The film misinterprets basic concepts of the Jedi and the Force … acting like the Jedi are meant to be pacifists.
I don’t think TLJ is the one misinterpreting basic concepts of the Jedi and the Force.
That’s not what Yoda meant in context. The Jedi are meant to defend the innocent, and that often involves striking down those who would harm others. ANH has Obi-Wan cutting off an assailant’s arm. They absolutely are willing to resort to the use of force to fight someone who threatens innocents. That’s why they carry lightsabers in the first place. This notion that a “true” Jedi doesn’t actually even use his saber to defeat someone is a misinterpretation by Rian Johnson of what the Jedi actually are. Striking down Kylo, or at least genuinely trying to talk him down, could have saved countless lives and ended the war. This notion of a Jedi being purely pacifist never reflected George’s vision or intention. Rian doesn’t know Star Wars better than its creator. In fact, I think there are a lot of people who understand Star Wars better than Rian does.
Called it in the inb4!
Also, Rian misinterpreted “Balance of the Force” to mean “the balance of Light and Dark.” This is sadly a very common misconception, when George clearly stated that “balance” meant the destruction of the Sith. The Sith are not a natural result of the Force achieving balance. They only exist as an unnatural corruption of it that must be purged.
You can find quotes by George Lucas going literally both ways. George Lucas is a pathological liar, contradicts himself on the reg. He’s a time traveling revisionist whose “true, original vision” changes every other hour. His word is almost entirely meaningless.
“The Force has two sides, the good side and the evil side, and they both need to be there.” -Lucas 2002
“The third [trilogy will] deal with moral and philosophical problems … Eventually you have to face the fact that good and evil aren’t that clear-cut and the real issue is trying to understand the difference.” -Lucas 1983
Ironic that advocates of a more grey aspect of Star Wars also claim that Lucas totally supports them, especially because of the prequels.
I’m personally not a huge fan of the sort of grey “light and dark are both good, balance is in between” angle, but it’s not unfounded.
The PT has massive amounts of worldbuilding. The sheer volume of worlds, species, factions, and cultures introduced
Like what? Like who? The closest thing we get to that I can think of is that they have some new alien designs, but that’s art design again, not worldbuilding.
in the PT provided so much fertile ground for new stories to tell and history to flesh out.
The EU picking up the slack for the PT does not make the PT good. The EU doing worldbuilding does not mean the PT had any, in fact it just highlights the sheer lack of worldbuilding in the PT.
We finally got to see the Republic
We get to see the Republic is a really shallow ripoff of the United States government made by someone whose understanding of the US government clearly didn’t go beyond, like, 7th grade civics class. We don’t know anything about how it functions other than that the Chancellor is the leader of the executive and that the Senate has some legislative authority, and there is a third branch that is never relevant, despite us being told it’s supposed to be in, like, 2 lines?
Compare, like, literally any other fantasy Republic, or even any other fantasy government. There’s so much more interesting nuance that could be here, but is ditched for a really shallow-ass allegory about how Bush did 9/11 or some shit.
Maybe it could be said that spending too much time on the functionality of the Republic would be a bad idea and detract from the story. I’d probably agree. But that’s a justification for the prequels’ lack of worldbuilding, the fact of the matter is that there is a lack of worldbuilding, and the little bit that is there is downright uncreative.
We got to see the different corporations that formed the CIS.
Aside from the Trade Federation, we get name drops for the different corporations that formed the CIS. That’s it.
You don’t even have to leave Star Wars to see this done right, compare the depth the CIS gets in the EU and TCW to the complete lack thereof in the prequels.
Even the Trade Federation is literally just the GOP. They’re not even trying to hide it. Nute Gingrich + Ronald Raygun = Nute Gunray. While I hate the Republican Party, the Trade Federation as a criticism has the depth of tin foil. We don’t know anything about their beliefs, private or public, we don’t know anything about why their policies are bad, we just know that they’re evil and greedy and mean and they’re in league with George Walker Hitler.
As an instance of worldbuilding, they have even less depth than tin foil.
I mean, yeah, a sequel to LotR wouldn’t work. The ending to LotR has cosmological significance. It’s the end of an era of reality itself. The ending to the Star Wars Trilogy is more character-oriented, the story ends here it’s where Luke becomes a Jedi and the conflict between him and Vader is resolved. To the galaxy, the events at the end of RotJ are almost incidental. Sure, it’s a big win for the Rebels, and Vader and Palpatine dying are pretty important, but there’s no way anything significant changes in the state of the galaxy. It’s been the butt of jokes for as long as I remember and it’s no surprise that in both Legends and in the New EU, not only do Imperial Remnants, pretenders, successor states, and Empire-adjacent factions live on for a really long time after RotJ, but the Empire proper lives on for a while after RotJ. 7 years in Legends and a little over a year in the New EU.
I have absolutely no problem with the Empire surviving for years post-RotJ. I do have a problem with the Empire rising to full power out of the blue with no buildup within the lifetimes of the original characters, and tearing down everything they worked for with nothing surviving. You can still have the Empire exist as a faction. But the ending of RotJ still needs to mean something to the world as a whole. Because it was absolutely meant to.
Maybe you could invoke some of the Chosen One stuff from the prequels. Anakin fulfills the prophecy and it has the same cosmological significance as destroying the One Ring, but the Chosen One prophecy was always something arbitrarily slapped onto Star Wars decades after the fact. The OT has nothing to do with it, and it seems that George Lucas was quick to abandon it, considering that one of the four ST ideas he’s had that we know about involves Leia having been the real Chosen One.
Nevertheless, the Chosen One prophecy is etched into the canon now, and whether it was George or someone else making the sequel trilogy, it would be important to honor that and make the story work within the context of the prophecy. George came up with the prophecy partly to give RotJ’s ending a greater sense of finality and importance. The ending wasn’t just a personal victory for Luke. It was the destruction of the Sith, and a crushing blow to the Empire that they shouldn’t have been able to fully recover from, at least not off-screen.
Before the prequels, maybe you could make some OT-centric era argument. Star Wars is fundamentally about the Empire and the Rebels, so the story of Star Wars has to end with the end of the Empire, which is at least bound to happen by the end of RotJ. Which, back in the 80s or 90s when Star Wars avoided anything too far before or after from the OT, fair enough, but the prequels have kind of blown that door wide open. Now we have so many wildly different eras of Star Wars, it’s almost inevitable that a sequel dealing with the galaxy 30 years after the OT would have happened.
Which makes it all the more a shame that they decided to rehash Rebels vs. Empire again. As you said, Star Wars had grown beyond just being about those two factions. And again, I’d be fine with this new Empire existing as long as it wasn’t just a more cartoonish copy of it with comically oversized, overpowered super weapons, and if we had a proper New Republic instead of just a Rebel Alliance palette swap. And there were several EU stories set decades after the OT that introduced brand new factions to oppose the New Republic, as well as different splinter factions of the Empire with their own distinct cultures and divergences from one another.
Not so with Lord of the Rings. I don’t think I need to explain myself here, but while there’s tons of stuff written by Tolkien which details what goes on long before Lord of the Rings, there’s absolutely not for after Lord of the Rings. Even with what goes on before Lord of the Rings, it all relates to the events of Lord of the Rings. There’s no Knights of the Old Middle Earth.
Sequels to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings would be wildly different, and while one is pretty much doomed by the basic facts of the story, the other feels almost inevitable.
The prequels actually added something significant to the story.
I really have to disagree hard on this. The Last Jedi feels like an actual contribution to Star Wars. It developed on interesting characters introduced in TFA, and gave Luke a character arc I was interested in. It contributed to the Star Wars mythos, and I kind of think you have to ignore the whole movie to say there wasn’t a lot of passion and care put into this movie or that it didn’t add anything significant to the story.
Because it’s really easy to imagine a sequel trilogy that actually was totally vapid and just gunning for the box office. At the very least, it would have made the polar opposite decisions that TLJ made, and there’s a lot of decisions that TFA made that wouldn’t line up with this.
I’m not about to tell you that the ST was the next Citizen Kane or anything, because it wasn’t. Rebels v Empire 2 was a shame. Starkiller Base is indefensible. Most of TRoS is indefensible. Etc.
But a lot of criticisms made against the ST seem to be because they weren’t totally vapid. Especially ones having to do with Luke Skywalker.
I don’t think the prequels were a straight cash grab, because it looks like there was actual effort put into the Phantom Menace. But overall we have:
-One movie with an actual story, but none of the events of this movie really end up being all that relevant, and it’s not even like this story is all that complex
-One movie that feels like it’s trying to be the setup to a new trilogy, but doesn’t have much of an interesting story of its own, and, you know, it’s actually Episode 2, and should be starting to wrap the story up.
-One movie that starts off by dropping all the setup done in the previous movie, farting around on Coruscant telling us exposition for over an hour, then acts out backstory we already knew from the OT (really inaccurately I might add), then goes on an ANH fanservice montage it didn’t earn or justify
Actually, we know behind the scenes that they kinda hard pressed the reset button after TPM, which is why pretty much nothing in TPM is relevant. I wonder if they also did that between AotC and RotS, although more of a soft press this time. Every single movie feels like the first movie in a prequel trilogy, but (believe it or not), they’re not all the first movie. So when the end of Revenge of the Sith rolls around, it feels like the story of an entire trilogy is crammed into the last 40ish minutes of the movie, and a ton of that time is devoted to overly long SFX sequences, not the actual story.
The only thing the prequels contributed to Star Wars is the very beginnings of the scaffolding the EU used to actually contribute to Star Wars.
Absolutely everything that you’d think the prequels could have or should have contributed is entirely absent from the prequels and mostly in the EU. Especially the Clone Wars. We see the very, very beginning, and the tail end is there in some SFX sequences, but the war itself is entirely absent.
Hell, we know surprisingly little about, like, anything to do with the galaxy during the time of the prequels. All of that is in the EU and TCW.
As for context to the OT characters, it’s so incredibly unclear that it doesn’t even really seem to matter. Mainly, Anakin’s reason for becoming Vader changed behind the scenes for all three movies, and even the final movie where it’s supposed to happen can’t seem to make up its mind on why.
I can’t even think of anything else that the PT contributed to the OT’s context to really argue for or against. That’s pretty much it.
The OT itself gives far better context than the trilogy that’s actually supposed to be depicting its context. All the PT does is make the OT more muddied.