Many, many people will be packing out movie theaters this weekend to take in the new Star Wars flick: The Rise of Skywalker. I will not be among them, and I think my reasons are shared by many.
1. They haven’t made us care about any of these characters. In the first three movies, creator George Lucas and company pulled that off. The cast of B+ actors really sold lines like “May the force be with you,” “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine,” and “I love you” — “I know.” The current crop hasn’t said or done anything remotely memorable. That leaves us no reason to care about them. Why pay to see that?
2. The Force Awakens was a rehash. We had already gotten a new Death Star in Return of the Jedi. But this was different because it was a death planet, or something. Snore.
3. The Last Jedi was awful. From the ridiculous casino planet sidequest to the flying Leia scene to the pink-haired woman’s ridiculous “eff you” rant to longtime fans to weaponizing light speed to a Yoda ghost just torching the Jedi library, and so much more, it was just awful, awful, awful. Director Rian Johnson should take a vow of silence, move to a country very far away, and enjoy living off his dud money.
4. Solo was a botched salvage job. In contrast to Johnson, Ron Howard is a competent filmmaker. But he was brought in to fix a film that two directors had already screwed up badly and could only do so much. The movie really missed a chance to lay in a good backstory for Star Wars’ most compelling character.
5. The Mandalorian exists. The Disney+ show is all the Star Wars we need right now. It has the gritty look and feel of the original Star Wars trilogy’s world that many found so appealing rather than the polished-up world of the prequels and sequels.
6. The Mandalorian’s characters matter. The show also has much better characters than the current crop of movies. This was highlighted with the most recent episode before the Star Wars movie drops. I care one million times more about what happens to Baby Yoda than to whatever happens to Rey or Finn or Poe or Rose T. or Adam Driver’s emo reverse-Luke character.
7. Can’t get the band back together. They killed off Han, Luke, and unfortunately Carrie Fisher died. Chewie’s a great big furball, and it’s good to see Billy Dee Williams get a paycheck, but nope.
8. Too much bad Skywalker. One of the great things about The Mandalorian is that it gives us the world of Star Wars without getting bogged down in the Skywalker story line, which Lucas mishandled in the prequels and now Disney has screwed up even worse in the sequels. The world of Star Wars, as built out in novels and comic books and cartoons, has plenty of other places to go.
9. Kathleen Kennedy should be fired. The queen of Star Wars has badly mishandled this fan favorite, to the point that many diehard fans are in open revolt. She openly wrote off much of the source material for Star Wars in the extended universe of the other media. She hired directors who seem almost directionless. And if this weekend’s box office is decent, all will be forgiven by Disney. I don’t want to contribute to that.
10. Don’t let the hate flow through you. The Star Wars–Disney PR machine has used fan criticism of the movies as an opportunity to attack Star Wars‘ most ardent supporters. If you don’t like what they put out, then you are “toxic” and possibly wield “toxic masculinity” like a lightsaber, a “man-baby” (even if you are a woman), a “neckbeard” (even if you have a baby face), and more. And, besides, “this film just isn’t for you,” they sniff.
Why would I, or anyone, want to play into that cycle of cinematic abuse? Nostalgia? Masochism? Pass!