Usually, the week before a major tentpole film comes out is fun, full of breezy interviews, games with late show hosts and lots of Twitter memes/free advertising. However, with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, things haven’t been so easy.
We’ve had the incessant arguing over The Last Jedi for a solid two years now, we’ve had some of the cast trash talking the series, and now, through a long expose published in The Wall Street Journal recently, even execs behind the pictures themselves have more negativity to contribute.
To start with, former Lucasfilm executive Howard Roffman, who left the company around the time The Last Jedi hit theaters, had a lot to say about the entire process surrounding the Disneyfication of the series, even if he’s wrong on some things.
“(Star Wars is) political in a sense that it has a foundation in historical politics — the rise of dictatorships, the death of democracy — but it has never tried to take a stand on present-day issues,”
Then, in a different interview with Rolling Stone, Billy Dee Williams, the man most famous for hawking Colt 45 and being the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, Lando Calrissian, also had some stuff to say about what they did to his character in Solo, specifically the hinting that Lando is a Robosexual.
“I think that’s the reason they didn’t have the success they could have had, because they were going for something that was topical, instead of an adventure that’s far beyond those questions. If you’re talking about this huge, incredible story, why lock yourself into this tiny moment between a character like Lando and his robot friend?”
Honestly, I can’t say if those comments from Williams are valid or not, since art is interpretive and Lando is, at least kind of, “his” character. But Mr. Roffman is totally off base in saying that Star Wars has never been present. The gosh-dang Clone Wars were a riff on the Iraq invasion and Padme’s whole “this is how democracy dies” thing was in protest of Bush and the Patriot Act.
You’ve got to be a brainless money-breather to think like that. But if that’s the thinking amongst execs, since he was at least partially in charge at some point, no wonder this new trilogy is so muddled with its hodgepodge of ideas. And the fact that it was written with no plan in place, the total opposite of Disney’s handling of Marvel, did not help things, either.
Kathleen Kennedy, too, has done no favors for anybody. Now, I don’t want to totally blame and demonize her, as she’s still a person, after all, and certainly helped George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for years during her tenure at Amblin, but even she doesn’t seem like she knows what’s going on. Her recent comments about not having any “source material” to draw from really irked me, since she de-canonized the whole extended universe in the first place. Just…woof. Ugh. Oh, man.
What’s even worse is that apparently, even the Lucasfilm story group is having trouble mapping things out, with The Wall Street Journal revealing the following:
“When a video game division at Disney approached the Lucasfilm story group about a game that would take place in the time between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, video game developers were told the story group had no idea what was going to happen in Last Jedi, even though Force Awakens was close to wrapping production, according to one of the former employees. Since different directors were handling different films, Last Jedi director Rian Johnson was forced to wait to see how Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams would finish his movie before he could finalise his own script. While Mr. Johnson was shooting Last Jedi, an installment that took the series in unexpected directions, Lucasfilm executives had little idea how they would wrap up the trilogy in the film that followed, the one premiering this month, according to an executive who worked there at the time.”
And finally, we’ve got John Boyega and J.J. Abrams’ comments from this past week, where both of them took issue with some of the decisions Rian Johnson made in The Last Jedi.
“The Force Awakens I think was the beginning of something quite solid, The Last Jedi if I’m being honest I’d say that was feeling a bit iffy for me,” Boyega said in a recent interview. “I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of the choices in that and that’s something that I spoke to Mark [Hamill] a lot about and we had conversations about it. And it was hard for all of us, because we were separated.”
“On the other hand, it’s a bit of a meta approach to the story. I don’t think that people go to ‘Star Wars’ to be told, ‘This doesn’t matter,’” said Abrams of The Last Jedi.
All that being said, I’m just glad Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the franchise’s last major film release for a while, as it certainly needs a bit of a breather and a serious rethink about its direction behind the scenes.