Attack of the Clones,  Prequel Trilogy,  Revenge of the Sith,  The Phantom Menace

Screen Rant examines how the Rotten Tomatoes scores of the Star Wars Prequels have evolved

tpm13

From Screen Rant:

“How has opinion on the Star Wars prequels changed over time? We’ve looked back through the history of Rotten Tomatoes to view how their critic and audience scores have gone down (and up), representing how we all view Star Wars Episodes I-III. […]

To collect this data, we used the Wayback Machine to view the Rotten Tomatoes pages for Star Wars Episodes I-III from 2005 (the earliest records with usable site structure) to the present. The critic “Tomatometer” and audience score have been charted over the past 14 years, creating an image of how this period of backlash was measured by one of the most popular movie aggregators on the internet.

Due to the method of collection, the data misses out the first six years of Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace‘s life; there’s no information on the film before early 2005. This means that a lot of fluctuation in both critical and audience appraisal will have already happened. Still, its reputation since is still revealing.

The Phantom Menace started 2005 on 62%, and stayed in the 61-64% range for the better part of a decade. Episode I only became Rotten in 2012, with the film’s ill-advised 3D rerelease. Intended as the first of a complete saga reissue using the new technology, George Lucas’ decision to start with his divisive first entry hurt its reputation badly; reviews skewed negative on the film and the effect, sending its score steadily downwards; it went straight to 57% before slowly decreasing to the 54% it’s on today. As the only film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy to get a rerelease, this means The Phantom Menace is at a real disadvantage: whether this was a case of the new reviews setting the score straight or the mounting distaste skewing it, this glut of new reviews marked a point of no return.

The film officially going Rotten had an impact on the audience reviews too. It reached a high of 73% approval around the time of Revenge of the Sith‘s release before leveling out around 67%. It was only in early 2007 when its score dropped down to 60%, possibly spurred on by the 30th Anniversary celebrations causing a full-series reevaluation, but that recovered. It wasn’t until 2014, though, that the film became Rotten for audiences, the result of a gradual degrading ever since the 3D rerelease: it had been on 65% before 3D, but quickly fell. […]

Again, Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones‘ data begins in 2005, meaning its initial 2002 release isn’t counted. But as a more recent film, its change in opinion can still clearly be seen, as can its similarities and contrasts to The Phantom Menace.

From a critical perspective, Attack of the Clones‘ story is very boring. It was on 64% at the start of 2005 and is on 65% at the start of 2019, with it only ever going as high as 67%. This is what happens without a major chance for new reviews to present discussion. That said, the impact of certain events can be seen: the film dropped from 67% (which it had held pretty much interrupted since 2008) to 65% in late 2015, reflecting some degree of reevaluation to coincide with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But whereas there’s no metric of professional reviews, fans have clearly turned on Episode II. It was around the 70% point mark when Revenge of the Sith hit, but then shot down to 66% at the start of 2007 (at a similar rate and time to The Phantom Menace). It gradually recovered to a fairly impressive 69%, but soon found itself depreciating. First, it dropped to 66% in 2012, then to 60% in 2013. This collective impact seems to be a response to two key factors: first, the Disney purchase; second, the film’s title was changed to include 3D, expecting a follow-up release to The Phantom Menace, something fans understandably didn’t react well to. Once it slipped Rotten in 2015, there was no coming back. […]

Revenge of the Sith is the only Star Wars prequel we have a full set of data on. But if you think that means we can draw better conclusions about the film’s appreciation over time, you’d be wrong. Instead, it’s a muddle that highlights just how inaccurate Rotten Tomatoes measurements can be. First, a clarification: from December 2012 to February 2013, the film was marked as “Upcoming” due to the proposed 3D rerelease and so its audience score became “Wants to see“. This saw it plummet to 33%, but as it uses entirely different input data can’t really be contrasted to what else there is (why this didn’t occur for Attack of the Clones is unknown).

Critic-wise, Revenge of the Sith‘s score is even more boring that Attack of the Clones. After initially getting 83% upon release, it steadied out to 80%, only dropping one point to 79% with Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ reappraisals. As Episode III is widely regarded as the best of the Star Wars prequels and is most certainly the subject of the least backlash, a more static score would only be expected.

The audience score, on the other hand, is all over the place. It started off on 96% for the week of release, slowly leveling out around the 85% point for the rest of the decade. Then, in Fall 2010, 32 million new votes caused it to plummet to 64%. Two years later, in October 2012, a further 1.5 million had seen it settle on 65%, the score it holds to this day. The extremity of this cannot be understated. Revenge of the Sith currently has 33.6 million votes on Rotten Tomatoes, 32 million of them cast in the same month in 2010 causing a 20 point drop. In comparison, since its release in December 2015, The Force Awakens has 229,322 audience votes and Star Wars: The Last Jedi only 204,091. Box Office Mojo estimate Episode III sold 59,324,600 tickets domestically.

It’s totally unclear what happened to Revenge of the Sith‘s score, although the obvious suggestion is that the score was hijacked, with an influx of fake scores aiming to take the movie down; at the time, the 64% score made it the lowest scored of the trilogy, perhaps indicating the goal was to get the movie viewed in a less positive light in comparison to its predecessors. This was around the like of both the Mr. Plinkett prequel reviews and The People vs. George Lucas (with the drop happening in the release month of the latter), which plays into the general mood. Rotten Tomatoes hit back at the suggestion that The Last Jedi‘s low audience score was hacked, but it seems very difficult to suggest otherwise here. […]

What’s more interesting, though, is what the Star Wars prequels tell us about Rotten Tomatoes. Plainly, it’s a rather ineffective tool for gauging the opinion of non-recent movies. They can be influenced by poorly handled rereleases or remain static without, which shape opinions as much as they present them. And that’s nothing on the audience side, which is so open to abuse they have to be discounted from the discussion in some cases. If there’s one key takeaway from all this, it’s that this really is as ineffective a tool as so many cautions. […]”

 

 

0 Comments

  • Moose

    I know it is term that Rotten Tomatoes uses, but “fan” may not be the best word to use for its non-critic opinion scores. Something tells me that many of the folks giving the Prequels a thumbs-down are not actual Star Wars fans (one could argue that a Star Wars fan, by definition, would like the entire Saga, not just the Originals).

    • joe

      unfortunately many fans only care about the ot because the pt didn’t follow their own personal fanfiction this would also include those who only care about the ot and the disgrace that’s the st for me it’s 1-6 and rogue one

  • Will Reardon

    Reminds me of the wide divide in ratings between critics and audiences over the shows: Star Trek Discovery and The Orville.

    With the former, critics find it dark and egdy while audiences dislike its Marvel formula and going against everything Star Trek has represented for half a century.

    With the later, critics find it crude and childish while audiences enjoy its continuing the optimism of old Star Trek.

  • archdukeofnaboo

    And not only is Revenge of the Sith “widely regarded as the best of the Star Wars prequels”, but it stands at #1 on lists of the whole saga by many well-respected SW fans. Look no further than the director of the recent released and highly praised Vader fan film, Danny Ramirez.

  • Cryogenic

    Neat study. The sudden drop in ROTS’s audience rating in 2010 — following the release of “The People vs. George Lucas” and the RedLetterMedia review of ROTS that year (and closely-preceding reviews for the other prequel films) — testifies to the power of hatred and propaganda. It seems that millions of idiot fanboys, following their prequel-bashing idols, discovered that they didn’t even like the third installment anymore, and that they must try and stop other people from liking it, too.

    If a similar phenomenon occurred with “The Last Jedi”, involving/not involving Russian bots and troll-farm actors, then at least the drop was rapid, and plenty of fans voiced their deep dissatisfaction with TLJ immediately, including Mark Hamill.

    With the prequels, it seems that people had to be encouraged to dislike and abandon all regard for them, and that they were still — clearly — obsessing over them years later.

    Contrast this with the fate of “Toy Story 3” on Rotten Tomatoes — also in 2010. It began when a single critic (then-notorious New York critic Armond White) had the audacity to give the Pixar sequel a bad review and dent the flawless RT “fresh” rating. All manner of insanity followed in the comments section, including racist vitriol and death threats. The situation repeated in 2012 when a few critics, including Armond White, once again, gave “The Dark Knight Rises” a negative write-up. More fury, more vitriol, more death threats. This time, facing pressure from film studios and the glare of bad publicity, Rotten Tomatoes switched off its comments section, apparently for good.

    This response to White and one other critic who denigrated “Toy Story 3” on release typifies the way the geek-media complex operated back then (and largely still does). Instead of defending free speech and freedom of the press, this random grunt-for-hire thought it would be better to play to mob hysteria and stoke enmity against White and fellow dissenter Cole Smithey, even including headshots of them in his article as he gleefully tore into their opinions, even as he oh-so-heroically refused to link to either critic’s actual review.

    This is an actual sentence in his Scientology-esque proscribing diatribe:

    “A look back at Armond’s past reviews reveals that he’s not someone who should be allowed to review movies.”

    And for good measure, the geek-media grunt concludes with the following bromide:

    “Hundreds of film critics have proclaimed their love for Toy Story over the course of three movies and the two baldies who hate it can’t really tell us why. Most of the time film is subjective. This time it’s not.”

    In these two quotes (a mere four sentences) alone, we have:

    – an arbitrary condemnation of someone (with the implication they should be fired) for their tastes/review history
    – an argument from popularity and an endorsement of majority rule
    – a personal attack based on somebody else’s appearance
    – a dogmatic, totalitarian assertion that film quality isn’t always subjective

    Several times in his article, the author also repeatedly calls White and Smithey “wrong” and “flat-out wrong”; in addition to directly maligning them as “***holes”.

    The author also lumps scorn on White and Smithey for negatively impacting the Rotten Tomatoes rating for the film — framing his entire bash of them as a justified outing of (implicitly) anti-American/anti-capitalism commie interlopers:

    “Until a few hours ago, Toy Story 3 had a 100% fresh rating on the review compiler Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a feat almost never accomplished by modern movies. The few other films to carry the 100% fresh rating all pre-date the modern era or they were reviewed by a small handful of critics, usually fewer than forty or fifty . . . Thanks to them, and only them, Toy Story 3 now has a 99% fresh rating on RT.”

    White and Smithey are derogated for tainting a film’s flawless score — for daring to have minds of their own and to have said mean things about an artistic/commercial product that everyone apparently needed to be perfect and universally regarded as such. The author paints the critics not as legitimate voices of dissent (despite saying nothing about the firewall of critics who reviewed the Pixar movie positively), but as sham commentator-consumers with a desperate agenda.

    Where have we seen those tactics before?

    Anyway, for reference, here is the article:

    https://www.cinemablend.com/new/Meet-Two-People-Who-Hate-Toy-Story-3-19118.html

    Rotten Tomatoes has arguably been responsible for blunting discourse on film and popular culture for decades. Too many people place tremendous stock in numbers and popularity; and concomitantly show utter contempt for aesthetic judgement and individual preference. This degrades the artistic enterprise, coarsens discussion, and is a spiritual attack on the sanctity and sovereignty of the individual.

    Unfortunately, people have yet to grow up and allow others their opinions. Instead, they want to fulminate, judge, and destroy anyone that goes against the grain; which, to me, suggests something feeble about people’s attachment to films and other cultural items they otherwise claim to enjoy. I’ll end — if it ain’t too pretentious — with a drop of Voltaire:

    “A reed prostrated by the wind in the mire — ought it to say to a neighbouring reed placed in a contrary direction: Creep after my fashion, wretch, or I will present a request for you to be seized and burned?”

    • Alexrd

      Great post. There is indeed a prevalent, agenda-driven mob mentality around the entertainment industry. Dare to speak against the consensus (even when it’s manufactured consensus, as one can see by the drastic difference between critics and audience ratings in major franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc) and you get attacked, tarnished and punished.

      Didn’t know about that Toy Story controversy. Disgusting to say the least.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Alex:

        Thanks, Alex. Couldn’t agree more with your response. You do, indeed, get rapidly rounded on when you speak against a consensus — whether your opinion(s) be “pro” or “con”. The Internet exposes the idea that we’ve moved on from adrenal, pitch-fork mob mentalities as laughable. The relative anonymity of the Internet has, if anything, made it easier for people to roast, tar, and shun others without compunction. And it’s really sick when politicians and corporations exploit that ugly reality for their own ends.

        As for the “Toy Story” controversy: I have a long memory. There have been a fair few watershed moments in online geek/consumer culture the past ten years. But the Internet moves so fast, its arteries are soon clogged, and people are generally so easy to distract and divide that they soon forget one event and move onto a dozen others; until those, too, are swiftly supplanted by a dozen more. The rapids of cyber discourse see to it that people are continually swept away and the muddy history behind things readily obscured.

  • Simon Maxwell

    The Phantom Menace is not a rotten film, despite what the current Rotten Tomatoes rating says. Screen Rant says the data goes back only to 2005, but I have firm memories that in 1999 or 2000 the rating on Rotten Tomatoes was 65% or 66%. I suspect the book ‘Anticipation’ by Jonathan Bowen would have information on the film’s original Rotten Tomatoes rating, but my copy of the book is not easily accessible at the moment.

    The film now being rated as ‘rotten’ must surely be down to all those film critics who originally gave the film a good review but then jumped on the fashionable bandwagon to slate the film. One instance of this that really ****ed me off was the UK film magazine Empire. They originally gave the film a very positive review in the print edition in 1999. Several years later, they amended the review on their website to give it only a mediocre review. Their original review was thus no longer available online – a despicable piece of revisionism. For years I’ve been meaning to search for a copy of that 1999 Empire magazine so that I own the original Empire review of the film. This item here on Naboo News has just prompted me to seek out a copy on ebay or elsewhere.

  • Cryogenic

    @ Simon:

    I have done some digging and actually unearthed a listing for “The Phantom Menace” on Rotten Tomatoes (via the Wayback Machine’s archival system) that dates back to August 2000 — five years earlier than the study authors claim is available, one year after the theatrical release of the film, and four months after the release of the film on VHS.

    Better yet, you can see the rating of TPM in context with the other three Star Wars films extant at the time (i.e., the Original Trilogy) — and it isn’t a pretty picture for any but the original:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20000817225513/http://www.rottentomatoes.com/movies/archive/sz.php

    Scroll down to “s” on this archive page (yes: an archive of an archive) and you will see all four movies, as they then existed, with tomatometer percentages and critical consensus summaries given. I will now reproduce these (in proper chronological order and exactly as they are labelled) below:

    Star Wars: A New Hope – 79%
    “Timeless sci-fi epic.”

    Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back – 52%
    “Thin plot; terrible ending.”

    Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi – 31%
    “Repetitive and uninspired.”

    Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – 52%
    “Flat characters; bad acting.”

    Some factual observations:

    – The original is the only one of the four to be rated “fresh”.

    – The ratings of the first three movies get progressively worse.

    – “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Phantom Menace” have the same rating.

    – “The Phantom Menace” is a significant improvement (+21%) on the rating of “Return Of The Jedi”.

    Here are their present-day ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (and as they are presently labelled):

    Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope – 93%
    “A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same.”

    Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back – 95%
    “Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.”

    Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi – 81%
    “Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy.”

    Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – 54%
    “Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy — albeit visually dazzling — start.”

    Some further observations:

    – All four movies show improved ratings today. The difference is largest for ROTJ (+50%) and smallest for TPM (+2%).

    – ANH and TESB show gains of +14% and +43% respectively. The combined gain of the first two Star Wars entries is bigger than the combined gain for the latter two (+57% for ANH and TESB vs. +52% for ROTJ and TPM).

    – If you add all the percentages of all four movies together, you arrive at 214% for their ratings in August 2000 and 323% for their ratings today in January 2019. That’s a difference/gain of 109%, which you could fit two modern-day TPMs inside of, and still come out with 1% loose change.

    And then, of course:

    The critical consensus descriptions are much more positive and fleshed-out in the current-day Rotten Tomatoes listings. The consensus toward TPM has apparently switched from “flat characters” and “bad acting” to the film being “burdened by exposition” and “populated with stock characters”.

    But TESB has had the most dramatic upgrade: What once had a “thin plot” and a “terrible ending” is now, we are told, a movie that is “even more involving” than the original, which “defies viewer expectations” and “takes the series to heightened emotional levels”.

    In its first twenty years (1980-2000), TESB had apparently floundered with critics, sitting neck-and-neck with TPM — both well above ROTJ and well below ANH. But in it next twenty years (or nineteen: 2000-2019), TESB inexplicably experienced a profound shift in its status, climbing to the top of the mountain, and even out-rating the strongly-endorsed original.

    Quite why TESB didn’t already achieve legendary, sainted status by the time of its Special Edition re-release, when critics supposedly reconsidered their earlier stances, isn’t entirely clear to me. According to these results, there was still some way to go. It would seem that all the grousing over the prequels prompted some sort of re-think.

    But that’s a bit ironic, surely: Critics who devalued/underrated a Star Wars movie for years (or two if you also include the similar elevation of ROTJ between 2000 and 2019 from “rotten” to “fresh”) suddenly found they loved and admired an earlier (and allegedly masterful) Star Wars entry all along. So how can their positions on the prequels be taken seriously? All they seemed to adore and shower with praise for a long time was the original, lending credence to Lucas remarking to Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” in 2005: “They haven’t liked any of the movies, really” (with the exception of the original).

    I should point out that Mike Klimo, the webmaster/author of Star Wars Ring Theory, put out a tweet in October 2015 where he showed the following ratings for the movies based on reviews from original releases:

    Star Wars/A New Hope – 74%
    The Empire Strikes Back – 63%
    Return Of The Jedi – 61%
    The Phantom Menace – 60%
    Attack Of The Clones – 67%
    Revenge Of The Sith – 80%

    Not sure of his exact data or methodology. The Screen Rant study would seem to suggest that some of his percentages are wrong.

    Moreover, Rotten Tomatoes itself published a short article from within its blogger/journal community, written by Senh Duong, on May 19th 2005 — the date of ROTS’s worldwide theatrical release. Here are the figures from the article “based on critical reaction during original release dates”. Note how they compare to the ones I cited at the beginning, from the Wayback Machine link provided earlier, in brackets. For reference, Klimo’s are provided a second time, in square brackets:

    Star Wars/A New Hope – 79% …. (79) [74]
    The Empire Strikes Back – 52% …. (52) [63]
    Return Of The Jedi – 31% …. (31) [61]
    The Phantom Menace – 62% …. (52) [60]
    Attack Of The Clones – 65% …. [67]
    Revenge Of The Sith – 83% …. [80]

    In rating order, highest to lowest, here is how the films stack up, using Duong’s data (the author presents them this way on the page):

    Revenge Of The Sith – 83%
    Star Wars/A New Hope – 79%
    Attack Of The Clones – 65%
    The Phantom Menace – 62%
    The Empire Strikes Back – 52%
    Return Of The Jedi – 31%

    Would you look at that? ROTS is top, and only the original makes it into the Top Three, with AOTC taking bronze.

    Credit for being alerted to the 2005 article rests with Go-Mer-Tonic on TheForce.net. He originally started a thread about it on the TFN message board system in 2008.

    Yes — Three years after the article was published. It’s a good measure of how these sorts of data sets and articles rapidly get overlooked and lost.

    I think Duong’s data is more reliable than Klimo’s. Klimo seems to have based his figures on more recent ratings — such as ROTS after it fell to 80% and AOTC when it climbed for a short time to 67%.

    The ratings of the original films on the Wayback Machine archival page from August 2000 presented earlier agree exactly with Duong’s ratings. With TPM, however, the August 2000 page clearly shows a rating of 52%, while Duong has it ten points higher at 62%. However, this is probably accurate on Duong’s part, as they presumably had access to earlier pages, closer to the time, and their ratings for AOTC and ROTS seem to agree with archival data that is available.

    This means you are correct in your recall, Simon. Which would mean that TPM and AOTC both started off with ratings in the 60-65 percent range, with TPM seemingly slipping down from 62% to 52% a year later, perhaps recovering a bit, and then slipping back and presently settling on 54%. Per the Screen Rant observations: Archival data clearly shows it had a higher rating than now prior to its 3D re-release in 2012.

    For instance, in December 2004, the Wayback Machine shows that TPM’s Rotten Tomatoes rating was 62%. While in December 2008, it had climbed a point and was sitting at 63%. A further two years later, in December 2010, when ROTS had already experienced its sudden slump, TPM had reverted back to its December 2004 rating, holding firm at 62%.

    The Empire magazine downgrading of AOTC is a blatant example of manipulative, dishonest film journalism, and of haters being pandered to. AOTC has managed to hold onto a respectable 66% on Rotten Tomatoes today, placing it 12% higher than the rating TPM currently has, which is only 4% below the RT rating of “Solo”, and above early archival ratings for two of the beloved OT movies. It is 14% higher than TESB’s original RT rating and a whopping 35% higher than the original RT rating for ROTJ. Even TPM’s present rating places it higher than the original rating for both of the OT sequels.

    Of course, in all this time, I have only been talking about the rating derived from critcs’ reviews. Audience response adds another level of complexity I won’t go into here. But if the pattern of the OT movies all improving in rating, and TESB, in particular, undergoing a total transformation in its reputation, are anything to go by, then there seems to be a general trend for Star Wars movies to improve in rating/reputation over time. We’ll have to see what happens with the prequels over the next decade. And I don’t just mean on Rotten Tomatoes. It could be interesting.

    • Cryogenic

      Just adding an appendix/footnote. Since the comments section doesn’t allow you to supply more than one working URL in a response without issue (multiple links means your post is automatically delayed “pending approval”), I thought I would add links to the other studies/collating exercises, mentioned above, here.

      I will not supply all the Wayback Machine links, however. These responses (one link per response) would get too long.

      In terms of the archival pages I mentioned earlier, most can be located if you just take the existing Rotten Tomatoes URL for one of the movies and plug it straight into the machine (at archive dot org). Plenty of samples should come up.

      Where the Screen Rant study ran into trouble, I think, was them not realising that an earlier URL for “The Phantom Menace” on Rotten Tomatoes is locateable (per the page I supplied above). At some point, Rotten Tomatoes obviously underwent some restructuring, altering many of the URLs to individual pages — thus making older listings harder to find. In any case, the page I supplied clearly gives the RT score for TPM, and the other films, such as they were in August 2000.

      So I would just now like to give links to the other studies/articles I mentioned earlier.

      First, then, here is Mike Klimo’s October 2015 tweet, which appears to have incorrect “original” ratings for the various films:

      https://twitter.com/mikeklimo/status/659427006174638080?lang=en

    • Cryogenic

      My final link is the same as above. Go-Mer-Tonic’s thread on TFN, alerting fans to the 2005 Rotten Tomatoes study, created in March 2008.

      However, this is the current version of the thread, in case some pages via the archive link are inaccessible.

      Note: Post data may be chopped off in this version, as the entire message board was migrated to new software in 2012, and it harmed the integrity of existing user data, causing loss of post content:

      https://boards.theforce.net/threads/rotten-tomatoes-the-prequels-were-better-reviewed-than-the-classic-trilogy.28160040/

      • archdukeofnaboo

        Nice detective work, Cryogenic!

        It truly goes to show the impact of the passage of time. How often do we forget that there is a generation of critics who panned the first two sequels entirely absent from the internet? Heck, even my father who was born in the 60s has never liked Star Wars, and he doesn’t make any noise about it on the web either.

        This phenomenon of retroactively downgrading a film is deplorable. If a major publication is prepared to covertly “fix” its original judgement, then how can we trust them in any of their future reviews? It makes a nonsense of the whole thing. Let the initial reviews stand – let the revaluations up to the fans in the years to come. We can even have a “history of fan reviews”. In the case of Empire, it seems like Prequel bashers came to power at some point in its editorial change. And so they did across a wide array of online Geek media in the early 2010s.

        But “the times they are a changin”…. again.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Thanks, AD! I do try. 🙂

        My own father doesn’t care for Star Wars, either. Neither do some of my friends. True, Star Wars is or has been enormously popular, and remains one of the most recognised fictional universes in the world, but that doesn’t mean the movies or any other part of the franchise are everyone’s cup of tea — they just aren’t.

        I think some people could do with a reality check — even if they fall to the floor in a coma afterwards. It’s an exercise in humility and a refreshing shake-up to look through the negative user reviews for the original films on IMDb. They actually exist. And they even make valid points. Subjectively speaking.

        But that doesn’t mean my own love for the series (well, just the Lucas saga, really) is going anywhere anytime soon. I can’t imagine it is. I prefer having my own relationship with the movies to how most people think about them, anyway. It’s quite liberating.

        It is, indeed, cowardly, deceitful, dishonest, and treacherous to revise history — for any reason. Least of all when you’re concerned with keeping your readers on-side.

        I think Lucas already spoke about and predicted the last thing you mention. That the people who got into positions of power in the media (well, not the ones who TRULY wield power — they’er another case entirely) grew up with the OT and were adults by the time of the PT. So they were never likely, in most cases, to extend the films much tolerance or respect. And now, in a way, we’re waiting for Generation Prequel to replace them and to shift the conversation. And things are looking up there: Now that Disney have Disneyed Star Wars to death, it seems inevitable that some reassessment of the prequels will begin (and perhaps has already begun) to take place.

  • archdukeofnaboo

    @Cryogenic

    You really ought to distill this little research project into your first blog post. You’ve even gone to the trouble of listing citations – honestly, you should. Of course, ideally, some Geek website would publish your article, but that may be too much to ask for.

    Although I wouldn’t be as strongly against Abrams as you are, I think your point on the discrepancies of online SW debate between the Lucas and Disney eras hits the nail on the head. If the fandom operated in the mid 2000s like they do now, then the people who disliked the films of that era would essentially be cast as “George Bush sympathisers, crying over allusions to their beloved Patriot Act” – or something like that. There would also have designated “safe spaces” for Prequel fans, but as we sadly know, there was nada (on mainstream sites). Had to invent an obscure blog called the Appreciation Society for that.

    I suppose for many prequlists today, it’s difficult not to be envious of the safe safes that exist for sequel lovers (and I’m happy for them, in the same way a parent is happy for the new opportunities that exist for their kids). Sure, there’s a lot of people on the internet today who hate Episodes VII and VIII (See, YouTube), but mainstream forums (See, r/StarWars) are far more generous then they were when the prequels were the latest films. Now, I only properly started surfing the net in ’08’ (I am the ‘generation prequel’ you speak of), so I can’t talk to you about the full extent of the internet’s relationship with the Prequels, but what I do recall of 2009-15 is a lack of important voices standing up for the films.

    Where do you stand on the “TLJ makes the prequels look good” crowd? I for one have absolutely no time for them. As much as Episode VIII is my least favourite of the films, I’m a prequelist first and foremost, and I’m not prepared to become an ally of the clowns who drove Ahmed Best almost to suicide, opined something like “Lucas raped my childhood” after feasting on the RLM reviews, and who now unbelievably want the man back, all in the name of faux-outrage against the latest boggeyman. Screw their tirade against Disney, they can grown up first. I will critique Disney when they do things like marginalising the PT in the Celebration poster, but I will gladly praise them they do positive acts like reviving the Clone Wars.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      Yeah, it’s a hefty comment, isn’t it? It started small, as many of my posts do, and grew bigger in the writing.

      Researching in the middle of writing is forbidding, but satisfying; and that is ultimately what gives a post a great deal of authority.

      I already recollected the Klimo tweet from 2015 and Go-Mer-Tonic’s post from 2008 (though I was hazy on the year in both cases), so that helped. But I only thought to include them when I was half done. Before that, I was just focused on the archive link I found, giving the ratings for the films from back in August 2000. I figured that was a very important find and helped contextualise the Screen Rant article.

      Then, once I began making reference to the earlier material (the aforementioned Klimo tweet, the Go-Mer thread, and the original Senh Duong article posted to Rotten Tomatoes in 2005), I reasoned that I had better include links to those, for posterity, and as a matter of courtesy. Of course, comments sections aren’t necessarily the best place to put lengthy, semi-revelatory posts, so I take your point.

      If someone else publishes my data/findings, fine. But I do hope they credit me back. And yeah, perhaps I really need to start a blog of my own, finally…

      As you allude to, the discussion space around these movies has been unfortunately politicised and weaponised the last few years. And Disney have played a conspicuous role in that. It’s a reminder that people don’t really have minds of their own, but are more like clones, jacking into the matrix of culture, which encourages certain beliefs and attitudes and discourages others. Kind of, if you will, a geek-culture Overton window:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

      There were actually a couple of “safe spaces” for prequel fans in earlier years, but they were few and far between — and often matched by equivalent “hate” spaces. TFN would be an example of this. They used to offer both fan and basher sanctuaries (that was the term they used) when the PT was on-going. Shortly after the release of ROTS, they shut the sanctuaries down, to some uproar. Looking back, I can understand there being some consternation about it. Just give people their places to celebrate and to vent. Is the cyber world (a world of virtually unlimited digital real estate) really too small to contain and sustain a melody of ice and fire?

      The Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society was certainly, I think, a step in the right direction, and the first real catch-all positivity blog of its kind. There were other blogs, Live Journals, and so on, but SWPAS was really the first to be a hub for all news items prequel, and a place where prequel fans could congregate — conceived, run, and maintained by an actual prequel fan. Lazy Padawan has put a lot into it. Can’t ever take that away from her. Just a shame it seems to be moth-balled now.

      You’re right that there really wasn’t too much for prequel fans to cling onto in the first ten-to-fifteen years. The denizens of the Internet seemed to decide en masse that the prequels were, at best, well-intentioned but clumsy and embarrassing, and at worst, a crime against humanity — and that anyone who liked them, or spoke up in their defence, was a mindless Lucas shill, a person with “no knowledge of decent filmmaking”, or even an apologist for stalker behaviour and mass murder (if you liked the character of Anakin, see, you were obviously the sort of person who would write love letters to Charles Manson).

      I do regret, in some ways, not making a greater case for the films in earlier years, or having more visibility through a blog of my own. I am often reluctant to start things. Some people have suggested, however, I played a small role in shifting the conversation in a more positive direction, and even in inspiring a few others to take up blogs of their own. I don’t know about that, but it’s nice to have occasionally had such things said to me.

      I think some of the negativity surrounding “The Last Jedi”, especially hate directed at Kelly Marie Tran, is very harsh and over-the-top, but I’d also be lying if I said I haven’t derived satisfaction from seeing Disney/Kennedy/Johnson finally receiving a bit of payback — payback that was, in a way, deferred since the PR campaign for TFA, and by extension, the sequel trilogy as a whole.

      They played heavily to fan sentiment in various ways. Even Johnson, who outed himself as a prequel hater in one interview, saying how he shared in the cynicism many of his generation felt for those movies. This was right before the release of TLJ. It’s like he felt confident enough to arrogate to himself the role of righteous representative of Generation Hater (preceding the true next-generation crop of Generation Prequel), so to see him mauled by some of the same people he thought were “his team” was quite delicious.

      Oh, well. We all have the Dark Side coursing through our veins, don’t we?

      But I do think the tirade, as you termed it, against Disney, actually *is* a bit much. Then again, who am I to draw a line between one reaction and the next? I am not for out-and-out hate speech, but there’s a lot of critical speech that has recently been (conveniently) shoved under that rubric. And I’ve had some choice words of my own for the new franchise-holders. I am therefore hesitant to call detraction of Disney and the sequel trilogy illegitimate. After all, if corporations can’t be criticised, who can?

      Disney’s revival of “The Clone Wars” is nice, but they’re the ones that cancelled it for five years in the first place. I think fans need to keep that in mind. I’ll close on that.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        Isn’t Johnson a fan of Revenge of the Sith though? He did make an homage to the storming of the Jedi Temple in VIII, and he’s made quite a few – well meaning – comparisons between Anakin and Kylo Ren.

        I wasn’t aware of the ‘Overton Window’. That’s interesting, you’re such a hardened veteran of online debate at this point, you know all the psychological phenomena that characterise it! I like that Chomsky quote too, that man is very skilled at analysing political discourse, and a far cry from the pitchfork, faux-outrage mentality that defines Twitter.

        For a really engaging debate between a prequelist and a sequelist happening today, I’d encourage you to check out the “Rule of Two” podcast. The fact that a mainstream outlet like Collider are hosting a conversation like this is significant. Yours truly is a big of the prequelist in question, Marc Fernandez.

        I believe there are numerous false dichotomies and half-truths being propagated on the SW interweb today. Let’s dissect a few.

        1. We gave you TFA and you thought it was a rehash. So we gave you TLJ and now you don’t like that because it’s too original. You’ll never be satisfied.

        – Originality and deceiving people for the sake of it (ie gotcha, gotcha, gotcha) are two very different things.

        2. If you dislike TLJ then you must be some awful alt right-type with a problem with women. If you’re a liberal it’s your obligation to stand up for the film.

        – By that same logic it follows that those who disliked the PT were also horrible right-wingers? There were references to GW Bush. When you reach so low as to politicise the debate, you’re playing with fire.

        3. The PT generation (r/PrequelMemes) are like the bullied kid in the playground, who then goes on to bully someone else (sequel fans).

        – False equivalency. There are many vocal prequel gen people who’ve enjoyed the sequels (eg Star Wars Explained), and those who didn’t still have a long, long way to reach the heights of hatred unleashed by OT-fanboys. When an outspoken sequel-bashing millennial actor is rewarded with a role in the – inevitable – 4th trilogy I shall eat my words.

        4. The Last Jedi subverted expectations. It’s never been done in the history of Star Wars.

        – Been there, done that with The Phantom Menace in 1999. TLJ was more concerned with disproving theories on Reddit than exploring new aspects of the Galaxy.

        5. It was only the fans who were responsible for the hatred against the PT, and we see this pattern repeating today. The media have never played a part.

        – Convenient memory loss. Take a look at Ahmed’s recent SoulPancake video, where he discusses how the TPM backlash effected him. Notice how many times he saids “media”. Also read director Ron Howard’s letter to Newsweek Magazine in response to their treatment of Jake Llyod.

        6. It’s only because of the release of the Sequels that people are now looking back more positively at the Prequels.

        – And the OT’s reception didn’t benefit from the release of the Prequels? Cryogenic’s research shows this is cyclical. Despite all the slights incurred by the trilogy at the expense of Episode VII’s marketing, there was, at the same period, a current of voices who enjoyed them that started to get louder. We can see some of this on YouTube, some of it on SWPAS, Mike Klimo, Kyle Newman and so on.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Johnson: A fan of ROTS? Maybe. He would, of course, be one of many if he is. Even Abrams once admitted some grudging admiration for it. Both TFA and TLJ shoulder a fairly heavy debt to ROTS in different ways.

        I always got the feeling that Johnson was never a big fan of the prequels, despite floating out hipster Jar Jar memes on his Twitter account, and saying things like “the prequels are a 7 hour long kids movie about how fear of loss turns good people into fascists” in December 2016, marking the election of Trump, and with “The Last Jedi” a year from release. In other words, it was more of a bash at Trump and Trump supporters, with the secondary goal of pacifying prequel fans, than a legitimate expression of affection.

        Yet, hilariously, on the basis of that tweet, one geek-media outlet, Digital Spy, thought it would be good to label Johnson a “prequel apologist” — a term which might otherwise have been on its last legs at that time. However, in some ways, I think Johnson is more of an “anti-prequel apologist”, in that he has subtly trolled the prequels by couching his supposed support of them in vague, equivocating terms.

        For instance, in July 2014, in an interview published by the Sun Times, he was reported to have said, “There’s something really beautiful about the prequels”, but he never elaborated as to what. Then there was his comment in Empire Online in September 2017 about all Star Wars touchstones being about “griminess and dirt”, “apart from the prequels” — a sectarian bash in plain sight.

        Finally, in an interview reported by Naboo News in December 2017, Johnson outright admitted he wasn’t a great fan of the prequels and that his reaction didn’t differ from other people of his generation:

        “How could you hate Jar Jar? How could you possibly hate Jar Jar? It’s funny because I’m of the generation who grew up with the original movies, and when we were in our twenties, we all lined up to see the Prequels and all of us had a very similar kind of reaction to them.”

        However, neither J.J. Abrams nor Rian Johnson are stupid people. They know the power and appeal of the prequels, especially ROTS, as fan polls comfortably bear out. TPM and AOTC tend to rank poorly, but ROTS often places first or second — and the poor ranking of TPM and AOTC is partially a symptom of polls which usually just ask users to vote for their favourite. Fans often have multiple favourites and are sometimes reluctant to give concrete rankings. Asking for a single favourite to be selected by voters is artificial and constricting, skewing results to “most liked”, as opposed to necessarily revealing “most hated”.

        And as I’ve argued before, the OT in isolation is really too anodyne and skimpy to build a modern-day fantasy franchise out of. You need a weightier foundation. The prequels are that foundation. So they obviously filleted them to add support to the new films. And they knew callbacks and other grafted-in prequel elements would be a good sell. Yet, at the end of the day, prequel influences in the new films are generally subtle and under-cranked. The basic plot structure and visual elements pay much closer homage — i.e., steal from — the OT; to the point of breaking immersion and being laughable. At least for people longing for a bit more originality, daring, and authenticity.

        But again, without the solid foundation of the PT, which made Star Wars more able to stand up and compete against 21st Century, digitally-suited combatants like “The Matrix” trilogy, “The Lord Of The Rings” features, the “Harry Potter” films, and early Marvel outings like the wildly-popular Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” movies, the sequel trilogy couldn’t have really come into being. In a way, like Padme, the prequels “died” so that the ungainly Vader-ish/Frankenstein’s monster Disney sequels could live.

        Yikes!!!! This could be a response in itself. I will again provide links below to the various sources I referred to. But, for the moment, pressing on:

        “You’re such a hardened veteran of online debate at this point, you know all the psychological phenomena that characterise it!”

        Ha! I’ve picked up a few useful words and concepts in my wide-ranging net travels. It’s rather exciting and quite satisfying to discover pre-articulated ideas that give form to one’s own musings and meanderings.

        To comment briefly on each of your talking points in turn:

        1) Right. Neither TFA nor TLJ, in my estimation, are all that original — much less visionary. And, as you suggest, TLJ didn’t really follow through on the basic setup TFA provided. This, if anything, makes the ST a stillborn mythology. There wasn’t much of a conceptual engine to TFA, but the few crumbs Abrams tossed out at least deserved to be rendered into the best possible feast in the second installment. But much the opposite happened. Johnson basically showed there was no banquet to begin with. “The cake is a lie.”

        2) Like the first TLJ defender salvo against critics/bashers, your second example is another false dilemma (on the part of TLJ defenders), AKA: the fallacy of the excluded middle. Basically a reprise of Anakin’s declaration of war on Obi-Wan: “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.” What they have asserted is that it’s essentially impossible to dislike TLJ for legitimate reasons. Any opposition is illegitimate by definition. Also an example of circular reasoning.

        3) I think you nailed that one. I had that one thrown at me, too. “You’re just like PT bashers now.” Bear in mind, too, that this was being said during very early criticism of TFA, within weeks of it coming out. A hallmark of prequel bashing, of course, was that the same people would bash the films for years, and claim that criticism has no expiry date. But as soon as TFA came under attack, some fans (many of them bashers or at least no more than extremely mild fans of the prequels) complained that the criticisms against their beloved movie were old already and desperate. With TLJ, the smearing stepped up to what you just talked about in examples 1 and 2.

        4) a) The RedLetterMedia review of “The Last Jedi” had an amusing pop at that “subverting expectations” trope. Says Plinkett (about Rian Johnson): “He used to mow my ****ing lawn. One time he added fertiliser to my overgrown grass and made it worse. He told me he was subverting my expectations.” Later in the same review, a mocking short film is presented, which Plinkett jokingly says was made “exclusively for the Star Wars dot com website”, called “The Wine Tasting”, in which RLM staff member Rich Evans sits at a table and is presented with a glass and a bottle of wine. Evans rubs his hands with glee and angles the open bottle over the empty glass for a second, then moves it clear of the glass and proceeds to pour the contents onto the pristine table cloth. The camera than closes in on his face as looks at the viewer and laughs with maniacal glee. His laughter deliberately sounds like Rian Johnson’s laugh, which is used several times in the complete review. Point beautifully conveyed.

        b) The prequels were plenty subversive. Almost ridiculously so. And what’s what makes them so wonderful. Yet, at the same time, they didn’t break the mechanism of Star Wars, or defy the basic conventions of the saga. The dialogue, the acting, the lighting, the composition, the editing, the intercutting is all bound within a tight film grammar. However, TFA broke away from this grammar, while superficially adhering to it — sort of half-in, half-out — and TLJ more or less threw it to the ground and stamped on it. One of the real joys and marvels of the Lucas movies is the wonderful formalism they exude, which coheres the films together, even as their contouring wildly differs. But if you snub those conventions, then you basically erase the magic of the series.

        5) Oh, yes! Pure denial. The media played a massive part in stoking disdain for the PT. Nothing less than a cottage industry sprung up around prequel bashing and reporting on every last mote of dissatisfaction. Early cannon shots were fired at Lucas by liberal newspapers for allegedly “racist” stereotypes in TPM. Those shots set the tone of the conversation thereafter. Of course, people continue to deny the media has any part in impacting their thinking; but that’s only if you get past blanket denial of negative media coverage of the prequels to begin with.

        6) Isn’t this last one damning the sequels (by defenders) with faint praise? A concession that they’re short of what they could have been? I suppose that’s the latent subtext. On the surface, they’re obviously suggesting prequel fans should be grateful for the existence of the sequel trilogy, even though it only came into existence, like the former trilogies, because Lucas — the man they frequently called a hack, a liar, an idiot, a charlatan, a racist, a sexist, a thief — willed it to be. And, of course, none of these points really argue for the sequel trilogy based on its own merits. Which isn’t to say the sequels don’t have merits and can’t be argued for. Yet these rhetorical tricks often seem to take the place of authentic debate.

        Quite an interesting glut of defences.

      • Cryogenic

        Maybe not as exciting this time, but doing the appendix/footnotes thing again, so at least you have working links to the things I claimed Rian Johnson has said:

        Screen Rant article with a link to Johnson’s tweet concerning the prequels being a “7 hour long kids movie about how fear of loss turns good people into fascists”, which he posted on December 26th 2016.

        Weirdly, the tweet is no longer available, so these and other geek-media news reports about it will now have to do:

        https://screenrant.com/star-wars-8-rian-johnson-prequels-trilogy/

      • Cryogenic

        Archival link to the Sun-Times reporting on Rian Johnson speaking with a crowd about the then-upcoming Episodes VIII and IX, published July 27th 2014.

        Note: The article claims Johnson is the writer and director of both sequel episodes. This was a hasty misreporting. At the time, it was actually being reported that Johnson was writing and directing Episode VIII, and that he would be writing a treatment for IX. A compelling detail that at least suggests Johnson wasn’t upturning plot points for the sake of it, but working with a conclusion in mind. However, by April 2017 (see the Wikipedia entry on Episode IX for more), he disavowed it as “old info”, via Twitter. Once again, this tweet is now missing.

        Anyway, it’s his “something beautiful” comment I’m really posting this link for, just so there’s an original source for this remark, already being lost to the sands of time:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20140802162918/http://voices.suntimes.com/arts-entertainment/the-daily-sizzle/rian-johnson-on-star-wars-episode-viii/

      • Cryogenic

        Empire Online interview posted September 6th 2017 in which Johnson states the following:

        “Apart from the prequels, all the touchstones that make something feel like Star Wars have to do with griminess and dirt. I wanted to do something completely different.”

        He may have been speaking more visually, but if not, one could certainly invoke the music, the sound design, the dialogue and certain lines, and the general ebb and flow of the movies, including their three-act structures. Even if the prequels are totally ignored, the OT hardly reduces to “griminess and dirt”, even on a visual level. That, in my opinion, is an extreme statement on Johnson’s part.

        And again, note the segregationist language. The prequels are mentioned and then dismissed in a single rhetorical thrust as literally being “apart”.

        Anyway, the link:

        https://www.empireonline.com/movies/news/last-jedi-exclusive-image-finn-rose-canto-bight/

      • Cryogenic

        Johnson passed his fullest set of comments on the prequels in a video interview posted to TMC (in what seems like December 2017). Our very own webmaster of Naboo News gets the credit for this one, however, since that was how I became aware of it, and he was decent enough to post a transcript of the relevant comments. And not many others picked up on these remarks. As the URL indicates, this was posted to Naboo News on December 7th 2017.

        The entry certainly gives Johnson’s remarks a kind/diplomatic headline. However, I interpret Johnson’s remarks as a sort of grudging respect. The very fact he admits he felt cynical about the prequels at the time of their release, in as many words, and that only the prequels’ effect on people who were children at the time has helped him “kind of [shave] away some of the cynicism I might have had about them”, well…

        It’s not a bad comment; and perhaps I’m too harsh. I was sixteen when I saw TPM at the cinema in 1999. There were some older people who grabbed onto the prequels immediately. Johnson acts like the prequels are skewed for a younger audience. In the final part of the excerpt, he says:

        “And also, I think it’s amazing to me when I step back and see what the prequels are actually about, that the prequels tell the story of how fear of loss turns good people into fascists. And the fact that that is a seven-hour kids movie — it’s pretty amazing and pretty wonderful.”

        In a way, Johnson still seems to be giving the prequels a backhanded compliment. The “Well, they were meant for kids, anyway” line of argument. Which is not an invalid argument. But that remark still reveals a disconnect. Like Abrams before him, even if Johnson has managed to try and be a touch nicer and forthcoming, he doesn’t exude much personal passion for them. On the other hand, he does seem to recognise they have something to teach young people — which is more than we’ve ever heard from anyone else at Disney.

        The news item:

        https://naboonews.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/the-last-jedi-director-rian-johnson-praises-george-lucas-and-the-story-of-the-prequels

      • Cryogenic

        Bonus Item #1:

        I didn’t bring this one up in my earlier response, but Rian Johnson also seemed to get in a bash at the prequels in another interview posted by Empire Online on January 25th 2017. Here are the remarks:

        “I found myself constantly wanting to push modern idioms into the dialogue, and sometimes that can work, but you have to be very careful. If you go too far you can break that Star Wars spell. The other challenge is the tech talk, which has to be simultaneously complex enough to sound real and conceptually simple enough to follow. The original films were brilliant at that.”

        And the corollary: The prequels were not.

        Even if you think there is a divide between the trilogies here, Johnson again ring-fences the originals from the prequels, saying nothing positive for the prequels, and excluding them by peripherally announcing they aren’t fit as a reference point — or, in plainer language, they don’t cut the mustard.

        It is exactly these kind of oblique attacks on the prequels that began after the sale to Disney which turned some PT fans off the entire sequel trilogy project; or at least made them felt condescended to and extremely doubtful that a respectful set of films would emerge.

        Interview here:

        https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/rian-johnson-last-jedi-interview/

      • Cryogenic

        Bonus Item #2:

        The Last Footnote.

        I swear!!!

        I almost didn’t include this one — even as a bonus item. I thought about it…

        The problem with this one, even I’ll admit, is it looks petty. But given Johnson’s other comments and deleted tweets, I don’t feel this should be ignored.

        Once again, to state things from the outset, and a viable reason for inclusion:

        The tweets that Johnson made here are (say it with me)… now deleted. Rian has certainly gone to some effort to delete prior tweets. I wonder why that is?

        In this Slash Film article posted August 26th 2017, Johnson is shown conveying some statistics concerning the number of screen wipes in the existing saga films, in a series of tweets he made the day before. Watch closely for his rhetorical trick.

        While listing all the films as a distraction tactic, when he came to finally list/reveal the amount of wipes in TLJ, he did so by comparing his film to TPM — which he stated had the most wipes, with TLJ having the least. In the same moment, he offered an apology: “To my eternal shame”. Did you spot his trick?

        He pretended to be sorry he had delivered a saga film with the least amount of wipes in it — but he appositionally compared it to the most-maligned and generally-least-regarded (at least, until the release of TLJ!) entry in the saga.

        An obvious way to deepen his joke and encode into people’s heads the idea that screen wipes don’t actually matter; and that TPM having the most is one more sign of its indulgence and ineffectiveness as a functional movie. The clear implication is that TPM has too many bells and whistles to actually breathe as a movie; and that these elements may even be there to distract from other deficiencies within the film itself. And that he, the humble, outsider indie boy filmmaker, couldn’t really make a movie worse than that.

        Similarly, Johnson reports in the same set of tweets that TFA had the lowest amount of wipes of all the films yet released (TLJ hadn’t landed yet) — and that movie soared to two-billion dollars at the box office. Deepening the implied point: The amount of screen wipes doesn’t matter since critics and fans already approved of TFA by a landslide. In marked contrast with the divided reputation of TPM and the PT as a whole.

        Of course, you can just see his remark as an affectionate dig. But given what Johnson said about being cynical toward the prequels for years via the Naboo News item, I think it shades his humour a certain way. It’s actually quite cruel and regressive to kick a thing when it’s down — especially when you’re trying to give off the impression you are laid back, without hatred and ill will, and the coolest cat in the room.

        Here is the link:

        https://www.slashfilm.com/star-wars-the-last-jedi-wipe-transitions/

        If we’re looking around at the moment, wondering why the Celebration 2019 posters are so overtly biased toward the OT and ST, understand that an anti-prequel mentality is the total norm at Disney. Even when filmmakers watch what they say and give off a rarefied air, they’re not without anti-prequel bias or above making digs and put-downs. As Yoda would say: Revealed, their opinion is.

        Anyway. There. Done.

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