In Episode 1 of my podcast, I’m going to talk about the Star Wars sequels, not at all a controversial topic, am I right? My podcast series will be similar to my blog, where I talk about certain movies or shows, and I’ll have some episodes about certain ideas I have on subjects, like movie remakes. For now, I’ll start with the recent trilogy as a whole.
First, there is a large cultural impact these films have had. I think a lot of companies and studios really only see dollar signs, and nothing makes that more obvious than seeing Disney buy Star Wars, create Galaxy’s Edge, and pump out movies every year. Now, making money is not wrong. They need income, and they need to survive. But on the whole, how much are you willing to sacrifice in the name of success? Is it worth the fame and fortune if your fame is rooted in controversy and fan theories, rather than joy and genuine delight? That’s not to say I think Disney has killed Star Wars…we still have good things like The Mandalorian, and they can’t erase the original trilogy from existence. But looking at the decisions made, you have to wonder how much creativity they really have. The standards are pretty low, I think…just look at what prompted some choices in Rise of Skywalker. They reacted to angry people. The product was just a product…not a story.
I sometimes think the sequels should have taken place long after Return of the Jedi. Luke and Leia can be referenced to, but have people totally new. Rey was nearly a copy of Luke and Anikan, Kylo was a copy of Anikan, and the Emperor didn’t need to be there at all. They seemed to think they needed nostalgia to get people to see it, when really who do you think wasn’t going to see a new Star Wars movie? If we knew episode 7 was coming out, and didn’t know the subject matter, only knowing that it took place in the Star Wars universe, chances are you’d have a lot of people go see it.
As much as I personally like Rey, I do see the flaws in some of the design. I don’t know exactly what JJ was going for in the beginning. Was he planning on having her relate to Palpatine? Kylo was interesting at first. While I feel like The Force Awakens set up so much potential, and had many questions we wanted answered, that’s where the hype died. I feel as though The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker were fan theories that they decided to make into films. Why did they make Snoke only to kill him? Why did they introduce Rose to crowd Fin’s place, when he alone was a good enough character to carry the story? Why did Hux go from a serious, sociopathic villain to comic relief, then someone who betrayed everything he believed in because he didn’t like Kylo Ren?
The Last Jedi is not a terrible movie, but it’s long, and it seems to weigh a lot. It needed to be trimmed down. Again, did they plan it out? On paper, the concept of Poe Dameron going nuts and not understanding the plan and committing mutiny is an interesting plot device. But he did all of this simply because Holdo opted not to be clear with him. Kylo Ren decides to betray his master and kill him, but it amounts to so little. When Darth Vader did that, it was a turning point for him. He was deciding not to be evil…his character grew and changed before our eyes. Kylo was still Kylo after killing Snoke. It’s a moment that was meant to be shocking, but with no payoff. Shocking and surprising your audience isn’t supposed to be there simply JUST to be there, unless maybe you’re making a slasher flick. I think Rian Johnson comes across as a bit arrogant…he seems to not be able to take criticism. And don’t get me wrong, these days, people don’t know how to GIVE criticism without insulting their targets. I understand being frustrated with people who harass Kelli Mari Tran, or call people names instead of justifying why they dislike certain aspects. In fact, many movie critics seem to like The Last Jedi. However, the big question after this movie was: what now?
Why Rian Johnson was chosen over JJ Abrams, I’m sure comes down to financial factors. That’s how these studios are making decisions. That’s why they made these episode in the first place. To get money. That’s why it’s easier to love the original trilogy. It was a story someone wanted to tell, and put his heart into. That doesn’t mean these don’t have to be good. But when the ROOT of your decisions, when it comes to anything, not just films, is only money, then the balance, quality, and merits may get distorted. Instead of careful planning, we had cash-grabs. Rogue 1 I thought was excellent, and if that’s all that came out in the span of a few years while they worked on making a really, really good follow up to Force Awakens, I think that would have been fine. The new Kanobi series stirred things up because apparently production was delayed to rework the script, but I was GLAD to hear that. That means someone is actually giving a darn about the quality…or so we hope. The Mandalorian is doing well because it’s new AND familiar. It’s the Star Wars universe, but new characters.
The new trilogy did have new characters, but what was the point? The relationship between Rey and Fin was interrupted, and a few new people were crowded into the last movie, to set up potential content. Maybe that’s something we have now more than we used to. The potential for comics, books, and movies to carry on a story. But that could also be an excuse for people to be lazy. Janna was thrown in for intrigue at the very end, but that time could have been spent with Rey, Poe, or Fin…
Now for the most part, they did alright with the main characters of the new trilogy. I said before they were copies, but some originality does shine through. And the good ideas are there. Again, on paper…Leia and Han having a son who turns to the dark side? Palpatine having a clone, who runs away and has a daughter, who’s strong in the force? Those are good ideas. However, I don’t know why Rey had so much time devoted to her and their force bond, when Kylo was clearly the one with more intrigue. For that matter, I don’t know why the trilogy didn’t start out with Kylo becoming evil. The comics, The Rise of Kylo Ren, pack so much more than nearly the entire sequel trilogy in four short comics, and that shows there are good stories to be told. Instead, we were left with pieces. Good concepts, fun moments, but the original trilogy was more than that. It was a story, with meaning.
In my next podcast I will take a closer look at The Rise of Skywalker, and the plot and characters in that. So much has already been said about the other two films, particularly The Last Jedi. Since my episodes will be about various storytelling from movies and series, I will start out with one that made a huge impact…whether it is more good or bad, time will have to tell.