Star Wars Episode VIII was excellent. It was long, but it worked nonetheless. The character devolvement was interesting. The plots and sub-plots were a fun and exciting way to delve further into the Star War Universe. It was funny. The humor was fast and slow. It was new and exciting. It was theatrical and full of callbacks.
Which is why it sucks.
As a movie, Episode VIII is excellent. As a matter of fact, it is probably one of my favorite new movies in the last two years. It’s a far better movie than Episode VII, and much better than any other reboot as of late (I’m looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean, Smurfs and Transformers).
However there has been plenty of good criticism leveled at Episode VIII: it was dangerously close to being overexaggerated, there are too many deaths and the movie is about 20 minutes too long. There are one too many weird sub-plots, and it diverges pretty heavily from the tone of previous movies. It just does not feel like Star Wars!
Why would the writers commit such a travesty, shifting the fundamental tone of this beloved series? Let me present an object lesson on why these changes were necessary: Thor Ragnarok. Overall, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been regarded well by fans and critics alike. However, even the most fanatical Marvel fans are willing to admit that the Thor series has been the weakest franchise in the current MCU. The first Thor movie, while it did receive a 77 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and was rated fresh, only grossed 65 million on opening weekend compared to Iron Man’s 98 Million, Guardians of the Galaxy’s 94 million or the Avengers 207 million dollar opening weekends. The second Thor movie received a 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and had a marginal sales increase opening weekend to 85 million, 20 million more than its predecessor. However, the Captain America sequel had a 30-million-dollar increase, the Iron Man Sequel had a 40-million-dollar increase, and the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel had a 60-million-dollar gross increase, so it’s easy to see why the third installment of Thor had to be different. Thor: Ragnarok opened to 122 million dollars in sales, nearly double the opening of Thor, and 40 million better than that of Thor 2. It currently has a 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, tying as the second highest rated movie in the MCU.
So what made the difference? Well, Ragnorok was funny. It was theatrically humorous. There was character development. It was a tad long, but I wanted it to keep going. It reintroduced us to Thor as a character that we could all actually enjoy. The same is true of Episode VIII. The movie changed the tone of Star Wars and that is its fatal flaw. The writers, while reintroducing the audience to a new tone and cast of characters, fundamentally shifted the feeling of Star Wars. This new tone may be off-putting at first, but it is a tone that will bring the audience back to see Episode IX and every new movie to come.