Defenders of the Gold Bikini 3: In Which Leia Swoons and Dies

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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  1. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    Considering that the actress was dead before they started making the movie they didn’t have much to work with :/

    I still think they needed to have her be the one to hyperspace-ram the bad guys in TLJ. The explanation for “why doesn’t everybody do that” being “because you have to use The Force to pilot well enough to actually hit anything”. As for why it’s Princess Leia doing it, it’s because she’s not willing to let anyone else sacrifice for her, she’s seen fleets of starships and entire planets exploded (several times!) because of her and she’s sick of it. It is, as it were, Her Turn.

    And hey, do one of those split-screen Force Conversation things. “Mother. What are you doing?” “Ben, I love you, but I can’t let you end it this way. I can’t let you be this person.” “You’ll die.” “Maybe that’s what needs to happen. Maybe the galaxy sacrificed enough for the Jedi.”

    The movie needed to play that up, I thought. Don’t make up new kinds of spaceships for the fights; use the old stuff and make it really janky-looking, B-wings instead of those goofy-ass space bombers, junkyard-looking Snow Speeders instead of whatever those silly wing things at the end were. Like, “the old way of doing things is literally falling apart and we’re killing ourselves trying to keep it going, we need to find a different way.” And then it swings quite neatly into Rise Of Skywalker, with the idea that “there’s no Light Side and Dark Side, there’s no Path, it’s just us, we’re responsible for deciding what morality looks like and we’re also responsible for making sure to follow it”Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck
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      They didn’t even do that bit about no Path, since Palpatine had all the Sith, and Rey had all the Jedi.

      I get that that was supposed to be inspiring, but it just seemed contrived.

      Having Poe losing hope right before the civilian fleet arrives, that was much better done.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      In the piece above I explained how they could change absolutely nothing but the timing of the scenes and it would have worked so much better. IMO it was the moviemakers’ desire to have Rey be the superstar Mary Sue leaving barely a scrap for Leia that ruined it for me.

      And I like the conversation you lay out there, and I agree about the sacrifice. I would have preferred that (and it also made a lot more sense re the Holdo maneuver which has caused some debate)

      They could have used a voice actor to even add a line or two where Leia said something, anything, inspirationa to ben. Surely they didn’t HAVE to limit themselves completely to the footage they had. They did it because they liked the idea of it, I think.

      Agree 100% about the “gray Jedi” idea, so many of us thought that’s where it was going.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    Charlie? Oh, you mean the Hobbit, Meridoc Brandybuck!

    We watched it yesterday (Mother’s Day), my wife walked out of the room after that scene.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      “Fricking Charlie from Lost WHO WAS NOT EVEN IN ANY OF THE OTHER MOVIES has more lines than most of the non-Rey female characters.”

      haaaa god, that is A. STORY.

      apparently he got to be in the movie because he and JJ Abrams randomly texted him one day with something like “if my team wins this soccer game I’m putting you in the next Star Wars movie”

      and Disney was so terrified of fans turning sour on Star Wars because of TLJ that they basically let JJ Abrams do anything he wanted so that he’d stay happy about working on ROSReport

      • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        I am massively over JJ Abrams who has now despoiled three things I loved.Report

        • Avatar Michael Siegel in reply to Kristin Devine
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          says:

          Star Trek. Star Wars. What’s the third thing he ruined?Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Siegel
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            says:

            I would guess the complaint is about Men In Black International (2019), though he also did a string of Mission Impossible movies.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                At least with Lost he can claim it was his to destroy.

                Lost was the first series that made me do two things:

                1. Look up who was producing this stuff (Abrams/Lindelof)
                2. Realize fan-service had moved to real-time with the internet
                and
                3. Take note that Abrams/Lindelof were not to be trusted as storytellers in any way/shape or fashion.

                Three things. Maybe four.

                4. They spawned a whole new mode of un-storytelling; and it is bad for the soul.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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                says:

                For me, it was Fringe.

                You watch that first season? Holy cow. THIS IS AWESOME. I can’t wait for the truth to be revealed!

                You watch the second season… Holy cow. This is pretty good. I like the bad guys. I like how Walter used to be a bad guy but now he’s trying to be a good guy but it’s difficult because he’s crazy.

                You watch the third season and you can barely remember the weird stuff from the first season. This isn’t about Massive Dynamic, I guess… but about the bridge between worlds? Oooh, and the parallels between. Okay. I’m on board.

                The fourth season is really confusing. Someone, like, never existed now. And so we have alternate timeline storylines? I guess?

                And the fifth season is about time travel or some crap like that. I didn’t sign up for this. I signed up for Massive Dynamic.

                It begins with “this is a great mystery and I can’t wait for the reveal!” and ends with “the reveal was a bald guy who, unlike his other bald guy counterparts, was nice?”

                What the heck.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Yes, I remember bailing on Fringe early as I got the Lost vibe right away…

                Brother Kaine just wrote this takedown of Westworld which is spot-on and unfortunately simply a takedown of almost all 21st century storytelling.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Marchmaine
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                says:

                your link broke, but I’d like to read it!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
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                says:

                I’m sure it’s this one.

                I’ve not watched Westworld but what he’s arguing makes sense.

                Season 1: Amazing.
                Season 2: Rehash of season one. Not *BAD*, just unnecessary.
                Season 3: Characters do what the writers want them to do rather than what the plot would have them do.
                Season 4: It Looks Like Game Of Thrones All Over Again.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                thank you!Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                There is an issue with author’s second books, and it (at least to me) goes something like this; first book has been sitting on the authors brain for years, if not decades. They have been working on it, refining it, going over the rough parts, and generally taking the time to get it right. And then, it gets published. Makes money, becomes a thing!

                Which is when the author is asked for a second book. But they don’t have anything that has been polished as much as that one, so the author looks into his slush pile, and pickes the next best one. Which didn’t have all of that extra work done to it, but it will do in a pinch, right?

                Well, no. Because the author hadn’t learned the trade yet, and it shows. See, that first one was essentially a “pro-am” work, custom if you will, and how they need to learn to scale it. Build up that assembly line so there aren’t any rough spots that take years of polishing, dialog isn’t chunky, plot holes don’t appear out of nowhere. Etc.

                It is a big jump going from being a gifted amateur to being a professional.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Aaron David
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                says:

                In any long series, I like to start with the second book. Because, as you point out, the second book is the one where the author has Figured Out How To Do It — learned the characters, learned the world, learned the craft — and that’s probably what they’ll keep on doing for the rest of the books.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Marchmaine
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                says:

                There is an ever increasing sharp divide between authors/writers who seem to be devoted to fan service (I write what the fans demand, regardless of how much it kills the story), and those who basically tell the fans, “would you trust me that I know how to write a story?”. That second group can get kinda salty about telling the fans to shut up, but I think that’s a good thing.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                …and a few points between:

                * Trust me I know how to write a story, and don’t.
                * Write to confound fans – anti-service
                * The story ended, but the cashflow didn’t

                etc.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                If I may jump to Batman momentarily, imagine a writer who asked “what would it take to get Batman to kill the Joker?”

                And then wrote a story about that question.

                I can imagine a handful of story answers that would get me to widen my eyes and say “Dang.”

                I can imagine a handful of story answers that would get me to roll my eyes and say “You didn’t even freaking try.”

                “As it turns out, the Joker does not agree with me on the issue of (insert hot button social justice issue here). This is what pushed Batman over the edge.”

                Arguing with the author about whether or not the Joker would really embrace body positivity for women is *NOT* to argue against the idea of authors wanting to explore questions like “what would it take to get Batman to kill the Joker?”

                I would be interested in reading a story like that.

                But not if it was about the problems that our society has with fatphobia.

                And me not wanting to read that story isn’t evidence of my own phobias.

                And now: Back to Westworld.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Back to Westworld…

                Yesterday Critical Drinker posted a season 3 review that’s a treasure of performance art. There is some cursing, but it’s done with a Scottish accent.

                Report

  3. Avatar Doctor Jay
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    says:

    My understanding of what goes on in the scene where Leia dies is that it she was supposed to do the same thing Luke did in TLJ, and the bit where Han shows up to talk to Kylo was supposed to be her. But Carrie Fischer died.

    It was established that doing that killed Luke, why wouldn’t it kill Leia, too? There’s no issue with “frailty” with that reading.

    At the same time, one of the themes of the trilogy is that the old is moving on to make room for the new. Han is on a downward trajectory when we meet him in TFA, then he dies, in a way that he chooses. That’s not a fun message for a man my age, I gotta tell you.

    Luke chooses it too. Why not Leia. It’s more that the details are a mess.

    I get that the studio was terrified of the pushback about TLJ, but they ended up with a film that nobody liked. They should have stayed on course.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird
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    This is a movie I still haven’t seen. I was frustrated immensely by TLJ but walked out of the theater having a lot of strong opinions. Over the next few months, I found out that some of my opinions about TLJ were indicative of me being a bad person.

    And by the time this flick rolled around, I had moved to “I want to see where they’re going with this!” to “meh… I don’t need to see where they’re going with this.”

    I think I realized that they didn’t understand their own characters. The evolution of Luke from “I can’t kill Darth Vader, even if he has committed planetary genocide” to “Ben’s having bad dreams… Maybe kill Ben?” is the tip of an iceberg. There is a *LOT* of not understanding the characters going on in these flicks.

    This is like Superman deciding that killing bad guys would be a real time-saver.

    What the hell?

    Everything I’ve heard about Episode IX has reiterated that for me. These guys don’t understand their own characters.

    And they don’t understand them to the point where their canon is worse than my own. I will continue to not watch the movie.

    And the story ends with Episode VII, as far as I’m concerned. Poor Kylo. I hope he finds balance somehow.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      The eventual value of Star Wars will be for future Moral Philosophers to trace the intellectual history of consequentialism’s move into whatever post-nietschean paradigm we’ve settled into. Its dissertation gold.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        The morality of a universe subsumed by the meta-morality of the storytellers.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          e.g. “The Problem of Luke”Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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            You’ve really stumbled onto something. What if the entire progressive Hollywood industrial complex and its online social justice informed criticism is nothing more than a means of making fodder for the system of commie liberal arts professors and their grad student shock troops. We’re through the looking glass here, people….Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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              says:

              Heh… “The Problem of Luke” and “Luke re-Imagined” are the endpoint synthesis that marks the destination morality… I’m imagining the Post-Post-Nietzschean Intellectual History that reconstructs Luke from his origin stories that borrow from the Old dying morality.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      The evolution of Luke from “I can’t kill Darth Vader, even if he has committed planetary genocide” to “Ben’s having bad dreams… Maybe kill Ben?” is the tip of an iceberg.

      This could work. “I love my father, I don’t love Ben.”

      I just rewatched SW 4-6 and Luke makes his choices based on his emotions. One of the reasons he wasn’t willing to kill Vader at the end was he realized just how much like him he was. This is not a good thing as was explored in SW 1-3.

      Having said that, there probably needs a reasonable amount of groundwork to re-show that.

      This is like Superman deciding that killing bad guys would be a real time-saver.

      It really would be, and it’d be trivial to talk the government into this too. The problem is what happens on step 8 of that path when he realizes he doesn’t really need the government. Or in other words, very strong point.

      Having said that, Zod and Doomsday both needed to die and I don’t think the story suffers from putting Superman in that position.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter
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        says:

        Eh, he could have given a World Of Cardboard speech to Zod and talked about how it took him years to come to terms with not only his strength, but his vulnerability.

        And then beaten the ever-livingitshay out of him.

        Hell, I’d have the opening of the movie be at a speech given by the XKCD guy about what would happen if a guy threw a baseball at half the speed of light at a guy who could swing a baseball bat at half the speed of light and talk about fusion and atomic bombs and all that crap… and then, at the end, after the speech, we see a flurry of super-punches that culminate in little tiny atomic bombs blowing up on Zod’s nose.

        Then just have him loll his eyes around and sit down long enough for Superman to send him to the Phantom Zone.

        As for Doomsday, speeches don’t work. So just establish that he’s not sentient, not as such, it’s got the same moral content as shooting a bear that is about to kill some people. Regrettable… but.

        Then have Superman “die” in the process, effectively silencing the nay-sayers by pointing out that, even if he was wrong, he got the death penalty anyway.Report

  5. Avatar North
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    says:

    The Rise of Skywalker was, by far, the worst of the three. A horrific grab bag of overstuffed fan indulgence and badly written to boot! It was impressive in that it actually made the Last Jedi look better by comparison. At least the Last Jedi was self aware enough to make Yoda laugh and use an actual puppet of him. It was heartwarming.

    RoS was just a festering lump. What a way to go out.
    And yeah, Ray was an incredibly poorly written Mary Sue.Report

  6. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    To make sure I do address the post: Yes, I think it was very disappointing how they ended Leia’s story. I think there are all kinds of ways they could have dealt with the real-life circumstances and made them part of the work; “let’s just pretend she didn’t die, so that we can still make movies with her” is…I hate how everything these days is a metaphor but god damn that’s a fucking metaphor right there.Report

  7. Avatar George Turner
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    says:

    Kathleen Kennedy and her writers have broken the established rules of Star Wars so badly that it’s just plot holes and plot hole shards. Now even some of the most absurd complaints could work. “Why didn’t Rey just force-teleport Kylo to the shock-trauma ward of a hospital on Corsuscant?” “You realize that Obi Wan didn’t do a similar save thing on Qui-Jon because Obi Wan just wanted him dead so he could graduate from Padawan to full Jedi?”

    And now they’re bringing Bobba Fett back for the Mandalorian, which means the original cast failed yet again at killing a villain. Once Jabba the Hutt returns, Chewy, Han, Luke, and Leia’s only accomplishment will have been killing a bunch of innocent Imperial construction workers on the second Death Star, at the cost of countless Ewok lives.

    However, I did hear an interesting story that might be behind some of the horrible reasoning that destroyed the original characters. As it was related, when Star Trek (yes, Star Trek) was split into an alternate timeline to allow JJ Abrams and Bad Robot to make the Trek reboot movies, they also got toy rights, but only to those toys that were specifically made for the reboot franchise. CBS/Viacom retained all the rights to the original properties and non-reboot Star Trek, plus the rights to all the toys based on those existing properties.

    So after the Bad Robot reboot movies came out, JJ & crew noticed that fans weren’t buying Star Trek merchandise from the reboot franchise (Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto action figures), while Shatner and Nimoy action figures were still selling like hotcakes. In frustration, Bad Robot asked CBS/Viacom to quit making the original action figures because fans preferred them to the new ones. CBS said “Heck no.”

    So Bad Robot’s theory was that a reboot franchise’s new characters can’t succeed at winning over the fans as long as the original franchise’s characters are still loved by the fans, and that toys based on the new property will fail if forced to compete with the original franchise’s toys. This would have been relayed to Kathleen Kennedy in her numerous conversations with JJ Abrams and his cohorts from Bad Robot.

    There’s some evidence of this in what’s been learned about Kathleen Kennedy’s role in the Disney Galaxy’s Edge adventure park, which features virtually nothing from the original trilogy or prequels. She convinced Eiger that they shouldn’t aim the theme park at 50-year old male fans of the original Star Wars, and that her amazing new stories and new characters would create a new generation of rabid fans that didn’t care for the older material.

    For the Kathleen Kennedy Star Wars to succeed, in light of Bad Robot’s Star Trek talking points, the older characters would have to be destroyed. Not just killed off, but destroyed as characters. Thus the sequels. The problem is that Bad Robot and Kennedy were wrong. The reason the fans weren’t switching to the new stories and characters was because the new stuff was badly written garbage made by incompetent hacks. All they’ve managed to do is destroy not just one, but a slew of top sci-fi franchises, and that damage is likely to be permanent, as the fans who are most likely to turn away in disgust are the most rabid and influential members of the fandoms.

    But at least the Bad Robot story presents a plausible financial reason why executives would’ve been swayed into allowing such utterly self-destructive actions to proceed, that love for the new characters and narratives can’t take hold unless you utterly destroy the old characters and narratives.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to George Turner
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      says:

      I am not a Star Wars person. I haven’t seen the last two and I’d had so much to drink for the Force Awakens my main take away was that it was soooo long and kind of boring. Anyway, while I think that story is certainly plausible enough, it all rests on the assumption that a good Star Wars movie could be made in the current environment. From what I read it sounds like the problems with the new ones are the same as with many big budget franchises or genre films. Lazy writing, pointless retcons, general insults to the audience’s intelligence, but hey it’s guaranteed to get passed the censors in China!

      I mean, if Ridley Scott couldn’t make a good Alien movie and Shane Black couldn’t make a good Predator movie what makes people think anyone could make a good Star Wars movie?Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to InMD
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        says:

        Virtually anybody who isn’t a pretender with a melon sized ego could make a good Star Wars movie because there’s a vast Expanded Universe of Star Wars novels and games. Heck, Knights of the Old Republic had better characters and a better and deeper storyline than any of the sequels. With the Mandalorian, Dave Feloni and his directors showed just how easy it is to make passably good Star Wars content. All you have to do is respect the fans and the established narrative, and set new stories in the Star Wars universe. Ron Howard’s daughter did an excellent job with it.

        But the vast trove of Expanded Universe materials have one fatal flaw, as far as the Bad Robot / Kennedy theory goes. In none of them did an author decide to destroy, disparage, and humiliate the original characters. Nothing in the EU destroyed canon, either, and so it was all useless to Kennedy and her team of “creatives”. George Lucas even gave her some treatments he’d written up over the years for what should happen in the sequels, and she disregarded it completely. When you ignore the expressed intent of an original author who is trying to provide guidance, what you are writing is, at best, fan fiction. In her case, it wasn’t even good fan fiction because she chose not to follow the course that Lucas had set out, or that other authors had set out, because then she wouldn’t be exerting her creative control. Perhaps she felt that had she done so, she’d just be cranking out more mindless product like any random drudge she employed as almost anonymous script writers.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to George Turner
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      says:

      eh…no?

      as far as I can tell normie Star Wars fans who don’t marinate in The Discourse think Galaxy’s Edge is great, and they don’t much care whether it’s pushing Han and Luke and Leia or Finn and Rey and Poe.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to George Turner
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      says:

      Speaking of Galaxy’s Edge, if anyone was interested in a variant of Star Wars told from the POV of StormTroopers who don’t suck, there is a series called “Galaxy’s Edge”

      Less Jedi/Sith, more hard-boiled action. And no need to get permission from Lucas or Disney.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Siegel
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    says:

    The sequels frustrated me. I like them OK. But there were great movies to be made there. The Last Jedi, for example, explores some really great ideas. The “Force Dyad” thing is fairly well done (loved the duel that kept switching between the planet and the star destroyer). But every time they come upon some interesting new way of telling a Star Wars story, they back off and go back to recycled tropes and fan service.

    Perfect example is Rey’s parentage. If she really had been the child of two drunks who sold her for drinking money, that would have broken the Mary Sue thing quite a bit. Rey is no longer secretly special. You no longer need the right bloodlines to be strong in the force. Maybe it was her isolation that made her force sensitive. You could give her some moral grayness (note how she was drawn to the Dark Side in TLJ). But then ROS pees all over that with, “No, you really ARE special!”

    And even THAT they messed up. When Luke finds out Vader is his father, it has consequences. There are parallels between their journeys and a real danger that Luke will follow his father’s path. Rey shows none of the ruthlessness and power-hunger that a Palpatine does. She doesn’t have to overcome the evil side of her that she inherited. It’s just a “huh” moment that has no consequence for the plot whatsoever. If you’d kept the drunk parents storyline, it would have changed NOTHING about the movie whatsoever.

    Frustrating. As Kristin said on Twitter, it’s like a sculpture half-finished.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Michael Siegel
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      says:

      Kylo Ren does get morally redeemed in the end. Even becomes something of a self-sacrificing hero. Too bad the principal focus of the movie isn’t about that moral redemption. That could have been really good. Meanwhile, Kristin is absolutely right that Rey needs to 1) actually be from unremarkable parents, and 2) needs to confront and master her own attraction to the Dark Side so that she, too, grows morally.

      The whole ancient Sith legend stuff needed to be shown more, and told less. Imagine if we had about three minutes of Rey ALMOST succumbing to the temptations of the ease of using her anger towards Ren as a gateway into the Dark Side, and seeing a vision of a young Palpatine murdering his own former Sith Master to rob him of the secret of life after death, and in that way figuring out the location of the Secret Sith Temple!

      Also the Finn-Rose romance was handled awfully: it was all but literally hand-waved away as if it hadn’t happened. They don’t have to stay in love, but do resolve it and make that part of Finn’s story. The way it was done was awful and made me dislike Finn rather a lot. The audience didn’t like Rose? Okay, give her a noble, meaningful death, and let Finn avenge her.

      You’re going to wipe C-3PO’s memory as a necessary sacrifice for the heroes to make along the way to the final struggle? Cool. Do it even earlier in the movie than you did; use newly-naive C-3PO as comic relief more.

      Oh, my final note to Kathleen Kennedy would have been: BB-8 does not need a little droid friend and even if Merchandising insists that no, he does, that little droid friend isn’t particularly credible as a former Sith assassin’s droid; a Sith assassin’s droid has to be evil too.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Siegel
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      says:

      I’m reminded of how the protagonist in Rogue One was the daughter of the Death Star’s chief designer, and yet that had virtually nothing to do with the rest of the story in any fundamental way. It turns out that was added as an afterthought because someone thought the fans wouldn’t have a reason to identify with her.

      As part of destroying all the characters from the original trilogy, the new talking point is that Luke and Han didn’t even accomplish much in A New Hope because the girl in Rogue One was the key to destroying the first Death Star. I would argue that all she accomplished was getting her assault team and a huge rescue team completely wiped out. It would’ve been trivially easy for her to steal plans from her dad, or even to date some Death Star construction supervisor and transmit his copy of the layout drawings while he was sound asleep. It could have been a really good spy story where her character’s role made sense, instead of dropping her into a Guns From Navarone story where her backstory was completely irrelevant.Report

  9. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    …and when you look at it, “she swoons and dies” is kind of a Skywalker family *theme*, y’know? 😀Report

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