The Star Wars Madness Tournament returns yet again, touting a matchup between this franchise's two most recent films! A fun but underperforming summer adventure, Solo: A Star Wars Story looks to prove it's worth more than it's box office takeaway. A polarizing and divisive conclusion to the Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker enters the fray in the hopes of pushing on to ultimate glory. Will the beginning of Han Solo's journey seize the day, or does the end of the Skywalker's story have what it takes to claim victory? Make the jump to lightspeed and VOTE BELOW!
Released: May 25th, 2018
Director: Ron Howard
Era: Original Trilogy
Box Office: $392,924,807
Synopsis: During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.
Pros: The second live-action spinoff film from Lucasfilm, Solo turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant ride. Alden Ehrenreich’s performance as a younger Han Solo was phenomenal and seeing him forge a lifelong bond with Chewbacca, acquire the Millennium Falcon, and make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs (if you round down) was a treat. We were introduced to a new, intriguing character in Qi’ra, whose relationship with the surprise reveal of Maul is of great interest. Dryden Vos and the Crimson Dawn were a credible threat, and the betrayals by Lando, Beckett, and Qi’ra planted the seeds for the cynical smuggler Han would later become. From start to finish, the film is just fun.
Cons: The main question fans had when the film was announced was: why? Of all the stories to tell, why do a young Han Solo film with anyone other than Harrison Ford? The film, while a fun summer flick that will be happily watched, doesn’t add much to the overall narrative of the Star Wars universe and served more as a means of checking things off the list of references made in A New Hope. It's largely inconsequential, though it introduces some introducing possibilities to explore in the future. Unfortunately, its severe underperformance at the box office seems to have squashed any chance of the film receiving a sequel, although never say never about a series on Disney+ in the future.
Released: December 20th, 2019
Director: J.J. Abrams
Era: Sequel Trilogy
Box Office: $1,074,144,248
Synopsis: When it's discovered that the evil Emperor Palpatine did not die at the hands of Darth Vader, the rebels must race against the clock to find out his whereabouts. Finn and Poe lead the Resistance to put a stop to the First Order's plans to form a new Empire, while Rey anticipates her inevitable confrontation with Kylo Ren.
Pros: The final chapter in the Skywalker Saga, The Rise of Skywalker put a capper on the sequel trilogy and closed the book on the mainline of films – at least for now. Kylo Ren was undoubtedly the best character to be introduced in the trilogy and getting to witness the limited amount of Ben Solo that we did was great. The scene between Kylo and Han was by far and away the best in the film, giving a nice bit of closure to the massive event that took place in Episode VII. C-3PO was an unexpected highlight in the humor department, as was Babu Frik, who quickly became a fan favorite. The maestro John Williams can’t go unmentioned, as he turned in another great soundtrack, with the track “The Rise of Skywalker” being a standout.
Cons: At The Direct, we highly value honesty. This is a messy subject to touch, one that requires clarification that this take is all personal opinion. There are too many issues with the film to list, so let’s deal with the big ones. Palpatine’s return was completely unnecessary and highly detrimental to the saga as a whole. The announcement of his return (a reference in the opening crawl to a message that was shared ahead of time on Fortnite) was underwhelming and lacking in suspense, but more egregious is that his mere existence makes Anakin's sacrifice pointless and renders the Chosen One irrelevant. Kylo Ren had been set up to be the big villain, but instead he and the Knights of Ren had a weird game of hide and seek going with Rey and co. until his abrupt turn back to the light. The editing and pacing of the film were all over the place, a result of J.J. Abrams’ style and a constantly re-written script with a high-speed story. Ghost Luke looked poor with the wig and hue, and the way they tried to incorporate Leia sadly seemed off. The totally unnecessary death of Ben Solo left a bad taste in many fans' mouths, as he was a blossoming new character with infinite potential - this habit of Skywalkers dying due to Force exertion lacks support in other Star Wars works and makes little sense. Omitting Anakin in the trilogy seems criminal, and Rey taking the name Skywalker makes little sense for the character or the message of the film and the trilogy. The highly anticipated conclusion ended up closing out the saga in highly divisive fashion, when it could've been a triumphant unifier.