Disney Needs Rian Johnson For Star Wars

9.5
  • Science Fiction
2017-12-15
tempt-trailer_1
The Last Jedi LucasFilm

The next Star Wars film on the docket is the Han Solo standalone film. I wasn’t miffed when Phil Lord and Chris Miller got the boot because I was never terribly excited about the film in the first place. I wasn't even excited after Ron Howard got the gig (though I think he’s a fine filmmaker), yet somehow became irreversibly excited after I witnessed the backlash Rian Johnson faced from The Last Jedi.

I wasn’t bowled over by the movie, but I was at least pleased to discover that most of my critiques of the direction of the revamped franchise didn’t apply to the latest entry. The Force Awakens was certainly a good time, but it played a little too safe. Rogue One was toothless and condescending. The Last Jedi didn’t fall into either camp. Although the story was a bit messy, it maintained a sense of vision throughout. It had something to say and was gorgeous to boot. Gratefully, The Last Jedi is bringing in some good numbers at the box office, which I’d be naive to believe didn’t mean more to Kathleen Kennedy than a horde of disgruntled fans. But, the audience backlash isn’t insignificant. It has to introduce the fear that if Disney dances to the dissenters tune in the next go-round, there’s an opportunity to make even more money.

I really hope this will not be considered too seriously. If the plan is to keep pumping these out indefinitely, Disney will need a guy like Rian Johnson. The franchise cannot survive on its iconography alone forever, in fact for not much longer. Whether or not fans enjoyed Johnson’s particular deviations from the status quo, they must respect his decisions to make them. Did we really want to see a beat-by-beat remake of The Empire Strikes Back? Johnson’s The Last Jedi deliberately subverts everything we’ve ever known about Star Wars, to the point where I can’t begin predict what will happen in Episode IX. It’s 2018, and I can’t map out a blockbuster sequel. And you guys hated it?

Disney, if you’re reading this, don’t listen to the naysayers and continue to make Star Wars weird. Play around with the legacy characters for a little then kill them off. Get these galactic fogies outta here. Bring in the new. If I’m going to watch this franchise till I’m dead, keep me on my toes.

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