Jedi Fallen Order Part 1: A New Hope for EA

By Shamus Posted Thursday Aug 6, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 261 comments

You might remember that this was my Game of the YearAlthough that title doesn’t have the same weight here that it does elsewhere. in 2019I think it will actually count as a 2020 game on the big gaming sites. Either that, or this game was severely snubbed by the gaming press.. I really enjoyed it, and I was glad to have something that used a Dark Souls-ish combat system of timing and pattern recognition, but without the Dark Souls style punishmentEh. I’ll talk much more about this later.. I’ve played through the game four-ish times now, and I’ve enjoyed each playthrough more than the previous one. 

Also: I played on the PC using an Xbox controllerI know I bitch and moan about Microsoft, but this controller is over a decade old and has held up like a champ. I should do a post about this thing someday., if you care about that sort of thing.

That EA “Magic”

EA CEO Andrew Wilson.
EA CEO Andrew Wilson.

I didn’t want to like this game. Maybe that sounds mean and petty, but after watching EA bungle the Star Wars license for so many years I was eager for them to fail hard enough that Disney would take their license back and look elsewhere for people to create Star Wars games. EA was given exclusive rights to make Star Wars titles, and their handling of it was relentlessly horrendous.

They canceled a single-player story-driven gameAnd OF COURSE they also shut down the studio. because they couldn’t turn it into a goddamn live service nightmare. Their handling of Battlefront II was ghastly, using the Disney license to peddle lootboxes / slot machines to kids. And on top of that, they could barely be bothered to put out Star Wars games at all: 

Old meme, lifted from Imgur.
Old meme, lifted from Imgur.

So I had a huge chip on my shoulder when it came to the game. Ultimately, I don’t think that EA deserves to have success with the Star Wars franchise. I figured this game was going to be some tedious, cringy, phoned-in action game with a Star Wars paint job. During previews I derisively called it: “Star Wars: Jedi of Who Cares?” or “Star Wars Jedi Whatever”.

But here we are. It’s good. It’s a single-player character-driven story about a Jedi in the Star Wars universe where the main character isn’t some absurdly overpowered god who turns the lore and continuity into swiss cheeseAlthough, the main character IS pretty dang strong.. No this isn’t the Second Coming of Saint LucasAnd to be fair, I’m not at all convinced that Lucas was the one who put the magic in Star Wars to begin with. We’ll talk more about this later in the series., but it’s still really good.

This game plays things incredibly safe. The story is a calculated blend of dozens of other Star Wars stories. Nothing too new. Nothing radical. Just a few familiar story beats with a fresh coat of paint. You get a cute non-verbal droid sidekick, a distant mentor, a curmudgeon pilot, a spaceship covered in greebles, and a metric sithload of bad guys to chop up. The gameplay is Dark Soulsian, but more gentle and mainstream. 

She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.

So the game wound up being good. Safe, but good. I’d still prefer to see some Star Wars games from outside the EA Borg Cube, but this is what we got. I can’t pretend to hate this just to spite EA.

Not-Working Title

It's very tiny, but that little dot above EA is the trademark symbol.
It's very tiny, but that little dot above EA is the trademark symbol.

I know I already complained about this last year, but for the sake of completeness I need to reiterate my gripes with the title of this game…

The full name of this game is Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order EA™. It’s long. It breaks from the familiar STAR WARS COLON SUBTITLE format that we’re used to. Even the acronym SWJFOMy preferred pronunciation of “Swoo Jeffo” hasn’t caught on yet. Additionally, “Swoo Jeffo” is my X-Wing pilot name. is awkward and unpronounceable. I can only imagine how bad this name will get when they start making sequels. We don’t use numbers for sequels anymore, and instead we append phrases. 

I get that Star Wars Jedi is the franchise / series and Fallen Order is the title of this particular entry, but Fallen Order is the short phrase people are using to describe this particular game. As in, “I hope they make more Fallen Order games”. Logic dictates that the next game should be Star Wars Jedi: Another Game EA™, but the dum-dums in marketing will want the more memorable Fallen Order in the name. Something like: Fallen Order II: Revenge of the Cameo or Fallen Order 2: Nostalgia Strikes Back.

Marketing and logic are natural enemies, and I can only imagine the colon-infused mess we’ll get in the next one.

A Galaxy of Lore

Funny. I don't seem to remember ever owning a droid. Or a teacher named Qui-Gon. Or being present for your birth. Or your father building that shiny gold protocol droid while enslaved. Or...
Funny. I don't seem to remember ever owning a droid. Or a teacher named Qui-Gon. Or being present for your birth. Or your father building that shiny gold protocol droid while enslaved. Or...

My first real gripe – as opposed to that petty bullshit about the title – with SWJFOEA™ is that the plot plays things so amazingly safe that it has almost nothing in the way of surprises. The game surprised me twice, and neither one was the good kind of surprise.

One of the problems with Star Wars is that the lore is starting to show its age. Like Star Trek, Terminator, Aliens, Dr. Who, and every other property that got enough sequels to cover multiple generations of sci-fi fans, the thing has been re-imagined so many times that the universe has acquired a great deal of cruft, contrivances, plot holes, and conflicting interpretations. This isn’t because all writers are hacks and nobody cares about qualityAlthough, there are always a few bad creators in a group this large., it’s just a natural byproduct of having a long line of people working in different mediums, producing works with vastly different budgets aimed at different age groups from different generations, all adding to a very large and complex world.

I’m a die-hard fan of the original trilogy. For me, the tone and rules of the universe were introduced in 1977 and canonized in 1983. Everything since then has felt like fanfiction to me. 

Old and Busted vs. The New Hotness

Oof. Right in the feels. For me this one moment packs more emotional punch than the entire prequel trilogy combined.
Oof. Right in the feels. For me this one moment packs more emotional punch than the entire prequel trilogy combined.

To illustrate the difference between modern Nu Star Wars and Gen-X Traditional Star Wars, let me ask a series of really obvious questions…

Who are the Jedi?

The Jedi are peaceful monks that go largely unnoticed by society at large. They map fairly well to the tropes of Shaolin Monks in classic martial arts movies. They spend their entire lives gardening, studying, farming, or some other quiet hands-on activity. During extraordinary circumstances they might leave their remote monastery / hermit dwelling / cave to participate in conflict, but they dislike violence. A Jedi uses his powers only for defense, never for attack. 

OR…

The Jedi are galactic fixers, sent out to galactic hotspots by powerful politicians to intervene in matters of state and bust some heads if bad guys cause too much trouble.

How do the Jedi Fight?

Jedi are quiet, observant, and patient. They avoid direct conflict if possible. If conflict is unavoidable, they’re willing to sacrifice themselves to preserve life. They fight with subtlety, subterfuge, and surgical precision. They kill only at great need and do so with regret. 

OR…

The Jedi leap into massed armies waving their laser swords around and shouting quips at each other.

What is the Dark Side?

The Dark Side appeals to our base instincts. It favors the quick and easy solution. It takes your desire to do good and perverts it. It exploits existing personality flaws, pushing you to be a worse version of yourself. It’s not actually a malevolent force in itself, but simply an expression of human frailty and the idea that “power corrupts”.

OR…

The Dark Side is evil space mojo that mind-controls people into being violent assholes if they get too angry for understandable reasons, forcing Jedi to bottle up their emotions.

Who are the Heroes?

Our heroes are a scrappy group of nobodies. The Force works in mysterious ways, and common folks are sometimes swept up in extraordinary adventures. 

OR…

The heroes are chosen by destiny and the galaxy is controlled by a small group of fantastically powerfulBoth politically and supernaturally. beings. Everyone else is just a background player in their ongoing power struggle. All roads lead to Skywalker v. Palpatine.

What is Star Wars?

Forty years ago, this moment gave me a MASSIVE dose of excitement. I don't think I got another thrill like this until 2019 when Captain America lifted SPOILER in Avengers Endgame.
Forty years ago, this moment gave me a MASSIVE dose of excitement. I don't think I got another thrill like this until 2019 when Captain America lifted SPOILER in Avengers Endgame.

If you’re an OG purist like me then you probably favor the first description of the things above. If you’re a younger person  – or someone who came to Star Wars through the prequel trilogy / sequel trilogy / books / animated series / Disney Theme Park Ride, then you probably lean closer to the second interpretation for those elements.

I’m not saying that one of these is objectively more correct than the other. Both are equally valid interpretations of the material as it exists today. After all, this is an evolving fantasy story about space wizards, not a legal document or a religious textNot YET, anyway.. It’s fine if we have conflicting interpretations. Actually, I think it’s inevitable.

Ultimately, I think the Traditionalist view makes for a more interesting setting with more emotional impact and a greater sense of mystery. On the other hand, Nu Star Wars is a better setting for an ever-expanding franchise of movies, shows, games, toys, and animated shorts. It’s pretty hard to write never-ending adventure stories about peaceful isolationist monks. If they end up flying around the galaxy all the time and getting into swordfights with the villain of the week, then the “quiet monk” vibe becomes incredibly difficult to maintain. I like the original flavor better, but by its nature it creates a finite and self-contained story. If you want endless sequels, then Midichlorian Star Wars is the formula for you.

No Cere, it's too late. We'll never recover from the devastation of Phantom Menace.
No Cere, it's too late. We'll never recover from the devastation of Phantom Menace.

This game often leans into the Nu Star Wars view of things. That’s perfectly understandable and reasonable, but I’m going to occasionally whine about it anyway because that’s what I do.

Because of this, a lot of my criticism is going to be subjective and stylistic in nature. Stuff like, “I prefer chocolate over vanilla ice cream.” This is distinct from my usual style of criticism, which goes more along the lines of objective instruction like, “Gravel and paste do not belong in chocolate ice cream.” A lot of fans insist that critics draw a nice clear line between these two styles of criticism and subjective statements need to be prefaced with “In my opinion.” Screw that. It’s a gradient, and I’m not interested in gingerly sorting various types of opinions. I like to assume the reader is smart enough to tell the difference, and mature enough to not lose their cool if my subjective opinion feels a little too definitively objective in its presentation. You don’t need to agree with me for this series to work.

In that spirit, I have a lot of petty little gripes I want to get off my chest in the following 22 entriesAnd counting. As of this post, I’m still writing the end., and a few criticisms to make on this particular genre blend. I also want to point out a lot of smart things this game manages to accomplish and several pitfalls the designers managed to sidestep. Which means this series is going to be a little confusing, with lots of switching between criticism and praise. As always, I’ll be talking about “the writer” and “the designer” in the abstract singular instead of trying to point blame at real people on the team. This is supposed to be artistic analysis, not a call-out / personal attack.

When I write one of these long-form retrospectives, I’ll sometimes spoil the entire game up front. This particular game doesn’t have any overarching structural problems so I don’t need to do that here. I’m going to be spoiling as we go, which should give you lots of time to get through the game yourself if you want to play along.

One final note is that this series isn’t going to stick to the game. Instead we’re going to use the game as an excuse to go off on a bunch of tangents about Star Wars, movies, Disney, Dark Souls, and whatever other topics we end up crashing into. I think we’re even going to discuss The Last Jedi, unless I chicken out at the last minute. Either way I’m going to be all over the place, so buckle up.

This is where the fun begins.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Although that title doesn’t have the same weight here that it does elsewhere.

[2] I think it will actually count as a 2020 game on the big gaming sites. Either that, or this game was severely snubbed by the gaming press.

[3] Eh. I’ll talk much more about this later.

[4] I know I bitch and moan about Microsoft, but this controller is over a decade old and has held up like a champ. I should do a post about this thing someday.

[5] And OF COURSE they also shut down the studio.

[6] Although, the main character IS pretty dang strong.

[7] And to be fair, I’m not at all convinced that Lucas was the one who put the magic in Star Wars to begin with. We’ll talk more about this later in the series.

[8] My preferred pronunciation of “Swoo Jeffo” hasn’t caught on yet. Additionally, “Swoo Jeffo” is my X-Wing pilot name.

[9] Although, there are always a few bad creators in a group this large.

[10] Both politically and supernaturally.

[11] Not YET, anyway.

[12] And counting. As of this post, I’m still writing the end.



From The Archives:
 

261 thoughts on “Jedi Fallen Order Part 1: A New Hope for EA

  1. Mik says:

    When you wrote about the nonsensical naming of sequels, I immediately thought of this movie series:
    – First Blood (1982)
    – Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
    – Rambo III (1988)
    – Rambo (2008)
    – Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

    1. Moridin says:

      My first thought was Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series.

      1. MarcellusMagnus says:

        Star Wars: Dark Forces IV: Jedi Knight III: Jedi Outcast II: Jedi Academy anyone?

        (Mercifully, they didn’t actually use that title, but still…)

    2. Joshua says:

      Also, one of those movies is definitely not like the others.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Oh, yes. Entirely different. See also: Death Wish.

        While the concept was always controversial, it’s worth pointing out that in the first movie, Charles Bronson takes a long time and a lot of thought before he becomes a vigilante…and the movie ends with him getting shot and hospitalized by a mugger that he’s baited into a fight. While recovering, he’s approached by the police, who tell him they know who he is, what he’s doing and to cut that shit out or go to prison…so he does. End movie.
        A lot more thoughtful and ambiguous than later entries in the series.

        1. DeadlyDark says:

          Still fun series of movies (same with Rambo, tbh)

    3. Btw, I just logged in to Origin because I figure there’s a possibility I might enjoy this game, and lo and behold it’s currently (as in, Friday, August 7) 50% off ($29.99). Seems like a good time to pick it up?

      1. Decius says:

        I’d have to log into Origin though.

      2. I started playing it a bit . . . having a blast, but the eyes on the human characters are too big and it makes them look weird.

        1. Daniel says:

          Only a matter of time before Star Wars became Anime. ;)

    4. droid says:

      I just think it’s weird that the first persona game was named Persona 3.

      1. Syal says:

        They saw the first Star Wars movie was Star Wars 4, and thought, “well that’s a little too much.”

        (Though that reminds me, the first Ogrebattle game is part 5 of 8.)

      2. Boobah says:

        It’s… not? Persona 3 was the fourth Persona game, after Revelations: Persona, Persona 2: Innocent Sin, and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.

        I guess you could be disowning them, because for you the whole balancing mundane life/friend making against supernatural problems is what makes Persona Persona. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of those earlier games, though, so I’m reluctant to agree. Besides, there’s really not that many games that let you beat up Hitler in his secret space ship that was buried under Japan. Or fight your party members’ Voltronned daddy issues.

  2. Infinitron says:

    One reason this game might not fit EA’s usual modus operandi is that its development began before Respawn Entertainment was acquired by EA.

      1. Also it’s Unreal Engine instead of Frostbite.

  3. Wolf says:

    “and I’m not interested carefully sorting opinions.” missing an IN here champ.

    Also on the spoiler front. Is there significant story here TO spoil? Are we talking “need to go in fresh like with Jade Empire” levels of spoilability?

    1. tmtvl says:

      Also “who are the heros” should probably be “who are the heroes”.

    2. Nixorbo says:

      Not really? I mean, the very, VERY end of the game has a really fun encounter that I think would be enhanced by going in blind, but if you can figure out the shape of the story, you should be able to sense it coming (and it’s really satisfying one way or another). Other than that, I don’t remember any real “Oh SHIT that just happened” moments.

    3. ElementalAlchemist says:

      There’s not much to spoil because the game painted itself into a corner by being set in the inter-OT/prequel era. As such, the narrative goes nowhere because it can’t rock the canon boat too much. Which is itself a spoiler I guess.

  4. Lino says:

    Too bad I’ll have to sit this one out. I want to play through the game myself, but I need to buy a new video card first. Normally, this is a trivial operation, but several real-life things have gotten in the way. The least of which is the fact that I need to find out which video cards are compatible with my computer, which has proven to be a needlessly difficult task (and I don’t even know who to blame – Dell or Nvidia/AMD).

    The way things are going, I’m considering buying a new PC outright, but then there’s the problem of having to offload my old PC to someone (and I’ve got no idea who). Alternatively, I could go through the hassle of selling it, but that’s another huge timesink I can’t be bothered with right now :D

    1. Moridin says:

      I don’t think you can blame Nvidia or AMD on that one. So long as your motherboard has a full-sized PCI-e (x16) slot, any videocard you can buy should be compatible(although obviously if you try to stick a 2080ti into a PCI-e 2.0 x8 slot, it won’t perform very well, never mind any other bottlenecks the system will have). The difficulty comes from whether you can physically fit the GPU into your case, and whether the PSU is strong enough(and has the right cables). With prebuilt computers both of those can be in question.

      1. Kyle Haight says:

        I had serious stability problems with the AMD 5700xt, which completely vanished after I updated my motherboard BIOS. My old Nvidia 970 was fine. Video card compatibility issues can be subtle.

  5. thatSeniorGuy says:

    Yay new long-form series!

  6. joe says:

    The acronym pronunciation had me yelling FLDSMDFR in my head

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8xFbWLUDoQ

    1. Mousazz says:

      SRMTHFG!
      And, yes, it’s a legit western cartoon.

  7. Liam says:

    license to pedal lootboxes

    Either these lootboxes are much more interesting to me than I imagined, or you meant peddle ?

  8. John says:

    My feelings about Star Wars are pretty similar to Shamus’s. I love the original trilogy and am constantly irritated and disappointed by the fanfic-y-ness of everything else. My biggest disappointment with spinoff stuff is usually with its treatment of the Force. There’s a sort of mystery to the Force in the original trilogy–possibly because the audience is learning about it along with Luke, possibly because it takes Luke three movies to get good at using it–that isn’t present in the other Star Wars media I’ve consumed. I hate when the Force is used as a crude plot device. I hate when it’s used in ways that seem inconsistent with its depiction or with what I view as the spirit of its depiction in the original trilogy. I especially hate it when the Force gets systematized and turned into generic space magic.

    That’s unfortunate because it’s pretty much inevitable and possibly unavoidable in Star Wars video games. I mean, I like Knights of the Old Republic, but it still irritates me when the characters in that game talk about Force Bonds and Battle Meditation–you can hear the capital letters when they speak–and all I can think is “there’s no evidence from the movies that Force Bonds or Battle Meditation are actual things; also, stop talking about them as if I should know what they are.” Don’t even get me started on Knights of the Old Republic 2. The best Star Wars video game of all time is Tie Fighter, in which the Force is essentially irrelevant and Force-sensitive characters like Darth Vader and the Emperor scarcely appear. (Also, Tie Fighter is just a really, really good game and would be even without the Star Wars IP.)

    I could go on. I have Things To Say about the fanfic-y-ness of the novels and of movies like Solo, but in the interest of my sanity and everyone else’s I’m going to stop now. Thanks for letting me get that other stuff off my chest.

    1. Joshua says:

      Well, the Prequels certainly ramped up the power level of the Force and the ubiquity of the Jedi using it. I remember watching Attack of the Clones at the beginning where Anakin is jumping off flying cars and dropping miles between them, and thinking “When you said ‘Impressive, Most Impressive” to Luke’s Force Jump in ESB you were just totally messing with him, weren’t you?'”

      1. John says:

        Given what I said earlier, that bothers me less than you might think it would. There are more Jedi characters and more of the main characters are Jedi in the prequels, so it makes a certain amount of sense that the Force would play a bigger role. The state of the art in special effects changed in the years between the original trilogy and the prequels. If the Jedi are jumping further, faster, or more gracefully than they once did, you could reasonably (I suppose) view it as power-creep or some kind of retcon but I tend to think of it more as a stylistic difference between two sets of movies made at different points in time.

        1. DeadlyDark says:

          Its basically if, for example, all renaissance/expressionist/impressionist/etc paintings were erased from people’s memories, and we had only relatively crude 30s comic book style pictures, the first guy who tried to replicate from words what early Da Vinci paintings was – we’d consider this impressive, aren’t we?

          So this difference between trilogies never bothered me, to be honest.

    2. Thomas says:

      Whilst I probably find myself more at home amongst The Old Republic and the Prequels, as that is what I grew up on, it does bother me when people talk about Force Bonds and Battle Meditation with the capitals.

      As KOTOR2 was one of my first, when I played it, I heard it as “force bonds”, no capitals, and it fitted in with the idea of the Force as being something unknowable and ever present that people can partake in, but isn’t a defined screwdriver. And then I absorbed more Star Wars content and I began to hear the capital letters everywhere. “Force Speed” is fine for a game mechanic, but it shouldn’t be how Jedi think of it themselves.

      1. Liessa says:

        I love KOTOR 1 and probably like it better than the movies themselves; it was definitely what got me into Star Wars in the first place, as I wasn’t even born when the OT came out. However I should note that in the original game, there was only one instance of a ‘force bond’ (between Bastila and the player) which existed for a very specific reason, and only one person (Bastila) who could use Battle Meditation. It was clearly implied that both those things were extremely rare among Jedi, if not quite unheard of, and this helped to preserve a sense of mystery around them. Unfortunately KOTOR 2 then went and threw all that out the window, along with pretty much everything else I liked about the first game.

        1. Thomas says:

          I don’t know if the name they give an ability bothers me at all. I think of the moves in games as being decidely non-canon. Case in point, resurrection and rapid force healing are very rare abilities in Star Wars canon but totally common place as moves in Star Wars RPGs.

          Sure there was a move in the game called “Battle Meditation” but it doesn’t do what Bastila’s ability did, and it has no reference in the actual narrative of the game. It’s not like every Jedi is sitting down and winning big wars.

          What I thought John was referring too, is the difference between a descriptive depiction of force powers “Bastilla can meditate in battles to inspire soldiers and subtly influence the outcome”, to when it becomes “Battle Meditation” capital letters – the specific well-defined force noun, that has no mystery at all.

          1. John says:

            Yeah, that’s definitely part of it.

            There’s a lot of things that I don’t like about Battle Meditation in Knights of the Old Republic, but what I’m getting at when I talk about “capital letters” is that the force is a singular thing, and not a collection of discrete abilities. Darth Vader does not have a “Force Choke” ability. He uses the Force to choke people when he gets angry. Luke does not have a “Force Jump” ability. He uses the Force to enhance his physical performance when he’s in danger. I don’t mind when a game breaks the Force into discrete abilities for mechanical reasons. What would the alternative be? But the games’ narrative absolutely should not characterize the Force in that way because that’s not how the source material does it, not even in the prequels.

            1. Mortuss says:

              The way I see it, while the KotOR establish battle meditation as being unique to Bastila, I always thought that is because she is the only one who knows how to do it, not only one that can ever do it. So later in life, it is possible that she would teach it to other people and when you try to teach people a technique, it is better to give it a name so you can talk about it. Force choke and force jump sound weird to me for the same reasons you stated, they are specific uses of a general ability, the “class” would be about moving things with force and incidentally you can also use it to choke people. But Battle Meditation seems pretty different from “jedi mind trick” so it would not surprise me for the characters to have a name for it as well. It would not fit into original trilogy, but with the way galactic society and jedi order is in the old republic era, I think it fits.

              1. Daimbert says:

                The games treat Force Abilities like D&D spells — because they use Force power — rather than as Feats, which is where the application of skills in a specific way fits better. I mean, something like Great Cleave is just something you learn to do with a sword based on past experience and some training, but you can’t do that with Magic Missile.

                That being said, it’s not unreasonable to think that there might be certain abilities that you need a natural aptitude for and so can’t just learn how to do. “I, Jedi” in the EU highlights this with Corran Horn, naturally adept at absorbing energy to turn it into Force power but in exchange not all that skilled with telekinesis. He can’t just train harder to overcome his natural inability with telekinesis, just as someone who isn’t good at visualization can’t simply learn how to do that.

            2. Gethsemani says:

              For me, the alternative from a game mechanic stand point would be something like what FFG did in their current Star Wars RPGs: Add bonus dies whenever a Force user taps into the force. FFG also has a lot extra mechanics for what a force user can and can’t do in the forms of skill trees, which goes straight into the problem you’ve described with discrete abilities. But the basics of “the Force gives you extra dies to roll” makes it vague enough that you can justify the bonus on a persuasion check as a mind trick or the bonus on an athletics check as the force helping you jump higher.

              The problem with making games from other fiction is that you need to codify things that might be mysterious, mystical and fluid in the fiction into cold, hard rules to play the game with. This invariably strips stuff like the Force of that cool mysticism it has in the original trilogy, because the die-hard fans will end up reading the rules of the game. With that the Force is now this strictly defined rules mechanic and you can’t disconnect that when seeing the movies.

              1. John says:

                Oh, that’s neat. I hadn’t thought of that. But, yeah, I could see how the extra-dice mechanic would be insufficient when dealing with actions–mind-reading, for example–that are impossible without the Force.

            3. Zekiel says:

              I seem to recall that Battle meditation was invented as an ability Palpatine possessed to explain why after his demise in Return of the Jedi, the Rebels didn’t find it problematic that they were still facing an enormous fleet of Star Destroyers. Ie they were only a threat in the first place cos the Emperor was guiding them all. It was rubbish.

              More generally, I find it fascinating that in A New Hope, the only reason we know the name of the Death Star is because of the opening crawl. Tie Fighters aren’t named at all!

    3. Olivier FAURE says:

      This one thing that I feel the Sequel Trilogy (and especially The Last Jedi) gets rights.

      The writers don’t feel compelled to stick to a list of predefined powers, they make up whatever is most dramatically appropriate for a scene, but usually not to the point that the heroes solve every problem with Force powers.

      The Luke fight in TLJ is a good example. Luke uses a new power in a creative way, to exploit Kylo Ren’s expectations (that Luke would try to beat him with brute force). The reveal that Luke isn’t actually there works a lot better than if he’d used some pre-existing power to block the artillery barrage or whatever.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        Yes and no I think. On the one hand the writers absolutely shouldn’t stick to only the already-established powers because that makes it way harder to write than leaving themselves room to invent new stuff that fits the scene they have. On the other, I feel like they shouldn’t invent just any new power that seems cool because it risks going against the tone of old Star Wars. I think the best way to illustrate this is with an established power. Force telekinesis is the most well-established thing about Jedi other than the laser swords, and yet in Force Unleashed when Wossname uses the Force to pull a Star Destroyer out of the sky it’s a big bombastic Michael Bay moment that would have been really out of place with the quiet monk vibe of the original trilogy. I understand the design constraints that drove the new Star Wars stuff to turn Force-users into splashy space wizards, but the OT felt, in fantasy terms “low magic” and a lot of the new powers that have been invented feel at home in a high-powered D&D campaign where magic is everywhere. They’re not bad but they are a distinctly different mood and they’re going to create a disconnect for anyone who preferred the OT aesthetic.

        1. John says:

          This sounds about right to me. I would also add that new Force powers should be more than just transparent plot devices or character-specific superpowers. Bastila’s–sigh–Battle Meditation in Knights of the Old Republic is sort of a borderline case. I could buy that she’s better at it than most Jedi, but it seems contrary to the spirit of the original trilogy that she’s the only one who can do it at all. I also think it’s too powerful, but I suppose that’s a matter of taste. The reasons I can tolerate it in the game are that it serves several plot purpose and, more importantly, it informs Bastila’s character arc. It makes her powerful, it’s set her apart from other Jedi, it’s put her under tremendous pressure, etc.

          As an aside, one of the many weird choices in Knights of the Old Republic 2 is the one to make Battle Meditation (a) an ability that any Jedi can learn and, if memory serves, (b) completely underwhelming. I’m not sure what to make of it. It sounds like what I say I want, but somehow it isn’t.

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            KOTOR 2 made Battle Meditation a standard buff spell that gave something like +2 to attack and damage, and it was actually a good power because stacking buff spells is the meta in oldschool Bioware games, but it wasn’t individually a big deal no. The Star Wars D20 RPG books did an adaption of it that worked much better and even fit the space mystic tone decently. In the tabletop game, Battle Meditation was a similar small +2 bonus, but it was the only power in the game that applied to your entire side, basically without range limits. If you were in a thousand-man battle, you could Battle Meditation to give every one of your soldiers +2 and that small bonus times so many men would multiply out to be a hundred times more valuable than just wading into the fray and cutting up dudes with your laser sword. It managed to totally justify Bastila being a big deal, without making her into a twentieth level wizard who destroys armies with her mind and in such a way that a party of player characters could take the ability and get some use out of it without being able to steamroll every fight.

            1. John says:

              KOTOR 2 made Battle Meditation a standard buff spell that gave something like +2 to attack and damage . . .

              That would explain the underwhelming-ness. By the end of KoTOR 2, my character was so high-level and had so many other buffs, mostly from equipment, that the presence or absence of another +2 to anything was lost in the noise. I did not enjoy micro-managing my buffs in either KoTOR 1 or KoTOR 2 and mostly didn’t bother. The interface in both games was such that you could tell how many buffs you had active but not which buffs you had active without pausing the game. In the first game, there were buff-specific icons on the character sheet, but the second game made you click through two or three screens to get to the log screen. It was awful.

      2. Geebs says:

        That’s completely undermined by Luke running out of Force Juice and dying as a consequence of using too much Force Skype, though. I don’t think that’s happened to any other character in the series (Yoda just got old).

        This raises the thorny issue of how much Force is too much; Palpatine can build thousands of Star Destroyers (underground, no less) and Force Lightning an entire fleet without apparent consequences to his health. If Luke had manifested at 1080p instead of 4K, would he have survived?

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          To be fair, Luke force projected himself across the galaxy and it was foreshadowed earlier in the film that even simply connecting one mind to another across the galaxy could kill you.

          I also don’t think it gets undermined by Luke dying, I think it’s nice that his final power move is something a true Jedi would do ( “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack”) and that he goes out peacefully especially when you compare what happened to Han and Leia.

          1. Geebs says:

            it was foreshadowed earlier in the film that even simply connecting one mind to another across the galaxy could kill you

            Could you remind me which bit you’re referring to, here? Rey and Ben do that constantly throughout the sequel trilogy without any consequence whatsoever. In the original trilogy, Luke gets Force Voicemail from Obi-Wan, and Luke, Leia and Anakin talk to each other through the force, again without any obvious adverse effect.

            If we’re taking the other sequels into account, it’s established in TFA that ordinary people can just straight up see stuff happening in a whole other solar system, without any delay for speed of light, so free instantaneous information transmission is apparently just A Thing now.

            Honestly I really don’t enjoy being pedantic with this stuff, especially in the context of something as drama-first as Star Wars, but the whole force projection scenario in TLJ just seemed like a(nother) giant ass-pull for me.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              Could you remind me which bit you’re referring to, here? Rey and Ben do that constantly throughout the sequel trilogy without any consequence whatsoever. In the original trilogy, Luke gets Force Voicemail from Obi-Wan, and Luke, Leia and Anakin talk to each other through the force, again without any obvious adverse effect.

              Their very first force bond conversation, Kylo says something along the lines of “you aren’t the one doing this, the strain would kill you”. In the OT, Obi-Wan was a ghost and Luke/Leia/Anakin was more of a subtle connection that was tied to their bloodline, they weren’t straight up talking to or physically affecting each other like Rey and Kylo were.

              If we’re taking the other sequels into account, it’s established in TFA that ordinary people can just straight up see stuff happening in a whole other solar system, without any delay for speed of light, so free instantaneous information transmission is apparently just A Thing now.

              Are you talking about about Starkiller Base and the New Republic? Solar wide planets were literally getting obliterated at that time, it’s a completely different thing from communication.

              Honestly I really don’t enjoy being pedantic with this stuff, especially in the context of something as drama-first as Star Wars, but the whole force projection scenario in TLJ just seemed like a(nother) giant ass-pull for me.

              I personally think Force bonds and projections aren’t too big of a deal or unbelievable for a Force ability.

              1. Geebs says:

                Ah, I assumed that was just Kylo – who is an established liar – talking more bullshit. So, Rey’s just OP then, which is entirely in keeping with her character.

                I’m not saying that force projection is an ass-pull; as pointed out in the article, new force powers turn up in Star Wars all the time as the plot demands. I’m saying that it’s an ass-pull that Luke was such a specific level of lazy that he would rather Force so hard he *died* rather than get off his backside in order to go somewhere and *risk his life*, and it’s an ass-pull that astral projection kills you when e.g. near-death-due-to-old-age Yoda can lift an X-wing without either injuring himself or drilling himself a mile into the (soft, it’s a swamp) ground due to Newton’s second and third laws.

                Also, if the danger associated with astral projection is related to distance, why not just fly to the planet, park up behind something, and astral project from nearby?

                1. MerryWeathers says:

                  Snoke was responsible for their force bond, not Rey, he explains during the throne room scene that it was a trap meant to lure her to him. As for why it’s still there in Rise of Skywalker? I forgot to be honest and this is same movie where Palpatine managed to summon a force lightning storm out of nowhere so I don’t really know what to say there.

                  Luke wasn’t lazy, that was the most he could do since his X-Wing was submerged underwater (I know Rey manages to use it in ROS despite the doors being torn so I’ll chalk it up to being a retcon). A more appropriate comparison would be if Yoda was not only lifting a Super Star Destroyer but said SSD was being lifted all the way from Coruscant to Dagobah, Luke wasn’t simply force projecting himself from one location to another but a completely different region in the galaxy.

                  Luke couldn’t fly because he didn’t have a spaceship, in the context of TLJ, his X-wing is destroyed.

                  1. Geebs says:

                    Snoke was responsible for their force bond

                    OK, how come Snoke doesn’t die, then? He’s not even a real person. OK, so it’s really actually Palpatine. How come Palpatine doesn’t die?

                    his X-wing is destroyed

                    Well, I suppose that compared with having had a complete personality transplant, the idea that famous Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, who spent his entire youth fixing equipment, and who was able to quickly repair his X-wing the last time it was pulled out of a body of water, and who is now so powerful in the force that he can astral project across the galaxy, and who has the help of a planet-full of semi-acquatic life-forms, would rather drop dead than retrieve and fix his X-wing is pretty believable I guess.

                    Like I implied above, I actually hate nitpicking Star Wars, because it’s not that sort of story. I resent TLJ because it actively thrusts the nits in my face and demands they be picked. The whole film undergoes story collapse in the opening minutes. It doesn’t help that both of the directors of the sequels have *serious* history of plots that aren’t internally consistent and don’t pay off, so my trust in the story teller is already on very shaky ground.

                    If the sequels weren’t already holed below the waterline and listing steeply, you could get away with this stuff. As it is, TLJ tried to shove Luke into an Obi-Wan shaped hole, but with Expectations Subverted, and it just doesn’t work for me; consequently, and as a result of a lot of other poorly-executed characters, the themes of the movie don’t work either,

        2. Syal says:

          Kylo gets splashed by water from Rey’s side earlier; wouldn’t bother me to say the lightsaber did actually hit Luke somewhere, or some other Kylo-based Force-specific injury, and he just played it cool to make Kylo second-guess himself.

          1. Geebs says:

            That’s an interesting point, but on the other hand every single time anybody in the movies gets hit by a lightsaber they either get bisected or at least wind up with an amputation. We’re in “T’is but a scratch” territory, here.

            1. Syal says:

              Yeah, but he’s the only one who gets lightsabered as a hologram. Assume there’s significant muting from that, and you can have a situation where only something like the inside of his stomach actually gets lasered, and maybe it’s just a slow grilling from Kylo leaving it there for several seconds.

      3. Hector says:

        Luke v. Kylo was about the one thing in TLJ that was worth watching, given the utter disaster of a narrative.

    4. Nixorbo says:

      The best Star Wars video game of all time is Tie Fighter

      Did we just become best friends?

    5. Retsam says:

      Kind of hilarious timing on this, just earlier today I was having a discussion with someone on reddit who claimed that the difference between the prequels and the sequels is that the prequels didn’t change the existing lore, but the sequels did.

      A lot of people have now grown up on the prequels[1], and to them, “Nu Star Wars” is normal and the “Nu Nu Star Wars” of the sequels is the weird new thing on the block.

      [1] Arguably including myself: I’m sort of the transitional generation – old enough that I watched the original trilogy many times before the prequels came out, but young to still have a sense of wonder and excitement about the prequels.

    6. Ashen says:

      Let’s not forget how the final mission of the original TIE Fighter campaign has you protecting the Emperor from being shot down by insurrectionists. And before that you’re wingmates with Vader and have to cover his sorry ass as well.

      I always loved that. No matter how many fancy force powers you have, a stray torpedo in your face will ruin your day anyway.

      Then Star Wars changed to this.

      1. Richard says:

        Playing Devil’s Advocaat, presumably it’s held up by lots of repulsorlift thingies and the Apprentice breaks just enough of them?

        I mean, ripping the rotor off a helicopter would definitely make it crash, you wouldn’t actually have to pull it out of the sky directly.

        The “stops just in front of him” part is just silly though.
        Any real apprentice would be in for some severe telling off and a few weeks of cleaning the forge if they did something that stupid.

  9. Baron Tanks says:

    I think it will actually count as a 2020 game on the big gaming sites. Either that, or this game was severely snubbed by the gaming press.

    I don’t think the game was snubbed. Or at least, I don’t think it wasn’t evaluated as a 2019 game. I just think it was received less warm than you may have imagined while writing that. And I think a decent chunk of that has exactly to do with the reason you allude to for liking this game, namely this being a Soulsborne-esque (what a terrible term) game that you could get into. However, by occupying this kind of middle ground, a lot of groups were a lot less enthused by this title. Those that actually like this type of games, came away with an impression that this game played a lot like Sekiro, but doesn’t offer the same depth and gratification that game does. While I’m sure nobody expects a studio to debut in a genre as strong as the (arguably) genre trailblazers, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it was experienced quite often as a ‘not as good one of those’. On the other hand, there is a large group of people that have no interest in these types of games, either due to trying them and bouncing off or not being interested period. I have no data to back this up, but my gut feeling is that both these groups are numerically larger than the in between group you fall in to.

    On top of this, it launched in a bit of a technically wonky state, which, while par for the course in 2019 unfortunately, doesn’t really help the game either. I did see a lot of praise for the audiovisual design and to a lesser extent the narrative/setting/storytelling*. And of course the positive surprise at the fact that it is EA published and not totally on fire. But evidently those aspects didn’t weigh strong enough in the games favor to overcome the other aspects of the reception. So yeah, summarizing my impression is that Fallen Order wasn’t necessarily snubbed**, but was mostly received lukewarm to okay-ish.

    *at the very least it was not openly mocked and derided
    **again, snubbed can be interpreted in many ways, here I’m going with was skipped/looked over for accolades based on outside factors rather than the product/piece of art itself. I’m countering here that a lot of people looked at Fallen Order and just were not all that impressed with it

    1. ccesarano says:

      It’s possible that Fallen Order will be regarded for 2020’s Game of the Year, but according to the Game Awards FAQ it just barely made the cut-off date. According to it, games need to be released on or before November 15th to be eligible, and November 15th was Fallen Order’s release date.

      Looking at the list of nominees/winners, it had a lot of competition. However, it also begs the question of who is coming up with these categories and sorting them. Why are shooters like Apex Legends, Gears 5, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Metro: Exodus in Action alongside Astral Chain and Devil May Cry 5? What separates Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice from those latter two games that it’s in Action-Adventure? Let’s not digress into the absurdity of a genre as ill-defined and broad as “action-adventure” and instead ask where the “Shooter” category went. And why is Monster Hunter World: Iceborne an RPG?

      If I had to guess, Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order was being considered for 2020, but I’d imagine its release timing will cause it to be overlooked something fierce because of games like Ghost of Tsushima, Cyberpunk 2077, Animal Crossing, DOOM Eternal, and Last of Us Part 2.

      This is also looking specifically at the Game Awards. I can’t speak for individual publications as I only really check Gematsu these days, which is just a news blog, and YouTube, where most of the YouTubers I follow would have been more about Sekiro than Fallen Order.

      1. Baron Tanks says:

        Right, considering the Game awards and some other stuff, I guess it may have actually missed some cut-off. I came to my above statement thinking about both the in my opinion pretty lukewarm reception at the time and a couple of specific Game of the year content instances I know I consumed last year, where I know they both played Fallen Order and published some form of Game of the year article/video whatever where it didn’t make the cut. Skimming through some of the review synopses even now, the consensus reads to me as follows: solid basis, enjoyable, better than expected from EA, mostly excited to see if they can really knock it out of the park next time. In other (my) words: solid game, some ways off for best of a year

  10. Hal says:

    Star Wars Jedi: The Search for More Money.

    1. Lars says:

      Spaceballs is still the best SW entry.

  11. tmtvl says:

    The full name of this game is Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order EA™.

    Isn’t it Star Wars™ Jedi: Fallen Order™ EA™? Just trying to set the record straight.

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    Who are the Jedi?
    The Jedi are peaceful monks that go largely unnoticed by society at large. They map fairly well to the tropes of Shaolin Monks in classic martial arts movies. They spend their entire lives gardening, studying, farming, or some other quiet hands-on activity. During extraordinary circumstances they might leave their remote monastery / hermit dwelling / cave to participate in conflict, but they dislike violence. A Jedi uses his powers only for defense, never for attack.

    OR…

    The Jedi are galactic fixers, sent out to galactic hotspots by powerful politicians to intervene in matters of state and bust some heads if bad guys cause too much trouble.

    How do the Jedi Fight?
    Jedi are quiet, observant, and patient. They avoid direct conflict if possible. If conflict is unavoidable, they’re willing to sacrifice themselves to preserve life. They fight with subtlety, subterfuge, and surgical precision. They kill only at great need and do so with regret.

    OR…

    The Jedi leap into massed armies waving their laser swords around and shouting quips at each other.

    What is the Dark Side?
    The Dark Side appeals to our base instincts. It favors the quick and easy solution. It takes your desire to do good and perverts it. It exploits existing personality flaws, pushing you to be a worse version of yourself. It’s not actually a malevolent force in itself, but simply an expression of human frailty and the idea that “power corrupts”.

    OR…

    The Dark Side is evil space mojo that mind-controls people into being violent assholes if they get too angry for understandable reasons, forcing Jedi to bottle up their emotions.

    I’m gonna play the devil’s advocate for the prequel trilogy here. I believe the proper interpretation of Nu Star Wars compared to OT is a change on views, only not from the writing standpoint, but in-universe. The foundations of the prequel story are that the Jedi used to be like the OT defined them, but lost their way. They used to be closeted, calculating and disliking of violence, but with the time they started intervening more and more until they outright decided to put themselves in power, likely under the excuse of it being “for the greater good”. This is the sort of thing you usually see in parallel universes (like Superman does in Injustice, for instance), but this time it’s canonical to the backstory.

    So then the Jedi somewhat begrudgingly recruited Anakin, under the belief that if the prophecy about him bringing balance to the Force was true, they’d benefit from it. They genuinely thought they were in the right in all their actions, and therefore anyone who opposed them was evil. “Bringing balance” surely would be in their favor. Then Palpatine saw a perfect chance to end the Jedi reign. Why attack the Jedi from outside when all he had to do was find a capable warrior from within and show him that the Jedi were indeed in the wrong? Lie to someone about your enemies and they’re bound to learn the truth. But if their actions are real, they’re inescapable. Leaving aside the poor delivery of the “From my point of view the Jedi are evil!” line in ROTS, Anakin has a genuine point.

    So, after the Jedi are decimated and balance is rightly brought to the Force (though certainly not in the way the Jedi expected), the few remaining ones get a lesson in humility. When Obi-Wan explains Luke the ways of the Jedi, he makes sure to omit the part where they had stopped following those rules, the same way he omitted Vader’s true identity.

    Granted, it’s really hard to pick up the subtle background storytelling when those films overwhelm your senses with visual schizophrenia and painful dialogue. If it’s true that the OT is the product of clever editing, then the prequels would have benefitted from it even better.

    Anyway, I’ll have to pass on this series for now. It’ll be a while until I get to play this game. I’m really doing my best in going through my massive backlog before buying anything new and unless this game shows up in a really good deal, I can’t afford to spend money and time in it for some good time.

    1. Kathryn says:

      If the latest movies hadn’t killed my once-strong love for Star Wars so thoroughly, I would engage heavily with this point (that the Jedi had lost their way and Anakin DID bring balance to the Force) because I completely agree with it.

      Alas, at this point, about the only way Star Wars could win me back is if whoever owns it now came out and said, “OK, our bad on the new movies. Pretend they didn’t happen. Now we’re going to make the Heir to the Empire trilogy,” and then were faithful to those books (allowing for necessary adaptations to the big screen, of course. I just mean they shouldn’t, for example, have Mara Jade be a wisecracking sexy blonde who hooks up with Luke first thing. Nothing wrong with sexy wisecracking blondes; that’s just not who Mara Jade is).

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Yeah, sadly the sequels kinda screwed the whole thing by constantly changing direction like a drunk GTA player with a broken controller. And then when they finally settled on an idea it was “Skywalker vs Palpatine” again and “the Force can do whatever the hell we want”. I know the OT wasn’t planned from the start, but they didn’t deliberately set each movie out to contradict the previous one.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I’ve commented on it before that I was someone who rewatched all the movies at least once a year and had almost all of the EU books and pretty much bought any new Star Wars book and bought the DVDs when they came out. After the first two movies of the sequel trilogy, I had lost interest in Star Wars. I haven’t rewatched any of the new movies — even Rogue One, which was … okay — and refuse to buy any of the novels. I also have yet to watch or buy The Rise of Skywalker, and have no interest in doing so. So I went from a pretty dedicated fan to someone who doesn’t care about the franchise anymore, all because of the sequel movies. I don’t think that’s what they intended.

          1. Lino says:

            I also haven’t watched Rise of Skywalker yet (though I plan on doing it soon™). In terms of the new books, you aren’t missing much. I’ve read the Aftermath series – one of the very, very few non-YA books in the new canon. It takes place after Episode 6 and sets up how the Empire turned into the New Order.

            Now, I’m usually a person who tries to look past tropes and cliches. I tend not to give them too much attention, and instead just go along for the ride (e.g. I often enjoy films and books which most people consider bad). But apart from a few mildly interesting and fun scenes, I found Aftermath to be… not good. Extremely not good. It’s so by-the-numbers that it hurts.

            That being said, I am slightly interested in their new Old Republic series (or High Republic, as I think they’re calling it). It’s going to take place in the time before the Prequels. But from what I’ve seen so far, I’m not impressed. The way they’re going about it is so wrong-headed, that I’d be amazed if they manage to pull off something even halfway decent…

          2. Kathryn says:

            Same here, except in the EU, I stuck strictly to Zahn and Stackpole (I think Allston was pretty good too, wasn’t he? Been a while) after being infuriated by Kevin J. Anderson too many times. Regardless, I completely agree with your last two sentences.

            1. DeadlyDark says:

              KJA infuriated me with Dune books way more, than with Star Wars ones.

              To be fair, I’ve heard, his series about zombie-detective was a good one, so he’s probably not all that bad

            2. Daimbert says:

              Allston was great at banter and did great things with the character of Wedge. How much you like him will depend entirely on how much of that appeals to you.

          3. radford says:

            I had a very similar experience with the sequel trilogy, going from pretty committed fan to totally disinterested. I was ready to give up on Star Wars entirely, but decided to try The Mandalorian and it is legitimately great. It nails the feeling of the original trilogy without being incredibly derivative like The Force Awakens was. A small part of me kind of resents how good it is, because now I really want to keep watching it and it might lure me back into watching more terrible movies.

          4. DeadlyDark says:

            Same. After TLJ I remembered Linkara and his approach to SM after One More Day and decided to stop consume and buy anything Star Wars after it. No regrets, to be honest. I always have original six movies, jedi knights and kotors if I need my fix. I might finally watch Clone Wars, if I feel I need something new

        2. MerryWeathers says:

          It’s a shame what Rise of Skywalker did to the ST, I feel if they had expanded on and acknowledged the things TLJ set up then it would have made the sequel trilogy worthwhile.

          Duel of the Fates managed to do this, as dumb of a script it was, but it was entertaining.

          1. etheric42 says:

            You could say the same thing about TLJ. If TLJ had expanded on and acknowledged the things in TFA, it would have made the sequel trilogy worthwhile. Not saying TLJ was bad (or good), but that the entire sequel trilogy was competing visions of Star Wars and creators spitting at each-other.

            Which is a shame because I dug the discussion of what it’s like to follow the dark side in TFA, the cinematography and discussion of the “little people” in TLJ, the breakneck bombasticness and interpersonal connection of Rise. It’s too bad they were all in the same trilogy and none of them neither director had any interest in following up what the other director set up (or accomplishing a beginning/middle/end of the theme/thought in a single movie).

            I actually thing the ST is the best trilogy of the series if each movie was viewed as an independent object with the promise you’d someday get its actual sequel/prequel.

            1. Thomas says:

              Yes, if they’d delivered on any one vision in the sequel trilogy, I think we could have had something very worthwhile. It’s a shame the trilogy ended up being two improv partners having a spat.

              Saying that, one day there might be a new generation of star wars fans who grew up on the sequels and I hope they found the positive things to take from them, that previous fans took from other generations.

              1. etheric42 says:

                …two improv partners having a spat.

                Love it!

                Fair credit to the leads though, I don’t think Rian was the right choice for a sequel to JJ’s movie, and I don’t think a sequel to Rian’s movie would have been possible in the Disney/Star Wars box. Whoever was actually steering the trilogy (the Lucas stand-in) failed to get everyone on-board for something other than “A return to form, followed by an artsy piece that older fans will appreciate, followed by a finale.” Of course that might well have been JJ, but I don’t think he would have been as snippy in Rise if he had a chance to straighten out Rian and instead gave him the green light.

          2. Bloodsquirrel says:

            The problem was that TLJ didn’t set up anything. It killed off all of the existing plot points without introducing any new ones for the next movie to latch onto.

            Long before TROS came out I was saying that it was going to struggle to make up for the hole that TLJ dug the ST into. It was obvious back then that there really wasn’t anywhere for the trilogy to go- all of the character arcs had been run into the ground, the big villain was dead, and we were back to square one with The Empire vs. The Rebellion.

            Really, the only thing they could have done was either just ignore that TLJ ever happened and make a new second and third act, or just give up on the “trilogy” and start a new one.

            1. etheric42 says:

              As much as I would really love to see a sequel to TFA, I think there is definitely room to play off of TLJ.

              A) Don’t introduce another super-villain, let Kylo be the one, and then you don’t have a stranger for a big bad (like Palpatine was in Return and Vader was in ANH. Let the conflict be a PERSONAL one. I don’t think this would have been a very Star Wars thing to do (Luke had a personal connection with Vader in Return, but the danger in the room was always Palpatine). But it would have been very interesting!

              B) Kill off your super-heroes and focus on the little people. The leadership is dead. Leia should have died too. Poe is ready to take a back seat. Nobody slicer DJ, mechanic Rose, fan club slave younglings are a core theme throught TLJ. Rise could have focused on a resistance that was ground-up instead of top-down. Organic instead of organized. The theme was visited in the form of the rag-tag fleet, but it could have been the core of the movie. That wouldn’t have been a very Star Wars thing to do (even if it was a rag-tag rebellion, it was something Luke wanted to JOIN, with admirals and missions and orders). But it would have been very interesting!

              C) Focus on reconciliation through actual reconciliation, not through winning. The leader of the bad guys (Kylo) has an intense connection with one of the only remaining characters of import of the good guys (Rey, who avoided the failures of the fleet by not being there). The final movie could be about bringing an end to the conflict by reconciling differences and bringing balance to the force between them. It kind of did by focusing on their chemistry, the fact that Kylo didn’t really want to be a bad guy, and Rey’s Power of Forgiveness given to her by Luke. But it was only at an interpersonal level and there still needed to be an army to crush. This wouldn’t be very Star Wars though (Luke got Vader to reconcile, but there still were a lot of imperials to blow up). But it would have been very interesting!

              D) Child soldiers everywhere and the horror of war. Finn was a child soldier for The New Order. The slavelings at the end of TLJ were being radicalized to become child soldiers for The Resistance. It doesn’t matter that one side is the bad guys and the other the good guys. As DJ says, they win today, you win tomorrow. But while DJ accepts this and lives within that framework, the third movie could be about rejecting both that framework and the framework of hegemony/resistance. Throughout TLJ, the theme of sacrifice is repeated over and over again with seemingly different lessons:

              Paige and the other pilots sacrifice themselves out of duty following orders and succeed. They sure kill a lot of bad guys. But their sacrifice is seen as pointless by command and either way basically everyone they care about in the fleet still dies.

              Holdo (it should have been Leia) sacrifices herself out of duty and of her own volition and succeeds. She sure kills a LOT of bad guys. But it doesn’t stop the bad guys from still having enough overwhelming force to be able to kill everyone she cares about.

              Finn tries to sacrifice himself out of duty and of his own volition and… for some reason isn’t allowed to do it. Someone cares about him too much to let him do it, even if nobody else was given that benefit. It probably wouldn’t have worked anyway, he isn’t a superhero like Luke and Rey and didn’t have overwhelming power like the pilots/Holdo.

              Luke sacrifices himself out of duty and of his own volition. He doesn’t kill anyone (unless I’m misremembering). His sacrifice is successful because he’s a superhero (or maybe you could say he is just as successful as the pilots/Holdo in that people live just long enough to face the next disaster).

              At the end of the day nearly everyone is dead and there is basically no chance for winning and all they’ve done is sacrifice after sacrifice. Their only ray of hope is in the hope of resistance spreading to… child soldiers? This cycle needs to be broken and we need to stop indoctrinating the next generation that what’s going on is cool so they can grow up to sacrifice themselves. Rise could have told the story of compromise. An end to sacrifice. An end to radicalizing the next generation. That wouldn’t have been very Star Wars though (which has been a vehicle for people to pretend they are knights and fighter pilots and kill things more than a vehicle for putting down the lightsaber and not giving in to hate). Or would it have been very Star Wars? Not the Star Wars media empire, but the Star Wars that Yoda envisioned in ESB and that Luke personally achieved in Return (even if his father ended up sacrificing himself, still trapped in the Old Ways). That definitely would have been Very Interesting!

              I would love to see a true sequel to TLJ that isn’t trapped by the imperial needs of the Star Wars franchise, but I think it would have been pretty insulting to fans of Star Wars as it was. Which is why I had high hopes for a sequel to TFA which I thought could have struck a good balance between being very Star Wars, while also pulling on some KOTOR2 vibes and deconstructing what it meant to be on the dark side.

              1. Shamus says:

                I would encourage everyone to wait until we talk about TLJ in this series. Don’t waste all of your TLJ essays on the intro post!

                1. etheric42 says:

                  Hush Shamus. You go back to talking about games. Us important people here in the comments are talking about important things like movies that are only tangentially related to the thing this article is about.

                  :-)

                  Also, you threatened to back out of the TLJ conversation, are you hereby committing forthwith unto that field of battle?

                  Message received though. Thread flagged as “off topic”. Executing order 666.

                  1. Shamus says:

                    When TLJ comes up, I have a big chunk of the post dedicated to setting boundary lines. Some of them are just obvious stuff like “Love / hate the movie, but don’t project villainy or insincerity onto people who hate / love it.” But some of it is a series of observations about how TLJ posts wind up in a ditch, to help people from falling into that ditch.

                    I feel like TLJ discussion will be safer and more productive when they’re taking place within those confines.

                    Spoiler: That post will land the first week in November. (This is going to be a long series, particularly considering how short this game is.)

              2. Syal says:

                (Luke had a personal connection with Vader in Return, but the danger in the room was always Palpatine)

                This one’s wrong. The whole thing is about the personal connection with Vader. Apart from the Emperor only ever appearing in that one room while Vader is everywhere throughout, Luke never tries to fight the Emperor. He does fight Vader, and he rejects the Dark Side, and the Emperor is defeated as an epilogue to Vader’s redemption.

            2. Duffy says:

              I wouldn’t say it set nothing up, it seemed to setup a great inversión of the OT: what if Luke and Vader killed the emperor together but Vader thought Luke was joining him to take over the empire? The entire setup of the TLJ climax is almost an identical homage to the throne room scene from RotJ and not just for the nostalgia but so they could create and cement Kylo’s downfall to become the primary Villian. The last movie should have been about beating Kylo, the best move would have been some form of sacrifice either to save him or finally end him and the Skywalker legacy, or to embrace the grey path as the solution to this infinitely cyclical pattern of light and dark rearing their heads constantly. Ya know a mostly philosophically driven action/adventure movie like the OT…but yea that’s not what we got.

              TFA also setup nothing of use, every mystery they hinted at had absolutely no reasonable answer – which is why as soon as they said Abrams was doing the finale I knew it was gonna be a mess of awful ideas to explain the unresolvable junk from TFA.

              My major gripe with TLJ was about style and dialogue tone, it aimed too much at the slick talking modern style and not enough at the OT deliberate drama. Jokes aren’t a problem, the OT has plenty of humor, but the delivery and style of joke needed to fit Star Wars and a lot of the dialogue felt slightly off because of that lack of coherent SW style. But ultimately the themes and philosophy were hinting at great extensions and some ideas explored in the EU and the recent cartoons that I really liked, but alas none of it was followed up on cause well JJ doesn’t do that sorta stuff.

              1. Syal says:

                At the end of TLJ I was expecting Kylo Ren’s story to end with him Force choking an entire room in a fit of rage and one of his men shooting him in the back to stay alive.

              2. Distec says:

                For all its flaws, I do think TLJ had a jump-off point at the end that allowed ROS to do something interesting like in your first paragraph.

                Unfortunately, TLJ itself briskly speeds right past that moment, pretty much ensuring the ROS we got instead of the ROS that could have been. TLJ should have ended there in the throne room with Rey and Kylo; his hand outstretched to hers, seeking a different path. She could reciprocate or we could end the film on an ambiguous note. Either’s fine! But despite having airs about “breaking the Star Wars mould”, TLJ follows up the throne room scene with Rey decidedly rejecting Kylo and going back to throw her enthused support behind Leia’s Resistance, Kylo reverts to being a shouty, petulant child, and we are once again back to the status quo of plucky, hopeful Rebels versus evil, fascist Empire.

                This is why I’ve never been persuaded by the argument that JJ Abrams failed to capitalize on TLJ and do something interesting with a sequel. I’m not saying JJ was ever going to be the director capable of doing that, given his wheelhouse. But if TLJ had any daring ideas or potential, the film kneecapped itself by its closing frames and essentially preempted anybody else from following them through.

            3. Gethsemani says:

              I’ve seen this argument before, but it is also patently not true and even a cursory glance at the end of TLJ would tell you this. So let’s go over the character arcs (arguably the important part of TLJ):
              Rey: Rey has learned an important lesson about herself and has decided to become a Jedi, by taking the old Jedi texts with her. She’s also found a potential mentor that isn’t a disillusioned hermit (though going forth on this would have been really hard since Carrie Fisher died, RoS did all it could with available footage).
              Finn: Finn has found a reason to fight and found the motivation needed not to be afraid of the First Order.
              Poe: Poe has learned to be a leader and that long term gain must come before short term victories.
              Kylo: Kylo has usurped the First Order but his Klingon Promotion is clearly not well received by Hux and many others in the First Order.

              The thing that defines all these arcs is that they are not really complete. We see that each character has assumed a new role (much like Luke being a sort-of Jedi in Bespin) but their journeys are still underway and they’ve yet to prove themselves in their newfound capacities.

              On top of that TLJ clearly establishes that there are allies around the galaxy but that they haven’t come to the Resistance’s aid on Krait for some reason. This is about as big a plot hook as can be tossed, especially if you combine it with Rey’s, Poe’s and Finn’s personal arcs. It would be soooooo easy to write a continuation were they assume leadership of the New Resistance or Children of Skywalker or whatever and spend the first half of the movie rallying allies to their aid. Meanwhile Kylo has to try and hold an increasingly discontent First Order together and try to stop a full mutiny against his rule. All of it comes together in a climactic battle in which Rey faces off against Kylo, Poe fights a space battle and Finn leads ground troops, all very reminiscent of RotJ but being its own distinct thing.

              Or you could revive Palpatine and pull a fleet out of your ass while dropping everyone’s character development but Rey’s.

              1. wswordsmen says:

                I am so glad Disney wiped the EU, both good and bad, from continuity so they could do a crappy version of Dark Empire, a crappy part of the EU. /s

            4. Daimbert says:

              The problem was that TLJ didn’t set up anything. It killed off all of the existing plot points without introducing any new ones for the next movie to latch onto.

              Yeah, I felt the same way. It’s like Mass Effect 2 except without the interesting characters and character arcs to distract us.

            5. EOW says:

              TLJ definetely set up enough for a compelling finale.
              It set up an interesting duel between Rey and Kylo, two conflicting ideologies and interpretation of the force.
              Them figuring out where to go from there now that sith and jedi are no more and fighting for their ideals.
              There’s also the hook in rogue one where the Force is not used and understood just by jedis but other cultures as well. Lastly there was the people being inspired by Luke to take up the force and figure it out for themselves, pretty much the whole theme of TLJ was “let go of the past and forge a new future”

              Trying to retcon it and go back to the “traditions are important” makes all the character look bipolar, the trilogy completely wrecked and devalues everything about the first two movies.
              TLJ is a better sequel to TFA than TROS is a sequel to TLJ.
              TROS literally killed and buried the franchise and pretty much any faith in star wars ever being good ever again.

      2. Lino says:

        Seconded. I think an important part about the prequels was getting a younger generation into Star Wars. I remember how, leading up to Episode 1, my dad showed me the OT. To put it lightly, it didn’t grab me. At all. To me, those were just a bunch of old sci-fi movies. And old sci-fi movies rarely age well.

        But once I saw Episode 1, I was hooked, and was much better able to appreciate the older films. So much so, that they, along with the prequels, are among my favourite movies ever.

        Over the years, the reasons for why I like these movies has changed. But the most consistent of them has been the close ties to the films with Eastern philosophy and martial arts. And, unfortunately, after the OT that connection has been slowly waning. So much so that in the latest trilogy it’s pretty much non-existent (yes, I know about TLJ; and no, that’s not how you do it). But I’d like to keep that can of worms closed…

        1. Thomas says:

          I introduced my partner to Star Wars this summer, and she struggled to get into the OT, until we started with the Prequels and watched them sequentially. It’s nice that there are some many jumping on points for people.

          As an aside, it was fun seeing someone watch the PT who knew that Darth Vader and Sidious existed, but not so much about them that it was immediately clear that Anakin would become Darth Vader.

          1. etheric42 says:

            I introduced my oldest to the OT at the age of 5-6-7 (spread the movies out). I have to say it was a good experience, but also very frustrating because after watching 5 he picked up all the Star Wars books and encyclopedias he could out of the library/store and devoured them, meaning he was actively dropping spoilers about 7 when he hadn’t seen 6 yet. He still really enjoyed 6 and 7 (moments such as the one in the image in the article would cause him to literally stand straight up in his seat), but it was truly annoying.

            The plan is for kid 2 to watch PT at the same time as kid 1, and then kid 3 can watch ST at the same time as kids 1 and 2. Then I can rotate back to OT and finally back to PT to get a truly scientific comparison.

          2. DeadlyDark says:

            I got into SW with games. Jedi Outcast was my first PC video game, and after that I accidentally caught New Hope on TV and was like “ooh, so that’s where the music in the game from, I thought it was original score there”. And since I was clueless about SW at all, the Vader twist caught me in surprise (as it should’ve been). Later I played KOTOR, watched prequels and such.

            Took me a while to appreciate prequels, actually.

    2. John says:

      What? No. Absolutely not. That is definitely not how the Jedi acted or what the Jedi did in the prequels. That’s what Palpatine said in order to justify his coup to the public and what Anakin chose to believe in order to retroactively justify his murders and atrocities, but that is demonstrably not what happened in the films. The story of the prequels is not one of Jedi aggression, overreach, and hubris. Individual prequel Jedi–Obi-Wan, mostly–are more or less as Obi-Wan described them in the original trilogy. As an organization, however, the prequel Jedi are fearful, easily led, passive to the point of paralyzation, and almost completely ineffectual at affecting the broader galaxy.

      1. Hector says:

        I’d say there’s some amount of hubris and overreach, if not necessarily aggression. The prequels were quite clear that the Jedi were all too human and fallible.

        This does not mean they were bad, or deserved to die. (A very weird idea I’ve had to explain far too many times.) Just that even trying their hardest and with the best of intentions, they could fail. The Sith blindsided them from the one flank they never imagined would be hostile.

        That being said, I’m laughing somewhat at the idea that Space Monks would have to be hermits with rich gardens. If Lucas did one thing right, it was to show the Jedi in their prime, integrated in the galactic community, and trying to be peacemakers.

        1. Thomas says:

          I’m strongly on the side that the Jedi’s failing in the prequel trilogy were of aggression and overreach. They got lured into being militaristic players in galactic politics, and the fighting and war took them further and further away from their roots, to the point where they missed the rising presence of the dark side of the force.

          That fits well with Clone Wars and KOTOR2, where conflict is a moral crucible that breaks Jedi. And Luke broke that cycle by not striking his father down, but trying to redeem him. Which exposed the flaw in the Jedi order, that they had tried to suppress their emotions dogmatically, instead of embracing their positive emotions.

          1. John says:

            You are using the terms aggression and overreach in a very different sense than I am. Nothing in the films suggests to me that the Jedi sought to lead armies. Aggression and overreach imply a certain amount of activity and ambition, which are not characteristics that the prequel Jedi, as an organization, possess. Attack of the Clones shows that they suddenly and unexpectedly had an army thrust upon them and that they stumbled awkwardly and passively into war.

            1. Bloodsquirrel says:

              You mean aside from how the Jedi wound up leading armies?

              It’s worth noting that, in the end, what made Palpatine’s plan work was that the Jedi broke into his office and tried to kill him.They didn’t even have any evidence that he was behind the whole thing. They just had Anakin’s asserting that he was a Sith Lord, and that was good enough for them to run off on their own and attempt to murder the elected chancellor of the Galactic Republic. They could’t have done a better job of playing into his hands if they’d tried.

              1. John says:

                “We suddenly have this army we weren’t expecting and so we have no officers for it. Could you fine, public-spirited Jedi handle that for us please?” And of course the Jedi failed to weasel out of it as they should have. The Jedi’s problem wasn’t that they were gung-ho for war. It was that their draft-dodging skills were inadequate.

                1. etheric42 says:

                  The Jedi’s problem wasn’t that they were gung-ho for war. It was that their draft-dodging skills were inadequate.

                  Love it!

                  This amusingly plays into the idea of Star Wars as a Vietnam protest by Lucas.

              2. Hector says:

                The Jedi were explicitly the peacekeepers, and full Jedi are expected to be capable combatants. It’s not exactly shocking that they were involved in a war.

                The idea that war caused some Jedi to fall to the Dark Side is not, as far as I am aware, a theme of the movies. I understand that this is present at some times in the associated works around it but not being very knowledgable about them i can’t entirely comment. It’s certainly hardly surprising or unprecedented for Jedi to be challenged by the strong emotions that conflict breeds. However, as far as the movies go, their decisions were logical with the information they had at the time they made.

                1. Thomas says:

                  But they were logical and led them down a path that destroyed their order. I will admit it’s probably not an intentional theme of the films, but it comes through very strongly in the Clone Wars that the Jedi were misplaced as generals and, effectively, policemen, when they should be peacekeepers.

                  The Clone Wars isn’t pacifist – it argues that there is a strong need to defend against injustice, but by becoming soldiers they moved past the core principles of their order. Anakin was a very good warrior, but a poor Jedi and in the Clone Wars it’s clear that he likes war and would miss it being gone.

                  And both KOTOR1 and KOTOR2 have the theme that the realities of war, and the ever present suffering lead Jedi to the dark side. In KOTOR1 it’s clear that Revan and his fellow Jedi were changed by the Mandalorian wars and that led them to the Sith. KOTOR2 suggests that Revan deliberately used war to weaken and convert the Jedi. (Admittedly I haven’t played The Old Republic all the way through, so they might have undone that part by now).

                  And whilst it isn’t an explicit theme of the films, it’s not hard to see it come out strongly in the prequel trilogy. The sparking incident in the first scene of the Phantom Menance is the trade federations fear at having two Jedi be present for negotiations, and the tensions between the Jedi’s responsibility to their order, and the actuality of being a military arm of the chancellor are riven throughout.

                2. John says:

                  The idea that war caused some Jedi to fall to the Dark Side is not, as far as I am aware, a theme of the movies.

                  It isn’t. In fact, not only is it not a theme, it never happens at all. Anakin is the only Jedi shown to turn to the Dark Side in the entire prequel trilogy and I’d argue that the reasons he turns are unrelated to the war. The prequel trilogy really only deals with the very beginning of the war in Attack of the Clones and the very end in Revenge of the Sith. Unless we start dragging the spinoffs into it, we have very little sense of what the war was like.

                  1. The Puzzler says:

                    I agree, though it might be that they had fallen into a flawed/unbalanced interpretation of the Light Side. Love seems to be forbidden to Anakin. Couldn’t they at least have let him rescue his own enslaved mother at some point? It’s this, as much as Palpatine’s actions, that make him fall.

                    Is this the intended reading of the Prequel trilogy, I wonder?

            2. Mr. Wolf says:

              Army or not, it’s interesting to note that the Jedi technically started the Clone Wars. Sure, the Sith were going to start it anyway, but think about it:

              The Separatists were threatening to leave the Republic. This is undesirable, but in no way illegal. They catch Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padme sneaking around in Geonosian military factories. Inadequate signposting or not, trespass is illegal. They are sentenced to death for espionage and murder.

              Mace Windu gets word of what’s going on and goes to rescue them. Jedi Master Windu, master of peacekeeping and diplomacy, holds a complete stranger a sword-point while threatening the leaders of the Separatist movement. Surprisingly, the Separatists respond poorly to this negotiation tactic and violence erupts.

              Ergo, the Clone Wars started because Mace Windu is very bad at saying hello.

      2. SkySC says:

        I think the main problem with analyzing the prequels is that they’re universally so poorly made that it’s almost impossible to extract any kind of consistent message whatsoever from them. There appear to be things that the movies are trying to say, but it’s never very clear, and constantly contradicted by the mess of nonsense that makes up the majority of the runtime.

        What I want the prequels to be about is the collapse of the Republic into autocracy when the scheming Sith take advantage of its ossifying institutions and fractious politics. The Galactic Senate is clueless and vacillates between paralysis and overreaction, which allows a trade dispute to escalate into a devastating civil war. The Jedi are incapable of acting as a stopgap or voice of reason, and get dragged along into this mess. They’ve already lost their way, allowing themselves to become entangled in political scheming and go on missions of questionable morality. To some extent they even precipitate the crisis through their failures.

        And I think there’s some support in the films to argue that that actually is what they’re about. But the execution is so buffoonish that it’s kind of hard to say. When the writing is as bad as it is in these films, it’s hard to really examine characters’ motivations because many of their actions just make no sense.

    3. BlueHorus says:

      I also love the theory (which I first got from MovieBob, though he wasn’t quite serious, nor – I’m sure – was he the first to suggest it) that the Prequels were in fact a deconstruction of a Chosen One story:

      Qui-Gon Jin, an erratic and unreliable character who somehow managed to become a Jedi Knight, finds a powerful but emotionally unstable force-sensitive child (Anakin Skywalker) and decides to try and train him against the advice of other Jedi.
      Due to various mitigating circumstances (including Qui-Gon’s death) and an ambiguous prophecy, Anakin is inducted into the Jedi despite demonstrating – several times – that he is every bit as unstable, irrational and prone to violence as was initially feared…but, guys, there’s a prophecy…so the Jedi ignore it.
      Eventually, Anakin’s obvious flaws and position as a Jedi lead to him being duped (laughably easily) into helping Darth Sidious overthrow the Republic and destroying the Jedi order, including him personally murdering a load of children (which, incidentally, he’d already done once).

      The moral of the story is a) never trust an ambiguous prophecy or mysticism over your own judgement and b) part of the reason the Jedi fell is because they became lazy, complacent and incompetent in their position of power.

      Now I’m sure that interpretation what was INTENDED by Lucas, and is just fanon. But it’s like the Indoctrination Theory from Mass Effect; the very fact that it’s a fanon theory written by a third party that’s better than the canon is itself amusing.

      1. Thomas says:

        I think that is some of the intended purpose of the prequel trilogy. They set-up very strongly that Yoda thinks it’s unwise to bring Anakin into the Jedi order at his age, and it is only Qui-Gon and his devotion to the prophecy that makes it happen. And then when Anakin does join it’s clear he is very powerful but does not fit into their system and is only making things worse.

        And one of the last lines of the prequel trilogy is: “You were the chosen one, you were meant to bring balance to the force, not destroy it”. If that’s not a deconstruction of a chosen one story, I don’t know what is.

        For all the flaws of the prequels, I think the arc they form with the Original Trilogy is really rich and beautiful. The way Anakin redeems himself at the end, the way the Jedi were once powerful and strong, and yet when we were introduced to them they were small and hermetic. The way Yoda is wrong to tell Luke to complete his training, and we see that as wise as Yoda was, his philosophy also brought the downfall of the original trilogy.

        By mashing two things together that don’t gell, by taking the story in an orthogonal direction to the originals (and placing them as prequels not sequels), there’s a lot of accidental / intentional reflections and juxtapositions that resound in interesting ways, in the way that wouldn’t have happened if they were faithful to their roots.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          And one of the last lines of the prequel trilogy is: “You were the chosen one, you were meant to bring balance to the force, not destroy it”. If that’s not a deconstruction of a chosen one story, I don’t know what is.

          Does said deconstruction have to be intentional to count? Because if George Lucas intended that level of deconstruction I’d be very surprised. Remember that the prequels also featured Jar Jar Binks, Yoda somersault-lightsaber fighting, and many, many, pointless cameos from characters that were in the other films.
          And as has been pointed out elsewhere in this thread, Lucas himself said that ‘bringing balance to the Force’ is not what Anakin did at the end of the prequels.

          To me ‘you were supposed to be the chosen one!’ is more an example of bad dialogue than any underlying intent by the writer…YMMV of course.

          1. Thomas says:

            I’m not trying to say the prequels were handled competently or that it “intended” to work as well as it did, but I think it has to be intentional by Lucas.

            There is a prophecy of a chosen one which canonically fails within the timespan of the trilogy – and as you just said Lucas agrees with this – Anakin didn’t bring balance to the force. And there’s a line that explicitly calls out “the chosen one” for failing and bringing disaster on them, which is placed at the dramatic climax of the trilogy. Lucas has a character screaming the themes of the film at another. It might be clumsily written, but I don’t see how it can be anything else.

            The prequel trilogy has a ton of this – good themes intentionally there but executed poorly. You have the fall of democracy “This is how democracy ends, with thunderous applause”. Two friends who end up on the opposite side of a war “Anakin, you were my brother I loved you”. The whole idea of showing a man fall to the dark side over the space of three films is great, it’s just not done very well.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              I dunno, I always got the impression that Darth Sidious/Palpatine was supposed to be a cunning mastermind, despite his deceptions being on the level of an intelligent 12-year-old*. Anakin was supposed to be a good person who fell due to his innate fears, but comes across as a nitwit who can’t see through a basic, obvious deception while hunting for a Sith who’s famous for deception*.
              The Jedi were supposed to be wise, thoughtful diplomats, but…
              (etc, etc, etc)

              ‘You were supposed to be the chosen one’ is just bad dialogue, to me.
              …BUUUUT, the disagreement is mostly a matter of perception, so we might as well just agree to disagree, or just move on, because it’s not worth thinking that much about.

              *Seriously. I LOVE the scene where Palpatine ‘turns Anakin to the Dark Side’ at the weird space opera; it’s wonderful. That ‘conception’ imagery in the background shows exactly what this film thinks is ‘subtle’ and ‘clever’…
              For my money, Revenge Of The Sith is a legitimate good-bad movie.

              1. Hector says:

                It’s obvious to us because we’re shown he’s the villain. It’s not obvious to the characters.

    4. Victor McKnight says:

      As an OT guy like Shamus, I nonetheless came here to say exactly this. Lucas was too unfocused in his story telling, but Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith very much have this idea buried in there.

      Interestingly, Mace Windu, the second highest ranking member of the council is frequently less cautious than Yoda. Yoda worries about the Jedi overthrowing the Chancellor, and Windu is all for it. He is basically the problem with Clone Wars era Jedi.

      To be clear, Anakin is making excuses for himself at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but its also not an accident that as early as Attack of the Clones, Yoda is saying the Jedi have lost their ability to see the future. The Jedi Order was clearly sick in the Prequel movies. They had lost their way to some extent.

    5. Joshua says:

      I side with this argument, mostly. I actually like how the Prequels show the Jedi to be flawed and filled with hubris, although I disagree with you that they learned humility from it. I think that Obi-Wan and Yoda in the OT are still looking at the order with rose-colored glasses, not realizing their own mistakes.

      I think that it could have been a really cool direction for the sequel trilogy to have Luke had his BSOD from trying to train Jedi in the old way and having it backfire, and then trying to pick up the pieces and go a new way forward. I don’t know EU stuff at all, but maybe that’s the path they take with the so-called “Grey Jedi”? Learning that while Obi-Wan and Yoda had good intentions, they were partially wrong all along would seem to me to be a better reason for Luke to just retreat into being a hermit (because he realized half of his life was a lie) rather than having one bad night where he almost went psycho and killed his nephew.

    6. Retsam says:

      So, after the Jedi are decimated and balance is rightly brought to the Force (though certainly not in the way the Jedi expected), the few remaining ones get a lesson in humility.

      This is a really common misconception. George Lucas has explicitly clarified “bringing balance to the force” doesn’t mean “equal light side and dark side” – it means “no dark side”. It’s curing the universe from a cancer, not bringing the universe to a state where there’s an equal amount of cancer cells and healthy cells.

      Anakin is the chosen one, and he does bring balance to the force. But it’s when he throws Palpatine down the ventilation shaft, not before that. (Sequel trilogy complications aside)

      1. BlueHorus says:

        See, to me this interpretation makes everything so much less…interesting, to me. As Shamus put it, if the Dark Side is a corruption of the ‘true’ Force, then it really is Bad Space Mojo used by villains (who conveniently color-code their swords*), and it works in whatever way the writer wants.
        Bleh.

        But if the Force is a metaphor? If the Dark Side is always there, because it’s not a corruption but just a different aspect of the Force? That’s interesting.
        Good intentions gone awry, the dangers of being corrupted by power, the idea that everyone is capable of doing something awful if given a good enough reason…these are universal ideas, which have informed stories for millennia.

        1. Retsam says:

          Good intentions gone awry, the dangers of being corrupted by power, the idea that everyone is capable of doing something awful if given a good enough reason…these are universal ideas, which have informed stories for millennia.

          I don’t see why that’s only possible with a “good and evil must be balanced” interpretation. I mean… isn’t that basically the story we have? How do you excise the cancer without succumbing to the cancer yourself is basically the Star Wars arc, both in the prequels (where Anakin fails at this) and originals (where Luke succeeds).

          On the contrary, I feel when you lose the moral imperative, the “good vs. evil” dynamic, and try to start playing “maybe the Jedi are bad, too, and maybe we just need 50/50 Jedi/Sith” angles, it becomes a boring (and literal) Red Team vs. Blue Team dynamic, where the only real distinction between the sides is the set of powers they use and their fashion sense.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Oh, no, I’m not saying that I think ‘good and evil must be balanced’, or that Sith need to exist somewhere in the name of balance. It’s that the Dark Side is always there, for everyone (Force or not) since it’s a metaphor for something inside people.
            Can you call anger a cancer? Jealousy? Resentment? Love? Can you excise them from a person? If so, is it best done by killing a man wearing dark robe in a laser-sword fight?

            I think Anakin did bugger-all to ‘balance the Force’ by throwing Palpatine into a ventilation shaft. He redeemed himself, saved his son, killed a dictator…all of which are interesting because of their emotional value to the characters, not because of their effect on the series’ poorly-defined space magic.

            I’d agree that the Sith are evil, or at least bad guys – but it’s because they’re abusing power and hurting people, which is a problem with all power. The idea that humans with Force power are still humans is far more interesting to me than…what, somehow solving human nature via space magic?

            1. Retsam says:

              I don’t think “bringing balance to the force” really means some space magic mumbo jumbo – after all the Force, particularly in the OT sense, is just sort of a wholistic manifestation of the state of the universe.

              This isn’t a “the magic is broken we need to fix the magic” and by throwing a specific octogenarian down a hole, like Palpatine is some Darth Maguffin. Bringing mundane peace to the universe by destroying Palpatine and his Empire, and bringing mystical balance to the Force aren’t two separate goals, they’re one and the same thing. The former causes the latter.

              And excising this particular cancer doesn’t mean that all cancer forever has been destroyed. I don’t think the end of Return of the Jedi was ever meant to imply that all evil was gone from the universe. The Sith are only a specific manifestation of evil, not a universal source.

              1. BlueHorus says:

                So, as far as I can tell, we’re actually agreeing? Either that, or the disagreement is about the language used to describe the themes of a film, or the space magic in the films…

                I don’t really have much to say, in that case.
                Beyond of course that Darth Macguffin is a great name for a character, and I hope he ends up in a Star Wars spoof movie some day*.

                *Like The Rise of Skywalker, ba-dum tish!

      2. MerryWeathers says:

        This is a really common misconception. George Lucas has explicitly clarified “bringing balance to the force” doesn’t mean “equal light side and dark side” – it means “no dark side”.

        That was the original intention but then George changed his mind and made the Mortis arc in Clone Wars, it’s interpretation of balance to the force being Light and Dark coexisting otherwise it’ll all go to shit.

        1. Retsam says:

          Any citation for the idea that Lucas actually changed his mind? Lucas wasn’t the writer for those episodes (or any episodes of Clone Wars AFAIK), so I’m inclined to take them more in the vein of the EU, even if they’re canon according to the current Disney definition of canon.

          Because I have a hard time believing that he’d really change the fundamental interpretation of the main series of movies, just to do a one-off arc in a questionably canonical cartoon series.

  13. glik says:

    (If the following sounds rude, it is not meant to be. Text doesn’t convey tone well, and I’ve been up all night :) )

    Sorry Shamus, I have no idea where you got the idea Jedi were originally peacefully monks that just hung out in their gardens and only rarely got involved in the outside world, but you are completely wrong.

    Just rewatch the scene in the first movie where Obi Wan explains to Luke who his father and the Jedi were.

    Anakin was a cunning warrior.
    Kenobi was a General.
    They fought in the Clone Wars.
    For over a thousand generations the Jedi KNIGHTS (their actual name) were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.

    From the first movie on, the Jedi were a militant order of Space Paladins that roamed the galaxy with their laser swords keeping the peace and enforcing justice. Yes, they were peaceful and tried to resolve conflicts without violence if possible, which is why they carried light sabers to defend themselves and not blasters which are purely offensive. But “going to galactic hotspots and busting heads if bad guys caused too much trouble” was literally their job. They didn’t spend a thousand generations peacefully tending their gardens.

    Kenobi and Yoda were only hermits because they were in hiding from the Empire. Yoda was more of a peaceful monk than a knight, but that’s because he’s 900 years old. He probably hadn’t been an active knight for centuries, but was semi-retired and teaching kids, er I mean younglings. Yoda was the exception not the rule.

    That’s not to say the “peaceful Shaolin Monks that reluctantly get involved in things” isn’t an interesting take on the Jedi, or that your preference for that is invalid. It’s just that what you call the Nu view of Jedi is not some radical departure from the original trilogy Jedi, but pretty much how Jedi were always presented. With less flashy force powers of course, but if Lucas had had the CGI and budgets we have today even that might not have been the case.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      Yeah, the disconnect between the two trilogies isn’t as big as people like to think.

      (though the OT kind of painted the franchise into a corner by having this order of magic warriors that fought in a major war a generation ago that everybody has somehow forgotten; when you watch the Prequels it’s kind of hard to believe that the universe could stop believing in the jedi just 20 years later)

      Where the continuity issues become a real problem for new writers is the fact that Luke is depicted as the only remaining jedi in the Rebellion. There’s a seriously limited estate of plausible reasons jedi could appear in the OT era while not showing up in the movies (eg Star Ward Rebels), and post-Disney writers are gobbling that estate fast.

      1. Liessa says:

        I thought Knights of the Old Republic (the first game, at least) did a reasonably good job of portraying the Republic-era Jedi. The PT portrayal wasn’t totally out of line with OT lore; it was just really badly done and made it pretty much impossible to sympathise with the people who were supposed to be the heroes.

      2. Thomas says:

        The timescales are what really throw off the prequels. Even a 50-60 year gap would have fixed everything up a bit better. Jedi could be particularly long-lived, that’s a common trope.

    2. Shamus says:

      Yes, all of that is in the original movie. But so are these ideas:

      Multiple people (Solo and Tarkin’s cronies) seem to think the Jedi are in some way fictional or exaggerated. This suggests that while the Jedi were “peacekeepers”, they were also rare and mysterious. Like, they’re a tiny force of people that act rarely during a crisis, not a military order that’s active constantly. I assumed that the Clone Wars were the exception, not the rule. If they were active all the time, then they wouldn’t be mysterious and everyone would see that they exist and their powers are real.

      Yes, Kenobi was a general. But I imagined that a Jedi’s vocation was separate from their religion. I didn’t assume that ALL Jedi were part of a military structure, but rather that this one Jedi had military leadership as his day job. This also ties into the idea that Kenobi’s brown robe was a disguise and not a universal Jedi uniform.

      The Jedi are called an “ancient religion”, which to me suggested an order with dwindling numbers and fading importance.

      Like I said, there’s room for interpretation, but I really liked the mystery that surrounded them, and that mystery can’t exist in Nu Star Wars.

      1. Liessa says:

        I dunno, the word ‘knights’ made the military aspect pretty clear to me? They may not ALL have been warriors but it would imply that most of them were. From the OT description I’d have imagined them as something closer to the knightly orders of medieval Europe, which also had a strong religious element – or perhaps the Japanese samurai, given the obvious influence of Japanese movies on Lucas’ work. Of course, that still wouldn’t explain how everyone seemingly forgot about them within a couple of decades, but maybe their influence had already been on the wane for quite a while before the Empire.

        Looking forward to your analysis of ‘Fallen Order’, anyway! It’s not really my type of game but I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading about it.

        1. Carlo_T says:

          I agree with what you are saying (for whatever it is worth) – to me, the New Hope gives the impression that the Jedi were a knightly order, with a mixture of military/policing roles but also with religious connotations – after all, Obi Wan does state that they went on “crusades”! And they even had their own trademark weapon. So, they are very templar/samurai lookalikes.

          However, I also agree with Shamus, in the sense that I believe that the way the Jedi are represented is quite inconsistent even within the first trilogy! After all, Yoda in the Empire Strikes Back fits the “eastern monk” trope Shamus is referring to much more than the samurai one – and seeing him use a lightsaber in the prequel trilogy seemed terribly out-of-character. The teachings of the Jedi started to focus much more on controlling negative emotions in the second movie too – Obi Wan did not mention anything regarding that in the first. Maybe Lucas changed his ideas somewhat between the movies. Or maybe this is just a product of the different tone: in the first one Luke is a farmer who wishes to become a knight to save a princess, while the second tries to go for a less straightforward narrative.

          Regardless, the fame and high-profile of the Jedi in the prequels is definitely at odds with the old trilogy. I mean, Han Solo did not believe Jedi ever existed when Chewbakka fought alongside Yoda!

      2. glik says:

        Dude, don’t get me started on the stupidity of Obi Wan’s Tatooine desert robe disguise gettting turned into a uniform for all Jedi everywhere. There should be a term for when fandom misunderstands something and it ends up becoming canon. Like the silly idea that Spock was the first Vulcan in Star Fleet despite Vulcan being in the Federation for over a hundred years and there having been an entire ship crewed by Vulcans in one episode in TOS.

        On the Jedi issue, I get where you are coming from, Jedi is a religion like being a Methodist. Some Methodists might be soldier or cops but another might just own a grocery store. Religion =/= job. But I just think that’s your head canon. It seems pretty clear, the Jedi were the Jedi Knights. They all had light sabers. They were THE guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Being a Jedi Knight WAS their day job.

        I agree that the implication was that their numbers had dwindled and that they were beginning to be forgotten even before the Emperor. But be honest though, I think the whole, “there were Jedi all over the place until twenty years ago and now everyone forgot”, is a dumb plot hole for which there is no good explanation.

        I also agree that Obi Wan’s rank did not mean all Jedi Knights had a military rank. As we see in the prequels, during the Clone Wars some Jedi Knights helped command troops, and so they needed a military rank.
        But still, there was no general Jedi religion of which some Jedi believers were also soldiers . There was only the Jedi Knight order. Again, rewatching the first movie when Obi Wan explains the Jedi Knights to Luke:

        “A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine before he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. … Now the Jedi are all but extinct.”

        So, there is no distinction between being a Jedi and being a Jedi Knight. When Vader killed the Jedi Knights he killed the Jedi. There are no grocers in the Star Wars Galaxy who happen to follow the Jedi religion. Jedi==Jedi Knight.

        Anyway, not trying to be a jerk. I just disagree that the Nu Star Wars Jedi are a departure from the original ones. I actually agree that the mysterious peaceful monk ancient religion Jedi that you are thinking of would be cool and I can see why you like that take on them.

        1. Matt says:

          I agree with a number of your points and disagree with others.

          On Jedi robes: I think they fit perfectly, whatever the original intention for Jedi outfits. It suits the monastic character implied by being knightly order. It looks similar to many depictions of unarmored samurai, from which the Jedi also heavily borrow. Sure, I think it’s fine for Jedi to wear other clothes or even armor when going into battle, but I’m glad the robes became the standard.

          On everyone forgetting the Jedi: On the one hand, I agree that this is dumb. There should have been 3 to 4 generations between the fall of the Jedi and the opening of Episode IV. However, I think Lucas kind of wrote himself into a corner here. If old man Obi-Wan was a veteran of the Clone Wars, “before the Dark Times, before the Empire,” then the Imperial coup must have been no more than 40-50 years ago at the longest. Maybe a fix would have been for those strong in the Force to live longer than normal lives.

          On the Jedi religion: Practiced religion is kind of an odd fit in Star Wars. Like many sci-fi settings, it sidelines everyday religious belief; but, like many fantasy settings, it also revolves around a religion, that of the Jedi. To reconcile this, my belief has always been that many (most?) people in Star Wars believe in the Force as a kind of casual animist folk belief. There’s no organized practice, but most think there is some kind of supernatural, benevolent, subtle Force acting on the galaxy. Cynical people (like roguish smugglers) dismiss the whole thing as hokey superstitions and wishful thinking. Jedi, on the other hand, are the practitioners of this faith and have the extraordinary ability to convert their knowledge and belief into actual power. This also ties in nicely with the Empire, in addition to political domination, ushering in a new quasi-religious belief of their own, likely founded on dismissal of ancient religious practice in favor of veneration of the Emperor. This is why the Death Star officer is so dismissive of Vader’s “sad devotion.”

          1. John says:

            If the Jedi are ascetics, which seems reasonable, then robes of some sort are indeed perfectly fine. But the idea that Obi-Wan would continue to wear the Jedi uniform while in hiding in the aftermath of the Jedi purge is incontrovertibly dumb.

          2. Joshua says:

            Yep, Lucas wrote these problems, but I think it was made a problem with TESB when he retconned Anakin into being Darth Vader. That basically forced the issue into the Jedi have been gone less than 20 years unless the point was that Anakin was already Darth Vader when he fathered Luke. Otherwise, according to the original film structure, it would be quite possible that the Jedi were already removed from power and quite diminished when Anakin fathered Luke, allowing for more time to pass and the Jedi to sink into myth.

          3. Mr. Wolf says:

            I wouldn’t have had a problem with Obi-Wan’s desert robes being standard Jedi gear if it weren’t for the fact that Uncle Owen was wearing the exact same thing.

            And I know it was the 70’s but why was Aunt Beru wearing so much denim?

            1. John says:

              My wife and I like to joke that those were just the actress’s regular clothes. “You’re running late! No time for wardrobe, get to the set right now!”

      3. Like I said, there’s room for interpretation, but I really liked the mystery that surrounded them, and that mystery can’t exist in Nu Star Wars.

        Yeah, but that’s the inherent problem with any prequel project, really – the whole point of a prequel is to go back and fill in gaps in the original story. And gaps are where mystery lives.

        1. Joshua says:

          I almost always despite Prequels. This is one of the reasons, and the other major one is that the writers just cannot help themselves from doing callbacks to the original stories that seem out of place, such as Gloin showing Legolas a locket of Gimli, Professor X being worried about damage to his hair, the Droids and Chewbacca just mysteriously being present, learning how Nick Fury lost his eye, etc. Just cut out all of the “wink, wink” crap.

          1. etheric42 says:

            But isn’t true of all expanded universe content in all fandoms?

            Everyone wants a part of the action, and the big action are the big key moments of the original art piece. In order to be a part of that original piece while still bringing something new to the table is to keep defining things that were better left vague until suddenly the reason the firing voice cues in ANH get repeated is that the individual in charge of firing the planet killer has a change of heart and delays pushing the button long enough to get killed. While conceptually, the idea of “everyone has their own story” and even the actions of the smallest of us have an impact on the whole… it’s just a little weird and obsessive in a world where there are clearly central heroes.

            I say this in a conflicted way, because sometimes I do want to know “but what do they eat?”

          2. Daimbert says:

            Prequels are a different sort of story, to write or to read. The big thing that should happen in a good prequel are exactly those sorts of moments, where the audience says “Oh, so THAT’S how that happens!”. That’s pretty much the entire point: to fill in those sorts of wink moments. My complaint about most prequels — and the PT is a prime example — is that they don’t spend enough time or take enough care to do that without contradicting the original work, and instead focus on telling a “unique” story, which isn’t what a prequel is for.

            1. etheric42 says:

              So a story set in the same universe of, but earlier in the timeline and disconnected enough it doesn’t have any explanatory power for the original work, would not meet your definition of prequel, correct? It would instead just be a story in the universe of.

              (Not that I imagine there are many of these. I guess KOTOR would be an example.)

              I guess in that sense they serve as a long-form of a flashback. For example a show (maybe Lost) would show an event/character and then flash back to show why that event/character was the way it was. Then a prequel’s goal should effectively be a disconnected flashback for the original work, that may also introduce its own arc in addition to serving as a flashback.

              It would also tend to imply that the preferred consumption order is always Original work -> prequel work so you can get the desired payoff -> setup progression, Otherwise you an event that may have an unclear point in the prequel because it is only paid off in the original. This is compounded by the fact that most of the places you can afford to explain the prequel aren’t actually important in the original work, otherwise they would have needed to have been explained in the original work. (And I think this is where a lot of people find weakness in prequels, they tend to set up basically meaningless things, or if they are important things you wonder why they are so important in the prequel when they are handwaved in the original, see power and presence of Jedi in original vs prequel).

              One of my favorite book series is Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone. It’s a series, but usually the characters have nearly zero overlap between books. One of the things that is interesting about it is that it is written in “Intentional Firefly” style. In that chronologically the third book was written first, then the second, then the fifth, then the first, then the fourth. They work both being read both in chronological and in written order (and I even read them in a slightly different order than both, 3-2-1-5-4). Of particular note is the connection between books 2 and 1. They work fine if you read them in either direction. There is basically no setup that requires the other book to pay off. But whichever book you read second takes on an even more tragic bent. (In fact I feel it’s a far better version of the Vader myth than Vader was.)

              1. Daimbert says:

                So a story set in the same universe of, but earlier in the timeline and disconnected enough it doesn’t have any explanatory power for the original work, would not meet your definition of prequel, correct? It would instead just be a story in the universe of.

                Pretty much, yes. If it’s unconnected to the work its ostensibly a prequel to, it’s pretty weird to call it a prequel, especially when, as you note, we have the perfectly good term of “in the universe” to describe it.

                I guess in that sense they serve as a long-form of a flashback. For example a show (maybe Lost) would show an event/character and then flash back to show why that event/character was the way it was. Then a prequel’s goal should effectively be a disconnected flashback for the original work, that may also introduce its own arc in addition to serving as a flashback.

                I’d say that arguably a prequel only works if the things it needs to explain are too long or complicated to do in a simple flashback. So things like the fall of Darth Vader or how the Old Republic collapsed work well as a prequel. It’s also useful for interesting things that aren’t important but that would need more time to fully flesh out. As an example, I’m reading the “Pretty Little Liars” books and started with the prequel — I watched the TV series first and so wasn’t too concerned about spoilers, although they are quite different in plot and characterization — and the main focus is giving us a deeper insight into one of the characters and the situation that led to the main plot and the various confusions, and to work you need to take more time to show things from the perspective of that one character. So when you either can’t or don’t want to flashback to it, but it’s potentially interesting to the audience anyway, you have prime material for a prequel.

                It would also tend to imply that the preferred consumption order is always Original work -> prequel work so you can get the desired payoff -> setup progression.

                Actually, I think the preferred order would be: Original -> prequel the first time through (because the prequel should, by necessity, spoil events in the original) but then afterwards you should be able to watch prequel -> original and have it work out and, potentially, change your view of the original now that you know how everything happened. You can watch the PT -> OT and it will make sense. I don’t think you can do that with Rogue One -> ANH. And to return to my example above, obviously it works to go prequel -> main series (although it does spoil things that are critically important later, and so you already know what an answer will be while the characters are obsessing over it). But, most importantly, you should be able to skip the prequel entirely and still enjoy the work, which fits in with the complaints about them being unimportant. Prequels really are, in my view, aimed at filling in the blanks, but not having a huge impact on the story (the biggest one I could think of is perhaps filling in a character’s real motivations to show whether they are telling the truth or lying or not, but if that was left ambiguous for a reason it could even ruin that).

                On your last point, the game Suikoden III had a tri-view system that did something similar. You could follow the main protagonists in any order, and sometimes they had events that overlap. Which order you played them in had a big impact on how the scenes struck you, since you would get to see the same events from a different perspective.

              2. Syal says:

                I would agree with that; if the prequel doesn’t explain anything mentioned or implied in the original, it’s not a prequel, it’s just a setting.

                Otherwise you an event that may have an unclear point in the prequel because it is only paid off in the original.

                This should be avoided regardless. In a prequel it’s shameless nostalgia, in an original it’s a shameless sequel hook. Prequel or sequel, the thing should hold under its own weight.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  I think you can have something in a prequel that only takes on its full weight by how it plays out in the original, especially since that in a lot of works outside of prequels it’s essentially dropping a hint and paying it off later. So you could have a character do something minor that takes on greater significance in the original work, and in fact prequels can often do that because you’ll already know why that’s important from watching the original work. However, it should still make sense in the prequel, even if the full import doesn’t strike until later.

                  1. Syal says:

                    If it’ll only be paid off later it should be given the weight of an offhand remark, something the audience will forget unless they’ve already seen the consequences.

                    1. etheric42 says:

                      If a sequel can have content that requires knowledge of the original to make it work, why not a prequel? As long as the advertising makes it clear it’s required to consume in X order.

                    2. Syal says:

                      If a sequel can have content that requires knowledge of the original to make it work

                      I also hold it against sequels when they don’t make sense without the previous movie. If it’s important to the new plot, the new plot should be re-establishing it.

            2. Joshua says:

              See, I would find value in a earlier story that gives greater context or fleshing out of a character or situation, as opposed to solving a mystery. Maybe a character was a jerk in the original stories, and a prequel shows some of the triggering events that led to that, or vice versa with a nicer version.

              In the Star Wars prequels, I got a lot more out of “How and why did the Republic turn into the Empire and the Jedi fade from relevance” as opposed to “Why did Luke & Leia grow up separately” or “Why is Anakin half robot?”. Even the latter might have been made more interesting by seeing Anakin get gradually acclimated to replacing his body bit by bit after his initial hand prosthetic from Attack of the Clones as opposed to “He ended up in a suit after getting chopped up and nearly burned alive and Palpatine just happened to have a robo-suit available to help him.”

              1. Daimbert says:

                I consider those sorts of things in some sense wink moments, or at least as “Oh, so THAT’S how that happens!” moments. The ones you mention are more bigger ones, and I agree are important to a prequel, and I agree with you that those two are the main draws to the Star Wars PT. But for the most part, almost everything in a prequel is either going to be a moment that links to the later works, or else is going to be set-up for that sort of moment. And given the nature of the plot, we were obviously going to find out about the other parts — Luke and Leia ending up where they did and Anakin taking on the armour — while filling in the more primary parts of the Republic’s Anakin’s fall.

                So perhaps I misinterpreted you. I think I thought you were after a more unique story, while for me a prequel is all about explaining and expanding on things in the later works.

      4. Bubble181 says:

        In my mind, the Jedi and the Jedi Order are not entirely the same. As shown in games like KotOR, there’s plenty of different types of Jedi – you can discuss the names/classes/styles, but they do map pretty well to different types of force users. There’s the Knights, which is a more militant side of the Order, as presented by Darth Vader, there’s consulars (ot whatever) who are more Wise Monk-like, presented by Yoda. There’s allusions made to different other types of Jedi, especially of course in games and newer movies. You’ve got the more explorer-types, the more diplomatically inclined, whatever. Jedi as a group as a sort of hidden behind-the-scenes Power for Good, in contrast to how such things are usually shown (the Freemasons Bent on Destruction or Hydra or whatever trope). It would make sense for such an organisation to have some people in the army in high places, some in political circles, some as advisers or in public office, what-have-you. It would make sense to have such a group, once destroyed, be considered nearly fictional pretty quickly -heck, there are people alive now that don’t think the Freemasons exist (They do, and there’s nothing wrong with’m. They’re just a bunch of people)! And they’re still around!
        It does not make sense that such a group would be sent on official business by the government, or have big honking THIS IS OUR PLACE palace in the center of the city, but, well. Prequels.

      5. Retsam says:

        I assumed that the Clone Wars were the exception, not the rule.

        Is there any reason that this can’t be the case with the prequels, too? Treating the prequels as what the Jedi “normally” looked like is arguably just as wrong as treating the OT as the normal Jedi behavior.

        I get the impression that the beginning of Episode 1, where Obi Wan and Qui Gon are sent as diplomats and negotiators, not warriors, is the more “normal” state of affairs for the Jedi. They weren’t leading armies (they only have an army at all due to Palpatine’s maneuvering), they weren’t “space police” they were primarily diplomats and keepers of knowledge, and most vast majority of people in the galaxy would never meet or interact with one, nor see them work in obvious ways.

        It’s not until the meddling of the Sith pushes the galaxy into open war and manipulates the Jedi into leading armies that the system breaks down.

        I do agree, still, that for example a lot of the mysticism of the force is lost going from the OT to the PT – but then a lot of the mysticism comes from Yoda, and Yoda is still the most mystical of the Jedi in the PT as well.

        1. Shamus says:

          Don’t ask me complicated questions about the PT. I go crazy whenever I try to think about it. :)

          Like, why are Jedi here to oversee trade negotiations? What do they know about trade routes, taxes, treaties, or the Naboo? Why is a trade federation blockading this planet and why would they maintain such a massive standing army and why are they working with Palpatine and what is he promising them and how does attacking the Jedi advance any of these goals.?

          It’s not that you can’t invent or assume answers to these questions. You can. But all of those answers “feel” wrong and conflict with my understanding of the OT.

          I think your last paragraph nails it for me. I like my Star Wars as mystical as possible, and making any additional movies at all is going to inescapably reduce the overall level of mysticism. A universe must expand to accommodate more stories, and the more blanks you fill in, the fewer mysteries there are.

          But we can’t expect something this profitable to go un-exploited, so sequels are inevitable. And then the ammount of magic in the world must go down as a function of time.

          It’s more like Lord of the Rings than I realized.

          1. John says:

            The Jedi aren’t there to oversee trade negotiations. They’re there on a fact-finding mission for the Chancellor. As for the rest of it, your guess is as good as mine.

          2. Mr. Wolf says:

            “Part of the attraction of The L.R. is, I think, due to the glimpses of a large history in the background: an attraction like that of viewing far off an unvisited island, or seeing the towers of a distant city gleaming in a sunlit mist. To go there is to destroy the magic, unless new unattainable vistas are again revealed.”
            – J.R.R. Tolkien

            It’s one of my favourite quotes. It’s something that I think anybody who attempts world-building, or even fiction in general, should acknowledge.

            I think the problem with these big collaborative universes is that writers don’t want to expand the world for fear of destroying the core of the world. It’s a legitimate fear: for example, when George Lucas introduced midichlorians it threatened to completely de-mystify the Force. If anybody else had tried it would’ve led to accusations of a fundamental misunderstanding of the Force, so they wouldn’t dare try (whether Lucas understands the thing he invented is something I’ll leave to the die-hard fans, though I’ll agree that it was a terrible decision in terms of world-building). So in the end we get the same things, repeated over and over, until there’s nothing left to explore in them.

          3. Daimbert says:

            Ultimately, that was the issue with the politics in the PT (and the ST, as it turns out): It was too important to the plot to be ignored, but the movies didn’t want to take the time to explain it. That the Jedi would be sent as mediators to at least try to get the two sides talking makes sense as they are supposed to be neutral and are respected. But the movie doesn’t explain the TF’s or Palpatine’s goals and so we don’t see how this all fits together, other than the loose idea of using the Civil War as an excuse to create the Empire, which is a bit weak. If they had explained it better, then things would make more sense and we wouldn’t wonder about it, but the events are so critical that we have to wonder about it because they keep getting brought up.

            ANH explained its politics in two scenes: the one on Leia’s ship where the underling points out that her being a Senator will cause issues, and the one in the conference room where Tagge points out a similar issue and Tarkin says that the Senate has been dissolved. There is nothing like that in TPM, when TPM needed it more for things to make sense.

        2. Karma The Alligator says:

          It’s not until the meddling of the Sith pushes the galaxy into open war and manipulates the Jedi into leading armies that the system breaks down.

          Dunno, for me, Obi Wan’s “this weapon is your life” line to Anakin kinda shows that they were already a lot more militaristic than the OT suggests, and that’s before the armies come into play.

  14. krellen says:

    Captain America lifted SPOILER in Avengers Endgame

    Endgame was an hour too long – there was no need for a final battle against Past!Thanos and it should have just been the heist film it had been up to that point – but that moment justified the entire hour in my estimation.

    1. Shamus says:

      Agreed.

      By the end I was so exhausted. I just wanted to get out of the theater, stretch my legs, and pee. The funeral and stuff with Cap were heartwarming, but also pushing the limits of my endurance.

      I don’t know what should have been cut, but it would have been nice if the theatrical version could have been ~45 mins shorter. Do what LOTR did and save the 3 hour marathon version for Blu-Ray / streaming.

      1. etheric42 says:

        Bring back the intermission!

        If Madame Butterfly can have multiple so can go out and top off my martini, then give me one in the theater too! Especially theaters that serve food and alcohol.

      2. Christopher Dwight Wolf says:

        I don’t know. Every time I watch Endgame it seems brisk.

        I understand you had an endurance trial, but unlike some movies where I am looking at my watch I was just able to enjoy this one.

      3. whitehelm says:

        I think you’re misremembering LOTR. The first 2 theatrical LOTR movies were 3 hours, just like Avengers Endgame. Return was 3h20m. The extended “marathon” editions added 30-45 minutes onto each of those.

        (I’m guessing your reduced movie endurance may be because LOTR came out 20 years ago.)

      4. Dennis says:

        I think that extended versions of movies are less common now because the visual effects are so expensive. I have to assume that a suit at Disney won’t spend all that money on extra footage they won’t be shown in the theater.

        Supposedly the “Snyder Cut” of the Justice League movie is costing over $20 million to produce: https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2546921/the-snyder-cut-may-be-more-expensive-than-we-thought

        Note that I don’t know the quality of this website vs. all the other comic book movie content mills, my link isn’t an endorsement. I remember reading this somewhere else, but just wanted to include a source.

    2. Hector says:

      There was a narrative and emotional need for half the characters to have that confrontation. I would have changed several things about it because while there are good moments as a whole it’s actually one of the worst action scenes in the entire series. And drop Captain Marvel as she’s a running disaster.

      Instead, have Old Thanos (yes, the who SPOILERED) show up, since he can do that, and have him stall Young Thanos with equal power. Show that even with all the heroes Thanos full armies will win, until they are suddenly thrown into confusion when it’s Thanos vs. Thanos. This ties the story together with a bow and also represents the complete rejection of Thanos’ philosophy by, uh, himself. You can obscurely allude to it at the start of the film but the characters won’t understand until the audience does.

    3. Bloodsquirrel says:

      I don’t know- I think some kind of final confrontation with Thanos was needed. It being an alternate timeline Thanos kind of weakened it, though.

      I also think that they were facing a problem with this being the big finale to the MCU as it had existed so far, so they felt like everybody had to be given their due. And it’s really hard to do that without things getting bloated.

      I almost want to say that they needed two movies- one to go through the heist and set up the battle with Thanos (Instead of killing him in beginning), and one to lead the assault on the big guy, with their infinity stones cancelling out his so that they can fight him on at least somewhat equal ground. The third movie could have had the more tertiary characters getting peeled off as they went along so that the final battle could be more of a focused fight between Thanos and the core avengers.

      That being said, the final battle definitely had some fat to cut, even if they were going to go that way.

  15. Syal says:

    I’m getting the urge to actually watch Endgame now, just to see Captain America lifting the Batmobile.

    (…aaand it’s gone again.)

    the galaxy is controlled by a small group of fantastically powerful beings.

    Known as The Midichlorians.

    It’s pretty hard to write never-ending adventure stories about peaceful isolationist monks.

    I’m disappointed that Youtube isn’t showing an “I’m retired” montage like they did for “enhance the image”. This is an important Internet resource, Google!

    1. Shamus says:

      “Known as The Midichlorians.”

      Ow. The truth. It hurts so much.

    2. John says:

      People get too bent out of shape over the midichlorians. They’re mentioned briefly in one conversation in The Phantom Menace and never brought up again. Unless you believe that correlation really is causation, there’s no suggestion that it’s midichlorians that give people the ability to use the force. Given midichlorians’ total non-importance to the plot, I always took it that causation went in the other direction, that a high midichlorian count was caused by strength in the force.

      To be fair, their total non-importance to the plot also suggests that they should have been cut from the script.

      1. Lino says:

        It might just be my head-canon, but I always assumed Midichlorians were just a common misconception held by the Jedi. The prequels took place decades before the OT, so it makes sense for people to have outdated views about how life works. Just think about all the strides we’ve made in our knowledge about how the world around us works. In dynamic fields like medicine, things that were common knowledge 20 years ago, are constantly being debunked thanks to modern science.

        In the world of Star Wars, I feel like a massive shift of power in the Galaxy would definitely shake the foundations of what people once thought was true.

        1. Mousazz says:

          The prequels took place decades before the OT, so it makes sense for people to have outdated views about how life works.

          It makes sense in context of general technology (see Obi-Wan having to attach his starfighter to an FTL ring to jump to hyperspace in the Prequels, while X-Wings can do it on their own power in the Original trilogy), but doesn’t work for anything to do with the Force, considering that the Jedi were slaughtered, their Order was disbanded, there was only 1 Sith in the Empire, and the Force became such an obscure legend that it was dismissed by top Imperial officers as a mere fairy tale. Most knowledge about the Jedi and the Force should have been lost, especially when you consider that the thousands strong Jedi Order was already centralized in Coruscant even in the Prequels, so in a galaxy of at least billions they would already be mere myths.

          Now, it’s possible that knowledge about the Force changed after The Phantom Menace but before Revenge of the Sith, but this would be a really cardinal shift, comparable to, say, the adoption of Einstein’s General Relativity in lieu of Newtonian-Euclidean physics. Kinda weird that it wouldn’t be at least noted in the Prequels (although the lack of mention of Midichlorians in Episodes II and III gives credence to this idea…).

          1. Lino says:

            Well, staying in exile for decades in the middle of the desert with not much to do gives you a lot of time to ponder about esoteric concepts like the Force and how it fits in the galaxy. The wise hermit in the mountain is a common trope for a reason. A quick example that springs to mind is the legend of the Buddhist monk Bodhidarma (or Da Mo) who went to a cave where he meditated for nine years, after which he reached Enlightenment (and he had meditated SO HARD that he left an impression of his shadow on the wall of the cave :D). And although this story is more of a metaphor, his ideas and teachings are very important to Zen Buddhism, and the image of him exiling himself from civilization is very iconic (proper iconic, not Ubisoft-style iconic :D).

            The point is, religions change all the time, and I don’t see knowledge of the Force should be any different. Especially following a cataclysmic event, brought about by the understanding people had about how the Force worked. Not saying that’s what Lucas intended, just that it makes a lot of sense, given the material that inspired Star Wars.

      2. Syal says:

        “Without the Midichlorians, we would have no knowledge of the Force.”

        Anyway, the bigger problem isn’t whether they cause the Force, it’s that you can see Force power with computers and a blood test. In the OT it’s a thing you have to feel.

        1. John says:

          Huh. I do not remember that scene at all and I’ve watched The Phantom Menace at least once this year. (This is what comes of letting one’s child pick what to watch on Disney+.)

    3. Retsam says:

      Known as The Midichlorians.

      No, you’re wrong, actually.

      It’s “The Midi-chlorians”, and yes, the hyphen makes it worse.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Not to be confused with the Wav-chlorians, or the Mp3-chlorians.

        I’m so sorry, I’ll see myself out…

      2. Geebs says:

        Another error: they’re not a small group of fantastically powerful beings, they’re a powerful group of fantastically small beings.

  16. BlueHorus says:

    I will disagree with Shamus on one thing: at least one of the Prequels did inspire strong emotion in me.

    …namely, great amusement.

  17. ccesarano says:

    I always preferred to pronounce the acronym “Swudge-Foe” myself.

    In regards to George Lucas, I recommend folks read A Secret History of Star Wars, a thoroughly researched book written after Revenge of the Sith released in an effort to piece together the true story of how Star Wars came together. While a lot of those facts are well-known now (George Lucas insisting he always had X Y Z plans when he didn’t, or at least not as specific as he would tell people), what it did for me was humanize the man and therefore recontextualize the prequel films based on his human limitations. Namely, he was never good at writing, and he had a lot of people helping him, but after Empire Strikes Back in particular he became far more controlling. When it came time to do the prequels he insisted on doing all of the writing himself, and anyone that helped make the original trilogy so good were already gone, leaving nothing but a bunch of Yes Men and fans in his employ. In most cases I think it was a lot of people that started working at LucasFilm because they loved Star Wars and revered George Lucas as its creator and thus would never question him. However, reading the Star Wars 1313 chapter in Jason Schreier’s Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, it is revealed that George did have an entourage of Yes Men telling the game developers that you just don’t tell George no. So part of the problem might also have been that anyone willing to question his decisions was stomped down by the sycophants.

    I mean, a bunch of that is conjecture, but the book examines George’s works before Star Wars and time working with other creators to get a proper timeline of events. It really does help explain why the prequels turned out as they had, and even paints a bit of a sad picture where success was a double-edged sword for George. He’s just a man, but people treated him as a God, and when they discovered he wasn’t perfect they went the other extreme and called him a Devil (myself included).

    I’ll be watching the YouTube video after this comment, but figured I’d hype that book up as it’s probably my favorite Star Wars thing outside of the original trilogy (though Mandelorian was pretty good).

    Regarding the announcement of Fallen Order, I was honestly more interested because it was Respawn than anything else, though I’d still prefer Titanfall 3. I was more and more curious about the game as I saw its action combat, world navigation, and Metroid Prime’s influence was invoked during interviews. While I didn’t find the story too bad (certainly felt more Star Wars than most of the films for me), I found the gameplay to be a mixture.

    So I’m going to have to be careful with my own comments, because points you bring up will likely cause me to compare to Bloodborne and Darksiders 3, the latter of which I feel does everything Swudge-Foe was seeking to do, but better.

    Looking forward to this series.

    1. pseudonym says:

      I think it is interesting how the series where also steered by their making. What I mean is that during the filming, editing writing, stuff happened which led to plot changes.

      For example Obi Wan does not tell Luke that Darth Vader is his father because… Darth Vader wasn’t his father.

      Then George Lucas tried to think of a sequel and he just did not enjoy writing the plot. Until he imagined Darth Vader to be Luke’s father and he liked that plot very much (because it was a good plot, let’s be honest). But this created a continuity error with what Obi Wan said.

      Also likewise Obi Wan’s sacrifice was not planned but was sort of thought up during filming. So a new character was created called Yoda, to fill the void and train Luke.

      1. ccesarano says:

        Thanks to the book I learned that story is a bit more complex! He had drafts of the sequel, but nothing seemed to be working right. Anakin’s old ghost was even supposed to show up on Dagobah and talk to Luke much as Obi-Wan did in the final cut of the film. It was an epiphany to make Darth and Luke’s dad the same person, which cleaned up the backstory while simultaneously offering for a new twist.

        When Yoda says “there is another”, however, that wasn’t meant to be Leia. They were playing around with the idea of another potential hero for after the third film, but by Return of the Jedi Lucas was getting sick of working on Star Wars films.

        It’s a fascinating book filled with a ton of trivia.

        1. pseudonym says:

          That is very interesting! Thanks for recommending the book!

    2. Syal says:

      He’s just a man, but people treated him as a God, and when they discovered he wasn’t perfect they went the other extreme and called him a Devil (myself included).

      You have set them all on fire,
      They think they’ve found the new Messiah;
      And they’ll hurt you when they find they’re wrong.

      1. ccesarano says:

        I approve of this quote.

  18. kikito says:

    I wasn’t planning on playing this one, I’ll gladly tag along!

    > we’re even going to discuss The Last Jedi,

    But Shamus. What happens with “no politics”?

    1. Shamus says:

      I know, I know. I just really want to examine it because of how fascinating the situation is.

      We’ll see if it blows up in my face.

      1. Hector says:

        I’ll sharpen my rhetorical knives, strengthen the bile in my gut, and make sure my acidic tongue is on point.

        I’ll keep it civil. But the new Star Wars movies offend me, and I wasn’t even particularly a Star Wars fan. It’s just… bad filmmaking from start to finish.

        1. etheric42 says:

          That’s fascinating, because I also am not a big fan of the OT and PT. In fact, other than the fact that they are historically/culturally important and were a great opportunity for some talented people to create icons (the composer, the starship designers, etc) I don’t think they were good movies. I do also think that their prime audience is a younger one.

          That being said, I do enjoy the ST more. I think it is more adventurous in its (abortive) attempts to deconstruct Star Wars, has a more charismatic cast, and has a pace more suited to my tastes for adventure stories. But primarily I think it’s better because it has a lower bar to clear than I think other people’s opinions of the OT and PT.

          So it’s interesting to find someone who has a low opinion of OT and PT and an even lower one of the ST. What other modern adventure movies do you enjoy and what features of those aren’t present in the ST? Or if you don’t think of Star Wars as adventure films, what other genre do you think it fits into better?

          1. Hector says:

            Let me clarify: The Original Trilogy are three genuinely great movies. Sure, when I was younger I was a big Star Wars fanboy… because I was twelve and watching them with Dad. As I grew older I understood the movies better *and* saw the flaws in them. I lost the fanboyism but grew to respect Lucas’s storytelling much more.

            The Prequels are still good movies (well, not Attack of the Clones). The flaws are much worse, but while Lucas may not be able to direct, he still knows how to tell a story when he can rein his worst impulses. I actually went around defending The Phantom Menace for quite a while, precisely because the fanboy backlash didn’t make sense. The movies weren’t great, and there was an understandable disappointment, but they also weren’t really bad even at the time.

            The Sequel Trilogy… meh. There are some genuinely great scenes there. Unfortunately, that’s about it; no appreciation for storytelling whatsoever. The two directors involved were… not the right people to do this. I’ll give J. J. Abrams some slack in the sense that he was trying to deliver what *Disney* wanted, and Disney didn’t know what they wanted to achieve other than making money off nostalgia. As for Rian Johnson…. maybe; I am not sure his style is right for a mythic/epic type story. But I am definitely sure Johnson got so deep into deconstructing everything he forgot the point.

            I’ll make a post comparing it to the Marvel series; There are obvious huge differences but because both are Disney properties it’s a useful contrast.

            1. etheric42 says:

              Thanks for clarifying. That’s puts some light into that. I agree about Rian. I have a comment above that basically lays out that they could have made a great follow-up to Rian’s TLJ, but it would have only been questionably a Star Wars movie.

              I’m solidly in the camp that all Star Wars is kids/YA fare. I just don’t see the great storytelling of the OT other people point to. But I also have very different tastes in sci-fi literature than most people do so I just chalk it up to me desiring a different (not better) thing than most people. When I see TFA, I see a well-choreographed performance that respects that I can keep up, and a fascinating germ of an idea about “the dark side is difficult” and “even dark siders care about people”. When I see TLJ, I see a beautiful, well-filmed performance with fascinating germs of ideas about sacrifice and gray morality, and unclear lessons. When I see Rise, I see another well-choreographed performance that abandons any hope of nuance and just says they’re going to have fun for a few hours. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I grew up with them, but I just don’t feel the OT has much nuance or subversion to it (excepting Luke’s win by passivity, but even that is tempered by mass violence occurring around him, and at OT power levels it isn’t clear that if he had lost, the rebellion would have failed).

              I also need to account for the fact that I watched all of the OT in remade cinema, PT in original cinema, and ST in Imax 3d, and I have found that Imax makes every movie that attempts to be visually impressive better. I watched Solo and Rogue One on the small screen and thought Solo was bland and Rogue One was bad (by far my lowest ranked Star Wars movie). The method of presentation may have had an impact of my opinions.

              1. Chad Miller says:

                I have found that Imax makes every movie that attempts to be visually impressive better.

                I watched Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within on opening night in IMAX and have been very careful to never watch it again.

              2. Hector says:

                I am not here to slam you, and want to ensure you understand that my critique is intellectual and aesthetic, never directed at you personally. Based on what we’ve written here, our disagreements come down to two points… where we actually agree but I take something very different away from it.

                That Star Wars is for children: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! We agree completely. However, I wildly, unshakably disagree in the *implication* ; that the story doesn’t matter. The very greatest stories of all time can be and should be enjoyed by children. That does not mean talking down to the anyone but making the material so good that is has meaning to everyone. Works that are really meant for the lowest-common-denominator are not dumb, complicated and trashy but simple, timeless and meaningful. There is a reason that *anybody* who can read, can read the Epic of Gilgamesh. And there’s a thousand other examples ancient and modern.

                Or, for a more modern example, why can adults enjoy stories like

                Second, while I agree that the new movies are, in their own way, good performances, I do not agree that adds any value. You could have some guys up there dancing for two hours in Star Wars costumes, and while it might be the best dancing ever, it would still not be a very good movie. Literally from the first scene, The Force Awakens has serious story problems, and they only grow and spiral out from there.

                The new Star Wars movies feel like draft scripts. Maybe not the first draft (except for the RoS) but definitely not complete. Unfortunately, that may literally be th case: Disney is extremely closed-mouth about this but there’s some information that the directors had a very short period to come up with a script, or in the two side movies the script had to be re-written on-the-fly by another director to try and satisfy an exec’s whim.

                1. Hector says:

                  Marvel is an example of how to do a series right. It has had great movies alongside bad ones, but each movie is intended to move forward. Directors have had enough latitude to show their own style while still strengthening the series as a whole. Moreover, the corporate leaders don’t blindly chase nostalgia dollars, swerve wildly in reaction to whatever just came out, and aren’t afraid to take creative risks. Of course, we’ve seen they planned for these risks. I would never recommend that you clone the style of Marvel, but the Star Wars division needs to learn something about the process.

                  All of this has been a wind up to contrast the modern drivel that’s called the Sequel Trilogy against… Guardians of the Galaxy. In the broadest of strokes, these series are similar. They both feature a cast of co-protagonists with remarkable abilities zipping around a Space Opera universe, dealing with MacGuffins and trying to stop evil overlords from conquering or destroying, well, everything. Some characters have mystical abilities and understanding and using these is a key aspect of achieving victory. Family ties, personal temptations, and the gap between inherent vs. formed relationships are huge themes.

                  And yet, the contrasts are absolutely stonking huge. The GotG crew, although sometimes on the dim side, pull together in a moment of crisis to do something good. They don’t even completely like each other, yet they bond because of their flaws. These flaws are obvious to the viewer as well as the characters, and even though we only ever learn a few key tidbits or moments from each character’s history, we understand what drives them on a personal level. When they reach out for a family bond (and every character does this), we understand where it comes from and can see how even toxic or destructive relationships have a pull. You get *why* Gamora and Nebula hate each other but also understand that it’s a thin line between love and hate. You see why Quill would want to know his father, and you can see the different threads that pull him between Yondu and Ego.

                  Now I’m not saying that Star Wars would weant to duplicate that. I could just as easily put the Original Trilogy. up there. It would be messier, but I could still put up the Prequels.

                  In the Sequel Trilogy… this does not happen. There’s a glimmer of hope in the relationship between Poe and Finn, but the way the films are structured we never get to see that develop. The movies bounce characters around and split them up so often it never develops a clear. The problem is so bad that The Last Jedi assumes all the characters know each other even if they never met. Even the directors failed to keep track of who knows whom, much less what their relationships are.

                  Finn is a brilliant idea – a stormtrooper who can’t summon the cruelty the Bad Guys du jour require. And it’s almost immediately dropped and ignored from them on. His role for 2&1/2 films to scream “REY!” instead of, say, giving us insight to how Empire v2 thinks or functions. Similarly, the idea of a Dark Jedi/Sith who feels an constant temptation to do good is a FANTASTIC story idea. But it wobbles all over the place and I’m really not sure what either director wanted to accomplish there. Rey is a mess; leaving aside dreaded label of Mary Sue, there’s a huge problem in that her motivations, ablities, and behavior shift from scene to scene. Poe is a solid character, but he’s often given nothing to do even though he arguably should be central to the story.

                  By the end, it’s not even a story. It’s a collection of special effects and actors mouthing random gibberish.

                  1. Christopher Dwight Wolf says:

                    You know, I been doing a slow rewatch in chronological order of the Marvel movies….and even the Dark World was better than I remembered.

                  2. Kathryn says:

                    I think someone mentioned right here on this blog that Finn’s Heel-Face Turn comes way too early to have any dramatic impact. Wouldn’t it be better to watch him fully bought into stormtrooper work, pursuing Poe and Rey and committing evil acts, slowly beginning to question what he’s been told, so that the moment when he turns on his once-beloved masters *means* something? As it is, it happens about 2 seconds after he first comes on screen. Doesn’t make sense with what we’re told about the brainwashing and also no dramatic impact.

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      The biggest failing with that is that the movie doesn’t give a REASON for him to change. If they had taken even a little more time and shown him struggling with the casual brutality, then that arc could have been shorter and we could have focused more on the implications and consequences of that for him. But the movies didn’t do that either, so it turns into an unrequited love story despite his Face-Heel turn not being about that in the first place.

                    2. etheric42 says:

                      I don’t know. I think that’s asking the story to be about Finn’s redemption instead of Finn just having a backstory that contextualizes his place within the story of Reylo/Resistance. I think leaving the “I’m a soldier who saw a war crime and nope’d out” in the past and starting with his mutiny/escape is fine. Not every story has to have every beat laid out from the very beginning. And just because it’s the bad guy’s army doesn’t mean the army is bad all of the time, most of the time they are probably just an army.

                    3. Daimbert says:

                      etheric42,

                      I think the issue is that the movie establishes that the stormtroopers are conditioned from childhood to be loyal and few, if any, could ever conceive of them turning on the Empire. You don’t need to make the entire story be about him, but you DO need to establish why he and he alone breaks free.

                    4. etheric42 says:

                      @Daimbert

                      I don’t know if I agree with that. I think that it is clear there is conditioning. There’s conditioning in modern child soldiers, and in modern adult soldiers. We spent a lot of time in past wars figuring out how to make people actually shoot at the enemy and not over their head.

                      But the stormtroopers (ordertroopers?) in the ST seem much more human than in the OT (and definitely more than the clonetroopers in the PT, the animated series may change that though).

                      Finn turns coat. There are the troopers that see Kylo’s Force Tantrum and decide to get a different elevator, there’s the groups of other turncoats/refugees in Rise. I think if we ignore any force/magic explanations like Kylo being some kind of passive mind controller, we can see that modern methods of creating child soldiers are effective enough to both be called brainwashing and also just stop working for some people at some times when they just go “This is BS” and go back to their villages. Those people are definitely in the minority, a lot of people end up creating an identity with their new social structure, and others just go with the flow because they can’t see they have a better option.

                      Maybe I’m forgetting a scene that clearly lays out there’s something special about the brainwashing the FO does. I only watched the movies once and that was when the came out so they’re a few years fuzzy.

                      I think the bigger problem is why is Finn so easily able to kill other troopers who likely had the same background as him. He doesn’t appear to do it reluctantly. But not being willing to kill someone just because they are on the other side as you is a theme that doesn’t really fit in adventure films (although if anyone has a recommendation of one that explores that thought, I’d love to hear it).

                    5. Daimbert says:

                      etheric42,

                      Rise is too late to introduce the idea that the stormtrooper conditioning isn’t as strong as it might seem, since Finn turns in the first movie and from what I recall — I’ve only seen it once and don’t really want to watch it again — the idea of a stormtrooper turning is pretty much unheard of. Also, no one else seems to have any issues with anything that happened, just him. So we really need to establish what it was that made him turn when no one else did and the idea that someone else might is mostly dismissed.

                      And, yeah, Finn being totally willing to kill people who are controlled like he was but who could be saved doesn’t really work either. It would have been so much better to drop the “conditioned from childhood soldier” line and simply make them conscripts. We know that conscripts will turn, but all they need is a line about threats or even propaganda and we can see why they might not turn while Finn might have a reason to turn instead of them. And the reason can be weaker if it isn’t conditioning but is only self-interest.

                  3. etheric42 says:

                    I have had basically zero engagement with the new Marvel movies, in spite of reading X-men as a kid, watching the first two X-men movies, the first Spider-Man movie, and the old new Hulk movie (which I don’t think is in MCU).

                    People keep saying great things about them, and maybe I just haven’t found the right entry point, but I have watched:
                    15 minutes of Iron Man 1
                    25 minutes of Black Panther
                    All of Dr. Strange (only because I committed to watching the entire thing, and I did not enjoy the experience)
                    Thor in the background that someone else was watching
                    All of Into the Spiderverse (which isn’t MCU, but I thought was okay-ish)

                    Maybe the movies just aren’t for me. Maybe I’m just watching the bad entries. Can someone recommend a movie in the MCU that if I watched all of, I’d develop an appreciation of the MCU and perhaps be inspired to watch a second movie?

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      The only one I can think of for that is Avengers (the original). If you don’t like that movie, you probably won’t like the MCU as a whole. Outside of that, different movies might appeal to different sensibilities (Ant-Man is more of a heist movie, Guardians of the Galaxy light-hearted sci-fi, etc).

                      I didn’t care for Doctor Strange or Black Panther either. I didn’t mind Iron Man 1 but didn’t really care for the next two movies. My favourites are probably Avengers, Winter Soldier, and maybe Captain America.

                    2. Syal says:

                      I would second Daimbert with Avengers 1; without the 4 years of buildup it might not wow you, but it’s still a really tight ensemble movie and I’d say the best of Marvel.

                      The only other ones I look forward to watching are the Guardians of the Galaxy movies (which are also the most buildup Thanos got in the 8 years between Avengers 1 and 3.) ((but Super is better.)) The others are inoffensive but not must-see. (Dr. Strange was enjoyable, for what that’s worth.)

                    3. Shamus says:

                      I’m not sure what you’re into. Different movies have a different feel. Here are a few of my favorites that all have a different tone:

                      Thor: Ragnarok is very comedic and even slapstick at points. It feels the most like a cartoon. Even when the stakes are sky-high (the fate of Thor’s entire civilization is on the line) everyone is having fun and cracking jokes, and the actors are having a BLAST.

                      Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2: It feels a lot like Thor Ragnarok for the first half. Everyone feels like an indestructible cartoon character. But then in the second half you see their real vulnerabilities (emotional ones) come to the surface. No joke, I actually got choked up at the end. Behind all of the silly references and outlandish violence, this story has real things to say about emotionally damaged people trying to put themselves together again.

                      Spider-Man: Homecoming: This one is a little controversial. Lots of people didn’t dig this, but I loved the villain. It does a good job of transplanting Peter’s high school drama to the modern age.

                      It’s possible that Marvel just isn’t your thing, but if you want to hunt around and see if any of them work for you then I’d recommend trying these. They’re very different from each other, and reasonably different from the things you’ve already tried and rejected.

                      Good luck!

                    4. Syal says:

                      Thor Ragnarok bothered me with multiple “have your cake and eat it” jokes; the hero will try something heroic, it’ll fail comedically, then they’ll immediately try a second time and it’ll work. (Same thing with Nebula in GOTG1; she can have a boss fight, or she can be anticlimactically shot mid-sentence in her preamble, but she absolutely shouldn’t be doing both. But in GOTG it’s a one-off, in T:R it’s throughout.)

                2. Daimbert says:

                  That Star Wars is for children: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! We agree completely.

                  I disagree completely, actually [grin]. There’s a difference between things aimed at a General audience and things aimed at children. The OT was clearly aimed at a General audience, something that the whole family could watch and enjoy (yes, even RotJ). The Sequel trilogy, from what I’ve seen, is definitely aimed more at an adult audience and not for children, at least not as much. The PT might be aimed more at children. Still, it’s clear that all of them do want to be able to capture a wider market than those demographics, but might lean one way or the other.

                  1. etheric42 says:

                    That’s a fair point. From a corporate perspective you want to court a wide demographic unless it means you can’t get a deeper penetration into one demo, and from an artistic perspective you don’t want to cut off any potential audience unless there’s a need.

                    But I’ll counter that you can’t kill your babies like Kylo killed his ___ without to some level alienating the parent demographic. I mean TFA had a strong theme of taking the mantle away from the previous generation, and in the climate of Boomer vs Millennial memes/conflicts. I think TFA was squarely aimed at the 12-26 audience.

                    But the OT wasn’t exactly a rich deconstruction of post-WW2 power balances (even if it could be tenuously read as a Vietnam protest).

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      Oh, I agree. As I said, the ST is DEFINITELY aimed more at older audiences and not for children. The OT is aimed at a general audience so that pretty much everyone in the family can watch it and get something out of it without scaring younger people too much. The PT MIGHT skew younger, although it has a number of moments in there that children may not get or appreciate.

                3. etheric42 says:

                  Of course story matters in children’s stories. And in YA stories. Even an episode of Barney has a story that matters in its integrity and how it is told (even if the bar to pass is low). And of course adults enjoy children/YA stories. It’s good to have palette cleansers of things that don’t need to engage you fully, or be immersed in worldviews that you left behind to remember that you, too, are human.

                  But no, I agree that we disagree about the greatest stories of all time being enjoyed by children. I disagree on the basic premise that there could be a tier of stories called greatest that doesn’t necessarily cover stories that require fully developed mental capabilities as well as a cultural context, and also stories that require being patient enough to have very simple things explained. All stories have an audience, and the targeting of that audience is analog, meaning there is a gradation of appreciation as you fall outside the audience instead of a hard cut-off. There are some, rare works that work at multiple levels, you can read various things into them. But to confine the great works to just those leaves out a large quantity of true greats and also conflates multiple audiences for all human beings regardless of context and capacity.

                  I feel that worldview is reductive of humanity and a holdover of days when media bandwidth was scarce. When the production and/or reproduction of a media form was relatively expensive, everyone consumed the same thing. Partially because that was what was available. Partially because that was what everyone else was consuming and you would have a point of connection your community. Everyone read the canon. Everyone could bring up Shakespeare, or Austen, or the greek tragedies and immediately be on the same page. Except that was kind of a lie. Because if you walked over to a different class of society, or to a different continent, suddenly you found yourself with a group with a completely different canon.

                  I don’t know which modern story you referenced because you cut off there, but I strongly disagree about Gilgamesh. First of all, no, not anyone who can read the language can read Gilgamesh. It’s a commonly taught college-level English story for sophmore-level world literature. There is context that is strikingly missing without footnotes or a translation that fills in the gaps (or a lecturer beating it into you). It’s pre-bicameral mind, definitely pre-Henry James, it jumps all over the place, it doesn’t follow modern conventions of scene setting and showing vs telling, it’s missing a number of lines, and (to me) it feels marginally better than reading a shopping list. It’s main strengths are that it’s historically important as one of the oldest written works we have on record (even if a lot of what we have comes from a rewrite ~800 years later), and it works a lot better as an oral piece given by someone whose prepared a meter for it. And it works as an oral piece because you can just let it wash over you, zone out during the repetitive bits, and let the speaker’s meter assist you in understanding what parts of the story are important. And even then, there’s probably better stories for oral recitation. A number of oral tellings have moved me to laughter, tears, and/or introspection. One-person shows in local theater can often be great and intimate experiences. Gilgamesh doesn’t feel the same.

                  Maybe we should postpone this conversation to later in the article series, but there are consistency issues throughout the OT and the PT as well. Lucas and his collaborators did not have everything well-defined ahead of time. I agree that the ST biggest flaw is in some ways the opposite of the PT: too little top-down control to keep everything on the same page. I also agree that had the ST been made first, there wouldn’t have been an OT or a PT, because it does not build worlds in the same way as the OT does. But the OT has the advantage of being created at a time with a scarcity of media, particularly big-budget sci-fi, and the PT had it’s geek audience’s knives out from the first Meesa. In the last few years I’ve seen a re-evaluating of the PT in higher and higher standings, as the people who were its primary audience on release are now starting to get old enough to have a say on the internet. We’re going to see the same thing again in another 20-30 years with the ST. And as the OT’s original audience begins to die off, we may very well see a drop in its standings

    2. Joshua says:

      I think there’s plenty to criticize in the film without getting into politics (apart from the politics of whether you liked the film or not. During the last time we got into arguments about the film, someone brought up the link to Bret Devereaux’s review where he said some of the original plot concepts are really great ideas, it’s just the execution is flawed and heavy-handed, where the argument isn’t so much about what the film did, but how it was done, a sentiment that I share.

      That being said, as much as I disliked TLJ, ROS was a train wreck in comparison in my opinion. At least TLJ felt like a film instead a spastic ADHD trailer stretched out to 2.5 hours (not even getting into the questionable story ideas). My reaction while watching it was fairly similar to my reaction while watching Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead: baffled amusement.

      1. Hector says:

        The freakish thing about Disney’s mismanagement of Star Wars is they’ve been insanely controlling of side projects but evidently hands-off for the tentpole. They chopped up Rogue One, and while the movie was still good there were a number of issues. And they pretty much destroyed Solo.

        In either case we can’t be sure how good the originals are, *however*, Disney’s stated reasons were highly questionable: they were shaking with fear that Rogue One was “too dark”, when that obviously the hook, or that Solo was comic, when that was likely the best thing to do with a side story and that character.

      2. etheric42 says:

        That’s very interesting. I’ve read some of Bret’s blog before and missed the Star Wars articles.

        In comparison I felt that Rise was the most Star Wars of any Star Wars movie. It’s Star Wars turned to 12. I found it enjoyable from a “don’t look to deep at this movie” standpoint and I felt the pace helped that. Star Wars was never going to be smart enough to be Moon, and it doesn’t have the run time or writers to be The Expanse. If A New Hope is a poorly done space samurai/WW2 action movie, let RoS be a poorly done space anime. It wasn’t my favorite Star Wars movie (which would be TFA), I felt it encapsulated the very Star Wars part of Star Wars and tried to cut out all of the rest.

        I also don’t like that people keep calling it “spastic” or “ADHD”. It reminds me of the people snubbing their nose at Deep Space 9 or New (soon to be middle?) Battlestar Galactica as being too “soap opera-y”. TV started turning away from episodic things into overarching plots because they could rely on people to see every episode and follow longer threads. Large swaths of TV changed, not because of falling quality (and considering the stature of soap operas in our culture, calling something “soap opera-y” is an attack on quality, even if unintentional), but because of advancements in the craft and delivery allowed for a new kind of art to be work, and the people consuming it weren’t just bored housewife-equivalents.

        Something similar is happening to movies. As TV is taking over the role of narrative, as it has a chance to play out 10+ hours/year, where does that leave movies? I feel that either it is the place for short stories (a beginning, middle, and end in only ~2 hours? What novelty, what brevity) or expensive performance pieces (okay, we may not have the run time to play out a nuanced story like TV, but we have 10 times the budget of an episode with only 2 times the length, let’s bring in the choreographers and FX). The former will always have a place, but if anything it’s even more ADHD than the latter. You can hold the entire work in your mind at one time and then discard it fully upon starting the next one. Watch them like you read an anthology or Asimov’s subscription. It’s great content for streaming, but difficult to get audience attention. The latter is no more ADHD than going to see a Broadway production, opera or the ballet. You’re going to be hit with choreographed spectacle one after the other and you’re going to have to try and keep up while the show races on in front of you. If anything that seems like it takes more concentration from the audience to keep their mental constructs updated while at the same time being fed new information constantly. And this style of presentation seems the best reason for the cinema to continue to exist, as it’s going to be expensive for at least a few more years to put an Imax in your living room. (Coincidentally, bombastic musicals are what survives in professional theater while other genres are relegated to community/school theater in all but a handful of markets.)

        1. Daimbert says:

          I also don’t like that people keep calling it “spastic” or “ADHD”. It reminds me of the people snubbing their nose at Deep Space 9 or New (soon to be middle?) Battlestar Galactica as being too “soap opera-y”. TV started turning away from episodic things into overarching plots because they could rely on people to see every episode and follow longer threads. Large swaths of TV changed, not because of falling quality (and considering the stature of soap operas in our culture, calling something “soap opera-y” is an attack on quality, even if unintentional), but because of advancements in the craft and delivery allowed for a new kind of art to be work, and the people consuming it weren’t just bored housewife-equivalents.

          I don’t think in this case the accusations of “soap opera-y” were aimed at the overall narrative, but instead were aimed more at the increased focus on character relationships, especially romantic ones, and a mix-and-match approach to that that drove drama and often took the focus off of the narrative and plot. The revamped BSG is certainly vulnerable to that criticism with Starbuck and Apollo and Dee and Sam and the original issues with Zac and a host of other situations, and the Worf-Jadzia-Ezri-Bashir arc and the “Kira is having Chief O’Brien’s baby” arc could be legitimately criticized for that as well. For shows like this, we don’t mind the underlying relationship things if it doesn’t eclipse the plot arcs and can be used to pay them off (see “Smallville” for the most part as an example) but when it dominates then shows that aren’t soap operas get criticized for it.

          Something similar is happening to movies. As TV is taking over the role of narrative, as it has a chance to play out 10+ hours/year, where does that leave movies?

          Why couldn’t they keep doing what they’re doing? The lengthly arcs in TV shows — which in general cross season boundaries — are things that movies could NEVER do, even with trilogies, so it doesn’t seem like TV is muscling in on their turf. More the contrary, as they are moving away from what movies tended to do which is have full stories in a constrained timeframe and so aren’t competing in terms of narrative and plot with movies. About the only reason for concern would be that audiences will prefer the TV model and so won’t find the movie model entertaining, but there’s probably still a big market for that sort of storytelling. If movies — especially in theaters — are struggling, it’s probably more costs and comfort than that people don’t like movies anymore.

          1. John says:

            I don’t think in this case the accusations of “soap opera-y” were aimed at the overall narrative, but instead were aimed more at the increased focus on character relationships, especially romantic ones, and a mix-and-match approach to that that drove drama and often took the focus off of the narrative and plot.

            Yep. Very much this. I spent a lot of time in the 90s carping about Odo pining after Kira instead of doing something, y’know, interesting. I like to think that I’m older and calmer about such things now. At the time, I was angry that my science fiction show was doing what I thought of as high-school romance stuff rather than science fiction stuff. If I had wanted to watch, say, Dawson’s Creek, I would have just watched Dawson’s Creek. In retrospect, the Odo-Kira arc wasn’t so bad, though I still think it dragged on too long and was handled fairly awkwardly.

            1. Daimbert says:

              I just watched the entire series of “Pretty Little Liars” (for various reasons) and I was very worried that it would turn out that way because, well, the protagonists are high school students and so it might be focused all on that. But for me, at least, it worked because it focused on the underlying mystery — who is the person who knows all their secrets and what do they want — and only used the high school drama stuff to provide character background, sometimes a break from the drama, and things for the antagonist to use against them. If that’s how it’s used, then it’s usually not so bad.

              Oddly, I was also rewatching “Smallville” (as noise while working) and noticed that it did a lot of that soap opera drama stuff, too. Some of which was not well-received — Lana for the most part — but some of which was at least ignored.

            2. etheric42 says:

              Okay, you make very fair points about the shift in sci-fi being more about relationships and less about adventure (I protest calling the development of relationships as not-plot), but literary sci-fi was already focusing on human relationships so incorporating that into TV/movie sci-fi isn’t absurd.

              I still stand by there being a backlash of TV moving away from the episodic format to longer arcs. And I feel the more general argument about the shifting of focus for TV vs cinema stands as well.

              1. Daimbert says:

                I think, though, the big complaint is not the development of relationships that add to the characters and even sometimes the plot, but instead that the relationship drama WAS the drama instead of the things more related to science fiction or the plot itself. Essentially, they stop the plot to follow the relationship drama through. That’s what soap operas do — because the plot IS the relationship drama, mostly — not in general science fiction.

          2. etheric42 says:

            Why couldn’t they keep doing what they’re doing?

            I don’t think they can because they’ve been outcompeted. Time stands still for no megacorp.

            Old TV generally had the entire plot contained in a single episode. For that matter they were almost entirely the same as movies. Movies just had a bigger budget, cost, and run time. This was due to the issues with lack of time shifting. There are a few exceptions to that rule and they generally stand out as names we would recognize today because they were big deals (or they failed immediately because they couldn’t keep people watching every episode in order religiously).

            So for people that want a longer narrative, movies had control of that and lost it. So it isn’t that they are retaining their old audience, they need to attract a new one with the same context.

            And you make a good point about costs/comfort. I think maybe it’s time we clarified between a cinema-movie and a couch-movie. Both cinema-movies and couch-movies used to be in the cinema, but now that’s not necessarily the case. If we want to see what the “encapsulated stories” audience wants, probably from the converted TV crowd, you’ll likely see those cropping up directly on streaming services more and more. If you’re not going for the spectacle, then why spend the cost/comfort of the big screen? (I know there are still people who regularly go to the cinema for what could be small-screen experiences and enjoy it, I just don’t think they have enough buying power to justify that continuing except on the margins.) But these couch-cinema properties are running into a problem: how do you get people to notice you?

            The marketplace is getting crowded. People have more choices. With a series you only have to hook an audience once and they’ll probably come back for years. They also have a lower up-front cost (time-wise) which means it is easier for people to sample them. For couch-movies you’ve got to hook them every time unless you’ve got some star-power who can attract followers of that person, and there isn’t a clear getting-off point for sampling.

            So you’ve got selection-pressures hitting you from every side. You don’t hold the crown of longer or more complicated stories anymore. Cost/comfort has driven a chunk of your genre to a different presentation method. Proliferation on that alternate presentation method has made it harder for pieces to stand out. What can you do to adapt? Keep your flagship (cinema-movies) serving an experience people can’t get anywhere else and at a quality that makes it very difficult to flood the market with competing experiences. Very few players can afford to put out an MCU entry. Besson has to spend a personal fortune to try to enter the market and with his failure to recoup will be out of play for awhile. MCU has the added benefit of being like a series, such that you only have to hook an audience once and they keep coming back even if the entries could very well be in different genres.

            So you’re right, it’s not that people stopped liking movies, they just liked enough other things more that the commercial constraints are starting to hammer in and reshape what it means to be a movie. People still love the theater, but not many are willing to spend the hundreds of dollars it would take to see a new Stoppard. (I was about to say I would, but then I go check Stoppard’s Wikipedia and found he’s had a new piece as soon as five years ago! Ugh, how do I get on old playwright’s mailing list!)

            1. Daimbert says:

              I think you have a point that movie theaters, in general, are really good at doing spectacle, with the bigger screens and massive sound systems and so on and so forth. But that was always one of their main draws. And it seems to me that if movie theaters are losing ground, it’s less because TV is stealing their narrative advantage and more because home theaters are stealing their SPECTACLE advantage. While there is still a gap, other than for things like IMAX and MAYBE 3-D the gap is far, far less than it used to be, with HD and surround sound systems being available and more or less affordable. So it’s reasonable to say that the movies that are merely ramping up spectacle are doubling down on a strategy that’s failing and going to continue to fail.

              The reason I reject the narrative line is that TV has greatly overshot the narratives that movies provided. TV shows are aimed at narratives lasting 10 – 20 hours AT LEAST, which movies NEVER provided. And TV shows have a much tighter narrative with everything connecting directly together because they can rely on viewers having watched the previous entries that set everything up maybe the previous week or previous day with on-demand and streaming. It was always the case that movies couldn’t do that because even the fastest trilogy would have the next movie come out a year or two later. So the sorts of narrative that TV is providing was never the sorts of narrative that movies were providing.

              So we can ask if people want that narrative or only watched it because it was closer to what TV is providing. But movies are still popular on streaming, and even movies that provide less spectacle can be successful in theaters. People really don’t mind watching those sorts of narratives, even when the spectacle isn’t there. And TV is not in any way providing that sort of narrative. So there does seem to be room for that sort of narrative.

              As an example, consider Casablanca. It holds up today, but it’s not something you could do in a TV series, as it’s a simple, self-contained narrative that doesn’t have a connection or any real connective tissue to go further than a couple of hours. In fact, most of the classic movies are pretty much that sort of narrative. Heck, even the Star Wars OT isn’t something you could do well in a TV series or even a miniseries. I think there’s still room for those sorts of narratives in the viewing audience.

              The theater model may stumble more because it has extra constraints but is competing against itself (if we wait, we can watch movies at home as well). That’s not an indication that the movie narrative form is no longer viable.

  19. TLN says:

    I really intensely disliked the parts where the game tried its hand at some version of Uncharted gameplay, but other than that I enjoyed this game quite a lot.

  20. Nixorbo says:

    Had to stop reading the article to say that Swoo Jeffo is an amazing Star Wars name and there’s a pretty decent chance I will steal it for an FFG Star Wars character.

  21. Christopher says:

    I don’t really care about Star Wars, but that only means I won’t be pissed off whichever way you lean on the content lol. I’m eager to hear what you’ve got to say!

  22. MelTorefas says:

    I am VERY excited for this series XD

    I am also with Shamus on liking the originals and not much else. In my case I was never a particularly huge fan of Star Wars in general, but I do really enjoy the original, un-remastered trilogy. I thought the prequels were hot garbage, and of the new ones I only watched The Force Awakens, and was not a fan of most of it. (Old Leia and Han were probably the only thing I really enjoyed.) I never understood why they chose to completely rehash A New Hope, and I thought the pacing was terrible, just running from one action scene to the next with no time to get to know our leads. After that I haven’t bothered with any of the newer stuff, which, from what I have heard of them, was probably a good choice on my part.

    1. Joshua says:

      “I thought the pacing was terrible, just running from one action scene to the next with no time to get to know our leads.”

      Definitely don’t watch Rise of Skywalker then.

    2. etheric42 says:

      If you didn’t like TFA, you should stop there and you shouldn’t feel obligated to watch cultural touchstone movies because there’s enough diversity of art/media out there now that you shouldn’t feel bad for skipping the Canon anymore, just like with literature. (Also, just like with literature, just because it is part of the Canon doesn’t mean it is good.)

      I will ask though, are you sure that you don’t just have rose-tinted glasses towards the original trilogy? By the end of A New Hope, do you really know any more about Luke and Vader than you know about Rey and Kylo? More about Han than about Finn? It’s hard to really identify this because the OT has the advantage of decades of expanded universe, and discussion, and its full trilogy of movies.

      1. Syal says:

        The OT uses archetypes; you don’t need to know a lot about them to know them. Han is fully developed in a single line. “Hokey religions and ancient teachings are no match for a good blaster at your side.” Vader is fully developed by force choking an Imperial soldier who insulted him, and releasing him once the room has given him respect. Luke is fully developed in the scene above, staring over the desert wasteland at the moons in the sky; big dreams small means.

        TFA characters are trying to be more complex. Finn’s introduced by having a breakdown; but a breakdown doesn’t tell you what he wants going forward. Rey is a street urchin used to adapting to trouble; but adapting doesn’t tell you what she wants going forward. Kylo is trying and failing to be Vader; he’s pulled in two directions for every action, who he is and who he wants to be (good this time, unpredictability is great for a villain and Kylo’s the best part of the sequels).

        The characters don’t have direction, so the story doesn’t have direction. There’s little chemistry, because they can’t bounce off each other, because none of them are solid enough for bouncing. There’s no “let the Wookie win”, because the Wookie could be all or none of them as far as the audience knows.

        1. etheric42 says:

          There’s a fine line between archetypes and stereotypes, so fine as to possibly not exist.

          I feel when you say “Hokey religions and ancient teachings are no match for a good blaster at your side.” fully develops Han but for Finn/Rey we need to know what they want going forward you’re shifting goalposts. But if we leave that aside and instead say “We know what Luke/Han/Vader want in ANH but we don’t know what Rey/Finn/Kylo want in TFA” (with the exception of Kylo, who you grant as being well-developed in TFA). Han is a mercenary with a heart of gold. We see him want money and to survive to the next job, but in reality he wants to do the right thing (or maybe it’s friendship that brings him back?). Luke is a heroic teenager who wants to be part of something bigger than himself and find his place in the galaxy. Vader is a Bad Guy who wants to crush all resistance (even if it is coming from his own side). Finn is a cowardly lion who wants to run away and has to reconcile the fact that running away took more bravery than following the status quo. Rey is curious explorer, she wants to discover more about the greater universe, and her history and part in it. Kylo is reverse sorcerer’s apprentice, he wants very hard to Do the Wrong Thing, but his impulses and passions keep pointing him the Right Way.

          They all are active characters. Finn may be a little along-for-the-ride with Rey at times, but Han was with Luke. In fact a major criticism of Rogue One was how passive Jyn was compared to the active player of Rey.

      2. Hector says:

        The answer is that, “Yes, you do.”

        A full response would take essays, partly because of how well Lucas focused on the exact elements necessary to tell the story, and the absolute perfection of the editing.

      3. Retsam says:

        I’m neutral on TFA, so I’m sympathetic to your point: I don’t think Rey, Kylo, and Finn were bad characters in TFA. (In fact, I’d rate Kylo as phenomenal, Finn as good, and Rey as okay)

        But the rest of the OT does a great job fleshing out Han, Leia, and Luke and the rest of the ST does an awful job of the same. IMO, TFA played things a bit too safe, but was otherwise a good launching point for a great trilogy, had the next two movies been good and actually leveraged the groundwork TFA laid.

  23. DeadlyDark says:

    I have small hope, that whenever you’ll going to talk about Lucas, you first finish watching SFDebris series on him (if you already didn’t). If nothing else, so at least you’d have an alternative look at his involvement in the series, compared to the video you linked

  24. Andrew says:

    It was established in the first movie that Obi-wan was a general, which implies a certain level of activity and being answerable to the government.

  25. gganate says:

    Shamus, are you going to comment on the disconnect between story Cal, who seems a decent guy, and gameplay Cal, who uses the force to pull stormtroopers into his lightsaber? The original trilogy doesn’t have this problem (Luke doesn’t hack many people to death) but the prequel trilogy has Yoda butchering clone troopers, so yeah, this isn’t a disconnect exclusive to Fallen Order. It bothered me anyway, though.

    I would love a Dishonored-type Star Wars game, where you could be a lightside user and use your force powers to sneak past enemies or take them out non-lethally, or go full high chaos and embrace the dark side.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Ludonarrative dissonance? I thought that was a myth.

  26. smash says:

    I don’t think we can call a game “like Dark Souls” if it lacks that game’s insistence on not being trivially easy on the new or careless player. The reason people remember every nook and cranny is because the game does not hold your hand, and that forces you to pay attention. This is not just me claiming it, that’s a nearly direct quote from the director: Dark Souls is not difficult for the sake of it, but to make you pay attention. No invisible railings near chasms, no minimap or waypoints, no wallhack vision, no animation cancelling and limited healing are only there to make your every step and button press matter.

    FO did not do that. I can barely remember a single level because it’s just fast food in comparison. It’s not awful, most combat systems in AAA games are barely anything deeper than mashing the square button while while pressing forward, so adding a stamina bar is a welcome improvement, but saying it’s “like Dark Souls” is like saying that Checkers is like Chess, or Snakes and Ladders is like Backgammon. There are some borrowed fundamentals, but the end result is very different in its depth vs short lived entertainment based on pure spectacle.

    But maybe I’m grabbing ahead, and you’ll say the same.

    1. Timothy Coish says:

      “… lacks that game’s insistence on not being trivially easy on the new or careless player.”

      Is an interesting way of saying “has artificially inflated difficulty due to not explaining jack shit to the player and punishing them through excessive tedium for not magically knowing how things work.”

      “No invisible railings near chasms, no minimap or waypoints, no wallhack vision, no animation cancelling and limited healing are only there to make your every step and button press matter.”

      Yes, and no framerate drops below 20 FPS like the Souls games either. Also the character doesn’t control like the Titanic.

      “FO did not do that. I can barely remember a single level because it’s just fast food in comparison. It’s not awful, most combat systems in AAA games are barely anything deeper than mashing the square button while while pressing forward, so adding a stamina bar is a welcome improvement, but saying it’s “like Dark Souls” is like saying that Checkers is like Chess, or Snakes and Ladders is like Backgammon. There are some borrowed fundamentals, but the end result is very different in its depth vs short lived entertainment based on pure spectacle.”

      I feel like people who think the Souls games are deep have never played Ninja Gaiden Black. That is a combat game that is actually deep, and in fact is also too hard. Regardless, that game makes DS look like Checkers, only a version of Checkers where you keep losing to the CPU because nobody explained the rules to you, and you have to figure out what’s going on everytime you lose. And everytime you lose you have to tediously reset the board because the game refuses to do this for you.

      1. DaveMc says:

        Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to put down the discussion of Dark Souls and back away slowly … :)

        https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=49168
        https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=49908

        [I realize you’re not actually advocating in favour of Dark Souls, but those people are on their way here right now …]

        1. Timothy Coish says:

          They have surrounded my house. The cops are outside joining them. They’ll never take me alive.

          THE SOULS GAMES ARE BAD AND STUPID.

      2. smash says:

        It’s not that we haven’t played Ninja Gaiden, it’s that nobody compares anything to it.

        The point was not that Dark Souls is perfect, but only that comparing Fallen Order to it is like comparing Minecraft to Half Life: They share a camera perspective, but that’s where the similarities end.

  27. PhoenixUltima says:

    I neither loved nor hated Fallen Order; my reaction to this game was a massive “eh, it’s ok”.

    My biggest problem with the game is that it tries to be a bunch of genres at once, but it never really “leans in” to any of them. It’s a metroidvania, but without the wide array of cool movement power-ups you get in either Metroid or Castlevania games. It’s got Prince of Persia-style parkour platforming, but somehow it just never gives you that “holy shit, I’m a ninja!” feeling those games did. It’s got Dark Souls-like combat (well, more like Sekiro-like combat, but whatev), but without that ineffable FromSoft magic that makes it compelling. It’s a jack of all trades, master of none.

    My second biggest problem is that most of the items you can find by exploring are just cosmetics that do nothing mechanics-wise. No lightsaber upgrades that give you more damage or faster swing speed or whatever, no armor to reduce damage or make you immune to environmental hazards, nothing. Just different styles of lightsaber hilt, or different color schemes for your poncho. To add insult to injury, most of the color schemes you can find for your clothes and your droid are shit-in-your-eyes hideous. The only things really worth finding are the lore items (both because they give you XP and because reading about the backstories of the places you go to is pretty neat), and the… I forget what they’re even called, but they give you more health restores – they’re basically the FO equivalent of estus shards. It takes all the fun out of exploring a new area when you know that you’re probably just gonna find another hideous poncho color scheme.

    All that said, I still liked FO alright. I played through all the way and I enjoyed my time with the game. But it just felt… flat. Put it this way: I’m glad that I played the game, but I don’t really have any desire to pick it up ever again.

    1. Ashen says:

      I have the same opinion of the game. It isn’t bad, but it lacks any sort of identity. It’s like the design was “throw all the games people like into a blender” without understanding what made those games work in the first place.

      You’ve got reasonably large “metroidvania” maps with lots of nooks and crannies. But since there’s nothing to actually find other than those crappy cosmetics, exploration becomes a pointless waste of time.

      Then there’s the bonfires. In Dark Souls they exist to force players into learning the map and slowly conquering every part of the level. Their scarcity also serves as pacing mechanism. In this game they’re just thrown every 5 minutes rendering them pointless. The game would be better off with just a regular quicksave.

      The climbing/platforming sections are just pure filler. Everything is so clearly telegraphed there’s no challenge or skill involved, it’s just padding in between the combat sections.

  28. Tomas says:

    “For me, the tone and rules of the universe were introduced in 1977 and canonized in 1983. Everything since then has felt like fanfiction to me.”

    Amen. When I was a kid there was nothing I wanted more than episodes 1-3 and 7-9 to be made. Now I really miss those days when there were only three films. Careful what you wish for I guess…

  29. Drathnoxis says:

    Actually, it looks like the real title is Star Wars™ Jedi: Fallen Order™ EA™

    1. Mr. Wolf says:

      Not a single ®? How terrible!

  30. Mr. Wolf says:

    I often get a little annoyed by Star Wars purists. “The Empire Strikes Back was difinitive Star Wars and anything that deviates from that isn’t Star Wars enough”. It drives me mad, because I’m of the opinion that the Star Wars universe is big enough that you could flirt with almost any genre and it wouldn’t feel out of place. Hell, the films already dabble in dozens of different genres, why not expand on those a little?

    A war film? Easy.
    Spy fiction fits pretty well too.
    Romance?
    How about a police procedural?
    On the subject, how does a crime drama sound?
    Horror maybe?
    Maybe you’re in the mood for a disaster film?
    Or simply a survivalist film?
    But then there’s Godzilla to consider.
    Would you take some time to talk philosophy?
    Or would you rather just laugh?

    1. Daimbert says:

      I’m not sure that the purists are as much of a problem as you describe, as the EU did do some things in different genres. The issues with the new stuff is that it a) is trying to those things in the mainline works, which then leaves fans of the original ideas with nothing to consume, b) often seems to be doing it simply for the purpose of doing that instead of just trying to add to the universe (leading to the complaints that they just didn’t want to do a Star Wars movie and wanted to do something else instead) and c) is doing those new things really, really badly [grin].

    2. BlueHorus says:

      To agree with Diambert, I don’t really think Star Wars fans are the ones most at fault. I mean, it’s not THEM making these million-dollar tentpole movies…it’s Disney.

      While The Force Awakens was fine as a movie, it WAS basically A New Hope rewarmed. And whatever new things The Last Jedi or Rise of Skywalker tried, they just couldn’t…tear…themselves…away…from the old staples of the series: the Skywalker family, evil empires, rebellions. force powers, Death Stars, cameos by old characters…

      You’re right; there is SO much potential in the Star Wars universe, and it’s being ignored.

      (I gave Rise of Skywalker a hard miss, because bringing back Palpatine instantly struck me as a desperate step by a committee of profoundly unimaginative people. Of ALL the things you could do with a Star Wars movie, all they could think of was THAT?)

      Also related – Solo: A Star Wars Heist Movie or Solo: A Star Wars Comedy could have been a whole load of fun. And while I personally didn’t like Rogue One*, those who did usually cite different tone it had; a Star Wars war movie.

      *Just, so much fanservice. Goddamn fanservice, everywhere.

  31. Nate Winchester says:

    Hello there!

    A surprise to close with a prequel meme to be sure, but a welcome one.

  32. Madoradus says:

    This is an unrelated question, but have you played Red Dead Redemption 2? If not, are you planning to? I think that you’d enjoy it a lot more than GTAV – it has none of the crudeness or vulgarity or lame satire, the story is better written, the characters more compelling, and the gameplay and world are incredibly immersive. I really can’t recommend it enough and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

    1. Kestrellius says:

      It was discussed in Diecast 310 a couple weeks ago, actually. I think he had played it, but I don’t recall for certain.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        It’s at timestamp 25:00, and no, Shamus has “never played any of the Red Dead games.”

  33. EOW says:

    Shamus talking about Star Wars in general?
    This is going to be fun, i’m especially interested in your opinion on the new trilogy now that it’s over.

  34. wswordsmen says:

    At the risk of breaking you no politics/religion rule (although the politics should be so old it doesn’t “count”)

    “After all, this is an evolving fantasy story about space wizards, not a legal document or a religious text”

    You say this implying that legal documents and religous texts don’t evolve. This is untrue. If you want examples of the religious texts and/or their interpretations evolving look at the Reformation or Great Schism (among many others). Being a legal or religious authoritative text doesn’t mean that text stops changing, at best it means it slows down.

  35. DaveMc says:

    I just want to voice my admiration for the term “metric sithload”. Well done!

  36. Ofermod says:

    If you do write an article on the XBox controller, I expect for it to include that it’s now being used to control submarine periscopes.

  37. Sebastien Vivas-Gelinas says:

    Awesome column! Looking forward to future pieces!

  38. Noumenon72 says:

    Who are the Jedi?
    The Jedi are peaceful monks that go largely unnoticed by society at large. They map fairly well to the tropes of Shaolin Monks in classic martial arts movies. They spend their entire lives gardening, studying, farming, or some other quiet hands-on activity. During extraordinary circumstances they might leave their remote monastery / hermit dwelling / cave to participate in conflict, but they dislike violence. A Jedi uses his powers only for defense, never for attack.

    Now I understand why I thought the 7-minute fan film Hoshino was a better Jedi story than all the prequels.

  39. Kenny says:

    I just bought the game, after reading Rock Paper Shotgun’s ‘have you played?’ post about it, and am half-way thru (on two saves). I was burnt out from playing Satisfactory (and a little Factorio) and wanted a fun ‘adventure’ game; Fallen Order is very much that. I’m very much in agreement about enjoying the DS-ish combat without the DS grind. (Tho I kinda want to give DS another go now too).

    I am somewhat of a OT partisan, but very weakly. I can’t tell anymore whether I directly appreciate the PT or whether I’ve just enjoyed reading all of the analysis and criticism of them! I’ve seen all of the ST but they’re all fuzzy blurs. I was able to mildly enjoy them (I think); definitely had an okay+ time watching the last one.

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