(Welcome to “Bickering with Brockett,” where Eric gives his thoughts on the world of film. Today he’s diving into the Star Wars franchise as a whole.)
Imagine being invited to ride around Hollywood in a 5 – star limousine at a very reasonable rate to see the sites. At first, everything seems wonderful; you are seeing all the great tourist attractions, and the weather is bright and sunny. The limousine starts heading out of town, and you start to question what is going on. The vehicle stops. You are ready to leave; you enjoyed the ride for what it was, and it’s time to move on to the next thing. Suddenly, the vehicle starts up again and you start heading towards some great sites…’til you drive past them and start heading towards Compton. You’re really questioning what is going on here. You scream at the driver for answers and you just hear an automated voice saying, “You want this.” You try to open the doors, but the child locks are on. You bang on the dividing window until it shatters to reveal there is no one at the wheel and it is being steered by Apple maps. Meanwhile, the tab rate is still the same and you get to take a ride in a luxury vehicle through Compton. This is Star Wars.
With the latest feature Star Wars film, Han Solo, underperforming at the box office, the future of our favorite galaxy far, far away desperately needs to be called into question. Despite being arguably a higher quality film than The Last Jedi (I’d rather watch The Room with director commentary), and, in some aspects, Rogue One, Han Solo will be the first Star wars film to flop….and Attack of the Clones exists.
The marketing of this film did not do a good enough job selling us on whether or not recasting our beloved characters was something we wanted to see. People love Harrison Ford and Billie D Williams, and to think of them not being Han and Lando is like trying to convince everyone that Shia was a good choice to be Indiana Jones’ son. Not enough of the advertising was focused on Alden as Han. The marketing team decided to ride it out based on the fact that the title had “Star Wars” in it, when they needed to show us that the performance was credible and worth seeing. We need a reason to trust their decision.
That’s the real underlying issue of the Star Wars franchise at this point: Kathleen Kennedy and company have given us nothing to trust them for the long haul. As a whole, the films don’t seem to be leading anywhere, and the spin-offs don’t offer enough to be truly warranted.
Beyond that, no one seems to be communicating what the other projects are doing. There are too many weird inconsistencies in the lore and story progression that are either overly convenient or serve the director’s purpose rather than flowing organically from the story. It doesnt seem like it is anyone’s job to look over these projects to make sure everything adds up on the storyboard and not just in the box office. For example, why on earth would Luke Skywalker leave a map to find him in Episode VII if he did not want to be found in Episode VIII? Cry for help much Emo Luke?
In addition to the inconsistencies, there is no clear sense of what direction they are all aiming towards either….apart from taking my money. What’s odd is that Disney also has Marvel Studios working under it as a shining example of what a prolonged movie universe could be. They set up something that they could collectively work towards, and there were people in place to help make sure that things were communicated and that everything added up towards those goals. At first, it was just the Avengers, but then it expanded into Infinity War; everything was leading towards those events.
What are these Star Wars projects leading up to? “Well, Eric, you stupid critic, clearly this trilogy is the arc of Rey and Kylo coming into their own and subverting your expectations.” That would be great if that were true and if there was anything else going on worth watching. There is no arc for either of them at this point. They simply are. Rey is just great at whatever the script needs her to be. She’s an ace pilot who is also great at sword fighting with no training? Ok got it. She can swim despite growing up on a desert planet and probably never seeing a body of water? Perfect, moving on.
Kylo had the beginnings of an interesting story before Rian Johnson decided to force the issue and made him stupidly powerful and gave him an army without anyone questioning it. At the end of the day, we are watching two people simply exist and it’s not fun. Plus, the spinoffs add nothing to the main storyline.
The original trilogy was about Luke’s hero’s journey from a farm boy to a Jedi master, but that also coincideds with the rebellion trying take down the Empire. If we were to take out Luke’s Jedi journey, we could still piece together a film.
The prequel trilogy was about Anakin becoming a powerful Jedi and succumbing to the dark side while we watch how the Empire came to be.
If we take Rey and Kylo’s “arc” out of the films, what are we left with… A fanfic of Episode IV and a stupidly explained, poorly executed car chase that the director forgot was in space?
A lot of people were really excited about Darth Maul showing up at the end of Solo – I was not one of those people. Let’s consider how they lead up to the reveal of who was the overlord of Crimson Dawn. We knew it was going to be someone we have seen before…that they were somehow going to be connected to the name….hmmmmm…Maul just seems to be a go-to whenever any sort of antagonistic force is needed. They brought him back in the Clone Wars for some interesting things, brought him back in Rebels to finish his storyline, and now this. Maul has to be the most interesting person in the galaxy with everything he has done.
Why Maul though? What does this add? What does this lead to? We know his story at this point, so we are just fluffing out something that is already finished with a highly satisfying end. The crime lord should have been someone that adds something or leads into another film. What if instead of relying on this character to fill every plot need, they made a new character that carries over into some of the other spinoff films? Maybe a new drug lord for Boba to play with in his upcoming spinoff or maybe it hints at something that Rian Johnson’s new trilogy could ruin through “subversion.” Even if they wanted to use a known character, why not use Snoke and actually give him a backstory besides, “One day, he showed up and ripped control of the remnants of the empire from all the other people who would have stepped up.” Instead, the writers decided to plug and play the most overused character in the mythos.
Again, this is just another example of how no one is at the wheel of this franchise and it’s ultimately just bad storytelling. There is nothing connecting any of their other media projects either and no one is talking them up enough. To my knowledge, there is no mention of anything that happens in the books that have come out in films, and it should be expected that not everyone wants to, can afford to, or simply will keep up with everything you slap a Star Wars label on. However, that is not an excuse to keep your movie fans in the dark on issues that relevant to the plot.
Somehow, despite being two-thirds of the way into their re-vamp trilogy, Star Wars has managed to fly right into uncharted wild space. I hope they are able to find their way soon or I don’t think that I, and many other fans, will find our way back into the theatres when there are so many other options available.