Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Last Star Wars

For a life long Star Wars fan (such as your truly), it is painful to watch what is happening with the Star Wars franchise under Disney. Every time a new film comes out you think something is not quite the same - like small but essential elements are slowly slipping away. I know it is a horrible analogy, but it echoes something like an Alzheimer's experience. And how could we not expect this given the original creator is out of the picture? When Disney acquired Pixar, Marvel, and even Jim Henson Productions, they were able to keep at least some part of the original creators involved, but Star Wars was a clean break from Lucas and now they are desperately trying to figure out what to do with the whole thing.

Let's face it, what really made Star Wars a pop culture hit was not so much its strange landscape as its powerful storytelling. Lucas stuck with ancient elements that had stood the test of time and totally avoided most modern story telling mechanisms. How could an archetypal story telling machine like Disney not understand this to the point of hiring someone like Rian Johnson as the script writer? I can guess why - if the main criticism of The Force Awakens was that it was too similar to A New Hope, they decided to scrap Kasdan, the proven veteran of Star Wars mythology, and try someone known as a story rule breaker. It didn't matter that he had no science fiction writing experience either. Johnson did all sorts of unconventional things and this time the main criticism is that it was too unfamiliar. What to do now? Disney blows a fuse and bifurcates into two Star Wars worlds. Johnson gets his trilogy and maybe we'll bring back the other guys to do the other one on a separate track! What a bloody mess.

I don't feel inclined to comment on The Last Jedi other than to say that is was generally and enjoyable film if you forget about the previous films. It will probably be a hit and miss operation from now on and I'd rather focus elsewhere for better sci-fi offerings. The guys that filmed Rogue One did ok on their own, and at least Kasdan is doing the script for the Han Solo movie which means it might be a decent story, even if the lead actor was a horrible choice and, while they have no problem swapping directors right and left, they won't replace him. Of course, regardless of what happens in movie land, it will certainly be a groundbreaking treat when the resources of the Disney theme parks are unleashed to create Galaxy's Edge. Maybe it will become the last vestige of the old Star Wars for years to come.