The Gonzo Journals
December 1st, 2022
Last night, me and the wife decided to dive into the Lucasfilm playground known as Disney Plus and take a ride on the roulette wheel. I call it this since everything they’ve touched since the Disney aquisition is extremely hit or miss. Yes, it’s nice to see legacy characters in the Star Wars universe being relevent again, but the stories are convoluded garbage the majority of the time. At least the special effects are up to par. I always hated the Sci Fi Channel style cheap FX from television twenty years ago. Total turn off. At least these are movie quality. Money talks.
Of all the Lucasfilm series we’ve watched, Andor was by far our favorite. It was the most un-Star Wars-y Star Wars to ever war with a star. It was well written, character driven, dramatic, and grounded in a certain sense of realism unlike the sequel and prequel trilogy combined. It was more like Rogue One and, if you’ve yet to experience that masterpiece for fear of Rise of Skywalker vibes, I suggest you give it a try. Imagine Saving Private Ryan in the Star Wars universe. It, like the 1978 original, is a war movie. Before all the fucking space wizards took over the story line.
I’d known for about a year now that Lucasfilm was planning on bringing a sort of Willow sequel to Disney Plus and I was slightly excited. Let’s face it. I’m a child of the eighties and every remake and sequel playing off my nostalgia is almost certainly a recipe for a let down, if not a full blown disaster. They’re nostalgic cash grabs that rarely hit the mark. I tread lightly at all times because many of these properties are tied to my upbringing. Then again, my inner child has been murdered so many times that he doesn’t even feel the knife penetrating his skin anymore. Stab me some more, Kathleen Kennedy, and don’t forget to spit in the wound when you’re done!
Willow was a 1988 film written by George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard. It was the most fantastic fantasy we’d had since Dragon Slayer in 1981 (Check that film out if you’ve never had the pleasure. Brutal. Also a Disney film where you get a brief full frontal shot of Peter MacNicol’s peter). Willow starred Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok, Leprachan), Val Kilmer (Top Gun, The Doors), and Joanne Whalley (I don’t know what she’s starred in but she was definitely the sexiest sword wielding red head I’d known at age 15).
The main character Willow is a sort of sorcerer in training with big dreams. He’s tasked with delivering a prophesized baby to the humans to help defeat an evil queen. He meets Val Kilmers character along the way and all kinds of amazing advertures ensue. The special effects were groundbreaking at the time but look a little dated when watching today. Still, it’s a beautiful adventure filled with heart and wonder. What did you expect from Ron Howard and George Lucus in the middle of their ‘we can do no wrong’ period?
Taking this knowledge into account, I decided to take a chance on the new Disney Plus series. This was a mistake. It took everything I had to stomach the first episode.
Let me get this out of the way: I LOVE strong female leads and LOVE how women are taking the reins in modern story telling. It’s kind of a turn on, really. Hell, my novels Extinguished and Far From Home exhibit strong, female leads, but they still exhibit human weaknesses. This is where Kathleen Kennedy’s wishes fall short. Need reference? Check out Rey “Skywalker”. That character was a full blown Jedi bad ass before she even knew what a lightsaber was. It got rediculous after that.
As a matter of fact, Kathleen Kennedy’s ‘message’ is smeared all over the screen from the moment it begins. All the female characters are incredibly OP and flawless while the males are portrayed as bumbling idiots. Within the first few minutes, we see that two of the female lead characters are deeply and secretly in love with each other with zero buildup. I’m a big fan of love, and I don’t care if it’s heterosexual or homosexual, but at least put some depth in your characters, Disney.
To add insult to ‘in your face woke’ injury. the cinematography, writing, choreography, and acting are total shit. Ron Howard is an executive producer of this show and he clearly phoned it in. I love his films, but this was clearly a paycheck for him. I mean, Disney writes ’em fat, don’t they? I honestly couldn’t tell if I was watching a poor attempt at an unneeded, unwanted fantasy sequel, or a big budget Saved By The Bell episode. I’ve wiped better shit off the bottom of my boots. The editing is choppy as fuck making me think they were trying like hell to save it at the last minute. No such luck.
I won’t go into any plot or character details in case some of you want to watch this and, who knows, some of you may actually enjoy it. My point of view is biased from my own writing career plus the masterpieces known as Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. Comparing it to other fantasy projects, this is Eragon at best, maybe even that horrible Dungeons and Dragons movie we got twenty years ago with one of the Wayans brothers. I wouldn’t even recommend this if you are confined to the couch giving it all you’ve got with your best COVID coughs in quaranteen.
Now, to be fair to modern audiences, this is similar to what the mainstream craves nowadays. Bright colors, loud bangs, and unmemorable characters with no depth whatsoever. How can you care about the story if you’re not invested in the characters? In my books, characters drive the story and not the other way around. I swear, if I have to read one more indie book in which all we know about the characters are a first and last name, I’ll quit. I’ve seen it way too often lately. A great story, but a Mad Libs style fill in the blank outline that offers no reader attachment whatsoever. What’s worse is the legions of fans who five star the fuck out of it on Amazon driving other readers to zombify their expectations and take the journey full circle.
If you really want to see what televised Lucasfilm is capable of, check out Andor instead, along with the Bryce Dallas Howard episodes of The Mandalorian. If you don’t mind animated shows, I would also recommend Star Wars Rebels. These have substance, heart, and characters worth investing in. You’ll look forward to where the story goes rather than wandering off into deep thought about if it would be easier to turn off the show, shoot your television, or hang yourself from the shower curtain rod.
PS – Shower curtain rods don’t support much weight. Just shoot your tv. We all like loud noises, right? Obviously, or you wouldn’t be watching modern day Lucasfilm shows. Save us, Dave Filoni. Save us all…