Rian Johnson Says TLJ Criticism Is Unfair, Mark Hamill Retweets Comments

Frank Pollata of CNN reports on an interview with Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill at the South by Southwest Conference.  I’ve written previously how it seems that Mark Hamill’s more recent comments have taken a turn against the fans, and here we get more of that.

What’s actually unfair is the effort to compare the criticism of The Last Jedi with criticism of The Empire Strikes Back as part of the larger effort to tear down the Original Trilogy, in a vain attempt to elevate the Sequel Trilogy, thereby making them both equal.  It’s vain because all one has to do is pop in the DVDs for both films and watch them, thus making any argument either way utterly meaningless.  The Last Jedi is no Empire Strikes Back.

But the argument is circling the internet anyway, and it’s always silly every time it’s repeated.

Granted, there was no internet as we know it now in the 1970s or 1980s.  But we didn’t live in caves.  We had communication.  We had fanzines.  We had Fan Clubs.  We had letters to the editors of Starlog and other publications.  We had telephones.  Heck, we even had internet bulletin boards in the 1980s.  You can watch the film War Games starring Mathew Broderick to get a sense of how that worked.  But more importantly, stars and directors received fan mail, through the old fashioned U.S. Postal Service.  Mark is old enough to know all of this.

But is the argument they’re honestly making here is that no one would know that The Last Jedi sucks were it not for the internet?  Even if that could be true, how would that be good for anyone?

Furthermore, those who have followed George Lucas’ career know that he’s always been a pretty good business man.  He produced each film with the profits he earned from the previous film.  So if The Empire Strikes Back were as poorly received as SJWs are now suddenly claiming when it’s convenient to do so, then Return of the Jedi would never have been produced.

The CNN interview continued:

RianHamill

Mark Hamill recites the contents of his Twitter feed.

Thanks for telling us how we feel, Mark.  I guess psychiatry is a Force power now.  Why not?  Everything else is.

The only people I’ve seen feel entitled, are the SJWs who have been screaming their demands at Lucasfilm as to what kind of characters and actors ought to appear on screen and in print.

I understand that for Mark Hamill his time with Disney has likely been an emotional roller coaster ride.  So I’d like to cut him some slack here.

But at some point I’d like to think that Mark Hamill will be open to considering the possibility that the movie just isn’t very good.  Blaming the fans for not liking your movie is never good policy.  Particularly not the fans who defended Mark when they thought that Disney was mistreating him.

6 thoughts on “Rian Johnson Says TLJ Criticism Is Unfair, Mark Hamill Retweets Comments

  1. This is worth a watch (fast fwd through the promo in the middle)… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3gciAsltCw

    I think the biggest issue has nothing to do with the films. It’s this new tactic of a major studio gaslighting its audience trying to make them doubt their own eyes and ears. If you fell asleep out of boredom, they want you to be shamed into seeing yourself as uneducated instead of the truth that they didn’t tell a good story, using actors who couldn’t make you believe in it.

    I recently re-watched ‘Return of the Jedi’, and even though it’s often called the weakest of the Originals, it’s completely Star Wars to its core. Harrison Ford gives way to playful mugging too often for my tastes, but being in the company of murderous, carnivorous Ewoks can do that to you.

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    • I’ve seen their work before, its some pretty funny stuff.

      Gaslighting probably plays a role to some extent. But I also think that they simply cannot process the notion that they’ve made a bad movie, or that social justice lecturing itself makes a bad movie.

      Overall I like Return of the Jedi. Many criticize the use of muppets, but I genuinely like the entire 1st act of the film on Tatooine. Many criticize the ewoks, but I don’t really have a problem with them. The speeder bike chase is really cool. I think it has a satisfying climax to the overall saga both in terms of the macro story with the fall of the Empire, and the micro story with the resolution between father and son. It’s main flaw IMO is somewhere in the 2nd Act. Its in the period when Leia meets Wicket, and ends when Lando arrives out of hyperspace at the Death Star. It just stops in its tracks and drags for that stretch. I remember when I used to watch it on VHS I’d often fast forward through that part.

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  2. Thinking it over, another way to describe the slow ‘andante’ segment would be ‘relationship oriented’, and George was never very good with the ‘crying and dying’, let alone interpersonal relationships.

    The big reveal between Luke and Leia feels rushed, and in a way raises more questions than it answers (WHAT DO YOU MEAN ‘YOU’VE ALWAYS KNOWN’?) Also the same between Luke and Vader as they test the newly acknowledged family relationship, and Luke considers the duty of a son to come to the aid of his father. He can ‘feel the conflict within him’? Well good, ’cause we sure can’t! When did you first determine that there was ‘still good in him’? What was the evidence? Just your feelings? It should be a ‘show not tell’ approach, but we’re in uncharted territory, story-wise, because the script writers didn’t take the time to figure out how to show us the developments through the medium of The Force between the characters, without resorting to the on-the-nose narrative exposition.

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    • I would argue that focus on interpersonal relationships aren’t necessary in a war time film. If we look at Lord of the Rings for instance, Tolkien has been criticized for similar things, but again, it’s a war time scenario.

      For me the reveal between Luke and Leia was sufficient. I took “I’ve always known” to be an indication of Leia’s intuition, or Force sensitivity. I didn’t need much more than that. I feel the same about Luke “feeling conflict” within Anakin/Vader. I interpreted that as the conflict between Anakin’s desire for a relationship with his son, and the orders that he’s receiving from Palpatine. Not much more is needed.

      Good screenwriters try to avoid what is refereed to as “on the nose” dialogue. This is where the characters painfully spell out exactly what they’re thinking. The problem is that people don’t really talk that way, so it comes off as contrived. We see a lot of that sort of thing in day time soap operas. I think it was David Mamet who said that the perfect film has no dialogue. The more that dialogue can be distilled down to its essence, the better off it plays.

      The Fugitive was a great example of this. In some of the behind the scenes interviews, Ford talks about how he and Tommy Lee Jones originally had this big back and forth dialogue scene between their characters in that climactic scene just before Ford dives off the damn into the water. But they boiled it all down to two lines of dialogue; “I didn’t kill my wife,” and “I don’t care.” That’s all we really needed to know.

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  3. “It’s vain because all one has to do is pop in the DVDs for both films and watch them, thus making any argument either way utterly meaningless. The Last Jedi is no Empire Strikes Back.”
    I think this is one reason the studios want to rush the demise of physical media and are pushing streaming so hard. They can then better control whatever narrative they’re currently pushing by making comparisons impossible simply by not streaming any films they don’t want you to see. One more reason to support physical media ownership over ephemeral streaming.

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