RIP Film wrote:I’m not sure my post deserved that long winded and comprehensive, if pedantic, response.
Maybe it didn't. I know my argument needed it. The pedantry, as you call it, was just the necessity of laying out all the ways that you already implicitly disagree with your premise in order to arrive, I'd hoped, at the idea that maybe you shouldn't be so adamant and confident about it, that maybe there were enough avenues and complexities to get you to reconsider taking such a fixed position. That involved saying a lot of things your premise obviously wasn't addressing, but I needed to drag you along with a bunch of things I didn't expect you to disagree with in order to get you to accept that maybe there were some further ways my principle was true that ought to be considered.
But more importantly, I thought you deserved to be taken seriously and responded to with thought and care. You've been here long enough to've noticed there are a number of members (none currently in this thread) who prefer to make small, dismissive posts that sneer at you and try make you a figure of mockery for not having the right opinion or the right way of saying it (or both). I don't want to be one of those members, and if that occasionally makes me seem long-winded and pedantic, so be it I guess.
RIP Film wrote:I’m simply saying the movies, particularly the first one, suffer from the JJ Abrams ‘mystery box’ syndrome... whereby the aspects people generally enjoy about going to the movies, such as being able to emphasize with characters and see them develop, is locked away behind some faux-cleverness of the filmmaker. We knew far more about kid Anakin in the phantom menance than we still do of Rey. And this is definitely not a problem of running time.
It's at this point I start to get frustrated, because the problem you claim to've found in the film is more an assumption you brought to the material. "JJ Abrams 'mystery box' syndrome" is basic delayed plot revelation, something that's been around for centuries (and I mean that literally). You're attributing it negatively to Abrams because you're carrying around baggage about the filmmaker and not, I assume, because standard delayed plot and character revelations are your hobby horse.
The handling of Rey is a centuries old genre trope. You find its origin in every Romance whose hero grows up in a lowly station unaware of his/her own high parentage and has to reclaim their lost identity over the course of the story. Now in these Romances the audience already knew who the hero was, so it was dramatic irony only. But as the tradition went on and become more sophisticated, that changed, and authors began to surprise readers by revealing this or that unnamed character to've secretly been a hero from legend all the while. You see that in Chretien de Troyes The Knight with the Cart
, where the dogged unnamed hero unknown to Gawain is revealed at the end to be Lancelot. Or take the first book of Spenser's The Faerie Queen
, in which the unnamed Red Crosse Knight turns out to actually be St. George. If you want a modern example, look how long it takes for J.R.R. Tolkien (the originator of modern SFF and someone who never met a story he thought should stand on its own) to reveal that the mysterious Strider is Aragorn, heir to Gondor and a bunch of other things.
Having a character of uncertain origins whose mystery you plan to pay off later in the narrative is a traditional fantasy/sci fi trope. That's all. And funnily enough, Rian Johnson went on to toss it out the window, so it's hardly worth complaining about.
RIP Film wrote: We knew far more about kid Anakin in the phantom menance than we still do of Rey. And this is definitely not a problem of running time.
This makes no sense to me. The Phantom Menace
and the following movies are nothing but explanations for characters we're already familiar with.
A real point of comparison is Luke in Star Wars
. What do we learn about him? He's a farm boy, wants to go adventuring with his friends that we never see, his father participated in a war we learn nothing about besides the name (what was that about being self-contained?) and was killed by the villain in circumstances we're never told. And that's it. In fairness, we don't need any more, because Luke isn't really a character, he's a collection of genre attributes meant to involve an audience. He's an audience stand-in, ie. mostly empty. When he stands and looks longingly into the distance in that early scene, we're meant to see our own longings and desires reflected in it. That's good, it's effective, it's what it should be--but it's not real character interiority or anything. It's all surface; it's efficient short-hand.
Rey, conversely, is more a real character, and we learn all we need to know about her in that first film. We learn where she grew up, how she spends her days, how she engages in the community, and how her position makes her feel (lonely and abandoned, enough to befriend lost droids quickly). We found out what stories she treasures, what skills she's developed, and what skills she never knew she had. We also find out what and who she values, and what her primary motivations are. All of that is properly revealed. All we don't know is who her parents are and why she can use the force. Everything after that is character development, watching her change.
RIP Film wrote:but these films (and the spinoffs by extension) are intent on swirling the drainhole of the past. You can’t build a franchise with depleted soil,
As I've been at pains to show in this thread: Star Wars
has been doing exactly that for forty years
. It's a monument to how to successfully wring every last ounce out of long-depleted soil for profit. And now we have more talented filmmakers having a go at it.