Before I say anything, let me state outright that this is not an article from a butthurt fan girl about how Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker raped my childhood, shat on my lawn, and kicked my puppy.
I don’t feel personally betrayed by the fact that the final installment in a global phenomenon spanning forty years and worth an estimated $70 BILLION* somehow managed to cut off its own head in the opening five minutes, only to spend the next two hours chasing it around with no thought to story structure or character development. Okay, judging by the length of that last sentence I might be a little mad, but I’m dealing.
I simply want to discuss how they (and I’ll get to who they are in a second) managed to take a film series beloved by literally billions of people, and fail so completely on every single level.
- Maybe it was because JJ Abrams got dealt a raw deal, since Episode 8 director Rian Johnson widely diverged from his plans for the trilogy with The Last Jedi. But Abrams chose not to direct Jedi **. He had the option, but declined for reasons known only to himself and whatever island of cocaine and hookers he was living on at the time. So for him to just take everything that Johnson built on with Jedi and toss it away like it didn’t even exist was really idiotic. You don’t get to walk away from a project, come back two years later to discover you don’t like what they did, then kick it all down and start over. It doesn’t work like that in filmmaking.
- Maybe it was because Carrie Fisher passed away, and Abrams had planned the third film around her character. Yeah, this one really sucks. Carrie Fisher was an icon, not only for film nerds, but for mental health advocates everywhere. But you know what, Abrams? Tough cookies. Find a new idea. Because for her last role to be a hastily cut, awkwardly squished mush of lines combined with the same terrifying CGI mashups we saw in Rogue One was an incredible dishonor to the actress.
Props to Billie Lourd, but this was so unsettling. ***
- Maybe it was because he had to deal with both Disney’s expectations, and the hype of foreign audiences. In short, I’ve heard people say that Abrams can’t be blamed for Skywalker, since he had to deal with a lot of pressure from the Mouse, plus had to make sure that the film would be a global success. To which I say: fuck that. Abrams knew what he was getting into. He simply was too untalented or too lazy (more the latter, imo) to bother making a great screenplay when he knew that a half-baked one could be done quicker. So he could retire back to his island of cocaine and hookers.
- I think it’s because Abrams is simply a bad storyteller. Who decided this man knew anything about tension? Or plotting? Or pacing? Or building character development? Was it during Lost? Cloverfield? Super Eight? Bet you had to Google that last one. He only start getting noticed after the 2009 Star Trek reboot, which didn’t require him to actually come up with his own ideas, but simply to regurgitate enough fan-nostaglia onto a big screen to justify his budget. So far, all that Abrams has shown a talent for is taking a somewhat good idea and elevator-pitching it to the right people in order to get enough money to maintain his lifestyle before those people realizes he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing.
- Note: I haven’t actually mentioned much of the plotline of Skywalker, and that’s because if I spend fifteen minutes trying to explain what actually happens in the movie, it will succeed the amount of time Abrams spent on the script.
I started this review off by saying I wasn’t a butthurt fangirl, but I suppose maybe I am a little. I mean, I grew up on the original trilogy. I was only eleven when Phantom came out, and a teenager who thought Hayden Christensen was really cute for Episodes II and III. So maybe I didn’t know what it meant to be just…unbearably let down by Star Wars. Well this is it, I guess. And it’s left an even worse taste in my mouth than the last season of Game of Thrones.
Oh well. At least we’ll always have Jar-Jar.
May the Fourth be with you everyone!