Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Metafilter Post
December 7, 2019 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Disney Disturbs the Force: Pleasing Star Wars Fans Complicates Saga [WSJ, may be paywalled]
posted by chavenet at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Gah, that WSJ article reads like a parlour game where the idea is to create the longest summary of an event possible without ever once expressing a viewpoint on any part of it.

“I’m all for equality,” said Anthony Ergo, a 42-year-old fan from Liverpool, England. “But it felt like it was the promotion of female characters, but at the expense of male characters.”

And then they have a nice picture of Anthony hanging with Chewbacca! This is fine!
posted by ominous_paws at 3:38 PM on December 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

That WSJ article made me viscerally angry.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:08 PM on December 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've got tickets but I'm wary about Abrams being able to continue Johnson's tone for this one. The Last Jedi is my favorite Wars but there isn't a single J.J.Abrams film that I don't have reservations about. I wish that had just let Johnson do this one too.
posted by octothorpe at 4:18 PM on December 7, 2019 [19 favorites]

vibrotronica: "That WSJ article made me viscerally angry."

Can you summarize? It's pay-walled for most us.
posted by octothorpe at 4:19 PM on December 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not what people are objecting to in the WSJ one (the usual gripes about too many women and non-white people in starring roles), but this is utterly insane:
The rush has impaired the long-term planning for where the Skywalker saga and other Star Wars stories go from here. Rather than take the Marvel approach and begin filming the first movie with the end of the series in mind, Lucasfilm has largely determined the overarching plot from movie to movie, former employees say. That creates a clash since the multiple moving parts of the Disney franchise machine depend on schedules, forward planning and shared information.

When a videogame division at Disney approached the Lucasfilm story group about a game that would take place in the time between “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” videogame developers were told the story group had no idea what was going to happen in “Last Jedi,” even though “Force Awakens” was close to wrapping production, according to one of the former employees.

Since different directors were handling different films, “Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson was forced to wait to see how “Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams would finish his movie before he could finalize his own script. While Mr. Johnson was shooting “Last Jedi,” an installment that took the series in unexpected directions, Lucasfilm executives had little idea how they would wrap up the trilogy in the film that followed, the one premiering this month, according to an executive who worked there at the time.
posted by usr2047 at 4:38 PM on December 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

I felt TLJ basically treated Finn like a child most of the way through so I hope that changes in the new movie.
posted by um at 5:10 PM on December 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Can you summarize? It's pay-walled for most us.

The article is a sort of business history of Disney's handling of the Star Wars property with the emphasis being on where the franchise is now for Disney. Essentially, Disney is making less money of the property and finding it more difficult to manage than they expected, due to a number of factors including possible burn out on the franchise, mismanagement of the releases and stories and incompatible demands from different fan groups and higher management.

What seems to be bothering some is that the article is only focused on the business side and as such it treats the complaints from the fans who want more white guys on the same footing as complaints about the new movies not following the mythology of the old, and fans who want new stories and better representation. In the article those are all just different obstacles Disney has to deal with to make money from the franchise and so far they seem to be struggling with all of it.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:11 PM on December 7, 2019 [10 favorites]

Soooo, anybody want to talk about dark Rey?
posted by medusa at 6:48 PM on December 7, 2019

Can you summarize? It's pay-walled for most us.

For me the diastolic and systolic begin elevating just about here:
“The Last Jedi” suffered a backlash after it seemed to contradict key elements of previous films, upsetting a legion of older fans who objected to what they felt were silly subplots and story decisions that dismissed or perverted a mythology they grew up with. Separately, some objected to the new generation of young characters, and Hollywood’s most family-friendly brand had to reckon with racist and misogynistic attacks from a subset of fans who said the films were bowing to political correctness by featuring women and minorities in lead roles.
It is weird that there are still people who want every movie to look like Twelve Angry Men.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:26 PM on December 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

You would prefer another franchise, a military franchise? Then name the system!
I grow tired of asking this, so it will be the last time. Where is the Rebel base?
posted by clavdivs at 8:29 PM on December 7, 2019 [14 favorites]

You would prefer another franchise, a military franchise?

Yes, Call Of Duty please. Thanks! Please don't laser my homeworld
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:50 PM on December 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Soooo, anybody want to talk about dark Rey?

The dark Rey thing, to whatever extent it is a thing in the movie, is kinda interesting in part because it does go back to some of the problems with the franchise in trying to update it for a new audience. The original trilogy seemed to gain a lot of its aesthetic tension or response in the oppositional pull between the light and dark side of the force. In a way, that was a very white male kinda dilemma, choosing how to use one's "birthright" to power, whether to use it for the good of the many or for one's own benefit in the gaining of power. Luke's essentially offered a choice between two fathers, one that fought for the rebellion and the other that went to the dark side and he has to choose which is his "true" father and which legacy he will follow.

It's a dilemma that speaks to a sense of entitlement to power, where the choice is open because one comes from a position where opportunity to gain power is as available as to fight power. The easy path is to accept one's privilege as deserved and join the empire, so to speak, and where the alternative is to step back from power and use the force for the good of all. The dark side of the force in that sense can be seen as something akin to the power of the patriarchy

Changing the storylines to better fit a more diverse group of characters means to some extent changing the metaphor of power and the force and that does shake up the franchise in ways that ask for some rethinking of how the "force" metaphor might apply to those who don't share the same "birthright" to power, which is part of what seems to provide the movies such strong resonance to the real world. Changing the characters without adapting the metaphor means something of the tension is lost as the relationship to power white males have, in the West at least, isn't the same as the relationship that women and minorities have. The force and power are not given as an alleged birthright but must be claimed from those who hold it as such and for the story to hold the same tension and resonance with reality, the metaphor around power needs to change to fit the non-Lucas, non-"Hero's journey" understanding of the world. (That doesn't mean that heroism need be thrown out, just the structure of the journey needs to change).

Where the movies are now its really hard for me to say because they don't seem to have a clear direction like they did in the original trilogy. Luke's choices were pretty clear to him and the audience for having his options outlined and alternatives made apparent, while Rey's got a mystery box. We watched the original trilogy knowing what the choice between light and dark meant and the tension was in the pull between the opposition of order, command, and control and that of the disorder and connections found in equality and trust among those making individual choices. The current trilogy offers no such clarity of narrative, preferring to follow Abrams' Lost method of continually shifting frames of knowledge to keep the audience guessing as to what anything means. There have been some possible hints that there was some awareness of changing the metaphor to suit a new group of characters in Rey's backstory, but they haven't made that clear enough to grab on to for any more definitive direction thus far.

The potential problem with "dark Rey" is how the Force has or hasn't changed since the original trilogy and through that how her story is fit to Luke's and Annakin's and all the rest. If one assumes Rey and the gang are ultimately successful in their quest, which I have to imagine is the case, then the question becomes why does Rey make the choices she makes and how does she get from their to a successful conclusion. Showing her "seduced" by the dark side when Luke, largely, avoided that fate could potentially be a problem as would anything that too closely echoes the same ideas of "birthright" that was key to Luke's story.

Given how little they've clearly laid out so far, I'm not sure they can achieve anything like the same kind of cultural resonance as the original trilogy, but that would be asking a lot from any movies, I hope they will at least provide some sense of clarity to Rey's own identity dilemma and how that relates to the use of power. But that's just my take as someone who's watched the movies but not followed the ancillary media on the franchise universe, so take it as you will, and none of it is too suggest there aren't other ways people can find connection to the series beyond the white guy birthright stuff, they obviously have, just that those elements seem tied to Lucas' vision of the universe but no longer may, but without much clarity of what's replaced them.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:16 PM on December 7, 2019 [13 favorites]

As a lifelong fan of the series, I can hardly wait to see the new and exciting ways J.J. Abrams will find to fuck it up.
posted by fairmettle at 12:20 AM on December 8, 2019 [13 favorites]

(Hated the Last Jedi, already have my tickets for Rise of Skywalker)

I have 3 simple hopes.

1. Kylo and Rey get it on. Sophomoric, yes. But admit it, it’s been building to this. Bonus points if it turns into some retrospective icky incestuous thing a la Luke and Leia.

2. Threepio dies, heroically and hysterically. Yes, he is beloved but he’s annoying and just this side of Jar-Jar. If SW is really going all in and we don’t need to see the droids appear again, then kill Threepio. And have him do it by shedding his cowardice and getting melted down by some fire-spewing monster to buy the heroes enough time to make it to the ship and escape. None of the current characters gives a shit about him except Artoo and you could even get Kenny Baker a posthumous Oscar for the slow zoom on Artoo’s face mourning his old chum.

3. Ewoks save the day!

I fully expect to hate this movie but will be jubilant in being liberated from this franchise which has held me hostage since age 7.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:46 AM on December 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

I loved The Last Jedi so much (especially as The Force Awakens was so dumb and frustrating and pretty, a karaoke rendition of a popular hit the way only something JJ Abrams is wont to do) that I was already preemptively afraid at how the wrap up will take the pieces in it, given it was Trevorow. Bring me back to that precious week when everything was up in the air when he was removed tho, because when I heard it was Abrams again I've found myself in this interesting space of having less than zero interest. Even with the prequels' missteps Lucas had interesting ideas to say (and now with the new trilogy only Johnson, by default, came close) and what does Abrams have, except knowing deep in his bones how to shoot things that look cool? Anyway, I've got no tix but I guess I'll join my friends who are all also in deep meh.

I haven't even bothered with Disney+'s The Mandalorian, because I'm tapping out of this phase of deep nostalgia mining.
posted by cendawanita at 3:01 AM on December 8, 2019 [8 favorites]

I want everything that Mike and Rich predicted to be in The Rise of Skywalker. Everything.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:22 AM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

My theory on Dark Rey: she’s a Rey, but she’s not Our Rey.

Way back in the prequels, we were told that some Sith Lord in the even longer, longer ago times could create life from whole cloth. It was also implied that Palpatine, doing something similar, was behind Anakin‘s ‘mom got pregnant but there was no father’ backstory.

In TLJ, our Rey went into a cave and asked who her parents were. The answer was “no one”.

In episode 9, Palpatine is apparently back, with something like 50 additional years of experience with his creepy-Sith-life-creation-experiments.

I think Dark Rey and Our Rey are products of those experiments. Ours somehow got away.
posted by FallibleHuman at 5:34 AM on December 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

Movies with Mikey has some great thoughts on [G]Rey in his video Defense of The Last Jedi.
posted by octothorpe at 6:03 AM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

METAFILTER: there are still people who want every movie to look like Twelve Angry Men.
posted by philip-random at 9:16 AM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's a shame the article even partially buys into Disney's bogus defense of the dog's breakfast that was The Last Jedi that it was some woke finger in the eye of nostalgic fans, even assuming that to be a reasonable thing to do for an entry in a (then) 40-year-old franchise. Rogue One shows there could be a Star Wars movie that was intentionally diverse in its casting and still understood, and undertook to fulfill, what it means to be a Star Wars movie.

As for the Rise of Skywalker, I don't have tickets yet. I guess I am hopeful: maybe they let Filoni and some of the Marvel scenarists get at the plot and engaged the good side of JJ Abrams' storytelling instincts. The characters are still such blank slates that they can be given compact new motives that three acts can serve. The trailers seem to show a lot of running around and a lot of very Dramatic Intense looking scrunched up faces. That's not helpful.
posted by MattD at 11:52 AM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

And now I can't get "12 Angry Jedi" out of my head.
posted by evilDoug at 1:10 PM on December 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

What is Skywalker rising too? Tripping the force fantastic with yoda, obi-1, Leia, Palpatine hiding on SLAVE 1? No. Is it the rise of the Skywalker Familia.
The new Skywalker®™© gens coming to bear.

Is there, another?
posted by clavdivs at 1:36 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don’t know, I like the themes of Last Jedi more than I like Rogue One. Apart from the weird gambling planet section, TLJ reflects a lot about growing old and not being a young foolish person who believes in absolutes. Which is… a common theme in Johnson’s movies, in as much as he had common themes? Out of all the Star Wars films it’s the one I want to go back to, because it looks amazing and it has deeper resonances than just mythic archetypes in space

JJ Abrams, however, is not going to be able to follow this up. His films are pretty much just candy, and… that’s fine? But they’re not deep or meaningful in any way, just the same gloss with different mystery boxes.
posted by The River Ivel at 2:57 PM on December 8, 2019 [11 favorites]

I think a huge part of the problem with the Disney Star Wars is that they were so afraid of alienating fans and proving they could handle Star Wars right that they just never went much of anywhere.

Force Awakens is essentially the same as A New Hope and Return of the Jedi: rag tag group of rebels blow up a newer and bigger Death Star. Big whoop.

Last Jedi at least tried to go someplace, I really liked that the one in a million shot rag tag group failed for example, but it was basically a huge mess because it tried to tell so damn many stories at once and suffered from middle of the trilogy syndrome in that basically everything had to spin its wheels but never go anywhere.

The Star Wars movies off the main sequence are so far the best they've done because they were able to exercise a bit more creative freedom and try new stuff.

Rogue One was, hands down, the single best movie in the entire franchise. Nice tight storytelling, it creatively retconned the thermal exhaust port so it wasn't Imperial techs being stupid but rather Galen Erso's vengeance, despite being the link between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope it was original and fresh.

Solo was a fine action heist movie.

But the main sequence movies have always seemed sort of insecure and terrified of doing too much new and different.

I hope they wrap up the third trilogy and take that as a good time to break with the past and actually do something new for the next big ones.
posted by sotonohito at 3:51 PM on December 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

Rogue one didn't really stick with me at all. Three years later and I remember the rubbery digital Peter Cushing and Forest Whitaker and that's about it. The ending was kind of bold but I seem to remember the plot being very disjointed and uneven.
posted by octothorpe at 3:51 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Octothorpe, go sit in a corner and cuddle your stuffed ewok! Rogue One was despair and heroism and beautiful. It was everything promised in Empire Strikes Back and never delivered until then.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:53 PM on December 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Metafilter: scrunched up faces.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:49 PM on December 8, 2019

Octothorpe, go sit in a corner and cuddle your stuffed ewok! Rogue One was despair and heroism and beautiful. It was everything promised in Empire Strikes Back and never delivered until then.

Rogue One was a tale full of sound and fury, signifying no more than fanservice. And as a Star Wars prequel it was sub-Phantom Menace bad. Beautiful, yes. But supremely hollow and with fourth rate storytelling. If I wanted that sort of style over substance in my films Michael Bay would be my favourite director.

As a prequel it does far more to undermine Princess Leia than waiting until Greedo shot ever did to undermine Han, and makes the entire opening capture of the Tantive IV into a complete farce. When Leia faced down Vader and insisted they were a diplomatic courier in Star Wars that was brave. Throw in Rogue One and the Death Star Plans having been a single door away from Vader and it was the bravery of a child telling an obvious and ridiculous lie.

But the core problem with it is that it presents as a heist movie (which shouldn't be beautiful) and pays off as a war movie (which shouldn't be beautiful for whole different reasons). The scene everyone remembers (Darth Vader) was only added in reshoots and yes, it's a payoff. But it's a payoff for none of the seeds really planted in the film - instead it's a payoff for people who thought Vader was cool back in the late 70s and early 80s.

The heist movie part involving stealing the Death Star plans is possibly the worst heist movie I've seen - there was no real plan other than bumble around until the "plot" of Jyn being the designer's daughter presented itself. Even Solo did better than that. And the war movie part? That too was bad - a collection of broadly drawn characters whose individual relationships and differences, and how much payoff there was for them, can be legitimately compared to Suicide Squad.

The lead? Felicity Jones did a wonderful job of a worse-written part than Jar-Jar Binks or Anikin "I hate sand" Skywalker. I mean I can at least tell you what drove Jar-Jar and what he wanted. Jyn? The tough cynical loner, broken out of prison? The rousing motivational speaker who immediately took charge? The rebel-too-rebellious-for-the-Rebel Alliance?

The supporting cast? When did anything about their characters pay off rather than get sacrificed to the plot or to the rule of cool? Especially the Force Monks who were supposedly blind and couldn't use the force - and it wasn't even a character highlight when they used their staves to block blaster bolts.

Meanwhile the parts people see as high points? There was the Darth Vader fanservice, there were the X-Wing and AT-ST appearances. These were pointless unless you had an attachment to those things from the original trilogy. But if you loved the original trilogy I see the appeal.

Which more or less leaves the planet blowing up as the finale.

Still, at least it tried to do something, which puts it above The Force Awakens. And it had prettier visuals than Solo.
posted by Francis at 7:43 AM on December 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

As I said, I didn't hate Rogue One. I remember mostly liking it in the theater but even bad Star Wars films stick with me and this one just faded away in my memory. I guess that I could watch it a second time but there's so much else to watch.
posted by octothorpe at 8:23 AM on December 9, 2019

Rogue One was Star Wars with Consequences to me. They aim to kill Jyn’s dad, and as such have to get the glowing weak point schematic a different way. They don’t know how to fleet combat, and they don’t magically plot armor through, there’s real lasting damage to what the rebellion can bring to bear. Jyn recognizes that the droid has been through hell with them, gives it the blaster, and only because of this do they just manage to have the time to get the data. And on and on and on in ways that just don’t seem to land in the main movies.

It felt less like a heist and more like a desperate gambit to avoid annihilation with a little Gallipoli at the end.

Also prior to this, the Empire was bad because they blew up a planet (big reason) and because they just... always were but in a background pervasive sense never fully shown? Whereas in RO, there’s wanton destruction, sacking of ruins, Vader showing off (for the only time?) why he was feared.

Rogue One felt like the missing link movie for a lot of things and had plot-armorless bleakness I’m sorely missing with the Mandolorian (who is literally wearing the damn stuff).
posted by Slackermagee at 10:23 AM on December 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

Seen on Twitter: If you only like 2.5 out of 10 Star Wars movies, you are not a Star Wars fan.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 1:32 PM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's amazing how fandoms like Star Wars seem to breed the attitude that, "true fans" can and should drop their specific brand of "wisdom" about movies in general, and the SW movies specifically, with language that cuts off any possibility of conversation by defining things in hyperbolic terms such as "the worst," "pointless," "the core problem," and other eye-roll-worthy absolutes.

They are wrong. Categorically wrong.

Why? Because there is no right or wrong answer to whether a piece of art, or entertainment, or however you want to define it is worth enjoying or not. The merits of something is worth discussing, even arguing over, but fans like that aren't interested in discussion. They're interested in being "right."

And I'm so over it.
posted by papercake at 2:56 PM on December 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

Epic games with JJ Abrams will host a live screening of a scene from the new Star Wars movie at Risky Reels (the drive-in movie theater on the Fortnite battle royal island) on Dec 14 at 14h00 EST. If you don't have Fortnite installed but want to see the scene it shouldn't be a problem as tons of people will likely be streaming it on all the standard platforms.

Also, Epic posted that doors open at 13h30 EST. A game doesn't last much beyond 25 minutes (because at that point the storm circle is completely closed and chunking health every second until only one person is alive), so having a half hour pre-show time might mean some additional activities or game mode. Usually they just have a countdown timer and take your guns away a few minutes before an event starts so people don't kill each other and ruin the show.
posted by phoque at 5:35 PM on December 9, 2019

If you only like 2.5 out of 10 Star Wars movies, you are not a Star Wars fan.

yet I still get to complain about them because the f***ing culture won't stop forcing the damned things on me. Suggesting I don't get to complain about Star Wars is like saying I don't get to complain about the weather.

That said, I did start watching two of the more recent ones. The first was the Force Awakens which, maybe half an hour in, I started doing something else and never got back to it. It felt unnecessary, I guess. The second, I don't recall the title. It was on Netflix and very early in, I muted the sound and put on some music instead. The visuals were intriguing for a while, chases and fights and explosions and whatnot. But as with the Force Awakens, at some point, I stopped watching.

STAR WARS: at some point I stopped watching.
posted by philip-random at 5:50 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seen on Twitter: If you only like 2.5 out of 10 Star Wars movies, you are not a Star Wars fan.

That applies to me. Some time ago I realized Star Wars (& Star Trek) weren't being made for me. But that's fine. Other people enjoy them, I can enjoy other things and save money by waiting for the movies to come to Netflix or Disney+.

Plus it apparently frees me to say most Star Wars movies are terrible.
posted by riruro at 6:46 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Good morning to everyone except EVERYONE involved in this movie: STAR WARS Actors Could Try Being Positive About The Movies They’re Promoting
posted by cendawanita at 8:01 PM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

In re cendawanita's link, I came here to complain that the People Overinvested In Hating Star Wars are now doing what the People Overinvested In Hating Game Of Thrones have been doing - just desperately LEAPING on anything from a quote to something as meagre as a second-long facial expression that could imply one of the actors involved doesn't like the end product, and then furiously upvoting it on, natch, Reddit, with a title like LOOK HOW MUCH EVEN KIT HATED THE FINAL PAGES WE ARE VALIDATED LADS THEY DID OUR BOY DIRTY

Hell if I'm going to tell someone how to live their life but I suspect there are more edifying hobbies out there.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:57 PM on December 13, 2019

My personal gold standard honestly is the twilight cast. Though the 'badly worded' bs Boyega said about Tran is definitely not a case of straw-grasping.
posted by cendawanita at 1:48 AM on December 14, 2019

Movie press tours seem like such horrific slogs, I kind of don't blame any cast for being burnt out by them.
posted by octothorpe at 6:48 AM on December 14, 2019

Some random observations:

-Rey's clothing is much more white than the grey of the Last Jedi.

-the title, the cast and directors comments about TLJ make me think that those of us who enjoyed the film for its effort to move the franchise past the importance of one family, into a more complex understanding of the Force, and beyond just rehashing what has happened before are likely to be frustrated.

-The fact that at least one big sequence of the movie is going to take part in the ruins of Death Star II and that Palpatine has some role furthers my sense that the franchise cannot move past continually referencing itself. Maybe there isn't anything else to do; maybe the fanbase really won't let Star Wars let the past die. Maybe there isn't enough to Star Wars to be anything else. Maybe I've just changed enough that the magic is gone. Maybe the toxicity of a large segment of the fanbase has killed the magic for me.

I hope I'm wrong about the movie - I hope its big and bold and amazing and I leave the theater with my family happy and excited. But I gotta bad feeling about this.
posted by nubs at 7:33 AM on December 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

First reactions are in. Some of us can feel free to cash our bets now.

My mum noticed the ads and asked me to buy her a tix (I'm not joining because I already scheduled a viewing and I won't be watching again, thank you)
posted by cendawanita at 9:09 PM on December 17, 2019

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