Like millions of other millennials, I grew up loving “Star Wars.” I was excited for the new trilogy, and a little unimpressed with “The Force Awakens” (2015). But “The Last Jedi” (2017) just went way too far. So I was excited to hear that producers have pledged $29,579,880 to remake the most recent film.
“Star Wars” has fallen on bad times. With a new movie every year since 2015, fans might be experiencing “Star Wars” fatigue — although I suspect there is something else to blame.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” (2018) is actually an excellent film, partially because — unlike the recent movies — it doesn’t try to do too much. Even so, it flopped hard at the box office. Sure, the trailers didn’t get me excited, but even a die-hard fan like me (my wife and I dress up all the time, you should see her Leia buns) was hesitant to see “Solo,” less because of fatigue and more because of recurring disappointment.
I was excited for “The Force Awakens,” and I liked it in theaters … until I thought about it. The same was true for “Rogue One.” But the problems snowballed with “The Last Jedi.”
It seems I am far from alone. A group of producers have funded an effort to “Remake The Last Jedi,” to the tune of nearly $30 million. When Rian Johnson, the director of “The Last Jedi,” heard the news, he responded with no fewer than 11 iterations of the word “please,” pleading that this would “actually happen.”
please please please please pleeeeeeeaaaase please actually happen please please please please please 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 https://t.co/mNpSjgovax
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) June 21, 2018
The producers appear to be anonymous, but this audacious plan appears to be real. The fans behind the site explained that they loved the characters of Rey and Finn (John Boyega) from “The Force Awakens,” but found them “one dimensional” and “boring” in the sequel. They also complained about Kelly Marie Tran’s character Rose, who they vainly hoped (from the trailers) would be “bada**.”
“It’s hard to categorize the level of failure Rian Johnson achieved with The Last Jedi,” the “Remake The Last Jedi” account tweeted.
THREAD: @RobertIger & @Disney should concerned w/their investment in @Lucasfilm & how it may hurt their business going forward. It's hard to categorize the level of failure @rianjohnson achieved w/The Last Jedi. In his defense tho, @Disney & @Lucasfilm allowed him
— Remake The Last Jedi (@RMTheLastJedi) June 19, 2018
The account also cited “sloppy storytelling”: numerous rabbit trails and continuity errors in “The Last Jedi.” For instance, in one scene Leia — who has never been trained to use the Force — not only survives in outer space, but can move herself back into a spaceship. If an untrained Force user can do this, why didn’t Emperor Palpatine (also known as Darth Sidious) just pull himself back up after he was flung down in “The Return of the Jedi”? The account also attacked the Canto Bight subplot — THANK YOU!
“The biggest issue The Last Jedi created for Disney is apathy, as proved by the lack of repeat viewings of TLJ in theaters (losing them roughly $700MM) the abysmal Home Video numbers for TLJ & the Solo disaster,” the account wrote.
the lack of repeat viewings of TLJ in theaters (losing them roughly $700MM) the abysmal Home Video numbers for TLJ & the Solo disaster. Say what you will about #BoycottSolo, but the fans didn’t boycott because of a movement created online to prove a point, they boycotted because
— Remake The Last Jedi (@RMTheLastJedi) June 19, 2018
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” did so poorly that Disney and Lucasfilm have put future “A Star Wars Story” films on hold.
So, what went wrong? I would argue the error was fundamental.
“Star Wars” is an epic blend of science fiction and fantasy. The Original Trilogy was “Hamlet” in space, with politics, religion, and the hero’s journey. The main characters were iconic and laden with mystery, and that mystery was carefully revealed throughout the story. Even the second trilogy had many of these elements, with largely inferior acting.
“The Force Awakens” dialed the elements of high fantasy back, and refused to explain the growth or motivations of the evil “First Order.” Even so, it kept the mystery of Rey (Daisy Ridley)’s true parentage and Supreme Leader Snoke’s identity as teasers for “The Last Jedi.”
“The Force Awakens” paid many tributes to fans, featuring Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), the Millennium Falcon, the old lightsaber, and the search for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). While this movie was less grounded in politics, it at least had the continuity to please hardcore fans while introducing new characters.
“The Last Jedi” scrapped so many of these features. Snoke’s identity? Suddenly irrelevant. Rey’s parents? Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver) says they were nobody. Luke Skywalker, the hero of the Original Trilogy? He’s sick and tired of the Jedi and wants them to be erased from existence.
Meanwhile, a Resistance leader maddeningly decides to keep her (surprisingly good) plan for survival a complete secret from the people who could help her the most. This leads to a ridiculous side story involving a gambling planet and a teased slave rebellion. Meanwhile, the heroic Finn becomes a coward, and when he finally decides to sacrifice himself to save the resistance, his friend Rose stops him dead in his tracks.
The film focuses on keeping a dying Resistance alive, and after thoroughly changing Luke’s character it gives him a heroic final stand.
While “The Force Awakens” may have been a bit hollow on reflection (who were those Republic people who got erased in a few moments? Why is Rey both great at the Force and at flying?), it proved entertaining and had some good fan service. “The Last Jedi” just discarded a great deal, and the things that it added actually weakened the story.
I am sympathetic to the arguments that Rian Johnson took “The Last Jedi” in a new direction. I indeed gave the film a positive review last year, and only grew disenchanted with it afterward. Keeping Rey’s parentage a mystery (?) and keeping Snoke’s origins in the dark were bold moves for this franchise, but they were also certain to make many fans very, very angry.
As an aside, none of this has to do with complaining about the race, class, and gender of main characters. According to “Remake The Last Jedi,” Disney “is painting people who disliked TLJ w/a broad brush as racist/sexist/bigots. This is not only a bad business practice, it’s also untrue.” The problems had to do with the High Fantasy elements of the Original Trilogy, not with the race or sex of main characters.
Will the remake happen? If so, will it be better than the original? Is the site an elaborate hoax? Time will tell. But I certainly hope it will happen, and I’m not just trolling like Rian Johnson was.