Monday, December 18, 2017

Star Wars: A Retrospective

There probably isn’t a point to lobbying yet another Star Wars: The Last Jedi review into the internet. If you haven’t seen it yet then you’re either planning on seeing it or don’t care about the franchise, so my opinon is probably moot on the film itself, so I’d like to go ahead and talk about the series as a whole, where it is, and what needs to happen next.

Spoilers: People fight
Where We’ve Been
Once upon a time the Star Wars franchise consisted of three films and a handful of novels considered by fans to be cannon. Back then fans begged for more cannon, anything (As long as nobody mentioned Life Day) that would add to the story in the galaxy far far away. So then they got it, a prequel taking place a couple dozen years before New Hope. To say that the Phantom Menace was hyped is an understatement. You couldn’t swing a dead Gungan without hitting something related to Phantom when it was first released. The film had mixed reception, kids loved it since there was lots of stuff blowing up and even some cool monsters, but longtime fans wanted it burned at the stake.
Fans got what they asked for but not what they wanted.

The Curse of Choice
HK-47, please come into the mainstream...
 Now we’re up to 9 official films, hundreds of novels and comic books, a couple dozen video games and at least three TV shows, most of which was erased from the main story with the exception of the films by decree of Daddy Disney, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Essentially there is something for everyone in Star Wars if you’re willing to look hard enough, and you can pick and choose which stories you subscribe to. This is the same problem DC and Marvel have dealt with for years. With so much content and more being added on a regular basis, it’s almost impossible to catch up let alone keep up. Now we have a 2+ hour movie sitting in the theaters adding even more to the already formidable pile, and while the movie was overall good, it didn’t really progress the story.

The Real Issue
The best part of any story is the conclusion. What would A Christmas Carol be if afterwards we kept seeing movies of Scrooge failing at being nice or honoring holidays and meet one ghost after another like a Victorian Scooby Doo? What would happen if Frodo came back to Middle Earth because Sauron’s son was now in Mordor trying to take over the world? Three words: Land Before Time. When a story is told it’s because someone had a story to tell. When a story is expanded because someone is dangling the carrot of more money over the writer, the story will suffer because there is no need for a satisfying conclusion. Star Wars had a satisfying conclusion once, it was at the end of Return of the Jedi. The Empire was defeated, Vader was saved and dead, all our mains ended dancing with teddy bears, alls well that ends well. It’s the adding of prequels midquels and the next generation that’s clogging this francise with bloated excess to the point where we’re no longer telling any kind of story.
The Disney Purge
Disney made probably the best choice if not the most controversial but declaring anything outside the films to be officially non cannon, essentially reducing the decades of novels, video games ect to extremely high budgeted fan fiction. This has helped with reducing the tangled octopus pod of stories to one quasi cohesive narrative but it has created its own set of problems. Remember a couple weeks ago when EA destroyed Star Wars Battlefront 2? Well it turns out that the story mode in that game is cannon, so if in the future someone from that game shows up in a movie with no introduction or back story then the audience is going to be completely lost. I understand that some characters from one of the animated series made a guest appearance in Rogue 1, but having never watched any of the animated Star Wars for any significant amount of time I can tell you that they had absolutely no impact on me as a viewer.

Happily Ever After?
I'd party with bears. 
I know you don’t want to hear this, but in the end I think what Star Wars, and a lot of franchises for that matter, need a solid conclusion. Not a reboot, not more prequels, an ending. I like how in Batman Vs. Superman that they put Batman’s origin story in the opening credits, basically saying “Yeah we know how this goes. Dirty alley, rich parents, pearls hit the ground” and then we roll into the story for better or worse. Compare this to Gotham, which has endeavored to stretch Batman’s origin story so far beyond from where it was that it barely resembles Batman. Plus considering how all his villains keep popping up years before he puts on the cowl, it’s a wonder why Batman didn’t just routinely head to the retirement home every evening instead of Arkham Asylum.

To put this massive rant into a more bite size portion: Star Wars: The Last Jedi was fine but where is this all going? 


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