Star Flaws: The problem with the Skywalker Saga
Now before I get spews of hatred coming at me from every fan of the Skywalker Saga left, right and centre. Saying that if you criticise the films you’re not a true fan of the franchise and how dare I even begin to be critical of something that has meant so much to so many.
Please bear in mind that I am not just a fan of George Lucas’s creation but someone who cares deeply about it or else I wouldn’t have written this and it's something I have thought long and hard about over the years. So this might be a long read and I will try not to go too far into the depths of Star Wars lore or as some of my friends will call it geekdom.
Don’t forget the title of this blog post it's the Skywalker Saga films that I have a problem and yes that does mean I am not the biggest fan of the Skywalker Saga to be blunt. It’s not for what is it but for what it lacks, let me start off by telling you when I truly fell in love with the Star Wars universe. Yes, the films started me on the journey, starting with the original trilogy and I have some love for the prequel trilogy. This series of films has the best lightsaber duels in the series such as the climatic between Qui Gon, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul, and the fight on Mustafar between Darth Vader (Anakin had taken the Sith title at this point) and Obi-Wan. Not forgetting probably the best movie tie-in video game ever that being Star Wars Podracers which I played for hours on my N64 as a child.
But my true journey began whilst playing the brilliant Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) launched in 2003 on the original Xbox. I think it can be argued that the films have yet to give us a cast that is as well-rounded and complex as KOTOR’s lead characters Revan, Bastilla Shan, HK-47, Carth Onasi, Jolee Bindo, Canderous Ordo, Juhani, Mission Vao, Zaalabar and Darth Malak. I will also happily say that we have yet to encounter a droid as charismatic and brilliantly brutal as the assassin droid HK-47. R2-D2 and BB-8 are charming and funny, yes but I will never get bored of HK-47’s brilliant oneliners for example “Damn it, Master! I am an assassination droid, not a dictionary” and “Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?” or how he references all organic life forms as “meatbags”. Why didn’t I mention the Golden icon that is C-3PO? I will get on to it/him later I can promise you that.
It was also whilst playing this game that I was first introduced to the codes of the Jedi and Sith, which have never been mentioned in their entirety/at all in the films. How can the core principles of the Jedi and Sith orders not be layed out in the films? One probable reason is likely because they are “religious” orders/organisations even though they are fictional and unfortunately “The Force” doesn’t exist…or does it? Well, we have yet to encounter those who can use it in the ways that the Jedi or Sith do. So it might… but to be on the safe side let's say just say that it doesn’t and call these religious orders entirely fictional. If these had been mentioned in the films and they had gone into more depth then it would have been made clearer as to why the Sith are considered to be evil and the Jedi aren’t.
We the viewer are never informed as to why we shouldn’t like the Sith and why should we cheer for the Jedi and the rebellion. All we know is that the Sith are scary characters who wear a lot of black clothing, wield red lightsabers, scary music plays when they appear on screen, have evil-sounding voices, have starships that look scary, sound intimidating and can blow up planets, and an army that is full of officers who speak with British accents. By the way that is basically how you can tell in Star Wars who the bad guys are for the most part they sound English, and the good guys 90% of the time aside from Qui Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and a few other characters speak with American accents. This is precisely how I knew that Rey was a likely descendant of Palpatine in Episode 7 long before the reveal in Episode 9, because of her English accent.
The Star Wars film franchise has earned its place in our culture and some of the stories are timeless, episodes 4, 5 & 6 can be watched and rewatched over and over again with good reason. Even the prequel trilogy episodes 1,2 & 3 have their good moments, they are not perfect by any means but they gave us great characters and great moments even though they could be massively improved if they were ever to be remade or adjusted. Before we get on to the most recent movies, it's time I bring up one of my issues with Episodes 4,5 & 6 as we later discovered in the prequel trilogy Darth Vader had a long-standing relationship with R2-D2 and C-3PO (who he created). So, why did we never see them interact would have been fun to play off that relationship. Would have added interesting story dynamics seeing how essential these two droids were to the rebellion and their story would C-3PO have toyed with the idea of joining his creator etc?
It’s what will become known as the Disney / Kathleen Kenedy Trilogy I have serious issues with 7,8 and 9 due to the massive plot holes that lie within and that they are basically a terrible rehashing of the original trilogy. These three movies didn’t deliver in the slightest they didn’t bring anything new to the franchise which saddened me. It’s not because I am a sexist male chauvinist pig who hates Rey. I hate the fact that these three movies didn’t deliver anything apart from attempted nostalgia, it was Disney trying too hard to copy the formula of the original trilogy. Whilst at the same time trying to make Star Wars fit into the whole “woke” culture. Disney then went one step further by de-canonising every book, video game etc that didn’t tie into how they saw the “Skywalker Saga” as it's now known and relabelled these stories as “Legends” instead. These are without a doubt the best stories in the entire Star Wars ecosystem and some of the best stories ever told in my not-so-humble opinion. The final movies of the Skywalker Saga are just terrible 8 and 9 in particular, they didn’t take the series anywhere new nor did they respect what came before. When they could have easily extended the story, there are so many things that they could have done better and they had the time, money and so much material to take from. To really make these movies fit in with the Star Wars Universe as a whole and give the millions of fans something to be proud of.
Apart from the animated series The Clone Wars & Rebels where we finally got to see the Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader we should have seen in Episodes 2 and 3. It was in the aforementioned series that we got to experience Anakin Skywalker the warrior of legend; seeing him fighting to control his anger, the slightly cocky but great hero and the leader of men who earned the respect of all those he fought with basically all that he was supposed to be. This is the character first described in Episode 4 by Obi-Wan to Luke on Tattooine. Not the emotional wreck, the angsty prepubescent teenager and the general meh character he was in the Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith movies. Who was given some of the worst lines that include such blunders as “I don’t like sand”, “you underestimate my power”, “I hate you” and “it's because I am so in love with you” etc the list could be much longer but those are some of the worst offences. The portrayal of Anakin in the films is not the fault of the actor Hayden Christiansen, but the diabolical writing and directing by George Lucas. Mr Lucas, I am sorry but those are the facts I love the universe you gave us but you really should have gotten someone else to write and direct the prequel trilogy. The writers of the Clone Wars animated series corrected Mr Lucas’s errors and in doing so they forever saved the character of Anakin Skywalker. This series gave much more depth to not just the future Darth Vader but also the other heroes like Ashoka Tano and Obi-Wan Kenobi but most importantly the villains' which in any story are / should be of equal importance to the heroes: Count Dooku (Darth Tyrannus), Darth Sideous (Palpatine), General Grevious, Asajj Ventress and Darth Maul along with a whole host of other memorable characters on both sides including some who operate in the grey area.
Then of course you have the Rebels animated series, which tied in perfectly to the whole story and gave us more races, brought back characters from the Clone Wars series including the epic showdown between Ashoka Tano and Darth Vader (former Apprentice vs former Master ) which is arguably a greater and more emotional confrontation than that of Darth Vader and Obi-Wan in A New Hope. You know what, there is nothing to argue about it is the better confrontation the build-up was perfection, the fight itself really tugged at the heartstrings and it is hard to think of another scene along the same lines that can match or better it (this was written before the Kenobi Series launched). The Rebels series tied in perfectly to the Clone Wars series and I will clearly have to do a proper review of it later. Before we get on to the most recent Kenobi series which took a lot of inspiration from both the Clone Wars and Rebels series. This was confirmed by Hayden Christensen himself when he was interviewed about his return as Darth Vader.
Anyway to wrap up this very opinion-driven blog on the Star Wars franchise which is something I look forward to sharing my opinions on it with you further. This entry was a passion project of mine as in case you couldn’t notice it's something I am genuinely passionate about. The last 3 movies I can never watch again… once was enough for me. I will stick to the books and TV series from now on thanks, unless we get another Rouge One that is. I am very happy to see an end to the Skywalker series of movies just such a shame that it had to end the way it did.