explicitClick to confirm you are 18+

The Force Is No Longer With You, Lucasfilm

Wonder_BusterJun 14, 2018, 9:23:07 PM
thumb_up31thumb_down1more_vert

I knew that "The Last Jedi" had affected me in a negative matter when, early in January, TNT had one of their occasional Star Wars marathons and had Yoda fighting Count Dooku at the end of "Attack of the Clones". I watched the scene for about thirty seconds when I realized that Star Wars was not appealing to me anymore. I have gone months - five whole months - without watching a single chapter of the Star Wars Saga. My example may be extreme, but the stark reality is that "The Last Jedi" absolutely ruined the Star Wars experience for me.

Luke Skywalker becoming a cowardly hermit after fighting to bring his father back from the Dark Side in "Return of the Jedi". Vice Admiral Holdo dooming the Rebels by not explaining that there was a plan to escape the First Order, which created a mutiny attempt because of it, and being granted a hero's sacrifice without earning it. Finn, who was built up as one of the main characters in the new trilogy, regulated to a nonsensical C-plot that accomplished nothing and felt shoehorned in. General Snoke, who was being billed as this new threat and having powers that rivaled Emperor Palpatine, killed because he wasn't paying attention. Rey's character having no conflict, no character flaws to deal with. A slovenly written script with dialogue that will age poorly in ten years time, with social justice narratives, cringe-inducing jokes and overt political messages in a movie franchise that is about escapism. I could go on with all the glaring issues with the movie, but that would distract me from the rest of this article.

The powers that be at Lucasfilm have been using constantly pointed deflections, saying that the Rotten Tomatoes Audience score was artificially lowered by trolls, and like-minded media outlets writing slavishly-written articles about social justice politics that are currently infesting the Hollywood social circles. Unnecessary add-ons were driven into "Solo: A Star Wars Story", with fan favorite Lando Calrissian turned into a pansexual by one of the screenwriters, Han Solo's iconic blaster being removed from movie posters in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Valentine's Day 2018, and L3-37 channeling Black Lives Matter rhetoric directed at droid rights.

The fans elected with their wallets and for the most part stayed away in droves, with bad word of mouth dooming the movie further. "Solo: A Star Wars Story" made $83 million domestically in it's opening weekend - a horribly subpar number, considering that both "The Force Awakens" and "The Last Jedi" opened domestically to nearly three times that amount and "Rogue One" opened at almost twice that amount domestically. At this point three weeks in, the movie has barely surpassed the $170 million it was predicted to make during Memorial Day weekend. With a slated $225 million budget, it would have to reach $450 million for the break-even mark. With an A-list director (Ron Howard) having to replace Phil Lord and Christopher Miller factoring into the budget, and the wishy-washy way that foriegn box office numbers are tallied, industry experts project "Solo: A Star Wars Story" to be an $80 million loss - which is conservative in the extreme. Factoring in the money that was spent on advertising, promotional tie-ins and toy sales, a loss of at least $250 million dollars minimum would be far more accurate.

To figure out how this came to be, we must consider the facts. First is the excuse of "sequel fatigue" that Lucasfilm cited as the reason the movie did so poorly. This excuse is lamebrained, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe obliterates box office records without even trying while maintaining an overarching storyline that ties all the movies together. Lucasfilm made the mistake that it thought it was another Marvel Studios and thought that they could get away with releasing a Star Wars Story each year, while Marvel Studios releases two and sometimes three movies annually. However, what Lucasfilm overlooked was that despite the overarching story that the Marvel Cinetic Universe has in it's nineteen movies, each hero faces off against signature villains from their respective rogue galleries, they each participate in their own story inside that arc, and most importantly, each of the main characters can carry a movie on their own. The Star Wars franchise was not meant to be repeated once a year - instead of building new characters and gradually building to an explosive payoff like Marvel did, the Star Wars franchise constantly falls back on rehashing elements from the Original Trilogy and trying to mash them together. Yes, I do acknowledge that it's important to add little nods to the fans so they know that you respect the source material. At the same time, however, Snoke toying with his quarry just like Emperor Palpatine did, Han Solo's sendoff comparable to Obi-Wan Kenobi's, and taking out a planet-destroying superweapon held by the villains when it has already been done TWICE BEFORE gets stale fast. You have to show that you can make fresh content to the story without interjecting politics and treating the fans like shit.

Which leads into the major problem that is plaguing the franchise - injecting political commentary into a story where politics never belonged in the story in the first place. You can get away with politics in Star Trek - talk to a die-hard Trekkie and the intricate politics they bring up will bore an outsider nearly to death. Star Wars, on the other hand, was built in similar structure as sword and sandal epics, Westerns, and fantasy stories of a mystical battle between good and evil. At best, the politics involved with the Star Wars movies was subtle - doing so doesn't distract from the movie and the story stays timeless. The appallingly asinine decision to inject plain current-day politics and political messages feels like a slap in the face to Star Wars fans, and this approach makes the movie more product-of-the-times and makes the movie age like wine with the cork removed. Politics only pisses people off, and the customer will go watch something else that doesn't insult their intelligence. Movies are supposed to be an escape from reality and not be a constant reminder of it.

Both of these reasons bleed into merchandising, where you can see just how much that Lucasfilm has pissed off their loyal fanbase. Anyone reading this article can go by the local Target or Wal-Mart and notice that not one Star Wars toy has been touched in a week. Toys from Solo and The Last Jedi sit on the shelves collecting dust, sometimes to the point that the packaging becomes battered and worn. None but the most commited Star Wars collectors dare to go near any Star Wars merchandise now, because the lack of care Lucasfilm has shown towards their movies in recent years has ensured that any new merchandise that is sold today will take years - even decades - to retain value.

Finally, those attacks on fans for daring to criticize the movie in any fashion is going to keep biting Lucasfilm in the ass until they get wise to putting the kibosh on those gaudy fluff pieces media outlets are publishing. Resorting to using "-isms" and "-ists" to label any critic of your work is a tactic straight out of the Sith playbook - dealing in absolutes - will only piss the fans off more and make the backlash that much painful. Remember how pissed fans were after Jar Jar Binks debuted in "The Phantom Menace" and George Lucas made sure that his presence was diminished in future movies? What is so goddamn hard on listening to what the fans want instead of kowtowing to politics and social justice issues that will make behavior like this a laughingstock to our children?

The bottom line is that the powers that be at Lucasfilm were so intent on making political statements that they forgot to make movies that made the fans want to come back for more. Here Disney was gifted with the goose that laid the golden egg, and Lucasfilm has basically turned the goose into foie gras and slaughtered it. Money is the only thing that parent company Disney gives a damn about, and Kathleen Kennedy's slated September ouster is proof that investors are pissed that Disney's $4 billion investment has yet to yield any fruit.

The Force is no longer with you, Lucasfilm. You allowed it to die and foolishly tried to justify it.

So until next time, in the immortal words of Edward R. Murrow, "Good night and good luck".