As I write this, it’s Christmas Eve. The wife and daughters – one is two and a half, the other 14 months – are asleep. Santa stopped by and wrapped the gifts he brought, also drank a couple of beers. Good times were had by all.
Now that he’s gone, I have some time to reflect on another topic I’ve been thinking about. Since it’s the day after Christmas, and it’s been (thankfully) a slow week of news, I thought I’d take a break from the usual and opine on some other issues making the rounds.
First off, everyone is wrong about Star Wars.
I’m not talking about just about the movie, though they’re wildly wrong about that, I’m also talking about The Mandalorian.
I, like almost everyone who is under 50 and isn’t Amish, grew up with Star Wars, in one form or another. The movies sparked our imaginations, the toys allowed us to expand it, and the comic books and cartoons filled in the blanks. Since 1977, there has been a non-stop drip of Star Wars something or other that has turned into an open spigot in the last 20 years.
No matter how bad it was (The Phantom Menace wasn’t good), we came back for another helping, hoping the next one would make it alright. It only ever sort of did – Rogue One was excellent, Solo was much better than expected.
But the new trilogy wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. The Force Awakens was fine, if boring, but The Last Jedi was awful – more interested in appealing to the “woke” crowd than the fans. Plot lines went nowhere and served no purpose other than killing time and virtue signaling to the left.
Worst of all, however, was they created new powers of the Force for the sake of convenience, it seemed. Suddenly the Force could protect someone from dying in the vacuum of space? Moreover, it could be used while the person who should’ve been dead was unconscious? Luke became a jackass weirdo loner and a defeatist who discovered a part of the Force that allowed him to project himself across the galaxy, but somehow this new power also killed him, or something.
It didn’t make any sense.
Fans were left hoping The Rise of Skywalker would retroactively fill in some of the blanks, unscramble the garbled mess of episode VIII. It did not.
Episode IX actually expanded on these new Force powers, creating newer ones that make even less sense. Now the Force can heal people, even bring them back from the dead? Why didn’t anyone use this power before? When Qui-Gon Jinn was stabbed by Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi just held him as he died. Why wouldn’t he heal him, if the Force can do that? Seems like that’d be a pretty important skill to teach new Jedi. But somehow, at the height of their powers, Jedi didn’t know about this? It took a random nobody to figure it out on their own?
That being said, and all the other issues with the final installment, I still liked it. Critics are giving it bad reviews, but it’s a fun movie. Sure, they don’t satisfactorily explain a lot, and they leave some things hanging, yet it brings to the new trilogy some of the joy of the originals.
Maybe my sentimentalism got the better of me, or my expectations were so low after reading one bad review after another, but I walked out of the theater happy, satisfied. And that, ultimately, is all anyone should expect from a Star Wars movie.
Considering what director JJ Abrams was left to work with after the last movie, and the death of one of his lead actresses before filming began, The Rise of Skywalker is as much as we could hope for. Though far from perfect, people telling you differently are doing so for reasons unrelated to the movie itself.
Nothing will ever compare to the memories of the Star Wars universe from your childhood, no matter where it was in the story when it entered your world. But this is it, it’s over. It goes out with a bang if you let it.
On the other hand, The Mandalorian is being slathered with praise, and it may end up deserving it. But that series is incredibly slow moving and, at least through the first 7 episodes, lacks a coherent plot or purpose. Baby Yoda is fun and has launched a million memes, whether it ends up being anything beyond that will be determined in the final episode.
So far, however, at least until episode 7, it’s one self-contained pointless side mission with a small Yoda after another without much explanation.
Yet the show is praised and the movie is panned. Mostly, I suspect, because we have an emotional investment in the storyline in the movies, expectations we’ve crafted for ourselves from our childhood played out a thousand times over in dreams and with action figures. The Mandalorian has none of that, we can take it for what it is, one 40-minute bite at a time.
My point, in so much as you can have a point about Star Wars, is expect nothing. Go into it the way you went into the universe the first time, with curiosity and an open mind, then decide for yourself. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good way to go into everything.