Yes, I did go watch “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” when it first came out on Dec. 15th. I naturally skipped work and went to the first showing of the movie at 109 Cinemas in Kiba. And yes, like most people who went to see the film, I did go into the movie exciting and waiting to see something mind-blowing, but wound up leaving insulted, disappointed and wondering what the hell I had just seen… I`ve been quietly pondering the topic ever since while watching the controversy over critic ratings, polls, scores etc.
The fact is that this movie sucks. That is why it is highly divisive. And while my kids loved TFA, I will not taking them to see TLJ because I know they will be disappointed as well. The BlueRay release will be good enough for them. at this point, I am no longer interested in Star Wars or the new characters, so for me Star Wars is officially dead.
However, it’s not just “angry fanboy expectations” that are causing this movie`s conflicts. It actually has more to do with the actual storytelling.
See, this particular film simply isn`t strong enough to stand on its own as a complete movie. I think that`s the main problem that everyone is irked about. People can feel that “something is off” about this film, but most of them can`t put their finger on what exactly it really is. Here`s why.
For one, there were too many elements in the film that lacked any logical connection to the overall conflict and did not progress the characters.
Everyone’s excuse seems to be “well, this movie is just a setup so that’s why it’s ok to take it in a completely different direction – we’re cool bring on the next films to clarify”. But actually, that is the definition of bad storytelling… because TLJ felt more like a teaser and a setup that dragged on for 2 hours instead of a complete film. This would have been fine as a 30 minute TV drama.
It’s perfectly ok that Star Wars TLJ was different. A lot of fans loved that part. We don’t want to see the same movies that we’ve seen before because that’s BORING!
It’s just that this particular movie was badly written and failed on a few very key aspects of telling a complete and compelling story.
Even if the movie is a “setup” for the rest of the series and the spin-off movies, it should still have enough story, character development, complete arcs, continuity and rationale to stand on it’s own as an independent film.
After 2 years of waiting, fans went into this movie after watching the teasers, trailers and everything thinking that we were going to get enough information and character development to feel as though we had actually seen a full movie. Instead, most people just left with an unsatisfactory 2-hour trailer for the 3rd installment and the spin-off series` that Disney is planning.
See, the big difference is this.
SW Episode 4 was a complete film in itself. We knew the conflict, each arc was completed and we learned about the characters. Even though GL had a huge story and universe left to present later, NOBODY knew about it and nobody cared – because the movie stood by itself as a complete film which satisfied audiences. Star Wars continued to make money for years after its initial release with most people completely oblivious to the fact that a sequel was in the works.
The same thing was true with Ep. 5. The movie stood by itself as a complete film where all character arcs and storylines within the film were completed. Of course at this point we kind of suspected that they would make another film after “The Empire Strikes Back” because of what happened to Han and the Vader reveal (which were secret until they actually happened in the movie and legitimately shocked everyone – great storytelling). But the movie was a complete film BY ITSELF, and it didn’t need to advertise itself as a lead in to Ep. 6 or a larger universe because fans were satisfied with the movie.
People didn`t know when the next film would be released, but Ep. 5 was satisfying enough on its own to where people were willing to WAIT and talk about it for YEARS until Ep. 6 was released. Then, everyone who had been anticipating the film went to see it.
This same thing can generally be said for every other Star Wars film to date – even the prequels (and most good movies in general). They are complete entities in their own. Sure, the movies may have sequels or be part of a series that we are already aware of. BUT every movie should be able to stand on its own and be a satisfactory work of art by itself within the screen time that it takes up – even if there are other films that will follow up to close out the full storyline.
The Force Awakens did a good job of giving us one completed act in the storyline. It introduced us to the new conflict, the new characters. It taught us what the characters were up against, who they needed to find for answers, and it completed a few arcs that were needed to prepare for the next story. The film closed itself out with Rey meeting Luke, so fans knew that was the end of the new chapter.
But The Last Jedi didn`t manage to do the same thing. Instead, it just runs as a 2-hour advertisement for the next film, character details and story arcs are teased but purposely withheld and there are no good, interesting or exciting reveals… There were no significant/major points in the story that made it feel like “a completed next chapter” in a story.
TLJ feels like money making “filler” content until Rian Johnson & Disney can actually think of what to put in the 3rd film, so a lot of fans leaving the theater were still like; “Ok, so what just happened? I definitely saw some explosions, but did anything significant happen in this movie? I can`t remember. Maybe I should watch it again to see if it was actually good or not?”
That`s NOT the way you should feel after JUST leaving ANY film at the theater. Especially not a 2 hours Star Wars film where fans are used to being able to base their feelings or reactions on having watched a completed chapter with a completed story arc.
For example, Anakin Skywalker in Ep. 3… A lot of people hated him. But we learned enough details about him through the movie to know WHY he made the decisions that he made, what motivated him to start turning to the dark side, and how the Jedi council failed him – and then we CHOSE to hate him because we could confirm by the end of the movie that he was… a dick.
With TLJ, fans couldn`t get to make any real decisions about the characters.
Honestly, if the title of this movie wasn’t “Star Wars” and didn’t already have TFA somewhat establishing the characters and leading up to it (until Rian Johnson and Disney decided to scrap everything), most people would feel that the movie made no sense and they wouldn’t understand anything about the characters or why they made a lot of the choices they made (many of which were stupid anyway)…
This movie simply isn’t strong enough to stand on its own, because it’s an incomplete film with incomplete characters and other (more familiar) characters that were hastily disposed of or replaced with people we have no real information or glue about and have not learned to care about yet because we’re still awaiting their information in the next film… which will be released in 2 years…
So people who watched the movie do feel like we saw “something” with “Star Wars stuff in it”, but we can`t actually call it a film or a movie because it feels like everything was too hastily rushed but led nowhere story wise… And that`s not people wanted to pay to see.
We wanted a complete story chapter in this film with a logical and well-thought out storyline that made sense and gave us more DETAILS about the conflict, the characters and why the final film in this series would be climax we would NEED to watch. We also needed an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION to the film, via some significant event (either a character`s meaningful death or some other traumatic experience), that would make us emotionally invested in watching the next film.
But TLJ wasn`t able to deliver any of that.
Sure, people are “curious” to know what happens next because it`s a new approach to the story. And we do think that the new characters are “cool” in some ways. But a lot of people who are old or new fans of the series simply don`t feel any emotional connection or attachment to this new film because it didn`t give us anything to feel any emotion about — after 2 years and a ton of hype, we`re still awaiting more relevant details before we can make a decision on how we feel about these new characters and if we really CAN (if they are worth) emotionally investing in.
So far they aren`t.
That`s the mark that this latest film missed. And that`s why I call it bad storytelling. Because for all of the beautiful scenery, action, explosions and cute animals, TLJ forgot to include the most important things – an emotional connection to the audience.
Actually, it managed to SEVER the previous emotional connections to the audience with the deaths of Han and especially Luke. So connection and emotional investment wise, fans don`t have much to go on right now except the HOPE that the new characters will be proven to be interesting later on down the line – but we just don`t know what makes them interesting enough to invest in (emotionally or financially) yet.
On a positive note, the failure and disappointment of #starwars #TLJ has finally made me realize that maybe it’s time that we stopped looking at big companies with deep pockets and popular directors with”big names” to give us good & satisfying stories to follow. Companies are companies. So it’s perfectly natural that their main focus is selling products and making money… That’s what they’re supposed to do. Complaining about Star Wars and TLJ isn’t going to change that, so if we’re looking for good stories, best to simply look elsewhere or create our own.
Now what I think about it, some of the best and most memorable projects that I’ve seen were indie animation and film projects on social media. New talent tends to have a few things that big companies lack… Passion and Love for the characters & stories they create…
Maybe it’s time that we stopped feeding the #starwars #disney machines (although I love Marvel movies), and instead start working to support creative talent indie film talent who have the drive and energy to create new stories… Not for the money, but because they love it. ?
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