Critique, science fiction

It’s Broken, and I’m done with it


So I got into a bit of an argument with my son. He wants me to take him to the upcoming Star Wars movie, and I flat refuse to have anything to do with it. He was trying to tell me that it’s ok they are basically retreading the whole series, it’s how you get new fans because old fans like me are dying off… 

Listen up, whippersnapper! LOL 

Look, I do mostly joke that I’m old-school geek: there are three Star Wars movies, and there will only ever be three Star Wars movies. But it’s not about clinging to the past, for me. The first movie came out when I was a year old, but I never saw any of them until I was 19. I grew up outside Pop Culture, and with no TV at home, very few movie-going events in my childhood, and a general disinterest in small screen when I could have the vastness of a book in front of me. I thought the Ewoks were cute. I still have a teddy bear I got when I was eight, and named Wicket – no, I hadn’t seen the movies, but I wasn’t living in a bubble, either. So it’s not ingrained in me to be childishly affectionate toward the originals. Nor is it that they are fantastic storytelling. There are so many plot holes – not the least of which is the revelation that Luke and Leia are siblings after that kiss. But. 

The Little Man informed me that they are ‘so cliched and full of tropes.’ Buddy, you betchyour britches they are. Where do you think those film tropes came from, mister? Just because they look old to you, doesn’t mean they aren’t. And that’s not a bad thing. They are the origins of a lot of the stuff you think is the coolest. Frankly, the storytelling could have been even better in the original movies – if you read enough books you know this. But movies and books march to the beat of different drummers. Not always a bad thing, to be honest. However, the movies went off the rails with the ‘prequel’ trilogies, and by the time we got to the orphan girl reprises Luke Skywalker’s voyage into space and Jedi-powers… It was broken, and I was done with it. 

It’s not just that they killed Han. The Little Man protested ‘Harrison Ford would only come back for one movie!’ and I responded, that didn’t mean they had to commit patricide on the character. No, it’s that they killed the original story arc by breaking the main characters. I like heroes, and redemptive arcs, and I like to see the world become a bit brighter and better place when the war is won. I’m not such an innocent I think real life is like that. However, I don’t think my escapist entertainment needs to be real life. I think if anything, it ought to give us hope. 

Besides that, I’m watching the Mandolorian. I’m enjoying the heck out of it. I don’t know why they couldn’t have made the new movies more like this. This is… ok, it’s all the tropes. We’ve been enjoying the deliberate homages to Westerns, Samurai movies, and back to the original source material. Not to mention the ineffable adorableness of Baby Yoda-species. Heck, I’m trying to decide if the design of the Mandolorian’s ship is an easter egg to SpaceBalls’ winnebago. It’s fun

In the end, that’s what it is. The new Star Wars movies took a fun toy, something I enjoyed, and they broke it. I don’t want to have to keep playing with a toy that’s become broken and ‘educational’ in the sense that it’s now all about the message. I wanted to have fun, and the Mandolorian offers that. So no, I won’t be seeing the movie. But I will come home Friday night, put my feet up, and watch the latest episode of Space Opera doing homage to the Horse Opera and even further back to Opera-opera (hah!) that is winning hearts and minds through enjoyable storytelling. Disney can keep their busted old Star Wars movies as long as they keep giving me this. 


17 thoughts on “It’s Broken, and I’m done with it

  1. You don’t remember it, but you actually did see the first Star Wars movie when it first came out! We went to see it along with your Uncle Doug, who was visiting us in Tacoma when your dad was stationed there.

  2. Well, they kinda kicked the threat value out of giant ships and battle stations with FTL torpedoes.
    Why the Rebelllion (or Resistance or whatever) didn’t come up with them earlier, I will never know.

  3. All I can figure is that they don’t understand why we liked it, and so they’re trying to make it “good” without understanding the sheer joy involved.

      1. *looks over at her shelf that has at least three different books, including a big profile of the alien species, and I’m not a Star Wars fan*
        Dang, that’s as bad as the Star Wars f-up.

        1. Yeah, Disney LucasFilm initially officially de-canoned all the non-video stuff after the purchase, and maybe that’s really what that dim left-hand-threaded bulb that George hand picked as his successor meant, but I’m actually thinking Kathleen Kennedy really didn’t even know about all that content. KK was really a Spielberg acolyte anyway, never working on any of the Star Wars content that I know of.

          The complaints about KK being so enthusiastic about doing the “roll left and die” thing have tons of merit, and the fact that Disney explicitly kept The Mandalorian from having any of KK’s fingerprints on it, and that property is doing so well, pretty much means Bob Iger will go ahead and repopulate the failing LucasFilm with successful Marvel people.

          Also interesting is that the movies have published pretty much zero photos of Lucas on the ep VII-IX movie sets, while the press for The Mandalorian includes lots of photos and videos of him sitting there in a directors chair getting consulted as they shoot.

          Given how JJ Abrams has been intimately involved in running two huge franchises (Star Trek and Star Wars) nearly into the ground, and given the Hollywood rumor mill has JJ’s Star Wars ep IX production in a lot of trouble with vast swaths of rework and reshoots, right up until the last minute , to try and fix the parts where in previews the audience bursts out laughing at the Daisy Ridley action scenes, I am probably not going to see the new one in a theater either.

          1. Yeah, Disney LucasFilm initially officially de-canoned all the non-video stuff after the purchase

            No, they didn’t, because Lucas already de-canoned them. I remember because half my geek group– including then-future husband– refused to go see them for exactly that reason. Heck, I’ve still got the emails. I was starting to wonder if I’d imagined it all, when most of those same folks went nuts at the Mouse almost a decade later.
            (How big of a fan? Our first born was almost named Mara Jade, we only refrained in case she came out non-geeky.)

            It was an insane waste of resources and good will — that was one of the big “points” that the Wars guys could bring out in any geek argument about which is better, their books are all cannon– and a big flashing warning sign that he had no clue what made the story awesome. The only thing I can think of that compares is the flaming mess that Blizzard made of the Warcraft lore.

            Guessing you have JJ Abrams as a ‘do not go see’ label too, eh?

  4. “The new Star Wars movies took a fun toy, something I enjoyed, and they broke it.”

    Lucas broke it, if you ask me. Revenge of the Sith was the last death-throes of a story that started dying with the first prequel. (And for that, JarJar Binks must die.)

    The new trilogy is a shambling undead zombie that doesn’t know enough to stay dead. They really had something with Daisy Ridley who is awesome in that role, but they WASTED it. Utterly wasted it. I went to see them, but I’m done.

    After the Last Jedi, I’m not going to the theater to see another Star Wars movie. Nope. Not doing it. I will wait for Netflix or whatever streaming thing they release it on. I did not see Soylo at the theater, and a good thing too because I needed the fast-forward button pretty often just to get through it.

    The Mandalorian, I’m watching it. It seems very Disney, like a 1960’s Mickey Mouse Club episode but longer. It doesn’t make me reach for the fast-forward button, so that’s good enough at this point.

  5. ‘so cliched and full of tropes.’
    **Evil Grin.** Get hold of some old Saturday Matinee serials, things like Buck Rogers (Not Buck Rodger in the 25th Century), Flash Gordan, The Shadow, and let him see where half those clichés and tropes came from.

    1. There are “reports” that people whined that the Lord Of The Rings movies/books stole from “Dragons and Dungeons”. 😈

      Note, I said “reports” because I can’t believe that people could be that dumb. 😉

    2. On the other hand, there were people who believed that Lucas “stole” the Star Wars movies from an old serial titled “The Adventures of Luke Skywalker”.

      The funny thing was that George Lucas advertised the first Star Wars movie as “From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker”. 😉

      1. I remember that. Of course I also remember that it was originally titled “Star Wars”, Not “Star Wars: A New Hope” That was at the top of the text crawler at the opening. “Chapter 4: A New Hope.”

  6. Well, you could also get him to watch The Hidden Fortress and see if its familiar to him.

    (and if he ever watches martial arts movies, make him watch Judo Sugata as well, it is literally the prototype martial arts film and has ALL the tropes.)

    1. If one wishes to have fun, you can get hold of Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai) and see how long it take before someone says it is a rip-off of Magnificent Seven.

  7. A not-so-long time ago, in a living room not far from where I live, I was engaged in a discussion with some friends about the plans Disney had (at the time) for continuing the Star Wars franchise with a succession of trilogies to be produced over the next two or three decades, and I lamented that I would likely not live long enough to see the final Star Wars movie. One of those friends turned to me and said, “Dan, you’ve already seen the last Star Wars movie — it was called ‘Rogue One.'” And the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. The “prequels”, mediocre as they were (and I’m not going to try to make excuses for them) at least had a sort of “Star Wars” feel about them,and a (at times strained) sense of continuity with the original trilogy, so I’ve grudgingly accepted them as being canon, but while “The Force Awakens” had all the necessary trappings of a Star Wars movie — lightsabres, X-wings, TIE fighters, the Force, Leia, Han, Chewy, and the Falcon, it never generated any sense of really being connected to the first six films. (“Rogue One”, on the other hand, was intensely connected to the first trilogy, obviously.) Probably the single greatest contributor to that feeling of being disconnected, that lack of continuity, was the way the character of Rey was developed. There was nothing wrong with Rey as she was initially presented, but in making her the consummate Mary Sue, the writers, producers, and especially Jar-jar Abrams broke ALL the rules of good story-telling. It was a situation not beyond saving, however, if a plausible explanation for how and why Rey was a Force-wielding Mary Sue would have been presented in Episode VIII — and I DON’T mean via an over-abundance of midichlorians in her bloodstream! Then along came the dog’s breakfast of a train wreck that was “The Last Jedi.” After that fiasco/disaster/cluster-flop, there is no way for all the emperor’s horses and all the emperor’s men to put Darth Humpty back together again — and whatever good will remained among the original fan base had been needlessly squandered.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the idea had been all along to divorce the original fan base from the series and replace it with a new fan base that had never seen any of the first six episodes in theatrical first run. We (the original fan base) remained loyal to the series for over forty years, but something tells me that the Big Black Rat (Disney) was looking to secure a the loyalty of the new generation of fans for the next forty years. Let’s face it, even young whippersnappers like you aren’t going to be around forever, and most of us have spent pretty much all of the money we’re ever going to spend on Star Wars merchandise, which has been such a driving force (pardon the pun) in the films’ production since “The Return of the Jedi, so, from a business perspective, the Rat no longer sees the need to keep us interested. I’m not saying that it’s a good business strategy, in fact, I think it’s downright stupid — after all, to borrow a line from another recently-trashed sci-fi franchise, “We’re old, not obsolete.” I am suggesting, though, that it’s a strategy that seemed to make sense at the time to the people who developed it. Idiots.

    Frankly, though, the biggest mistake was made by Lucas himself, in not retaining some degree of active creative control over Lucasfilm as part of the deal struck with Disney, as a way of protecting the artistic integrity of his creation. Why he failed to do so I can’t begin to imagine, but I’m quite certain he’s been regretting it since the day “The Force Awakens” debuted….

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