Friday, February 21, 2020

Dueling Fate, So You Don't Have To

If you've paid attention to me at all, either here or any of my social networks, you know that I LOVE STAR WARS (wait until I get around to my #99Inspirations blog posts). It's no secret that I thought the SEQUEL TRILOGY was terrific and thought that what they did for the series was not only important but necessary. My frustration with a portion of the fandom has been evident. Actually, my frustration with most fandoms is pretty evident. Most fans suck. But that 's not what this post is about. This post is about STAR WARS. But I can't discuss the sequel trilogy without discussing fandom.

Much of the criticism laid at the feet of the sequel trilogy is rooted in something I see every day in my classroom. People, especially "fans," want EVERYTHING spoon fed to them. They don't want mystery or something to think about. They want to be told that this bird is the representation of character one, that bird means nothing and have the bad guy spend a minute (because longer than that is the 21st century equivalent of a Shakespearean soliloquy) explaining how he raised fifty dragons without anyone knowing about it. Fans are so tied up into the stupidest minutiae and trivia. They really are fun at parties when they explain how the hyperdrive on the Corellian blockade runner is different than a J-type 327 Nubian class. They complain that things just showed up without explanation. I'm seeing it now over every little thing in the sequel trilogy and it's vexing. Look, we didn't know where Anchorhead or Dantooine were or what half those crazy creatures in the cantina were in 1977. (Hell, we only knew it was a cantina because the associated material told us it was.) We didn't know what happened on Ord Mandell or what Jedi could actually do until Yoda showed us in 1980. The Battle of Tenaab still remains a mystery 37 years later and we hadn't heard of the Sarlaac until we were hovering over it with our heroes.

The other part of it is pure entitlement. But I wrote about that when I wrote about Game of Thrones last May. To sum up: YOU DON'T GET TO WRITE THE ENDING. If that's what you want to do, WRITE your own MULTI-BILLION dollar intellectual property. But that's from a previous rant, not this one. This is about Star Wars. EPISODE IX in particular and more specifically DUEL OF THE FATES

DUEL OF THE FATES was the working title of a previous draft of EPISODE IX written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly that was ultimately handed off to JJ Abrams and others to rewrite for an assorted of very Hollywood reasons. It was morphed into THE RISE OF SKYWALKER and here we are. A few weeks ago, the Treverrow script leaked and was dissected all across Al Gore's Intrawebs and people were claiming it as the "ending we deserved." I read some of the articles and reviews. I was skeptical. About a week ago, I managed to get my hands on a copy of the script. (Okay, sounds cooler than it is. I just kept Googling and checking Reddit.)

I'm not going to give you a blow by blow breakdown of the screenplay, but I assure you, it wasn't the ending we deserved. It wasn't any better than THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. I finished it and felt kind of...well...MEH. It had some cool moments, but at best it was as good as TROS and at worst it was really awful. Someone on Reddit (I know!) put it best: it exchanged one kind of fan service for another. It's a first draft dated 12/12/16. I ordered the Art of The Rise of Skywalker book and I know that will have notes on drafts and what not. I can't wait for that so I can see the evolution of the story.

I always felt one legit criticism of TROS was the pacing of the first half. If that is your major criticism of the movie yet you felt the DOTF was the "ending we deserved," pacing wasn't your concern. It was something else. I always felt that TROS should've been "Infinity War-ed" into two movies. DOTF doesn't change that. It's a similar pace.

Treverrow gave more for Rose to do and he made the Knights of Ren actually scary. Rose's exclusion is one of the great sins of TROS. Having Luke's Force Ghost "haunt" Kylo was a nice touch, adding a degree of growing madness to the character. There's a suggested romance between Rey and Poe that is as flat on the page as it would be on screen. The implied romantic triad of Finn-Poe-Rey works much better on screen. The ground battle in Treverrow's script would've been epic, but I'm not disappointed by TROS's ending. There's a "Dark Side" Yoda that just kind of sucks and serves no purpose. A lot of the "good" stuff in Trevorrow's script made it into the movie we saw on screen and a lot of the crap got cut out. And we're better off for it.