Watching the Sequel Trilogy for the first time was a very unique experience for me, because it was the first time I saw a Star Wars movie in the theatre that left me feeling completely apathetic (particularly after TLJ). I mean, I’m certainly no fan of the Prequels, but I recall back in 1999 that I was at least extremely enthusiastic and hyped for Episodes 1, 2 and especially 3 as they were released in theatres.
It’s possible I’m just getting older and losing interest in Star Wars in general, but I find myself eager to catch the next Mandalorian episode whenever it comes out. But something about the Sequels left me feeling completely empty and apathetic.
There’s a lot of stuff I don’t like about the Sequels, but I think the biggest issue for me is that TFA was basically a soft reboot. It did not actually function as a proper sequel. There was no “New Republic” (or not one that mattered anyway) - just another Galactic Empire vs. Rebellion for some reason. (Yes, I understand the First Order started out as a Remnant state, and the Resistance was some sort of paramilitary, blah blah whatever, as explained in some stupid book I will never read.)
However, at the same time, there were many compelling elements in TFA: I loved the chemistry between Finn and Poe in the opening escape sequence, for example. I loved seeing a “day in the life” of Rey, similar to how we saw Luke’s daily life in ANH. Back in 2015, having ACTUAL chemistry between the main characters was a breath of fresh air, after 3 mostly lifeless Prequels. The idea of this new Dark-side order called the “Knights of Ren” sounded both awesome and original. These details made me really WANT to like TFA at first, so I made excuses for its obvious shortcomings. I figured the “Resistance” was just a temporary contrivance to give us a Rebels vs Empire story, just for Episode 7, since Disney wanted to play it safe at first and ease us back into the “old school” Star Wars aesthetic after the sterile Prequels. Starkiller Base blew up the New Republic capital, but I initially assumed the New Republic itself still existed as a major Galactic power that would play a large role in the upcoming films.
And then TLJ happened, and the first words in the opening crawl were “The First Order reigns”. That simple declaration pretty much squashed any possible hope I had left of caring about these movies. The Sequels were doubling down on the Rebellion vs. Empire schtick. And so it became pretty much impossible for me to care about a Trilogy that basically erases all the accomplishments and plot developments of the OT.
Then finally Rise of Skywalker came out. At this point I just didn’t care, and this was the first Star Wars movie I didn’t see in the theatre. (I saw all 3 OT Special Editions and all 3 Prequels in the theatre.) Eventually, I saw Rise of Skywalker on streaming, and discovered it was basically a Star Wars PARODY. (Somehow Palpatine returned, and now every Star Destroyer is a Death Star! Nothing matters anymore! Whatever! Check out that Ewok at the end!) They say JJ Abrams directed Rise of Skywalker, but it may as well have been Mel Brooks.
In retrospect, it really all goes back to TFA. Disney’s decision to create a “soft reboot”, rather than something that naturally builds upon the OT, set the entire Trilogy on a course towards oblivion. I can at least respect that TLJ seemingly TRIED to do something somewhat original, but given the premise it was just so difficult for me to actually care. So a new Empire struck back, and the Rebels are on the run again, and for some reason Luke is acting like a dick this time.
I just could never really get over this decision to essentially retell the OT storyline, instead of building on what came before. I mean, I didn’t expect something like a faithful adaptation of the Thrawn trilogy, but I at least thought we’d get a story about the New Republic and Luke’s new Jedi Order. But no… all of that was destroyed offscreen or whatever, and we’re back to ANH 2.0. It just makes it impossible for me to care about these sequels.