To set the stage: I am an ardent Episode 7 apologist. When discussing The Force Awakens, any of my writing friends who begin critiquing the movie are answered with an explanation that Kathleen Kennedy and JJ Abrams had one HELL of a monumental task: undoing the damage that Lucas did with Episodes 1-3. And I feel like they did that. The story was flat, yes. Every single beat was stitched together with simple “And then she… And then he…” connective tissue. There was fan service out the wazoo. And I loved it. Black X-Wing? Millennium Falcon? I don’t even care if it’s just the warmed-up leftovers of A New Hope served one day before they expire, I was 100% in.
Hell, I even shrug and still find love for Episode 1. It’s not as easy, but I do it. Because before I was a writer; before I made shows or content of any sort, I was a fan.
I FUCKING HATED IT.
I want to make damn sure you understand this one thing, if nothing else in this write-up lands: I made a pact with myself a few years ago to outright remove from my writing (and hopefully, my mind) any critique of another creator’s work that is based purely on taste and opinion. I swore I would remove “I hate this” from my lexicon when “This isn’t for me” would do.
This is not a piece about my tastes or my opinion. This is fact: Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi is a bad movie. It’s a bad story. It’s a bad piece of content. From a movie-still or screen capture perspective, it is pretty in moments, but from a story perspective, it’s so. so. so. so. so. so. so. so. SO. bad.
I can’t explain why without spoilers, so I’ll do that in another piece. But I will say this: when the movie ended and the lights came up, my girlfriend (who hated Episode 7) turned to me with a look on her face that I knew was “Oh God, how do I tell him I hated this one too?” and that look was quickly replaced with shock as she saw the look on my face.
“The title crawl was interesting,” I said. “And I liked exactly one moment with Luke Skywalker. Other than that, I hated every. Single. Second. Of that movie.”
She cackled, half out of shock, and half out of relief. Because she did too.
Thinking we were alone in our disdain, given the applause that rang out after the credits began rolling, we exited the theater and tended to the ceremonial “End of the Movie Bio Break”. I finished first and returned to the exit hallway to hear two guys discussing the movie.
Oh no, I thought, I’m going to have to walk away before I lash out at these poor dudes decked out head-to-toe in Star Wars clothing simply for liking a movie that I couldn’t even begin to explain why I…
“I hated it,” one guy said.
“It didn’t answer a goddamn thing,” the other said.
“THANK YOU!” I yelled as my girlfriend exited her restroom. “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!”
I’m sure they thought I was insane for a moment. “You just validated the fact that I’m not crazy, and that that movie was a piece of shit.”
“It was!” they both said.
I never got their names, but we talked for a dozen minutes about all of the various weaknesses, plot failures, character misdirections, and other issues with a two and a half our commercial for more things based on the stuff introduced in this commercial, which themselves will invariably be thinly-vieled commercials for more things in the expanded-expanded universe, all of which makes NO GODDAMN SENSE or holds any cohesion with the source material, its characters, its settings, its mechanics (FUEL IS A FUCKING ISSUE? REALLY? SINCE WHEN IN STAR WARS IS FUEL A FUCKING ISSUE?)
From a writing-mechanics perspective, it’s shit.
From a storytelling perspective, it’s shit forced down your throat.
From an acting perspective, it’s like someone ate shit, puked that shit up, then ate it again and shit it out.
And from a pure “should this even exist?” perspective, it’s nothing more than a platform for toy sales, series spinoffs, and “extended universe” plays (LOOK FOR THE COOL CROSSOVER COMIC BOOK WITH THE GUY FROM THE CASINO (no, not the one that was shoved into the plot to basically give Benecio Del Toro some more screen time [HE WAS IN GUARDIANS 2, PLAYING BASICALLY THE SAME GODDAMN CHARACTER GAHHHHHHH]. I’m talking about the other guy with the macguffin on his lapel that they set up to be the entire fucking reason to even go to that planet, mostly to build characters that honestly were more fleshed out and whole BEFORE this building arc was shoved in here). I’m sure it’ll feature a REALLY BEAUTIFUL, MOSTLY RED cover by Mark Brooks, with seven or more action figure variant covers by John Tyler Christopher.)
I am 100% convinced the reason you see so many early reviews from publications claiming it’s great, original, unique, special, and otherwise positive is because Disney gathered every single reviewer from every single blog, publication, and outlet into a room and said “If you say even one single negative thing before this movie is released, we will bar you for life from screening ANY Disney or Fox production for the rest of your existence.” These are publications I trust: Ars Technica. Polygon. Io9. All of whom I can’t possibly trust ever again at this point, and no, this isn’t hyperbole.
There will be reversals of opinions, hedging, and otherwise paving over the past sometime between Christmas and New Years, and by the time this thing hits home video / streaming services, you’ll begin seeing the major outlets coming out with new reviews that trim back that 10/10 or 100% review to the mid 70’s. Then, sometime in the future after the cessation of net neutrality has all but obliterated the everyone-with-a-megaphone internet we have become and people begin going back to lives of consumption with moderate opinion sharing, you’ll see a return to common sense and an appeal to your trust as consumers as reviewers finally come out and say “yeah, Episode 8 was a full-on piece of shit crammed down your throat because Disney literally owns everything and can’t do a single brave thing worth a shit, for risk of creating weaknesses in their all-powerful consumer appeal.”
There. There’s my spoiler-free review.
Look for the very specific, full-o-spoilers catharsis later today, not because I think you need to read it, but because I need the therapy.