Born in 1972, I was a just old enough to see and enjoy the Star Wars saga when it first entered the consciousness of the American public. It is a badly acted movie that moves a little too slowly for today’s sophisticated movie-goers, but it had a great story line, a tremendous musical score, and cinematography like nothing we had ever seen before. We watched Star Wars, and then we watched the making of Star Wars on a fledgling channel called HBO, just to see how they pulled off all those (no pun intended) out of this world outer space shots. The exterior space landscapes were majestic. Kubrick himself couldn’t have done any better in that era. That is what really makes it a landmark film. It upped the ante. No one would really ever be happy with those cheesy Star Trek films again. I know I just offended a bunch of people. But, Darth Vader would force choke Ricardo Monteblan or Benedict Cumberbatch’s terrible, yet extremely angry Khan. And frankly a world where people educated themselves beyond war and poverty, (except the Borg and a few other ugly looking space species) is just not very imaginative. Star Trek is a too thinly veiled approximation of the authors political beliefs and has no real basis in any moral universe.
Then there were those terrible awful prequels. The acting was bad. The story was eh. I mean Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor were pretty good. So was Natalie Portman. The real problem with those movies is that they relied too much on technology. The one thing we always wanted when we were kids was more lightsaber fighting, but when we got it in the prequels, we realized why they didn’t do that much of it in the originals. It wasn’t just that it was a hard effect to create, it was climactic. They made us wait for it and long for it. That’s the art of making movies, and television too for that matter. Making the audience endure the whole story to get what they want in the end. The prequels were all action and no substance. All climax and no endurance. Like most things in life, when what you want comes easy, it is unsatisfying to you. The prequels were unrewarding because they were all reward.
Then Disney bought the rights and entered the fray. I thought the Force Awakens was unimaginative. It was a New Hope except with a girl and a different colored robot. I really enjoyed Rogue One. Good acting, good plot, good guys win yet die in the process, which is often how it happens in real life. It was a decent film. I also enjoyed (gasp) The Last Jedi. I know I’m not supposed to, but if you let the movie stand in its own right, it was entertaining and contained actual new and creative story line. But it was Dinsnyfied, and that is what I really dislike about the direction of the new installments.
In both Rogue One and the new Star Wars additions to the franchise the hero is a girl. I’m just weary of the politics of Hollywood. There is nothing wrong with the hero being a girl at all. Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia was as much a hero as Mark Hamil’s Luke Skywalker in the original films. Women are often heroes in film and in real life. One of my spiritual heroes is Amy Carmichael, the missionary to India in the early twentieth century. Margret Thatcher, the iron lady of Britain, who is hated by third wave feminists, was, in her own right, a wonderful leader whom I have a great deal of respect for. But it is not just that the lead character is a girl, but that she is a girl who is “following her heart” that really bugs me. I swear Disney doesn’t have a creative bone in its corporate body. When CGI Yoda shows up just as Luke is about to burn the Jedi tree down with all the Jedi books of wisdom, we all think, “awesome, Yoda will stop him, we need the ancient Jedi wisdom.” But when Luke falters and can’t bring himself do it, YODA BURNS IT DOWN! Then Yoda basically says that the Jedi books of wisdom were boring to start with, and that the girl Rea has “ALL THAT SHE NEEDS IN HER HEART!” So, in typical Disney fashion the movie is about a girl who is following her heart. It’s nauseating. It’s unoriginal. It’s pure Disneyfication. I enjoyed the movie but I absolutely hate the Disneyfication of the Saga that will surely continue as long as they are the ones making the films. I said to my children when I first heard that Disney had bought the rights to the franchise, jokingly, “Oh great, now Star Wars will be a movie about a girl who follows her heart.” We all laughed. It’s not funny now.
In a few days I’m going to write a blog describing where I believe the new films are headed as far as story line is concerned. Whether you like the films or not, I think you’ll find my predictions thought provoking, and I hope you’ll take the time to read and comment on it when it hits the net later this week or early next.