So Love Has Blinded You?

Over the past week I have come to the realization that if I connect with a character in a deep and meaningful way in a Star Wars movie, I become blind to almost all the other flaws within the movie.

I came to this realization primarily with two movies of the Saga:

  1. The Phantom Menace
  2. The Force Awakens

 

The Phantom Menace

 

With the Phantom Menace, my obsession is with Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon opened up a world to me that didn’t exist prior to the Prequels, and more specifically, the world of the Jedi as a functioning unit/organization.

I loved it. But it was peculiar because I loved Qui-Gon and didn’t care about any of the other Jedi on the Council or within the movie. Obi-Wan generated a shrug and “whatever” attitude from me, but I was obsessed with Qui-Gon.

I think the reason is two-fold: 1) Qui-Gon is a Jedi so therefore he follows some kind of moral compass , but 2) he is not on the council because he does not completely follow the Code and that is deliberate because he marches to the beat of his own drum.

I adored everything Qui-Gon said and did in The Phantom Menace…and I still do. I don’t understand why people dislike TPM because I’m blinded by the fact that Qui-Gon is in the movie and takes the movie to the next level.

There are flaws in TPM though, just like any other movie but there are glaring issues. I never realized this until this weekend when I saw that I have the same predicament with The Force Awakens.

Here are what I believe are the main issues with TPM. Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m only just coming to these realizations this weekend when I tried to take an objective look at the movie.

  1. The characters. If you’re a fan who grew up with the OT, the characters of TPM seem stale, lacking in warmth and connection, and they are not relatable. Whereas with the OT, we can kind of see ourselves in each of the three heroes shoes, with the PT, unless perhaps you followed a political career path, the characters seem less at ease and more distant. And don’t get people started on Jar Jar Binks (though I don’t really mind him but can understand why some people do).
  2. The politics. I have noticed this one before and have written about it. The movie is bogged down in politics to the point that it may become suffocating for some people. There is no simple (or even really linear) plot as everything is shrouded under Trade Federations, senate issues, etc.
  3. Droids. The droids were not as menacing as they should have been. The Destroyers did the job well but the Battle Droids came off comical. Where’s the fear that people had of the Empire? It’s not there in TPM, in fact, other than Darth Maul, there’s no real fear of the Trade Federation.
  4. No greater cause. With the OT, it felt like they Rebels were fighting for something real and a greater cause for the galaxy. In TPM, that essence is missing. There’s no overarching big bad guy to fight.

 

I’m only trying to play devil’s advocate here as many of you know how much I love TPM. It was the first Star Wars movie I saw in theaters and I thought it was amazing. I love that the main character is a child and there are numerous GOOD things about the movie.

But, I also came to realize that when digging deep on why I like TPM it all comes back to Qui-Gon. I blabber on about the Old Republic and the Jedi, but at my core, it’s all about Qui-Gon. He has blinded me to faults within TPM.

 

The Force Awakens

 

I had a very interesting Twitter discussion this weekend with other Star Wars fans. I learned that most hardcore fans are NOT looking forward to the Han Solo movie (this was also slightly confirmed in blog comments from last Friday). On top of that, what I thought was a minority of fans dissatisfied with Disney and the new movies, it’s actually a lot larger and the frustration runs a lot deeper than I had originally assumed.

I know there are people who did not enjoy The Force Awakens and as I was (am) a lot older when I saw TFA vs. TPM, I’m more aware of the issues in present time, instead of finding out years later.

However, I have a similar issue with TFA that I did with TPM: I love Rey. I love her more than I love Qui-Gon. She’s a female character who is relatable, but she can also fight and use the Force. She is strong without falling into a stereotype of a bland, physically strong female protagonist who has no emotion. I loved the character so much that I named my daughter with Rey as her middle name.

People bring to my attention all kinds of flaws with TFA and I have been able to argue or rationalize all the problems. I try to convince people that the movie is actually quite good and they are being bullheaded. But is the movie good? Or is my love for Rey blinding my love for the movie?

Tweeting this weekend with other fans made me take a step back and realize that TFA has some pretty major flaws.

  1. Too similar to A New Hope. This is obvious and even I couldn’t deny this one. The movie practically copies ANH in every way possible, to the point that even my beloved main character comes from a desert planet. Really? Starkiller Base is a bigger, badder Death Star…that gets blown up by the Resistance. Resistance sounds too similar to Rebellion. At least the Empire got a makeover in their name.
  2. Our 3 main heroes never get screen time. If you are going to go to such lengths to copy ANH and pay homage to the movie, why didn’t you give our 3 heroes some screen time together? If everyone survived, we could have maybe hoped for a reunion further down but that has been revoked with Solo’s death and the real death of Carrie Fisher.
  3. Politics…or lack thereof. Whereas TPM delved into politics TOO much, TFA goes in the extreme opposite direction where we have no understanding of the current political climate. At least within ANH we had some mumbles about the Imperial Senate and we understood Empire vs. Rebellion. In TFA there was Republic, a Resistance, and a First Order…but the First Order sounds kind of small? Or is it large? And is the First Order now the opposition group, like the Rebellion was?
  4. Too much convenience. Rey learns to use the Force very quickly. Artoo wakes up at the most convenient time. Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber magically appears at the right moment with no explanation of where it came from. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that you can accept when you see a movie, especially one in the sci-fi category, but TFA leaped and jumped over that line. Perhaps we will get all the explanations later, but if not, this is a glaring problem.

 

I have stood up to people’s complaints about TFA just as I did with TPM, but this weekend, I had to admit and accept that both movies have a lot of flaws. Would I love TPM or TFA as much if Qui-Gon and Rey were not in them? That’s where I bite my lip and think…no, probably not.

Qui-Gon was not in Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith and I do not enjoy the movies as much as I enjoy TPM. I actually reallllly don’t like AOTC and I enjoy ROTS but it’s not something I usually pull out to watch at odd times like I do with TPM.

With the future Sequel Movies, I get nervous that they won’t capture Rey’s essence as well as they did in TFA. I worry that there will be no character development or that she will become the Hollywood stereotype of a “strong female character” instead of, well, just, Rey. At least there is hope for The Last Jedi and Episode IX, whereas the Prequels are over and done with.

 

Tell me – have you ever loved a character (any movie, doesn’t have to be Star Wars) so much that it’s blinded you to shortcomings in the movie?

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19 thoughts on “So Love Has Blinded You?

  1. I hadn’t thought about the issue of convenience in regards to TFA, but now that you mention it I think you are absolutely correct. That Anakin/Luke’s saber pops up in the film isn’t entirely problematic, but it is curious that when Han asks Maz Kanata about it (I think he says something like “where did you get that?”) she deflects by saying it is a story for another time. Okaaaaaaay that is fine and all but it is also rather convenient to just shove the question aside.

    Also, in regards to R2 waking up, while I wouldn’t call it a traditional “deus ex machina” it DOES sort of feel like one. Everyone is just hanging around sorta feeling down and nothing is really happening to move the plot and then, all of a sudden, R2 just turns on and BAM has the rest of the map! What narrative luck!!!!

    • I have this whole theory that Artoo waking up conveniently at the right time is actually strategic. My theory is that Luke purposefully (somehow) puts Artoo to “sleep” with the directions to wake up when Rey arrives. Artoo’s wakeup coincides perfectly with the first time Rey arrives on D’Qar so I believe they are connected.

      My friends and not friends say that is far fetched lol. But I’d like to believe that it wasn’t too convenient and a thought out plot point.

      And let’s hope that we find out how Maz gets the lightsaber and it’s not something shoved under the rug that they hope we forget about.

    • Most people don’t think TPM is the best prequel movie so I like hearing that! I personally can’t stand AOTC though I try to embrace it as Star Wars.

      I also believe Qui-Gon is how the Jedi “should” be. Unfortunately, I think the Jedi got too caught up in politics and it clouded their judgement. I’m not sure if you watched The Clone Wars series but then ending of season 5 showed how Palpatine and Tarkin turned the people of the Republic against the Jedi so that it was not hard for them to believe they had tried to destroy Palpatine in ROTS. I always thought that part was unbelievable (why would the senate all of a sudden turn against the Jedi and believe Palpatine?) but it filled in that backstory nicely.

      This is a long way of saying that I agree, Qui-Gon was how a Jedi SHOULD be. He didn’t care about being on the Council and following rules – he took risks when he knew he should.

      • I agree that Qui-Gon is one of the best Jedi in the saga, but perhaps TPM was not the best movie. I also have found a lot of “cringe” moments in AotC, so TPM may have been the second best prequel, but the overall battle between Naboo and the Trade Federation was not as compelling as that between the Jedi and the Sith in RotS. RotS felt important, and TPM did not.

        • I agree that in some ways, ROTS is a lot stronger of a movie. Every time I watch it, I think – wow what a great movie. But when I step back, for some reason, I find it a little forgettable. Yet if I took Qui-Gon out of TPM, I think I would rate ROTS higher than TPM. I really think that AOTC is the worst of the entire PT. it’s hard for me to watch lol.

          TPM was setting the stage/foundation for the PT which is why I think the ending is not as climatic. ROTS was definitely more important plot wise. But… Qui-Gon wasn’t in it 😉

  2. Good post. I don’t like the Force Awakens at all though and while I love Menace and all the prequels obviously, I appreciate your viewpoint. Rather than discuss every point you made I wanted to address your 4th point about Menace.

    I think you’re coming at it from the wrong angle. Lucas was trying to tell a totally different story in the prequels so its important to look at it from the correct point of view. Failing to do so can actively take away a lot of the enjoyment you would otherwise receive from it in my opinion. The drama comes from the mystery and the many faults & failings of the protagonists. Its a much more interior type of drama based around intrigue. I think the problem many people have is losing the conception of what Star Wars is supposed to be based on the OT. It does a real disservice to the prequels.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense, but either way I liked the post so thank you.

    • I hope you don’t think I dislike TPM! I love that movie. It’s up there as one of my favorite Star Wars movies. But my thoughts this weekend forced me to think outside of Qui-Gon and the movie as a whole.

      My point I’m making with #4 is looking at the movie as a whole. One of the reasons the OT was a strong trilogy (or even taking each individual movie) is that there was an underdog fighting The Man. Audiences love that. Personally, I love TPM but I think it is a fault and a reason why others may have a hard time appreciating the movie. While it focuses a lot on the intrigue, as you say, it doesn’t have this broad element of good vs. evil that the OT movies have.

      Can you go into why you don’t like TFA? I’m so fascinated by this hatred towards it ever since my twitter discussions this weekend. I see faults, but I personally think it’s pretty good. And, Rey. Of course.

      • I don’t like TFA because its the antithesis ofwhat Lucas regarded the saga to be. The whole concept of was tailored around appeasing people who liked the originals but hated the prequels. The work of the man who made the series Disney’re making money from. To me that’s horrendous. The plot of the film contains just so much elements that either completely contradict what the previous films did or just insult them altogether. I’m talking about the Jedi being destroyed again. The character we know and love turning their backs on their destinies. Han is a smuggler again, Leia never developed her Force abilities and Luke ran away entirely.

        • I just can’t like it. There’s nothing original of worth in it to appreciate and I’ll most likely continue to be outraged that they went ahead and rejected the treatments Lucas came up with for 7, 8 & 9. I’m still extremely incensed by that part.

          • I don’t know what Lucas came up with 7, 8 & 9. I’ve only read rumors that it was very child-centric. So, for that reason, I am not going to get angry about something I know very little of. It’s not like Lucas was going to live forever…I didn’t see this as a Tolkien-like situation where he bequeaths half written scripts to future storytellers. He had two choices: 1) The Star Wars universe ends when he dies, or 2) He sells it so people can continue to enjoy Star Wars.

            He made his choice…shouldn’t we accept it?

            • I could like it despite the fact Disney rejected Lucas treatments IF, and that’s the crucial word if, they had come up with a creative original storyline of their own written with the right spirit but instead they created a misshapen copy of Lucas work. I’m glad you mentioned Tolkien though because if you’ll remember in Tolkien’s mythology Morgoth created the orcs as a mockery of the elves. The point to that being he had no power of his own to create only to twist. When you really understand the meaning of that you learn to identify it in the methods of people in the world around us. I just don’t like Disney and I don’t like their practices. Tolkien believed the same way it should be added. While he respected some of the raw talent of Disney he felt that a lot of his work was crude and vulgar particularly with dwarves and fairy tale stuff and that it repulsed him in no small measure. Google Tolkien and Disney and you’ll find a few interesting articles. If Star Wars is no longer what it is, I’ll just love what has gone before but then I’ll go elsewhere for my story needs. I won’t be changing my opinions on TFA anytime soon though and unfortunately its set up a universe for the Last Jedi that I have no love for. I enjoyed Rogue One though and I’m looking forward to the anthology films well enough but the episode’s are now more machine than man for all I can see.

              • I will definitely look up Tolkien and Disney! I do not know anything about that partnership, or lack thereof.

                Interesting you interested in the anthology films, whereas I really didn’t like RO. I’m even less excited about the Han Solo film. I’ve been talking to fans lately and it seems like, broadly, there are two groups: those who like the sequels but are not fans of the anthology films, and those that are more open to the anthology films than the sequels. I think I would have enjoyed RO if I liked Jyn, but I couldn’t stand her at all. Clearly, it seems like the more I gravitate to a character, the more I like the movie.

                • I don’t mind the spinoff films because around 2005 Lucas mentioned the possibility of people coming in to do that someday but Disney have completely distorted the story Lucas was telling with the episodes. I have to reject them or else it damages my viewing of 1-6.

                  • And it certainly helps having a character you gravitate to or like in the film. I love Luke in the originals and like you I adore Qui-Gon. Around the time of TPM in 1999 when I was 9, myself my brother and best friend would re enact the lightsaber duel from the film with branches and I was always Jinn. It helped that my real name is Liam and I’m Irish like Neeson lol. In the Force Awakens however there was nobody who struck a chord with me. I wanted to like Poe Dameron but he had little to no characterisation but that was it. The only other person was Luke but he’s much older now and had only a minute of screentime.

        • I guess that was one of my arguments on why it wasn’t “that bad”…only because I understood clearly why Disney did what they did.

          I think a big problem with TFA is that it’s a lose-lose situation for Disney, no matter what they did. They couldn’t please everyone. What they probably did is look at the fanbase and way, “What group of fans can we please the most?” and went from there. And you’re right – TFA was tailored to those who hated the PT. That’s why there were a million references to the OT, and why they really built up the “real sets” and “real puppets”, etc. etc. to the point that it was annoying.

          So I agree with what you say and though some of the plot saddened me, it is what it is. I’m a naturally optimistic, happy person by nature so when I’m presented with something, I generally try to go with what is good. And for me, that is Rey. She made the entire movie for me and i loved her.

    • Love is blinding lol. In a way, it is good and bad. With Qui-Gon, I mourn that he was killed off too early. With Rey, I’m very protective and am hoping that they really do justice to her character in the next movies and I’ll be devastated if I think they’ve gone awry from her character.

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