My Beef With The Disney Star Wars Franchise

Everyone has a favorite movie franchise. It is very difficult to find a flaw with the material you grew up loving, and the many worlds you fantasized visiting with your favorite characters but when a corporation like Disney takes over, mistakes will be made. From eliminating the Expanded Universe to The Force Awakens tip of the hat to a New Hope, the new Star Wars additions have fell flat, in my opinion. Why? They are targeted at a new audience, to the neophytes and sons and daughters, heck grandsons and grandaughters, of the original light and dark side of the force fans from 1977. It was not meant to appease or please fans like me or J.J. Abrams who read over 100 books of a story that was disavowed. 😦

Honestly, I could have gotten over The Force Awakens’s predictability if it hadn’t been for the ancillary materials and constant production updates after the fact to try and better it. Kylo Ren being 32 and so immature was a slap to the Millennials running this country, the nerds that are literally working on space travel and technological improvements. The new story arcs are appalling and insult the intellect of the hardcore fans that gobble up trailers, interviews, A Star Wars Story literature/comics, and follow internet chatter and releases. After a few leads it was very easy to put two and two together: Every installment of the new franchise introduces new characters in order to say goodbye to old friends. Disheartening to say the least since the plot lines and original characters ended up not feeling familiar but becoming political or social policy statements. Rey, Finn, and BB8 didn’t light my fire either but they got the job done. This Millennials suck or are super perfect garbage needs to end.

Another flaw in the delivery of the new Star Wars is that it was tailored to attract the average movie goer. Because the this group is easy to impress, most won’t find flaws with it, and those who do will brush it aside for the sake of nostalgia. Some viewers questioned the diversity of the franchise, which mirrors our own planet’s and then some, because these non force sensitive people could not understand why there were so many accents and ethnicities in all Rebellion functions and teams. Shocking really that people failed to suspend disbelief long enough to internalize women and minorities can take lead roles in this galaxy and those far far away. Wow! The comments of the average consumer of this product is alarming because it feels more like plain blockbuster entertainment and less like the ground breaking piece of science fiction and fantasy it was meant to honor.

Maybe their over the top insistence on minorities and women being central characters to their new stories is being used to cover up the fact that there were barely any women heroes, pilots and even engineers in the Imperial Forces and Rebel alliance other than the title figureheads. Appearing as background decor, the women of Star Wars are still under utilized, underrepresented and unrealistic in this incarnation if the films. What they did to Leia in The Force Awakens was a travesty. They exchanged her for Rey, a younger model, and moved on. This General and diplomat deserved better treatment. And so did Rey. She is supposed to make up for the Leia and Mara Jade characters I lost and she couldn’t deliver. I still have hope for her though and her origin story.

The producers, unbeknowingly, continued their blatant disregard for 51% of the population by making Rogue One about using Jyn Urso, the female lead played by Felicity Jones, to get to her dad, the Death Star’s designer. It wasn’t about her journey or her value as an individual contributor; her sole reason for existing in this movie was to help the Rebellion get to her dad, and save the galaxy from the Death Star. I wanted more Jyn kicking ass scenes, less hurry up and wait for it plot lines. To add insult to injury all of the fighter pilots, except one in Blue Squadron was female. I couldn’t find myself in this film at all. Yes, Mon Mothma rules supreme but why didn’t Disney take a chance and put more quality female characters into this installment of the franchise? Diego Luna was a nice touch for the Latin fanbase but even that character fell short in terms of development. I wanted to learn more about the people and not just enjoy special effects and Lego Star Destroyers. What compounds my disappointment is that the ending failed to tug at my heart strings. It felt forced and unoriginal, at least to me.

Nothing in the New Star Wars Universe makes sense anymore. From a marketing perspective it is pure gold and hits hard in some target age groups. However, the substance that made the first movies a magical journey into space and the Force has not fully coalesced in this incarnation. People aren’t even dressing up in my area to go watch these! Gone are the days of Vader showing up to my movie theater. That is not only sad but telling of how the franchise has gone past mainstream and is now taken for granted. The visionary work of ILM, Industrial Light and Magic, and Lucasfilm reduced to entertainment for the masses and not pioneering any new technology in any sense. People take their less than 5 year olds to watch it when the dialogue is not even remotely close to what they would understand and then they have to take them outside when they throw a fit because they are bored. Smh. Thanks for interrupting my experience! (Some kids did extremely well with the content but remember parents, just because it is a Disney film it doesn’t mean it is suitable entertainment for the whole family.)

As an engineer and film buff, I’m extremely grateful to George Lucas for developing new visual effects technology and introducing digital filming to the general public to give his masterpiece the shock and awe it deserved. He deliveted his content in the most spectacular way. I did appreciate how Rogue One and The Force Awakens captured some of the Star Wars mystique, the camera angles and the costume design, but it got lost on me because I wasn’t challenged or fully engaged due to the blandness of it all. I feel like I am betraying the legacy because as a fan, the new material isn’t impressive to me anymore. It is more of the same – and if you like that, you wont be disappointed. In my mind it is up to Episode VIII and the Han Solo chronicles to wrap this up and salvage this attempt to conclude one of the most iconic stories in sci-fi. *sigh*

May the Force be with you!

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