Before the release of Star Wars (never “A New Hope”) in 1977, there had only been a couple of successful movie franchises viz. James Bond and Planet of the Apes.
Diehard Star Wars fans who were somewhat mystified by the ‘soft reboot’ that director JJ Abrams fashioned with The Force Awakens (TFA) will find little comfort in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi (TLJ), which remakes creator George Lucas’ legacy into a generic movie blockbuster. Spoilers follow.
The mischaracterisation of Luke Skywalker
If portraying Luke as a coward in TFA – running away and hiding from the rise of the First Order – wasn’t bad enough, TLJ does its best to denigrate the memory of our hero.
First, he tosses away Anakin’s light sabre like it was so much garbage and then stubbornly refuses to train Rey whatsoever. This Luke Skywalker basically gave up and is just waiting to die.
Seriously, what the fuck?!
Then we find out that he intended – even for a split second – to kill his nephew (Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren) when he saw the darkness in him.
C’mon, this is the man who refused to believe that his father (Darth Vader!) could not be redeemed despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And yet, we are led to believe that he wanted to kill Ben Solo? Ridiculous.
Also, remember that entire vision sequence of the Knights of Ren killing Jedi trainees in the rain at Luke’s Jedi school? None of that appears in TLJ! Instead we have a quite lame scene of Kylo Ren bringing the roof down and Luke emerging from the rubble later on. Really really atrocious.
And … did Luke really need killing off at the end? Sigh.
A middle finger to the Star Wars diehard fans
As inferior a Star Wars movie as TFA was, it did at least lay down the groundwork for a new universe that got diehards in a tizzy coming up with theories regarding Rey’s parentage, Snoke’s background, the circumstances behind Luke’s disappearance, and so on.
TLJ basically shits on all this – giving diehards the finger in the process. Rey’s parents are nobodies, the mysterious Snoke is killed off (unnecessarily and in a silly manner to boot!) and remains a mystery, and the less said about how Luke is treated the better.
Dig deeper and one realises the obvious message here. Disney does not give a fuck about George Lucas’ original story ideas and not only does this new trilogy depart significantly, it also states emphatically that there is no connection whatsoever to Star Wars lore.
An utter lack of respect for the original material is displayed and simply put, Star Wars is reduced to a brand, which Disney can now exploit as it thinks fit without any reference whatsoever to the Lucas legacy. The ultimate “FUCK YOU” to George Lucas.
The pointless Finn-Rose sub-plot
The most frustrating thing about TLJ, without a doubt. A meaningless diversion from the main storyline finds Finn and Rose travelling to Canto Bight on a mission to find a code-breaker.
Considering the movie is 150 minutes and the manner in which this sub-plot pans out, this entire sequence could have been left out without any impact on the story whatsoever!
Perhaps it was included for Rian Johnson to make a comment about arms dealers? Or maybe to introduce the concept behind his own upcoming Star Wars trilogy? Who the fuck knows or even cares? There is just no logical reason for this sub-plot to exist. A waste of screen time.
The non-sensical expansion of Force powers
Remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where Indy survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a fridge?
Well, the Star Wars franchise finally has its own ‘jump the shark’ moment with Princess Leia flying through space like Superman! Did she ever demonstrate Force abilities before?
Not only that but where in the past, Luke and Darth Vader (and Leia) had a telepathic connection (they are family after all), now in TLJ, Kylo and Rey somehow get ‘Force Skype’ powers and are able to video conference across the vast span of space and somehow touch as well, without any connection between them whatsoever! How exactly does that work?
And of course, finally, the coup de grace, where somehow (again!) Luke is able to project himself (astrally?) to confront Kylo in the third act from light years away. Simply incredible Force powers that function as deus ex machinas for both Leia and Luke.
We can see how these new Force powers serve as exciting plot twists for the average movie-goer but for the diehard fan, it’s a kick in the teeth!
The silly premise of the slow motion chase between the First Order and the Resistance
Much of the second act was occupied by the farcical sight of the First Order pursuing the Resistance in outer space, as the latter is somehow (!) out of range of the former’s weapons yet running out of fuel at the same time!
Have you ever come across space ships of this size in the Star Wars franchise running on fuel (?) and this is taking place a good 30 years after the original trilogy, mind you.
But we guess that if you can have a planet serving as a weapon without explaining how it moves from point to point (Starkiller Base), then anything goes, right?
Worse yet, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, who takes over from Leia when she is incapacitated – flying in space sure takes its toll! – refuses to explain her plan to Poe Dameron , which results in the pointless Finn-Rose subplot etc.
When Holdo’s plan is finally explained to Poe by Leia, he thinks it’s a good one! All that time, effort and angst wasted!
AND why didn’t Holdo’s suicide mission happen earlier? That would have guaranteed the safety of the escaping small transports
Really really bad writing by Rian Johnson!
The final analysis
With TFA and TLJ, Disney’s agenda becomes crystal clear – to bring Star Wars as far away from Lucas’ original vision as far as possible.
Which is fine as a concept but the execution is really poor. Inconsistent characterisation, a lack of respect for lore, bad writing, inconsequential sub-plots and characters (Captain Phasma?) make these movies truly messy affairs.
Mission accomplished as far as Disney is concerned. Star Wars is now a run-of-the-mill mass market blockbuster, no longer the singular vision of an artist but a corporate vehicle for maximum profits made by committee.
… still there’s more …
At this point, does it matter what we say about the new Star Wars movie?
Director Ron Howard has confirmed on Twitter that he will take over from the departed Phil Lord and Chris Miller to helm the Han Solo standalone movie.
The Hollywood Reporter has reported that the directors of the Star Wars standalone prequel of Han Solo – Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – have left the film over ‘creative differences’.
Has social media been taken over by Disney press-bots? It gets very distressing when twentysomethings declare the standalone Star Wars film, Rogue One as “the best Star Wars movie ever”!
When Disney paid big bucks for Lucasfilm, it was with a view to spinning the Star Wars franchise into a shared universe, very much like the hugely popular and successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Do we really need movies set in the Star Wars shared universe? Well, if you are Disney and desiring to recoup some of the $4 billion they paid George Lucas for the franchise, then definitely!
No familiar ‘legacy’ characters here though, which makes Rogue One: A Star Wars Story a bit of a risk. Not at all, of course, as the zombies will come out in force to have their brains eaten by more fan-service masturbation.
So much to say, too much to unload. Considering the sheer level of hype poured down on this movie, it’s fair to accept that it was never ever going to live up to the hype. I probably need to watch again to absorb all the nuances but basically, what I feel is that The Force Awakens is either a Star Wars reboot or a fan-made tribute or eye candy searching desperately for a story or perhaps all of the above.
The latest Star Wars sequel is a mere 3 days away from opening in Singapore and hordes of geeks are eagerly waiting to see whether director JJ Abrams can return the series to its former glories, after the dismal critical reception of the prequels back in 1999 – 2005, despite the trilogy grossing a total of $2.5 billion at the box office.
Yes, like most geeks I can hardly wait to watch Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens when it opens in Singapore on 16th December 2015 (and yes, I have purchased my tickets already!) BUT at the back of my mind I have lingering doubts whether the movie can live up to its enormous hype. So let’s look at SEVEN of them, shall we?
The most anticipated movie of the year has released a new trailer. If I am understanding the implications of what is depicted in this trailer correctly, after the Battle of Endor and the Return of the Jedi, something happened to thwart the actual return of the Jedi because 30 years later, the very idea of the Force is now a myth. Isn’t this the premise of Star Wars: A New Hope? So unlike the numerous books that chronicled post-ROTJ events (which has now been rendered non-Canon by Disney), we are back to square one.
Once more, we have a young adult living on the desert planet looking up to the skies, we have a malevolent force wearing a helmet and we have the threat of the Death Star (see the poster below) – so Star Wars: The Force Awaken is in reality a REBOOT! Sigh. What an alarming and revolting development! Hopefully, I am wrong in my assessment of the trailer. Cuz, even though the visuals are amazing and awe-inspiring, if that is indeed the plot of the new Star Wars movie, then it is going to be a disappointment. Don’t fuck it up, JJ!
Watch the new trailer.
Check out also this amazing clip that combines all the footage so far in the Ultimate Trailer!
Yes the first teaser trailer was bewildering BUT this is the real deal right here.
With a Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamil) VO, thrilling shots of the new Star Wars universe (30 years from Return of the Jedi) and the appearance of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca, it feels like …. coming home indeed.
Beginning to feel that this will be the film of the year!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in Singapore on 17th December.