Prequel Trilogy,  Revenge of the Sith,  The Rise of Skywalker

J.J. Abrams says his favourite scene from the Star Wars Prequels is the opera scene

abrams_opera.jpg

In a new interview with SiriusXM, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams reveals that his favourite scene from the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is the opera scene in Revenge of the Sith.

“My favourite scene from the prequels is when the Emperor is telling Anakin the story of Darth Plagueis the Wise. There’s just something about that scene. There’s just two people sitting there. It’s visually interesting. But I just think Ian [McDiarmid]’s performance in it is spectacular.”

We know that Palpatine will return in The Rise of Skywalker. Will there be references to his master Darth Plagueis and his unnatural powers?

0 Comments

  • maychild

    How magnanimous. After years spent crapping on the prequels in his passive-aggressive way, he acknowledges exactly one scene isn’t so bad, damning it with faint praise. I’m surprised he didn’t sneer at the CGI and again brag about how HIS movies went back to the old school of FX, never mind that they’re dripping with CGI and blue/greenscreen. I thought it was particularly disgusting how they hid Lupita Nyong’o’s CGI character when promoting TFA…this after considerable bragging about getting an Oscar winner attached to the project.

    (I recall a Disneyphile on the accursed TF.N message boards freaking out that I dared criticize Disney and Abrams/Kennedy and TFA; he was of the opinion that they delivered a wonderful, original — yes, original — movie that completely outdid the prequels in every way. It was TPM that remade ANH, not precious TFA, and yes, he said that. He scolded me by declaring that the publicity campaign was completely separate from the movie. Separate? It was done for the movie, by people who made the damn movie! And he topped it off by telling me, repeatedly, that the majority of people disagreed with me. Wow, he “pwned” me. The moderators stepped in only when I said, “For the fifth time, I don’t CARE if the majority agrees with me,” and threatened to shut down the thread because it had gotten “hostile,” obviously blaming me, not the simpering Disneyphile who kept implying that my opinion wasn’t valid because it was allegedly “not in the majority.”)

    JJ always has to keep his bases covered. He has to keep sutbly (or not-so-subtly) reassuring the hateboys that he’s one of them, but he doles out little bits of half-hearted praise to the prequels to “prove” that he doesn’t “hate” them. As always, he’s completely risk-free and paint-by-numbers. I wouldn’t mind that so much if he wasn’t simultaneously praised — heck, glorified — as a gutsy maverick. Oh please. He plays it so safe it isn’t even funny.

  • jarjarbacktattooguy

    Is Episode IX Palpatine his mini-me, reborn from a jackal? Shouldn’t we get a younger, less melted Palps?

    Too bad we’ll never hear the term “midi-chlorian” used.

  • jarjarbacktattooguy

    Rey should turn out to be the Damien-type character, created by Palps. But that would be way too daring, interesting, and politically incorrect for them to attempt.

  • jarjarbacktattooguy

    Spoiler alert!

    Disney can’t silence my sources!

    Rey and Finn are revealed to be brother and sister in Episode IX! Abrams genius at work again! Thank you! The Prequels never dared to be so progressive!

  • archdukeofnaboo

    It’s a solid choice of favourite scene in the PT, and many of us would pick the same. I didn’t, however, like the unnecessary tangent about Maul’s death, which spoiled a good discussion on the duel of the faiths. Abrams should have said something “I didn’t like that he had to die there” and quickly moved on.

    How can the fandom keep negativity at bay when the director himself is engaging in it?

    • jpieper668

      and people should accept that maul was never meant to be the Darth Vader of the Prequel Trilogy They Whined about his death for years That Lucas threw in the towel and bought him back so they could Shut Up!

  • Cryogenic

    It’s funny how Abrams turns away and coughs — Grievous-like — when asked for his favourite scene in the prequels. And then he takes a while to answer, almost suppressing a smile, as if he’s trying not to burst out in laughter; perhaps wondering what his “buddies” back at base, like the magnanimous prequel lover Simon Pegg, are going to say to him when he next sees them. His speech is also tellingly staggered and it seems like a great effort getting to an answer. “Erm… I-uh… I think my favourite scene… erm… from the prequels… is.. (smacks lips)… er… when… er… the Emperor’s telling Anakin the story of… (low voice, hastened tone) of Darth Plagueis The Wise.” Hooray! We got there. It’s like listening to a politician with conservative religious leanings, trying to present themselves as slick and progressive, being questioned on whether or not they’re in favour of gay marriage.

    I also can’t help wondering, in addition to maychild’s cogent thoughts, whether Abrams is just spotlighting this scene because a) (echoing Arch Duke) it’s a solid choice and something of a no-brainer, and b) he has obviously mined this scene for inspiration/texture/glazing in TROS and brought back the Emperor and now worked himself with Ian McDiarmid in the same capacity. If there’s any prequel scene he’d be inclined to publicly say nice things about, this would surely be the one.

    Abrams then goes on to cock his head and barely now suppresses a smile, allowing it to burst out on his slanted head: “Yeah. There’s just something about that scene. They’re just two people sitting there… It’s visually interesting, but… I just… I think Ian’s performance in it is… is spectacular.”

    Perhaps the smile in that moment is just a recognition that “just two people sitting there” describes the interview situation. But it’s also hard not to see Abrams internally giggling at that common fanboy/would-be-cineaste agglutinated accusation. We all know the one: that the prequels are nothing more than “over-choreographed lightsaber fights, CG explosions, awkward romantic dialogue, annoying slapstick, distracting bluescreen effects, and five hours of people walking and talking, and sitting and talking.” Though, if I were an alien visitor to Earth and I constantly saw this meme being circulated, I think I’d be like: “This sounds more interesting than all the other overrated filth these ugly water-based creatures keep telling me to watch.”

    Additionally, Abrams seems very quick to move on past discussion of his alleged favourite scene. The interviewer points out the surreal and chilling sound design, commenting on how “eerie” it is, and all Abrams can offer back is, “It really is. Yeah, yeah… What’s your favourite scene?” If that doesn’t quietly scream, “Can we get off this topic, now?” I’m not sure what does.

    Arch Duke also poses a very pointed/pertinent question concerning Abrams then going on to bash Darth Maul. Which is very ironic — on Abrams’ part — by the way:

    The reboot dude wants to bash the exotic bad guy with a mysterious, warrior appearance for being something of a ruse/token, but conveniently forgets the fact that he recently gave the world Captain Phasma: a ludicrously overhyped “feminist” villain-icon who barely speaks any more lines than Maul, and is definitely five times more useless. Moreover, Maul’s patsy/stooge-like role exemplifies the style of esoteric plot construction embodied by the title of the movie (i.e., Maul is a “phantom menace”, a deceptive threat, a distraction), and also fits the meta-theme of Palpatine losing apprentices and having to replenish them (i.e., each villain is designed as a kind of Jungian archetype/sub-unit of Anakin’s psyche).

    If I were to bash Abrams further on this point, it might be easy to point out that he is the king of bilking and misdirection (“Mister Mystery Box” himself), so he should be the last person to be truly upset over Maul’s sudden departure and alleged under-use. What of the TFA marketing leading some to conclude that Finn would be a legitimate inheritor of the Jedi flame? What of the mystery of Rey’s parents? What about the egregious plot recycling and deliberately-withheld “Knights of Ren” plot threads in TFA, where the juiciest bits of the narrative are confined to a vision sequence? Pull the other one, JJ.

    He can certainly have his opinions. But it’s telling, I think, that he’s much more animated and fired-up about being bummed out over Maul than over the brilliance of his supposed favourite scene. Indeed, his Maul-bashing is parlayed into the conversation, slipstream-like, on the back of Abrams asking the interviewer for *his* favourite scene. The host can barely articulate anything about the scene because Abrams quickly interrupts him. All so he can grin over his feelings of being jilted and implicitly led astray over the way — in his mind — Maul was misleadingly marketed in the run-up to release.

    A bum note is certainly played at the end of the interview. It’s just what you’d expect of a prequel basher in sheep’s clothing. Here. I’ll throw out this sop and pretend, with some hesitation and cheek-chewing, to like this one scene. Oh, what was your favourite scene? The lightsaber duel in Episode I? Yeah, it was good ‘n’ all, but it really sucked and was all a bit pointless, wasn’t it? Kinda like the prequels as a whole, don’t ya think? There’s an air of condescension about the whole thing: I got suckered on Maul. And anyone that likes the prequels hasn’t realised/won’t admit that they’ve been suckered.

    Abrams is one of those urbane-basher types. He doesn’t have to bash the prequels very much directly. He can tactically insinuate his dislike of them; and he has his attack dogs to really go to work on them when needed. He can’t see how like Palpatine he actually is. He has his “mauls” doing his dirty work for him. Allowing him to take a smoother path to power.

    The fact that Abrams thinks the prequels are conceptually flawed is the enormous elephant in the room. But the spectrum of conversation in encounters like these is so narrow that most people can’t even develop a context to allow such a thought to exist. So, at best, the conclusion most arrive at is: “Abrams finds the prequels disappointing.” I think it’s closer to the mark that Abrams thinks they’re crummy, even an act of “infanticide” (tellingly: he didn’t rein Simon Pegg in for this remark or offer a different view after he said it), but there’s a lot of money at stake and he enjoys being the “respectable” face of The Loose Boomer-Millennial Alliance Of Righteous Prequel Opposition too much.

    • archdukeofnaboo

      @Cryogenic

      Yes, this thread makes a lot more sense for a discussion on Abrams as he slides into the ROTS promotion circuit, no more than a day or two after making his final adjustments to the film. Makes one wonder how chaotic it was in the editing room the last few weeks. I’d love to find out one day.

      I’m inclined to give Abrams the benefit of a doubt with regards the Opera scene. It’s too easy for us to sit here and say “oh Palpatine is back, so now they’re selfishly mining Darth Plagueis the Wise”. We’re prequel fans, so let’s be honest with ourselves and remember that it was the famous conversation between Obi-Wan and Luke in IV that was lurched on to create our trilogy.

      A large part of the reason I’ve been dissatisfied by the Sequels so far is the lack of any prequel influence on the art direction, story, galaxy structure or even the filmmaking. The name-checking of Darth Sidious in VIII, or vague allusion to a Clone Army in VII were simply crumbs that were not going to help nourish someone that increasingly felt like a pauper in Disney Lucasfilm’ Brave New World. The capital of the New Republic was blown up in a sequence that utterly repelled me while in the cinema, and has since gone on to summarise everything that angers me about the new regime: lazily remaking OT pieces (Death Star 3) whilst happily destroying PT pieces (Galactic Government) before they can be explored.

      The Fandom Menace (lukewarm to the PT: ask them about AOTC if you don’t believe me) may scream “desperation” all they want, but if I happen to see a lot of prequel elements integrated into the final instalment of the sequels I’ll be more inclined to hail that as a victory for all us who have campaigned relentlessly on behalf of the prequels in the last 4 years. That doesn’t mean I forget the grievances of the past, but it does mean I give credit on the occasion it is deservedly due. This is the philosophy behind one of the threads I’ve created on Naberrie Fields.

      I think the brilliance of the Opera scene may well be a part of what motivated Abrams to bring back McDiarmid. I mean, let’s face it, his performance in ROTS was so good and his character so Shakespearean, that I’m well prepared to say is far more interesting than the aged version we got in ROTJ. I still love the devilish villain of Episode VI, but he’s almost 2-dimentinal compared to the double-dealing, sadistic, puppet master figure of the prequels, who carries himself with so much intellect that you’d laugh to think he would one day be thrown down a shaft to his death.

      From an in-universe chronological perspective, therefore, Palpatine’s death must have felt like an enormous shock, like an unimaginable event. Or at least it is if we follow the premise that the Sith Lord’s powers remained the same as they were in the PT. I don’t, however, see any evidence to support this, so it’s my own opinion that his powers (including intelligence) gradually began to diminish as he became more and more complacent with his absolute rule. Without that, it makes little since that Vader – or Anakin, to be more correct – could sneakily slide behind and throw him to his death. If Palpatine’s abilities were as they were in the PT – wait for it – then an argument can indeed be made that he wasn’t fully defeated.

      Problem is we view Star Wars on the silver screen, and a plot devise that revives a character who was as dead as could possibly be, with even an Ewok-lead celebration to honour his demise, just makes no sense. It reeks of all the desperation of a run-of-the-mill TV show in its fifth season, struggling to regain any semblance of credibility after it’s ratings nosedived 3 seasons ago, and with the original writers long after fleeing. In short, stupidity. And I haven’t even mentioned how it undoes Anakin’s arc and the message at what is the heart of RotJ: redemption. As they say in England, “Oh blimey”.

      On the other hand, bringing Palpatine back does betray an acceptance, perhaps even admirance, of the direction Lucas took the character in the PT. Convince yourself that you hate these films all you want, but the fact you don’t call him “The Emperor” any more saids it all. At the very least it suggests that the character’s role in the PT has been so effective that Ian McDiarmid is now associated with those films first and foremost.

      Bringing Palpatine into the Sequels by using the Prequels to ret-con his death in the Originals…

      I feel like Anakin now: “YOU TURNED HER AGAINST ME!”

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      “I’m inclined to give Abrams the benefit of a doubt with regards the Opera scene. It’s too easy for us to sit here and say “oh Palpatine is back, so now they’re selfishly mining Darth Plagueis the Wise”. We’re prequel fans, so let’s be honest with ourselves and remember that it was the famous conversation between Obi-Wan and Luke in IV that was lurched on to create our trilogy.”

      Sure. I know where you’re coming from. But I didn’t quite mean it like that. Although, in some ways, that probably is what they’ve done. I was more trying to imply that Abrams naming that scene is a promotional tactic. Because it’s official: Palpatine and Ian McDiarmid are back in TROS (after their magnificent scenery-chewing in ROTS — can even the title of the last Abrams feature being an anagram of Episode III’s, in acronym form, be a coincidence?). And Plagueis might appear, or get a reference or two. So is there any other scene he would rightly choose to mention now, of all times, when asked for his “favourite” prequel scene?

      Honestly, this is exactly Abrams’ stock-in-trade. He likes to bring up certain touchstones and “talk the talk” when it’s needed. But only when it’s needed. I don’t think it’s too dissimilar to all the Han/Chewie/Falcon-sploitation we saw in the TFA trailers, and in the movie itself. Abrams knows these are among the most popular aspects with the OT crowd, just as he obviously knows the opera scene holds strong appeal to many prequel fans. Plus, as you pointed out earlier, he eagerly moves to trash the prequels a moment later in the same interview clip, by seizing the opportunity to invert the positivity of the presenter’s pick (the TPM lightsaber duel), articulating a common fanboy/viewer complaint about the casual dispensing/gross underuse (in his/their opinion) of Darth Maul.

      And while the opera scene does beat against the discussion between Obi-Wan and Luke in Old Ben’s hut, there are also resonances with the second discussion between the two in ROTJ: the third of the OT. And Lucas didn’t lurch or latch onto those scenes in the same way. The prequels didn’t exactly come whole-cloth from those discussions, but were much more of an intellectual/thematic undertaking, through which Lucas wanted to expand and twist around a lot of the “folkish” wisdom of the OT — sort of showing the galaxy for how it “really was” in fabulous digital Technicolor. Much more of an an expansive, expressionistic, LSD-type thing. “Moby-Dick” meets “The Doors Of Perception”.

      “A large part of the reason I’ve been dissatisfied by the Sequels so far is the lack of any prequel influence on the art direction, story, galaxy structure or even the filmmaking. The name-checking of Darth Sidious in VIII, or vague allusion to a Clone Army in VII were simply crumbs that were not going to help nourish someone that increasingly felt like a pauper in Disney Lucasfilm’ Brave New World.”

      That’s fair. Although I think TLJ contains many more poignant and sneaky allusions to the PT — more than TFA, anyway. Among other things, it’s the second time a powerful Jedi wants to bring an end to a religious order. Mace swings at Palpatine and tries to end the reign of the Sith, but only ends the reign of the Jedi in the process. Luke knows that a Nu-Sith Order is out there, but he’d rather erase the Jedi from the galaxy and go down with the ship. Both heroic/anti-heroic positions. “There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.” It is almost like Luke read that crawl and dwelled on the “evil” sentence. That’s his philosophical position (i.e., it’s all a pointless equation), until the raindrop of chaos represented by Rey comes to the island and shakes up his world, rousing him from his slumber.

      But then, I guess I’m a bit more taken with TLJ than you are. We’re all prepared to give a pass to some things, and inclined to be harsher on others — all according to our personal conditions.

      “The capital of the New Republic was blown up in a sequence that utterly repelled me while in the cinema, and has since gone on to summarise everything that angers me about the new regime: lazily remaking OT pieces (Death Star 3) whilst happily destroying PT pieces (Galactic Government) before they can be explored.”

      Well, that’s a very incisive way of putting it! Yes. That nails it. Abrams had little intention of exploring a sequel trilogy storyline that adequately grappled with Star Wars in light of the PT. Instead, he set out, almost through willful laziness as much as ideological opposition, to dispense with the PT as quickly as he could. The PT was literally targeted for destruction and crushed, ground into tiny pieces, and blasted into oblivion. But some pieces — much like Anakin’s saber — defiantly survived and persisted. Which is about the only thing that makes the sequel trilogy interesting, or justifies its “red-headed stepchild” quality, to me. The return of Palpatine, much like the return of the saber, could almost be a microcosm for this concept.

      “The Fandom Menace (lukewarm to the PT: ask them about AOTC if you don’t believe me) may scream “desperation” all they want, but if I happen to see a lot of prequel elements integrated into the final instalment of the sequels I’ll be more inclined to hail that as a victory for all us who have campaigned relentlessly on behalf of the prequels in the last 4 years. That doesn’t mean I forget the grievances of the past, but it does mean I give credit on the occasion it is deservedly due. This is the philosophy behind one of the threads I’ve created on Naberrie Fields.”

      Almost nobody seems to like AOTC, except hardcore prequel fans. Maybe that’s the way it should be. But by rejecting and slamming that one, casuals and hardcores of other persuasions are only revealing their brittle understanding and general ignorance of what Lucas was going for, and they clearly have little appreciation for the “strange magic” he brought to the screen. If I had to pick a favourite “bespoke” trilogy at the moment, it would be: TPM, AOTC, TLJ. I like the weird, offbeat, meditative installments. The ones that are sometimes serious by being less serious.

      I think they were probably always going to season the end of the trilogy with more prequel references, once they’d made their billions and secured interest. After all, if you want to go a bit “off-ramp” and crazy, where else do you look for inspiration, if not the prequels? That said, you may still be right. This may end up being the crowd-inspired one of the lot. It’s only fair. If basher disdain shaped the creation of TFA, it’s only right that prequel fans got to put a rumple in the fabric the other side of the trilogy. But I wouldn’t necessarily bet on a ton of prequel elements. Overall, however, they do seem to keen to spotlight the prequels a bit more. But even then: look at those new promo reels where the prequels barely feature at all. You’ll never going to have some Road-To-Damascus conversion from these people. They are still operating with much the same OT-appeasement mentality.

      Sorry if that’s too down for you. Because I am, after all, looking forward to TROS, and I’ve cut them a bit of slack in a few of my other comments. However, the marketing of these new movies has pretty much always disgusted me, and they’ve done little to reverse my feelings at any point. Yes, if I can get past the marketing, I can find things to like in TFA, and certainly, now, TLJ, but that doesn’t mean I can overlook their wider scheme. I might sometimes seem a little bitter and pessimistic here. But I’m prepared to take that knock. They’ve made it far too easy.

      “I think the brilliance of the Opera scene may well be a part of what motivated Abrams to bring back McDiarmid. I mean, let’s face it, his performance in ROTS was so good and his character so Shakespearean, that I’m well prepared to say is far more interesting than the aged version we got in ROTJ. I still love the devilish villain of Episode VI, but he’s almost 2-dimentinal compared to the double-dealing, sadistic, puppet master figure of the prequels, who carries himself with so much intellect that you’d laugh to think he would one day be thrown down a shaft to his death.”

      I love this. Absolutely! The prequels gave him a lot more flair and depth. There’s nothing like seeing the full arc of Palpatine’s machinations. He is almost embarrassingly simplistic in ROTJ: a cartoon villain. But if you look how he starts out in TPM, as the “goodly adviser” to a kind-hearted queen (while moonlighting as Darth Sidious and bringing about the occupation of his own planet), it’s very satisfying and even startling. Having Ian McDiarmid was obviously an asset too great for Lucas to ignore. That guy has a respectable midi-chlorian count, alright!

      “From an in-universe chronological perspective, therefore, Palpatine’s death must have felt like an enormous shock, like an unimaginable event. Or at least it is if we follow the premise that the Sith Lord’s powers remained the same as they were in the PT. I don’t, however, see any evidence to support this, so it’s my own opinion that his powers (including intelligence) gradually began to diminish as he became more and more complacent with his absolute rule. Without that, it makes little since that Vader – or Anakin, to be more correct – could sneakily slide behind and throw him to his death. If Palpatine’s abilities were as they were in the PT – wait for it – then an argument can indeed be made that he wasn’t fully defeated.”

      Oh, yes. I very much agree with you. I think we’re meant to interpret ROTJ Palpatine (now fully in his “Sidious” or “Emperor” persona) as a schemer who has “grown accustomed to the fruits of his own villainy”, as one perceptive fan once put it on TFN. And in that way, he echoes the arrogance that overtakes the Jedi Order in its final days — history repeating. But yes, Palpatine obviously has enormous abilities, and these seem to have played some role in allowing him to survive and reform his consciousness. I sense TROS could have a few twists and turns with rich implications for the entire saga. That’s my big hope, anyway!

      “Problem is we view Star Wars on the silver screen, and a plot devise that revives a character who was as dead as could possibly be, with even an Ewok-lead celebration to honour his demise, just makes no sense. It reeks of all the desperation of a run-of-the-mill TV show in its fifth season, struggling to regain any semblance of credibility after it’s ratings nosedived 3 seasons ago, and with the original writers long after fleeing. In short, stupidity. And I haven’t even mentioned how it undoes Anakin’s arc and the message at what is the heart of RotJ: redemption. As they say in England, “Oh blimey”.”

      Well, yeah — this is also true. Don’t forget: they now have a “Story Group” breaking ideas, much like what occurs in television. They’re not thinking along the same operatic lines as Lucas. Not in every respect. In this regard, you might also contradict what you said about the opera scene at the outset of your response. This paragraph suggests you feel they’ve combed over the prequels for some hook — and, as I said earlier, the opera scene is an obvious one. This is why I can never take what Abrams says at face value. It’s hard to do that with any human, let alone one playing a political/commercial game. Of course, in some ways, I’m contradicting myself on this very scene, too! They’ve really created a bit of a mess for themselves, and the opera scene is the “mop” they’re using to clean it all up. That’s sort of how it feels, anyway.

      “On the other hand, bringing Palpatine back does betray an acceptance, perhaps even admirance, of the direction Lucas took the character in the PT. Convince yourself that you hate these films all you want, but the fact you don’t call him “The Emperor” any more saids it all. At the very least it suggests that the character’s role in the PT has been so effective that Ian McDiarmid is now associated with those films first and foremost.”

      That’s a good point. There has always been more enthusiasm for the way Lucas depicted Palpatine cementing control than there has of Anakin *losing* it. Lucas and McDiarmid jointly made the “macro” plot of the PT so enjoyable to watch in ROTS. Perhaps, indeed, even a staunch OT fanboy like J.J. Abrams couldn’t fail to be impressed by how this aspect of the PT was pulled off. Star Wars feels like the story of Palpatine as much as it does the tale of Obi-Wan, Amidala, or the Skywalkers. This film could be his — and theirs — final coronation.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        The contradiction was deliberate. I was outlining how Palpatine’s survival may make sense from an in-universe perspective (one condition required), and be horribly lazy in terms of screenwriting. For an OT fan, or indeed a PT fan who embraces the “Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker”, it’s far worse: it undoes Anakin’s arc. Remember, Anakin/Darth Vader is the central character as per Lucas, and anything that seeks to take away from his sacrifice by interfering with – or stealing – his victory over the Sith is to be flat-out abhorred.

        I can get over the fact that Luke might end up a grumpy recluse in his later years – it doesn’t change him in the OT, I can compartmentalise – but I would never be able to get over something that cheated Anakin. Only in the case of the later is RotJ retroactively changed forever. An astrix is put beside “Killed the Emperor”, and it feels as if our saga’s main character has been caught for doping. You then begin questioning what was even the point of the prequel trilogy? I’m only getting started here.

        Look, Abrams is playing with fire by bringing back Palpatine and it could very well go horribly wrong. Snoke was set up to be *the* villian of the trilogy in TFA, very clearly, and he’s now nowhere to be seen. What does that tell you? To me it feels all too haphazard, make it up as you go along, with “Skywalker Saga” branding being this film’s memeworthy equivalent of TFA’s “practical effects”.

        You can’t have your “Skywalker Saga” and p*ss on the very progenitor of the Skywalker clan. You cannot have your cake and eat it.

        I’ve been predicting Anakin’s involvement ever since the Fan X debacle in Utah during the summer, and I’m sticking with it, but the fact I’m even considering the above is worrying.

        On the subject of “nobody liking AOTC”, I think prequel fans need to work harder at highlighting the wonderful things about the film that a lot of people already enjoy. I used to have a pre-made list of these I would hit send to the film’s bashers on Reddit. As much as a fan pulling one or two things from the PT is opportunistic, wanting them to be 100% with every plot element in a prequel or be banished isn’t right either. Abrams is correct, we need nuance in fan discussion.

        Problem is our platforms of debate consist of echoe chambers, 140 character limits and a YouTube algorithm that encourages polemics. And a few crooked forums 😉

        On a more positive note for Clones, I think a cult-status is slowly building around Dexter Jetster.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        “The contradiction was deliberate. I was outlining how Palpatine’s survival may make sense from an in-universe perspective (one condition required), and be horribly lazy in terms of screenwriting.”

        Ah, okay. Yeah, there is a bit of a conundrum there: should we really embrace their “cheat” solutions, or do their homework for them, when there is seemingly a marked laziness and yet more pandering/recycling at work?

        “For an OT fan, or indeed a PT fan who embraces the “Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker”, it’s far worse: it undoes Anakin’s arc. Remember, Anakin/Darth Vader is the central character as per Lucas, and anything that seeks to take away from his sacrifice by interfering with – or stealing – his victory over the Sith is to be flat-out abhorred.”

        I’m not sure I agree so fully on this point. I can certainly see how it steals the definitiveness of the “original” saga ending. But Anakin’s hero cycle can (arguably) be placed in a broader framework. In the PT, he is the Force made flesh. In the OT, he is the Force as an amended/cybernetic organism. In the ST, he is the ghost in the background. Not entirely gone; merely beyond the merely corporeal. Almost some panpsychic entity permeating the movie realm.

        Palpatine’s return does make some sense against the thematic backdrop of the PT and the above Anakin paradigm. In TPM, Palpatine (and his eventual alliance with Anakin) is the threat no-one perceives. But the Jedi remain uneasy. By the end of the film, they know that someone or something is out there. In AOTC, their knowledge improves a tad, when they learn that the Dark Lord of the Sith is called Darth Sidious, and he may be influencing the Senate. In ROTS, they don’t want to embrace their worst fears (“A Sith Lord???”), but they’re still rattled enough to set Anakin up to spy on Palpatine. And once Sidious is revealed, it’s too late (as a wise Jedi once said) — the trap has been sprung.

        So now we have the idea that Palpatine has lingered on in some form. Like I said in an earlier comments thread, it’s not unlike Sauron preserving his essence through the One Ring. I don’t think it necessarily “ruins” Anakin’s redemption in the SW galaxy, any more than the persistence of Sauron obviates prior acts of heroism and decency in Middle-earth. Plus, interestingly, it’s Rey’s strong awareness of this spiritual victory over the Dark Side, which Luke helped Anakin perform, that she uses to remind Luke of his prior greatness/goodness — or his “true self” that he has “only forgotten”. So the redemption-climax of the OT/Lucas Saga isn’t trashed in the ST. The sequel trilogy’s main hero carries this knowledge with her, and it inspires her, in fact, to believe she also has the capacity to turn Kylo back to the light, as Luke once did with his father.

        “I can get over the fact that Luke might end up a grumpy recluse in his later years – it doesn’t change him in the OT, I can compartmentalise – but I would never be able to get over something that cheated Anakin. Only in the case of the later is RotJ retroactively changed forever. An astrix is put beside “Killed the Emperor”, and it feels as if our saga’s main character has been caught for doping. You then begin questioning what was even the point of the prequel trilogy? I’m only getting started here.”

        Yes, but…

        There is a through-line. It’s a chronicle of how the Jedi are gradually being reformed across the trilogies. It all goes back to the PT and the discovery of Anakin. Heck, in TPM, we even get the metaphor of the sandstorm, and there is a storm raging when Anakin is being taken by Sidious to the medical center: the culmination of all the weather patterns formerly seen on Coruscant (the main planet of the PT, and the one that becomes Anakin’s “home away from home”). This storm metaphor seems to have been nicely reprised in TROS. I like it. It feels like something long in the making. There’s an inevitability to it.

        Anyway, that tangential reflection aside, the Jedi are obviously being made new again in the ST, and it’s what happens at the end of the PT that dictates these future events (which, in turn, is influenced by what happens at the start of the PT). The key to Star Wars, post-PT, are really Luke and Leia. They only just become aware of their bond (well: consciously aware) in the last chapter of the OT, then they become separated and even “cut off” from one another until the second half of TLJ, when things begin to change and Luke embraces the great dragon of chaos, hope, and transformation once more.

        But why do Luke and Leia exist? Because a young Jedi named Anakin Skywalker broke the rules and got secretly wed to his childhood sweetheart. He formed a powerful attachment, and this attachment, though in contravention of Jedi doctrine, would produce offspring that would go on to shape the fortunes of all. That’s actual money in the bank for the PT. The rest of the saga springs forth from that fertile soil, and the sad but momentous occasion when the twins are born — mere babies at the end of the PT, entering the world under tragic circumstances, and yet: with the power to help redeem the world!

        “Look, Abrams is playing with fire by bringing back Palpatine and it could very well go horribly wrong. Snoke was set up to be *the* villian of the trilogy in TFA, very clearly, and he’s now nowhere to be seen. What does that tell you? To me it feels all too haphazard, make it up as you go along, with “Skywalker Saga” branding being this film’s memeworthy equivalent of TFA’s “practical effects”.”

        Well, now…

        That’s a good one! Yes. There is symmetry between those branding terms. But “Skywalker Saga” has a more grandiose inflection: a richer set of implications. Marketing fluff aside, it sounds like they’re holding their own feet to the fire a little bit. Which is encouraging. This sequel trilogy is a strange beast!

        “Something… inside me has always been there, and now it’s awake, and I need help.”

        “On the subject of “nobody liking AOTC”, I think prequel fans need to work harder at highlighting the wonderful things about the film that a lot of people already enjoy. I used to have a pre-made list of these I would hit send to the film’s bashers on Reddit. As much as a fan pulling one or two things from the PT is opportunistic, wanting them to be 100% with every plot element in a prequel or be banished isn’t right either. Abrams is correct, we need nuance in fan discussion.

        Problem is our platforms of debate consist of echoe chambers, 140 character limits and a YouTube algorithm that encourages polemics. And a few crooked forums 😉”

        Sorry. One thing here: where are you getting the “nuance” reference from? I don’t recall Abrams intimating such a concept.

        I can see what you’re saying. Between those extremes, there is obviously a middle ground. And maybe it’s healthy to pursue it. But the thing is: prequel fans have been trying to engage with the opposition to these films for years. They just rarely get anywhere with people who are convinced they suck, and who hold to the belief that they are fundamentally flawed works of cinema. On the other hand, there have been some lively collisions over the years. It can be rewarding to engage the other side — for sure.

        But it can also be wearying as hell. I know. I’ve got the scars to prove it. You can’t blame prequel fans for clustering in small communities when the derogation toward the prequels has been so fierce, especially the hatred and bile thrown at Episodes I and II and the people that defend them. And because of that, if you say too much that is positive, or sounds like a detailed, windy defence, you get accused of being pretentious and apologetic; even lacking any semblance of good taste.

        In terms of platforms/outreach, it’s tough to know where else to go. There’s the aforementioned YouTube, several Star Wars message boards (and not even many of those), fan blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. That might sound a lot — but is it? Where else are prequel fans meant to go; what else are they meant to be doing to argue their case? On such a fragmented social space that the Internet has become, it’s tough thinking around those gated communities and digital chain-link fences.

        “On a more positive note for Clones, I think a cult-status is slowly building around Dexter Jetster.”

        Interesting… really?

        Maybe PrequelMemes is driving a certain re-evaluation of the series, or of AOTC in particular.

        These movies have always been meme-worthy. Perhaps the greatest meme of all is Anakin’s “sand” dialogue in AOTC. Look what a thing that’s become!

        But a deeper intellectual/aesthetic evaluation would also be welcome. There has been a disturbance in the Force, but I’m not sensing a monumental shift — yet.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Watch Abrams recent interview on Good Morning America, ABC – another Disney owned enterprise. He name-checks the Fandom Menace and talks about the need for nuance in discussions. It’s hard to disagree with him on that one.

        Honestly, Cryogenic, I do not see any merit in the notion of Anakin as a spirit meandering and permeating all from the background of the ST. That to me, if you’ll excuse my brief vulgarity, sounds too much like the gibberish I get from pompous folk on r/StarWars who want prequelists to believe Disney has always been caring of their trilogy, when evidence shows otherwise. “Accept these crumbs, and be thankful to Lord Disney for taking of you” or “Get over yourself, and stop complaining, you’ve always been treated fairly”. It’s patronising, and what a lot of prequel bashers tuned sequelists now resort to. I’m not saying that’s your intention, as I can see that you’re genuine and fervently want it to be true, but I just can’t share it.

        He’s not there, and never referenced beyond Darth Vader pandering to OT fanboys, and has little to do with Rey (must be odd for Spanish speakers to hear that name), who as far as we know is simply a “nobody”.

        If he’s in IX I’ll be happily change my tune, but for now let’s call a spade a spade: he wasn’t in or relevant to VII or VIII. Those were the decisions of Abrams and Johnson, and we bitter prequelists have to accept that truth, just as Luke had to accept Darth Vader was his father.

        I can see where you’re going with all the Christian metaphors, and you make a good point about Luke and Leia, but until Anakin rises from the dead I’m not believing it.

        On the LorR analogy: Tolkien wrote all of those books, while it is not the case with the creator of Star Wars, who didn’t design the latest instalments (he didn’t even like TFA). That is a fundamental difference.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Is this the Abrams video you mean? You said GMA/Good Morning America. Uploaded five days ago. I watched it, but no mention of “The Fandom Menace” or the importance of nuance:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdSHiLVBbV4

        I do notice a bit of anger/agitation from Abrams in that, however. He seems to get a bit testy in this moment:

        Time Index: 1:05

        George Stephanopoulos: And you were really re-shooting right up through October?

        *pause*

        Abrams: Well, don’t say it like *that*.

        *angry face held for a second, followed by laughter and adjusting his position in his seat*

        Not sure what to make of that. Was Abrams actually annoyed at the insinuation (it seemed to be an insinuation) that they were struggling to make a coherent film? Was he not expecting that question? Was it the flat way the host put it to him: naming the exact month a little too raw for Abrams to handle?

        Is that a flash of the real Abrams, and the insecurity complex that lurks beneath the surface of the genial, flubber-like hipster nerd persona? Or not? Between that question and the wounding Stephen Colbert just gave him, I’m wondering if this potential show of irritation shows that all the fan complaining more recently has really gotten to him. Not 2015 anymore, is it, JJ?

        “Honestly, Cryogenic, I do not see any merit in the notion of Anakin as a spirit meandering and permeating all from the background of the ST. That to me, if you’ll excuse my brief vulgarity, sounds too much like the gibberish I get from pompous folk on r/StarWars who want prequelists to believe Disney has always been caring of their trilogy, when evidence shows otherwise. “Accept these crumbs, and be thankful to Lord Disney for taking of you” or “Get over yourself, and stop complaining, you’ve always been treated fairly”. It’s patronising, and what a lot of prequel bashers tuned sequelists now resort to. I’m not saying that’s your intention, as I can see that you’re genuine and fervently want it to be true, but I just can’t share it.”

        Well, I understand your opposition, but the Jedi are spirits in the OT, and Qui-Gon sort of permeates the PT: “Liam, the shades.” And how Yoda later hears him during his deep meditation…

        Anakin was also described by Qui-Gon as a “vergence” in the Force. This term is left unexplained, but we can infer by his super abilities (for his age), his extraordinary midi-chlorian count, and the Jedi’s curious reaction to this comment, that Anakin was always something special and out-there, even by PT Jedi standards. It’s all about that “Chosen One” status, and much, much more…

        Well, maybe. Understandably, this may still read like a total cop-out: a dreary attempt to defend the indefensible. But, sometimes, all these movies call for a bit of esoteric thinking; especially given how many esoteric concepts they smoothly deal in.

        “He’s not there, and never referenced beyond Darth Vader pandering to OT fanboys, and has little to do with Rey (must be odd for Spanish speakers to hear that name), who as far as we know is simply a “nobody”.

        If he’s in IX I’ll be happily change my tune, but for now let’s call a spade a spade: he wasn’t in or relevant to VII or VIII. Those were the decisions of Abrams and Johnson, and we bitter prequelists have to accept that truth, just as Luke had to accept Darth Vader was his father.”

        Right, well… Another way of looking at it is the body/spirit has fled from the Vader carapace. Luke burns Vader’s body at the end of ROTJ, releasing Anakin’s soul — emphasised by the camera panning up to the sky with fireworks going off, and then Anakin appearing back on Endor as a Force Ghost. Now, granted, as you indicated: he doesn’t appear again after that. But then, apart from Obi-Wan’s voice in the chest scene with Rey, Obi-Wan never appears to Luke, either. Luke doesn’t even name Obi-Wan in TLJ, but simply refers to him as a “Jedi Master” being responsible for “the training and creation of Darth Vader” (though he could easily be referring to Qui-Gon if he checked records or had further communication with Obi-Wan post-ROTJ — since it was Qui-Gon who put Anakin on the path to being a Jedi, not Obi-Wan).

        Anakin is very relevant to VII and VIII in the sense that he aligned with Palpatine, became Darth Vader, and destroyed the Jedi Order. Obviously, these were very spiritually wounding events, plunging the galaxy into its eponymous “dark times”, according to Obi-Wan’s speech in Episode IV. And we see the galaxy still struggling to overcome the effects in the sequels. Anakin is also relevant as an ironic counterpoint to Ben Solo trying to emulate the “dark side” of Anakin, while Ben considers Anakin’s goodness to be irrelevant, even a character flaw. Rey and Kylo can also be interpreted as split pieces of Anakin’s psyche. But you’re right: no direct acknowledgement of the character. In that regard, Anakin is a lot like an in-universe George Lucas in sequel land: that “Based On” title credit…

        “I can see where you’re going with all the Christian metaphors, and you make a good point about Luke and Leia, but until Anakin rises from the dead I’m not believing it.”

        I wasn’t aware I was using Christian metaphors. The concept of redemption isn’t unique to Christianity — though I’m not trying to deny the saga’s overlap with Christianity, either. If you’re a ghost, you’re not dead; more like un-dead. That was what Luke accused his father of being if all he cared about was turning Luke over to the Emperor. I think there’s a bit more to the saga and what they’ve done with it than they’re letting on. After all, they are calling it the “Skywalker Saga” in marketing now, which implies acknowledgement of Anakin and the PT.

        “On the LorR analogy: Tolkien wrote all of those books, while it is not the case with the creator of Star Wars, who didn’t design the latest instalments (he didn’t even like TFA). That is a fundamental difference.”

        Tolkien would say that God wrote them. In any case, analogies are necessarily inexact. I was simply drawing a connection between one mythical story and another. Lucas purposely sold his creation. Tolkien, too, sold the rights to LOTR. And both have since had works published/produced that are based on their incomplete notes/writings. LOTR was even interpreted into a lush feature film trilogy, followed by “The Hobbit”. But until the latter came out, few went around knocking Peter Jackson. Fundamental differences aren’t always so fundamental.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Crogenic

        My apologies, it was in Esquire. It’s the 6th question, about half way down:

        https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a29960539/jj-abrams-star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-interview-toxic-fandom-knights-of-ren-baby-yoda/

        I’m very happy you can take meaning from the sequels, but as I’ve stated in NF, I’m not seeing any of that. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree on that “esoteric” stuff. You know as well as I do that “Skywalker Saga” rings very hollow considering how Kennedy, Abrams and Co. have behaved towards the PT in the past.

        Tolkien wrote all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit material there is and ever will be, and that is the cannon. Everything on other mediums is adaption, which is an important designation: the sale of adaption rights is not the same as sale of ownership of your work. The sequel films are on an equal footing to the OT and PT now thanks to the latter (for better or worse), but no such equivalent exists with these Middle Earth books. Literature is far less corruptible than the modern blockbuster film industry is.

        “In that regard, Anakin is a lot like an in-universe George Lucas in sequel land: that “Based On” title credit…”

        Crumbs, indeed.

        It’ll be very interesting to resume this discussion once IX comes out. Judging from promotional material, it looks more influenced by the PT than its predecessors, and I’m giving them a thumbs up for that.

        Now for something a little more fun!

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

      • Stefan K

        So much to read, so little time… (“so much” is obviously a good thing here 🙂 )

        Two notes (which are not relevant to the discussion, but still):
        “Luke burns Vader’s body…”
        AFAIK, Anakin’s body became one with the Force and they only burnt his armor. At least this is what I remember to be canon before the sale to Disney.

        “Tolkien wrote all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit material there is and ever will be, and that is the cannon.”
        Interestingly, I even read that you may only consider the books and poems that Tolkien officially published during his lifetime to be canon, but not the writings published after his death (which includes the Silmarillion because J.R.R. Tolkien never finished it officially).

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Nice! Thanks for that Esquire link. Interesting interview — if short. A lot of things I could pivot on. For instance:

        In the vein of my last post and musing on Abrams’ impertinence/annoyance in the GMA clip, he seems to throw some shade at Rian Johnson in his first response regarding the Knights of Ren:

        “They’re characters that, when we came up with them in Force Awakens and had very brief sighting of them, it was something that we had a lot of ideas of sort of further adventures with them, backstory, you know, and all sorts of things that were not the focus of the central story, and never made it into the movie. And episode VIII, The Last Jedi, didn’t address that, at all, and it just allowed for us to bring them back in.”

        “…didn’t address that”
        “…at all”

        Is he pissed about that? It sure sounds like he’s a little hacked off at RJ, to me. But he puts such a vanilla spin on everything, it’s like no-one ever notices, or cares.

        Then he continues:

        “I mean, they’re best kept more mysterious than familiar, which is just to say there aren’t going to be a lot of scenes with them taking their masks off and hanging out and eating sandwiches, but it felt like I definitely wanted to see more of them than we had, and I felt happy that we got a chance to do that in this movie.”

        Yep. He definitely sounds upset that Rian dropped his beloved concept(s), in my reading of his comments. Like, hey, Rian, buddy. You didn’t have to have them eating sandwiches, but couldn’t you have squeezed them in somewhere and acknowledged the reality of my own damn movie a bit more? Too busy with sea cows and BB-8 shooting coins at people, weren’t you?

        He sounds as equally measured, politely concealing his anger, further down in a separate answer:

        “There were some choices that made things a bit more fun for us, because, for example, Rian didn’t have the whole group collaborative adventure of it together, and that was really fun to get to tell the story of the group, the droids, out on one breakneck, crazy, desperate adventure. You know?”

        Like, hey, buddy, Rian. You screwed our characters and nearly tanked the franchise. But at least we got a chance to put things right.

        “The choices that he made for me were as a fan, as a reader of the script, a fan of his, a fan of Star Wars… it was just fun to read someone’s take that was so about surprising the viewer and it was just really entertaining, because it was, it got to surprise me nearly every time. So, I loved it for that.”

        He loved it for that. But not for the other things. No mention of characters, or themes, or visual design, or plot wrinkles, or anything, really. Just a general allusion to being surprised and enjoying it on that level. Oh, I’m surprised you basically did nothing to honour what we started, but okay, hey, it’s your thing, and I like surprises, sometimes. Surprises are good. Mystery Box!

        “As a filmmaker, working on episode IX, amazingly, nothing that he did in Last Jedi got in the way of things that we had talked about wanting to do down the line, ideas that I had about where things might go, so… it wasn’t like his story somehow derailed the things I wanted to pursue. In fact, strangely, they might have even helped strengthen them because we got to make some choices that sort of take advantage of the fact that Rian hadn’t done the things that we were thinking about doing.”

        I dunno, but this reply drips of irritation and oblique disparagement, to me. And if any disgruntled Disney critic wanted to point to any set of remarks, in any one place, that appear to confirm both Abrams’ annoyance and out-in-the-open confession that Rian did his own thing and set their ideas back, this interview would be the one to instantly reach for, methinks.

        Just look at that! Nothing that he did. Nothing. Because TLJ basically sums to nothing in Abrams’ mind. It was all futile, Rian. Abrams thinks you’re a poopie-head. And the rationalisation: It didn’t derail anything. But notice how he never really says Rian’s choices added much, or that what Rian did with the material got their hearts and heads beating and thinking in new directions. It’s more along the lines of: “Phew! I think we can still salvage this.”

        Yet Rian is clearly the more offbeat and “auteur”-ish filmmaker of the two. Although I do find a special delight in “Super 8”. Rian is the kind of guy New Era Star Wars needs plenty more of. JJ has certainly had his part to play, but in my opinion he’s bashing a more daring and singular artist. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of authentic love for Rian’s entry in the canon. Maybe that’s to be expected — and Abrams is now in the shoes of Lucas, watching his ideas get tossed away and toasted (and unlike Lucas: having the power to directly respond and course-correct).

        But in all this, I sincerely say:

        Good on Rian. Well done for making a bold, interesting, personal film: a sincerely-woven character study with an artistically satisfying deconstructionist brio about it.

        Actually takes some balls, and some real know-how, and above all, vision and f-e-e-l-i-n-g, to do that under Disney, and I think he pulled it off.

        And then, yes, this response you were alluding to, AD:

        “I always loved Star Wars because it’s got a huge heart. Did I always believe in and agree with every single thing that happened in every movie, whether it was the prequels or the original trilogy? No. But do I love Star Wars? Yes. So, for me, I hope — and I’m sure naively — we can return to a time where we give things a bit more latitude. We don’t have to agree with every single thing to love something. I don’t know anyone who has a spouse or a partner or any family member or any friend, who loves and agrees with every single thing that that person is and does. We have to return, I think, to nuance and acceptance. And so I feel like, as a Star Wars fan, do I love every single thing about each of the movies? No. But do I love Star Wars? Hell yes, I do.”

        It actually *is* a beautiful response. But as ever: can we/should we take it at face value?

        He says he loves Star Wars for its huge heart, and he might well do, but if that’s the case:

        Why did he clutter TFA with so much nostalgia, and so much recycling? Why did he say not using legacy designs was “criminal”, and that those designs were “undeniable”? Why did he first take on the Star Trek property and aggressively try and control all merchandise — and why was that also a reboot/rebranding? What deal did he actually sign with Disney? What’s his cut of everything? Can we see his contract and legal agreements? It honestly sounds like Trump — a proven liar and criminal fraudster — claiming to be a Christian and loving America with all his heart.

        He also simplifies and makes it sound like he has near-equal love and respect for the prequels and originals, yet his behaviour and actions scarcely adhere to this notion. He wants to preach down from a high place (remember when he recently punched down and said people who disliked TLJ had a problem with strong women?), pretending that he’s far above and evolved beyond petty tribal bickering and vicious cant, when he himself played to those same hater elements and tribal animosities in the first place. Even Trump, after launching one of the most bitter and personal-attack-laden election campaigns in history, pledged to unite America when he actually took office.

        You know, there really is a close analogy with Trump here:

        Trump, the guy who pretended he’d “protect” LGBT rights and civil liberties, and that they were under threat from Hillary, yet appeasing the Christian Right at practically every turn in office, and having Mike Pence as Vice President. And who did Abrams bring onto Star Wars as a trusted adviser? His own Mike Pence: loud-and-proud prequel basher Simon Pegg. Just like putting the proverbial fox in charge of the proverbial hen house. These are not the sorts of actions you take if you’re serious about equality and respecting the rights of all members of the population or all parts of the saga.

        All we ever heard back in the intense, unremitting prequel-bashing days was how much of a hack, fraud, and a “loser” Lucas was, and how he was far too inept to want to do anything but surround himself with “yes-men”. But when Abrams brings OT scribe and self-confessed Han Solo-lover Lawrence Kasdan aboard as his co-writer, or when Simon Pegg is there as a sounding board with his fanatical hatred and distaste for both the prequels *and* prequel fans, we’re meant to believe that Abrams — as opposed to Lucas — is not afraid of being challenged, and not shying away from the prequels, and not putting together a safe, by-the-numbers, OT love-letter, like… at all, man…

        How does this guy get the nerve, and why do fans let him, pass himself off as the Mister Rogers of Star Wars directors, the great unifier of the hurt and the divided, the humble custodian and curator, the arbiter of calm and measured thinking? I just find it incredibly false and sanctimonious. For all I know, his love of Star Wars could be entirely genuine. But if that’s the case, he clearly loves it so much he’s prepared to hug it, and shake it, and squeeze it to death. Not all forms of love are equally healthy. But the word “love” has become such a casual word, these statements are just given a free pass. There’s also Padme’s pertinent line in Episode III: “So love has blinded you?”

        Abrams simply isn’t honest or disclosing enough to say outright that the prequels didn’t gel with him. He makes out, instead, there are things he likes, and things he doesn’t like. As if all the films are roughly equal. It’s all very “Animal Farm”-esque. You know George Orwell’s wonderful epigram: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This guy just never stops with his political sloganeering and carefully managed speech. Lucas would always tell you what he meant, or more importantly, how he felt: often gnomically, with a certain understatement, but he’d tell you. Not Abrams. He speaks in watery platitudes and venal misdirection. Two very different people.

        Lastly, I heavily disagree with this part:

        (On the example of baby Yoda)

        “The reason these things are reasonable to people is because it’s not just nostalgia but it’s taken something that is meaningful, a story that has deep roots and potency and resonates with a human heart, a beating heart. These are the kind of things that, when they hit, when there’s something that feels like, “oomph,” it’s not just cute but it implies a story. It sparks the imagination. That’s the thing, whether it’s bringing back Lando, and wanting to know what’s been going on, to introducing a brand new character, and brand new droid or a brief glimpse of a baby Yoda. All these things are about the possibility, potential, and that’s the very heart of what Star Wars is.”

        No… It’s much more than cutesy totems signifying “possibility, potential”. Baby Yoda? Jar Jar was a fully-developed, rigorously-realised, three-dimensional character. Much love for him, JJ? As Lucas has said before: when you introduce things, flesh them out, or roll them back, they all have to fit THE STORY you’re telling. Otherwise, they’re just window-dressing, or manipulative attempts to sell merchandise.

        The other thing that makes this reply, and the preceding ones, so very arrogant is when Abrams, freshly anticipating a white-hot victory for TFA at the box office, proclaimed in a 2015 interview that Star Wars is much bigger than one man, and had gone beyond its original creator and now belonged to “everyone”. This was perhaps the most pathetically self-serving, self-congratulatory piece of tripe ever uttered in print.

        Despite the inherent truthfulness (or reality) of it on some level, it was clearly Abrams and Co. patting themselves on the back after traitoring Lucas, making out that this was the correct and logical path for Star Wars, post-sale, all along. But we know they wrested control of the franchise away from Lucas — or certainly away from his ideas and those who were trying to stick up for their boss and put his principles in action (Michael Arndt, Ben Burtt, J.W. Rinzler).

        Once all the killing has been done, or even while it’s underway, of course you can pretend to be a loving, noble, wise dictator. These people only had limited power to fight back. They were now, effectively, employees in the Disney factory, and only tolerated by the good graces (or corporate caprice) of their indifferent slave-owners. So Abrams has the microphone and can say whatever he likes to paint himself in the most enlightened or inoffensive way possible. While all the bloody stuff happened behind the stage. How humans love their pretences and their cold facades!

        And that Jar Jar video:

        Great stuff!!! Love it. Fantastic mini-compilation.

        But boy, some of it is painful viewing.

        I feel sorry for Lucas at 5:50, at that gala Disney event, when he was being inducted as a “Disney Legend”. Watch his facial expression carefully when he says: “Goofy was the inspiration for Jar Jar Binks.” He might have been trying to elicit a mild, warm chuckle from the crowd, but a big roar of laughter goes up, and I don’t think it was quite the reaction he wanted. The crowd seems to be laughing in disbelief, and Lucas’ facial expression — to me — sort of flattens out. He makes a light-hearted recovery: “I know you’ll look at him differently now.” But the laughing continues momentarily. And Lucas then says, almost under his breath, as if lightly rebuking and schooling the audience: “Because it’s pretty obvious, actually.” He then renders clear his sincerity: “But I love Goofy. And I love Jar Jar Binks.” A touch of playfulness, and the always-pleasing humility and mild-mannered sincerity of a guy with everything to give and nothing to prove: a wonderful trifecta that is George Walton Lucas, through and through.

        I love Ahmed’s final words in the clip, too:

        “But the thing about Jar Jar that I think really resonates with me, and really was how I played the character, was the fact that regardless of everything that he’s been through, regardless of who he’s with, where he is, or decisions that he’s made, he’ll never let you down. And as you watch the movies, and each scene that Jar Jar’s in, Jar Jar is just making everyone know and everyone believe that regardless of what you say to him, what you do with him, he will always be there for you and he’ll never let you down.”

        That is beautifully said — *truly* beautiful — and makes for the perfect end.

        Who needs a sequel trilogy when Ahmed can give the perfect response and the perfect conclusion to Lucas’ legacy: to Jar Jar, to the PT, to the saga, and instantly place twenty years of relentless hatred, mockery, contempt, and ideological marketing in its rightfully pitiful context?

        George Lucas and Ahmed Best are my heroes. I don’t need anyone else trying to preach tolerance and acceptance when they’ve already said more in their words and deeds than a thousand interviews with lesser creatives will ever be able to convey. Respect to both of them for their composure and collected sense of who they are — and for understanding what really matters.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Stefan:

        “So much to read, so little time… (“so much” is obviously a good thing here 🙂 )”

        Thank you for your appreciation!

        I’ll just address your other thing:

        “Two notes (which are not relevant to the discussion, but still):
        “Luke burns Vader’s body…”
        AFAIK, Anakin’s body became one with the Force and they only burnt his armor. At least this is what I remember to be canon before the sale to Disney.”

        I said Vader’s body, not Anakin’s. 😉

        I was talking about Luke burning the Vader suit — obviously!

        *wipes sweat from brow*

        Well, I think I got away with that one…

        Anakin vanishing like Yoda and Obi-Wan makes a lot more sense. Luke burning the “Vader”/machine portion of Anakin — his machine-city prison — remains a poignant purification.

        Not only is Luke effectively offering a sacrifice to “the gods” (curiously: Jar Jar speaks of gods several times in TPM), as if performing an ancient rite (he seems to be performing more ancient rites, or hesitating to perform them, also involving fire, in TLJ), but he is paying his dues to Anakin’s life — which often involved the trauma of fire (podrace on Tatooine, seduction of Padme on Naboo, loss of his mother on Tatooine, immolation on Mustafar).

        Adding even more poignancy to the scene, it was actually filmed on the grounds (or close to the grounds) of Skywalker Ranch, and it was the last scene shot for the movie, long after everything else was in the can.

        Curiously, the last piece of live-action footage captured for the PT was Anakin running along the tumbling collector arm, as the arm immolates, with Anakin about to suffer the same fate.

        All these rhymes, “inside” the movies and “outside” of them: such an intricate tapestry! And this is another reason we love these movies so…

    • Cryogenic

      @ maychild:

      Spelling Nazi! Actually, that one was grating on me, too. Sorry, AD!

      “Always two there are…”

      https://www.thefreedictionary.com/canon

      canon
      law, rule, or code; basis for judgment; criterion
      Not to be confused with:
      cannon – weapon for firing projectiles

      Etymology of canon:

      [Middle English canoun, from Old English canon and from Old French, both from Latin canōn, rule, from Greek kanōn, measuring rod, rule, of Semitic origin; see qnw in Semitic roots.]

      Etymology of cannon:

      [Middle English canon, from Old French, from Old Italian cannone, augmentative of canna, tube, from Latin, reed; see cane.]

  • maychild

    @archduke @Cryo
    It is a treat to read your convo; I may contribute to it later at a less ungodly hour (for me) and when I’m not so plagued by insomnia. For now I’ll say a few things:

    Abrams does seem a bit fashed, at Rian Johnson and Johnson’s belittling (real or perceived) of his darling TFA. If so, that’s a great little bit of irony, given his own belittling of those parts of SW by Lucas that he does not care for: the prequels. It reminds me a tad of the scene between the title character (King Henry V) and the dauphin in the Netlix movie “The King,” which I’ve recently watched. The mutual contempt between the two young men — who are each played by (talented) actors fairly close to the age of their respective characters, which is startling, as period pieces such as these tend to cast actors far older than their respective characters — is, IMO, similar to the mutual contempt between the two directors of the Disney SW trilogy. If Abrams were inclined to consider it, he’d probably cast himself as the righteous Henry V and Johnson as the boorish, foolishly dismissive dauphin. This would be another irony, because one could also say he was the dauphin and Lucas was Henry V.

    Abrams delivers his slights with a smile and a smug unctuousness that I find quite…well, not repugnant, exactly, but something within earshot of it. He knows he has untouchable status with the hateboys, and likely he knows as well that they are the only part of SW “fandom” that the media pays attention to, granting them their own untouchable status as the representatives of the fandom as a whole. He took the helm of Episode IX with the same air he displayed very unsubtly in TFA: “Here I come to save the day!” That I do find repugnant. Cryo is familiar with my characterization of Abrams as having a fake “aw, shucks” demeanor, similar to that of Paul Ryan, a particularly vile American politician who until recently was Speaker of the House. He would pass the most repellent legislation, knowing how many people would be hurt by it, and celebrate it by ordering beer for himself and his equally vile Republican colleagues, and when he decided to retire (with a hefty pension and lifelong health care, two things he worked mightily to deprive Americans of, preaching what he doesn’t practice: the cessation of dependence on the government), he assumed his simpering, faux humble Everyman demeanor to a truly vomit-worthy extent: “I think I’ve done a darn good job.” To which I’d very much like to show my appreciation for by planting a boot in his smirky, hateful face.

    I don’t consider Abrams to be anywhere near his equal in terms of evil, but his demeanor is similar and makes my skin crawl.

    • Cryogenic

      @ maychild:

      Glad you’ve been enjoying mine and AD’s conversation.

      “Abrams does seem a bit fashed, at Rian Johnson and Johnson’s belittling (real or perceived) of his darling TFA. If so, that’s a great little bit of irony, given his own belittling of those parts of SW by Lucas that he does not care for: the prequels.”

      Fashed and fazed! Yes…

      I’m sensing he calls for a “return” to “nuance and acceptance” (in the earlier-provided Esquire article) because — among other things — he might have had to swallow some humble pie after seeing what happened with his ideas under Rian Johnson. It’s funny, too, because he even said himself, in a more obscure comment in May 2017:

      https://www.thewrap.com/star-wars-isnt-movie-religion-jj-abrams-says/

      “Star Wars isn’t a movie, it’s a religion. But this religion people have — they don’t always know how fungible these things are.”

      Even that comment is self-serving. Like, ooooh… We threw out Lucas’ ideas. Get over it. On the other hand, it might also be an indication (given the time of its utterance) that Abrams was already trying to accept and make peace with what Rian Johnson had done with Episode VIII — and, by extension, Abrams’ original intentions for the sequels as a whole. The middle movie was still about nine months from release, but it would obviously have been clear at the time, to Disney/LFL insiders and sequel trilogy architects like Abrams, how much or how little of a departure it was from what Abrams had been hoping for when he developed Episode VII and sketched out VIII and IX.

      I mean, I do see where he’s coming from, on some level. Not every movie is going to be equally satisfying, and people are going to have accept, more and more as time passes and more “Star Wars” comes out, that there’s no one true definition of the series, and no one true arbiter of what’s right or wrong. However, even all his tacit prequel-bashing aside, it bugs me that he has always downplayed the mythic core of the movies, choosing to preferentially emphasise “mystery” and “imagination” instead — safe, vague words to use when you want to sound positive and insightful, without saying much in particular.

      And if Abrams really does think Star Wars is about “possibility” over storytelling, then he’s again looking at the series with dilated pupils. Communicating infinite possibility is one of the series’ charms, but the story is more focused and exacting than that — there’s actually a structure in place, a scheme, a purpose: something that Abrams and the other sequel trilogy artisans were meant to be following and doing their best to honour.

      “If Abrams were inclined to consider it, he’d probably cast himself as the righteous Henry V and Johnson as the boorish, foolishly dismissive dauphin. This would be another irony, because one could also say he was the dauphin and Lucas was Henry V.”

      That’s an apt reference — not least because one of Abrams’ first writing credits was for “Regarding Henry”, starring Harrison Ford and Annette Bening. It’s interesting that Abrams has been a writer and producer far longer than he’s been directing movies. Lucas, on the other hand, was an editor and cameraman from the start, but he had to warm up to writing and directing. They both function better as conceptualists — though, in general, I obviously put Lucas way above Abrams as a highly individualistic writer and director.

      “Abrams delivers his slights with a smile and a smug unctuousness that I find quite…well, not repugnant, exactly, but something within earshot of it. He knows he has untouchable status with the hateboys, and likely he knows as well that they are the only part of SW “fandom” that the media pays attention to, granting them their own untouchable status as the representatives of the fandom as a whole. He took the helm of Episode IX with the same air he displayed very unsubtly in TFA: “Here I come to save the day!””

      Yes. How convenient he gets to paint himself as the saviour of Star Wars twice in a row! He honestly strikes me as more of a salesman or recruitment agent than a filmmaker. I do like “Super 8”, however, and he does have a certain directorial flair. But there’s so much whizz-bang in his filming: little steak, a lot of sizzle. Now, with Lucas, and even Rian Johnson, it’s more the opposite (and with Lucas: you kind of get to have your cake and eat it). Abrams is, by far, the slickest director Star Wars has ever had — both sides of the movie screen. I never really equated Star Wars with slickness before. It seemed to have a more particularised and special quality.

  • maychild

    Haha…the whizz-bang reference reminds me of the LOTR fans who dismissed SW as “a light sugary confection with lots of whizz-bang,” whereas LOTR was a “feast.”

    And no, “slick” is not the word for Lucas’s SW, including the episodes (ESB, ROTJ) he didn’t direct. Abrams is all about slickness. His projects might as well have been sprayed with a coat of shellac. People get dazzled by the light shining off his projects and fooled into thinking they’re quality work. Or else, like some Disneyphiles, say they’re grateful he “brought the fun back into the series.” Wha-? I mean, I thought that one of their chief complaints about the prequels is that they were shallow and childish, not deep like the OT. Which was called shallow and childish plenty in its time.

    (My favorite bash of the prequels, which I think I told you about, came from the fans of the Exploited Universe: “SW used to be thought of as adult-oriented and deep and respected. Now it’s all kiddie.” Can you recall the time when SW was thought of as adult-oriented and deep and respected? Neither can I, because it doesn’t exist. SW was always dismissed as juvenalia, as more than one critic described it, usually while reviewing one of Harrison Ford’s non-SW movies. Anyway, the idea that the Exploited Universe is adult-oriented and deep is very mistaken. If anything, it’s shallower than any of the movies could be, because it thinks darkness and violence and misery is the same thing as depth, thus saturating the books with it — although when they finally whacked Mara Jade, that wasn’t miserable for me at all; I wish they’d given her a more painful death, with pages devoted to her suffering until her last breath. Oh, and some feathered pest named Vergere declaring that there is no Dark Side to the Force, there’s just the Force, isn’t deep either. Interestingly, that went over so poorly with the Exploited Universe readers that they had to retcon it.)

    JJ Abrams got his start writing for “Regarding Henry”? How appropriate, because that movie is a bunch of pseudo-deep, pseudo-heartwarming piffle.

    Yes, I’m afraid I’m a Spelling Nazi. However, to be fair, I’m going to go Grammar Nazi on myself and say that in my previous post, I should have said: “For which I’d very much like to show my appreciation by planting a boot in his smirky, hateful face.”

    Paul Ryan and JJ Abrams are also strikingly similar in their smarminess…that is, their fake air of sincerity and honesty. And a frightening number of people are fooled by it in both their cases.

    • jpieper668

      at least things went better for Han Luke and Leia as opposed to the new Canon yes there was tragedy(the death of Chewie Han and Leia losing both sons one of which turned to the dark side and was killed by their Daughter Luke losing his wife who you hated don’t worry i’m not going to start a dumb argument about it) but in the old EU Luke Successfully Revived The Jedi Order and Han and Leia Remained Married They could have use those in then sequel Trilogy BUT NO!!!! Han and Leia Were Broken Up and there was another Jedi Purge Did they Do That Because Fans Hated the Jedi In The Prequel Trilogy?!

      • maychild

        I completely disagree that the pEU was better than the new canon, and that it treated the characters better. And the death of that vile creature they saddled Luke with was a good thing, not a tragedy — a rare highlight of that horrid series

        The rest of the series was one low blow after another to the movie characters, aka the REAL characters, so the disgusting EU-only characters could shine and sneer at the movie characters as inferior. And Han and Leia losing two children? Please don’t tell me you think that’s better than what they got in the Disney movies, which aren’t great but are at least tolerable. They have their good points. Not so with the pEU.

      • jpieper668

        @Maychild
        But don’t you agree that the new trilogy should have had a new Jedi Order and Han and Leia Being Happily Married?

      • maychild

        ***But don’t you agree that the new trilogy should have had a new Jedi Order and Han and Leia Being Happily Married?***

        Yes, although the pEU gave us a miserable excuse for a New Jedi Order and Han/Leia were separated and even after they got back together (leading with a non-reunion scene that the particular author chose to skimp on because she wanted to write a Luke/Mara romance and Mara Sue novel), they hardly got any time together, and all the love/personal scenes got given to Luke/Mara. Even when Han and Leia reunited with their elder son after thinking he was dead, Luke/Mara got the “onscreen” reunion while Han/Leia’s was “offscreen.” And I would like to point out that Leia, after being promoted to Jedi Knight in the previous story arc, was “half trained and uncertain in the Force,” while Mara Sue, just as mysteriously (or not so mysteriously: she’d started banging Luke — almost constantly, even when she was “deathly” ill) got made a Jedi Master despite not qualifying in the SLIGHTEST.

    • Cryogenic

      @ maychild:

      “Haha…the whizz-bang reference reminds me of the LOTR fans who dismissed SW as “a light sugary confection with lots of whizz-bang,” whereas LOTR was a “feast.””

      Ah! Heaven forbid Star Wars — compared to the “serious”, “grown-up”, “magnificent”, “spectacular”, “flawless”, “greatest fantasy epic of all time” LOTR — should have any actual depth or substance to it. Totally not allowed.

      I do remember you locking horns with a fair few people in the days of old, who were keen to talk about LOTR’s alleged brilliance, without actually talking too much about LOTR’s alleged brilliance. All so they could beat the prequels down (which weren’t even finished at the time), because Peter Jackson was such an “obviously superior” filmmaker to Lucas, who filmed in “real locations”, “really cared about directing his actors”, and “clearly had immense passion for the source material” — unlike that “self-important hack” George Lucas who employed “yes-men”, foisted a “terrible romance”, “awful acting”, and Jar Jar Binks on the world, and was only really interested in making money from lucrative licensing deals. Oh, and he didn’t have the courtesy or the patience to use actual film anymore, either. Hack!!!

      “And no, “slick” is not the word for Lucas’s SW, including the episodes (ESB, ROTJ) he didn’t direct. Abrams is all about slickness. His projects might as well have been sprayed with a coat of shellac.”

      It’s funny you analogised Abrams’ slickness with that remark While I do dread to link this particular website of all websites, I have to give credit where it’s due. TFN poster jaqen commented in December 2017:

      https://boards.theforce.net/threads/over-reactions-to-the-last-jedi.50047695/page-5#post-54760981

      “Despite some light grumbling, there wasn’t really much to hate about TFA. It was a brilliant exercise in how to pull off a good throwback, and while it did subvert norms in some ways, JJ shellacked it with such a thick nostalgic coat that, to this day, a lot of people don’t realize it really does take a few turns that, on paper, would cause uproar.”

      I first read that comment at the beginning of October, and it was obviously still in my head — back when I had begun to thaw out my suppressed admiration for TLJ (yes: TLJ, not TFA), and was poring over all the positive appraisals I could find, trying to enrich my thinking on the movie. I did this a little bit for TFA, too; but in the case of that movie, I mostly did it in real-time, since I was involved in several discussions about it pre- and post-release, and little of what I read (or had shouted back to me) did much to sway me. Making more of a conscious effort to develop a deeper appreciation for the Rian Johnson film, long after the fact of its release, was — in my case, at least — a much more rewarding experience, and quite reminiscent of how I searched out positive prequel commentary: history repeating some ten or fifteen years later. Which itself was nicely nostalgic.

      If you are interested in getting more into TLJ as I have, I recommend, in particular, going through the posts of Ender_and_Bean on TFN in the ST section. Great fella — seems able to adeptly explain and riff on the beating thematic heart of the RJ movie more than anyone. Then again, I also did have a few private discussions about the movie on Skype with a small prequel clan (several lovers, several haters) when it came out, and I saved those discussions, so I was able to review them and re-read the comments in a more positive and curious state of mind a few months ago. It really helps, at times, to have focused conversations and to really hash things out — even if you need a private, remote space (an “unfindable place”/remote island) to do so.

      I think some Star Wars movies require a bit more interpretation than others. Perhaps they are all equally unique, but they might not be equally accessible. The problem with the so-called “Fandom Menace” is that it’s basically a hivemind, and that isn’t a construct in which unique or engaging thoughts easily germinate. Not taking a swipe at anyone there. There’s just a pronounced groupthink quality to a lot of Star Wars commentary on the Internet (and, perhaps, commentary in general). People aren’t necessarily consciously conspiring with one another, but they do tend to resonate at similar frequencies. Which is problematic when you’re chasing new frequencies or trying to see something from a fresh angle.

      “People get dazzled by the light shining off his projects and fooled into thinking they’re quality work. Or else, like some Disneyphiles, say they’re grateful he “brought the fun back into the series.” Wha-? I mean, I thought that one of their chief complaints about the prequels is that they were shallow and childish, not deep like the OT. Which was called shallow and childish plenty in its time.”

      Very true. Incidentally, I had this weird dream last night, in which I was watching something almost identical to the last big TROS trailer, only it was slightly more freaky and bizarre — like JJ had almost carbon-copied it from another film with a Cronenberg-esque quality that he removed. Strange. Even my subconscious thinks JJ is a hack! But seriously: people have tended to give him an easy run. I think a lot of people just wanted a more easy-going, exuberant ride after the prequels. Then again, it’s tough to know what fans really want, going off their reactions to the prequels, and subsequently, TLJ. TFA is basically surrounded by more interesting movies, made by Lucas and made by not-Lucas, but those movies have been summarily denounced — even by the people clamouring for “anyone but George Lucas”. Again, that tricky Fandom Menace…

      “My favorite bash of the prequels, which I think I told you about, came from the fans of the Exploited Universe: “SW used to be thought of as adult-oriented and deep and respected. Now it’s all kiddie.” Can you recall the time when SW was thought of as adult-oriented and deep and respected? Neither can I, because it doesn’t exist. SW was always dismissed as juvenalia, as more than one critic described it, usually while reviewing one of Harrison Ford’s non-SW movies.”

      I think I just had to stop myself from laughing out loud at the idea that Star Wars has ever remotely been thought of as “adult-oriented and deep and respect[able]”. No. It’s an extremely lucrative, appealing, and interesting series, but that’s as far as most people are willing to go. By Jove, Star Wars is juvenile!

      Sorry… I was just making a small pun there. It’s as juvenile or as grown-up as one wants it to be. Maybe they were right. Your focus determines your reality. Actually, I don’t like either descriptor very much. Both interfere with accessing the sublime quintessence of the series. Human beings and their silly classifiers!

      “JJ Abrams got his start writing for “Regarding Henry”? How appropriate, because that movie is a bunch of pseudo-deep, pseudo-heartwarming piffle.”

      More or less. It’s his second official writing credit if you visit his Wikipedia entry (there’s a table under “filmography” that shows his director, producer, and writer credits). Maybe “Regarding Henry” is as you describe it, but there’s a certain charm and warmth to it, much like “Super 8”:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQrzt7JI_DM

      “Get this man some Ritz Crackers!!!”

      And yes, surprisingly… we have those in the UK.

      “Yes, I’m afraid I’m a Spelling Nazi. However, to be fair, I’m going to go Grammar Nazi on myself and say that in my previous post, I should have said: “For which I’d very much like to show my appreciation by planting a boot in his smirky, hateful face.””

      Ah… that’s more gramatically correct, I suppose? But didn’t you mean “smirking”? Smirking or smarmy. English is quite confusing.

      “Paul Ryan and JJ Abrams are also strikingly similar in their smarminess…that is, their fake air of sincerity and honesty. And a frightening number of people are fooled by it in both their cases.”

      I think Abrams is okay — just slick and a bit gross in how he equivocates and manipulates situations to his advantage. But the fact that no-one really calls him out on it compels me to do so. It’s not that I hate the guy (he’s a hard guy to hate), but he’s obviously very tactical and more than a bit cautious (or cautiously incautious) in everything he says and does. Oh, wait. I do hate the guy. For what he did to Star Trek. Strange how I think he hasn’t destroyed Star Wars to the same degree. I’m not even sure he has even debased it. He’s a really odd one to pin down. JJ is both a particle and a wave and neither. Oh, JJ… what *are* you?

      Jar Jar!

      Of course…

      • maychild

        @ Cryo

        I didn’t mean to equate Abrams with Paul Ryan in terms of sheer evil. Abrams, though I’m not hog-wild about him, is far, FAR from evil. But his smarminess is similar to Ryan’s — again, I’m not saying he’s evil, just that the slickness and smarminess and disingenuousness remind me of Ryan’s. I spoke poorly, and/or exaggerated more than I meant to. In any case, Abrams is being disingenuous, smarmy, etc. about some movies. Ryan was being those things, and worse, about truly heartless, cruel legislation. Hardly the same, or even in the same ballpark.

        I suppose “Regarding Henry” does have its charms. I was in a bilious mood (Cryo asks, “How can you tell?”) when I wrote my post(s), so I grumped on things even more than usual. And since Abrams is clearly a huge Han Solo fan, it must have been a thrill for him to work with Han’s portrayer. If you detect a note of disdain in my “tone,” you’re not wrong. Although I love Han myself, I am a tad sick of Han fanboys, especially when they, as they invariably do, act like he is the center of SW. He isn’t. I understand Harrison Ford is a superstar in his own right, but that doesn’t retroactively make SW about Han. It’s about Luke and his family. That’s another reason why I rolled my eyes at that fair-weather (to say the least) “fan” Simon Pegg claiming that “we” wanted to see a prequel trilogy about Han Solo’s younger years, something the press echoed, saying that fans wanted/expected to see stuff about Han, not about Anakin Skywalker, because who cares what he was like as a kid?

        (Excuse me? Han-worshippers notwithstanding, I think fans generally understood that the prequels would be about Anakin Skywalker, with the Clone Wars as a backdrop. Oh, and since fans were supposedly so desirous of seeing Han’s backstory, how come “Solo” was — unlike any of the prequels — a huge FLOP?)

        ***Ah… that’s more gramatically correct, I suppose? But didn’t you mean “smirking”? Smirking or smarmy. English is quite confusing.***

        Dang, I can’t even be a proper Spelling/Grammar Nazi on myself! Believe it or not, I welcome your corrections. It’s only fair; if I correct others, I must accept corrections of my own mistakes. For the record, “smirky” is a word, meaning the same thing as “smirking.” I was correcting another part of the sentence.

      • maychild

        ***Ah! Heaven forbid Star Wars — compared to the “serious”, “grown-up”, “magnificent”, “spectacular”, “flawless”, “greatest fantasy epic of all time” LOTR — should have any actual depth or substance to it. Totally not allowed.***

        No one seems to be discussing LOTR that much anymore, though…have you noticed? The so-called “prequel trilogy” (put in quotes because the book they were based on — or should I say the book that was needlessly stretched out to three lengthy movies — was not actually a prequel; it was written before LOTR) to those Cinematic Masterpieces (trademark sign, which I don’t know how to make) didn’t give much of a boost to the discussion, either. In fact, people discussed the prequels more heavily than they did the Hobbit movies. Yes, they were usually trashing them, or saying, “The SW prequels weren’t half as bad as the Hobbit ones,” and more than one reviewer, curiously, felt the need to lead his or her negative review of “The Hobbit” with bitchings about the SW prequels.

        ***I do remember you locking horns with a fair few people in the days of old, who were keen to talk about LOTR’s alleged brilliance, without actually talking too much about LOTR’s alleged brilliance. All so they could beat the prequels down (which weren’t even finished at the time), because Peter Jackson was such an “obviously superior” filmmaker to Lucas, who filmed in “real locations”, “really cared about directing his actors”, and “clearly had immense passion for the source material” — unlike that “self-important hack” George Lucas who employed “yes-men”, foisted a “terrible romance”, “awful acting”, and Jar Jar Binks on the world, and was only really interested in making money from lucrative licensing deals. Oh, and he didn’t have the courtesy or the patience to use actual film anymore, either. Hack!!!***

        Curious, isn’t it, how they were declaring LOTR super-brilliant and everything the SW prequels should have been, without demonstrating what made them so great, aside from general “points,” which you cited: “Real locations!” (Real deserts!) “Real directing! Real dialogue! All Lucas does is sit in front of a computer!” Well, OK, that last didn’t come from one of the LOTR fanboys on TF.N that I butted heads with, who were more intent on using the LOTR movies as a paddle to spank Lucas and the prequels with than they were on actually discussing the movies they found so superior. (Why weren’t they at TheOneRing.net, for instance, doing so? Because it was more “fun” to vent their fury at the prequels and generally be a pain in the posterior to we philistines who managed to fool ourselves into thinking the prequels were good movies — and that’s a quote that went totally unpunished, along with countless other personal insults directed at prequel fans.) And of course: “Gollum instead of JAR JAR BINKS!” See, the Jar Jar Defense, or Bash if you will, was hauled out as a kind of shorthand for how bad the prequels unquestionably were. Just mention Jar Jar and it fills in all the gaps in logic, reason, facts, etc. Even “Vanity Fair,” with its pretentions of superior journalism, hauled out the Jar Jar Bash three years after the last prequel came out when “proving” that the Frank Darabont script for Indy 4 was better than the movie we got: “There are fewer cutesy, Jar Jar Binks-y bits.” No one dared bring up that the allegedly infamous “nuke the fridge” scene, which was confidently predicted as replacing “jump the shark” in the fandom vernacular (it didn’t), was actually “Genius” Darabont’s idea.

        I recall a bitchy blogger writing a “scene” between Lucas, Spielberg and Ford in which they discussed Indy 4 and the only suggestions Lucas came up with were nuke the fridge, the gophers or whatever they were, and the UFO at the end, to which Spielberg and Ford were astonished at the lameness, but went along with it. I wrote an equally bitchy reply where I said, “So Lucas made three contributions. To a movie he wrote the story for. And I’d like to inform you that nuke the fridge was Frank Darabont’s idea.” The blogger got all taken aback, and tried the “it was a joke” disclaimer. I seriously doubt it. She undoubtedly knew that Lucas made more than three contributions to the movie, but I think she wanted to lay what she hated about the movie solely at his feet, because she hates him too (for Jar Jar and all), while casting Spielberg and Ford as “the good guys.” She didn’t mean it as a “joke,” she just didn’t expect anyone to talk back to her, since EVERYONE hates Lucas and Indy 4.

        Actually, I saw it in the theaters three times, and each time the audience appeared to be having a great time. A somewhat creaky 65 though he was, Harrison Ford pulled it off, and looked like he was having fun himself. And the return of Marion was a very nice touch; she was by far the best of Indy’s love interests. And the end, where Mutt tries to put on Indy’s hat only to have his dad take it from him, got a knowing laugh and applause from the audience(s) as well: “Sorry, son, I’m not QUITE ready to hang it up just yet.”

        ***“Despite some light grumbling, there wasn’t really much to hate about TFA. It was a brilliant exercise in how to pull off a good throwback, and while it did subvert norms in some ways, JJ shellacked it with such a thick nostalgic coat that, to this day, a lot of people don’t realize it really does take a few turns that, on paper, would cause uproar.”***

        Astute analysis!

        ***I first read that comment at the beginning of October, and it was obviously still in my head — back when I had begun to thaw out my suppressed admiration for TLJ (yes: TLJ, not TFA), and was poring over all the positive appraisals I could find, trying to enrich my thinking on the movie. I did this a little bit for TFA, too; but in the case of that movie, I mostly did it in real-time, since I was involved in several discussions about it pre- and post-release, and little of what I read (or had shouted back to me) did much to sway me. Making more of a conscious effort to develop a deeper appreciation for the Rian Johnson film, long after the fact of its release, was — in my case, at least — a much more rewarding experience, and quite reminiscent of how I searched out positive prequel commentary: history repeating some ten or fifteen years later. Which itself was nicely nostalgic.***

        Believe it or not, I’ve been allowing myself to reassess TFA and TLJ as well. Both movies have their good points. There’s something about watching a movie a few years removed from the hype that surrounded it at release, and the positive AND negative reactions to it. Some movies benefit quite noticeably from such “second viewings,” as it were. One that did so for me was TPM. I watched it again when it was released on DVD and found I liked it MUCH more than the first time I watched it, and that the overwhelming negativity toward it was unwarranted.

        TLJ plays better than TFA, especially in terms of risk-taking. It’s not quite so keen to please, and there’s not an air of smugness around it. Also, there wasn’t such a reliance on nostalgia for the OT, which was a centerpiece of TFA, no matter how much Disneyphiles deny it — I recall my old sparring partner on TF.N who became a huge snowflake at the mildest criticism of TFA, and all but passed out when I had some harsh truths for the Holy LOTR (though still much milder than the invective that STILL got hurled at the PT). His user name was WebLurker, if memory serves, and he and another user tried to shame me into backing off of TFA and the Holy LOTR by using the old “I can do it, but you should be above that” reverse psychology: “The bashing of what you like doesn’t make it okay for you to be just as nasty toward TFA/LOTR!” Just as nasty, my hiney. Did I get scolded/warned by the hypocritical moderators for daring to be harsh toward TFA and LOTR? I can’t remember. I do remember a moderator coming in and threatening to shut a thread down when I responded churlishly to WebLurker simpering, for the 200th or so time, “You’ll have a hard time finding people who agree with you,” but that was during another convo.

        ***I think I just had to stop myself from laughing out loud at the idea that Star Wars has ever remotely been thought of as “adult-oriented and deep and respect[able]”. No. It’s an extremely lucrative, appealing, and interesting series, but that’s as far as most people are willing to go. By Jove, Star Wars is juvenile!***

        Respectable, not respected. Shoulda caught that.

        ***Sorry… I was just making a small pun there. It’s as juvenile or as grown-up as one wants it to be. Maybe they were right. Your focus determines your reality. Actually, I don’t like either descriptor very much. Both interfere with accessing the sublime quintessence of the series. Human beings and their silly classifiers!***

        Does “juvenile” derive from “Jove”? If so, that’s curious, as Jove is another name for Jupiter, aka Zeus, the King of the Gods. “Jovian” is the term used to describe gas giant planets, like our own Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, or at least that’s the impression I got from “Cosmos.”

        We really should come up with a term, a la Godwin’s Law, for mentioning “Cosmos” or Carl Sagan, since if we talk long enough, it’ll come up. 😉

        ***More or less. It’s his second official writing credit if you visit his Wikipedia entry (there’s a table under “filmography” that shows his director, producer, and writer credits). Maybe “Regarding Henry” is as you describe it, but there’s a certain charm and warmth to it, much like “Super 8”:***

        I liked the puppy. And the girl who played the daughter was good.

        ***Oh, wait. I do hate the guy. For what he did to Star Trek. Strange how I think he hasn’t destroyed Star Wars to the same degree. I’m not even sure he has even debased it. He’s a really odd one to pin down. JJ is both a particle and a wave and neither. Oh, JJ… what *are* you?

        Jar Jar!***

        Hehe! And we should come up with a term for bringing up Jar Jar in a convo, since so many SW convos inevitably bring up the clumsy Gungan, either in a derisive fashion (the “Jar Jar Bash” that I mentioned earlier), or in a defensive manner — “He’s not so bad!” — or just in the natural progression of the discussion, as he, in his own way, is as instantly recognizable as Darth Vader or R2-D2 or Chewie. And since I’m not really a Trek fan — seen a few of the movies and maybe a handful of episodes from the various TV series — I can’t say I like or hate him for what he did to Star Trek. I don’t really hate the guy, although I can talk as if I do. I don’t think he’s evil or bad. Just a little too…eager to play along with the Fandom Menace and with Disney’s rewritten history. To be fair, if he genuinely dislikes the prequels, that’s his opinion, and therefore it can’t be wrong. Or right, but as you know, the Fandom Menace opinion has been transformed into pseudo-fact with constant pounding on it for two decades, no matter how disingenuously or flat-out falsely. There has been some pushback, but the public side of it has been pretty half-hearted and uses an apologetic tone: “They aren’t SO bad!” or “Yes, we all know they’re bad, but they’ve got some not-so-bad points too!”

        Well, at least the movies and movie series that were used to spank the prequels have more or less faded from view; as I noted in one of our conversations, “The Matrix,” aka the film that supposedly stole TPM’s thunder as well as a huge chunk of SW’s fandom (I don’t need to repeat any of the ways that that is sheer nonsense and doesn’t even make sense), didn’t get any discernible 20th anniversary celebration, in general or in TM fandom circles…if such exist. TPM at least got a decent 20th anniversary celebration in SW fandom circles. I don’t care about mainstream/general circles, especially since the only SW movie that gets such anniversary celebrations anyway is the original. As for LOTR, again, those glorious pieces of sheer cinematic perfection seem to have faded from consciousness entirely…well, maybe not entirely, but largely. Saint Peter has yet to join the echelons of legendary directors that should have been his for the asking, given the glorification of him in the media.

        My “Saint Peter ‘The Great’ Jackson” nickname, as I’ve told you in our convos, is not really a dig at the man himself. He seems to be a very nice fellow, genial and humble and actually glad to name Lucas as an influence. He also made sure to tell the press that the rumors of Lucas bashing Weta’s FX for LOTR, sneering that ILM could have done better, were false, and related that Lucas personally called him up to inform him he never said any such thing.

        No, my moniker for Mr. Jackson was more a dig at the untouchable, perfect, flawless status he’d achieved among hipster nerds…whereas the “Luca$,” “LucAss,” “Luca$$,” and “FLUKEas” nicknames the hateboys regularly used were clearly digs at Lucas himself. The media tried mightily to create a rivalry between the two guys, with a clear preference for Mr. Jackson to “win,” but (aside from the nasty hateboys projecting their own hatefulness, jealousy and pettiness onto Lucas when ROTK won every film award in the known universe, with their claims of how he was home gnashing his teeth, eaten up with envy, etc.), it never really took off.

        The media also did much to hype up a rivalry between Lucas and Spielberg for eons, never mind what close friends they obviously are, and always have been — one of my favorite anecdotes was from the set of “Jaws,” when Spielberg giddily showed his good buddy Lucas the model shark, aka Bruce. Lucas jokingly stuck his head inside Bruce’s mouth, got stuck, and had to get help extracting his head. The two then “hightailed it off like Tom and Huck.”

  • maychild

    And I should’ve said “are” instead of “is” in this phrase: “because it thinks darkness and violence and misery is the same thing as depth”.

    • Cryogenic

      @ maychild:

      I’ve made that sort of mistake innumerable times. Easily done. Your original still works, in a way, because you linked those descriptors with the “and” conjunction.

    • Cryogenic

      @ maychild:

      I noticed I missed a full-stop in my last response — and I haven’t finished reading it back yet. It’s really tough to get everything looking correct. Let’s pretend our mistakes are Easter Eggs and we meant every single one of ’em. 🙂

      • maychild

        @ Cryo
        Yes, that seems the more agreeable solution. :-DI have to bite my tongue many times when a close friend of mine uses the word “good” when the proper word is “well,” as in “Things are going good” or “I did good on that evaluation.” However, when we were both seeing a doctor whose last name was Rodriguez, I did correct her when she called him “Dr. Gonzalez” in conversation, because I hoped to keep her from calling him “Dr. Gonzalez” to his face. I also correct people who mispronounce my last name, as we discussed on FB. I think the spelling of my name would keep people from using the particular mispronunciation that they mostly use, but evidently not. 😉

        My mother corrected me when I spoke improperly as a kid; I guess it’s an inherited trait. Not a particularly endearing one, though. ;-P

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