A guest post by Marcus A. Roberts
Barely a day goes by when I don’t rant about TLJ so in the public safety interest of my friends and family over the holidays, Stefan has kindly allowed me to put down an (edited) version of my take on this.
Yes, the porgs are cute, the throne room fight scene is really cool and the Rey/Ren interaction has real humanity, tension and humour to it. In fact, the jokes as a whole work. I also agree with Stefan’s argument that Finn has a good character arc and Rose is a welcome addition to the cast (she even has backstory of which more later on the competitive lack thereof).
And the final fight scene between Luke and “more guns” was an immensely satisfying realization of fan fantasy as to the ‘true power’ of the Jedi. And Mark Hamill’s shoulder brush was a blissfully iconic moment.
So, before we attack let us take a moment and be thankful for these things? Yes? Good. Now, here we go.
The opening attack: A missile hits. Ackbar dies (😢). Aaaaaand, Leia floats. Hmmm. Guess I’ll just leave this Armada card here and move on then:
The Supremacy fleet versus Raddus fleet chase: From conception to conclusion this was so critically flawed it should never have made it out of an editors meeting. So let’s keep this short. First, Leia doesn’t countenance trading a bomber wing for destroying a planetkiller? Huh? Second, why not have a Star Destroyer or two just jump to light speed and appear in front of the Raddus? (I swear to god, half of Thrawn’s reputation as THE MASTERMIND simply stems from the fact that unlike every single other Imperial Commander his AI difficulty level is not set to ‘Stupid). Third, the hyperspace attack deus ex machina begs the question, why not call up a (Hammerhead) Corvette earlier in the movie and order it to sacrifice itself so that the Raddus can escape? In fact, why not destroy the Death Star each time with such an attacking? In fact... I’ll stop there. You know what I mean.
The Last Backstory... for all the celebrating of how TLJ liberates the franchise from Skywalker-family Force domination it’s worth noting that it continues to be the case that you only warrant a backstory in the Star Wars universe if you are in fact a Skywalker. Rey? TFA teased us that there was a secret history there. Actually, there was nothing? Snoke? Goddamnit but my YouTube feed is overloaded with Snoke/Mace, Snoke/Plagueis, Snoke/Tag&Bink theories and in the end... NOTHING.
...and the ugly
So. We need to talk about Luke. Oh no we don’t, we can just let Luke talk about Luke (albeit in the guise of Mark Hamill):
“I almost had to think of Luke as another character. Maybe he’s Jake Skywalker – he’s not my Luke Skywalker.”
“Jedis don’t give up. I mean, even if he had a problem, he would maybe take a year to try and regroup, but if he made a mistake he would try and right that wrong, so right there, we had a fundamental difference, but, it’s not my story anymore. It’s somebody else’s story, and Rian needed me to be a certain way to make the ending effective.”
And finally, “All I know is... the derivativeness has to end.” I mean seriously, how many more times are we going to fight Hoth? How many more times is there going to be a “Death Star” weapon reference? When racing the animals I half expected Force Ghost Anakin to appear and shout: “Now this is podracing!”
There is a difference between homage and the copy/paste key. Between a signature Star Wars moment and rampant repetition. For a two hour case study on how to achieve the former without falling foul of the latter just rewatch Rogue One (the best Star Wars movie ever).
For Star Wars to grow, for Star Wars to prosper it needs more than just the grumpification and killing off of our childhood heroes like Han and Luke, it needs compelling new characters with interesting backstories, a plot that possesses a certain basic internal logic and the creation of new things. I know that’s a lot to ask, but with all the money and talent Disney can draw on, it’s no less than the fan deserve.
PS: Yoda wouldn’t burn books. Ok? He just wouldn’t. Look, good guys do NOT burn books. I don’t want to make too big a thing about this but it would just be nice if we could just go with Lucas and Indy on this one please: