One of my first memories is of my dad telling me we’re going to see a movie. I ask him what’s it about, and he says to check out the newspaper ad. I see a bunch of indecipherable squiggles because I’m three and I can’t read. The black and white pictures of a humanoid robot paired with a trashcan looking one is the first one I notice. There’s also an ominous figure made from more black than newsprint grey. All the Star Wars characters are arranged around the title. I don’t remember actually seeing the movie, but I do have it on good authority that I had quite a time.
I’ve been in the Star Wars fandom from the very beginning, and Star Wars has been with me. I was one of those 80s kids, running around the empty lots around our neighborhood, having lightsaber duels with sticks, filling in the absent sound effects in with our lo-fi mouths.
That’s why it pains me to say I’m done with Star Wars. I wasn’t in a rush to see Rise of Skywalker since the YouTubers painted it in an apocalyptic light.
“Worst Star Wars movie ever.”
I thought, “Worse than Phantom Menace? Really?”
With the gut-punch that was Last Jedi on top of that, I had little hope. Yet, I had some hope. Extremes of emotions get clicks. The YouTubers don’t make videos about mediocre movies that evoke little-to-no emotion. The best-case scenario was that Rise was going to be another Attack of the Clones
Right from the getgo, Rise is wrong. The premise makes no sense. Palpatine is alive? Alright. Show us how he survived the atomization of the Death Star because nothing should have. But this is a story of space wizards. JJ Abrams needed to sell us on it. What did we get instead?
They explain none of it. The Emperor broadcasts a message of revenge across the galaxy. Why wouldn’t he stay hidden? Who knows? None of these plot points—plot points in the first seconds—are ever explained. I get the feeling that some Disney exec said, “Who cares? We’ll sell tons of novels that fill that plothole.” I feel like little more than a wallet paying for nostalgia.
Why did it have to be Palpatine? Having him be the big bad undid the sacrifice that Anakin did in Return. I feel that they had the perfect opportunity to bring in an even bigger bad: Darth Plageius. What if Snoke came back? What if he was Plageius all the time? What if killing Palpatine brought balance to the force because Plageius was still dead at the time?
Rise wasn’t absolute crap. There were a few scenes that got me all misty-eyed. Did it disappoint me worse than Phantom? No, but Phantom was a kick in the pants off the skyscraper of hope. Did Rise disappoint? I went in ready to have my fandom get two in the head, one in the heart. That is exactly what happened, and somehow I was still disappointed. Here’s the thing I’ve come to realize. It was always going to.
The meta-story of Star Wars is how millions of dark side toy money made Lucas ruin his own vision, how he lived long enough to become his own Dark Lord of the Sith, how the evil empire Disney won.
What would have happened if Lucas stayed in charge? He would have given us a trilogy where the main characters were the midi-clorians. Yep. He would have given us the inner-space version of Star Wars.
That properly treated end to Star Wars was never going to happen. Just wasn’t.
However, we were lucky to get A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. They were the perfect storm of excellence that happened in the only time they could. With that said, I’m done paying for movies that wear Star Wars like a Buffalo Bill skin suit. I’m done.
This Week’s Question
Is there still hope for Star Wars out there?
We’d love to hear from you at the reading group.