May the 4th be with you
Happy Star Wars day everyone!
Okay, I know I'm like 5 days late with this, but I wanted to some time to digest my thoughts for today's blog. So, here it is!
For those who live under a rock or don't like Star Wars, May the 4th is the official Star Wars holiday! The fact that this franchise literally has a day dedicated to it should tell you enough about how big of a deal it is and also make you wonder why I've chosen to blog about it.
Well, I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan out there. There are far, far more dedicated fans than I, but that's not to say I'm not a huge lover of George Lucas's creation. I finally sat down and watched The Rise of Skywalker on Monday and I had a good time with it. Long story short, it was a long way off from being a favourite entry of mine in the series, but it was enjoyable. But it got me asking myself a question:
What has been the point of this most recent trilogy?
To compare, we all know the enormous cultural impact the original trilogy had on the world when it debuted back in 1977, and that it continued to kick major goals from there. It introduced us to a science fiction universe (which is technically classed more as Space Fantasy or Mythic Sci-Fi) and it continued to expand as it brought more of its amazing elements to life. It was fun, simple and groundbreaking visual entertainment.
Now, the Prequel Trilogy (regardless of your thoughts, but I personally really enjoyed them!) served to show us the backstory and history of many of the original trilogy's characters and events. Who wouldn't want to see the Clone Wars in action, right? It also allowed for the expansion into the Clone Wars TV series and number of other media (remember Republic Commando! Oh MAN!)
With me still? My point is, the purpose of those respective series was clear and added much to the expansion of the Star Wars universe. Since I'm an avid worldbuilder, you might know that this is a big deal for me and one of the main reasons I admire Star Wars so much!
But having watched the most recent trilogy (I don't even really know what to call it) I was left without that sense of meaning, purpose or evolution. Don't get me wrong! I love Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Oscaar Isaac as Poe Dameron (seriously, I love them!) and some of the set pieces the films take us to, such as the climatic battle in The Last Jedi. But I was always left with that lingering question. Why?
The films of 2015-2019 have experienced widespread mixed reviews from critics and audiences a like. I even read a comment the other day that someone was ashamed to call themselves a die hard Star Wars fan now; notwithstanding that is only one person's opinion, it's still sad to see.
I have therefore whittled it down to two reasons: Lack of Growth for the Star Wars Universe and Corporate Agenda. Look, this is only my thoughts and I do not mean to impart my views onto you, but merely offer a perspective.
My biggest gripe with the later films is that they are highly contrived and serve only to act as major budget fan service and a way for the industry to keep Star Wars fresh for a new generation of audiences. As a result, the growth and expansion of the universe suffers for it. Sure, we get a few new characters out of it and see some cool planets etc, but it's nothing as impactful as witnessing the destruction of the Jedi, introducing the Clone Wars or overthrowing the Galactic Empire. Through varying degrees, these events and more all acted to make the universe authentic and organic. There was a purpose within them beyond just to redefining cinema, making a blockbuster film or creating a cultural phenomena - none of this was part of Lucas's agenda. The film maker wanted simply to bring his world to life because he loved it and wanted to audiences to experience the joy of becoming immersed within it.
What I have come to see with the new trilogy is a great example of how making a universe contrived and treated as an afterthought can potentially undermine the future evolution of the fantasy, even one as rich as Star Wars. By the end of Rise of Skywalker, I really understand the journey the trilogy had taken me on. Again, I'm speaking from a worldbuilding perspective, but I have to ultimately say, it made everything feel so pointless. (SPOILERS) The fact that they brought Palpatine back from the dead with the guise of 'dark be unnatural' (which was still a great line) undermined the climax of Return of the Jedi and Anakin Skywalker's redemption. That's just an example, but it's the main sore thumb that was sticking out for me.
I know, there will be people out there who might read this blog and think it's pointless (touché ), but this was honestly how I felt when the credits started rolling. I don't want this post to come across as me just ragging on where Star Wars has been going over the last few years, but it's hard not to cringe a little.
But it's far from being all doom and gloom!
I have recently started watching The Mandalorian (again!) and if you don't already know, it's an excellent show. More than that, it's a spectacular showcase of the richness and authenticity that Star Wars universe is known for and marvelous execution by Disney and its partners to do the franchise justice! Between, this and the other TV series such as Clone Wars and Rebels there is so much good stuff here to enjoy!
But this just baffles me further as to why the Disney's flagship new trilogy has left me feeling this way. But like I said, given that it was once the mainstream way to enjoy Star Wars they decided to make decisions based on their ideal business model rather than the passion that once fueled George Lucas's creative fire.
So, here's to hoping and enjoying future Star Wars that embodies what I feel the series is most revered for:
Incredible world building and an authentic leap forward in the franchises continued expansion!
What do you think about the latest Star Wars media? Do you think they're hot or not? What's been your favourite? Which characters do you most enjoy in the new entries?
I would love to hear your thoughts and welcome any good, healthy discussion! :)