Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Thoughts on the Disney Star Wars Movies

The Force Awakens
Essentially a retelling of A New Hope: a force-sensitive orphan on a backwater desert planet finds a lost astromech droid, escapes on the Milennium Falcon, and gets caught up in an insurgency against a superior military force with a planet-busting weapon. Her mentor is killed by a loved one who has gone to the dark side and who serves an ominous holographic master, but in revenge she blows up the superweapon and gives new hope to the insurgency.

And I'm fine with this. In 2015 it had been 10 years since any Star Wars film and 30 years since a good Star Wars film, so I recognized the necessity of going "Hey fans, it's going to be okay. We know how to make a good Star Wars movie. Look, we're following the comfortable formula."  I like TFA because it was fun and exciting and I wanted to know more about the universe. Surely Episode 7 would explain all of my unanswered questions, right?
  • Why is the First Order a Diet Empire?
  • Why isn't the New Republic stomping them into dirt?
  • Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?
  • Will we see more of Commander Phasma?

Rogue One
I refer to R1 as "the best film that I've ever hated." It's true, and I'll tell you why, but first let me address this:
Me not liking a movie is my opinion. You are free to think I'm wrong, but arguing with me isn't going to convince me otherwise. You can't debate people into changing their minds over matters of taste, and opinion of art is taste. 
The biggest fault that R1 had is that unlike every single other Star Wars movie, it wasn't fun.  There was no joy in it at all. There were some cool scenes, yes, some very thrilling heroics, but everything was so goddamn grim.  Now I realize that this was meant to be a gritty film, the franchise's version of Dirty Dozen, but for crying out loud that doesn't mean everyone needs to die!

The whole thing just felt very 90s grimdark, where happy endings are verboten and people die horribly because "it's all, like, realistic and stuff."  Well, I don't watch Star Wars for the realism! Would it have be so terrible for this to have happened?

Okay, maybe not with EVERYONE surviving, but definitely with K-2SO making a backup and rescuing Jyn and Cassian.

And then that bit with Vader... okay, I can appreciate Vader being a badass, but having the Tantive IV literally at the battle changes the entire tenor of the beginning of ANH and not in a good way, I feel.

See, this is my other objection to R1: it alters canon and doesn't explain why.
  • Who are the stormtroopers in black armor, and why have we not seen them before or since? No explanation given. 
  • What are these new TIE fighters called? How are they better than regular TIEs? Why have we not seen them before or since? No explanation given. 
  • That guy wearing a white uniform, is he a Grand Admiral like Thrawn? No, he's just a "Director". Huh, okay. So I guess directors wear white uniforms because they're awesome? No, Grand Moff Tarkin is wearing gray and he makes Director Krennik his bitch. Then... why? No explanation given.
So to me, R1 was just a bundle of dissatisfaction. I could have accepted the unanswered questions if it didn't have such a depressing "Everyone Dies!" ending, and I could have accepted a grimdark joyless ending if there had been more attention paid to continuity. But I didn't get either, so I didn't enjoy it. If you enjoyed it, that's cool. 

The Last Jedi
Remember all those questions from TFA I hoped would be answered? Yeah, the answer seems to be "Fuck you, that's why."  They not only don't answer any of them, the movie then seems to take a massive steaming shit on the original trilogy by destroying all the things we like. 
  • Hey kids! Did you like Luke Skywalker, Jedi? Guess what, he's back to being whiny old Wormy from Tattooine, only with force powers! Oh, and we're going to kill him too, because we don't want him to actually accomplish anything in this movie!
    • (and seriously, he didn't. Sure, he delayed Kylo Ren long enough for the Diet Alliance to escape from the Diet Empire, but he could have done that and more if he'd actually come back with Rey and Chewie on the Falcon.)
  • Hey! Did you like the battle sequences on Hoth with speeders against walkers? Sure you did! So we're going to make a sequence like that, only it'll be a salt planet instead of snow, and the speeders will be incredibly lame, and at the end the rebels will have accomplished fuck-all!
  • Hey! Did you like the lightsaber battle at the end of Return of Jedi in the Emperor's throne room?  Sure you did! So we're going to do it again, only we're going to murder the Emperor stand-in and then have an almost-Sith and a sorta-Jedi kill a bunch of kinda-Imperial Guards!
    • I have to tell you that I was actively rooting for Rey to take Ben's hand after that battle. When she saw him shirtless I realized that the writers were suggesting a romance between them, and so when he asked her to join him ("So we can rule the galaxy as father and son together") I thought "Yes! Do it! I want to see what happens when a Dark Side user loves a Light Side user. That is one hell of a mixed marriage. Will the have children who use both sides and are therefore Gray? Dammit, show me something new!"
    • Instead, we got... what we got. Sigh. 
  • I also had a moment of extreme being-impressed-ness when the command ship was hit and Leia was sucked into space. I was all "Holy crap, no wonder the writers didn't seem bothered that Carrie Fisher died before the trilogy was over! This is BRILLIANT!"... and then you know what happened. 
    • So now we have Han murdered, Luke disappearing into the Force (he might turn up as a Force Ghost. If so, I'd sure like to know where the fuck was Anakin's force ghost as his grandson was being turned to evil? I mean, Yoda can come back but not Anakin? Bullshit. Someone go get Hayden Christiansen and beat him with a stick until he gives a non-wooden performance) and now with Fisher dead and the writers saying they won't CGI her, she's going to die offscreen. I think the writers should have changed the script and re-shot some scenes -- they had the time, Fisher died a year before the movie was released -- so that Leia would have a meaningful death. 
  • But I don't think they want meaning. They want what Kylo wants: to kill the past, to burn it all down. I fully expect that in episode 9, the Falcon is going to be destroyed and Chewbacca is going to die. 
  • And don't even get me started on Laura Dern's dumbass admiral who should have communicated her plan to her CAG, who should have had the other ships doing lightspeed kamikaze runs, and who should have interposed her ship -- you know, the one with the shields that could withstand ISD turbolasers? -- between the Diet Empire's fleet and the escaping shuttles. 

At this point, I think I'm done with this storyline. I'll give the upcoming Solo: a Star Wars Story a try because it's got a good pedigree (written by Lawrence Kasdan, who gave us Empire Strikes Back) and because how badly could they fuck up a one-shot prequel (don't answer that), but after that I'm not likely to watch more. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take some geritol and yell at some kids to get off my lawn. 

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