To choose one song from Star Wars movies that would encompass the motion that is Star Wars, would surprisingly the one you can hear above. It would not be the main theme, not Duel of Fates, not Imperial March, but this one. The reason for this selection is that depending on the context, this particular song can sound hopeful and romantic, all the while offering doors to mystic scapes, with a tinge of desperation in there.
That, and I used to spend an unhealthy amount of time reading through Star Wars: Behind the Magic discs to the point of my disc drive of the time breaking. The first section was used extensively early on in the discs. Needless to say, that interim time between 1998 and Phantom Menace‘s release was something special.
Thanks to circumstances, I’ve had to spend these few days doing pretty much nothing else but to indulge myself in nostalgia few times over, and due to a friend I fell into the pit of rewatching some Star Wars. Not just a movie, but going through radio drama bits, playing games and then some. Nothing major, but when you have a moment to relax thanks to Easter, take the chance.
Except when things came to The Last Jedi. To follow the idea of relaxation, I’ll spent this month’s opening to finally let loose some of the steam. Mostly because it’s modern Hollywood drivel and you can truly feel that it is a Disney movie through and through. It’s a sterile, by-the-books flick that doesn’t carry any of the spirit Star Wars, or the piece above, is supposed to have.
This is perhaps the best seen in the first ten minutes of the movie, where a character that died in the last movie (yet came back alive without any explanations) stalls time for the Resistance’s evacuation by making a prank call. Prank call to Last Order officer, who either has constipation troubles or the actor can’t pull the role. Either one of the two, or the director really asked him to act badly intentionally, which I wouldn’t put past him.
The thing about why The Last Jedi fails where The Empire Strikes Back succeeds is that it doesn’t treat the characters like pieces of shit. Each character that is in the movie gets treated like a meat to be tossed around and unmade. In Ray’s case, she’s just a lump of meat going whatever the plot demands of her, she has no agency. Empire doesn’t force humour into every scene. It has moments of levity, which stem naturally from the characters and scenes, whereas The Last Jedi‘s is incredibly intrusive and forced. Worst of all, attempted humour is tied to how the movie treats its characters. One of the best examples of this is when Luke is given his father’s lightsabre, and after at the dramatic music cue, we’re robbed the response. Luke tosses it over his shoulder. While you’d think this movie is build on letting your expectations down, it’s more about unmaking Star Wars as a phenomena through directly removing everything associated with these stories and character. Luke is no longer the most hopeful person in the galaxy despite the darkest hours he’s been through, traditions are trashed to hell to make room for the new and supposedly improved. Continuity is not held from previous movie for the sake of aesthetics.
All this to essentially destroy the old in the way of the new, just like how Disney unmade the old Expanded Universe in order to sell their new one.
While letting viewers’ expectations is something that can be done well, it is extremely hard to do well. You have to have a core reason, a strong narrative to do so. Not even Neon Genesis Evangelion, a series applauded for doing so, did it cleanly or even competently. A weak script like The Last Jedi‘s can’t possibly gain enough favours from the audience after it fails them in almost each scene. Hell, at this point I’m not sure if wast majority of the characters’ lines are intentionally made and delivered unfitting for a Star Wars movie, or if it was just incompetence. A scene with Snoke and Kylo Ren plays out like from a comedy, where Snoke asks how are Ren’s wound, to which he replies with extremely mundane tone “It’s nothing.” We’re then offered full scene of cartoony villain monologue that would find a better place in Star Wars parody.
I could go through the movie scene by scene and tear it a new one, but it’d be useless.
It’s all intentional, without a doubt. The end-goal doesn’t exactly matter, when that intention is to break. Cute things made to sell toys are turned into food. Even Tatooine, which used to be end of nowhere in the galaxy, has been replaced with Jakku. Hell, all the superweapons the franchise’s Expanded Universe had thus far has been made inept in the face of simple hyper drive. See, even in the movies hyper drive slid the ship into a pocket dimension of sorts, the hyperspace. It couldn’t physically interact with real-space objects, unless stellar objects with enough mass would pull them out, hence why Han mentions colliding with a star. Here, we see one ship tearing through an armada with its hyper drive, which makes the whole war in this setting stupid. By using a computer controlled ships, or even droid ships, you could use a hyper drive equipped ship to tear through anything, including the Death Stars and Starkiller. Incidentally, any company that produces hyper drive engines are now also the manufacturers of the most powerful weapons in the whole setting, aside the Force.
You’d think that after gaining one of the most important pop-culture franchises under your belt, you’d take care not to let it bloat. Disney and Abrams did not have planned anything beforehand, and it shows.
Star Wars is now effectively rebooted. Disney and whoever are charge of the franchise will ride on its thirty years of fame without any problems, all the while largely ignoring it. It might as well be a completely new franchise, which it effectively is. This is how Hollywood and so many other companies have treated their long-standing phenomena for two years now, taking the name recognition and making it something else entirely. It happened with Star Trek a well, twice over now.
This post ended up sounding It’s different so its bad, but that’s not what I’m saying. I tend to applaud things that try new things, however it’s extremely important to treat your property with respect and apply proper new things to it. As a story, and sequel to Lucas’ Star Wars, The Last Jedi is a boring, unintelligent and outright disrespectful story. Any merit it might rack is marred with Hollywood’s own disrespect towards the audience and unwillingness to step outside the usual plot writing formula, the same that Marvel movies suffer from.
Much like with other things, I don’t feel sympathy or willing to spend money on things that actively hate my.