It’s been seven years since Disney acquired the rights to George Lucas’ multimillion dollar space wizard shit show, and since then, the mouse has thrust it’s “Neo-Star Wars” series into the stratosphere with expected but still exceptional results. (The last iteration netting close to 3 billion worldwide.) And last night, millions of nerf-herders everywhere got to bare witness to the final chapter in the mouse’s masterful plan of dishing out mediocre movie experiences, with the premiere of ‘Star Wars Episode IX: The Balance of the Force’. The film hit theaters and 8k home sets via NetflixGold, everywhere at midnight. A new Star Wars movie at Christmas time has become an American institution for the latter half of a decade now, with still one more on the way. (The final “Jedi prequel” has a promised 2020 release.) So what can be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said over and over online? In one word: “yawn”…
I’m not even referring to the part where Clitzz Flatzu destroyed the Dark Star III, or when Boosa Vista officially became Darth Sylus. Those were to be expected. My main issue was with how predictable their efforts were, and how nothing came off as much of a surprise. Once again I left the theater thinking the same thing I have for the past 4 years: “I’ve seen this”.
When last year’s Han Solo flick came out, astute minds knew we’d see Han and Lando get into it when Lando lost the Falcon, but even then, it wasn’t enough to keep people from settling for what they already knew would happen. This current era of Star Wars flicks does a fantastic job at delivering known quantities onto it’s viewer’s, but it does a perfunctory job of creating new storylines or threads outside of what’s already expected. All these films do is either retell you what you already know, or try to fill the gap with obvious, unconvincing fluff that you knew was coming anyway. Instead of original quests for our heroes, we see lazy and even ancillary uses of known plot devices that do little in trying to push an even somewhat clever narrative. Rather, the stories bog down the narrative from being even remotely innovative. They hastily resort to being self referential as an attempt (and ironically in spite of) being entertaining. It’s only through fan-service and pre-established world building that we are told an unimaginative and mediocre story; poorly.
Star Wars Episode IX isn’t just bad, but rather the worst type of bad because it’s “boring bad”. I have zero interest in these characters, mainly because the writers/director don’t care enough to flush out anyone’s motivations (outside of a flagrant daddy death scene.) The entire first 2/3’s of this movie are so incredibly bland, it makes me wonder if it was shot by another director altogether. And as clever and refreshing as the last 20 minutes were, reaching it should be a treat; not a chore. But why do audiences keep coming back for seconds of a franchise that hasn’t offered anything even slightly new since ‘Revenge of the Sith’? Possibly because as Star Wars leaps from generation to generation, it finds an audience that wants so very deeply to experience something of their own, on their own. Even if it’s just their dad’s old car with a new paint job.
Star Wars, as a brand, is church for many. It gives off warm fuzzy feelings that leaves audiences with a perceived sense of fulfillment; even if it’s something we’ve seen now 5, 6 or 7 times over. It is for so many, a religious experience that is shrouded by overt proselytizing (by way of merchandising.) To speak out against it is blasphemy; if only because, to do so, is to speak out against God himself. Imagination surmounts to sacrilege when thinking “Star Wars” isn’t all it could be, (or should be.) Why make something new, when you can take all of the old beloved moments, put them into a blender, and set the dial to mince?
Is Episode IX perfect? No. But it doesn’t try to be either. And maybe that’s the problem. It does the bare minimum as it rifles through a sorted cast of wooden performances and phoned-in lines with little to no emotion or motivation. However, is this the worst of the series? Also, no. I’d give that honor to the ‘Rogue One’ movie that came out back in 2016, (where the whole plot was to steal a hard drive while Darth Vader made puns about choking a bitch.) 2020 marks the end of this current era of Star Wars movies. (as of now, anyway.) And hopefully, once it’s done, we can be rid of this entire series, the same as Disney has been rid of it’s audience’s intelligence. If anything, these installations will be hailed as the death of creativity everywhere, surrounded by thunderous applause.