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Bad Trailers and Bad Prequels Point to Bad Movie
Sadly, we have been down the road of Bad Star Wars movies, especially since Disney took over, too many times. At every step of the way the sacred trust and love people have for the movies prevent you from getting any read on a movie you’ve seen 10 out of context minutes of in all sorts of commercials already. From candy to cars, Star Wars sells it all.
Right now an early, spoiler-y but terrible review has emerged from GQ which kills the movie; starting with it’s really bad re-introduction of Palpatine. Here’s a quick quote that sums up what sounds awful –
The “return” of Palpatine could easily turn out to be some clever scheme by some unknown villain, who hopes gain power by drafting on the reputation of the terrifying emperor.
And then, just a minute or two later, Kylo Ren comes face-to-face with Emperor Palpatine himself—very much alive, thank you—and Rise of Skywalker starts digging a hole it never finds a way to climb out from.
This damning piece of information, which shows nothing was learned from the (Horrible) Solo Movie Easter Egg as far as being unexplained and bad, seems pretty movie-killing just on its own. Its apparently right up front and there was worse in there.
The Phantom Menace Paradox
My warning here probably won’t stop anyone either, because Star Wars Stockholm Syndrome is REAL! People sympathize with anything slapped with the Star Wars logo.
How bad is it? Well, The Phantom Menace was the biggest grossing of the Lucas made movies. So, in a sense there’s no way to measure how good the movie is. That Phantom Menace defied the few realistic but much shared bad reviews and scathing word of mouth to be the most lucrative Star Wars Movie clouded peoples judgement. The malignant concept “now they’re Bomb Proof” was born. Fortunately the prequels got better fast, but the Box Office, while still great, was a bit down after Phantom Menace initially tarnishes the concept. even though it takes til home video for anger to really emerge.
In contrast; near perfect movie Revenge of the Sith had a sort of disappointing box office. It wasn’t really about the movie, which, again, is really good. People were tired of Star Wars by this point. Some people had hated both the previous movies. Also at that point, with all the video and re-releases, they had flooded the market. These things as well as being the only R rated Star Wars movie made it a cautionary box office tale compared to the inferior film, Phantom Menace. Another bad precedent was set.
NOTE-Revenge of the Sith is slowly redeeming itself because there’s just a lot worse Star Wars movies out there. It had mixed reviews and was somewhat overlooked initially, but that’s another post.
But the idea a truly bad Star Wars movie was still going to do great financially was out there and it was just too intoxicating. Crank out the movies and merch and stay away from what made Return of the Sith great was sort of built into the game plan.
Disney seems to have taken this as a license of sorts. They know the movies can’t truly fail (or so we still think), so what difference does it make if it could be better so long as it opens on time? Sort of like “Its crazy to own an Orange Grove and not plant oranges in orange season.” They paid out the nose for this and they built a theme park around it that costs a fortune to go to.
No one believes they’re ever going to slow down the franchise until they can make, you know, decent movies. They just want their holiday Skywalker franchise and their summer Star Wars Stories to open on time. After all, a lengthy delay didn’t help SOLO, which wasn’t even the best Sci-Fi movie with a Paul Bettany Death Scene in theaters that week (That would have been Avengers: Infinity Wars).
Critics have finally found some courage since the disaster that was The Last Jedi and the lackluster “Solo” movie that just felt like what many said it was- a wikipedia page on screen. So while Rogue One was an amazing view, the other three movies from the JJ Abrams crew up to now are bad or even awful.
The Curious Curse of Hiring JJ Abrams
While some people might be more forgiving, JJ Abrams will always be the guy who gave us the worst series ending of all time with LOST way back in the day. A seed was planted – JJ Abrams can only wrote beginnings. Nothing since then has disproved it.
Abrams romp through the Star Trek Universe left it so messed up things are still not really together a decade later! Chances Quentin Tarantino directs a Star Trek movie are far from high and seeming to drop weekly. The two TV shows, one bad, one yet to be seen, won’t be on regular TV but a streaming pay service from CBS. In the case of Discovery, season one wasn’t good enough for TV. The other show, Picard, appears to exist outside the so called “Kelvin Timeline” people so hate, so it may be good.
The truth is JJ Abrams is a Tropey, check off the boxes and terribly safe writer on the Star Wars movies. He’s mistake prone and creates boring enemy ships and aliens. The formula when Abrams is writing is schematic and transactional, never, ever missing a merchandising plug. Grasping at any plot device to advance from one “Star Wars Moment” to the next, we get from point A to point B in the most predictable way possible most every time.
For example- Is it really plausible Finn and Po are close friends because for 3 minutes they attempted to escape the First Order together? Consider for a moment how brief and frenetic their meeting actually is. No effort was made to really give them the kind of time together it takes to sell a buddy connection. It’s simply bad storytelling. It’s okay, you didn’t watch it wrong, it really is bad.
So the clunkiness and the impersonal nature of the heroes compounds to the point you’re just waiting for something to happen or the movie to end. JJ Abrams didn’t invest emotionally in these characters, why should we? Because he talked us out of about 18 bucks? Because getting conned sucks? I don’t know but people seem to never attack the movie without throwing some justification in there too. In this case it’s “worth it so see the end of the franchise no matter how good or bad.” It’s a cult in some ways.
Back to the new character. The fact that BB-88 is one the most popular and relatable characters says something. Non verbal and usually pure slapstick. He’s a break from the lack of substance because a droid bouncing off the walls during a space dogfight was funny and didn’t go on too long. The other characters? Maybe the fact they ARE verbal hurts? Dialogue has never been great in Star Wars, but these Disney movies feature some of the blandest techno-babble ever.
McTeag’s Law of New Star Wars Movies
The Rule seems to be ‘The further they get from Lucas material the worse the movie.’
Selling Out to Sell Toys
Who among us will ever forget the Disney lowpoint with C-3PO pointlessly mentioning his red arm? Out of context and needless. It was just there to visually (and financially) differentiate the Toy income stream. It differentiates the C-3PO toys Disney and Abrams gets more of than the ones that are more like the Lucas version, which Lucas gets more of the money from.
These movies have some of the worst toy connections ever, probably because the ships and creatures aren’t that good so they have to be pushed hard. And really, it’s only just so great compared to the Lucas conceived stuff.
At this point I have to note -JJ Abrams is also a bad toy developer, which in these movies, really hurts. The stuff he outright inherited from Lucas is amazing and we love stuff like Han’s blaster, Luke’s lightsaber and the sounds they made when primed, when fired and the level of damage they did to a target. In contrast Abram’s gave us things like Kylo Ren’s lightsaber, which angered and confused fans with its ‘self amputating’ looking crossguard.
The elephant in the room is simply money and an intellectual property contract that showed Lucas is still an amazing businessman. Disney only “owns” it just so much and Lucas seems to have found a way to get paid again if too much of HIS vision is used. It turns out Lucas is also pretty successful in litigation when he sets his pack of lawyers on people, even Disney. I don’t think he went out of his way to make this clear and waited for them to make a mistake. Rogue One was almost pure Lucas and I think, with no proof, that he had his lawyers go down there to Rat HQ at Disney with a very serious letter about how much they needed to pay for exceeding the copyright. Good for Lucas, bad for fans as the run from Lucas properties becomes a priority and a plot driver for the Disney Movies.
This is why the killing off of his properties has been central to this new series. In The Last Jedi they kill off the ships from Lucas’ movies. Before that in so-so Force Awakens, Han Solo is just plain old killed in a typical ‘Abrams Parent Killing Scene’ we’re so used to its no longer emotional. For example, he kills 2 parents in half an hour in his first, deceptively good but “all beginning” Star Trek movie. It’s his last nominally good movie. Follow up Into Darkness was a complete mess and disaster that angered all Trek fans as he seemed to sabotage the franchise on the way out the door. One of the biggest insults- lying about what was in the movie to make it pop more. “It’s not Khan but a new villain named Harrison” was ridiculous and no one was surprised it was just bull when they saw the movie.
Into Darkness was THE most apologized for moment in a Franchise that at different times has starred a bunch of geriatrics, was written by soap opera and western writers, was for a time abandoned by its creator and was led by William Shatner on a shoestring TV budget in the Politically Incorrect 1960s!!! Whats THAT say?
Since it’s the same fans for the most part, no one was all that psyched to see him land at the helm of Star Wars, and Disney has turned out to be a bad fit. Talk about “Failing Your Way Up!”
In the Disney Star Wars Universe it’s this simple -the closer they get to Lucas’ Vision of The Galaxy Far, Far Away the more Lucas must be paid. But the closer to Lucas the better the movie. Disney just wants money.
George Lucas, The Real Emperor of the Galaxy Far, Far Away
Unlike Abrams, Lucas’ genius as a filmmaker pales in comparison to his abilities as a highly profitable business man. Time and again he puts profits first and gets them.
George Lucas generated a fortune for the studios and he managed to please the fans about four and half times out of 6 tries. The only things people truly hated was his slow pace of development between projects and retconning too much.
Hollywood loved that he put profits first too. In one case a better video transfer technique was right around the corner, but the deadline was more important and a pink shift/ purple shift affected the way the entire first trilogy looked. (Note- the version in Disney Plus right now is even a little more re-engineered, with the damage from other transfers somewhat addressed.) Now it looks like he understood the market and his abilities better than people ever gave him credit for.
Theres Only One George Lucas
At the end of the day the fact is George Lucas was far and away a better creative than JJ Abrams and still made a lot of money. Mountains of it. This is because Lucas self corrected a couple of times. Abrams, contrastingly, has been making and remaking the same two plots for 15 years now. And one plot is just ‘total pasted together fan-angering mess!’ and the other is “Bad Guys Have an ad hoc Death Star”
Yes, Phantom Menace is terrible, but things improved fast despite the lack of goodwill for awhile towards the prequels. The bottom line – most of the things people hated in Phantom Menace are minimized or written away in Attack of the Clones, a movie that gets BETTER every 10 minutes even if its never really “great” it’s not terrible like its prequel and doesn’t make all the same mistakes that movie makes(only some of them, mostly upfront).
You’ll Love it for 6 Bucks
That’s right, I said it, Rise of Skywalker will be a great view in a few months when you can watch it at home for 6 bucks. You’ll probably feel pretty good about punting on it. The theater is just a bad risk now. Some people I know have already seen it and one review was ‘preposterous’. So I don’t think I’m gonna end up being wrong on this.
Don’t bother going to the theater to enable a bad incarnation of a once great franchise. The movie looks derivative and bad. The lead up and trailers are bad. The promise to slow down making the movies if we just see this one is not encouraging at all and wont be kept.
So skip this movie, or, as a wise Sith once said to Luke Skywalker; “You will pay the price for your lack of vision!”
May the Force be with You as you watch the Mandalorian with a borrowed Disney code. That at least has mostly been really good.
Just Another Sci Fi Franchise
That’s right, you heard it here first. The bloom has been off the rose for awhile, but now the Star Wars movies are just plain old movies like any other franchise. Worse yet, these newer movies have a higher chance of being bad than just any sci fi movie, and in fact Avengers has been better for a while. While Rogue One delivered, really the next best movie they’ve given us is the shaky (and now undermined) The Force Awakens, which is not quite as good as Phantom Menace.
And there’s no real need to go to crime ridden Orlando for the Theme Park til the price comes down either but that’s another post.