Managing Expectations with Star Wars
There comes a time in rational Star Wars fans’ lives, when they step out of themselves. That’s easier to do when you’re not surrounded by in-box Kenner action figures and KFC Episode 1 cup toppers. But, this time comes for us all. Why? Well, because you have to grow up.
Star Wars is for kids is such a double-edged sword. When you say kids, most invoke images of snot nosed brats wearing a Darth Vader costume just a little too long into their elementary school careers. But, by kids…most mean youth. As with any generational entertainment touchstone, the material must evolve or die. Some believe it did just that with The Last Jedi while others lament its perceived devo nature after the Disney purchase.
The Rise of Skywalker is Return of the Jedi
Throughout my life, I’ve been amazed by the people that love Return of the Jedi? Sure, the Death Star II battle was amazing, but what else? It’s a convoluted mess that had to fight multiple writer changes, radical shifts in plot and Lucas finally solidifying his thoughts on the Force. So, when people get upset over Rey using the Force to heal others…I’m not as upset.
When you approach Star Wars like there was any semblance of a plan in place, realize that people hate you. I know it’s edgelord cool to have people hate you, but understand why they hate you. A plot isn’t the same thing as having a solid idea. All it means is that Person A and Person B must eventually do something with no detail as to how it happens. Hell, Lucas was debating what it means to be a Force Ghost until a few weeks before Return of the Jedi started shooting.
THIS JUST IN: Admiral Holdo is Still Dead.
I really, really like Laura Dern. What I don’t like is when you can pin all of the bad decisions of a film on a single character. Divorce yourself from your feeling about Holdo and examine what she did in The Last Jedi. She took over due to a series of events outside of the Resistance’s control and did her best just to hold the line. Sure, Holdo could’ve listened to Poe Dameron once or twice. But, as a leader coming into her own for the first time she chose to ignore him to preserve order of command.
The point of this being to extend the action for the length of the movie. Hell, Poe Dameron’s initial attack was meant to keep the Resistance from getting blown out of the sky above D’Qar. Yet, why did any of this happened? The answer is simple…poor planning.
You’re telling me that the First Order moved within a day after their homebase was destroyed? A planet on which they stored their gear, munitions, soldiers and related goods? But, three Destroyers and Snoke’s pleasure Yacht had enough material to nearly annihilate the Resistance. Hell, the Rebellion had time to escape Yavin-IV and hide out on Hoth before the Empire came knocking on their door.
But, the first order can track people through hyperspace! remember! please remember!
The First Order is well stocked and supported by Imperial Loyalists. However, that doesn’t explain launching such an offensive after losing 98% of their livelihood after Starkiller Base was destroyed. Even then, you’re going to tell me that Kylo Ren and Snoke wouldn’t seek to establish a new government before hunting down the Resistance? It’s not like the galaxy’s first imperative is to join a paramilitary group after the major political worlds in existence were destroyed.
What you’re asking people to do by forcing such actions to happen within the course of days is accept convenience. Holdo holds command because she’s the only willing to say No, The First Order believes things will be easier without the tiny Resistance and Rose Tico will stop major missions to illegally park and save space horses. But, right now…all of that is OK. In doing this, The Last Jedi kicked the can down the road much like how The Force Awakens refused to handle everything from Luke to the Force.
The Rise of Skywalker is what happens when you can’t kick the can further down the road
The Rise of Skywalker is why compromise doesn’t work. Stories have come out about how this isn’t JJ Abrams’ cut or how the Chinese film board got involved. While that didn’t help, it still does nothing to cure the issue with the Sequel trilogy. There is so much side material to discuss that they often whiff the big notes they have to smash down.
Stop for a moment and think about The Rise of Skywalker. How much of the plot did you learn details from the film or from peripherals? Palpatine is a clone? Great! Where does it say that in the film? What about Jannah’s origins, Finn’s force sensitivity or the whole Rey parentage? Thinking about the whole Rey mirror sequence in The Last Jedi, something keeps sticking in my brain. Don’t apply malevolence when ignorance works just fine.
The Rise of Skywalker didn’t purposefully throw The Last Jedi out the window. What sabotaged the legacy of The Last Jedi was The Rise of Skywalker’s slavish devotion to finish a saga. This lead to the video game quest feel of trying to find Wayfinders and using Sith Daggers like Ovaltine rings.
Even Rose Tico’s got sacrificed due to the fact that they pushed off Leia’s storyarc as long as humanly possible. So now you have to restage entire shots like you’re shooting Fred Astaire in a Diet Coke commercial to make it all work. It’s quite easy to say it’s a personal attack on Rose Tico, while missing the obvious point. Rose Tico was a SJW friendly Nien Nunb who served about the same purpose.
Your Rian Johnson Merch Holds No Power Here
The cult mentality that absolves some, but accuses others is stunning. I’ve listened to quite a number of people talk smack about the Disney Trilogy. Hell, I’ve heard others make zealot like defenses of The Last Jedi and how it didn’t do the exact things that plagued the other sequel trilogy movies. Let’s be honest with ourselves here, all three films were missed opportunities. But, we give them a pass because a certain generation or two has a Pavlovian response to lightsabers and John Williams musical cues.
There is something to maturing tastes when you can kill your darlings. That doesn’t mean you hate what you once loved. It means understanding the faults and acknowledging what could’ve been improved upon. Don’t worry if you’re not there yet. So much of the Western world can’t understand that criticism isn’t necessarily a direct attack on their being.
The Canon of a Clique Rejected by Another Canon
Many will bemoan how much of The Last Jedi gets tossed out the window in the Episode 9 rush job. Honestly, it makes me chuckle. Think about Empire to A New Hope and then ROTJ to Empire. If that wasn’t enough, listen to Qui Gon Jinn and Anakin discuss midichlorians in The Phantom Menace. It’s all exposition about how cellular happenings control Force users. That was the point I checked out on The Phantom Menace upon my first viewing.
The pod race was cool and I could buy the Saturday morning serial take on the material. But, that was just lazy. Plus, it painted the Force into a corner that could be measured and studied. Eventually, Rian Johnson would go out of his way to undercut that by having stable boys use Force Pull among other things. Only for that to get swept back by making Rey a Palpatine that could go Superduper Jedi when needed.
While this back and forth is annoying, I recommend something. Watch these movies with people who don’t give a damn about any of this. I did it twice with two wildly different sample audience members. The first one couldn’t get over how the Old Guy survived getting tossed down a well that exploded. That was their take on the finale of Return of the Jedi.
The other couldn’t understand how Han came back. While this isn’t one thing or another, it reveals something that The Rise of Skywalker forgot. A film series has a sense of history and rules that dictate flow. Sure, it’s all a loose plot that sacrifices what it needs to do to build a better story. But, the quick edits and lack of focus meant that you got more set pieces and than plot resolution.
Disney Doesn’t Buy Reviews, They Court Favor
So much of how the Internet works eludes the average person. Maybe it’s because I spend too much time reading YouTube comments. Hell, maybe it’s because I hide the means of contacting me and the angry people still manage to find a way. Here’s a big nugget of truth to drop in your laps.
DISNEY AND ANY OTHER STUDIO THEY DON’T OWN IS NOT BUYING REVIEWS! But, they are courting favors with influencers and sites willing to help marketing.
What does that mean? Well, it’s no different than how any other business works, kiddies. You have an expensive product that needs to be sold. Certain early audiences suggest that it might not quite work, but you think you can seize the market. So, you grant certain favors and exclusives to sites of renown that fit certain market samples. There’s nothing nefarious. Disney just wanted to sell The Rise of Skywalker to as many simps as possible.
If you’re buying the toys at age 45 and blowing a chunk of your annual income to attend the Galaxy’s Edge opening, then you are in the Disney market for Star Wars. They know you have already committed a percentage of 2019 to Rise of Skywalker, what’s the harm in asking a little bit more?
At the end of the day, no studio owes you anything. They’re making an entertainment product that will either connect or don’t. Your childhood attachments to the OT or the Prequels are just that. Childhood attachments that will have hopefully influenced your tastes enough to bridge outward into a bigger world. Sadly, I don’t believe that is the case.
An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age
The nature of Star Wars now is complex. Everyone has their preferred trilogy. People hate the non Disney fans for not allowing Star Wars to grow. The Disney haters hate everyone else for not acknowledging the fact that the later movies don’t make sense in context of what’s established. After all, it’s not that Rey can heal people, but Kylo Ren can too. The idea is they learned it from Ancient Texts that were available since the Republic. Texts that any Jedi padawan could’ve checked out the library.
Don’t dwell on it, because it will make you go insane. Just hang back and watch Rise of Skywalker while you’re at home. Focus on those sharp criticism skills and learn to discern. What is a critical flaw and what is an aesthetic choice that you don’t like? Not liking the fact that Rey’s new lightsaber is the same color as a Pale Ale is all aesthetic. Get over it, people.
Life on Mars
When you nitpick the nature of Science Fiction it reveals two things about yourself. Either you can’t buy into fantasy or you’re desperate to impose your own reality over a fictional world. Much like how I can’t put a pin in how I feel about Tom Brady going to the Bucs, I find myself in a similar stalemate. It’s not easy to recognize fault in all sides with no clear solutions. So, let’s talk about the 4K disc.
The Rise of Skywalker 4K disc comes with a 3 hour documentary, plus you get a ton of special features and zero deleted scenes. Lucasfilm/Disney’s stranglehold on deleted scenes and cut material from this film suggests a cover-up. Don’t believe me, check how many times the Art of Rise of Skywalker has been bumped vs. LITERALLY ANY OTHER STAR WARS BOOK IN HISTORY.
The A/V Quality is killer. Given the fact that I’m not using a 4K monitor, I was grabbing these shots blindly. Some worked and others didn’t. However, I still had to downsize them to 1080p, otherwise the average readers couldn’t view them. Sorry, kids…we’re working on a fix that will appease everyone.
Still, the Dolby Atmos track and 2.39:1 2160p transfer are among the best of Disney 4K A/V Quality. What’s really insane is that this is one of the first true Native 4K transfers coming out of Disney. No more of that upscale crap that you see on the Marvel 4K discs. I dig and truly respect that. Plus, you get a Digital Copy that you can renew on Movies Anywhere.