Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the following Star Wars productions: Rogue One, The Book of Boba Fett, Jedi: Fallen Order, and The Rise of Skywalker.
Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you… and all that.
Today is a day of celebration for Star Wars – and I like to try to say something positive about the franchise every Star Wars Day! So this year, I thought it could be fun to run through five of my favourite Star Wars experiences that have been released since Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012.
I felt quite optimistic when I first heard this news more than a decade ago. I’d been disappointed, on the whole, by the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and with Disney promising a sequel that would take the story beyond Return of the Jedi, I truly felt that there was the potential for some exciting and engaging storytelling. It’s absolutely true that not every Disney project has hit the high notes that I’d been hoping for – but conversely, it’s not the case that Disney has added nothing of value to Star Wars, either. There have been some misfires and unexceptional stories… but there have been some fantastic ones too.
So on this illustrious day, let’s celebrate some of the successes that Disney has rolled out! I’m going beyond the films to include television shows, specials, video games, and more on this list, because Star Wars has always been a very diverse franchise. There are plenty of highlights worth celebrating that I didn’t get a chance to include this time… but who knows? Maybe they’ll make the cut next year!
As I always say: all of this is just the subjective opinion of one person, so if you disagree with my picks and hate everything I have to say… that’s totally fine! There’s plenty of room in the Star Wars fan community for polite disagreement.
Let’s jump into the list!
Jedi: Fallen Order (and Jedi: Survivor)
Jedi: Survivor has had a very rough launch, especially on PC, and that has sadly detracted from what sounds like a sequel with a fun story. I haven’t gotten to play it for myself yet, but when the bugs are patched out and the game is more stable, it’s one I hope to pick up. I adored Jedi: Fallen Order, though, and I’ve played through it twice already!
Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the most interesting standalone Star Wars stories of the past decade, exploring a setting and time period that was relatively unknown, and telling a story all its own. I genuinely got roped in by some fantastic writing, and felt as if I was taking part in my very own Star Wars adventure with former Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis and the crew of the Stinger Mantis.
Jedi: Fallen Order also gave me one of my favourite experiences in any Star Wars game ever: piloting an AT-AT walker! This sequence might just be the best in the entire game; it was tense, perfectly-paced, and exciting, with the controls of the clunky machine feeling exactly as I’d expected when I first saw an AT-AT ambling across the battlefield on Hoth decades earlier!
After feeling disappointed by some of the narrative decisions taken elsewhere in the Star Wars franchise in the year or so before I played the game, it was somewhat of a cathartic experience to know that I hadn’t totally fallen out of love with Star Wars, and that the franchise can still tell the kinds of fun, exciting, and adventurous stories that I enjoy the most.
I adore Rogue One, which was Disney’s first attempt to create a spin-off from the main Star Wars saga. The film told the story of Jyn Erso and the birth of the Rebellion, including the theft of the original Death Star plans that set up the events of A New Hope. It was a fantastic action-packed romp with some great moments of characterisation. Not only that, but it was an incredibly bold move for the film to kill off practically all of its major characters.
Although Rogue One featured some (rather gratuitous) sequences involving Darth Vader, by and large it stood apart from other entries in the franchise by leaving the Force, the Jedi, and lightsabers behind. This is something I think Star Wars needs to try to do more of; there’s a whole galaxy out there away from the Jedi, the Sith, and other Force-wielders that’s crying out to be explored!
At the time of its release in 2016, Rogue One truly felt like something dramatically different from Star Wars. After the disappointment of the prequels and the relatively safe ground of the copycat production that was The Force Awakens, here was a cinematic demonstration that Star Wars could push the boat out and try new and different things. Although it was still a prequel that was very closely tied into the original films, it was also a work that existed in its own narrative space and could be enjoyed on that basis. Again, this is something I’d love to see more of from Star Wars.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen Rogue One! I’ve definitely seen it more times than all of the prequels and sequels, and it’s a film I’m happy to return to time and again. It got its own spin-off last year: Andor. I haven’t yet found time to check out that series, but I hope to in the weeks and months ahead.
Galaxy’s Edge and Rise of the Resistance
I dearly wish that I could visit Walt Disney World and experience Galaxy’s Edge and Rise of the Resistance for myself! Unfortunately I’m in poor health and can’t travel, so I’ll have to settle for enjoying this immersive experience from afar.
Galaxy’s Edge is a themed attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California, and it’s set on a brand-new planet in the Star Wars universe. The area includes a cantina, shops, and two rides: Smuggler’s Run and Rise of the Resistance. Smuggler’s Run is set aboard the Millennium Falcon, with riders able to take the controls of the famous vessel. But Rise of the Resistance is the showstopper: a trackless, immersive ride experience.
If, like me, you aren’t able to get to Disneyland right now – and with those prices, who is? – then you can find video tours of Galaxy’s Edge and even full videos of the rides on YouTube and other video platforms. It’s not the same, of course, as being able to ride for ourselves, but it’s the best a lot of us can hope for!
Although I’d say that Galaxy’s Edge is probably limited, in some ways, by its sequel-era setting, it looks to be an incredibly immersive experience, by far the best that Disney’s Imagineers have built for the parks in recent years. Being able to build a lightsaber, drink cocktails and blue milk in a cantina, or just soak up the atmosphere of a galaxy far, far away… it looks like a ton of fun! If you’ve been able to visit, I hope you know how jealous I am!
The Book of Boba Fett
As I said in my review of The Book of Boba Fett: this is a series that I’d have expected to find pretty boring and disappointing! It was such a nostalgia overload, especially in the final couple of episodes, that it could feel like watching overgrown children playing with action figures rather than a scripted television series! But there was something about the fun, lighter tone and the smaller-scale story that made it thoroughly enjoyable for me.
It’s surprising to me that The Book of Boba Fett hasn’t been greenlit for a second season, and I wonder why that is. The overall consensus seems to be less positive, unfortunately, and perhaps that’s the reason. But for my money, The Book of Boba Fett was far more enjoyable than its cousin The Mandalorian.
Star Wars can take itself very seriously sometimes… and that can be okay. But The Book of Boba Fett didn’t fall into that trap, and the show’s lighter elements helped it to stand out. By telling a story mostly set on one planet, focusing on a small cadre of characters, and without much of an emphasis on the Force and the Jedi, The Book of Boba Fett also managed to feel like something a little different.
I was never particularly taken by Boba Fett as a character in the original films. He had an interesting visual style, but in his only real combat encounter he died pretty easily! The Book of Boba Fett took this bland, faceless character and truly fleshed him out, giving motivation, understanding, and even a sympathetic presentation to the galaxy’s most famous bounty hunter.
The Lego Star Wars specials
At time of writing there have been three Lego Star Wars specials on Disney+: The Holiday Special, Terrifying Tales, and Summer Vacation. And all of them are fantastic! The Lego Star Wars specials are cute, funny homages to the Star Wars franchise, bringing in elements from across the prequels, sequels, and original films and putting a distinctly comedic, light-hearted spin on them.
Fans who want to take everything seriously might not enjoy what these specials have to offer, but everyone else should be able to find at least something to enjoy! I’d even go so far as to say that the Lego Star Wars specials can make some of the weaker elements of cinematic Star Wars seem better – or at least less bad!
I can’t pick a favourite out of these three specials. Each one has so much going for it – and each one is also tailored to fit a certain theme or time of year. The fact that all three specials are so strong is testament to the quality of the writing, and to Disney’s commitment to this unexpectedly fun idea.
The fact that Disney was willing to commit a decent amount of money to non-canon comedy is fantastic, and shows that the corporation can do more with Star Wars than just make carbon copies of what came before. These specials were, once again, something genuinely different for the Star Wars franchise – and all three are well worth a watch if you can find them on Disney+.
So that’s it!
We’ve celebrated Star Wars Day by looking at five recent highlights from the Disney era. There are plenty of others that I could’ve chosen to include, but I think we’ve managed to put together a pretty fun and diverse list.
I’m not fully caught up on all things Star Wars, having missed Andor and The Mandalorian’s third season. The franchise might be beginning to get a little unwieldy as it continues to expand… but I suppose for fans who are more into Star Wars than I am, that’s a good thing! There are several projects on the horizon that hold genuine appeal, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else Disney and Lucasfilm have in store.
So I suppose all that remains to be said is this: may the Force be with you! Happy Star Wars Day from Trekking with Dennis.
The Star Wars franchise – including all films, games, and other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.