Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (a review)

See, this is why I write books.

I’m not really going to bother reviewing this movie, although I usually preface my reviews with some sort of disclaimer about how I’m not going to write a review and then I write a review, so whatever, let’s go. Spoilers from here on in. You will not be warned again.

The creators of Star Wars had an impossible task. They had a trilogy from the ’70s-’80s that had attained a Big Chair in the pop culture pantheon and a multi-generational fan base. Every attempt to do anything with that trilogy – any attemptever – resulted in paddlin’s. Special remastered versions? That’s a paddlin’. Prequels and spin-offs? That’s a paddlin’.

thats-a-paddlin

Sequel trilogy? You’d better believe that’s a paddlin’.

As far as I can tell, the only things ever to be positively received were TV shows. From the drug-fuelled hilarity of the Holiday Special to all the animated and live-action series (Rebels, The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian), they all seem to be generally … fine, I guess? I don’t know, maybe I just haven’t gone looking for the complainers. Because why in the name of all that’s fucking holy would I?

Oh, and there’s games, and toys. People complain about them but nobody actually cares. That’s an objective fact, not opinion. Literally, absolutely, nobody cares.

Anyway my point is, the creators of Star Wars[1] had a big problem. No matter what they did to finish off the nine-movie epic that is the core of the Star Wars story, it wouldn’t be good enough. Decades of expectation and speculation, and years of increasingly bitter disagreement between nerd tribes on the Internet, made this a doomed venture.

[1] I don’t even know who they are. I think Kathleen Kennedy is involved? Disney? George Lucas is apparently still a thing but they don’t listen to him? Whatever. I’m all outta fucks.

Given that starting condition, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker was really pretty darn good. This project, that was absolutely certain to make a ton of money and absolutely certain to fail, definitely made a ton of money. They walked the line of expectations and fan demands, paying nostalgic dues, and all the rest of it. The result was a vast, resounding MEH in movie form. No, not even a MEH. MEH is too negative. It was an ENH.

The movie was fine. Anyone who can look objectively at the original trilogy (and I am the only person in the world who can), has to look at this final chapter and go “enh, it was a Star Wars movie.” There was a war, in the stars. There were droids. There was Force.

the-force

So … much … Force.

I don’t think the fanboys who were mad about Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (you know, murder-Rian-Johnson, rewrite-and-re-release-the-movie mad) will be mollified by this movie, because they’re fucking idiots. The people who were happy about Episode VIII: The Last Jedi will probably be disappointed at how much effort seemed to have been poured into mollifying the freaks. Oops, did I say freaks? That’s probably a paddlin’.

Some of it was great. I’m just enough of the above-mentioned freak-type to have been pleased to see a few more Force Ghosts show up and have something to do. It was nice to see Luke again, and to see that Leia had done a bit of Jedi stuff too. The idea of their twin lightsabres becoming the centrepiece of a new shrine on Tattooine for some future Jedi was really nice.

I liked the huge Sith fleet. Pity.

Speaking of Leia, people will complain about Carrie Fisher’s image being used, resurrecting her from cut scenes and CGI. But this is a reality of entertainment now and I suggest you all just get on board with it. Soon we won’t have any need for actors, just programmers capable of resurrecting the precise person needed for a role. Actor salaries will give way to the rental rights for a certain audio-visual property. I’m not even kidding. This is happening. No more tantrums, no more prima donnas, no more abusive rapists and drug addicts. Shit, we won’t even need to worry about whitewashing or other problematic casting issues. We will be able to create exactly the fictional characters we need, and as for historical characters – we’ll be able to use them as-is. After they’ve been dead 75 years they’re public domain. You watch. This is happening.

cgi-dead-actors

And happening, and happening.

I loved the part where Rey suddenly Sith-lightning’d, although part of me kind of wishes they’d had the scrotum to kill Chewie in the process. Also that we had some answer other than “according to plot demand” as to how powerful Sith lightning is.

The “it’s just … people” thing, and the mass arrival of good folk from across the galaxy, was cute too. I couldn’t help but see it as a political / ideological statement, but sure.

Richard E Grant was cool, but he wasn’t Grand Admiral Thrawn so fucking kill yourselves, everyone involved in making this movie, do the whole thing again and re-release it God damn you.

I’m kidding.

Threepio was a highlight, although they definitely could have done more with his memory wipe and change in circumstances. Linking it back to his memory wipe when he forgot Episodes I, II and III would have been nice. Remember how he forgot those? Lucky golden fucker he is.

Oh well.

There were also some bits where I had to squint. “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker” are kind of stretch names, seeing as how nobody was a last goddamn anything in Episode VIII and there were no rising Skywalkers (was Ben meant to be one? Was Luke one as a ghost? Was Rey one because she pretended to be one at the end?) in Episode IX. But whatever. This all sort of makes sense if you think that Leia was meant to be the focus, but Fisher died and they weren’t quite ready to do this level of resurrection with her. It’s not like the movie titles haven’t been on the nose since the original trilogy ended anyway.

Han did not need to be in this. They were already adding some bizarre (but really quite excellent) Force talents like the healing and the teleportation of objects via Force-links, and since Han was never remotely Jedi they had to make it into a weird psycho vision of Ben’s instead. They didn’t need to do that. They could have used Leia – Ghost Leia! – or gone all the way with the psycho vision and put Ben back onto the gantry on Starkiller Base and replayed the scene to show his healing process. Pretty easy really.

How did Lando get that many ships to join him in the amount of time it took to fight half a space battle? Under normal circumstances that would be enough to travel to one system and secure one ally. That was … very cool, but unsupported.

Was Hux really meant to be a spy the whole time? Or did he become one between Episode VIII and Episode IX? I’ve got to say I don’t think it’s supported by earlier movies but they did kind of lampshade that stupidity so okay. It was interesting, and I can believe he turned after Episode VIII. Just don’t expect us to accept it as a clever plot twist. It was totally fucking random and you know it.

How easy was it to destroy those OP’d Star Destroyers? A couple of shots to the cannon and they were history. A couple of ships in orbit around each planet and presto, you’re safe from the Sith fleet. It would have been easy enough to give them some dependency on Palpatine, because he was paranoid, and then Rey could have passed that on to the Resistance or used it herself to destroy everything, echoing Luke’s win in Episode IV and Anakin’s in Episode I, crippling the fleet or driving it into the storms since they had no navigation or whatever.

See, this is why I write books. So they’ll go the way I want them to, and when they fail I can blame myself, and when I complain about stories not being told right and someone says “so do your own” I can say “I have.”

its-likepoetry-it-rhymes

See? I brought it back to finish where I started. It’s like poetry, it rhymes.

I give Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker an enh out of a possible ehh. Or a what-they-were-forced-to-make and half a what-they-were-too-cowardly-to-make out of a possible what-I-could-have-made-god-damnit.

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22 Responses to Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (a review)

  1. aaronthepatriot says:

    I can’t read it then, but I’m really baffled from what I’m hearing. Looper did a video that critics are giving it more rotten ratings because they tried to respond to all the criticisms of TLJ from fans, tries to fix the mistakes fans felt were made.

    Is that your impression of the movie?

    What’s wrong with responding to FAN criticism, not just critic criticism, I guess I’d ask? TLJ was so fresh it was suspicious given the fan opinions…. I just don’t know. Reviews are dead.

    On Thu, Dec 19, 2019 at 9:57 AM Hatboy’s Hatstand wrote:

    > stchucky posted: “See, this is why I write books. I’m not really going to > bother reviewing this movie, although I usually preface my reviews with > some sort of disclaimer about how I’m not going to write a review and then > I write a review, so whatever, let’s go. Spoilers f” >

    • stchucky says:

      I’d agree with that. They definitely seemed to be pandering to the angry fanboy rants and walked back a lot of the stuff that made people so unhappy about the previous movie. Or if not walked back, then at least put into an interesting context?

      Skywalked it back?

      All in all, it wasn’t terrible. But it could have been wonderful.

    • stchucky says:

      There were two or three clear points where I thought “this should be making me cry,” but no tears. And that wasn’t toxic masculinity, that was just weaponised enh-ness Or enhui, as I have dubbed it.

  2. stchucky says:

    I also actively resisted feeling the feelings that the talking response-prompt droid D-O kept poking us with. When it said “sad” I went “FUCK YOU I’M NOT SAD” and when it said “happy” I went “FUCK YOU D-O YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME”

    Seriously, bring back K2-SO.

    BRB, going to see if someone has made a Ronnie James D-O picture yet.

    *comes back*

    There isn’t one that I can see, but I don’t have time to make one. Someone make it so.

  3. stchucky says:

    I don’t generally rank, but here’s my latest ranking.

  4. Joonatan Itkonen says:

    “there were no rising Skywalkers”

    Ben raised himself out of that pit he was yeeted into, does that count?

    • stchucky says:

      You know it doesn’t!

      • stchucky says:

        It says something about this movie, about The Last Jedi, and about the current state of Star Wars at large, and also about me, that I (a) went into this one with virtually no expectations and not much anticipatory excitement, (b) was not all that emotionally moved or impressed or invested while watching the movie, (c) and walked out of the theater with a feeling of something like warm contentment, but without any need to discuss or dissect or debate what I’d just experienced, and feeling OK about that, too.

        Yep. They’re really not meant to be that controversial or conversation-pointy.

        Translation: The Rise of Skywalker was an entertaining and quite enjoyable, but also utterly unoriginal, uninspired, unsurprising and just very safely adequate piece of cinema.

        Agreed, they played it boringly safe on every plot point. Would it have killed them to leave Threepio wiped or Chewie dead? Or maybe lingered a little on the shift from toss-the-saber-over-shoulder Luke and catch-the-saber-before-it-burns Luke?

        And have Force ghosts always been corporeal, by the way? No reason why not, I was just curious.

        It really felt like they went into the whole trilogy without a roadmap and shifted things around according to badly-assembled Internet takes. Which, say what you like about Lucas, at least he didn’t seem to give a fuck about. Weird thing is, I didn’t get the impression Disney did either. And there was no need for it, because everyone was going to see this movie. No matter how much they hated all the rest of Star Wars.

        The movie was visually absolutely gorgeous,

        – agreed –

        and the main characters continued to ooze great chemistry throughout,

        Also agreed. Poe, Finn and Rey in particular were really fun and just nice to watch.

        (I think Rey is my favorite SW character. I hope we see more of her in future movies.)

        Was her little bit of identity theft at the end the actual rise of Skywalker? Was it … was it literally the friends she made along the way?

        [1] I’m not being bitter or judgmental or resentful or anything negative like that. I’m genuinely OK with an enh.

        No, exactly. Maybe even ENH is too negative-connotation, and it is an EHH. But it could have been incredible.

        The Force Awakens. Kicks the trilogy off with magnificently contagious action-adventure energy and flair. Introduces interesting new characters with genuine depth and played by actors with genuine skill and commitment. Expands the verse in… relatively successful ways? Sets up tantalizing story hooks. Plot is a bit too repetitive, especially in the second half, but whatever, they can do new in the next Episode. I walked into the theater trembling with excitement, and walked out emotional, elated, and relieved (a storm of feels somewhat marred by the speed-of-light physics hiccup in the middle). Improved on rewatch.

        Solid same. I’ve heard Star Wars veterans talking about how they’ve tried to start off new fans watching Star Wars, and Episode IV is just too slow and classical for them. Episode VII is a big attention-grabber.

        The Last Jedi. Mostly ignores or subverts all the story hooks set up by TFA, often to the point of seeming to go the opposite way simply for the sake of gleefully thwarting expectations, irrespective of the logic of going said way. Expands the verse and the mythology in poorly thought-out and canon-incompatible ways. Gives Luke an interesting and unexpected, but ultimately unsatisfying arc. The plot lacks solid momentum, and the overall story seems to progress very little, if at all. Visually and cinematically stunning. Some absolutely outstanding set pieces. The characters, especially Rey and Ren, continue to be the strong point, and the actors, especially Ridley and Driver, continue to impress. Divorced from the SW context, this could actually be a really good movie, but in the continuum of the Skywalker Saga and as the direct follow-up to TFA, the movie fails to deliver. I walked in excited and sold on Rian Johnson, and walked out emotional, conflicted, and unsure of what to make of what I just saw. Improved on rewatch (but mostly as a “standalone” movie rather than as an Episode of the Saga).

        I think I liked this one more than you, particularly on a re-watch, but I agree with a lot of your criticisms here. I don’t know if there’s much to pick apart and argue about, or what point there would be in doing so.

        The Rise of Skywalker. Ignores or retcons much of what TLJ did, and instead tries to pick up threads left over from TFA after TLJ was done burning them.

        Some of this I was actually okay with, if they’d just done a bit more to join the dots with Luke’s arc for example. But a lot of it felt like a mistake.

        Goes batshit crazy epic with little concern over in-story logic or consistent, canon-compatible worldbuilding. Because fuck it.

        Right. And it came so close to what might have been a great and workable plot, there was no reason for so much of it. I actually quite liked the idea of Snoke literally being a creation of Palpatine’s, like from a tank, but they didn’t explain any of it anywhere near enough. Instead of the whole Da Vinci Code thing with the Sith relic, they could have put a bit more storytelling into Palpatine / Plagueis and the quest for immortality. Even used some cinema magic to show what was happening behind the scenes in the prequel and original trilogies, with Palpatine’s consciousness going from body to body. What happened after the Battle of Endor. Slip in a scene of Cloud City and Maz getting the lightsaber, what the heck.

        Could very easily have been done. But wasn’t, because fuck it I guess, like you say.

        Disney will make more Star Wars. I certainly want them to make more Star Wars. I love Star Wars, even when it’s bad. But I really prefer it to be good.

        Agreed. I’ve liked their stand-alone movies, on balance, more than their main story movies perhaps precisely because they’re their own thing.

        Plan the fuck ahead.

        And?

        For fuck’s sake, take worldbuilding seriously.

        I predictably agree.

        I sincerely hope they give the next trilogy or whatever set to a single writer or a single team of writers, allow them to map out the story in advance, and make sure that the production sticks to that framework as much as possible. (Needless to say, the writer or writers should be good ones. Less Abrams, more Kasdan or Johnson.) We will all end up with a better product.

        Don’t really care who makes it, as long as it’s about Thrawn.

        Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
        Episode IV – A New Hope
        Episode VII – The Force Awakens
        Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
        Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
        Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
        Episode I – The Phantom Menace
        Episode II – Attack of the Clones
        Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

        I think you should fit Rogue One and Solo in there too. I think I ranked them elsewhere in the thread.

        TLJ certainly takes things in new, unexpected, and potentially interesting directions, and purely as a movie, as craft, it’s certainly more accomplished than TRoS and maybe also TFA. (Rian Johnson is definitely a more original and interesting writer and director than “Mystery Box” Abrams.) But as to building on TFA and expanding the lore, we’re just going to have to disagree. You see smart and eloquent, I see inconsistent and contrived.

        This seems almost self-contradictory as an opinion, care to elaborate a little? Or is it just that you saw some positives to it but don’t agree on the take-away? So it was well done, but what was done was a mess?

  5. dreameling says:

    Yeah. Enh. That’s what this was, more or less, and that’s… OK.

    It says something about this movie, about The Last Jedi, and about the current state of Star Wars at large, and also about me, that I (a) went into this one with virtually no expectations and not much anticipatory excitement, (b) was not all that emotionally moved or impressed or invested while watching the movie, (c) and walked out of the theater with a feeling of something like warm contentment, but without any need to discuss or dissect or debate what I’d just experienced, and feeling OK about that, too.

    Translation: The Rise of Skywalker was an entertaining and quite enjoyable, but also utterly unoriginal, uninspired, unsurprising and just very safely adequate piece of cinema. The movie was visually absolutely gorgeous, and the main characters continued to ooze great chemistry throughout, but the plot with its super-twisty twists and hyper-epic epicness, and more quest savepoints and McGuffins than you can shake a lightsaber at, was just dumb, the worldbuilding was perfunctory and uninspired, and the whole experience just so shallow, so… enh. And yet I really, truly liked how it ended with Rey and Ben, and where and how the story ended with Rey. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver were, once again, the highlight of the show and delivered, often just by sheer commitment to character, the best bits. (I think Rey is my favorite SW character. I hope we see more of her in future movies.)

    And that’s about it. There was more stuff I liked, more stuff I didn’t like, and stuff I didn’t really have feelings about one way or the other, but none of it really rises above that level of liking or disliking or emotional impact that makes me want to open up about it more. Maybe that will change in the future, but for now… enh. [1]

    [1] I’m not being bitter or judgmental or resentful or anything negative like that. I’m genuinely OK with an enh.

    So, Andy, is there anything you want to discuss or debate? Seems like we had a pretty similar experience with this one.

    However! Now that this trilogy and thereby supposedly the whole Skywalker Saga is done, it might be interesting to take stock. Put things in perspective, at least preliminarily (since it’s probably too early to do that properly yet).

    So, here’s how this new trilogy played out, in retrospect, for me:

    The Force Awakens. Kicks the trilogy off with magnificently contagious action-adventure energy and flair. Introduces interesting new characters with genuine depth and played by actors with genuine skill and commitment. Expands the verse in… relatively successful ways? Sets up tantalizing story hooks. Plot is a bit too repetitive, especially in the second half, but whatever, they can do new in the next Episode. I walked into the theater trembling with excitement, and walked out emotional, elated, and relieved (a storm of feels somewhat marred by the speed-of-light physics hiccup in the middle). Improved on rewatch.

    The Last Jedi. Mostly ignores or subverts all the story hooks set up by TFA, often to the point of seeming to go the opposite way simply for the sake of gleefully thwarting expectations, irrespective of the logic of going said way. Expands the verse and the mythology in poorly thought-out and canon-incompatible ways. Gives Luke an interesting and unexpected, but ultimately unsatisfying arc. The plot lacks solid momentum, and the overall story seems to progress very little, if at all. Visually and cinematically stunning. Some absolutely outstanding set pieces. The characters, especially Rey and Ren, continue to be the strong point, and the actors, especially Ridley and Driver, continue to impress. Divorced from the SW context, this could actually be a really good movie, but in the continuum of the Skywalker Saga and as the direct follow-up to TFA, the movie fails to deliver. I walked in excited and sold on Rian Johnson, and walked out emotional, conflicted, and unsure of what to make of what I just saw. Improved on rewatch (but mostly as a “standalone” movie rather than as an Episode of the Saga).

    The Rise of Skywalker. Ignores or retcons much of what TLJ did, and instead tries to pick up threads left over from TFA after TLJ was done burning them. Goes batshit crazy epic with little concern over in-story logic or consistent, canon-compatible worldbuilding. Because fuck it. For the rest, see above. I walked in with not a whole lot by way of expectations or excitement, and walked out with not a whole lot, but feeling pretty OK nonetheless. Let’s see if this improves on rewatch.

    So…

    Disney will make more Star Wars. I certainly want them to make more Star Wars. I love Star Wars, even when it’s bad. But I really prefer it to be good. Which brings us to: What could Disney possibly learn from their first Star Wars trilogy?

    Plan the fuck ahead.

    And?

    For fuck’s sake, take worldbuilding seriously.

    I sincerely hope they give the next trilogy or whatever set to a single writer or a single team of writers, allow them to map out the story in advance, and make sure that the production sticks to that framework as much as possible. (Needless to say, the writer or writers should be good ones. Less Abrams, more Kasdan or Johnson.) We will all end up with a better product.

    Now that I started, I realize there’s a whole lot more I could say about this, even about The Rise of Skywalker. But I’m not about to make a liar of myself right from the start, so I’ll just stop here. Well, after the traditional ranking list (best to worst):

    Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
    Episode IV – A New Hope
    Episode VII – The Force Awakens
    Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
    Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
    Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
    Episode I – The Phantom Menace
    Episode II – Attack of the Clones
    Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

    • Joonatan Itkonen says:

      “The Last Jedi. Mostly ignores or subverts all the story hooks set up by TFA, often to the point of seeming to go the opposite way simply for the sake of gleefully thwarting expectations, irrespective of the logic of going said way. Expands the verse and the mythology in poorly thought-out and canon-incompatible ways.”

      Couldn’t disagree more. The Last Jedi not only expands the lore beautifully, but it takes everything that Force Awakens set up and builds on it a way that is smart and eloquent like Star Wars has rarely been before.

      • dreameling says:

        TLJ certainly takes things in new, unexpected, and potentially interesting directions, and purely as a movie, as craft, it’s certainly more accomplished than TRoS and maybe also TFA. (Rian Johnson is definitely a more original and interesting writer and director than “Mystery Box” Abrams.) But as to building on TFA and expanding the lore, we’re just going to have to disagree. You see smart and eloquent, I see inconsistent and contrived.

    • dreameling says:

      And have Force ghosts always been corporeal, by the way? No reason why not, I was just curious.

      This was the first time. Much like Yoda summoning lightning in TLJ was a first. We can maybe explain both of these away with the island being a hyperpowerful focal point for the Force. Enh.

      It really felt like they went into the whole trilogy without a roadmap and shifted things around according to badly-assembled Internet takes. Which, say what you like about Lucas, at least he didn’t seem to give a fuck about.

      Agreed. As much as Lucas failed as a director and writer — in putting together a good story with engaging characters played well — in the prequels, he had a plan, and his worldbuilding was pretty consistent and orderly.

      Weird thing is, I didn’t get the impression Disney did either. And there was no need for it, because everyone was going to see this movie. No matter how much they hated all the rest of Star Wars.

      Turns out not quite everyone, though. TLJ already did worse (relatively speaking) than TFA, and TRoS is now doing worse than TLJ. TRoS opened domestically with $177M, TLF with $220M, and TFA with $247M. If Abrams and Disney hadn’t reacted to crap on the Internet, as I’m sure they did to at least some extent, perhaps they would’ve ended up with a better movie and more money.

      Was her little bit of identity theft at the end the actual rise of Skywalker? Was it … was it literally the friends she made along the way?

      The family she made along the way!

      * sniff *

      I actually quite liked the idea of Snoke literally being a creation of Palpatine’s, like from a tank, but they didn’t explain any of it anywhere near enough. Instead of the whole Da Vinci Code thing with the Sith relic, they could have put a bit more storytelling into Palpatine / Plagueis and the quest for immortality. Even used some cinema magic to show what was happening behind the scenes in the prequel and original trilogies, with Palpatine’s consciousness going from body to body. What happened after the Battle of Endor. Slip in a scene of Cloud City and Maz getting the lightsaber, what the heck.

      They didn’t really explain Palpatine at all. All we got were a few throwaway lines of speculation from a nameless Resistance fighter. With Snoke dead and Kylo Ren hardly the main villain type, I’m sure Abrams and co. felt light on options. Palpatine was at least a better choice than introducing a totally new character. But still. Very little about his return, not to mention his staggering resources and military infrastructure, made any sense. It was just so dumb.

      People have also pointed out how Palpatine’s return kind of undoes Vader’s sacrifice and the Rebel victory in RotJ. I don’t think it does, because the good guys did win and enjoy some peace for a bit, even if the main villain ultimately survived, but I do get the sentiment about the ending of the original movie being undermined after the fact.

      I think you should fit Rogue One and Solo in there too. I think I ranked them elsewhere in the thread.

      Right. I was more in the Skywalker Saga frame of mind. But here goes:

      Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
      Episode IV – A New Hope
      Episode VII – The Force Awakens
      Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
      Solo: A Star Wars Story
      Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
      Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
      Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
      Episode I – The Phantom Menace
      Episode II – Attack of the Clones
      Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

      Not sure I will stand by those two placements, but they’re good enough for now.

      TLJ certainly takes things in new, unexpected, and potentially interesting directions, and purely as a movie, as craft, it’s certainly more accomplished than TRoS and maybe also TFA. (Rian Johnson is definitely a more original and interesting writer and director than “Mystery Box” Abrams.) But as to building on TFA and expanding the lore, we’re just going to have to disagree. You see smart and eloquent, I see inconsistent and contrived.

      This seems almost self-contradictory as an opinion, care to elaborate a little? Or is it just that you saw some positives to it but don’t agree on the take-away? So it was well done, but what was done was a mess?

      Basically, yes. It goes back to my point about liking TLJ more as a “standalone” movie than as part of the Saga (even though you can’t really separate it from the whole). In general, the way Johnson shoots and composes scenes and tells a story strikes me as more refined and precise than what Abrams manages, so that’s a point for him. (He’s definitely more of an “auteur” than Abrams.) As to the story stuff, TLJ plays with some nice ideas and beginnings, but then a lot if ultimately just fails in plot logic or in the broader context of the Star Wars universe.

      Examples:

      (1) Luke as a failed, old, disappointing wreck of a Jedi master, one that almost murdered a pupil, is a neat, interesting idea. That already opens up really good character arc possibilities. And when he returns to the fight in person at the end, that’s a great moment. And when that return turns out to be a projection, that’s still a neat, cool twist. But, in reflection, the cool, neat, interesting bits just don’t outweigh the problems: First, the Luke we meet in TLJ simply does not fit the Luke we saw at the end of RotJ. The distance between the spiteful, broken old hermit and the hopeful, wise, powerful young Jedi master is just way too long for me to buy without way, way more backstory. It’s also as if the Lukes come from two different genres: the former from a gritty character drama with comic overtones, the latter from an epic fantasy. There’s just so much disconnect. Second, Luke deciding to hermit himself away on the island does not seem to line up with the setup in TFA of him searching for something important and leaving behind a map for finding him. Third, the projection trick feels like a cop-out, almost cowardly. He didn’t fully return to the fight, after all. Fourth, he dies… because the trick was just too much for him or something? Fifth, he dies alone on an island, and I just personally don’t like that ending for Luke.

      (2) Holdo weaponizing lightspeed and blazing through Snoke’s fleet is a jaw-droppingly cool moment and visually perhaps the most stunning and gorgeous scene in the entire movie franchise. But, damn, does it open up a can of worms as to why we’ve never seen or heard of anything like that before in any of the other movies. This is possibly the biggest worldbuilding blunder in the movie, as it potentially undermines so much. The retcon in TRoS is lazy and weak.

      (3) Snoke getting killed by Kylo Ren is a cool scene and a neat surprise. But it leaves the rest of the trilogy fucked as to who the main villain is going to be now. Ren clearly does not fit that bill. Snoke’s death also undoes all the setup for the character in TFA, of which there was precious little to begin with, so you’re left wondering why have this character in the story in the first place.

      (4) Digging into the politics and finance of the military-industrial complex of the galaxy in a pretty cool setting like Canto Bight is another interesting idea. But it belongs to a different movie, one closer to Rogue One in theme and feel, or maybe to something like The Mandalorian. Here, in a fantasy epic that rests on epic battles and fun action, it just ends up being an out-of-place bit of socio-political preaching with a weird side order of animal rights activism. Not to mention that it’s also a mostly pointless and certainly overlong detour in a silly and convoluted plot thread (which, as a bonus, requires that Holdo’s character act like an idiot by shutting out Poe).

      (5) The theme of failure and disappointment that runs through the entire movie is, again, an interesting idea. But if the end result is a story that does not seem to progress, that leaves the heroes pretty much in the same position they were in the beginning (albeit with way less manpower and resources), and that requires the following and final episode to scramble to turn the heroes and their allies into a credible threat to the villains — or just skip over that part — then something broke along the way. Also, at its heart, the Skywalker Saga is an epic fantasy, so I’d expect the movies to just plain end on a hopeful note (even if bittersweet). TLJ very much failed in this for me.

      • stchucky says:

        And have Force ghosts always been corporeal, by the way? No reason why not, I was just curious.

        This was the first time. Much like Yoda summoning lightning in TLJ was a first. We can maybe explain both of these away with the island being a hyperpowerful focal point for the Force. Enh.

        True. Hadn’t thought of that. The Hellmouth was maybe one of the parts of The Last Jedi that I thought was underworked. That and the First Jedi Temple should have been a bigger deal, but they could hardly have fitted it in. Certainly the books Rey took could have made it clearer that this was how she was learning so much, so fast, with Leia.

        But okay. To be fair we don’t know much about Force Ghosts even though it seems like we do. Obi Wan was our only example, and the stuff we saw him do was hardly “more powerful than you could possibly imagine” which was what he promised to Vader.

        Weird thing is, I didn’t get the impression Disney did either. And there was no need for it, because everyone was going to see this movie. No matter how much they hated all the rest of Star Wars.

        Turns out not quite everyone, though. TLJ already did worse (relatively speaking) than TFA, and TRoS is now doing worse than TLJ. TRoS opened domestically with $177M, TLF with $220M, and TFA with $247M. If Abrams and Disney hadn’t reacted to crap on the Internet, as I’m sure they did to at least some extent, perhaps they would’ve ended up with a better movie and more money.

        Yeah, this is true. And very strange. I would have thought closure would bring in at least everyone who was interested enough to see The Force Awakens. But it seems as though Disney / Star Wars exhaustion has set in for real, and people just don’t care.

        They didn’t really explain Palpatine at all. All we got were a few throwaway lines of speculation from a nameless Resistance fighter. With Snoke dead and Kylo Ren hardly the main villain type, I’m sure Abrams and co. felt light on options. Palpatine was at least a better choice than introducing a totally new character. But still. Very little about his return, not to mention his staggering resources and military infrastructure, made any sense. It was just so dumb.

        Agreed. Could have been done much better.

        I mean, I know I go on about Thrawn a lot, but his storyline was amazing. And part of it was the search for a fleet of lost Empire Dreadnoughts (which now we have seen how fuck-off enormous they are, Jebus just go with that) that had been mothballed back in the days of peak wartime resource-glutting.

        So no need to make a whole new army of Star Destroyers with frickin’ Death Star lasers attached to their heads. Just go with an old Empire cache. Shit, make it something Palpatine started funnelling aside when he was dissolving the Senate, hiding it in the Clone War budgets, because he had a Sith vision about needing them later.

        Fucking call me, Disney.

        People have also pointed out how Palpatine’s return kind of undoes Vader’s sacrifice and the Rebel victory in RotJ. I don’t think it does, because the good guys did win and enjoy some peace for a bit, even if the main villain ultimately survived, but I do get the sentiment about the ending of the original movie being undermined after the fact.

        No yeah, I see what they mean but I’m with you. It was still a setback. He would have far preferred it if the second Death Star had survived and Luke had killed Vader and become his new apprentice.

        But that still would have been improved by a more coherent Palpatine plan. Or just leaving him out altogether, or making the Plagueis thing happen. Oh well.

        Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
        Episode IV – A New Hope
        Episode VII – The Force Awakens
        Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
        Solo: A Star Wars Story
        Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
        Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
        Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
        Episode I – The Phantom Menace
        Episode II – Attack of the Clones
        Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

        Nothing much to disagree with there, although I am surprised by your placement of The Last Jedi. I guess considering your viewpoints and explanations, it did ultimately harm the flow of the saga more than it helped. So yeah, makes sense.

        Man, it could have all been so great. They had so many goddamn years to make it right!

        Not sure I will stand by those two placements, but they’re good enough for now.

        Also interesting that you liked Solo more than Rogue One, but sure.

        TLJ certainly takes things in new, unexpected, and potentially interesting directions, and purely as a movie, as craft, it’s certainly more accomplished than TRoS and maybe also TFA. (Rian Johnson is definitely a more original and interesting writer and director than “Mystery Box” Abrams.) But as to building on TFA and expanding the lore, we’re just going to have to disagree. You see smart and eloquent, I see inconsistent and contrived.

        This seems almost self-contradictory as an opinion, care to elaborate a little? Or is it just that you saw some positives to it but don’t agree on the take-away? So it was well done, but what was done was a mess?

        Basically, yes. It goes back to my point about liking TLJ more as a “standalone” movie than as part of the Saga (even though you can’t really separate it from the whole). In general, the way Johnson shoots and composes scenes and tells a story strikes me as more refined and precise than what Abrams manages, so that’s a point for him. (He’s definitely more of an “auteur” than Abrams.) As to the story stuff, TLJ plays with some nice ideas and beginnings, but then a lot if ultimately just fails in plot logic or in the broader context of the Star Wars universe.

        That’s true, it would have made a better stand-alone movie. I hope Johnson gets a chance to do a trilogy.

        (1) Luke as a failed, old, disappointing wreck of a Jedi master, one that almost murdered a pupil, is a neat, interesting idea. That already opens up really good character arc possibilities. And when he returns to the fight in person at the end, that’s a great moment. And when that return turns out to be a projection, that’s still a neat, cool twist. But, in reflection, the cool, neat, interesting bits just don’t outweigh the problems: First, the Luke we meet in TLJ simply does not fit the Luke we saw at the end of RotJ. The distance between the spiteful, broken old hermit and the hopeful, wise, powerful young Jedi master is just way too long for me to buy without way, way more backstory. It’s also as if the Lukes come from two different genres: the former from a gritty character drama with comic overtones, the latter from an epic fantasy. There’s just so much disconnect. Second, Luke deciding to hermit himself away on the island does not seem to line up with the setup in TFA of him searching for something important and leaving behind a map for finding him. Third, the projection trick feels like a cop-out, almost cowardly. He didn’t fully return to the fight, after all. Fourth, he dies… because the trick was just too much for him or something? Fifth, he dies alone on an island, and I just personally don’t like that ending for Luke.

        Yeah, and the Knights of Ren are like what, what were they even. Fuck all that. There’s a movie missing between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Which, to be fair, they may well do. But I don’t see how.

        I mean, CGI Mark Hamill, obviously.

        Seriously though, I liked how Luke’s failure to train Ben “rhymed” with Old Ben’s failure to train Anakin (not to mention the hermit approach both Obi Wan and Yoda took, and the “area strong in the Dark Side” thing that both Dagobah and Ahch-To [yes I looked it up] had going on). But there should have been more of a story there. In fact, just those similarities suggest a story to me. Like, the Force having these places of tidal pull and density, and the stronger you are in the Force, the more you’re drawn to them in order to get your head back together.

        (2) Holdo weaponizing lightspeed and blazing through Snoke’s fleet is a jaw-droppingly cool moment and visually perhaps the most stunning and gorgeous scene in the entire movie franchise. But, damn, does it open up a can of worms as to why we’ve never seen or heard of anything like that before in any of the other movies. This is possibly the biggest worldbuilding blunder in the movie, as it potentially undermines so much. The retcon in TRoS is lazy and weak.

        Concur. They started losing it for me as soon as they started talking about fuel. I mean, we know these ships need fuel of some sort, but did we need to wait seven movies to make both fuel and hyperspace physics a plot point? And then make them critical plot points?

        (3) Snoke getting killed by Kylo Ren is a cool scene and a neat surprise. But it leaves the rest of the trilogy fucked as to who the main villain is going to be now. Ren clearly does not fit that bill. Snoke’s death also undoes all the setup for the character in TFA, of which there was precious little to begin with, so you’re left wondering why have this character in the story in the first place.

        Yeah, see, I liked this, and I liked the way Snoke was fucked up because he was a test tube Sith. But it needed to be explained and filled in more. Also he should have been called Darth Ecfingo or something, just to keep the Sidious / Plagueis / Vader / Tyranus trope going.

        (4) Digging into the politics and finance of the military-industrial complex of the galaxy in a pretty cool setting like Canto Bight is another interesting idea. But it belongs to a different movie, one closer to Rogue One in theme and feel, or maybe to something like The Mandalorian. Here, in a fantasy epic that rests on epic battles and fun action, it just ends up being an out-of-place bit of socio-political preaching with a weird side order of animal rights activism. Not to mention that it’s also a mostly pointless and certainly overlong detour in a silly and convoluted plot thread (which, as a bonus, requires that Holdo’s character act like an idiot by shutting out Poe).

        I agree that it needs more. But to me that scene tied the entire saga together. It was the whole point of Star Wars. It made any victory against the Empire and First Order irrelevant, and since we know how eternal and natural the Dark and Light sides of the Force are, there’s no winning that either. So the real villain was the war-dealing elite. Is there any victory to be had there? Maybe in the final battle with all the little people, as shown in The Rise of Skywalker (and even they are getting their weapons from somewhere). But they didn’t do it that way. They faced off against more Empire instead.

        So that never got a proper ending. Which in a way is also fine, because we’re always going to need a War in the Stars.

        (5) The theme of failure and disappointment that runs through the entire movie is, again, an interesting idea. But if the end result is a story that does not seem to progress, that leaves the heroes pretty much in the same position they were in the beginning (albeit with way less manpower and resources), and that requires the following and final episode to scramble to turn the heroes and their allies into a credible threat to the villains — or just skip over that part — then something broke along the way. Also, at its heart, the Skywalker Saga is an epic fantasy, so I’d expect the movies to just plain end on a hopeful note (even if bittersweet). TLJ very much failed in this for me.

        Well, it rhymed with The Empire Strikes Back in that respect. I mean, as far as I’m concerned they were very much the same in tone and success, but you seem to have the higher esteem for The Empire Strikes Back that a lot of old school Star Wars fans have (not judgement, just a fact).

      • dreameling says:

        Damn, man, seems like we hardly disagree on anything. Selective replies to follow.

      • dreameling says:

        But okay. To be fair we don’t know much about Force Ghosts even though it seems like we do. Obi Wan was our only example, and the stuff we saw him do was hardly “more powerful than you could possibly imagine” which was what he promised to Vader.

        The “more powerful than you could possibly imagine” promise never really made much sense, at least in any literal sense. I’m pretty sure Lucas hadn’t yet figured out what that meant when he wrote Episode IV. In any case, I think I eventually settled into interpreting it more loosely as Obi-Wan just becoming a powerful, physically unbound influence on Luke. Or something.

        Fucking call me, Disney.

        You better fucking get a seat for me in that writers’ room.

        Nothing much to disagree with there, although I am surprised by your placement of The Last Jedi. I guess considering your viewpoints and explanations, it did ultimately harm the flow of the saga more than it helped. So yeah, makes sense.

        Yeah, the broader (negative, in my mind) impact to the saga as a whole definitely weighs more in minuses than the standalone cinematic merits of the film do in plusses.

        Also interesting that you liked Solo more than Rogue One, but sure.

        Let’s see if that sticks. The former is pretty fresh in my mind, from the 4K BD. The latter is already badly faded. I went into Solo with few expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. I went into Rogue One with high expectations and came out disappointed. Some pretty obvious math there already.

        Let’s see where things stand when I watch everything story-chronologically back-to-back.

        I hope Johnson gets a chance to do a trilogy.

        If he does, I sincerely hope he respects the established mythology and worldbuilding more than he did the last time. You can do new stuff and still remain consistent with what’s come before.

        I’m sure that’s easy to read as “grumpy old fanboy complains about the new stuff not being like the old stuff he loves”, but that’s genuinely not the case here. Honest.

        There’s a movie missing between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Which, to be fair, they may well do. But I don’t see how.

        Agreed. Maybe even a trilogy.

        I mean, CGI Mark Hamill, obviously.

        Oh, God.

        Pretty soon they could actually reboot Star Wars with the original cast.

        They started losing it for me as soon as they started talking about fuel. I mean, we know these ships need fuel of some sort, but did we need to wait seven movies to make both fuel and hyperspace physics a plot point? And then make them critical plot points?

        Agreed. I don’t recall fuel ever really being a thing in Star Wars movies. For my part, I just assumed that it was cheap and readily available, since starships and space travel are so ubiquitous, and that we basically didn’t have to worry about it narratively. Fuel is something that belongs in, say, Star Trek.

        One example of not respecting the established worldbuilding.

        (3) Snoke getting killed by Kylo Ren is a cool scene and a neat surprise. But it leaves the rest of the trilogy fucked as to who the main villain is going to be now. Ren clearly does not fit that bill. Snoke’s death also undoes all the setup for the character in TFA, of which there was precious little to begin with, so you’re left wondering why have this character in the story in the first place.

        Yeah, see, I liked this, and I liked the way Snoke was fucked up because he was a test tube Sith. But it needed to be explained and filled in more. Also he should have been called Darth Ecfingo or something, just to keep the Sidious / Plagueis / Vader / Tyranus trope going.

        Fair enough. I guess, in the end, it fits that Snoke turned out to be “a test tube Sith”. But if you look at just TFA, didn’t they make a special point about Snoke not being a Sith, that he represented some new brand of Dark Side?

        Side note: If Palpatine could clone living creatures — a technology already established way back in Episode II — why not just clone a healthy body for himself, or at least replace pretty much everything in his fucked-up body with new, healthy parts?

        I agree that it needs more. But to me that scene tied the entire saga together. It was the whole point of Star Wars. It made any victory against the Empire and First Order irrelevant, and since we know how eternal and natural the Dark and Light sides of the Force are, there’s no winning that either. So the real villain was the war-dealing elite. Is there any victory to be had there? Maybe in the final battle with all the little people, as shown in The Rise of Skywalker (and even they are getting their weapons from somewhere). But they didn’t do it that way. They faced off against more Empire instead.

        The point of Star Wars is the meaninglessness of struggling against fascists governments and military juntas because in the end the arms dealers win anyway and the cycle of destruction and violence just continues in new guises?

        Jesus, dude. 🙂

        Anyways, to me, the Canto Bight sequence is a perfect example of pushing the Skywalker Saga into thematic territory that’s at odds with the saga’s high-fantasy sensibilities. The socio-political commentary on war profiteering and the behind-the-scenes look into the arms trade are just a bit too real-world for the Skywalkers. (Not unlike the fuel.)

        Which is not to say you can’t have this in Star Wars. You can and should. A grittier story told in the Star Wars universe could easily take this on. It’s just that, in my mind, the Skywalker Saga is not that story. The saga is more a fantasy action-adventure serial than a war movie, despite the catchy title and the abundance of war in the story. To me, the war profiteering stuff creates thematic dissonance, for lack of a better term.

        (5) The theme of failure and disappointment that runs through the entire movie is, again, an interesting idea. But if the end result is a story that does not seem to progress, that leaves the heroes pretty much in the same position they were in the beginning (albeit with way less manpower and resources), and that requires the following and final episode to scramble to turn the heroes and their allies into a credible threat to the villains — or just skip over that part — then something broke along the way. Also, at its heart, the Skywalker Saga is an epic fantasy, so I’d expect the movies to just plain end on a hopeful note (even if bittersweet). TLJ very much failed in this for me.

        Well, it rhymed with The Empire Strikes Back in that respect. I mean, as far as I’m concerned they were very much the same in tone and success, but you seem to have the higher esteem for The Empire Strikes Back that a lot of old school Star Wars fans have (not judgement, just a fact).

        I can afford to because, to me, the two are very different movies. Both are darker in tone than the movies around them, and both deal with failure and loss, sure, but the arcs they make from start to finish are very different.

        The Empire Strikes Back starts with the Rebels quietly hiding on Hoth and ends with the Rebel fleet safely escaped, but with the heroes having lost Han, and with Luke having lost a battle and a hand to Dad. They did gain new allies, though, namely in Lando. And they’re already working towards rescuing Han, and the fleet remains big enough to still pose a credible threat to the Empire. The story picks up nicely from A New Hope, and develops the characters and the world in interesting ways, which are mostly consistent with what came before (arguably not too hard, since there’s just the one movie to build off of). The ending feels very hopeful to me.

        The Last Jedi starts with the Resistance already on the run and ends with the Resistance still on the run, and with their entire force destroyed except for one ship and about a dozen or so people, and with no help in sight. They also lose Luke (and poor Admiral Ackbar). The story picks up [see above] and develops [see above]. The closing image of the Force-sensitive boy is mostly sad, because the kid doesn’t yet know that his best hope for the future just got almost completely obliterated; and when he does find out, he’ll quickly realize that it’s logistically improbable that the Resistance could recover in time for him to have a future. (No, they really, really do not have everything they need on the Falcon. Like a fleet.) It’s a very depressing ending if you allow for the repercussions of all that just happened to play out logically (as I see it).

      • stchucky says:

        I think there’s some [blockquote] problem here, I’ll fix it up before responding or it might just be my phone. Good thoughts, to be continued!

      • dreameling says:

        In my reply? Looks fine on my phone and desktop browser.

      • stchucky says:

        Okay then it’s my phone making it look odd. Good good.

      • stchucky says:

        The “more powerful than you could possibly imagine” promise never really made much sense, at least in any literal sense. I’m pretty sure Lucas hadn’t yet figured out what that meant when he wrote Episode IV. In any case, I think I eventually settled into interpreting it more loosely as Obi-Wan just becoming a powerful, physically unbound influence on Luke. Or something.

        Same, really. To be fair, if knowledge is power and he became a source of knowledge completely independent of a physical medium, it checks out. He helps Luke on Hoth, he gets Luke to Dagobah, he exchanges info with him and Yoda several times, and he helps Luke make that critical shot on the first Death Star. That’s honestly plenty without also having Swayze ghost-power but I accept it as an extension of the high-level Jedi.

        You better fucking get a seat for me in that writers’ room.

        I’ll remember who my friends are. They’re the ones who read and comment on all my fiction.

        *saves seats for Aaron and Kristiina*

        Let’s see if that sticks. The former is pretty fresh in my mind, from the 4K BD. The latter is already badly faded. I went into Solo with few expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. I went into Rogue One with high expectations and came out disappointed. Some pretty obvious math there already.

        True. Slightly unfair maths (the movies aren’t responsible for your expectations except in a really big-picture way), but undeniable.

        Let’s see where things stand when I watch everything story-chronologically back-to-back.

        Ooh, you planning on doing that? That’s a review I’d love to see. Gonna do all the TV shows as well?

        I hope Johnson gets a chance to do a trilogy.

        If he does, I sincerely hope he respects the established mythology and worldbuilding more than he did the last time. You can do new stuff and still remain consistent with what’s come before.

        Hmm, I think this is something we disagree on, but I’m not going to focus on that. I am curious, though, just how much you think he disrespected or flat-out overturned the continuity. From what I gather here, you’re classifying need-for-starship-fuel and Canto-Bight-arms-dealers (and maybe Snoke-as-Sith) as actual breaches in continuity?

        I’m sure that’s easy to read as “grumpy old fanboy complains about the new stuff not being like the old stuff he loves”, but that’s genuinely not the case here. Honest.

        Little bit, but I’m all about the benefit of the doubt and I’m genuinely interested in your reasoning. I mean, we’ll probably not agree on the conclusion of “inconsistency”, but I think there’s points we can agree on in the journey?

        Pretty soon they could actually reboot Star Wars with the original cast.

        This is happening. Maybe not with Star Wars, maybe not soon – but it’s inevitable, the direction we’re headed with CGI resurrection.

        Agreed. I don’t recall fuel ever really being a thing in Star Wars movies. For my part, I just assumed that it was cheap and readily available, since starships and space travel are so ubiquitous, and that we basically didn’t have to worry about it narratively. Fuel is something that belongs in, say, Star Trek.

        One example of not respecting the established worldbuilding.

        See, I wouldn’t take it that far. I’m sure the revised Star Wars canon has plenty of information about fuel and starship mechanics. Same as the kyber crystals they use in lightsabers. Yes, only the tiniest hint of that richness of worldbuilding makes it into the movies and as such you can argue they have no place there … but I don’t know.

        Yeah, see, I liked this, and I liked the way Snoke was fucked up because he was a test tube Sith. But it needed to be explained and filled in more. Also he should have been called Darth Ecfingo or something, just to keep the Sidious / Plagueis / Vader / Tyranus trope going.

        Fair enough. I guess, in the end, it fits that Snoke turned out to be “a test tube Sith”. But if you look at just TFA, didn’t they make a special point about Snoke not being a Sith, that he represented some new brand of Dark Side?

        I don’t think they ever said specifically “not a Sith”. And again, to be fair, the Emperor was not mentioned as a Sith, or as Darth Sidious, or even as Palpatine, in the original trilogy either. Heck, Vader was barely even mentioned as a Sith (except I believe Tarkin gave him shit about being a religious fundamentalist nutbag, thus earning him Thrawnlike levels of respect from me).

        Like I say, just because these details aren’t mentioned doesn’t make their clarification later count as a continuity error.

        Side note: If Palpatine could clone living creatures — a technology already established way back in Episode II — why not just clone a healthy body for himself, or at least replace pretty much everything in his fucked-up body with new, healthy parts?

        Yeah, that was not explained or even lampshaded.

        The point of Star Wars is the meaninglessness of struggling against fascists governments and military juntas because in the end the arms dealers win anyway and the cycle of destruction and violence just continues in new guises?

        Jesus, dude. 🙂

        Fuckin’ A. I mean, it’s also about the spaceships and the googly aliens and the fun, but Lucas was operating directly out of a post-Vietnam-USA ennui and if you think the Empire and the Rebels and the Republic don’t have direct analogues to real life, you’re a slow-roasted Stormtrooper short of an Ewok barbecue my friend.

        Anyways, to me, the Canto Bight sequence is a perfect example of pushing the Skywalker Saga into thematic territory that’s at odds with the saga’s high-fantasy sensibilities. The socio-political commentary on war profiteering and the behind-the-scenes look into the arms trade are just a bit too real-world for the Skywalkers. (Not unlike the fuel.)

        See, this is what I mean about the agreement we’ll find on the journey! I absolutely agree with you on this, it’s a jarring shift in theme. To me, though, it’s like for a second someone pulled back the curtain and showed us the darkness behind the goofy backdrop. The hive of scum and villainy is suddenly chilling.

        Not wanting to analyse or put words in your mouth, but I suspect that’s more of a deal-breaker for you because you like your consistent themes and genres. I, as you know, am pretty perverse in my insistence on jumping from puddle to puddle and tracking that shit everywhere until you don’t even know what you’re looking at.

        Neither view is wrong, which is why I think this is a case of us disagreeing but not needing to worry about it much. It’s just interesting.

        Which is not to say you can’t have this in Star Wars. You can and should. A grittier story told in the Star Wars universe could easily take this on.

        Right. Which is why the kyber crystals and non-Jedi Force users and stuff in Rogue One were probably thematically fine with you? Same as the darker criminal underworld stuff from Solo? Not that they were brave enough to dive too deep there.

        And … well, let’s just remember that The Phantom Menace was basically about a slave kid.

        All of the movies have dark corners (come on, the subjugation and torture and mangling of droids throughout the epic?) if you care to examine them. Do that too much and it might spoil your space fantasy … or make it even more enthralling.

        It’s just that, in my mind, the Skywalker Saga is not that story. The saga is more a fantasy action-adventure serial than a war movie, despite the catchy title and the abundance of war in the story. To me, the war profiteering stuff creates thematic dissonance, for lack of a better term.

        No, that’s fair. I’d accept this under the “let’s keep it simple” critique. It’s just not something I use as a measuring stick, which explains why we’re not quite meshing here.

        The Empire Strikes Back starts with the Rebels quietly hiding on Hoth and ends with the Rebel fleet safely escaped, but with the heroes having lost Han, and with Luke having lost a battle and a hand to Dad. They did gain new allies, though, namely in Lando. And they’re already working towards rescuing Han, and the fleet remains big enough to still pose a credible threat to the Empire. The story picks up nicely from A New Hope, and develops the characters and the world in interesting ways, which are mostly consistent with what came before (arguably not too hard, since there’s just the one movie to build off of). The ending feels very hopeful to me.

        The Last Jedi starts with the Resistance already on the run and ends with the Resistance still on the run, and with their entire force destroyed except for one ship and about a dozen or so people, and with no help in sight. They also lose Luke (and poor Admiral Ackbar). The story picks up [see above] and develops [see above]. The closing image of the Force-sensitive boy is mostly sad, because the kid doesn’t yet know that his best hope for the future just got almost completely obliterated; and when he does find out, he’ll quickly realize that it’s logistically improbable that the Resistance could recover in time for him to have a future. (No, they really, really do not have everything they need on the Falcon. Like a fleet.) It’s a very depressing ending if you allow for the repercussions of all that just happened to play out logically (as I see it).

        That’s fair. I mean, I see that as a confirmation of the rhyme, just with more vital stakes for the second (third?[1]) time through. There are thematic and plot differences, but yeah. I think I had a different gut reaction to The Last Jedi‘s ending as well, but part of that is admittedly down to the fact that I’ve always been pretty underwhelmed by The Empire Strikes Back compared to the average old school fanboy. *shrug*

        [1] Would Attack of the Clones follow the same pattern? I think it does but I don’t remember much about the movie. It basically ends on the Empire materialising out of the Republic, the Clone War starting, Star Destroyers appearing … yeah, so basically the same pessimoptimistic[2] note.

        [2] Patent pending.

        This is also interesting, I’m not sure how much of it is movie-canon or what it means, but I found this while researching about kyber crystals. Seems to pretty solidly cover Rey’s skill set, don’t you think?

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