The Mess of Modern Star Wars

I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was probably about 8 or 9. I was never a franchise that I was born or forced into but when I first saw the dual of the fates battle between Darth Maul and Qui Gon and Obi Wan, I was in love. I knew that I had treaded into a franchise and I was only in the shallows of something much greater. Since then I obviously watched episode 2 and 3 when they came out and caught up on the originals somewhere in between. Throughout the years, I have loved to regularly watch episodes of Star Wars whenever possible, even having full marathons occasionally. I would not class myself as a Star Wars expert though because, as I do love the franchise, I am often left asking questions and I often forget major characters of sub-plots. This rant is not geared at the Star Wars films that were my childhood and adolescence though. This is about the latest two star wars movies (written before The Last Jedi), both of which are imperfect but bring up very conflicting emotions within the Star Wars fan base.

Let me start this off by making many people dislike my opinions and saying that I actually enjoyed Star Wars Episode 1-3, including the animated movie and episodes on the clone wars. I grew up in a position to not put the prequel trilogy in an impossible to reach place so I started off by loving the sci-fi talk and the amazing look on Darth Maul. I did not understand a lot of what happened but it caught my eye. I still appreciate a lot of what happens in the Star Wars prequels because they find a way to try to make the story of the original trilogy work. This is especially impressive when it is considered that the original movie was not created to be a part of a massive space opera franchise and was then adapted and morphed into what became a global phenomenon in movie history. People are very happy to praise the original trilogy which I will openly admit were superior to the prequels but too much creativity has been proved to be a negative in George Lucas’ career. He got a pass for Ewoks because they were kind of cute but he was practically crucified for Gunguns which were a hideous amphibious-like creature who spoke as if they were a tribe translating themselves to English (which they may well could have been).

Going beyond the rambling about episodes 1-6 I actually have a few things to say about The Force Awakens and Rogue One that may be a bit unlikable. I will start this off by saying I highly enjoyed watching The Force Awakens at the cinema but I found that Rouge One was really underdeveloped. It is not hard to point out the flaws of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as everything around has already done so. From the fact that the storyline is almost identical to Star Wars Episode IV to the fact that many moments in the movie occur only to elicit a nostalgic memory from the fans of the series. However, this movie does a few things right, one of which is having the parallels to Episode IV. It becomes easily recognisable to old fans of the series through repeating tropes from the original Star Wars movie and these are mostly well places and make for a good story. It tells the story of Star Wars Episode IV in a new way to a new generation of Star Wars viewers, some of which were first time viewers. The callbacks to the original can seem a bit forced but ultimately I do not feel this pulls too greatly away from the story presented. In saying these things, I feel the inclusion of C3PO and R2D2 are too forced and are no longer necessary except for the fanservice, unless they are meaningful to the progression of the plot, they should not be shoehorned in.

Now to talk about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. If people thought that The Force Awakens was made up from a load of moments where fans could say “I remember that”, then I do not think they have seen Rogue One. This movie takes place between the ending of Episode III and the beginning of Episode IV. I like the movie but I do not care for it as much as I do The Force Awakens. By rejecting the classic story scroll at the beginning and starting straight into the story, it feels almost like it is pushing itself away from being Star Wars (other non-episodes used the scroll). There are very few relatable/likable characters in this movie. The only new character I had any enjoyment watching on the screen was K-2SO, voiced by the one and only Alan Tudyk. With it’s dark and dry humour, it kept the audience from being bored out of their mind (at least in the screening I went to). It felt like there was very little substance to this film and it existed only to bridge a gap that would have been better left to the imagination of most Star Wars fans. Something that was done amazingly in Rogue One was the space battles and easily predictable ending (considering the Star Wars timeline). When action was happening, things were interesting and this was because it was a war movie with fantasy elements. If it got these parts wrong, it would have been a very hollow film.

I came out of the cinema in both of these movies in a totally different mindset. From The Force Awakens, I came out thinking it was played safe and smart to ensure that it did not chase away fans like the prequel trilogy did. I left the screening for Rogue One feeling very unfulfilled. The main character and multiple supporting characters were very unlikable and had very few redeeming qualities rendering the finale essentially worthless. K-2SO was by far the most liked character and is not given anywhere as much screen time as I believe it should have been.

If Rogue One did not end how it did, I would honestly say that I do not think I would be willing to watch a sequel with those characters whereas, I am very much looking forward to seeing the next episode in the Star Wars sequels. Keeping characters interesting and relevant is what keeps my attention.


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