(December 15 – 21)
I’m on the home strait for the short story. I even worked on it over the weekend, which is a habit (writing on my weekend mornings) I’ve slipped out of in recent weeks. Regardless of whether the story gets read or not, I’m reasonably gratified that I’m managing to maintain a schedule towards this self-imposed deadline.
This week’s big viewing was The Rise Of Skywalker, which I ended up seeing just a few days after release as it seemed unlikely I’d get a good chance to see it otherwise.
I went in really, really wanting to like it, despite the middling reviews—mostly because I don’t care to fall either side of the ‘JJ Abrams vs Rian Johnson’ divide, and also because Star Wars has become somewhat toxic in the last two years and I want no part of that: I just want to enjoy the films.
Unfortunately, I had a sinking feeling right from the opening crawl that things weren’t going to turn out well. I’m typically not one to fault the dramatic choices people make with their stories, so my main problem with TROS is the structure. I generally expect that people being paid millions of dollars to craft the final movie in the ‘Skywalker saga’ should come to it with a basic understanding of how to structure a good story.
Instead we get something that should be a first act reveal right in the opening scenes (along with, arguably, something that should be a second act reveal moments later) and things just keep happening from there. And happening. And happening. There is almost no pacing in TROS: a lot of Star Wars things keep happening on the screen, and that’s it for the whole movie. There are maybe two moments where we get to pause for breath, and they’re the best bits in the movie, otherwise it’s a dazzling roller coaster ride (but one that you probably wanted to stop after about the tenth time around).
My other issue with the film is that it completely throws out what Rian Johnson was trying to in The Last Jedi. I won’t go into detail, to avoid spoilers, but you can’t craft a trilogy (especially the final part of a trilogy) if you’re going to work your hardest to ignore what has taken place in the second part. It’s not so much the specific story choices, as it is failing to build on the story blocks that have already been established. Imagine watching Return Of The Jedi, and Yoda says “Oh, your father he isn’t. Made that up we did. Also, Han and Leia: best friends they are.” Sure, we follow the basic events that happened in TLJ, but thematically that movie gets thrown out with the bathwater. It come across, at least to me, as a cowardly/lazy/disrespectful (delete as appropriate) decision on the part of the filmmakers.
Worst of all, Rose Tico—having been a main character in TLJ—is reduced to barely a supporting role here. The treatment Kelly Marie Tran received a few years ago should be a clear sign to Disney that representation is more important than ever. Instead we’re left with the impression that they’ve once again folded to a small, vocal, toxic subsection of ‘fans’ by sidelining her presence here. It’s unlikely that this is actually the case, but it’s still hard to wash that bad taste out of my mouth.
Having finished Dead Mountain in fairly short order, I once again found myself without a book to read. I’m feeling a bit of a non-fiction vibe at the moment, but ended up going somewhere halfway between by starting Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. Pretty much anything I know about Norse mythology comes from Marvel movies (and therefore is barely has anything to do with the mythology itself), therefore I’m quite interested to learn more about the source tales, and read them as retold by Gaiman.