Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Star Wars: Why I Hate The Newer Movies

Image result for star wars the last jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is here and there's been a little controversy over some of the story elements, as well as a disconnect between mostly positive critical reviews and a decidedly more mixed fan response. I wasn't a fan of the movie and was very disappointed with some of their story choices, and looking back to the previous film I had many of the same issues. So I thought I would repost this updated version of things I think they should have or could have done. 

This is by nature an opinion piece, as everyone has their own likes and dislikes. I'm just going to share what I would have liked to have seen. And as always, let me know what you think! 

The Force Awakens frankly baffled me because I thought it was very derivative of the first Star Wars movie. I was expecting them to break some new ground while still capturing that Star Wars feel- which admittedly may be harder than it sounds. So what would I have done differently? Well you have the original actors reprising their roles thirty years later, while introducing the new generation. A tough balancing act? I think Rey is a worthy addition and has lots of potential. I was looking forward to her training with Luke Skywalker, which we got precious little of in The Last Jedi, since he was written as a bitter man just wanting to die. Such a far cry from the victor in Return of the Jedi, which had a hopeful, positive message. And I think that's the biggest failing of the new films for me- the treatment of Luke Skywalker. 

The saga has always been about him- he alone redeemed Darth Vader and thus ensured the defeat of the Emperor. Would it be too much to ask to show him thirty years later in a more positive light? Sure there would have been setbacks along the way, disappointments in his personal journey, but like Mark Hamill himself said- Jedi don't give up. I just think they took the wrong approach with him. I would have liked to see a Jedi master at the height of his powers, saddened perhaps by certain failures, but not the emotional wreck we were given in the Last Jedi. And then they kill him off! I feel like we never get to see what Luke truly became, what thirty years of being the last Jedi in the galaxy meant to him, and for the new Republic. Such a wasted opportunity. 

The rest of this post is going to be my general thoughts on where they could have gone with the new trilogy. Where I think they should have gone. For me, the end of Return of the Jedi means that the rebel alliance had won- the Emperor was defeated. So thirty years later you have a fledgling New Republic, trying to extend its rule over a galaxy riven by war. There would still be Imperial remnants, former governors and warlords in command of perhaps substantial elements of the star fleet. I imagine the seat of government would be on Coruscant- after all that's where the levers of power are, including the Imperial palace and the Jedi temple. So Coruscant should have been where Leia and Han were.

Let me explain. After winning the war against the Empire, it makes sense that Leia would be on the most important planet in the galaxy. After everything they've fought for, Coruscant is the prize. As a war hero and the face of the Rebellion it just makes sense for Leia to be there, involved in the New Republic. I can see her frustrated with politics and having enemies (as portrayed in the new Star Wars novel Bloodlines) and one neat thing about that book is- what would happen if people knew she was the daughter of Darth Vader? Also I think Han would be with her. He was a general in the Alliance after all. Why would he leave after victory? To resume smuggling?? That's just silly. Instead we got a Resistance (not a rebellion!) and a First Order (not an Empire!) in pretty much the same status quo arrangement- the First Order ascendant and the Resistance on the run. Did the victory in Return of the Jedi mean nothing? And Han and Leia split up for unspecified reasons? Han is a smuggler at seventy- ish years old?

Why Coruscant? Well that leads to Luke. You can still have Luke looking for the first Jedi temple or training new Force sensitives. But consider this. The Emperor and (presumably) Darth Vader were based on Coruscant and had residences there. If you were Luke and wanted to explore the Jedi origins (and keep in mind he's a VERY new Jedi), wouldn't you explore the Jedi temple where Yoda and all of them hung out? And even more intriguing- what knowledge could be found in the Emperor's domicile? Or Vader's?  Imagine the dark forces Luke would encounter if he explored those chambers. Would he have to destroy a Sith shrine, and would he be tempted by it? Would there be clues there that the Jedi had a dark secret perhaps- introducing a situation where you make the Sith somewhat sympathetic? Then Luke has to deal with this secret and somehow reconcile that with the teachings of Yoda and Obi- Wan.

Luke redeemed Vader. He was willing to give his life to save his father, and Vader sacrificed himself to save Luke. Imagine the emotional moment you could have with Luke entering Vader's chambers for the first time. What would he discover there? Sure it's been thirty years, but you could use a flashback to show what happened the first time he entered. Maybe there's so much lore there (or in the Jedi temple) that he's still researching it after all this time, or still walling off something so dangerous he doesn't dare unleash it.

The other thing about the new trilogy is the lack of distinctive planets. Jakku looks just like Tatooine without Jawas and the planet that the Resistance is on in the Force Awakens was- well we don't see any of it. We see a landing strip and the inside of a building. The planet Crait looks just like Hoth except it's got salt instead of snow. We don't see very much of it either. Remember how Hoth and Dagobah were a big part of the movies they were in? That should be the model. 

What happened to C3PO and Artoo? They are in many ways the heart and soul of the original trilogy- they're comic relief but they're also absolutely essential to the plot. They should be the glue that connects the new cast with the old guard. "This R2 unit has been around for a while, but he's got it where it counts," Leia or even Han could tell Rey as they pass the droid to her. Sort of like passing the torch. BB-8 is cute but he replaced Artoo essentially and that connection was missed.

Han's a Corellian- maybe we get to see Corellia or another Inner Rim world. Maybe he has to schmooze his contacts in the underworld, and we can see the famous shipyards where starships are built. Show us new stuff! He could have given Rey the Falcon- again passing the torch- not have her find it sitting in a junkyard somewhere. What's Lando doing? He should have a role somewhere- and probably still has a foot in the scoundrel world. It sounds like I'm focusing on the old cast- and I am- but Rey is going to take center stage and you build that here with new stuff- not rehashed plots.

So that's what I would do. Something along those lines. Instead of introducing lame new characters (Snoke?) deal with the legacy of Vader and his master. Luke, Leia and Han are the big leagues now- they're gonna be on Coruscant. They're movers and shakers. Take us new places, like Corellia, places that matter because our heroes are in the big leagues now- they don't always have to be on some dump in the middle of nowhere. Let's SEE the galaxy. A Star Wars movie should feel like nothing we've ever seen- not a reimagining of earlier episodes.

19 comments:

  1. Interesting discussion, Greg! I'll admit, I'm not a big fan of Star Wars. My husband made me watch the original trilogy before seeing The Force Awakens, and I just wasn't hugely impressed with TFA. It's basically the same movie. It was fun seeing some of the old characters come back, but it's not enough to make me want to see The Last Jedi.

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    1. Thanks Angela. I wasn't impressed with TFA either. I did enjoy the old characters but we don't see enough of them, which I think is one of my biggest issues!

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  2. I haven't watched the latest one yet but...I did watch the other two and I just thought they were okay. The original three are still by far the best ones out there even though I did like the next three. It does make me wonder when enough is enough!

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    1. I agree, even though they're older there is a certain magic to the first three. I sometimes think they don't know exactly where to go with the new ones...

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  3. I enjoy the new movies but OMG the plotlines have been the freaking same. UGH.

    And yes how come everything fell apart...again. This is clearly a universe that does not work, they need an Emperor again haha

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    1. Yeah... and yes I know right? Bring the Emperor back!!

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  4. While I definitely enjoyed both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I still agree with many of the points that you make. I sometimes wonder if having so many different directors in the mix muddled things and made it harder than it needed to be. Many of the things you mention seem like common sense ways to have moved the trilogy forward into fresh new territory while still remaining faithful to the original.

    I think what bothered me the most about The Last Jedi was that even though many characters from the original trilogy are still present, they just aren't really used and are more there for the 'Hey look, it's R2 and C3PO!' factor and not really used in any other way. And I also thought Admiral Ackbar deserved better.

    I especially agree with you about the lack of unique world building in the newer film. The Last Jedi, in particular, seemed more interested in showing the random (albeit cute) animals that were on each planet that they went to rather than showing us the actual planets.

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    1. You could be right, every director has their own vision and I somehow think the original three had a tighter focus, I guess because they were still laying out the story. And thank you for your thoughts- I appreciate it!

      I agree with this too, I mean R2 and 3PO were almost blink and you'd miss 'em? Chewie growled a few times? And yes a rather ignominious end for our favorite admiral. :)

      Good point! We almost saw more animals than planets in this one. :)

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  5. Definitely interesting to read this. I've always been more of a Star Trek than a Star Wars fan, but do like both. I will go see this one, but haven't been jumping at the bit to go. Great thoughts here!

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  6. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the new movies, Greg. As I mentioned in a comment on a recent post, I didn't see the last movie and have no plans to see this one. For me, Star Wars will always be the original three movies (IV, V, and VI). I did see The Force Awakens (VII) and felt like I was seeing a rehash of the original Star Wars movie with different characters. I mean, it barely strayed from the original story and I kept thinking I was having a Candid Camera moment. Like, haha just kidding this isn't really the movie! We really do have an original idea! But no, that was it. Anyway, after reading your thoughts, especially regarding the treatment of Luke's character (WTH?!) I'm convinced I'm better off skipping this movie and the last one. They truly would have left a bad taste in my mouth.

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  7. I have liked the new movies, but I do agree with some of your points here. I didn't really think about how we didn't really see much about the planets they are on in these movies. You are definitely right about C3P0 and R2 not being used enough. I think what they are trying to do is extend the Star Wars storyline so it can no longer be about the Skywalkers and them messing up the galaxy. I am okay with that.

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    1. Yeah the planets seemed very lackluster? And I think you are right, from the commentary I've seen they do seem to be trying to say, you don't have to be a Skywalker to be special, or be a Force user. Anyone can be, and while that is a nice message, I kinda liked that the Skywalkers were special. Still I see the other side too, and I'm glad you are liking them more than I am. :)

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  8. I've really enjoyed the new trilogy so far, but I definitely understand why some people haven't. Tearing down a fan fave hero like Luke Skywalker and showing his failings was always going to be a tough sell; personally, I thought it worked, although I know lots of fans were very disappointed with it. My personal favourite thing about the new trilogy is how inclusive it is! It's nice to see actors of colour and more women in Star Wars, honestly. Hopefully you'll enjoy the next episode more!

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    1. Yeah Luke Skywalker was a big issue for me. They're just going in a different direction than I would likr, I guess. But I'm glad you liked it! And yes the inclusivity is much needed.

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  9. I enjoyed Force Awakens but didn't enjoy Last Jedi, oddly enough. I saw more things I couldn't believe or get behind in this second movie, things I just couldn't gloss over. Sigh. Such is the life of a sci-fi writer. I analyze all sci-fi to death! (And I realize SW is more space fantasy but still...)

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  10. I haven't seen The Last Jedi yet, a lot of real life issues came up and then I just thought whatever, I'll see it later but it still hasn't happened. TFA and R1 are still fresh for me so I don't have that urge to see the next one yet I don't know if that makes sense but I really liked your thoughts!

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  11. I didn't dare read this because I haven't seen any of the new movies. Maybe I shouldn't! Ha ha.:P

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