How The Force Awakens Compares to The Rise of Skywalker

There’s a lot of pressure on J.J. Abrams to not only finish the final chapter of this new Star Wars trilogy but bring an end to the entire Skywalker saga that began all the way back in 1977. It’s a Herculean task for a fanbase that has proven to be rather divisive in recent years, especially since the franchise started to appeal to people other than grown men desperate to hang on to the nostalgia of their childhood. But rather than take The Rise of Skywalker back to the safe place where The Force Awakens began by not veering too far from the structure and style of the original trilogy, J.J. Abrams said he felt “freer” and more “daring” on the new film, and that’s thanks to The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

In the latest issue of Total Film (via sister site Games Radar), Abrams talked about how The Force Awakens compares to The Rise of Skywalker, at least as far as his directing 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.”

Some fans have thought J.J. Abrams was being brought in to “fix” the trajectory of the franchise after the events of The Last Jedi, but it was actually director Rian Johnson who inspired Abrams to venture out of his comfort zone a bit. Abrams explained:

“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.”

That seems like a bold approach to a movie that puts so much weight on his shoulders, but Abrams had no problem going renegade. But if you’re finishing something like the Star Wars saga, then maybe you need to leave it all out on the field, if only to do some things that fans might not expect. As of now, we’re not too sure how this story is going to come to an end, but we’re putting a lot of trust in Abrams to send us out on a high note. And if it’s anywhere near as emotional as that final trailer was, then there will be a lot of tears in theaters next month.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives on December 20, 2019.

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