The Last Jedi broke the internet, and not even in a fun way, like with Kim Kardashian’s ass or Wreck-It Ralph’s ass. No, The Last Jedi’s fracturing of the online space whipped a bunch of really passionate people into an absolute frenzy, with people on the “love it!” side vehemently extolling the virtues of the film to anyone who would listen, whilst the “hate it!” side waxed poetically about the film’s failings to, well, anyone who would listen. And since we are all confidant fucks who believe are opinions to be the one, true opinions (yes, I’m talking about you), we all very much listened, and (in my experience, at least) jumped in at the opportunity to defend and/or chastise the film. It’s exhausting and accomplishes very little and, frankly, is one of the most frustrating debates I’ve ever seen unfurled in my decades on the internet…but we all keep diving into it head first anyways. Because we hate ourselves, and Twitter is a good way to bask in that masochism.
After all, The Last Jedi debate is the hottest new club in New York — it has EVERYTHING. MRA fucksticks. Russian trolls. Race based harassment. Whatever the fuck this is. And now. we have another element to throw on the pyre of the long, whiny, eye-roll enduing, highly spirited, and somehow still absolutely intoxicating Star Wars conversation: a new film or, as fans are calling it, evidence.
Because if you thought that after such bitter and disheartening Star Wars talk over the last year few years, we would be able to pull back a little bit with the next one and simply wait to judge it on its own merits when the release came out…what internet do you use? Because, seriously, I would love to be on that one! Because the one I use is already very much alive with the sounds of musings. specifically how the newest and final (for a while, at least) cinematic chapter in a galaxy far, far away is either going to save the whole damn trilogy, or absolutely destroy what Rian Johnson “improved” with The Last Jedi.
But can you blame them? Based on everything we know about Rise of Skywalker so far, this one is going to change EVERYTHING. I mean, let’s look at the facts that we can gleam from the Rise of Skywalker trailer so far:
- It’s entitled “Rise of Skywalker”
- It has a lot of characters we know in it
- They are all looking serious, and doing action-y things
- John Williams is still a music god
- End of list
Those five things alone are enough to convince me that this film will tell the story of Rey finding out that she was a CLONE OF PALPATINE ALL ALONG AND IT’S A SUPER IMPORTANT TWIST OR WHATEVER, and then will proceed to show us every single step of her journey to visit Rian Johnson’s house, beat the crap out of him, and piss on the script for The Last Jedi. Because J.J. Abrams is a hack and who can’t do anything and he’s going to “ruin” Star Wars and remake Return of the Jedi AND I HATE HIM.
Those five things alone are enough to convince me that this film will tell the story of Rey finding out that she’s just a stupid girl that can’t do things, causing her to bring Luke back to life to handle the whole “saving the galaxy” thing. Luke will come back to life, but not as his old gross self, but as his prime Return of the Jedi form form the 80’s, back when I was young and comfortable and the world made sense. Then he will kick the asshole of every First Order member, start a new Jedi school (if at first you don’t succeed…) and basically live out the realities of the fanfic that I wrote for him 10 years ago. All these things will happen, because J.J. Abrams is a fan who gets it. #AllHailJJAbrams
This is like a choose your own adventure scenario, so just go with whatever feels comfortable based on your biases, folks.
Putting aside the snide condescension that has made me so many friends on both side of this debate, I’ll say this: I thought this was a great trailer. It was well edited, had some really cool, enticing shots, and once again: John Williams, who is simply better than all of us. It got me excited to see what would come from Episode IX, which is a hell of a lot more than I could say about the film going in (my relationship with Star Wars at this point, like the conversation around it, is mostly just exhaustion. I’m glad a break in the mainline stuff is coming up, because I need it.)
I’m just saddened to see so many people I respect (especially in the Film Twitter realm) already kind of cast this one aside just based on a title and the pre-conceived notions of what they think the film is going to be, and what they think about J.J. Abrams. Granted I’m coming from this as a fan of the director (and a huge fan of The Force Awakens, for whatever that’s worth), so don’t think I’m exactly the voice of objective reasoning over here either. But, man, there’s just so many people out there already talking about how Abram’s is making all the “regressive” moves and ruining Johnson’s work and I’m just likeWAIT FOR THE GODDAMN MOVIE.
This is a problem that has just been getting worse and worse when it comes to new trailers. It used to be that we would just make fan theories and predictions about what the movie would be based on trailers, which is mostly fun and something I don’t mind participating in (I have already seen a handful of very good ones for Rise of Skywalker.) But now we’ve gone from theorizing about content (mostly fun!) to theorizing about intent (mostly silly and dumb!) It’s the same level of surface level assumption making that led to arguments like Quentin Tarantino CLEARLY suggesting Brad Pitt can beat up Bruce Lee based on two seconds of footage in a trailer. In real life assumptions make an ass out of you and me but, on the internet, it’s just called a “hot take” and gets thousands of retweeets and likes.
All that was bad enough when it was happening to other trailers, but thrown on top of the stench pile of the Star Wars discourse, and its magnified a dozen fold. Either way, I think it’s absolutely unfair to J.J. Abrams and everybody else involved here. If Rise of the Skywalker comes out and it’s not great and the whole thing ends up a big old retcon of The Last Jedi, fire away. But until then, don’t just assume that he’s remaking Return of the Jedi just because “it feels like something he would do.” To summarize.
LEAVE J.J. ABRAMS ALONE. LEAVE HIM ALONE!
All this being said, feel free to clown on the Rise of Skywalker title, because it’s very bad, and I don’t think there’s a damn thing that can change my mind about it. Though I personally think the assumption that the title means Abram’s is “fixing” the reveal behind Rey’s parentage is an absolutely ludicrous leap to make (as many are), that’s not even my beef with the title. I just hate it phonetically — it’s awkward as hell to say, and all through this article, I keep inserting in “the” or “a’ like god freaking intended. No matter what relevance the title might have on the plot at hand (some of the theories I’ve read frame it quite wonderfully, if that’s where they are going) doesn’t excuse the pure clunkiness of it.
So yeah, to review: trailer good! Title bad. But the conversation around the movie, and (still!) around The Last Jedi, and the Star Wars film franchise as a whole?
It’s going to be a long ass eight months. And I’ll be fighting in the conversational trenches every step of the way, because though I can certainly diagnose a problem when I see it, I still cannot disengage. It’s my addiction. Just let me have at it with the hot takes and the snide remarks and the force jumps to conclusion. It’s the junk food of film criticism but, boy, does it taste mighty good.