If you haven’t seen it… you won’t get it, but you can guess what’s being made fun of here.
Having forsaken the charred moral landscapes of Nolan/Snyder but unable to match Marvel’s sly self-awareness, WW84 (like Aquaman before it) reverts to the mode of pre-2005 superhero movies built around campy set pieces and moronic plotting. Diana, for instance, comes across the plot’s instigator when she thwarts . . . a jewelry-store robbery in a shopping mall. A mall robbery? What is she doing at this crime scene in the first place? She’s supposed to be a goddess, not Paul Blart in a tiara.Kyle Smith, “Movie Review: Where’s the Beef, Wonder Woman 1984?“
Kyle Smith’s overall assessment of the DC Universe is one I agree with, and, despite his negative review of WW84, I still plan to see it (if I can find an open theater around here). As for the review excerpt I cited above, there is a world of difference between Kevin Smith and Gal Gadot, but Smith’s choice to compare these stars’ signature roles made me laugh, and also raises all kinds of amusing questions about the hero stories we tell, and how we tell them.
I loved Wonder Woman. And I’m bummed to hear the follow up may be a step backward for the franchise. I guess I’ll see what I think.
I’m a fan of film and certain elements of pop culture, and Sam Gilbey has produced interesting and visually compelling representations of several cinematic classics. I came across his work here. Below are my favorites.
The Jurassic Park and Jaws prints make fantastic use of perspective and foreshortening. The Die Hard image makes me want to demand someone bring me my detonators, and Prince Vultan brings to mind the query, “Gordon’s alive?”
Flash. He’s for every one of us. Singing Queen’s “Flash Gordon Theme” yet?
And you’re welcome.
Gilbey’s website has even more cool images. Check it out.
This is so unbelievably cool.
The movie has moments of great potential. A pivotal lightsaber fight between Rey and Kylo Ren is reminiscent of the fight between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Even some of the moves used mirror those of Skywalker and Kenobi—this battle should have echoed theirs while also including a surprising twist of some kind. Star Wars has always featured this kind of intertextual referencing, of course. At their best, the movies make references but with slight alterations to surprise the viewers and shift the meaning. What made the throne room scene work in The Last Jedi, for example, is that it echoed a similar scene in Return of the Jedi but went in a wildly different direction.
Abrams never takes these kinds of risks. He makes no attempt to play with past scenes in these ways; in the two Disney trilogy films he directed—The Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker—he simply repeats past scenes or rhymes them in unimaginative ways. Thus the Death Star becomes Starkiller Base which becomes an armada of star destroyers armed with Death Star-style weapons. Thus the first trilogy concludes with a simultaneous space battle featuring the Millennium Falcon and Wedge Antilles and a separate lightsaber battle—and the Disney trilogy ends with a simultaneous space battle featuring the Millennium Falcon and Wedge Antilles and a separate lightsaber battle. This is storytelling with recycled parts, devoid of imagination or risk-taking.
– Jake Meador writing at First Things, “Why the Rise of Skywalker Fails“
Meador’s review basically says, “Disney has abandoned storytelling in favor of making money.” Sadly, Star Wars has become a brand experience, with each new film designed to evoke feelings of nostalgia and the brief satisfaction that comes with seeing familiar characters and our favorite fantastical machines on screen. Nevermind dialogue, nevermind story, nevermind compelling themes, nevermind myth or cosmic struggle. Fan service and the almighty dollar reign supreme.
Yet, I continue to be a fan. I love Empire, A New Hope and Jedi (in that order). I enjoyed Rogue One and Solo, despite disagreements I have with how they massaged Han’s character arc. When I left The Phantom Menance I begged friends to tell me it was good and then hated every successive prequel. I can accept the soft reboot of The Force Awakens but The Last Jedi gave us numerous confounding and stupifying plot decisions.
Finally, as I walked to my car following The Rise of Skywalker, I said, “Thank the Maker the Skywalker saga is over.”
Perhaps there will be other Star Wars flims that tell us stand-alone stories in an expanding universe. Maybe there is a compelling character remaining buried deep within the canon, waiting for their on-screen debut. Maybe the murkiness of Episodes VII-IX will drive writers back towards a story about good and evil, and give us sympathetic heroes, interesting rogues, and disgusting villains.
I doubt it. I anticipate films that pander to a certain segment of the Twitter commentariat.
But whatever they make I’ll be there to watch, and that is part of the problem.