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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Star Wars - Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

Star Wars

I saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I am going to try to tell you how utterly disappointing it was.

Let me begin with this. We have been told through the media that this is the final episode in the Skywalker saga, that this is the ninth and final movie focused on these characters and their story arc; so, why did they name it The Rise of Skywalker. People rise to do something, they donot rise to fade away.

The title itself is just another stroke of cognitive dissonance in a three part series that is replete with it.

Don’t let anyone try to say that the title has some other meaning, that it isn’t related to some future action, that it merely summarizes the story and its conclusion. Don’t believe it, because Rey, the so called last Jedi, takes the name in the final scene, when she takes up residence in the abandoned moisture farm that had belonged to Luke’s uncle on the desert planet of Tatooine.

It is not as if people will not seek her out, she is a Jedi, and she is not going into hiding as Luke did, she is taking up residence on a planet long associated with the Skywalker name. Where Anikan was born, where Luke was raised. These are figures whose names ring out throughout the galaxy. But never mind this, those stories have yet to be written, rest assured that they will.

This is just another glaring example of the cognitive dissonance these movies are steeped in. Remember how in The Last Jedi, we were shown images of children on far flung worlds in whom the force was present and active. How is it that Rey would be the last Jedi if that were the case.

It is just poor writing.

It is kind of like the title of the first film in this trilogy, The Force Awakens; had the force been sleeping? No, the force does not sleep. Obi Wan Kenabi tells us in the original Star Wars film, A New Hope. The force is permeates the entire universe and binds all things together, it touches everyone. The force is not good or bad, light or dark, it is by whom and how it is used that gives it those characteristics.

What is so utterly disappointing about the J.J. Abrams vision of Star Wars, is his utter lack of understanding about what the force is. It is not just the bad story telling.
Let’s dwell on the bad story telling for a moment.

The Force Awakens was merely a retelling of A New Hope, capped off with the destruction of a new Death Star, only a bigger-badder death machine, one with the power to destroy stars and not merely planets.

The Last Jedi was merely a retelling of The Empire Strikes Back, and though they changed the order of the plot, it repeated all of the elements, a long chase through space, a Jedi training camp, a pitched battle with lines drawn up in front of a rebel stronghold.

In the most recent bastardization of the original trilogy we are given a remaking of the great conflict above the Emperor’s throne room, while he attempts to turn the Jedi Rey into a vessel for his own dark power, only to be destroyed in the nick of time to save the rebel armada which succeeds at destroying his massive fleet of super ramped up Star Destroyers, each with their own planet killing gun, mounted weirdly on the underside of their hulls.

The writing was terrible. It was replete with nonsensical cameos, storylines that began from nowhere, and went nowhere. New characters with no back story, old characters returning with explanation of where they had been how they had been found what they had been doing.

There were flying Storm Troopers. There was light-speed-skipping. There was widespread and diffuse knowledge of Sith lore. Including commands built into C3PO’s programming that forbid him from translating the Sith language.

There was the completely unexplained reappearance of the Emperor, stowed away on some hidden planet for decades, living in some dank and dirty dungeon like workshop on some uncharted wasteland of planet.

How did that happen? Where did the tens of thousands of cheering sycophants come from who filled the theatre where the final conflict with Rey come from? What were they doing on that secret world? What did they eat? Why did they build a fleet of hundreds of starships (perhaps thousands) on the surface of the planet? Where did the crews for that fleet come from? Where did they get their training? How did they keep it all secret?         

None of that made any sense. It just doesn’t make sense.

Do you remember how in The Attack of the Clones, George Lucas took some time to tell the story of how the clone army came to be. Obi Wan discovered it while he was on an investigation. He learned how decades earlier a Jedi came to a remote planet in the outer rim whose inhabitants specialized in cloning, and army building, and they were commissioned by that Jedi to build a Grand Army of the Republic.

There a back story, it tied things together, it assisted in the plot development, and it enriched the broader narrative by providing a backstory for the notorious bounty hunter Bobba Fett.

The Attack of the Clones was not a great movie, but at least it did that.

Bad storytelling and plot holes, and plot theft, poor acting and an overreliance on special effects is not what makes this movie such an utter disappointment.

What is so utterly disappointing about Disney’s new Star Wars films under J. J. Abrams so bad is J. J. Abrams total lack of understanding about what the force is.

Abram’s is a moron, and Disney should know better, after all Disney also produced Rogue One, and that film was a masterpiece, it was completely in tune with the ethos of Star Wars, while the J. J. Abrams films are totally destructive of it.

J. J. Abrams seemed to think that the force is all about power, the power to freeze a bolt of laser fire from a blaster in mid-space, the power to stop a ship from taking off until it tears itself apart, the power to teleport, the power to blast a fleet of ships out of the sky, more power, more power, more power.

J. J. Abrams concept of the force is a long way from what Obi Wan told Luke in A New Hope, when he said that the light saber was the weapon of the Jedi, elegant, made for a more civilized time.

Abrams should understand that the force is subtle, sure there is power in it, but its real strength comes in the power of self mastery, the power to understand, and the power to persuade. A Jedi can do amazing things, but it is not their raw power that makes them amazing, it is their commitment to peace and justice.

Remember what Yoda said when Luke referred to him as a “great warrior.” Yoda said, “wars do not make one great.”

You may argue that while this may be true of the Jedi, it is not necessarily true of the Sith. You may argue that but you would be wrong. The Sith were also subtle, just one Lord and one apprentice, ruling from the shadows, manipulating, controlling.
J.J. Abrams’ movies were a disaster for the Star Wars franchise, worse than the prequels, I hope he never gets offered the chance to make another one again.

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