J.J. Abrams Responds to Critics

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is proving to be no less divisive than Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There are those who love this movie as both a finale to this new trilogy and the entire Skywalker saga, largely thanks to the nostalgic beats that bring it all together in a way that pulls at your heartstrings. But there are also those who can’t get over the convoluted, expository ridden story that feels like J.J. Abrams is biting off way more than he can chew and ignoring previous developments in the saga.

The good news is J.J. Abrams is here to turn the heat down just before it starts to boil. After a recent screening of the movie by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the director was asked how he felt about reactions from people saying they don’t like what happens or wish it was something different. J.J. Abrams responds to critics quickly with, “I’d say that they’re right.” But then diplomatically followed up with, “The people who love it more than anything are also right.”

During the Q&A session (captured by Twitter user @ar1aster), Abrams elaborated on the differences of opinions between fans who came away loving the movie and those who walked away frustrated. He said:

“We knew going in—I was asked just seven hours ago, ‘So how do you go about pleasing everyone?’ and I was like ‘What?’ Not to say that that should be what anyone tries to do anyway, but how would one even go about it? Especially with Star Wars.”

At this point, anyone can tell you that not all Star Wars fans are going to be happy with any development in the franchise. There’s such a wide swath of what people want to see in Star Wars, and they’re not all going to get what they want from every new piece of media introduced into the canon. But the way Abrams acknowledges it seems to be more general with regards to outrage culture. The director continued:

“We live in a moment where everything seems to immediately default to outrage, and there’s an M.O. of it’s either exactly as I see it or you’re my enemy… But it’s a crazy thing that there is such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance and compassion—this is not about Star Wars, this is about everything—and acceptance. It’s a crazy moment, so we knew starting this, any decision we made—a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision—would please someone and infuriate someone else.”

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think the problems being raised about The Rise of Skywalker are coming from that kind of outrage. If anything, many of the problems being addressed by even the most die-hard of Star Wars fans are moreso about the fundamentals of storytelling in general rather than any specific decisions made within the canon of the universe. There are simply far too many things that don’t make sense, aren’t explained well enough to be significant, or move too quickly to carry any real resonance or weight. Plus, there are too many details that require an explanation after the fact, and not just in a nitpicking way either.

Personally, I think that one of the biggest problems with The Rise of Skywalker is that even though they knew they couldn’t please everyone, it really feels like they tried to. There was an overt attempt to tie up any and all loose ends, even if it meant creating a whole new plethora of questions, confusing details and leaps in logic. It’s one thing to hate someone else for having a differing opinion (that’s never okay), but it’s perfectly okay to question the logic in many storytelling decisions throughout the movie.

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