Star Wars: Can Disney Uphold The Legacy?
Expectations, Reactions, Analysis, and Fan Interviews
SPOILER ALERT! This article is packed full of spoilers. Read at your own discretion.
Star Wars: Can Disney Uphold The Legacy?
Expectations, Reactions, Analysis, and Fan Interviews
SPOILER ALERT! This article is packed full of spoilers. Read at your own discretion.
By: Kat Franklin and Lynn Reynolds
My hopes for the movie are not exceptionally high. Disney’s continuation of the saga shocked some fans, while others jumped for joy at the return of their beloved fandom. I myself was apprehensive, but willing to give Disney a chance. The first movie Disney produced was good by itself, but given the legacy left for it to fill, I can’t say it measured up. I’m once again willing to give the Disney franchise a chance, and hope they learned from the mistakes of The Force Awakens.
One thing I expect to see is the return of the trademark plucky humor of the Star Wars franchise, as well as the expertly placed situational comedy. With many other fans, I also expect to see Kylo Ren and Rey team up, presumably on the good side. The developing character arc of Kylo Ren hints that he feels a deeper connection to Rey, and he would be willing to follow her to the side of the Republic. Kylo Ren aspires to be like his grandfather more than anything, and Anakin Skywalker also made the dramatic switch back to the side of good.
Like any dynamic film trilogy, I assume that there will be a tragic and/or sacrificial death as it nears the end, whether it be in this movie or the next. Sticking with the cliche, it’ll most likely be one of the unimportant and strangely lovable minor characters. Many fans believe it to be Maz Kanata, whose death would resonate on the same level as the death of Dobby in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Another possible death is that of Poe Dameron, the Resistance X-wing fighter pilot. He’s a strong male character, which by definition, makes him at risk for the plot of any film. In reviews, Poe is often compared to Han Solo, who, need I not remind you, was murdered by Kylo Ren in the first movie. Poe received high ratings among fans, which gives the studio incentive to kill him, reasoning that it would draw higher emotion from fans. Poe is committed to the rebellion, truly believing in the heroism of it. He would die for the rebellion’s success. He’s headstrong and takes too many risks. One day, those risks might just get him killed.
I could not have been more wrong about The Last Jedi. Poe and Maz are still here (although I hold to my belief that somewhere in the next film Poe will die), and Maz barely made an appearance at all. Kylo Ren stepped into the scene, trademark emo hair swooshing in all its greasy glory behind him. At the make-or-break moment of Kylo Ren’s character arc, the screenwriters pushed him against all the foreshadowing of the moments leading up to his decision. Given a choice whether to destroy the First Order or seize command, Kylo Ren chose to take it over. This either signals amateur screenwriting in a lunge for the dramatic, or that there might be hope for the famed son of Han Solo yet.
The only thing that I have guessed correctly, is the sacrificial death. Obviously, it wasn’t who I thought it would be, but it was a bold move. Vice Admiral Holdo was introduced for a short time into the movie, and she had a good run. Her death was nothing less than awe-inspiring. You’d hardly expect to see suicide in a Disney movie, but here it is: the sacrifice of one woman for the fate of a rebellion. You see it in the face of Vice Admiral Holdo, and you see it in the face of the entire rebellion- how the the great must live and the unimportant must die for them. (Ms. Lanham edited this piece and would like to add that Disney killed off the much beloved Admiral Ackbar).
Sadly, I still saw this as too much of a Disney film, and not enough of a Star Wars film. When Disney bought the franchise, they were allowed to take creative liberty with the future of the franchise. However, I would have liked it more had they stuck to the original theme and idea of Star Wars. Of course, Disney added in a couple of moments to show that they too could create alien life. From the gigantic dinosaur-cows to the little owl-bunnies (something that looked more like it belonged in an episode of Phineas and Ferb), Disney’s alien creatures were something I could not criticize. They kept to the glamour of Star Wars’ crazy creatures and crazy costumes.
They had a couple of the main action elements as well: the tragic death of a young pilot and the close-ups of about a billion other ships exploding. In fact, one of the shots of a burning pilot was reused footage from one of the original movies. If you look closely in the beginning scenes, a red-haired man holds tight to his controls as fire consumes his ship. They brought back Leia’s message of “You’re our only hope” while putting their own twist on it. I liked the manifestation of the bond between Rey and Kylo Ren, just not the final result. The new character addition was unexpected, but they managed to integrate Rose into the plot nicely, redeeming the tragic pilot death seen earlier as more than a time filler.
My favorite part of the movie, and the one that surprised me most, was the revelation of Luke Skywalker’s worse side, the one that led him to attempt to kill Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) as a Jedi apprentice. This attempt successfully marred the perfect picture George Lucas painted Skywalker to be, and with it, destroyed a trope that could not stand in movies today. Shockingly, it also fit with the Dark Empire comic series released in the early nineties, following the events of the seventh movies. In these comics, Luke is the villain; he has turned to the dark side. Despite the evidence of actual research on the Star Wars franchise (which was missing in The Force Awakens), I was unimpressed with Luke’s appearance in The Last Jedi. He was introduced and thrown away without much explanation, it seemed as if they only put him in there to answer question about what had become of him.
As a person who has studied screenwriting, I have to say that the script and the directing were amateur. The people in these branches seem to be amateurs, they try too hard to be dramatic- to shock you. Good screenwriting has nothing to do with shocking people; it’s supposed to tell a story. The story for the new saga is blurry, unclear at best. Hopefully, the writers and directors will have enough experience by now to finish the trilogy and wrap up all the questions.
The bottom line is this: Disney may own Star Wars now, but they don’t truly get Star Wars. Star Wars is hope and bravery, desperate truth and passion for something greater than you. Star Wars is a lot of things, but it is not a fairytale. And however Disney might try, they can’t make it into one.
My hopes were WAY up. I try not to compare the trilogies in the Star Wars franchise to the Original 3, because the originals are amazing. If I were to compare this new trilogy in the franchise to the old ones, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them on their own. On its own, The Force Awakens was a very good movie by Disney’s standards. Even though I regret the fact that Han Solo died, I do like the fact that Disney didn’t try to hold on to him in order to milk the franchise for all its worth. They’re actually trying to do the series justice, and that’s commendable on its own.
However, I was a bit annoyed that Luke didn’t get any lines, so in this movie I’m expecting Luke to be more involved in the story. The look he gave at the end of Force Awakens, along with the trailers, make me believe that Luke is going to do something very stupid. The movie is called The Last Jedi, and it must be that way for a reason. Luke is after all pretty much the only person that can teach Rey at the moment, and if the title is basically saying “there will be no more jedi,” then what does that mean for Rey? I think Kylo Ren is going to go through a major identity crisis in this movie considering in the last one he killed his father, was beaten by a novice force user, and all the other things that happened to him. I think he’s going to lose it, and have a major break down involving the destruction of First Order equipment and unfortunate troopers who got in his way.
Of course, I feel like Rey is going to put him in his place, and really make him think about what he’s done (but not really). I think we’re going to see more of Snoke too and find out where he came from, and how he managed to get Kylo Ren and the First Order on his side in the first place. Maybe even figure out where he was when Palpatine was in power, and why he didn’t do anything then. Leia is definitely going to be a big part in this movie, but I doubt there will be any kind of confrontation between her and her son. I think the mother-son bonding time was to be saved as the drama for the next movie. But considering Carrie Fisher’s passing I doubt they will be able to follow through with that (if they were even considering it) in the movie at least. There are still comics in which Leia’s character continues in the direction she was supposed to go.
Well, some of my predictions came true, but not all of them (for better or for worse)
Luke, for example, did hold up to my expectations in that he did do something very stupid. However, the ‘stupid thing’ he did was a series of stupid things, and not just one specifically. It’s a bit hard trying to figure out how the original Luke came to be this jaded old hermit who voluntarily isolated himself from his sister, nephew, and friends. Again, I don’t like comparing the old movies themselves, but comparing the way the characters act in the two movies is very different from that. If the characters are acting in ways that don’t seem to hold true to their personality, then it makes the movie unrealistic.
This old Luke is very different from the Original, and I feel like they could have explained better how he came to be this way. The use of flashback scenes did some good in explaining some of his character changes, but I feel like even those flashbacks could’ve been shown in more depth. However, I do think the writers stayed true to his sassiness and how he’s not the same naive farm boy seen in the originals. That transition is an important one, and while I do feel like it could’ve been handled better, I think they did well with it overall, even though they missed some of the more specific details.
Kylo Ren developed more as a character; we learned some of the reasons why he turned against Luke and what drives him. I do like the way they handled his situation, and how they didn’t try to make it too similar to Anakin’s. I was a bit disappointed in the fact that we didn’t get to find out more about Snoke. We did get to see him, but we didn’t really learn anything besides the fact that he’s a narcissist who can’t even see when he’s about to be run through with a lightsaber. To me it seemed a bit lazy to kill a major villain like that, as if he’s just an afterthought.
Leia is very much the woman who watched her planet destroyed and didn’t snap, and it shows in this movie. She stands strong and continues fighting for everything she loves. Despite the fact that her husband was murdered, her brother deserted her, her son abandoned-then murdered his father, and the loss of resources in The Last Jedi, she refuses to give in and quit. This is the Leia I remember and the writers did well with her character. Overall, the movie was a good sequel to The Force Awakens, full of laughter and violence in equal measures. Of course, compared to the Originals, I doubt it would stand up, but this is a new trilogy and it’s best if it stands on its own, instead of being the exact same as the Originals. They still could have put in less character-died-wait-no-false-alarm moments.
The Last Jedi Interviews
(All answers in the following interviews are paraphrased and not directly quoted)
Analysis by a huge Star Wars fan, Shawn Daniels:
Do you think Disney really gets Star Wars?
No. To Disney, it’s a cash cow, a new movie every year. I love Rey and I love Kylo. I like Rogue One more. In the new trilogy, they threw in too much fan service. They bump to many characters into the movie to connect with fans. They say “Remember this?” and throw in a character from the original series with no real purpose. For instance, they advertised the first movie with old characters.
Originally, Star Wars was based on a story and everyone served the story. Now, the story serves the characters. There’s so much going on they can’t keep things straight. It doesn’t retain the same magic or resonance of the original movies. The history of the Star Wars films is complicated, it really puts the story into perspective. Originally, George Lucas had problems, ones that could be made into characters, and people related to the film industry. In the beginning, the saga was about Mace Windu. He was Luke’s father, not Darth Vader. Han Solo was a frog man. Lucas’s director friends (Spielberg among them) tweaked the narrative until it was a Hollywood ready film. He stepped back and great people came together to make the Star Wars Empire. Lucas became pushy, so people quit. Lucas made the prequels himself (Episodes 1, 2, & 3). He was a brilliant filmmaker, but without the help, the films were very different. He was frustrated with the negative feedback, so he sold the franchise to Disney. The Last Jedi is made up of many elements from the original ending of Star Wars. Han died and planets were destroyed, just as it was meant to be.
Disney made the new movies for fans and ignored the prequels. Star Wars was organic, growing and getting better, becoming its own. With Disney, the films are factory-made, they lack the heart and growth of the first ones.
Rey is wonderful. Kylo Ren is more different than any villain I've seen in a long time. He is complex, he is deep. You felt for him, but you could still hate him. He is not a stupid, superhero villain, obsessed with taking over the world. His motivation is more complicated than world domination.
Daisy Ridley isn’t an actress that can hold the movie up by herself, but I like her character. I was looking forward to Luke. As a little boy, I was Luke Skywalker, not Han Solo. Seeing Luke brought me back to my youth.
So what went wrong? One problem I have with Disney, is that they don’t explain things well enough. There’s not a lot of answers for the First Order unless you know the background canon. Disney doesn’t tell you what’s going on. What is the resistance, and what are they resisting? Where does Finn come from? There are too many questions. It shouldn’t be based on how many questions you can ask, it should be based on what kind of story you can tell.
I love a lot of things and I hate a lot of things. When I watch a Star Wars movie, I just want to have fun. For a die-hard Star Wars fan, they care very much about continuity because the story is kind of sacred to them, everything the Jedi stand for. If Luke was a bankrobber, fans would go nuts. They take it very seriously. I see Star Wars as a movie. I expect laser swords and wars in space. I collect merchandise; I have related novels and games - I enjoy Star Wars. I went to see The Last Jedi to see an entertaining movie, to see, Jedi … to see Luke. I was thinking, I’ll go in and see more of this plot. I don’t hate it, but it doesn’t live up to the original. It’s hard to reconcile its juvenility. I had a real problem with “Mary Poppins” flying through space. I can suspend disbelief when I’m seeing a movie, but I have to believe what I’m watching. Leia was in space- in reality she would freeze and swell like a tomato. She’d be dead in 5 seconds. Yet here she is.
I’m a realist. I didn’t like the Canto blight: save the animals and not the slave kids. The animals are mistreated, but no one focuses on the kids.
I enjoyed the Luke and Rey scenes better, except the pointless exposition, the set up without pay off. The new movie was 50/50. I liked some of it, but other parts were just disappointing. I liked the set-up of The Force Awakens, but not the carry through in The Last Jedi. It was a good movie, but not a good Star Wars movie. Overall, it was a flawed film.
Interviews with Fans!
Rossview Alumnus Daniel Franklin
Did Disney really understand Star Wars and the force?
No. Disney’s greatest flaw is in their inability (or perhaps a desire not to go down this philosophical road) to correctly understand the Force. They have a surface level understanding (as shown when Luke explains it to Rey), but they fail to carry out this sentiment into the action. The Force is a balance of Light and Dark. Neither is greater, neither is lesser. It is all about Balance. Furthermore, it permeates everything, but most of all, the plot. Disney has no clear black and white, therefore they have failed in understanding the Force. The Force has a will of its own, influencing events. When the Jedi compromised too many of their beliefs and got too close the Republic of the prequels, the Force played the guiding hand in both their destruction and renewal, found in Luke in Episode VI. More criticisms I have (but compared to this they are but minor trifles): If Disney fails to comprehend the true nature of the Force, all their movies on Star Wars won’t even touch the prequels in greatness, and only Jar-Jar Binks will be worse than them, eventually. It’s not true of the ones already released, but it’s what will be. Honestly, I’m not hopeful. However, despite my despairing tones, I don’t really hate this movie. It’s just mediocre, much like The Force Awakens, only for different reasons.
Rossview Student, Natalie Gagliardi
What did you think of the movie?
I thought it was visually appealing; the CGI was really good. My favorite scene was when the cruiser went into lightspeed right into Snoke’s ship. It was stunning. Mark Hamill did a good job with his performance. His story in this movie was really nice with Luke fading away after saving the rebellion (it also made Kylo look like an idiot which was funny to me). I liked the story of Rey and Kylo in the movie, though I wish there was more emphasis on it instead of all of the subplots. However, there were some problems with the plot. The casino scene, while pretty, seemed out of place since they didn’t even leave with the guy they came to find. He had dialogue and it seemed like he would have a big part in the story but that didn’t really happen. The purple-haired chick should have told Poe her plans instead of being vague and causing a mutiny. The part where Rose crashed into Finn didn’t seem right and the little kiss wasn’t well placed at all since there weren’t any signs of attraction between Finn and Rose.
Rossview Student and New Fan, Jolie Crutcher
Was it disappointing?
I don’t have a very refined Star Wars taste, but I didn’t find it disappointing. I thought it was pretty good for being someone who wasn’t super hyped about it.
Poe Dameron by Brilcrist
Finn by Zinst
Rey by Withoutafuss
Kylo Ren by Lily Atelier
Kylo by Ceeceechan
Admiral Holdo by Tracey Lawler
(All art used with artist permission)