Previously in Movie Yelling: Crimson Peak.
So Nicole finally pulled the “I won’t be seeing the new Star Wars for a long time because I have two children and a new puppy” on me, which frankly she should have done a long time ago, because by holding out until now, I sort of thought she never would, and have a commensurate level of built-up resentment as a result.
*extremely Nicole-in-Kill Bill voice* “Mallory, is it really that surprising, that I would say that?”
“Yes, it was. Could you do what you did? Of course you could. But, I never thought you would, or could, do that to me.”
And Shrill was out of town or something, which means that I will have to take up the Movie Yelling mantle myself, arguing with my maniacal Jedi clone Ma’allory Ortberg, according to the naming conventions set up by Joruus C’baoth in the Thrawn trilogy.
MALLORY: I am simultaneously worried that it is both too soon and too late to talk about Star Wars? This is a big Shared Cultural Thing, like sports or Johnny Carson or whoever Vin Scully was, and it’s like, oh no, is it too many Star Wars feelings? But also it just came out a week and a half ago and this was the first movie I have seen in years without looking up exactly what happens before seeing it.
MA’ALLORY: I feel like you also purposely did not look up what happened in Crimson Peak?
MALLORY: That sounds right. But you know, I mean, every time I see a movie, I will go look up the entire plot summary and ending first, because that’s the only way I can relax and actually appreciate what I’m watching. Which I realize is not customary.
MA’ALLORY: This is an awful lot of apologetics and we haven’t even talked about the movie yet. Like: I care about Star Wars a lot. I’m not too worried about what it means or what it says about me, which is hardly something to brag about – “look at how uncritically I consider my own interests!” – it’s just a data point. All things are data points, and they merge into one, and a river runs through it.
MALLORY: Do you want to talk about that Emo Kylo Ren parody Twitter account?
MA’ALLORY: [stiffly] I do not.
MALLORY: That is your choice, and I respect it.
MA’ALLORY: [suddenly and without warning] No matter how good the joke, a parody Twitter account is only ever the same joke over and over, featuring increasingly diminished returns.
MALLORY: That one fake Epcot Center account is pretty good, I think.
MA’ALLORY: You also think it’s funny to imagine fictional characters sending text messages.
MALLORY: You know the text messages are just a vehicle for character-based humor! You know that!
MA’ALLORY: It’s a gimmick. The same gimmick, frankly.
MALLORY: I’m sorry, I’ve offended you. Shall we move on?
MA’ALLORY: If you insist.
MALLORY: Can I tell you what I think this is really about?
MA’ALLORY: If you insist.
MALLORY: They were never going to film the Thrawn trilogy. And I, you know, knew that, and I thought I had accepted it, mostly, when they got rid of the Expanded Universe canon – which was in many ways not a bad idea! They’d saddled themselves with a ton of Epileptic Trees! But it turns out, I had some more grieving to do.
MA’ALLORY: I would rather have watched Admiral Pellaeon’s noble surrender of the Imperial Remnant than an inexplicable Nazi rally on a third Death Star, yes. I won’t apologize for that.
MALLORY: SO WATCH KEN BURNS’ THE CIVIL WAR, THEN.
MA’ALLORY: I see we are not blunting our swords today.
MALLORY: I just have a lot of feelings right now.
MA’ALLORY: I – look, me too. I keep stopping and thinking, “Wait, did I love it? Am I happy? Did I? Was it secretly bad? Am I forcing myself to love it because I want to love Star Wars again more than anything else in the world?” I am genuinely not sure!
MALLORY: I could not physically bring myself to watch Episodes II and III. I know I don’t have to prove anything to you, but I need you to understand: I owned every single EU book from Splinter of the Mind’s Eye to the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. The first time I saw the original trilogy, as shaky as Mark Hamill’s early acting was, as goofy as some of the space-opera/kung-fu epic philosophy was, I was lost. I was obsessed. It was the first time I remember experiencing emotional distress that something wasn’t real. It hurt me that Star Wars wasn’t a place I could go and live in. Seeing Episode I shattered my loving heart so entirely I had to shut down that side of myself completely. So seeing The Force Awakens was big for me.
MA’ALLORY: But in another, truer sense, it was just a movie that you went to go see.
MALLORY: Also that. I will not pretend that being emotionally devastated by the Star Wars prequel even makes it onto the list of the top fifty problems I have had.
MA’ALLORY: But you have on more than one occasion explained that it was “like seeing someone you love dearly from afar, then upon approaching them, realizing it was not your loved one at all, but some horrible facsimile that has ripped off their skin and is wearing their dead face, smiling an obscene parody of your friend’s smile at you.”
MALLORY: I absolutely stand by that.
MA’ALLORY: A useful data point.
MALLORY: The name is bad. Surely we can agree on that.
MA’ALLORY: The name is ridiculous. “The Force Awakens”? The Force was not asleep! There was nothing wrong with the Force qua Force, if that is the appropriate use of qua!
MALLORY: Was there a sense, when you saw it, that the audience was just fervently hoping, like inside of their muscles and organs and fascia, that the movie would not be horrible garbage, that they could allow themselves to just adore something they wanted to adore, and that there was a palpable sense of relief after the first five minutes, that it was clear that if nothing else, this movie would not be horrible garbage?
MA’ALLORY: “LET ME LOVE YOU” was the overwhelming emotional temperature in the room, yes.
MALLORY: And this is a movie that wanted very much to be loved! Which is not a bad thing!
MA’ALLORY: This was a thoughtfully-made movie by competent people who wanted to do a not-bad job. “PLEASE LIKE ME. I WANT TO BE A REAL BOY” pulsed through every scene.
MALLORY: IS THAT THE SAME THING AS A GOOD MOVIE, DO YOU THINK?
MA’ALLORY: Maybe?? YES.
MALLORY: I also did not have the same problem some people did with the idea of a third Death Star, although I absolutely would have enjoyed it if TFA didn’t feel the need to follow A New Hope beat-for-beat and took us on, say, an actual search for Luke Skywalker.
MA’ALLORY: Which, who made that map of where he went?
MALLORY: I…don’t know?
MA’ALLORY: There’s just a map of where he’s hidden himself, but why would he make that map? And if he didn’t make it, who did? And if someone else made that map, why don’t they just find that person and ask where Luke went?
MALLORY: ALSO IF YOU ARE GOING TO WIPE OUT EU CONTINUITY WHY ARE YOU GOING TO APPARENTLY KEEP THE ENTIRE KYP DURRON STORYLINE OF THE JEDI ACADEMY TRILOGY BUT MERGE KYP AND JACEN SOLO INTO THE SAME CHARACTER?
MA’ALLORY: They did, right? Like, obviously the whole Yavin 4 Praxeum disaster happened on a slightly smaller scale in the TFA backstory, which means that this movie made me KIND OF LOVE Kyp Durron, and I don’t know if I can forgive it for that.
MALLORY: Kyp fucking Durron.
MA’ALLORY: I genuinely did not see that coming. No Thrawn. No Talon Karrde. Just Kyp fucking Durron.
MALLORY: AND YET ADAM DRIVER WAS KIND OF THE BEST PART OF THE FORCE AWAKENS.
MA’ALLORY: HE KIND OF WAS. WITH HIS WEIRD JAWLESS CHIN AND HIS WOMAN’S MOUTH AND HIS ROMAN NOSE AND HIS UNNECESSARY FACE MASK? I WAS 100% ABOUT ALL OF HIS CHARACTER CHOICES AND THAT SCENE WHERE HE SMASHED UP THE CONSOLE WAS THE ONLY PART OF THE MOVIE I DID NOT SEE COMING.
MALLORY: Who knew!
MA’ALLORY: Did you get the sense that any of the other new characters – Finn, Rey, and Poe – had ever said a curse word or had sex?
MALLORY: I did not.
MA’ALLORY: Was that a problem for you?
MALLORY: Not exactly!
MA’ALLORY: The little robot: we liked him?
MALLORY: We liked the little robot. We are a simple, easy-to-please woman! There was a scene where Poe said something like “We’ve got company,” but he did not mean company in the sense of welcome and invited guests, he meant enemy combatants, which was a delightful subversion of our expectations, and we chortled heartily!
MA’ALLORY: I did get the sense that Finn, Rey and Poe genuinely liked one another. Which was really delightful! It increased my delight in this movie, let us say, three-fold.
MALLORY: Did it in any way make us more inclined to forgive J.J. Abrams for Star Trek Into Darkness?
MA’ALLORY: [frosty again] It did not.
MALLORY: [Changing the subject quickly] What did we think of the rathtar scene aboard Han and Chewie’s smuggling freighter?
MA’ALLORY: We did not love it. It felt generic.
MALLORY: It was a scene that belonged more, perhaps, in Guardians of the Galaxy.
MA’ALLORY: Which was not a bad movie!
MALLORY: No! It was not! And it makes me feel churlish to quibble at all!
MA’ALLORY: Perhaps if we briefly ran through a list of all the things that brought us delight.
MALLORY: THE EXPLODING BREAD THAT REY EATS WAS VERY COOL. AND ALL THE BATTLES WERE FULL OF “OH MAN LOOK AT THIS GREAT BATTLE” MOMENTS AND I LIKED HOW THERE WERE BIG CRASHED STAR DESTROYERS EVERYWHERE, BECAUSE OF HOW THINGS HAPPENED IN THE PAST, AND ALSO THAT SCENE WITH LUKE AT THE END, I CRIED A LITTLE.
MA’ALLORY: ALSO THAT LITTLE RED-EYED ALIEN GUY THAT POPS UP OUT OF THE SAND TO WATCH BB-8 GO BY, WHOEVER THAT LITTLE GUY WAS.
MALLORY: YES. When we saw that little dude, and nothing happened, I was like, OKAY, I AM SAFE HERE, because they are not going to explain who he is or what his deal is, which is George Lucas’ biggest problem, and part of what made the original trilogy great, is that real kind of lived-in sense I got from A New Hope especially – that Tatooine was an old scrap heap of a planet, with a bunch of dinged-up weirdos with fascinating-yet-unexplored backstories hovering around questionable watering holes – and that was majorly present here, and it brought me a ton of joy. Like, Lupita N’yongo’s planet was just Mos Eisley 2.0, which is all I have ever wanted.
MA’ALLORY: Why did she have to be a little orange creature, though?
MALLORY: FELT LIKE A REAL WASTE OF LUPITA N’YONGO.
MA’ALLORY: Honestly, it felt like they were going to give her a little bit of a Yoda-and-Luke dynamic with Rey, which I would have LOVED, to see Rey get some actual training. Let Maz train her!
MALLORY: GIVE US A TRAINING SCENE, THE FORCE AWAKENS. LET US SEE THE FORCE ACTUALLY AWAKEN.
MA’ALLORY: As much as I loved the scene where Rey gets Daniel Craig to uncuff her/realizes she can push Kylo Ren out of her mind, it seems bananas to me that she just arrives at Force mastery by closing her eyes and breathing carefully.
MALLORY: Also she and Finn are both near-master lightsaber users after exactly no training?
MA’ALLORY: IT WAS A LOT. THERE WAS A LOT OF GROWING AND A LOT OF HUGGING.
MALLORY: I’m feeling churlish again!
MA’ALLORY: I KNOW! I mean, I loved them, also! And I think it is 100% great if Rey just turns out to be a better Jedi than Kylo and Luke both! I just want to see that process.
MALLORY: Like, Finn is planning on abandoning them, like how Han does in A New Hope, but then he doesn’t actually abandon them! “I’m leaving!” “Don’t leave.” “Wait, the First Order is here. I can’t leave.”
MA’ALLORY: Perhaps the filmmakers were so eager for us to like the new characters they felt uncomfortable letting them make mistakes or walk away!
MALLORY: THAT IS A FAIR COP.
MA’ALLORY: Also, Han died.
MALLORY: He sure did.
MA’ALLORY: We will not pretend we were ever Han guys. We were always a Luke guy.
MALLORY: They had to kill Han. He was the Poochie of Star Wars.
MALLORY: If you don’t kill Han, who is such a huge and charismatic and competent character, every scene that doesn’t feature him is going to feel like when Homer is giving character notes in “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”: “One, Poochie needs to be louder, angrier, and have access to a time machine. Two, whenever Poochie’s not on screen, all the other characters should be asking ‘Where’s Poochie?'”
MA’ALLORY: Fair cop. AND YET HIS DEATH SCENE WAS SO WEIRDLY INERT?
MALLORY: It was so inert! He barely tried to have a redemptive conversation with his son? Except for that second where he caressed Adam Driver’s weird face, which may or may not be sexually compelling. I haven’t decided.
MA’ALLORY: The face, not the moment his onscreen father caressed it, yes?
MALLORY: Yes. Obviously I meant the face.
MA’ALLORY: Also: you apparently do not have a hard time with a third Death Star (EXCUSE ME, “BIGGER DEATH STAR”)?
MALLORY: I do not at all have a hard time believing the military continues to waste money on expensive and unnecessary projects, no.
MA’ALLORY: Oh, you.
MALLORY: I mean! I really could see that happening! I did not need for that to be the last third of the movie, but it was also fun to watch them suck the sun up a bunch and then get blown to pieces! If we had to lose something, I’d have lost Snoke before I lost Starkiller Base.
MA’ALLORY: Ugh, Snoke. How unnecessary.
MALLORY: I also resented, possibly unnecessarily, how much the movie wanted me to guess who Rey’s parents were.
MA’ALLORY: WE REFUSE TO SPECULATE.
MALLORY: It had fucking better not be Han and Leia, though.
MA’ALLORY: So…we liked it?
MALLORY: We liked it.
MA’ALLORY: Was it Good?
MALLORY: I do not believe I can answer that question, as I am too firmly ensconced in This Culture and Our Modern Times.
MA’ALLORY: Then: Will we see it again?
MALLORY: Oh, assuredly. Also the sequels. BUT WILL WE REMEMBER IT FONDLY in, say, ten years’ time?
MA’ALLORY: I…don’t know. I feel like the question we are trying to answer is: was this movie a success?
MALLORY: The natural state of a Star Wars fan is merrily nitpicking. So yes. I got what I came for.
MA’ALLORY: Do you want to go happily start some fights in the comment section?
MALLORY: I do.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.