Why so serious? The Star Wars movies are not exactly a joke
28 December 2022
American filmmaker Rian Johnson, who directed the 2017 Star Wars film The Last Jedi, the second instalment of the sequel trilogy, has defended his use of humour in the film, something fans of the long running space opera, have berated him for.
Humour, and a spattering of comedic scenes, says Johnson, are part and parcel of the Star Wars experience, considering the intent of the series was not serious:
“For me, everything in the movie is ‘Star Wars,’ and everything in the movie I can trace back to deeply, in a deep way, what ‘Star Wars’ is for me,” Johnson told GQ. “Everyone has a different take. I know there are ‘Star Wars’ fans who somehow think that ‘Star Wars’ was a serious thing, like the Batman movies or something. I was so young that when I watched ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ it had this deep, profound impact on me, because it was terrifying, because I was just young enough to not experience it as watching a ‘Star Wars’ movie, but to have it feel like too real.
If The Empire Strikes Back was anyone’s introduction to the franchise, I doubt they’d walk away from the film saying it wasn’t serious. Sure, the whole construct is science-fiction and fantasy, but Empire Strikes Back struck me as being nothing but serious. A New Hope, on the other hand, seemed like a more balanced film, even though a number of dark themes were present.
It was really Return of the Jedi, the concluding episode of the original trilogy, that introduced (at times) a less serious intent to the sci-fi saga. Ewoks, anyone?
Personally, of the sequel series movies, Last Jedi was the one I liked the most. The best of what was really a bad batch of films, to be precise. Even the prequel series, which had plenty of naysayers, held more allure.
Interestingly the Metascores — being an aggregate of ratings accorded, in this case, by film reviewers — give Last Jedi a score of 84. The first title in the sequel series, The Force Awakens received a rating of 80, while the truly awful (sorry) Rise of Skywalker scored a paltry 53.
In comparison, Empire Strikes Back — which many people consider to be the best of the Star Wars films — has a Metascore of 82. If we use Metascore as our go to metric to assess the Star Wars franchise, then Last Jedi outranks Empire Strikes Back. What’s happening there, then?
I know not everyone sees eye to eye with film critics, but if Last Jedi was as bad as people make it out to be, surely the title’s Metascore would have been far lower than that of Empire Strikes Back. And for anyone who’s curious, A New Hope — the first Star Wars movie screened in 1977 — scores a 90. Exactly right, if I may say so.