Don’t get offended, man. I just didn’t like the new Star Wars movie. And I was the kid swinging plastic lightsabers at my pillow and floating in the YMCA pool like Luke Skywalker did in the bacta tank. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, in fact; and I don’t think I’m particularly grumpy. My brother suggested something though, that I thought would be interesting to chat with you about.
He said writers can’t enjoy movies.
Before I get to that, let me list for you just a few things about the movie that irritated me to the point of not liking it. Of course there are spoilers here, so do what you need to do.
- Forrest Whittaker can act better than that, I’ve seen it. Was horrible to hear the fake British accent and the weird grunting. Horrible.
- Felicity Jones offered us one facial expression the entire movie.
- Hollywood shorthand overuse: main character fondly clinging to a memento given them by a lost loved one (Jyn’s crystal necklace). Come on, dude, we’ve even already seen this in a Star Wars movie!
- Hollywood cheap emotional trigger overuse: not one but TWO freaking scenes where someone dies in somebody’s arms after saying something. Ugh. Disney should be above that sort of cheap trick. Also already seen in a Star Wars movie, by the way.
- Moustache-twirling villain (with a cape, no less!) stomping through his scenes who can’t see beyond just wanting to rule the world.
- I knew the Death Star plans got transmitted when I was six years old. The drama had to come from the characters and their sacrifices; but they were snoozers. I, as always, except Donnie Yen because he could just show up and be my favorite, so that’s not fair.
- The Hobbit Effect: they told this story in a couple of sentences in an opening scrawl decades ago, but had to drag out all sorts of obstacles and friction to make something of it. And it felt like it. My son yawned twice. My wife fell asleep.
- Shameless cameos: very cool to see Leia, obviously. Also cool to see Senator Organa and Mon Mothma. Those make sense in the story. But did we REALLY need to see the ‘You’d best watch yourself!’ guys from the cantina?
- Lazy ‘Braveheart’ speech: Jyn gave a half-hearted and snoozer of an inspirational speech, which even the guys on the mission with her were bored with.
- If they have computer files and the ability to store and transmit them, why in the world are they stored on hard drives in a tower where you have to access them with robotic arms? So the heroes could climb around and get shot at? Exactly.
I honestly hope I’m not coming off as too picky here. Maybe you disagree with some of this, but seriously – ALL of it? You’re killing me.
No, I don’t believe writers can’t enjoy movies. There are all sorts of movies I think are genius or just popcorn-munching fun rides. I can switch gears, man. I’ve binge watched about ten Hallmark Christmas romance flicks with my wife in just the last couple of weeks. See, I have depth?
It could be I have a very high standard for ‘Star Wars’ and expect more from them. I was trying to puzzle out, even before the movie was over, what it was that was bugging me so much and what I liked so much about the original movies…you know, whether I’m just getting old.
Harlan Ellison said there’s nothing worth writing about other than people. Chemistry and the dynamic between characters will hook us and keep us hooked with more impact than visual effects or nostalgia or plot twists or slick ideas. In ‘A New Hope’, Han Solo was funny and cocky and bold. Leia was tough and driven and beautiful. Luke was wide-eyed and innocent, but with ties to a deep mythic undercurrent on a hero’s journey. That trinity resonates even four decades later, which is one reason we’re still dealing with shameless riffs off that original story over and over. With ‘Rogue One’ – and maybe this is because of the cheap writer tricks they used to try and shorthand me into liking their characters – I just wanted them to die already so I could get to whatever the big scene was at the end I kept hearing about.
I’m curious what you think. If you loved ‘Rogue One’, please drop me some details on what it was you loved. I just don’t see it. I really, really, really want them to get better at telling ‘Star Wars’ stories.
Oh, and writers can definitely love movies. Maybe they just like to backseat drive too?