I’m just going to say it: I really enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. Go ahead, blast(er) me for it, I don’t care. The thing is, for the last five years, the only movies I’ve bothered to go to the theater for are Star Wars VII, VIII, and IX, Deadpool 1 and 2, Us, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which averages out to about 1.4 movies a year, and I intend to enjoy the experience when I go even if the movie is “bad.” I either strategically pick the film, or I tell myself ahead of time that I’m going to have fun, and guess what? I usually do.
But I understand why other people are upset by Episode IX. Jenny Nicholson’s explanation is pretty much perfect, and I actually agree with 99% of what she says, but the thing is that I’m not as invested in Star Wars the way other people are. I also tend to get pretty annoyed with the hate the new movies get because there’s usually some veiled racism/sexism in there or the argument that Rey learned the force “too fast” when I think it’s pretty well established that the magic system of the Star Wars universe isn’t exactly up to par with fantasy standards, but regardless, I’m not unsympathetic to the upset of fans.
But I am, in some ways, actually glad this happened, especially on the heals of the tragedy that was Game of Thrones, because hopefully this will wake up filmmakers and studios and maybe now the audience at large can demand they just be better.
Because in what fucking world does it make sense to not plot out the ending before you actually start filming? Every writer suffers from this at some point, (Vacancy being my own good example) and we all know that if you don’t know where you’re going to end up, you’re probably going to have a hard time getting there. There’s no way Disney went into the idea of Episode VII without ABSOLUTELY KNOWING there would be an VIII and IX. Like, fucking duh. The money is there for the taking regardless of if it’s good, AND it’s going to cost them the same if it’s bad or good, SO WHY NOT MAKE SURE IT’S GOOD?
Hire someone–someone who understands storytelling and your fucking universe, if it’s established–to head up the writing for all three, pay someone to write a treatment for all three, compose a room full of writers to review those treatments, get the goddamned director and editors on board with all the ideas, and solidify the story arc for all three BEFORE FILMING COMMENCES AT ALL.
I refuse to believe that the above can’t be done. Making a trilogy is complex, but it’s going to be way more difficult if you just make it up as you go. People who are creative and who want to tell good stories should want to sit down and make a fucking plan. They should want to not disappoint the audience. They should want to treat characters like real people. Disney certainly has the money to tell good stories–to tell the very best stories imaginable–and yet they’re failing. There’s really no excuse for this.
So maybe now they’ll be better. I do believe that stories, in general, have only improved with time. We have setbacks, sure, but on the whole narratives and characters are more complex and rich today than they’ve ever been, but the threat of going backwards is always looming.