Movies, Pop Culture

The Rise And The Fall Of The Modern Reboot Trilogy

by Jake Breidenbach

reboot trilogy

This article was a submission from Jake Breidenbach. Find Jake on Instagram at @j_brdnbch. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at

In 2012 Disney purchased Lucasfilm for a whopping $4 billion, acquiring the rights to one of the most valuable IPs of all time. Star Wars had become a contentious brand following the polarizing response to the prequel trilogy, with many ambivalent but curious about a Lucas-free trilogy. This set a trend for the rest of the decade, being followed by Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World reboot in 2015 and David Gordon Green’s Halloween in 2018. Both of these reboots were also later expanded to full trilogies, with mixed results.

First off: Star Wars. The Force Awakens was released to critical and commercial success in December of 2015. While some may have found it derivative of A New Hope, most found it thrilling to be back in the galaxy far, far away. Unfortunately, this sentiment did not carry through to its sequel, 2017’s The Last Jedi. Helmed by Rian Johnson, it polarized the fanbase and critics alike. JJ Abrams was bought back for 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker, but by then glaring issues within the series were too large to course-correct. By then, even the much-derided prequels began to receive some critical re-evaluation.

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The Gen Z meme-ification of the prequel trilogy has raised an eyebrow among many online scholars. A cynical troll perhaps, or more duplicitous, a manufactured move by Disney to broaden the appeal of the prequels in order to expand their market value. However, the latter makes little sense under scrutiny. Disney went out of their way to scrub any lingering fumes of the prequels in their own trilogy – visually, spiritually, aesthetically – to a point of detriment, perhaps. The prequels were accused of clunky world building and an emphasis on convoluted in-universe politics (The Phantom Menace was ultimately about the taxation of trade routes after all.) However, the Disney Sequels overcompensate for this by not having enough world building. We are never sure the scale of the First Order, the scale of the New Republic, what really is at stake, or how the bad guys have the resources to build yet another planet-killing super weapon. Even mindless blockbusters have to have some internal logic.

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David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween reboot was a box office success with positive critical response, which in turn led to Blumhouse announcing two further sequels. However, a little Michael Meyers goes a long way, particularly if the ideas put forth are as lackluster as what was put forth in its sequel, Halloween Kills. Released in 2021, Kills picks up where the first left off, immediately dispensing with the idea of a more grounded Michael Meyers by having him survive a house fire. The series continues trying to have its cake and eat it, too. Green’s trilogy wants to erase all former sequels while still profiting off their emotional baggage. Halloween Ends (2022) tries to wrap things up, but like Rise of Skywalker, mostly fails. Similar to the Star Wars trilogy, by the end of the third film the general consensus is that the series was a poorly planned enterprise.

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As far as Jurassic World, it seems to have fared the best of the three, though it’s critical consensus also fell over the course of its run. Interestingly enough, Colin Trevorrow was originally awarded the opportunity to direct Ep IX before leaving due to “creative differences”. Trevorrow is still credited for the story of Rise of Skywalker, though the final film bears little resemblance to his original script. Truth be told, his ideas weren’t ultimately that much better, less creatively bankrupt but unsatisfying in a different way.

The strangest thing about these franchises is that they feel both designed by committee but also poorly planned, as if both the creatives and executives in charge were making it up as they went along. This is especially jarring in regards to Star Wars, one of the most expensive deals in history. But perhaps this points to a new future where quality is of little importance when the box office is all but guaranteed. For it’s not as if fans stopped paying to be disappointed. Even while being only half as successful as the first in its series, Rise of Skywalker still managed to clear $1B worldwide. Which is the irony of all nostalgia-based franchises, really. Fans spend their time wishing for the magic of the original, but somehow different, only to end up dissatisfied with what they get while yearning for the entry they hated last. Regardless, the studio wins. The target audience is already locked in, and they happen to be gluttons for punishment.

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