There’s No Long-Term Vision For Star Wars

There's No Long-Term Vision For Star Wars
There's No Long-Term Vision For Star Wars 1
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) – image provided by Lucasfilms Inc.

Lucasfilm and Disney never had a long-term plan with the Star Wars sequel trilogy, and they still don’t. With all the controversy surrounding the latest saga film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and whether it’s actually a great or terrible film (I happen to think it’s just shy of being good), it’s quite obvious Lucasfilm doesn’t have a concrete vision for these new movies. The scepticism people had with J.J. Abrams setting up yet another new universe and leaving other filmmakers to figure out how it concludes has been well warranted.

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams introduced plenty of important and huge questions regarding some of the main characters in the film, questions many people thought would be addressed in a thoughtful way and be the main focus in Episodes VIII and IX. As it turns out, these lingering questions have been completely tossed aside by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, and it’s quite worrying.

Now, be warned, there will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

After watching Episode VIII: The Last Jedi I came out of the theatre feeling a bit dumbfounded and satisfied. It’s a strange feeling, one I rarely have about a film where I understand why some people disliked it and others quite loved the direction Johnson took with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The biggest criticism aimed at The Force Awakens has been that it feels like a rehash of A New Hope – a Star Wars film which ponders way too much to hardcore fans and their nostalgia for this franchise.

There's No Long-Term Vision For Star Wars 2
Star Wars: Episode XIII – The Last Jedi (2017) – image provided by Lucasfilms Inc.

And so, Johnson listened to these criticisms and went the complete opposite direction, opting to subvert expectations every chance he could. However, he ultimately leaned too heavily towards the other side, essentially resetting a trilogy which only has one more film left to wrap up the story.

There are two story decisions which, in my opinion, prove Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and the rest of the filmmakers over at Lucasfilm are making it up as they go. The biggest one is undoubtedly Snoke. Star Wars: The Force Awakens set this character up as this important, mysterious figure with an intriguing past. A character which will play a significant role in the overarching story. Abrams set up this mythical figure who, in his eyes, was meant to play a much bigger role moving forward. Johnson took Abrams’ story decisions and essentially threw them away, saying they’re not important.

There's No Long-Term Vision For Star Wars 3
Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) – image provided by Lucasfilms Inc.

As it turns out, it doesn’t matter who Snoke is and where he came from. He’s just there to further develop Kylo Ren, setting up the wanna-be Darth Vader as the main villain in Episode IX. On one hand, I can commend Johnson for taking such a huge risk with Snoke, killing him off in the middle of this story. It’s exactly the type of filmmaker Johnson is, one who loves subverting expectations every chance he gets. Just watch his previous two movies, Brick and Looper. But on the other hand, it’s blatantly obvious this isn’t the direction Abrams wanted or would’ve taken with Snoke. It’s a meshing of two distinct, opposite filmmaking styles and visions which ultimately ends up hurting the sequel trilogy.

The second story decision is, of course, Rey’s parents, which isn’t as big of a deal as Snoke’s demise but still important nonetheless. I see where Johnson was going with this, as relegating Rey’s parents to being a pair of random drunkards is another way of subverting expectations. Forget about the Skywalkers and the bloodlines and being born a hero – we’ve seen this tale told in the prequel and original trilogies. It’s a brave decision, but one that came up with no planning. This is a major mystery Star Wars: The Force Awakens leans heavily on, and one in which Abrams thought someone would share the same vision as him in the long run.

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Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) – image provided by Lucasfilms Inc.

With Abrams now directing Star Wars: Episode IX, it’ll be fascinating to see if he’ll undo anything Johnson went within The Last Jedi. He certainly has the power to do so and recent reports suggest Abrams pitched the story for Episode IX just a few days ago. Yet another prime example of the lack of long-term planning from Lucasfilm.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more by Aleksander Gilyadov, such as Zombies and Gore: A Brief History of Resident Evil, and Great, a Chainsaw: A History of Horror Games!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

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CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 2)

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 2)

As this tumultuous year winds down, it’s time once again to revisit the films that moved the industry forward. Yesterday, CGMagazine’s Phil Brown explored the best movies of 2017 in terms of Fantasy, Horror, and Comic Book adaptations (you can catch up here). Pop a bottle of bubbly and celebrate the new year with part two of CGMagazines Best Genre Films of 2017.

Best Blockbuster: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 2)
Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Blockbuster of 2017.

Already divisive amongst the passionate Star Wars fanbase, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi truly is the Empire Strikes Back of our times. People tend to forget that Empire was the least financially and critically successful film of the initial trilogy. Why? Because as the second act of a larger narrative, the sequel made us question what came before, upset the established order, complicated heroes so they were no longer obviously heroic, and ended on a down note to set up future triumphs. Johnson’s ambitious feature does all of that for a new generation, gleefully ripping apart hallowed movie lore and forcing audiences to ask tough questions about beloved characters before leaving everyone in a dark place. It’s not a nostalgia-fueled crowd pleasure like The Force Awakens. It’s better, deeper, and more challenging than that. Johnson has finally given the next chapter in Star Wars history its own unique direction. It won’t be until we finally get the question-answering finale that everyone finally comes to recognize that. For now, The Last Jedi will be a divisive Star Wars movie and that’s as it should be. Great movies require time to sneak in, even when they take place in a familiar galaxy from far, far away.

Best Action Flick: John Wick: Chapter 2

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 2) 1
Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Action Flick of 2017.

For viewers out there who love nothing more in cinema than watching a bad guy get punched in the face in the most creative way possible, the John Wick franchise was been a welcome addition to action movie lore. The Keanu Reeves headlined franchise has grown into an entire tongue-in-cheek universe of super assassins who spend half their time killing each other and the other half living in lavish secret hotels. It’s ridiculous, but everyone involved knows exactly what they are doing and have created a perfect delivery system for some of the finest physical action scenes of this or any age. John Wick officially grew from a surprising action movie underdog into a genuine genre icon this year. Bring on Chapter 3 as soon as possible; Keanu isn’t getting any younger and the genre isn’t quite as fun anywhere else.

Best War Movie: Dunkirk

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Cillian Murphy in Dunkirk (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best War Movie of 2017.

Christopher Nolan’s IMAX blockbuster is somehow both a straight-ahead visceral action flick and a radically structured art film that doesn’t abide by cozy storytelling conventions. It shoves viewers into the middle of Second World War combat with a subjective intensity comparable only to the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan and somehow manages to do so for the entire running time. There was no moviegoing experience in 2017 as thrillingly cinematic as watching Dunkirk unfold on IMAX using all of the format’s specific tricks to create a war movie unlike any other. It says so much with so little and grabs viewers by the throat for a ride that doesn’t let up for a second (along with a handful of the director’s typical structural headgames). This movie will grow in reputation over time, even though watching it in any format other than IMAX ensures that viewers won’t get the full effect of Nolan’s remarkable accomplishment.

Best Biopic: The Disaster Artist

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James Franco in The Disaster Artist (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Biopic of 2017.

Finally, we come to a great movie about the making of—arguably—the worst movie ever made. When The Disaster Artist was announced, everyone who knew The Room could guess all of the hilarious backstage stories about Tommy Wisseau’s wild production that James Franco planned on sharing. What was impossible to predict was that Franco also had a unique take on the material and planned to use Wisseau as a stand in for all misunderstood outsider artists. That the flick is hilarious is no surprise. That director/star Franco also found a way to transform a walking punchline into an admirably tragic figure was one of the most pleasant movie-going surprises of the year. Oscar bait biopics are usually pandering nonsense. The Disaster Artist is a special and oddball effort destined for cult status that will stand alongside the so-bad-its-good camp/cult classic at its centre. That accomplishment ain’t easy and is worth celebrating.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Phil’s take on Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, and It! He also had a chance to sit down with Guillermo Del Toro. Check out his interview here!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Pixels & Ink Episode 276: Monster Hunting the Last Jedi

Pixels & Ink Episode 276: Monster Hunting the Last Jedi

This week, Phil, Brendan, and Lisa are joined by Preston Dozsa. The team takes a look at PUBG on Xbox One, the 2017 Game Award winners, Net Neutrality, MIGS, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Monster Hunter World.

Read morePixels & Ink Episode 276: Monster Hunting the Last Jedi

Film and TV News Roundup 2/16/17: Star Wars, Soderbergh, and more

Film and TV News Roundup 2/16/17: Star Wars, Soderbergh, and more

Hi everyone! We’re trying a different kind of news feature here at CGM, where we round up film and TV news stories that we couldn’t expand into a full article but still bears mentioning.

Read moreFilm and TV News Roundup 2/16/17: Star Wars, Soderbergh, and more

Star Wars: The Last Jedi to Hit Theaters Dec 15

Star Wars: The Last Jedi to Hit Theaters Dec 15

The next title in the Disney Star Wars movie saga has been revealed, and it’s coming out very soon: December, to be exact. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is headed to theaters on Dec. 15, 2017.

The movie follows after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, also known as Episode VIIThe Last Jedi, or Episode VIII, features writing and direction by Rian Johnson. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman serve as producers, and J.J. Abrams returns to the series as executive producer, alongside Jason McGatlin and Tom Karnowski.

An interview between Johnson and USA Today’s Brian Truitt gives fans a sneak peek into the world ahead. For one, Johnson notes that the film will be a fun title that avoids going too dark. “I want it to be a blast and to be funny and to be a ride the way The Force Awakens and the original Star Wars movies were,” he said.

Johnson also plans to explore Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s stories and personalities in a deeper way, figuring out “what really makes them tick” when faced with major problems. Rey’s connection to Luke Skywalker will also play a major role in the film, mirroring an adolescent awakening that brings Rey from a child of the Force into adulthood. He hopes to give Luke an “emotional entry point” into the story while building their relationship.

Brian Truitt also notes that the late Carrie Fisher’s work on the movie was complete before her passing at the end of 2016, which means fans will be able to see her appearance in the film in its entirety. Still, Episode XI plans to feature a major scene for General Organa, meaning the Episode XI‘s crew must come together to figure out where to take her character going forward. No news yet as to how later productions will handle Fisher’s character, although there may be a solution similar to Rogue One‘s: the use of CGI material to recreate actors digitally. Time will tell where the series goes.