Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Cinematographer: Steve Yedlin
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman
by Jon Cvack
Around the time of seeing this film, Logan Paul had released his NYE video of finding a dead body in the Japanese Aokigahara suicide forest, where him and his co-stars laugh it off, then making jokes, and enraging the entire social media community (while still gaining record numbers of subscribers). I wrote on Facebook that I believe Logan Paul is Donald Trump for kids, in the sense that he has the same anti-intellectual, knee jerk, trolling attitude found in our current president (though given that this is a year behind in getting published, we’ll see how that pans out [update: a year later and he seems to have leveled off in terms of attention). As Phil DeFranco said in his response, at the end of the day, his fans do not care what he does or says, and it appears there’s nothing he could actually do that would cause them to abandon him. Trump once said he could kill someone in the middle of Times Square and his supporters would remain by his side, and while he hasn’t got to that point, after all of the immoral and offensive things he’s done against nearly every type of person and institution, he’s still at a 90% approval rating amongst Republicans. At the time of this writing, just moments before giving a speech on D-Day, he sat in Arlington National cemetery and proceeded to castigate Pelosi, Schumer, Mueller, and all his other political enemies.
Star Wars fans have a similar philosophy, as while this movie elects to abandon or illogically try to progress much of the Jedi mythology, the most diehard fans remain loyal, willing to ignore even basic reasoning in order to defend this thing that they somehow love unconditionally.
I was hired to produce Twitter’s first live show when I learned about the Star Wars premiere episode, in which both director Rian Johnson and droid BB-8 came to our studio to reveal the poster. Being our first episode, uncertainty was high, as we didn’t know what could go wrong, let alone anticipate some problems. Although one of the most stressful twelve hours of my professional life, we had a successful debut, reaching a million viewers who were tuning in for the official poster reveal and a Daily Show-style interview between influencer Steve Zaragoza and BB-8, which was one of the best segments we did throughout the series. By that point I hadn’t watched the new Star Wars trailer, as even though I’ve grown to resent every single Star Movies since the IV-VI re-release back, the little kid in me preserves hope that it’ll return to Lucas’ original vision. Full disclosure: I haven’t yet seen Rogue One (2016), as I was so disappointed with The Force Awakens (2015) that I couldn’t ever muster up the energy to get to the theater, and am too confident that it’ll be a disappointing movie to watch it at home.
I’m not excited to write this, as it requires an effort to defend my position which is that this movie and where the series appears to be going is simply stupid and uncreative. When I hear of all the exciting directors getting fired by Kathleen Kennedy due to “creative differences” it’s easy to see that the conversation has one authority. Disney has hired Kennedy to create the most successful product imaginable and that product must check all the boxes in being a high stakes narrative, with lots of action involving spaceship fights and lightsabers duels, including some type of grand narrative reversal or twist. The general seems to be that the canon George Lucas developed should be honored, but should never restrict achieving these goals.
Thus far five filmmakers have been fired from the Star Wars series, and while I don’t think any of them have been as exciting as Rian Johnson or Ron Howard, the fact that even relatively tame voices were fired just goes to show how protected this property is. Watching the last two films I felt as though I was watching the result of a dozen marketing research people, a half a dozen Disney executives, Bob Iger and his team all dictating to Kennedy, Kasdan, and Johnson/Abrams exactly what to do. Neither film has felt at all inspired, with The Force Awakens being ostensibly a remake of a A New Hope and operating as a Battlestar Galactica ripoff/video game plot that abandons the mythology and takes logic far past the breaking point.
I’m certain that any people who are either reading this or interested in this blog have seen the movie, so I won’t bother with a detail breakdown of the plot. Basically, there are two storylines. Rey (Daisy Ridley) visits Luke Skywalker on the island of Ahch-To where Luke’s chosen to abandon the world out of fear of training more people like Vader. Aboard a resistance fighter, we see that the Rebels are still battling the Imperial Army (now called The First Order) who are chasing them through space - even hyperspace - with a tracking device that Finn (John Boyega) attempts to destroy in a plot straight out of any MMO video game (complete with a graphic image that shows precisely where it is in the Star Destroyer), along with Poe (Oscar Isaac) who’s convinced that if they just fight back, they can destroy The First Order, rather than trying to escape. Of course, Luke resists getting back to training, later discovering Rey has a potential for darkness just like him; Finn runs into trouble after going to a casino set as though straight out episodes I-III and trusting a thief (Benicio del Toro; the movie’s best character); and after Leia’s accident, a new commander Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) takes over, with a strategy that looks eerily similar to a traitor, or so Poe believes.
Stay tuned for part 2...
BELOW: A scene straight out of episodes I-III
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