a bit more.
This may rub some fans the wrong way, understandably so. There were a lot of fans who disliked The Last Jedi because Johnson took certain Star Wars ideas and turned its own its head. Not only that, Johnson also took the most popular Jedi in all of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker and turned him into a highly vulnerable, highly flawed human being with profound regrets.
Personally, I love Johnson’s The Last Jedi. I believe for Star Wars to live and thrive, first Star Wars needs to die, in the sense that it needs to break free from the shackles of the past. Well, here’s to hoping that JJ Abrams delivers an emotionally charged, rousing and also shocking finale.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits Malaysian cinemas this 18 December.