I owe you good folks an apology, I really do. This is gonna take some serious swallowing of pride, but I have to admit where I was mistaken. Here goes nothing.
First, some context. In 2012, Disney bought the legendary Star Wars franchise for four billion dollars. One morning that year, Joe Pikkels and I were working together, and he broke the news to me in his old Prius, while we waited at an astonishingly long red light. He knew how I would take this information, and that this would be the last time we could talk about Star Wars.
Because I have what you would call a grudge against the Walt Disney Corporation, one that goes deep into my sac, because I know. I know what the Disney name has come to mean in the last thirty years.
Disney means disappointment.
My friends, you cannot put the things that you love in the hands of Disney unless you want to hurt for loving them. To paraphrase a villainess I myself created, you will hurt in ways you didn’t know you could hurt.
One thing I know how to do, that I’ve done since I could walk, is build fictional worlds. Create civilizations in fantasy environments, and then spin narrative yarns about people within those civilizations. As a boy alive in the 1980’s, I did this under heavy influence of novels like Dune and movies like Star Wars. I would describe these worlds to anyone who would listen, and gauge reactions to see what worked best.
My point is, I know how long it takes for a good story to germinate. When I heard that Disney was planning to release a Star Wars movie every year starting in 2015, I knew the franchise was dead.
The original Star Wars sequels were spaced three years apart; so were the prequels, 20 years of technological progress later. What exactly made Disney think they could do better in less time? Why would that work? How could that work?
Then came the news that JJ Abrams was going to helm the trilogy. The whole thing, at first. Explain to me why JJ Abrams is not a hack.
I’m fucking begging you.
Please. Tell me one reason. Please. What the fuck has this cock-nosed goblin ever created that was worth a shit. Lost fucking SUCKED; it was based on BULLSHIT. Alias? People cared because of Jennifer Garner and don’t fucking kid yourself. How about Cloverfield, that’s not something we’d all rather forget, right? The sopping sickbag that launched T.J. Miller’s career? How about the feature-length blowjob JJ gave Steven Spielberg called Super 8? Ring a bell?
So this bespectacled gimp, high off his own farts, is entrusted with the mythos of the most profitable intellectual property in history, which is now out of the hands of its original creator, in truth the one person who had the most intimate understanding of it. And the new owners want a movie a year, because that’s what Marvel’s doing.
I knew it wouldn’t work. I never expected for a second that any of the Disney Star Wars movies would be above junk-level. I sincerely believe that they are objectively and inarguably bad, and what I’ve actually seen of them proves me right. But here’s where the apology comes in.
I didn’t know it would be this bad, and I’m sorry.
Here’s what I thought, back in 2016 when I was ignoring the copies of The Force Awakens at Videodrome, where I rent movies.
I thought the problem was me.
I thought my beloved franchise had moved on without me. I thought that I had finally “grown up”, and that I didn’t “get” Star Wars like I did 15 years ago. It wasn’t that the new actors were boring, or bad, it was that I resented the characters simply on the basis that they weren’t what I knew.
So I moved on. I let it go.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the forums. See, the shelf in Videodrome where they stocked The Force Awakens for rental… it started out with 7 copies. Which you can understand, I mean, we are talking a Star Wars movie.
But after a week or so they went from seven copies available to five, then three not long after that. Then just one. I don’t remember any point where all seven were rented, even when it was new, but then again I’m only so obsessed.
That’s when I started to realize something was up. Also- none of my friends who were Star Wars fans recommended it to me. Not one. But again- I presumed the fault lay with me. I never for a second suspected that the story, script, and characters would be anything but top notch. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT STAR WARS. Disney just paid four fucking billion for it. Why wouldn’t they make every conceivable effort to top what’s come before, and deftly carry the franchise aloft into futurity?
As I found out later, the lead character (played by Daisy Ridley) was dubbed “Rey”. The antagonist, played by football-faced Adam Driver, was named “Ren”. Okay yeah no bigs, why would we want interesting names like Luke Skywalker or Lando Calrissian or Leia Organa in our sequels, a common Spanish word or a famous chihuahua is good enough. And hey- hand to God- when I found out “Kylo Ren” was Ben Solo, I imagined a scene where he writes his name out like a zillion times in a notebook (in ENGLISH) until he gets to “Kylo Ren”. You know, like an angsty teen version of Jerry Lundegaard from Fargo might do if he lived in a galaxy far, far away.
I can legitimately argue that I have now put more thought into the name “Kylo Ren” than JJ Abrams did.
I apologize. I didn’t foresee that there would be people involved with STAR WARS who were so creatively bankrupt that they would just half-ass everything. “Here’s our half-ass bad guy with his half-ass lightsaber, here’s our protagonist who’s a half-ass Jedi, with a half-ass droid on some half-ass planet (not Tatooine), here’s some half-ass Stormtroopers, oh look, some half-ass aliens, here’s a half-ass cameo by another half-ass celebrity, time to half-ass rally the half-ass rebels against the half-ass empire, in their half-ass Death Star.”
Okay- JJ Abrams wrote Michael Bay’s Armageddon. He cratered the Star Trek franchise by trying to make it Star Wars, and then he cratered the Star Wars franchise through his own demonstrable lack of imagination. Show me. Show me where the genius is! Show me what I’m missing! Where is it? Could it be hype, and nothing more? Like Cloverfield was? Like Lost was? Where is the proof that JJ Abrams is not a hack? Where is the proof that he is even capable in his profession??
There was no solid plan when Disney began the sequel trilogy, despite mountains of existing source material to draw inspiration from; even Abrams had a plan that was discarded. My generation grew up knowing about the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker’s fateful duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda’s past as a Jedi. Despite possessing this knowledge, we still thrilled to see the events finally depicted, from 1999 to 2005.
Disney never gave us a reason to care about the new characters or their adventures. The result: we didn’t care.
The action figures of the new characters don’t sell because no kids thought their on-screen adventures were interesting enough to recreate with toys. That’s the barometer. The people in charge of Star Wars don’t even know how to Star Wars anymore.
It can’t be a coincidence that Daisy Ridley played a corpse in her very first role, and now she plays one again in (choke) “The Rise of Skywalker”. I see it referred to as “Plan IX”, which I like. The association with Plan Nine from Outer Space is all the more astute when you note that both movies deal with the death of an actor like replacing a broken prop. I don’t believe that Disney should be permitted to produce more Star Wars movies, and Plan IX is the smoking gun. But we’ll get to that… in due time.
When The Last Jedi came out, its stupidity was so bold-faced, while its director was so arrogant, spiteful and disrespectful, that I became aware of things despite ignoring the production as I’d originally promised. Let me tell you a trade secret; a man who insults you after selling you a ticket is a fucking asshole whose nuts should be kicked. You could make that a rhyme while sticking a dollar up your ass and you’d still be worth more than Rian Johnson. Fuck that bum. Looper is some goofy horseshit with a screaming toddler and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in laughable Bruce Willis makeup. Brick is your basic film-school turd; the kind of high-concept yawner that idiots buy DVDs of because they think it makes them look smart, when in reality no one knows it by name.
Do you think, if Rian Johnson was at all competent at his job, that he would behave the way he has on social media? He defends his now-legendary turkey by claiming that it “subverts expectations”.
That’s called an asspull. The “Dequel Trilogy” is demonstrably full of them. You pull something out of your ass as a Hail Mary, because you are so fucked, so beyond exposed as a fraud and out of your element, oh man. I almost feel sorry for them, and then I remember how overdrawn my bank account is, and you know what fuck ’em. I’m better as a writer than Rian Johnson and JJ Abrams combined. The people who post on Kiwi Farms have written better Star Wars sequels, because they CARE ABOUT THE GODDAMNED FRANCHISE!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?? YOU BROKE MY FUCKING HEART!!!
YOU BROKE MY FUCKING HEART!!!
All the horrible shit in the course of a day, all of the horrible shit in our lives, do you understand me, we turned to this fantasy galaxy in the darkest moments of our lives, and we drew strength from it, over years, over generations, and you fucking RUINED IT!!! YOU DIDN’T JUST MAKE BAD THINGS WE HATED, YOU RUINED THE THINGS WE LOVED! WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS? WHAT KIND OF SICKNESS LIES AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR SOUL, AND DO YOU EVEN HAVE A SOUL TO BEGIN WITH?
Your job wasn’t to “subvert” our expectations. Your job was to surpass them. You failed. I understand you have to put a brave face on it, because there are arguably a lot of people who would like to gravely injure you. I sympathize, to a point, but goddamn son. You didn’t even deliver a proper movie, let alone Star Wars episode.
Anyone can see that Rey had potential; the entire cast had it. But they are actors. Not only that, they’re Disney actors, which is a notch below slave labor. Disney is a monster that takes your dreams and tears them apart in front of you. It’s scientifically provable now.
Let’s start with the primary cast. As I said, Daisy Ridley is alright, but she has that Predalien mouth that too many starlets have these days, like her face is retreating from her teeth. Thanks to her costume (which hardly changes between movies) she looks about as appealing as wet oatmeal. I’m sure she’s a billionaire now. She should retreat from public life. Just a thought, nowhere to go but down really, pip pip cheerio ol’ girl.
Oscar Isaac is a guy whose face I just ain’t crazy about. Thing is, I do like him, and frankly I thought he was a terrific Apocalypse. But jeez, both this guy and John Boyega, they built them up and took them nowhere. Do you honestly believe either character was used to their full potential over three movies, derivative as they might be? My god man, “Poe Dameron” is “Cameron Poe” (Nic Cage’s role in the rotten 1997 oinker Con Air) with the names switched around, and a D! MY GOD MAN!
DO YOU UNDERSTAND, PEOPLE LOVED STAR TREK BECAUSE OF THE ORIGINAL CAST? NIMOY, SHATNER, DEFOREST, GEORGE TAKEI, UHURA??? WALTER KOENIG??? AND YOU NULLIFIED THEIR ROLES BY RECASTING THEM, INSTEAD OF BANKING ON A NEW ITERATION OF THE FRANCHISE, WITH NEW CHARACTERS??? YOU JUST DID A RETREAD, AND THEN YOU FUCKING DID IT AGAIN, WITH STAR WARS??!? HOW IS THIS ALLOWED??!
It all makes sense. “Bad Robot” = “Bad Reboot”. That’s all he can do, is warmed-over remakes. And this is the guy they decided to entrust with their $4B franchise, except for the time they let that Looper twerp in the studio.
I knew there were legitimate reasons it all was making me sick. I was right. But I never thought they’d just fuck up and destroy the franchise. I just thought I’d outgrown the property.
The backstory of John Boyega’s ex-Stormtrooper character had limitless potential. He could have been a future Jedi, or just good with a blaster. There was once a rich tapestry of ideas to draw from. But Disney’s Lucasfilm decided to implement a “Story Group” made up entirely of women with no prior connection to the Star Wars mythos.
I’d say “how do you think that went?”, but, now you can see for yourself. And this so-called Story Group, with the help of Rian Johnson, went full-Feig and basically said “Oh, you don’t like my version of your favorite toys? Well then, I’m gonna break ALL your toys, to teach you a lesson.“
It isn’t enough that Han Solo is dead; backstory must be added that paints him as a drunk who cheated on Leia and pawned his treasured medal for booze money. This is canon.
It isn’t enough that Luke Skywalker is dead; we have to be told that he was a miserable failure who almost murdered his nephew while he slept.
It isn’t enough that Leia is dead; we have to see her corpse dragged through the uncanny valley, then stitched together with the corpse playing lead, and then we’re told that these two corpses have had a relationship that was far greater than one we’d known since childhood.
It isn’t enough that Lando Calrissian is back; it must be inferred that he is a pan-sexual roto-plooker, and his love for the Millennium Falcon comes from the fact that it’s inhabited by the brain of a robot he used to fuck.
What must these words read like, to someone who has recently become amnesiac and forgotten the past 20 years, or to a Martian. Surely I never, ever imagined, at any point in my childhood or life, “That Millennium Falcon’s pretty cool. I wonder if it’s controlled by a robot that Lando Calrissian used to fuck, and if that would ever be something inferred by a mainstream blockbuster.”
Forget the wonder of the stars and alien planets, forget the intense action and strange beauty of lightsaber duels; let’s waste the audience’s time with what these characters eat and what they fuck. Also kids play with anything, so the ships can just look like whatever. As long as the aliens don’t look quite like established ones, we can claim it as OP and reap the royalties ourselves.
Q. Why does C-3PO have a red arm?
A. Because that way JJ Abrams gets the credit with the least amount of work. See also literally everything he does. He makes Quentin Tarantino look like Stanley Kubrick when it comes to integrity.
Tell me I’m wrong! The entire sequel trilogy stinks on hot ice!
Laura Dern almost literally breaks the illusion of Star Wars in The Last Jedi. It isn’t just that she appears to be wearing a ballroom ensemble while supposedly commanding a galactic resistance force. It isn’t just that she performs a sacrifice that’s not only unnecessary but idiotic, within the established logic of the franchise. It’s the overall insincerity of her existence; she’s not believable as anything but a poorly-written character, inserted to move the plot along. The Last Jedi reminds me of the kind of cinematic travesties I useta read about on The Agony Booth. Like the original Casino Royale, long before it was mercifully rebooted.
It wasn’t enough that Palpatine was dead, and that Darth Vader’s journey to redemption was complete. They had to be strangled back to life just to prop up the shitty new characters, who would then kill them all over again so that they would look better.
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t make this thing Star Wars again. It’s like New Coke, if New Coke somehow made the original Coke taste like shit by comparison.
George Lucas’s six Star Wars movies used to mean a lot to me, and they don’t anymore. It’s gonna take a long time for me to work it out (longer than it’s already been), and it isn’t gonna be pretty. I’m not alone in feeling this way, either. Far from it. That’s why I’ve been extra careful with my words, regarding all this nonsense. I know where anger leads. George Lucas taught me that.
As for the individuals involved with the production of these wretched, compromised, fraudulent sequels, all I have to say is this.
You took something I loved organically and sincerely, something I gladly spent hundreds of dollars on over the course of my life, something that brought me understanding of the very definition of cinematic excitement, something I shared eagerly with friends, lovers, strangers, and you destroyed it.
You. Murdered. My. Childhood.
Just like I knew you would. I knew, even if I tried to protect myself, you’d still somehow get to me. I knew, deep down, that somehow, Disney would outdo my worst fears. And oh, did they ever. In that department, Disney surpassed my expectations, by a country mile.
It’s a shame. I used to dream about creating the “next Star Wars“. I used to fantasize about what it would be like to be recognized as the creative force behind the most popular intellectual property in motion picture history. I have lived long enough to see that galaxy reduced to less than nothing, a mocking void that consumed a percentage of my life I can never get back. The genome of my childhood dreams was cracked and sold back to me, without passion, without imagination, without love, without anything resembling humanity. The Emperor has no clothes.
It’s a shame.