The final finale in the final trilogy of trilogies, ‘Rise of the Skywalker’ was a Star Wars movie met with mixed reviews. Most being pretty negative. Personally, I did not think it was the worst movie in the franchise, but it’s definitely down there with ‘Attack of the Clones’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’. The plot was all over the place, it went out of it’s way to undo things from the previous film, and there were four too many death fake outs for me to really get into it. I never posted a review for Rise but I did put out my official “Star Wars movies ranked list” and described a little bit more why it is ranked so low.
To be fair, the conversation probably would have stopped there and I wouldn’t have thought about it again for the next 5-10 years. However, the internet has provided a very interesting story. Apparently the entire script for Colin Trevorrow’s, the original director for Episode 9, version of the film has been leaked online. In general people have been praising it. At first I assumed it was just a natural grass is greener reaction. “What I got was bad, so this other thing, no matter what it is, is obviously better”. I checked it out myself and I have to be honest, It sounded like a kick ass movie that would have actually been a great finale to the franchise instead of zombie Palpatine electrocuting himself for the third time.
So back when ‘The Last Jedi’ was in the finale stages of production, Disney thought it was going to be a giant hit. It was reported that Rian Johnson was easy to work with and actually got the movie finished before schedule and under budget. At this time they brought in Colin Trevorrow, known for ‘Jurassic World’, to finish out the trilogy. Honestly I liked the idea of three giant modern directors each getting to work on a piece of the puzzle. However right before the release of ‘The Last Jedi’ Disney parted ways with Colin. After some confusion in the theater about Colin Trevorrow and Chris Terrio, known for ‘Batman vs Superman’ and the actual writer for ‘Rise of the Skywalker’ (That’s right, Disney hired the writer behind the smash hit Batman vs Superman for their Star Wars movie) I realized that Colin’s original work on Episode 9 was never used at all. There isn’t any concrete evidence to the reason for the departure but I honestly feel like it had to do with his script and the ideas he might have had to end out the Skywalker Saga.
As of right now neither Colin Trevorrow and Disney have neither confirmed nor denied the leaked script or concept art that was been released online. But apparently “reputable sources” (whatever the fuck that means) are saying it’s legit. And it’s a pretty unanimous feeling that the concept art is also real and linked to the ‘Dual of the Fates’ story. I’m not going to tell you the entire script, there are plenty of ways to find it online. But I will point out a few of my favorite moments and how it differs. Firstly, Palpatine is just a recording that Kylo Ren finds in a Holocron. The Holocron is originally meant for Darth Vader and serves as a last will for Darth Sidious. Then there is no other mention of Sidious in the script. Story wise that was the worst part of Rise and I would have loved to have seen the story take a different route and actually have Kylo be the main villain. There is no redemption story for him and he dies the bad guy. I think this is why Disney fired him.
The rest of the events in the leaked script also point towards major differences from the movie we got. Ghost Luke is training Rey throughout the movie as she struggles to discover whether or not she is worthy of the Jedi title. Finn and Rose go to Coruscant with R2-D2 and C3PO on a cool adventure full of rebels from the first planet to be taken over by The Empire. Leia has a much smaller, and more respectful, role instead of being shoved into the center stage when we all know it’s recycled footage that was not meant to be there. Rey is not a Palpatine but, and like Rian Johnson planned, just some random girl who made a difference in the galaxy. There is a lot more in the story but just from a one to one comparison, ‘Dual of the Fates’ had a lot more artistic effort and feels like an actual story instead of the obvious cash grab and reddit fanboy nonsense from JJ Abram’s version.
It is really easy to say this version of the film was better, I just did. However, I want to believe that movies are a collaborative effort and no one person is responsible for the success or failure of a project; especially something as major as a multi billion dollar franchise. There were aspects of ‘Dual of the Fates’ script that I really liked, but who knows if that is how it would have been by the time if got to the big screen. This change throughout the development of a movie. It’s fun to think about ‘Dual of the Fates’ and what could have been but ultimately let’s not get lost in that line of thinking. In the end, we will all have accept that ‘Rise of the Skywalker’ is the end movie and move on with our lives.
It’s not like cool Star Wars stories aren’t going to appear in our futures. Kathleen Kennedy has already said that the future of the Star Wars films will be moving away from the “saga” format. Instead the set up will be individual movies that could collaborate with each other, kind of like ‘The Avengers’. Plus we have Clone Wars season 7, Mandalorian Season 2, Jedi Fallen Order, and a plethora of other projects in the works. I don’t think we have to worry about whether or not Rise was a good finale because at the end of the day, it won’t be a finale at all. And no matter what, we still will have the fan fictions we come up with when talking to other fans, and that is the most Star Wars stories of all to me.
Script read, concept art looked at and wondering what might have been by: Troy Smith
P.S. Here’s the rest of the concept art: