I shouldn’t be surprised by the negative reviews coming out about the latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker, if you can call it that. It would appear that the lobotomized prostitution of everything I enjoyed about my childhood is complete and that there is nothing else left to ruin, that I can think of anyway. Star Trek was rebooted with the same old characters brought to a long, slow, painful death in a world that I don’t recognize. Star Wars had the shit fest of bringing back characters who wanted to stay dead and didn’t bother creating any new ones we would give crap about. GI Joe, hell, I don’t know if that one is worth mentioning. I think it all started with Transformers, that was where this all started. It all started with a douchebag named Michael Bay.
There was a time when movies were good, when you could go to a theater and spend a couple bucks and not hate yourself after you left wondering “what the hell am I doing with my life?” or “how can I get my money back?” The world has changed in the last twenty years and for some reason Hollywood has no interest in investing in anything that is new or imaginative. Its like they have given up because they know we, the public, will continue to dish out cash on whatever shitshow they put on the big screen. It’s as if they are counting on us being too dumb to care.
There is substance that is missing from movies today. We traded classic culture for modern trivial trash hoping it would connect better with the new generation. Instead of having the mood of the movie brought out by classical music they resort to bad hip hop and pop music trash that will not stand up to the test of time. I grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy, Indiana Jones, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, hell I can’t list all the great movies from then but I can tell you it all stopped around 1999.
In my old age of 40 years old, I have grown fond of classical music. There isn’t a message being pushed, no stupid repeating lyrics that run through my head over and over again. There are moments when I hear sounds, the rise to a crescendo, the roar of trumpets with cannons in the background, a piano telling a story, and sometimes a flute taking me to a wooded forest far away with creatures I will never meet. Sometimes when I listen to that music, I hear bits and pieces of the movies I loved growing up.
George Lucas listened to classical music when he was writing the original scripts for Star Wars and when he had the movies in production, he told John Williams the pieces he was listening to for certain scenes. They didn’t steal the music from composers, they used the feelings that they gave the audience. To watch a movie these days is to feel like you have driven through traffic at the five o’clock rush hour and almost got into an accident a half dozen times. There is no rhyme or reason to it, the plot usually doesn’t make any sense. Keep the audience watching and don’t give them time to think.
The worse offense that Hollywood is guilty of these days is pushing a political agenda that the majority of the population is tired of. It leaves these movies to be quickly forgotten and no longer standing the test of time. Instead of touching on a subject that all generations go through at some point they instead concentrate on subjects that nobody will be talking about a year or two from now. A New Hope was based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, a mythical story telling model that worked for thousands of years, one that everyone can connect with. Now we have… nothing. It’s hard to tell what writers are working with, things seem to happen for no reason and when the going gets tough they throw something in that just keeps the story going.
When Spielberg worked on Jaws he had trouble getting the lighting of the water and sky just right so the scenes matched. Every installment of Star Wars were three years apart with enough time in between to get things right. Hollywood has become lazy, unwilling to put forth the effort to gain the audience respect expecting them to fork over their money just because you made something. That’s not how this works, you have to give us something we want to see, where we say “thank you” in the end and want more.
I watched the Phantom Menace three times in the first week it came out because I couldn’t believe how bad it was. “It seriously can’t be that bad, can it?” It was. I viewed Attack of the Clones once to figure out it was trash and I never saw Revenge of the Sith in the theater. My money wasting habit was over. I would not be fooled again. I did eventually try to see Revenge of the Sith, picking up a copy for $1 used at a second hand store. I put it in the DVD player and fell asleep the three times it tried to watch it, always waking up to some guy screaming and crying with his legs missing and his body on fire. By that point I didn’t care.
This pattern has repeated over and over again especially after 1999. I don’t know what it was about that year for movies but it appeared to the last movement of hope for Hollywood. We saw the likes of The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty, and American Psycho. Somehow these movies had stayed in our minds for two decades now while others that have come along are laughed at, snickered, sneered, and some people won’t even admit they watched. I had hopes over the years. Ready Player One could have been something special, but what should have been a long mini series on a platform like Netflix was instead butchered to be a two-hour movie losing much of the world created by the book.
Technology has taken away the creative effort it takes to make something truly great. Why figure out how to make a creature pop out of somebody’s chest when you can do it with a computer. When Sam Raimi made Drag me to Hell I thought it was going to be something special, bringing back those funny creative special effects that takes a crew to pull off. Instead, it was all done on computers losing the magic he had created thirty years before. There was no single frame animation, puppets, or bucket of fake blood. Drag me to Hell didn’t describe the movie, it described what the audience felt like when they watched it in the theater.
The majority of films Hollywood has released in the last twenty years deserve to find themselves at the bottom of a Walmart 10 for $10 barrel. The most horrible offender of recent years has been Netflix and their low budget garbage that doesn’t even pull off being entertaining. Bloodsport was a low budget movie that didn’t have much going for it but it told a story and everyone from the crew to the actors at least tried their best. These days you’re lucky if one person doesn’t look like they have been medicated on Xanax for half of their life.
Film makers of recent years are the worse of the millennial generation, not taking time to learn, thinking they already know how to do everything, and expecting to be paid even when they deliver a pile of burning dogshit to the screen. The great movies of the past had culture behind it, something that would connect to the audience for reasons that even the audience wouldn’t understand at the time. There is something in our DNA, a hidden code, a message that resonates with all of us to a point that can be unlocked when it is done right. That has been lost in this industry and I don’t know if we will ever get it back. Maybe that time has come and gone and it is our moment to move onto something else. I’m burned out of trying to find something good on Netflix, I can’t remember the last movie I watched in a theater, and the last DVD I viewed I popped out after twenty minutes realizing it was just another 90 minutes I was never going to get back of my life. I’m not sure where to go from here, if I should keep hope alive only to require medication later to fight the depression Hollywood has forced upon me or just give up all together and call it quits. The Last Jedi is making more sense to me now and I don’t know if I should be concerned. Luke drinking the blue milk from the lactating walrus and being a grumpy old codger makes sense all of the sudden. As someone who used to love movies, I feel betrayed and let down too much to care anymore. People try to tell me why the new Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel movies are good but I can’t listen anymore. It shouldn’t have to be explained, I should be able to walk out of the theater and feel excited about what I saw and want to see it again. Instead I feel my wallet lighter, less time to do something meaningful with my day, and horribly depressed.
As the Critical Thinker said on his recent YouTube review for the Rise of Skywalker “movies are not to push a political or social agenda. They are meant as a form of escape from the world we live in. It’s why we desire to go to a galaxy far, far, away. It is a form of escape.” There is no escape these days. There is no getting away. Everything is propaganda. Everything is simple minded trash. Maybe the punk rockers were decades ahead of their time and had the right idea. Smash your television. Free yourself from the man. Reagan, Trump, the devil is always that man in a suit who tells lies and pushes an agenda. I found these things called books. Maybe it’s a way out, a portal to another world that I have been seeking. They might not cure all of my desires but it’s a start. David Foster Wallace warned us of this, the horrible desire of Infinite Jest, a movie that doesn’t exist and if it did it would slowly kill us all. If Hollywood was a drug dealer it would be that kid on the corner always selling Oregano as hydro weed. Eventually, you stop buying.