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The Rise Of Skywalker - Abrams' Vision or Executive Meddling?

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So most fans seem to agree that RoS was a disappointing mess. However, there’s a lot of disagreement on who is responsible for it turning out that way.

Personally, I think the fault lies mostly with Abrams. All the bizarrely bad decisions seem like exactly the sort of indulgences he’d make. Cyan tint over the whole movie like his Star Trek films, constant breakneck pace, shallow story with superfluous fanservice, etc… JJ said the film we saw is his cut, after all.

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Agreed. I think Disney is partially at fault for hiring Abrams instead of Trevorrow, Johnson, or anyone else, and they knew what they were getting when they signed his contract: damage control. But everything that went down in the production was Abrams.

At least that’s my take, someone with no insight into the film industry and is very likely completely wrong. But going off what we know of Disney and Abrams from the past I think this the most probable scenario. I know there are sources that suggest JJ was really unhappy with the final cut and blamed it on studio execs but honestly, I think that’s just BS by angry fans wanting upvotes on Saltier than Crait.

Maul- A Star Wars Story

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It begins with Disney as it’s very clear in retrospect there was no plan for the trilogy apart from playing to our nostalgia while regressing the accomplishments of the older characters. Even George said as much in the now infamous Charlie Rose interview. I also remember a post on Reddit about the whole situation post release and how one main point was the individual mentioning J.J. and Rian not liking each other. This had been said before by individuals with Collider but it’s becoming more and more true. Like the information about how John and other members of the cast preferred working with J.J. to Rian. The more information that comes to light, the more I see credence to all of this coming from the top at Disney. It was there decision afterall to throw out George’s story treatments and J.J. and company were part of this decision by the way Bob Iger disclosed things in his book.

I think The Rise of Skywalker is a result of both J.J. and corporate meddling.

Look at how much the film actively tries to retcon The Last Jedi.

Look at how Daisy confessed they weren’t sure what they were going to do about Rey’s lineage even during filming.

Look at Kathleen Kennedy’s comments to Rolling Stone before release.

“Well, I wouldn’t say you ever get to a point where you just go, “That’s it.” It’s a constantly evolving process. I mean, there’s still little things that we’re trying to get exactly right, right now. You never stop the storytelling iterations that go on in making these movies. But we know what these previous eight movies are. We know what that story is. So in this movie, we’re taking all of what’s come before, and we’re trying to find a satisfying conclusion. And I think we have, and that’s something that we can only depend on our instincts to arrive at, whether or not we have. And then we have what I would call the family and friends that you pull in and you show things to when you try to get some kind of feedback, and make sure that you’re making sense and that you’re delivering on the things that you intend. That’s something that we’re still talking about right now.”

And finally look at Ben Burtt’s comments about being kept out of The Last Jedi.

"I don’t know if there’s bad blood. I was just never consulted or hired to do any of them. No one’s ever told me why. No, I was told–on the new regime, I was just told, ‘Just stay in your room and make sounds and just send stuff to us. We’ll decide what to do.’ "

“It wasn’t always easy working with George, but at least it was one voice. And you could get his attention and have your say and present something and get a yes or a no. But it was just one person you had to get past. Not banks of different people who want to have a say.”

It’s all a result of too many people trying to have a say and no longer there being a singular vision but a committee trying to please everyone without understanding context of themes and ideas they’re trying to incorporate into their stories.

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I don’t concur. I liked Rise of Skywalker and Force Awakens. And i liked the 2 Abrams Star Trek films.

I will admit he has a weakness with pacing in his films. Uses too much lens flare and shaky cam, and is very bad at dialog and exposition. But the action is always fast paced and exciting and engaging.

I don’t think its his fault Star Wars is kind of played out. There is only so many times you can return to the same characters and situations and keep them interesting.

The one character i wanted to see more of was Luke. They did next to nothing with him. I mean after 35 years that was it? I welcomed the retcon in ROS but it was too little too late. He was finally our Luke again, but a mere cameo and force ghost.

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I think that the only real meddling that the House of Mouse did was in the editing room. The script and directorial style are mostly definitely JJ’s work, but the editing was just baffling. So sub-par for a director who usually uses editing to great effect.

Use the Force, Jon Yowza.

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I believe the fault lies with Disney and the make-believe “Lucasfilm Story Group” that they created for not mapping the trilogy and their new expanded canon (at least roughly) as a whole, back in 2012 or 2013 during/after the LFL purchase. It’s primarily Disney’s fault that the new TRILOGY as a whole doesn’t function better.

I get a lot of enjoyment out of the sequel trilogy and Disney canon, but with A LOT of asterisks. IMHO, as messy as TROS is, some of it could have been mitigated in editing (which some fine folks are doing on this very site). The main problems with the core of TROS seem to be with Chris Terrio and J.J. retconning Last Jedi stuff and leaning on fan service as a whole, all the while likely not being able to utilize anything from Trevorrow’s drafts because they would run into Writer’s Guild problems with crediting the story, and as far as I can gather there are massive egos at play with Kathleen Kennedy and J.J… Too many cooks in the kitchen.

Trevorrow leaving the project (maybe fired by Kennedy?) made it pretty “scorched earth” for not using story beats he mapped out. Some of which were pretty great. The new statements from Daisy Ridley and John Boyega really confirm the weak, rushed, scatterbrained production of TROS as well. But all things considered (production time, Trevorrow leaving, and Carrie Fisher’s untimely demise) it really could’ve been A LOT worse. I think (some of) the angrier fans among us don’t really want to acknowledge the factors they were up against, even though J.J. and co. didn’t all rise (pun intended) to the occasion on this film.

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macesmajored said:

I believe the fault lies with Disney and the make-believe “Lucasfilm Story Group” that they created for not mapping the trilogy and their new expanded canon (at least roughly) as a whole, back in 2012 or 2013 during/after the LFL purchase. It’s primarily Disney’s fault that the new TRILOGY as a whole doesn’t function better.

I get a lot of enjoyment out of the sequel trilogy and Disney canon, but with A LOT of asterisks. IMHO, as messy as TROS is, some of it could have been mitigated in editing (which some fine folks are doing on this very site). The main problems with the core of TROS seem to be with Chris Terrio and J.J. retconning Last Jedi stuff and leaning on fan service as a whole, all the while likely not being able to utilize anything from Trevorrow’s drafts because they would run into Writer’s Guild problems with crediting the story, and as far as I can gather there are massive egos at play with Kathleen Kennedy and J.J… Too many cooks in the kitchen.

Trevorrow leaving the project (maybe fired by Kennedy?) made it pretty “scorched earth” for not using story beats he mapped out. Some of which were pretty great. The new statements from Daisy Ridley and John Boyega really confirm the weak, rushed, scatterbrained production of TROS as well. But all things considered (production time, Trevorrow leaving, and Carrie Fisher’s untimely demise) it really could’ve been A LOT worse. I think (some of) the angrier fans among us don’t really want to acknowledge the factors they were up against, even though J.J. and co. didn’t all rise (pun intended) to the occasion on this film.

I just want to say I really appreciate you giving such a measured take on the situation.

I’m just here because I’m driving tonight.

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I just noticed that one of the mods changed the title to say “Abrams’ Vision” rather than “Abrams’ Lunacy”. Props to them for that, it sounds a lot more neutral and less confrontational.

I personally don’t have a big problem with TROS as a movie. I used to hate it so much that I tried to deny the existence of the sequel trilogy as a whole, but looking back on it I think my problems with the movie were really overblown. It’s not a very good story, and the other two sequels were surely better, but at the end of the day it’s not really a “bad” movie in my opinion. Disappointing sure, but I’m not going to say that the saga is ruined because of it.

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Tack said:

macesmajored said:

I believe the fault lies with Disney and the make-believe “Lucasfilm Story Group” that they created

I just want to say I really appreciate you giving such a measured take on the situation.

Is sarcasm?

It’s Abrams’ fault. It’s his name on the movie, his name as producer, his name as writer. He made the movie. Acting like a larger plan would have stopped him from making a bad trilogy-ender doesn’t make any sort of logical sense (almost as little logical sense as saying the story group was “make believe,” or further, thinking the story group was anything but canon checkers for the creatives). He abandoned “the plan” TWICE when making TFA (both Lucas’ notes and then Arndt’s treatments) and it became a much-loved, well-reviewed success - the highest grossing (domestic) film in history (and likely will be for the foreseeable future). There being “a plan” for The Rise of Skywalker wouldn’t have mattered one whit, because when he did get the chance to come back, he ignored HIS OWN PLANS (Rey Kenobi, Finn the Jedi, Stormtrooper rebellion) to pursue something completely different. And it didn’t work.

Had Abrams made a good movie out of his new on the fly plans (like he did with TFA), none of us would be talking about plans, or “executive meddling” (he’s the executive doing the meddling at the behest of other executives, btw). But he made a bad movie, and now we’re all trying to figure out how it could have happened. But the truth is it happened because nobody bats a thousand. He’s made bad movies before, and he made a bad movie again, this time to end the sequel trilogy. The idea that Disney could have stopped that with a “well conceived plan” doesn’t make any sense. It’s wishful thinking. The dude doesn’t follow plans no matter where they come from, even if “Following the plan” were some surefire key to success, and it isn’t.

Every movie is a risk, and there isn’t some cheat code or safety net to prevent bad movies from coming out of the creative process. It takes work, talent, collaboration, skill, and luck. Every time. No matter what the plan is.

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Excellent post, Broom Kid. I was trying to avoid answering the question directly, but you summed my feelings up perfectly. Just because Abrams made one good Star Wars movie doesn’t mean he can’t make a bad Star Wars movie. His on-the-fly storytelling method is the main reason why the latest movie was so disappointing. Sometimes it’s a blessing, like in TFA, other times it’s a curse.

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StarkillerAG said:

Excellent post, Broom Kid. I was trying to avoid answering the question directly, but you summed my feelings up perfectly. Just because Abrams made one good Star Wars movie doesn’t mean he can’t make a bad Star Wars movie. His on-the-fly storytelling method is the main reason why the latest movie was so disappointing. Sometimes it’s a blessing, like in TFA, other times it’s a curse.

In general, it’s a lot easier to start something without a plan than end something without a plan. See: Lost.

That’s not to bash Abrams, who I think is a very talented director (not writer) but maybe it’s best to keep him limited to first/second installments.

Maul- A Star Wars Story

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likely not being able to utilize anything from Trevorrow’s drafts because they would run into Writer’s Guild problems with crediting the story

Except they’re credited anyways (story by). The Writer’s Guild probably doesn’t care how many writers a film has, it just cares about them being credited. And I don’t see why Abrams and Terrio would care about sharing the credit.

But all things considered (production time, Trevorrow leaving, and Carrie Fisher’s untimely demise) it really could’ve been A LOT worse.

Yes, those factors made this film an absolute nightmare to produce, but that doesn’t mean they coped well. We got exactly what you usually get from such horrendously short deadlines. This might not be absolute rock bottom, but it’s close enough not to matter. If Iger had quit being so stubborn about the deadline maybe they could’ve cobbled together something more than half decent.

I just noticed that one of the mods changed the title to say “Abrams’ Vision” rather than “Abrams’ Lunacy”. Props to them for that, it sounds a lot more neutral and less confrontational.

Actually, that was my call as OP. I felt it was needlessly harsh and disrespectful.

He’s made bad movies before, and he made a bad movie again, this time to end the sequel trilogy.

Except having seen four out of five of his films I feel confident in saying he’s never directed anything that was more than okay. TFA is his best work, but it still suffers from being too derivative, a trademark of his entire catalog. Have you seen Super 8? It’s like a really forgettable Stranger Things before Stranger Things.

That and he’s infamous for never finding a landing he couldn’t not stick.

All I’m saying is bringing him back, especially with all the legal shenanigans it took, was a bad call on Lucasfilm’s part.

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All I’m saying is bringing him back, especially with all the legal shenanigans it took, was a bad call on Lucasfilm’s part.

I mean, who else could they have gone with?? With all the tight deadlines and overall nightmare of a production that Episode IX was going to be after Trevorrow was fired, who could they have chosen to make something even marginally better than what we got?

Use the Force, Jon Yowza.

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He turned down Episode IX since he was already starting to write story drafts for Knives Out.

Use the Force, Jon Yowza.

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It’s true bringing a director who’s new to the series in on such a tight deadline could easily have been equally disastrous.

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It’s Disney’s fault for having such a tight deadline. When Carrie passed, they should have pushed it back a year. No one external forced the release date.

Abrams was given a daunting task. I still don’t like what he pulled off, but fault depends on how you frame it.

Well done. I will disengage self-destruct initiative.

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I read he had ten months to make Rise of Skywalker. Its my opinion that its a very good film to be made in such a short amount of time.

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Hal 9000 said:

It’s Disney’s fault for having such a tight deadline. When Carrie passed, they should have pushed it back a year. No one external forced the release date.

Abrams was given a daunting task. I still don’t like what he pulled off, but fault depends on how you frame it.

None of the bad decisions he made were time-based though. He would have had an extra 6-10 months to try finessing his mountain of bad ideas, but they still would have been fundamentally bad. If anything, looking at how that movie was made, it just would have been packed full of even more - and newer - bad ideas than what we got on his deadline.

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I agree completely. More time may not have helped, but I still think they should have allowed for it. Even that may have allowed them to find someone other than JJ Abrams.

Well done. I will disengage self-destruct initiative.

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Broom Kid said:

Tack said:

macesmajored said:

I believe the fault lies with Disney and the make-believe “Lucasfilm Story Group” that they created

I just want to say I really appreciate you giving such a measured take on the situation.

Is sarcasm?

It’s Abrams’ fault. It’s his name on the movie, his name as producer, his name as writer. He made the movie. Acting like a larger plan would have stopped him from making a bad trilogy-ender doesn’t make any sort of logical sense (almost as little logical sense as saying the story group was “make believe,” or further, thinking the story group was anything but canon checkers for the creatives). He abandoned “the plan” TWICE when making TFA (both Lucas’ notes and then Arndt’s treatments) and it became a much-loved, well-reviewed success - the highest grossing (domestic) film in history (and likely will be for the foreseeable future).

The beginning third of TFA (The one with most of Arnd’s fingerprints) is widely considered to be the best part of that film, and the last third with the Starkiller (JJ’s invention) is widely seen as the weakest aspect. It’s also a film that only worked at the time because the audience was expecting answers to the mystery box questions, questions that were either abandoned or turned out to be blitheringly stupid.

There being “a plan” for The Rise of Skywalker wouldn’t have mattered one whit, because when he did get the chance to come back, he ignored HIS OWN PLANS (Rey Kenobi, Finn the Jedi, Stormtrooper rebellion) to pursue something completely different. And it didn’t work.

Which goes to show that JJ isn’t a guy with a plan. He generates concepts from the beginning of a story to its end, with most of those concepts withering away as new ones take their place.

Had Abrams made a good movie out of his new on the fly plans (like he did with TFA), none of us would be talking about plans, or “executive meddling” (he’s the executive doing the meddling at the behest of other executives, btw). But he made a bad movie, and now we’re all trying to figure out how it could have happened. But the truth is it happened because nobody bats a thousand. He’s made bad movies before, and he made a bad movie again, this time to end the sequel trilogy. The idea that Disney could have stopped that with a “well conceived plan” doesn’t make any sense. It’s wishful thinking. The dude doesn’t follow plans no matter where they come from, even if “Following the plan” were some surefire key to success, and it isn’t.

Every movie is a risk, and there isn’t some cheat code or safety net to prevent bad movies from coming out of the creative process. It takes work, talent, collaboration, skill, and luck. Every time. No matter what the plan is.

I just fundamentally disagree. I think that a script is important. If you hire subpar writers, you get subpar plans. The best part of TFA was Arndt’s and Kasdan’s involvement. But if you look at the rest of JJ’s filmography, you get the man himself, Kurtzman, Orci, and/or Terrio. This team has never made more than a merely competent film.

Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change? - oojason
Episode 9 Rewrite THE SHATTERED SWORD (Complete!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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But a script isn’t the same thing as this overarching “plan” that people keep referencing, which is more accurately a conceptual security blanket for fandom to let them feel like everything is alright, some faceless person at Disney has Kennedy/Abrams/insert-director-here “under control” and they won’t mess up Star Wars.

You can make a good movie out of a subpar script. It’s happened many times. For example: Star Wars. But I’m not even arguing that you don’t need a great script. I’m arguing that constantly suggesting an overarching plan would have made things right is wishful thinking, because this director doesn’t follow plans even when they ARE good, or further, when they’re HIS OWN PLANS.

I don’t want to confuse the idea that “script” = “plan” here, not in the way we’re all constantly talking about “The Plan” as in “Disney should have had a Plan” or “See what happens when Kennedy doesn’t hammer out a Plan.” Do I wish the script had been better? I wish everything had been better. But sometimes collaborative art projects just don’t come together despite everyone’s best intentions. For example: The Phantom Menace.

“The Plan” has become this weird mythological safety net for fandom, and the truth is most everything that fandom loves didn’t really have a plan, and even if there was, it wasn’t really adhered to.

“The Plan” wouldn’t have saved The Rise of Skywalker. It needed good ideas, and all it got were bad ones.

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The plan is overvalued as it doesn’t take into account audience rejection

Audiences might not like where you are about to take this franchise, it doesn’t matter if you planned it from the beginning, the second you implement it the audience will reject it.

Audiences don’t like Rey or the fact that she is going to restore the Jedi order, no amount of execution is going to save an idea that audiences simply won’t accept.

The fantastic beasts franchise is obviously meticulously planned, but audiences don’t like the shit Rowling is selling from a foundational level.

Planning for palpatine’s return since the beginning isn’t going to make the idea any less shitty

You might be put in a situation where audiences demand something other than you planned and you will have to scrap your story and reboot mid series in order to avoid audience rejection.

Which puts us back to where we came from with the ST(and how episode 9 came out of nowhere)

We don’t need a plan, we need good ideas