Episode IX

Since Return of the Jedi came to theaters in 1983 I have been hoping for a continuation of the series. The Ewok cartoons didn’t do it, at all. The revised original series only whetted my appetite. The prequels, well, once I saw where they were starting I knew how it had to end. Having the emperor mastermind the entire war and having his dupe order to clones to have and Order 66 was a nice touch, but I acknowledge the Lucas had very little to work with within the confines of what he’d set up in the original series. The best he could really do was give us nods about what we knew was going to happen next and give us some beautiful scenery. This he managed just fine.

What I wanted was a sequel trilogy. Outdoing the opening sequence in Episode IV was great, outdoing the famous cantina scene was a delight, seeing the Falcon fly again made my heart sore. But blending two different generations didn’t work well, and reusing the old theme of a super weapon was not impressive.

The series just died in VIII. Luke as a cantankerous old man who doesn’t really teach anything that cantina owner couldn’t have managed. A storyline that basically involves the Rebel fleet running from the Empire and slowly running out of gas. No lightning in a bottle there, and the primaries’ attempt at a rescue was little more than an excuse to develop them – several interesting characters appeared only to disappear entirely, or to hardly show up in the last movie. Then Snoke dies, by a slight of hand and with hardly a whimper. Disappointing. The best part of the whole movie was a lightsaber battle between a novice and a man who wasn’t actually there. WOW!

Episode IX had no reused themes, no useless asides. It was what a series finale was supposed to be – the end. Those who cannot be redeemed die by their own hand. Those who can, sacrifice themselves for those who are more important for the galaxy. There were elements of both the previous trilogies, there was a sense of unity, and there was a fully developed hero at the end. I could not have been more satisfied with the movie. I suppose some will wonder why there was no requited romance among the primaries, but it wasn’t necessary. Actually, if you’ll recall, the Jedi in the original trilogy wasn’t involved in a romance at the end of that series, either. To have connected Rey to anyone, there, would have weakened the strong and independent character the movie created. Thank you Abrams, for this amazing accomplishment.

About Cian Beirdd

I live with my kitty, and encourage his tuna and catnip addictions. I have a website as well; https://cianbeirdd.wordpress.com/cian-beirdd/
This entry was posted in George Lucas, Parodies, Sci Fi/Fantasy, Star Wars, The Force and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Episode IX

  1. Loki says:

    I’m happy you were happy with it, and I didn’t hate it myself, but I have to disagree about the lack of reused themes (though I’ll grant you it avoided the useless asides). I found IX to be rather an odd accomplishment: It did from tolerably well to great on every conceivable demand one might have from a film that’s a film 9 out of 9, a film 3 out of 3 and a film requiring to organically make the (wildly different) themes and story points of VIII and VII somehow gel together. But at the same time, it was a huge let down as a film in its own right, failing in my opinion on several points where even your average standalone non-billion dollar franchise film should be managing to deliver. And this irks me. Spoilers for the film, of course, follows as I elaborate below.

    The by now utterly cliched issue of the neverending Star Wars super weapons was not only furthered, but furthered to a self-parodying degree as an enormous fleet of secret planet-destroying Star Destroyers was revealed. It wasn’t even necessary for the plot — the fleet was both shown to be and stated in dialogue to be so enormous that it even in traditional military terms would have been a threat big enough to warrant every decision made by the protagonists. But instead, they pointlessly cheapen the stories that came before (the strained, carefully executed Rebellion blowing up a Death Star is hardly very impressive if a couple of decades later, an impromptu, unorganized uprising overcomes a fleet of thousands of ships with Death Star equivalent weapons, is it) and add a multitude of stupid plot holes to the story logic. If the Emperor had this technology this whole time, why go through so much expense to build Starkiler Base in VII? Why wait this long with revealing his presence if he has a fleet a thousand times the size of the First Order where each individual ship can destroy a plnet? Couldn’t he just give the First Order two or three of these ships a decade earlier? And why put them all in one location? A mere handful of these ships secretly moved to a different planet (or, better, a number of planets) and then revealed to the galaxy either one by one or at the same time would have been better planning in literally every way. Why bring back the Emperor, a character whose defining trait is his meticulous intricate planning and predictions of human behaviour, if he’s going to behave with less strategic forethought than a toddler?

    That’s my main gripe (or rather, a cluster of interrelated gripes), but there are others. Calrissian might as well not be in the film. If you bring back a character like that, you need to give him something to do beyond being a “I magically made everyone in the galaxy come together offscreen” deus ex machina. At the very least, shoot a couple of scenes of him talking people into this. The film also continues the sad waste of the character of Finn, who in spite of having perhaps the most interesting character concept (stormtrooper grows a conscience and deserts) somehow is the most boring presence ever to grace a Star Wars film. In IX’s defense, he’s somewhat less boring there than he was before, but they still completely wasted the immense opportunity the character should have given for real, interesting character drama and depth.

    As for themes, some, sure, are new — most notably, Rey’s choosing her own destiny, which is both a wonderful compromise between Force Awakens “you are the Chosen One” rehash and Last Jedi’s “everyone can be anything” message. But others … I have no real issue with Ben Solo’s arc in this film, which I thought was well handled, but it’s not exactly surprising — I’m pretty sure most Star Wars fans could have predicted its general direction in this film by the halfway point of Force Awakens. Like everything else about Kylo Ren, it’s Darth Vader Light, and while I think it works, it can’t be said to be new. The plot itself is also very by the numbers. Mysterious threat requires investigation by conveniently hopping from location to location getting barely-logical breadcrumbs until you arrive at the big showdown is exactly what “Attack of the Clones” did (though in IX’s defense, there were much fewer logic holes in Rey’s treasure hunt than in Obi-Wan’s). The Emperor needing to be stopped before he controls the galaxy forever after his having made a statement by blowing up a planet is exactly the premise of the finales of both “A New Hope” and “Rise of Skywalker”. Palpatine’s plans for Rey in the final showdown are virtually identical to his plans for Luke in “Return of the Jedi”, except somehow done more blandly and making less sense now, and while not exactly a theme, his eventual defeat is oddly reminiscant of Mace Windu’s near-defeat of him in “Revenge of the Sith” as his own lightning is turned back on him.

    But again, I thought the film was OK. All the issues irk me mostly because they seem so avoidable, so unnecessary. All the stuff I was worried they’d screw up, from the challenging stuff of marrying Last Jedi’s themes to Force Awakens, to paying off eight films’ worth of continuity without feeling like a cameo or nostalgia parade, they did fairly well on. They also did a great job of the locations — from the quicksand to the Death Star wreckage in the ocean, the film at least felt new visually, even when the story content was at times old hat. But they really dropped the ball on the film’s own logic, on making the high stakes feel fresh, engrossing and interesting rather than simply “well, the other films had super weapons, a big space battle and an evil wizard, so we’ll need thousands of super weapons, a _bigger_ space battle, and bring back the most evil of the evil wizards”. Large chunks of the film in order words felt to me to be all flash, no substance. Bring back Palpatine, sure, but then he should have a plan worthy of Palpatine, and a confrontation that feels interesting and different, and not just as a slightly less good “Return of the Jedi”. Have a space battle, sure, if you can’t think of a more interesting twist on the finale, but put me inside it and make me care. I actually like Poe, but it weirdly never seemed like he was in personal real danger, and I had no investment in anyone else (while “A New Hope” in contrast somehow made me care about virtually every Rogue Number pilot they showed). Here, it was just a lot of explosions to me. And as mentioned above, the super weapons were pointless, and if you absolutely have to have them, at least use them intelligently.

    So while my rather low expectations made me enjoy the film well enough on first viewing, I unfortunately suspect this is a film I’ll like less and less every time I rewatch it. That’s a terrible feeling to have about the final entry in a saga I have this much love for, but in its defense, IX is only repeating issues other Star Wars films have had before. Force Awakens was even worse at feeling a rehash. Attack of the Clones has even worse story logic. But I’ve still managed to find things to enjoy rewatching those, and I’m hoping I will here, too. And if not, well, at least now there’s The Mandalorian.

    • Cian Beirdd says:

      I get what you’re saying, but my understanding was that Snoke had been a front to find the most Force-sensitive being in the galaxy. All the work in the first two movies were, though clearly the chess players didn’t realize it, a matter of testing to find that person. Ben was an obvious choice, but when Rey emerged she became his choice. Meanwhile he hid a fleet in one place to make sure it wouldn’t be found, and in fact if not Rey counting on her friends they would have taken over the galaxy whether or not Rey was converted. I noticed Palpatine had a form of life support, no doubt from his old age and the trials of the second Death Star. I know it feels like a cheapening of IV to have so many super powerful destroyers, but in that movie the Rebellion was little more than a handful of people. This is a generation later, when the Republic had come back in full force and only recently had been broken; it made perfect sense to me that they’d be able to get a bunch of help. Now, Lando just disappearing and coming back with an armada, yeah, that was a little weak.

      • Loki says:

        I agree with the observations you make there, I just don’t feel they do anything to address my issues. Because Palpatine “hiding a fleet” isn’t the issue. If he hid one fleet out of three, or five fleets out of six, sure. But hiding 99.99% of the fleet for decades is an issue, and spending insane amounts of resources on a Starkiller base when he has portable planet-destroying gun technology is an issue. It would have been infinitely cheaper and easier to simply make a series of civilian-looking crafts with the Star Destroyer planet-killing lasers inside, coordinate their being sent to the various New Republic worlds, and have them fire. The superweapon plot of “Force Awakens” was already a silly rehash, with these story additions it has become stupidly unnecessary and cumbersome as well, making Palpatine look like a confused madman with no ability to coherently plan anything anymore. (Which I suppose he well might be, after his resurrection trials, but since the films made no actual indiction of this, that would be the kind of ungainly hindsight-retcon that a film with this many chances at corrections and reshoots really shouldn’t need).

        It’s just a sad mess of a plotline that adds nothing to the saga and severely undercuts its chief villain for no apparent reason. If the secret fleet doubled or tripled the First Order forces, it’s cool. If it’s a thousand times the First Order’s size, it’s stupid and silly. If they spend decades developing one enormous super-weapon because they lost their last one, it’s repetitive and boring from a story standpoint, sure, but it is at least a viable military strategy. If they spend decades developing a giant version of something they already have in thousands of secret miniaturized versions, that’s not just bad storytelling, it’s laughably incompetent villains.

      • Cian Beirdd says:

        I can’t argue that the trilogy had some serious issues, that VII simply redid what’s been done irritating. I didn’t like that they seemed to have thousands of planet-killer ships, and I hope this issue is better explained in the novelized version. Palpatine is known as a grandmaster dejarik player though, so I have a tendency of assuming there was more going on than I saw. That he would prop up another son as an emperor while he worked behind the scenes makes perfect sense to me. That he would announce himself to Kylo Ren for the sole reason of baiting Rey into coming makes sense, too. I guess we’ll see what else was going on in cut scenes and a novel.

  2. Loki says:

    Sounds like we agree, really, because the fleet you say you too found to be irritating is the core of my issue with Palpatine’s plans — not anything to do with Kylo and Rey. Like you, I was fine with that aspect of things. Going to the novelization or other expanded universe tie-in sources to make sense of his actions are a nice band-aids for hardcore fans like myself, sure, but it doesn’t change that a film shouldn’t need such things to have the villain’s main plans come off as competent and consistent.

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