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26 March 2020 04:36

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Remember All The Ways That 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Sucked?

There's a good chance you might not trust the "Star Wars" franchise right now given what's been happening with the films. But "Unfinished Business" — the latest episode of "The Clone Wars," which airs on Disney Plus — might be a sign that you can always trust "Star Wars," as long as it continues to reference the franchise's biggest moments. But this episode plays on a lot of themes seen in previous "Star Wars" epics, which makes me trust that the final season knows where it is headed. As much as "The Clone Wars," is an open sandbox for the franchise to try out new characters, planets, weapons and themes, it's always enjoyable to see old scenes played out in new ways. Moments later, we see battle scenes where clone troopers hang out inside cockpits of ships, a visual that reminds me of the battle scenes in "The Rise of Skywalker." There is even a subplot with Echo working his way into the system and sending a code, much like we've seen in "Rogue One" and "A New Hope." Remember All The Ways That 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Sucked?

Instead, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was a hot mess that disappointed fans across the globe by ruthlessly retconning The Last Jedi, brazenly ripping off the OG trilogy, sidelining Rose Tico, and bending the knee to the abusive fanboys that caterwauled like infants until Disney caved. Last week I caught up with Director Debs Paterson, who was tasked the monumental duty of documenting everything that happened during the 7 months of filming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. They were about a month away from starting principal photography, and said "look, we know this isn't what you normally do, but we're looking for a filmmaker to make the official documentary." They wanted someone to bring a unique point of view to it. I'd heard amazing things about JJ (Abrams), and obviously when Star Wars calls for a meeting, there's no one in the world who would say no to that. So I went in, I turned up to the Carrie Fisher building at Pinewood Studios (in London), and set down with J.J., Callum and Michelle Rejwan (another Episode IX Producer), and we talked about what we wanted out of the project.

It turned out that none of the four of us had ever been to film school – so for all of us, there was an excitement to be a part of this big machine, and (an opportunity with a documentary like this to) see what all the workings are. He was talking about how there's something about the Star Wars quest that IS making the movie, you have to go on a fairy tale quest as filmmakers – it's sort of impossible, and intoxicating, you need to find the magic beans along the way to get it done. There's also an interview from the archives that didn't make the film, with the special effects guy who the designed the original droids, and he was saying that George Lucas would say what he wanted, and then he'd go and see the preeminent robot experts at the time, tell them what they were trying to do in three months and he'd be laughed out of the office. The level of trust, and adventure that everyone seeks – there's something magical in that, that makes Star Wars what it is, I believe. And watching that for seven months, as teams were building multiple sets at any given time across different cities, and working through the editorial at the same time – there was so much going on at any given time and so much pressure, of everyone wanting it to be as good as it could be.

It's impossible not to watch the documentary and thing, man I'd really love to work with J.J. Abrams one day. Clocking in at two full hours, the documentary, directed by Debs Paterson (Harlots, Strike Back), focuses on the two-year span of production for The Rise of Skywalker, combining 1,000 hours of brand-new, behind-the-scenes footage with archival video featuring key actors and sequences from the original Star Wars trilogy. Despite being a lifelong Star Wars fan, Paterson wasn't particularly aiming to be the documentarian to memorialize the Skywalker mythology. From early 2018 through to finalizing The Skywalker Legacy doc in November 2019, Paterson's life became all Star Wars, all of the time; Paterson shadowed Abrams' preproduction and directing process and reviewed more than 250 hours of Lucasfilm archival material to weave into the contemporary narrative. Recently released from Italian quarantine (she was on location in Italy for production when COVID-19 shut down everything), Paterson was able to spend the weekend of the early digital release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker enjoying audiences' social media reactions to her documentary.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker production in Jordan. "The light on that day was the most incredible thing you've ever seen in your life," she says. it's like the desert knew what we needed. After coming from the fast-paced world of television production, Paterson admits that getting to immerse herself in the precise craftsmanship that's become the hallmark of every Star Wars film was an utterly transformative filmmaking experience for her. When it was all said and done, because she was collecting footage until the final day of TROS principal production, Paterson says she was there to watch Abrams and company wrap one actor after another.

Video of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | On Digital 3/17 & Blu-ray 3/31 The Skywalker Legacy documentary is available with the digital download of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and on the Blu-ray and 4K editions available on March 31. The trailer hilariously points out that unless Star Wars fans were playing Fortnite, reading every interview with Chris Terrio, reading the Visual Guide, or reading the official novelization, there was no way to know what was going on. You can watch The Rise of Skywalker Honest Trailer above, thanks to the Screen Junkies YouTube channel.