It's been two years since Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out. As with the other Star Wars trilogies, the middle film is the most experimental of the bunch. As with The Empire Strikes Back, it's the one film in the trilogy that you can call good filmmaking, rather than just a good Star Wars movie. Rian Johnson's film was thoughtful and challenged our assumptions while developing these characters in unexpected ways.
You could feel the weight of all the time that had passed inbetween this trilogy and the original films. It wasn't handwaving that away and pretending to be young again (the timeline of the prequels still breaks my brain). This was Star Wars contemplating its own legacy, and the consequences of every action.
A large-sized chunk of the internet has now spent two years hating this movie very loudly, as if it was the worst film ever made and an insult to everything Star Wars. They've had two years to make their case, and the main things I keep hearing from them are:
1) They're mad because Star Wars has women in it now, although the other recent films also had that
2) They're mad because it's not the 80s anymore and the film is mostly about the new characters rather than presenting a young Luke Skywalker exactly as he was, although the previous film also did that
3) They're mad because Rey is actually the main character; they assumed the previous film was kidding about that
I have heard no other real argument, apart from the most vocal Last Jedi haters also being actual alt-r_ght N_zis and Tr_mp supporters.
I'm sure that "normal" people also hated The Last Jedi, as it seems to be a very common reaction to the film. I'm also pretty sure that the reasons why "normal" guys didn't like it are, deep down, exactly the same as stated previously. I'm also very sure that they're wrong.
I haven't seen The Rise of Skywalker yet, but unfortunately, according to reviewers, it feels rushed and incoherent, and undoes almost all of the potentially interesting ideas from The Last Jedi, perhaps to placate the haters. JJ Abrams has always struck me as a competent filmmaker rather than someone who has interesting ideas himself.
Jenny Nicholson made a joke on Twitter about the film being written by Alan Dean Foster.
Here's a funny video about that, by Jenny Nicholson.
You see, there's a fanfiction going round, a treatment for Star Wars 9 which sought to undo everything that The Last Jedi did, while also retreading its story beat for beat in stupider ways. There aren't women in it this time, at least not women who matter. Leia dies immediately, Rose explodes, Maz is not involved, and Holdo's sacrifice is handwaved away so it can never happen again. Rey is revealed as a cyborg, explaining away the "plot hole" that a woman could ever use The Force, and C-3PO hits on her.
Luke is alive again, and he's the real hero this time. He's a "whirling dervish" with two lightsabers who fights a hundred Snoke clones while Rey just watches and cries about what a robot "monster" she is. "The Empire" is back, referred to awkwardly throughout as "The First Order/Empire." Kylo Ren (only referred to as "Ren") dies like a punk as punishment for killing Han Solo. Finn is Rey's love interest and the writer mostly forgets that Poe exists.
It reads like a remake of Last Jedi, but much dumber, and written by someone with very deep anger issues over women being in Star Wars now (including Leia), and deep anger issues over it not being the 80s anymore. If it were still the 80s, a Star Wars sequel could pick up right where Return of the Jedi left off, as indeed several novels did at the time. But it's not the 80s anymore. Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, is 68 years old. He's the Obi-Wan character now, and the original films didn't end with Obi-Wan kicking Darth Vader's tuchis while Luke Skywalker cried in a corner. But the author of this treatment is 73 years old, and didn't want to accept any of that. He called everything about The Last Jedi a "plot hole," and corrected it.
Which is hilarious, and I could ignore this treatment as just fanfiction by some incel, except that it was written by the guy who wrote "Star Wars," and its sequel. He also wrote "The Force Awakens."
Yes, Alan Dean Foster wrote the 1976 novelization of Star Wars, based on George Lucas' screenplay (which was itself punched up by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz). He also wrote "Splinter of the Mind's Eye," a quickie sequel to Star Wars. He came back to write the "Force Awakens" novelization, and before that wrote "The Approaching Storm," a prequel to the prequel Attack of the Clones.
While he's best known for his adaptations, he's still a well known Star Wars author. So seeing him embarrass himself because he hates The Last Jedi so much is genuinely interesting. And shows just how nonsensical the arguments against that film were.
I guess a lot of people thought they could write a better Star Wars movie than that. But the guy who wrote "Star Wars" sure couldn't.
And, judging from the reviews, The Rise of Skywalker also falls short.
Here's a funny video. If you're a guy who didn't like The Last Jedi, here's a video about you:
P.S. I deleted a reply on this post which started out, "We can all agree that Last Jedi is a terrible movie." This was followed by a long list of "unanswered questions" about Holdo which are only unanswered if you paid no attention while watching the film.
The irony is incredible. Poe refuses to listen to his commanding officer because she isn't immediately telling him everything and he thinks he's the hero. The entire point is that Poe is wrong, and reckless, and not listening, and has a lesson to learn.
And the haters of this film just refuse to learn that lesson either. They refer to Holdo's entire role (and therefore 1/3rd of the film's plot) as a plot hole that's completely unexplained and makes no sense, because they won't listen to anything said by a woman with purple hair either.
Nobody dismisses the Yoda storyline in Empire Strikes Back, even though Yoda doesn't immediately tell Luke the truth and Luke gets everything wrong the entire film. The storylines in Last Jedi are much milder by comparison but people lost their minds over them.
They dismiss the storylines as follows:
Rey - "Doesn't count" because it stars a young woman rather than Luke, who is old and haunted now, instead of telling us it's still the 1980s somehow, and you're still young
Poe - "Doesn't count" because woman have purple hair.
Finn/Rose - It's about income inequality, and about how anyone can be a hero, not just a chosen few supermen. So it "doesn't count" because half the haters are Tr_mp supporters. In the Last Jedi, all the young heroes including Rey are depicted as ascended nobodies. They're not Skywalkers or Kenobis. It's a great touch which the following film ruins, apparently. Finn and Rose are people of color, and boy did the haters want them to die by sacrificing themselves, but I'm sure that's a coincidence rather than open bigotry.
Rian Johnson's current film Knives Out is Certified Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes with a 97% critic score. Rise of Skywalker got 57% ...