Did you like TLJ, Yes or No?

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Ahh, that's got me thinking of alternative routes they could have taken now..

Snoke cloned Palpatine to try and steal his "force", which is how he became powerful and learnt everything he knew.

He discarded this Palpatine clone once he was done with it.. who then went on to father Rey - but gave her away for her safety when it became apparent that Snoke hadn't zapped out all of the force sensitivity out of him as some of it carried on into his off spring where Rey shows signs of being force sensitive, so he wanted to keep her safe.

God that would have been so much better.. you've still got a big bad and just replacing Snoke with Palpatine on Exogul. Palp is still included in the story and ties back to the first 2 trilogies and Snoke isn't being thrown in the bin after 2 years of hype.
 
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Trilogies are a three act structure obviously. You have the beginning set-up, conflict, and introduction. You have the follow-up, building upon the set-up while adding new motivation and traditionally our protagonists at their most down and out. This is usually where your protagonists most grow into their finalized form with the next. You have the climax in the third, wrapping up the overarching themes and characters with a satisfying and natural resolution. Adding to the complexity, each individual chapter has their own three act structure within the larger three act formula.

But what I find is, if you botch the middle chapter...they all collapse. The middle chapter is the bridging vessel. If you screwed up part one, you can recover. If you screw up part three, its unsatisfying but there are ways where it won't taint the prior. Screenwriters always say the middle is always the most difficult to write. Basically think of it this way, a car has its front wheels, its back wheels, and the axle. The axle is what connects it all...I think. I'm not a car guy, but hopefully this analogy is making sense. If that doesn't work...that car isn't going to move.

Rian Johnson did not do any of the above. The Last Jedi does not build upon The Force Awakens. In fact it entirely dismisses all the "mystery box" elements from Episode VII to almost callous levels. It either ignores them entirely, addresses them in a mockingly subversive way that almost comes off belittling to the audience, or entirely destroys them in a pseudo-pretentious and passive aggressive way. Aspects entirely contradict what Abrams wrote like, if Luke didn't want found and intended to just waste away on the island, why did he leave a map for someone to find him? Wha? During the Force Awakens, I was willing to forgive some of my qualms (Rey beating Kylo, Luke being nothing but a cameo, who is Snoke, where did the First Order come from, why is Ben conflicted, etc) because I had wrongly assumed at the time that all these things would be either addressed or expanded in the next films.

Well almost all of this was simply thrown away by Johnson or overly re-purposed by him to something he personally preferred. The issue with that is, this isn't his sandbox. He's coming into an interconnected sequel story, not a largely individualized sequel installment in a franchise like say Bond or Indiana Jones where each tale is fairly self-contained. Star Wars films are symbiotic. They're not novellas. What you do in one should be directly impacting the others, they're one large narrative. So if your perspective going into writing and directing a middle-chapter in a trilogy is to say, well I didn't like any of the set up in the last film...so screw it, I'm doing my own thing...you're going to cause a demolishion to the larger constructions foundation. You've effectively derailed the train. The sad truth is that while The Force Awakens is a safe and fairly shallow soft re-make, I at least had fun with it and it felt like a Star Wars film to me. I excused its nature because, frankly, I think it ultimately had to be a safe movie after the division in fans on the prequels. I rightfully assumed the next one would be more original now that the sequel trilogy had been established and revitalized a lot of fans, now they can afford risks again, but what I didn't think was it wouldn't give two flying **** about the groundwork Abrams put in place. I didn't think that originality and risk-taking would turn out to be so nonsensical, disrespectful to what came prior, cringe, arguably mildly politically motivated, and just generally inconsistent. Not to mention, I think that's just one of the many, many issues that film has. There's almost too many to list.

So Abrams comes back for Rise of Skywalker and basically he has to start from scratch. Admittedly I didn't mind Rise much at first, but over time it's def. grown away from me. I just don't really know how much I can really blame Abrams for its warts. So now, because of The Last Jedi, this film became a rushed mess of an attempted recovery and vicariously because of that it actually takes The Force Awakens down with it. Because of what we know now, The Force Awakens is even damaged and I just can't enjoy it remotely as much as I once did. Now by no means am I saying the Abrams was a genius, he also did plenty of things I wasn't a fan of and is an utterly pedantic creator that apes better writers, but if you'd have one singular person writing these with one singular and planned progression and growth...it would feel far more concise and all adhere a lot better. Instead we have a middle chapter that for all intents and purposes existed to just push the neighborhood kid off his swing-set and take over...but ultimately forgot he didn't learn how to swing yet. It's so poorly written and inconsistent you can (and nearly was) retcon it out and almost nothing changes. For my money, Rian Johnson took down an entire trilogy because his ego wanted to do his own thing in a world that he does not own exclusively. It wasn't his playground....he was just invited to the picnic.

P.S. I've often argued that I admire Rian for wanting to be unique, creative, and original. You can't hate a guy for that. Where he annoys me is this. He's going into the biggest film franchise ever birthed, a saga with decades of distinct pre-written lore, and a fanbase so massively obsessed and opinionated. He's entering with the newly crowned throne of both writer and director. That in and of itself is baffling to me as only one other person has ever been granted both titles, George Lucas himself. How did this near unknown pull that off? So if your aim is to do something ENTIRELY original...then my friend, you picked the wrong franchise to do your own thing in. Now I'm not saying original concepts and ideas shouldn't be utilized in Star Wars, but it must be at least respectful and adjacent to what came before. The Last Jedi just doesn't even feel like a Star Wars movie, let alone it being so borderline discourteous to the old that it frankly makes me wonder if Rian really is a fan at all. Inventiveness and freshness are great things, but IT has to stay in the box of established ground rules. You can't just go nuts like he did and call it Star Wars because that's what the title says. So my biggest question is, if he wanted to just go all over the place with a science-fiction fantasy story, why is he playing in.a mega brand name? That's not how this goes. Rather, it can be, but not without controversy...which in and of itself is perhaps his most obnoxious characteristic. He can't handle criticism. This is something rather surprising for a creator who was willing to make these choices. What did he expect? Why did he not just create his own thing from the ground up where he could get away with that sort of thing? Was it just due to fear of failure, films like John Carter of Mars, Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets, and Jupiter Ascending flopping? At least he wouldn't have crumbled a trilogy and tarnished a legacy. I've often wondered, I'll put my tinfoil hat on, if he was just intentionally trying to troll because frankly, I think its quite easy to say The Last Jedi has moments that read sincerely as just taking potshots at specifically classic fans.
 
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Rian took the second act which you use to build every tension to the point where all seems lost, and instead gave us a finale. Instead of pointing that out, Kennedy patted him on the head and gave him a cookie. That cookie was the downfall of Star Wars.
 
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That's all well and good but it's clear that these things are fluid and plans change quickly. If they were able to pivot from Trevorrow to Abrams they could have easily pivoted from Trevorrow to Johnson for Episode 9. I don't believe for a nanosecond that if Lucasfilm came to Johnson and said "hey let's have you finish of this Trilogy. We are moving on from Trevorrow and the public response to TLJ indicates that they love your vision for TLJ" that he would have said "No"

My conspiracy theory take which is totally based in fantasy land:

They knew they had a potential lightning rod in TLJ but they weren't going to let any kind of negativity leak before release. We already had the public knowledge of the back scene drama with Rogue One and Solo leaking out and Lucasfilm was already seen as shaky by the fan base. Instead we got an empty endorsement of RJ before TLJ came out by announcing his Trilogy...which will never be made.
See, I think if they asked him to do when they realized/decided Trevorrow wasn't tenable, the Occam's razor answer would be that after the three-year or so crunch of developing an executing a huge Star Wars movie, he didn't want to jump right back in to do it again in 2/3 of the time. Especially when he was (at least allegedly) already working on another project for the franchise.

As for your theory: well, anything's possible. I think it's much more likely that, like everyone involved said, Johnson had a clear vision and executed it without causing any fuss. I also think the powers-that-be were pretty blindsided by the backlash to it -- if they thought the movie was going to create animosity in a segment of the fanbase instead of widespread excitement, why would they keep a spin-off movie so close to it on the calendar? But that's easier for me to speculate, since I can see why they would presume people would like the movie.

You seem like a rather level headed fellow, so I come to you with a plea. Explain to me what you liked so much about TLJ? This is not meant in a combative way and I will not respond with scoffs and rants. I honestly cannot see what others may be interested in with this movie.
I'll try to answer as concisely as possible. And for the record, it didn't come across as combative at all. I get that the majority in here hate the movie, and I'm close to a weird unicorn for loving it.

All right, my thesis: this movie is the best Star Wars film since the OT at showing clear character arcs and themes, all while getting across the core of what makes Star Wars important. I know having written this sentence that people who don't like the movie already think I'm out-of-my-mind crazy. I don't know if any of this will change that conclusion.

Each of our main characters confronts a classic second-act setback...but more than that, they confront it in the form of failures of their own making. Poe loses all the bombers and many fighters in an unsanctioned attack run; Finn tries to escape the fleet in order to save the only other person he cares about. The two of them team up to pull off a one-in-a-million longshot plan...and it doesn't pay out. Rey, meanwhile, fails to convince Luke to leave his island to help her, fails to find meaning in the family she's been waiting to return and help her, and fails to convince Kylo to return to the light to help her. (Utterly fascinating to me that people think Rey succeeds all the time, but that's a tangent.) Kylo is branded as a failed Vader by his master. Luke is in hiding because he thinks that he and the entire Jedi tradition are failures. Everyone is knocked back in this.

And they all respond by learning the lessons from those failures. By Crait, Poe knows when to call off an attack that isn't going to do anything but get people killed. Finn has learned to care about more than himself and his first friend, dedicating himself to a greater cause. Rey realizes she doesn't have to be from somewhere or be related to anyone or to have someone in the story provide validation; even without all of that, she is able to track down the last of the Resistance and Force-move their barrier to freedom. Kylo kills his master and takes supreme control of the First Order (and, ok, then fails at Crait, but he is the bad guy and they still gotta lose ultimately). And Luke realizes his past failure should not be a death sentence, re-embraces the mantle of hero and hope, and leaves a legacy upon which the Rebellion can be rebuilt.

This is character-driven storytelling -- each character has something they want, they fail at getting it, and they have to change in order to get (or at least get closer to) their goals. All of it tracks really hard for me, both as a second-act entry and also as a way to move the characters forward from where we left them at the end of the previous movie.

I started writing a whole bunch more stuff about how TLJ successfully builds off of TFA (which was fun in light of MysteriousMaximus' and Lobotscomb's posts that came in while I was drafting this)...and also a long defense of Luke's character. But it was all getting unwieldy. If anyone wants more, I got it.

Instead I'll just say that, beyond the character aspect, TLJ engages with the concept of Star Wars better than anything since the OT. Luke's initial stance on wanting the Jedi to end makes sense in light of how the order had been portrayed in the prequels. Rey being a nobody felt crucial to me after the prequels had, while adding so many planets and species to the lore, made the number of pivotal people in the galaxy feel smaller and smaller. TFA did a bunch of things that worked, and for better or worse one of them was getting people back on board with Star Wars by heavily duplicating the original movie. Disconnecting the main Force-using hero in the sequel trilogy from the lineages that came before seemed not only smart but necessary to having the trilogy be its own thing. (Abrams and TROS disagreed with this, to the detriment of that movie, IMO.) As for Snoke...we got as much backstory on him in TLJ as we got on the Emperor in ROTJ. And given the photocopied nature of the dynamics in TFA, saying "what if Vader killed the Emperor in the second movie and took over the Empure?" is way more interesting to me than a five minute backstory about who Snoke is, where he came from, and how he's related to someone from an earlier movie.

Bottom line is that I was lucky -- TLJ did things that I think are important in both general storytelling and Star Wars stories. The things it didn't do that other people lament are things I mostly didn't care about. The few things I did wish were in there I had hoped would be taken up in the third movie. (Oh, yeah, I also think that there is a clear path forward from TLJ into the final act, and that its a mark against JJ Abrams that he couldn't see that. The leaked Trevorrow draft, while flawed, does a much better job of building off what is in this movie and bringing the story to a cohesive conclusion.)

So that's my edited answer to your question. Sorry to take so long. And apologies for not noting what political/agenda/sexist boxes the movie ticks for me which is the secret reason why I actually like it (especially since, surely, there are no political/agenda/sexist boxes getting ticked by the people who do aggressively hate the movie). And as I said, I have plenty more to say if anyone wants to know why Luke's character arc is good and consistent, the necessity for Canto Bight, How There Has Always Been Fuel In Star Wars, and why Broom Boy should remind you of all of us as children. Thank you and don't forget to tip your servers.

So I'm truly interested... did you read any of the EU?
I remember being in middle school when the Thrawn books started coming out, and it was such a huge deal because there hadn't been anything new for Star Wars in a decade. I devoured every EU book up through Shadows of the Empire, plus major comic arcs like Dark Empire and Crimson Empire. I faded away from them in the late 90s, only dabbling lightly once the prequels started coming out. I loved being back in Star Wars, but I didn't think the collective lore was particularly stellar. It always felt second class in relation to the movies. Needless to say, it didn't inherently bother me when they said the movies wouldn't tie into it -- I knew I would miss Mara Jade and Thrawn and Rogue Squadron, but I would not miss Luuke and Clone Palpatine (oops!) and a bunch of other stuff. I'm comfortable with those stories existing as legends...just as I'm fine with anyone thinking of the sequels (or prequels) as being legends as well.
 
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re: character-driven storytelling.

the ST character arcs didn't make any sense -- take Finn for example:

in TFA, Finn was a brainwashed stormtrooper who manages to (re)claim his own identity and find the strength to leave the first order --> when projected onto a trilogy structure, this same arc SHOULD HAVE seen him freeing OTHER brainwashed stormtroopers, and creating an uprising of MANY freed-minds, much like himself -- just like he did in Treverrow's dual of the fates storyline, when he started an uprising on the streets of coruscant -- this is the natural progression of his "character-driven" story arc from TFA -- to take the essence of his "arc" from movie #1 and "project it" onto a three-movie format.

instead: he comes back to "Kill Phasma" (in TLJ), because rian thinks this will give him some kind of closure; and to become the next "broom boy" (in ROS) because JJ couldn't think of anything else to do with this character -- in the end, he only encounters 'other' freed stormtroopers (which he had absolutely nothing to do with) by a happy accident left over from Treverrow's script.

it's a mess. Finn is a non-character. his "arc" is all over the place. at least Treverrow knew how to expand a 1-movie character-arc onto a "trilogy" format -- (aka: "character-driven-storytelling") -- his intention for Finn (to start an uprising and free OTHER stormtroopers) was a natural extension of his existing backstory from TFA -- it made PERFECT sense.

but what we got, in the end, makes NO sense whatsoever. now he's the new Broom Boy? whut? the entire trilogy is like this. it's all over the place.
 
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What really matters that happens in TLJ? not much. Rose and Finn are inconsequential. If that whole arc is cut, nothing changes. Kylo killing Snoke just creates a Villain void, in which they struggle and manage to completely negate the journey of Luke, and Anakin's redemption in one fell swoop. Poe looks the fool by by being emasculated only to become the leader of the rebellion later, so there are no consequences for his actions at all. Rey's training is the only part tjat matters and she leaves in the midst of it. But because she picks up "Jedi training for dummies" she manages a mastery and understanding of the force in one mere falcon ride to crait. So if Battlestar Galactica... Err I mean the Last jedi is cut down to what mattets, its a half hour of storytelling. The rest is filler. Oh and Finn taking out Phasma? What does it accomplish? NOTHING. Fin has no closure nor major development resulting from this. Had they persued the fact that he was developing force sensitivity and used some force powers to defeat her, then it wouldn't have felt like they sprung it on us as an afterthought. No character development that was needed was provided. All it did was cost Gwen a job and royalties. Oh and it managed to make Tran the butt of enough jokes that her character arc is incomplete. Rose was a likeable character that made a sacrifice that didn't matter because the reasons behind it are scrapped by the third act. Kylo is the only character who takes a step forward, and even that is for nothing. To paraphrase Mr.Myagi: Darskide yes or Darkside no, darkside maybe? Squish just like grape.
 
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One thing to really take comfort and companionship in is...while sure The Last Jedi is probably the most divided the fans have ever been (I'd say even more than the PT)...we are all here for the same reason. A passion for Star Wars. We may not always agree, occasionally even argue, but ultimately l think the bond is stronger than the divide. Plus come on...l don't think anyone hates the OT entirely. Closest l have seen is a few disliking Jedi.
 
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Somehow I had a feeling I'd at least get a thought out answer from you... kudos for that. I found myself writing pages in response but had to cut it down.

I also think the powers-that-be were pretty blindsided by the backlash to it -- if they thought the movie was going to create animosity in a segment of the fanbase instead of widespread excitement, why would they keep a spin-off movie so close to it on the calendar? But that's easier for me to speculate, since I can see why they would presume people would like the movie.
I certainly think the above was true. There's no way they would have released TLJ in its current state had they seen the backlash coming and I see that backlash in more than one light. There are the anti-everything folks that just live to pick apart anything, and Star Wars may currently be the WORST about this. There are the arm-chair critics that seem to think their head-canon is the only possible way this could have worked. Then there are those that just wanted a coherent and compelling story that followed the established mythology of Star Wars. <<< That last one is me.

I'll try to answer as concisely as possible. And for the record, it didn't come across as combative at all. I get that the majority in here hate the movie, and I'm close to a weird unicorn for loving it.

All right, my thesis: this movie is the best Star Wars film since the OT at showing clear character arcs and themes, all while getting across the core of what makes Star Wars important. I know having written this sentence that people who don't like the movie already think I'm out-of-my-mind crazy. I don't know if any of this will change that conclusion.

Each of our main characters confronts a classic second-act setback...but more than that, they confront it in the form of failures of their own making. Poe loses all the bombers and many fighters in an unsanctioned attack run; Finn tries to escape the fleet in order to save the only other person he cares about. The two of them team up to pull off a one-in-a-million longshot plan...and it doesn't pay out. Rey, meanwhile, fails to convince Luke to leave his island to help her, fails to find meaning in the family she's been waiting to return and help her, and fails to convince Kylo to return to the light to help her. (Utterly fascinating to me that people think Rey succeeds all the time, but that's a tangent.) Kylo is branded as a failed Vader by his master. Luke is in hiding because he thinks that he and the entire Jedi tradition are failures. Everyone is knocked back in this.

And they all respond by learning the lessons from those failures. By Crait, Poe knows when to call off an attack that isn't going to do anything but get people killed. Finn has learned to care about more than himself and his first friend, dedicating himself to a greater cause. Rey realizes she doesn't have to be from somewhere or be related to anyone or to have someone in the story provide validation; even without all of that, she is able to track down the last of the Resistance and Force-move their barrier to freedom. Kylo kills his master and takes supreme control of the First Order (and, ok, then fails at Crait, but he is the bad guy and they still gotta lose ultimately). And Luke realizes his past failure should not be a death sentence, re-embraces the mantle of hero and hope, and leaves a legacy upon which the Rebellion can be rebuilt.

This is character-driven storytelling -- each character has something they want, they fail at getting it, and they have to change in order to get (or at least get closer to) their goals. All of it tracks really hard for me, both as a second-act entry and also as a way to move the characters forward from where we left them at the end of the previous movie.
As far as the 'Arcs' and characters are concerned, uh... ... I just don't see it as a positive like you do. Your last paragraph is the first time I've ever heard anyone suggest that the characters moved forward in TLJ. If anything they were exactly where they left off in TFA... but there were less of them. Rey has a physical journey in TFA but all she really learns is that she's had the force all along. She was always self-reliant on Jakku and all she added was a broader world view and a more confident sense of self. In TLJ she was literally by herself the whole movie with Luke giving her very little. I thought Mark Hamill executed what he was given brilliantly but it was so far from what Luke was when we last saw him in ROTJ that it was impossible to connect the dots. I get that we got some dialog about Kylo being the key to his departure, but that didn't even make sense. Luke couldn't kill the most evil man in the galaxy because he was his father, but he had thoughts of killing the son of his sister and best friend whom he had been entrusted? Luke Skywalker had thoughts of Anakin Skywalkering a youngling.

You are trying really hard to give Finn an arc when what I'm seeing is him just reacting to what is going on around him. As soon as they said he was in sanitation his entire story went from cool stormtrooper to janitor that apparently knows everything about the First Order. He was a plot device. In TLJ, had they released the child slaves then perhaps I could say they accomplished something but that entire subplot could not be saved by the most awkward kiss in film history.

I started writing a whole bunch more stuff about how TLJ successfully builds off of TFA (which was fun in light of MysteriousMaximus' and Lobotscomb's posts that came in while I was drafting this)...and also a long defense of Luke's character. But it was all getting unwieldy. If anyone wants more, I got it.

Instead I'll just say that, beyond the character aspect, TLJ engages with the concept of Star Wars better than anything since the OT. Luke's initial stance on wanting the Jedi to end makes sense in light of how the order had been portrayed in the prequels. Rey being a nobody felt crucial to me after the prequels had, while adding so many planets and species to the lore, made the number of pivotal people in the galaxy feel smaller and smaller. TFA did a bunch of things that worked, and for better or worse one of them was getting people back on board with Star Wars by heavily duplicating the original movie. Disconnecting the main Force-using hero in the sequel trilogy from the lineages that came before seemed not only smart but necessary to having the trilogy be its own thing. (Abrams and TROS disagreed with this, to the detriment of that movie, IMO.) As for Snoke...we got as much backstory on him in TLJ as we got on the Emperor in ROTJ. And given the photocopied nature of the dynamics in TFA, saying "what if Vader killed the Emperor in the second movie and took over the Empure?" is way more interesting to me than a five minute backstory about who Snoke is, where he came from, and how he's related to someone from an earlier movie.
I'm with you on the sense of Luke wanting the Jedi to end. I could see where he might be discouraged by his failure. When I saw the "Luke Skywalker is missing" and then he is found at the end of TFA I was at least still interested because I saw this as an opportunity to see how far Luke had come and what he was doing. That ended as soon as TLJ started. How many times have we heard that Star Wars is about "Family"... and for many Rey being a nobody meant she was not connected. She may be seen as a connection to a larger world, but in the sense of the Skywalker narrative what they did was disconnect their main character from the story as a whole. Her being a Palpatine didn't really solve it unfortunately, but it made her story a little more interesting. I didn't care much about Snoke either, and while bringing in Palpatine was clearly a last ditch effort by JJ to develop some connections, his power being matched by Rey just seems hollow when Luke was the one that should have been the powerful Jedi... or Luke's son/Daughter.

So that's my edited answer to your question. Sorry to take so long. And apologies for not noting what political/agenda/sexist boxes the movie ticks for me which is the secret reason why I actually like it (especially since, surely, there are no political/agenda/sexist boxes getting ticked by the people who do aggressively hate the movie). And as I said, I have plenty more to say if anyone wants to know why Luke's character arc is good and consistent, the necessity for Canto Bight, How There Has Always Been Fuel In Star Wars, and why Broom Boy should remind you of all of us as children. Thank you and don't forget to tip your servers.
Don't care about politics or agendas. The push to get more female fans is great except for the fact that they made it such a focal point that it overshadowed everything else that is great about Star Wars.

I remember being in middle school when the Thrawn books started coming out, and it was such a huge deal because there hadn't been anything new for Star Wars in a decade. I devoured every EU book up through Shadows of the Empire, plus major comic arcs like Dark Empire and Crimson Empire. I faded away from them in the late 90s, only dabbling lightly once the prequels started coming out. I loved being back in Star Wars, but I didn't think the collective lore was particularly stellar. It always felt second class in relation to the movies. Needless to say, it didn't inherently bother me when they said the movies wouldn't tie into it -- I knew I would miss Mara Jade and Thrawn and Rogue Squadron, but I would not miss Luuke and Clone Palpatine (oops!) and a bunch of other stuff. I'm comfortable with those stories existing as legends...just as I'm fine with anyone thinking of the sequels (or prequels) as being legends as well.
I'm surprised that you read the EU... and don't take that in the wrong way. The vast majority of the people that I know that really got into the EU were not satisfied with this trilogy in the least. I know that is one of my biggest hangups about the ST and I recognize that. I personally have pushed the ST back to alternate and am slowly bringing the EU back, reading the Heir to the Empire series again. I was pushing through the Fate of the Jedi series when the ST started and paused. I'll get back to them eventually but I think I'm going to re read some stuff first to get the ST out and the EU in.
 
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See, I think if they asked him to do when they realized/decided Trevorrow wasn't tenable, the Occam's razor answer would be that after the three-year or so crunch of developing an executing a huge Star Wars movie, he didn't want to jump right back in to do it again in 2/3 of the time. Especially when he was (at least allegedly) already working on another project for the franchise.

As for your theory: well, anything's possible. I think it's much more likely that, like everyone involved said, Johnson had a clear vision and executed it without causing any fuss. I also think the powers-that-be were pretty blindsided by the backlash to it -- if they thought the movie was going to create animosity in a segment of the fanbase instead of widespread excitement, why would they keep a spin-off movie so close to it on the calendar? But that's easier for me to speculate, since I can see why they would presume people would like the movie.



I'll try to answer as concisely as possible. And for the record, it didn't come across as combative at all. I get that the majority in here hate the movie, and I'm close to a weird unicorn for loving it.

All right, my thesis: this movie is the best Star Wars film since the OT at showing clear character arcs and themes, all while getting across the core of what makes Star Wars important. I know having written this sentence that people who don't like the movie already think I'm out-of-my-mind crazy. I don't know if any of this will change that conclusion.

Each of our main characters confronts a classic second-act setback...but more than that, they confront it in the form of failures of their own making. Poe loses all the bombers and many fighters in an unsanctioned attack run; Finn tries to escape the fleet in order to save the only other person he cares about. The two of them team up to pull off a one-in-a-million longshot plan...and it doesn't pay out. Rey, meanwhile, fails to convince Luke to leave his island to help her, fails to find meaning in the family she's been waiting to return and help her, and fails to convince Kylo to return to the light to help her. (Utterly fascinating to me that people think Rey succeeds all the time, but that's a tangent.) Kylo is branded as a failed Vader by his master. Luke is in hiding because he thinks that he and the entire Jedi tradition are failures. Everyone is knocked back in this.

And they all respond by learning the lessons from those failures. By Crait, Poe knows when to call off an attack that isn't going to do anything but get people killed. Finn has learned to care about more than himself and his first friend, dedicating himself to a greater cause. Rey realizes she doesn't have to be from somewhere or be related to anyone or to have someone in the story provide validation; even without all of that, she is able to track down the last of the Resistance and Force-move their barrier to freedom. Kylo kills his master and takes supreme control of the First Order (and, ok, then fails at Crait, but he is the bad guy and they still gotta lose ultimately). And Luke realizes his past failure should not be a death sentence, re-embraces the mantle of hero and hope, and leaves a legacy upon which the Rebellion can be rebuilt.

This is character-driven storytelling -- each character has something they want, they fail at getting it, and they have to change in order to get (or at least get closer to) their goals. All of it tracks really hard for me, both as a second-act entry and also as a way to move the characters forward from where we left them at the end of the previous movie.

I started writing a whole bunch more stuff about how TLJ successfully builds off of TFA (which was fun in light of MysteriousMaximus' and Lobotscomb's posts that came in while I was drafting this)...and also a long defense of Luke's character. But it was all getting unwieldy. If anyone wants more, I got it.

Instead I'll just say that, beyond the character aspect, TLJ engages with the concept of Star Wars better than anything since the OT. Luke's initial stance on wanting the Jedi to end makes sense in light of how the order had been portrayed in the prequels. Rey being a nobody felt crucial to me after the prequels had, while adding so many planets and species to the lore, made the number of pivotal people in the galaxy feel smaller and smaller. TFA did a bunch of things that worked, and for better or worse one of them was getting people back on board with Star Wars by heavily duplicating the original movie. Disconnecting the main Force-using hero in the sequel trilogy from the lineages that came before seemed not only smart but necessary to having the trilogy be its own thing. (Abrams and TROS disagreed with this, to the detriment of that movie, IMO.) As for Snoke...we got as much backstory on him in TLJ as we got on the Emperor in ROTJ. And given the photocopied nature of the dynamics in TFA, saying "what if Vader killed the Emperor in the second movie and took over the Empure?" is way more interesting to me than a five minute backstory about who Snoke is, where he came from, and how he's related to someone from an earlier movie.

Bottom line is that I was lucky -- TLJ did things that I think are important in both general storytelling and Star Wars stories. The things it didn't do that other people lament are things I mostly didn't care about. The few things I did wish were in there I had hoped would be taken up in the third movie. (Oh, yeah, I also think that there is a clear path forward from TLJ into the final act, and that its a mark against JJ Abrams that he couldn't see that. The leaked Trevorrow draft, while flawed, does a much better job of building off what is in this movie and bringing the story to a cohesive conclusion.)

So that's my edited answer to your question. Sorry to take so long. And apologies for not noting what political/agenda/sexist boxes the movie ticks for me which is the secret reason why I actually like it (especially since, surely, there are no political/agenda/sexist boxes getting ticked by the people who do aggressively hate the movie). And as I said, I have plenty more to say if anyone wants to know why Luke's character arc is good and consistent, the necessity for Canto Bight, How There Has Always Been Fuel In Star Wars, and why Broom Boy should remind you of all of us as children. Thank you and don't forget to tip your servers.



I remember being in middle school when the Thrawn books started coming out, and it was such a huge deal because there hadn't been anything new for Star Wars in a decade. I devoured every EU book up through Shadows of the Empire, plus major comic arcs like Dark Empire and Crimson Empire. I faded away from them in the late 90s, only dabbling lightly once the prequels started coming out. I loved being back in Star Wars, but I didn't think the collective lore was particularly stellar. It always felt second class in relation to the movies. Needless to say, it didn't inherently bother me when they said the movies wouldn't tie into it -- I knew I would miss Mara Jade and Thrawn and Rogue Squadron, but I would not miss Luuke and Clone Palpatine (oops!) and a bunch of other stuff. I'm comfortable with those stories existing as legends...just as I'm fine with anyone thinking of the sequels (or prequels) as being legends as well.
You would be a gold medalist if "Mental Gymnastics to Make TLJ Worthwhile" was a sport
 
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When I was a kid, I loved Ewoks. It wasn't until I got older that I developed some issues with them. My stance is, do I like them? Yeah, I do, I don't think they're that bad. Admittedly that might be nostalgia talking. However, I do think they are the weak link in the original trilogy. Lastly, I can't deny what they are: commercializing the franchise. Sure boatloads of merch was made for Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, the difference is those were stories first and then came the marketing. I find Ewoks to be the first of what would become many instances of a role existing in the script purely, first and foremost, to sell toys...and secondly to service the plot. I mean what better way to sell toys of your character when your character is in essence one of the most iconic and beloved toys - the teddy bear.
 
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When I was a kid, I loved Ewoks. It wasn't until I got older that I developed some issues with them. My stance is, do I like them? Yeah, I do, I don't think they're that bad. Admittedly that might be nostalgia talking. However, I do think they are the weak link in the original trilogy. Lastly, I can't deny what they are: commercializing the franchise. Sure boatloads of merch was made for Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, the difference is those were stories first and then came the marketing. I find Ewoks to be the first of what would become many instances of a role existing in the script purely, first and foremost, to sell toys...and secondly to service the plot. I mean what better way to sell toys of your character when your character is in essence one of the most iconic and beloved toys - the teddy bear.
I love them too. Never hated them.
I see the "they were made for selling toys" p.o.v. a lot. How does it fit with the fact they were supposed to be wookies? Were the wookies intended for selling more toys? I guess you could argue that, as Chewie is a loveable handsome devil :cool:
But the reality is they came to be, because it was too extensive and costly to produce that many Wookie suits, if I remember correctly.
 
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The Ewoks may be the first Star Wars creation to have been conceived with the idea of commercial merchandising, but they certainly weren’t the last. Look how many characters/troopers in the SE existed purely to sell things. I’m looking at you porgs


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porgs were created because the entire island at skellig micheal is infested with thousands of puffins. the puffins are a protected species. the production was not allowed to shoo them away; the puffins appeared in almost every shot. the simple solution was to "CGI" them into a new alien species. otherwise, they would have to find a new location to replace "Grumpy Island". so, in a way, the porgs were actually born of necessity.

ewoks? not so much, the official excuse was "..wookiees were too expensive, so we made ewoks instead..." but I don't buy it -- they literally replaced "humans in fur costumes" with "other humans in fur costumes" -- how much $$$ could they possibly save? :unsure: this doesn't pass the smell test.
 
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So instead of just CGI’ing a frog-type creature or something, they came up with something cute and cuddly they figured they could sell a ton of and they served no purpose story-wise.

If you prefer a different example- the Flame Trooper, Sith Trooper, First Order Snow Trooper, Jet Trooper, the list goes on. None of those characters were created out of any sort of necessity, story-wise or production-wise.


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Return of the Jedi in a lot of ways was the unused sections of a new hope.

The Ewoks were the product of another project that went horribly wrong. After 20 minutes of bizarre Star Wars Holiday Wookiee screaming & other possibility p0rn related Wookiee activities, No one was going to green lit more of the same for the 2nd half of Jedi.

The Wookiee home world was changed to Endor/ it’s moon. The midget loving production staff brought in more dwarves for cheaper costumes that replaced the Wookiees. I suspect chewie’s son became the character Wicket. All of this done in a fairly quick turn around period which added to the many behind the scenes production issues that Jedi had.

Now you have a new level of understanding why George really hated the Holiday Special!
 
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porgs were created because the entire island at skellig micheal is infested with thousands of puffins. the puffins are a protected species. the production was not allowed to shoo them away; the puffins appeared in almost every shot. the simple solution was to "CGI" them into a new alien species. otherwise, they would have to find a new location to replace "Grumpy Island". so, in a way, the porgs were actually born of necessity.

ewoks? not so much, the official excuse was "..wookiees were too expensive, so we made ewoks instead..." but I don't buy it -- they literally replaced "humans in fur costumes" with "other humans in fur costumes" -- how much $$$ could they possibly save? :unsure: this doesn't pass the smell test.

Have you seen how they make the wookie costume?
I'm sure there are some "shortcuts" etc. but the head alone, with all the hairs grafted... I don't think the ewok costume took as many hours as the wookie costume did. Ewoks are about a third of size of a Wookie, so roughly you could say you'd be able to make 3 ewoks in the same time making 1 wookie. If that''s true, I don't know, but production wise, if I could get 3 times as many furred warriors for the same price and time, I'd go for that.
 
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I've seen wookie costumes on the rebel legion that cost about $3000 to make, in today's money. I know people who have built them. if we assume that an ewok costs 1/3 to make (as you suggest), and given that we only see about 20 ewoks on screen (or less), that means the production would have saved about $40k in today's dollars. on a movie with a $32.5million budget (in 1983's dollars) -- adjusted for inflation, ROTJ had a budget of $115million in "today's dollars" -- so that still doesn't pass the smell test LOL -- the "Savings" would be inconsequential, compared to the size of the budget.

I believe the only reason we got 'ewooks' instead of 'wookiees' is because.. if you add up the total sales across history.. the "teddy bear" is the #1 selling "toy" of all time. :p LOL

not that I'm a huge fan of porgs either, I'm just saying, at least porgs were, in some way, purpose-driven -- the production had to do something, to hide all those Damn Puffins -- but ewoks? that was absolutely shameless. that was a shameless attempt to sell SW-branded stuffed animals :p LOL

(because an army of wookiees would be 'too scary' for a six-year-old audience :unsure: NOT "too expensive" :LOL: LOL -- that doesn't make any sense)
 
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Yeh, the "savings" thing doesn't ring entirely true to me either. I've always seen that as a post scriptum George Lucas excuse to fend off the criticism of Ewoks. Perhaps there's an element of saving money involved...

...but toys was the real reason.

Ewoks were and still are the worst thing about the original films though. You have to come to terms with them in order to enjoy 'Return of the Jedi' in its entirety. Even as a child I thought they were an awful idea. As for whether 'Return of the Jedi' would have been better with Wookiees...well, that's a no brainer.

Ewoks are still a million times better than bloody Porgs though. I hate those stupid things.
 
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Yeh, the "savings" thing doesn't ring entirely true to me either. I've always seen that as a post scriptum George Lucas excuse to fend off the criticism of Ewoks. Perhaps there's an element of saving money involved...

...but toys was the real reason.

Ewoks were and still are the worst thing about the original films though. You have to come to terms with them in order to enjoy 'Return of the Jedi' in its entirety. Even as a child I thought they were an awful idea. As for whether 'Return of the Jedi' would have been better with Wookiees...well, that's a no brainer.

Ewoks are still a million times better than bloody Porgs though. I hate those stupid things.
How do the Porgs and Ewoks even compare? The Porgs had NOTHING to do with the story. Nothing. It was background noise. The Ewoks were a huge piece of ROTJ. The Porgs are insignificant.

Like I get hating on the Ewoks (I don't mind them and my kids - the ones who these movies are for - love them) but if we are going to compare annoying characters go with Jar Jar and the Ewoks.
 
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How do the Porgs and Ewoks even compare? The Porgs had NOTHING to do with the story. Nothing. It was background noise. The Ewoks were a huge piece of ROTJ. The Porgs are insignificant.

Like I get hating on the Ewoks (I don't mind them and my kids - the ones who these movies are for - love them) but if we are going to compare annoying characters go with Jar Jar and the Ewoks.
To be honest, Jar Jar and the Ewoks don't compare either. The Ewoks may have been designed for marketing, but in the end, they fought, and died, and mourned. Jar Jar stepped in sh** and got f*rted at with not even a pretense of dignity or purpose.

And I don't mind the Porgs. Porgs are ok. I just wish Chewie had eaten the fried one.
 
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My theory has always been...Lucas had some sit-down with some bigwig suit at Fox. Often studios push for films to be more "toyetic," wanting roles that will easily create merchandising products to near pandering levels. This is a very common practice in blockbuster film-making. Perhaps Lucas truly did originally conceive of the Endor sequences with Ewoks as Kashyyyk with Wookiees, but let's look at the facts. Firstly if they believe they can save some money, studios tend to. Secondly, if they believe they can make something more "toyetic" whilst saving money, ergo ideally increasing profit through merch, studios tend to as well. Lastly, look at everything that Gary Kurtz has said about George at the time, causing their separation. I don't think it would have taken much convincing for George to say, hey, teddy bears equal CHA-CHING! YOU GOT IT! He seemed less artist and more business by that time. So I'm more of the opinion that Wookiees being too expensive to mass produce wasn't so much a valid excuse as it was a concocted justification. Then you cut to his writing of the prequels and frankly, commercialism-influenced choices are completely riddled through all three of those. Ewoks were just the beginning of his "toyetic" decline. Because at the end of the day, they could have substituted any new alien creature design in for a Wookiee. They went with a literal toy teddy bear. I think that speaks volumes.

But like I've said, I don't hate them. I even kind of like them. I just also agree with Cellblock in that they are the worst part of the original trilogy. You do have to basically just roll with it.

Porgs I also always found an excuse. At least Ewoks do serve a purpose...which is why I can stomach them. At least they aren't only there to sell but rather play a role in the plot progression. I never understood how animating Porgs over Puffins was somehow cheaper than just digitally removing them. These are the highest paid and most experienced visual effects artists in the business, you're telling me it would have been "too hard" to just digitally remove them all over the design, creation, and animation of a whole new creature? That doesn't float. But if you digitally remove them, you won't have a super hot cute pokemon-looking toy to come out for Christmas! So end of the day, I may have my beef with Ewoks, but I'll take them over Jar Jar, Porgs, and some other aspects in the franchise any day.
 
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Anyone that is upset about Disney/Lucasfilm marketing their creations is shouting into the wind. I mean, Lucas practically invented marketing a movie and it's just the way it is with movies that are aimed at kids. You get your T-shirts and mugs and whatever else they can slap a sticker on. Then you get the toys for a variety of age groups and interests... R2 operation game, plush Jabba the Hutt, play lightsabers, action figures (in apparently 5", 6", 12", and sometimes even 3 3/4" :confused: )...... I mean if there is a way to make money off of it why not?

The fact that there were so little follow ups planned for the end of the "Skywalker Saga" is mind-blowing. Why don't we see more tie in to TROS? Did anyone else notice that Shopdisney.com put up Coronavirus face masks and they have ZERO representation from either the PT or ST. It's 3 OT masks and a 'Baby Yoda'.
 
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at some point GL stopped using merchandise to market his movies; he started using movies to market his merchandise. :confused: enter: the ewok.
I would dare say that the ST could have improved with a little marketing. Why is Rey wearing practically the same outfit in TROS? (and don't say because of Leia's scenes) We got Tatooine, Stormtrooper, Pilot, Bespin, Dagobah, Jedi, Endor, Hoth.... these are all just Luke.

Poe finally got a decent outfit in TROS beyond his Pilot uniform and there's nothing out there. We got almost NOTHING from Maz's Castle, Lando's card game, Kessel, Jedha, the Outlander Club or Canto Bight, yet we have over 30 cantina patrons.
 
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I was a kid when those movies came out, thus I like Ewoks etc. And I still have a place for them today being all grown up. it seems most of the hate for them comes from people who dislike that they defeated the Empire, which isn't true a coalition defeated the Empire, delayed the Empire until TROS....
So what really was their sin, simply existing?

The whole saga has problems a lot more concerning than a race of beings who were simply overlook as a threat buy an over confident Military.

But I think you're correct on his dealing with the studio, in which he learned his lesson on ANH. Perhaps that situation drove him to create something with a little more "marketing" appeal so that he wasn't at FOX's mercy every step. it's easy to sit at home and say GL sold out, not ever being in his shoes. If it's so easy were is everyone else's Movies?

That said I certainly don't think he's flawless. But it's way too easy to bash someone on the internet while gulping a beer, just because you didn't like a certain aspect.
 
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I think for most people, their sin is that they are not wookiees lol. and if not wookiees, then what makes the most sense? they could have been "scruffy looking" viet-kong types; they could have been more like Saw's Band in Rogue one (which didn't sell too many toys to 6-year-olds FWIW); they could have been any other race besides teddy bears... in fact... teddy bears don't actually make much sense for the way this story was written: when we first see them, they want to EAT Our Heroes. the story presents them as some kind of vicious scary animal race with TEETH.. sort of like.. oh yeah... like wookiees. wookies can be downright FRIGHTENING, until you actually get to know them (and then they act like loyal puppies aka: Man's Han's Best Friend). this is the SORT of creature that the script ACTUALLY calls for -- a fearsome, scary, human-eating, animal-race, that only BECOME gentle, once you get to know them -- but teddy bears? that shoe is on the other foot lol. the ewoks are already-gentle creatures who LAUGHINGLY portray themselves as "scary", for about 5 minutes, and they DON'T pull it off -- it just doesn't work. that whole sequence (with the 'feast in your honor') plays out like Mark Hamill's guest spot on the Muppet Show LOL. these Murder Bears don't really exist to 'serve the story' as you guys suggest -- the written story, is actually being 'bent' here, to serve the Murder Bears -- aka: at some point: GL stopped using merchandise to serve the movies; he started using movies to serve the merchandise LOL. (and the 'story' suffered for it). enter: the ewoks.
 
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I think for most people, their sin is that they are not wookiees lol. and if not wookiees, then what makes the most sense? they could have been "scruffy looking" viet-kong types; they could have been more like Saw's Band in Rogue one (which didn't sell too many toys to 6-year-olds FWIW); they could have been any other race besides teddy bears... in fact... teddy bears don't actually make much sense for the way this story was written: when we first see them, they want to EAT Our Heroes. the story presents them as some kind of vicious scary animal race with TEETH.. sort of like.. oh yeah... like wookiees. wookies can be downright FRIGHTENING, until you actually get to know them (and then they act like loyal puppies aka: Man's Han's Best Friend). this is the SORT of creature that the script ACTUALLY calls for -- a fearsome, scary, human-eating, animal-race, that only BECOME gentle, once you get to know them -- but teddy bears? that shoe is on the other foot lol. the ewoks are already-gentle creatures who LAUGHINGLY portray themselves as "scary", for about 5 minutes, and they DON'T pull it off -- it just doesn't work. that whole sequence (with the 'feast in your honor') plays out like Mark Hamill's guest spot on the Muppet Show LOL. these Murder Bears don't really exist to 'serve the story' as you guys suggest -- the written story, is actually being 'bent' here, to serve the Murder Bears -- aka: at some point: GL stopped using merchandise to serve the movies; he started using movies to serve the merchandise LOL. (and the 'story' suffered for it). enter: the ewoks.
We'll have to agree to disagree. While I will concede that Ewoks are less scary than Wookiees, I look at 3 specific factors that you need to reach a bit for, but work for me.
1) I see the Ewoks as a distraction. They aren't winning against the Empire, they are helping the rebels get in there and blow that shield generator. They pull the bad guys away and let the heroes win.
2) The Ewoks are fighting in their home. If you fight on your own turf you are more resolved, more confident, and more capable. Would Ewoks beat Stormtroopers in a city environment? No way. Give them logs and rocks and trees and they can be a real nuisance. You ever been hit in the head by a large rock? Me neither but I doubt it leaves you unfazed.
3) I've always seen these Murder Bears as cute but ferocious (to a degree... maybe more feisty, scrappy, or wild?). I believe that even with those small spears they could have taken down our heroes just due to their numbers. Would they really have eaten the humans? It sure looked like it. Did they eat some stormtroopers? Maybe?

I also tend to think that we see a good number of Ewoks but there were actually quite a few more just off screen. If you have 10-1 odds even if you are 3 foot tall and not that athletic, you can be effective if you are crafty.
 
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RotJ - there are 81 Ewoks listed in the credits 6 originally named in credits.

Had they been Wookiee we would have likely had to deal with 30-40 Wookiee instead.

I still blame the holiday special for derailing Wookiee in Jedi
 
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See in critiques on Ewoks, you do often hear "How could teddy bears defeat the Empire?" So with that said, I have to agree with those saying....did they though? I'm also in the camp of they were more a distraction, even an annoyance, than really the cause of any severe amount of damage. Plus it is their turf, home field advantage. Also has it ever been mentioned as to whether or not the Imperials even were aware of their presence? Could have been a complete surprise. Also hypothetically, even if they did have minor spottings of Ewoks in their time on Endor, it doesn't seem like any hostility was ever shown on the part of the Ewoks before. So I'd just assume the Imperials thought them harmless. Plus l mean...look at them. If you were an Imperial stationed on Endor and stumbled across one...would you REALLY think this thing is a threat? One may call it arrogance, sure, but be real. I don't think much of anyone here would have though THESE things are going to attack us later.
 
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I recall reading/hearing about the Ewoks being an alternative to Wookies not so much a cost savings, but a time savings. It could have been a situation where they would not have been able to make enough full size Wookie costumes in time to meet the demands of the filming schedule. 🤷‍♂️
 
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I liked however long Luke's standoff with Kylo was, especially if you skip through emo parts.
 
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I liked however long Luke's standoff with Kylo was, especially if you skip through emo parts.
I think that was perhaps the only time I felt some joy watching that movie. Thinking "ooooh man, Luke is gonna wreck these walkers and go to town", only to be let down that he was just a projection. I liked his moves during the fight though.
 
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For me when Luke mentioned Darth Sidious I thought "finally here we go"and...nothing. Skip to Crait and I was thinking that maybe MAYBE this could salvage the movie...but the minute he actually appeared it was obvious that he wasn't actually there and the whole thing was just a lost cause.

What a disaster.
 
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