The Rancor Pit Forum Index
Welcome to The Rancor Pit forums!

The Rancor Pit Forum Index
FAQ   ::   Search   ::   Memberlist   ::   Usergroups   ::   Register   ::   Profile   ::   Log in to check your private messages   ::   Log in

The expectations game
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Rancor Pit Forum Index -> General Star Wars -> The expectations game
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Solo4114
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 18 May 2017
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:13 pm    Post subject: The expectations game Reply with quote

I was thinking about this the other day after yet another discussion of TLJ with some folks online. Basically, just wondering how much "expectations" play into one's enjoyment of a bit of entertainment (e.g., film, TV show, book, etc.).

One of the things that really irritated me about the Star Wars prequels was the dismissal that "You just didn't like it because it didn't meet your expectations." Not because that was entirely wrong (the movie very much did not meet my expectations), but because it also (in my view at the time) obscured a lot of what I thought were legitimate criticisms of the films (especially TPM).

With a lot of time and distance, I've gotten to a point where I can see the intent behind the prequels, the general story Lucas was (I think) trying to tell, but I still find his execution weak in the first two outings, and I find that there's a lot of other stuff that I just don't like on a subjective basis. Like, Jar-Jar is not an objectively bad character; thre's nothing wrong with including "The Fool" as a character in your story. The problem is the type of fool that Jar-Jar is really, really, really grates on me. That's a subjective thing, though; it's not something that is somehow intrinsically problematic for the story structure or the intended goal of the story. If you thought Jar-Jar was entertaining, for example, then the story would still work in terms of accomplishing its ultimate goals. (Whereas an objectively bad character, however enjoyable, would frustrate that goal.)

I will, however, say that based on my experience watching the TPM trailer, I decided to never, ever watch another Star Wars trailer before seeing a film. Ever. I've stuck with that to this day, and it has, I think, improved my enjoyment of the films, albeit only marginally. What it does for me is give me a relatively clean slate so that I'm judging the film based only on news of casting (which I allow myself to read) and whatever unavoidable imagery creeps into my daily life (e.g., walking down the street and I see a newsstand with the latest Entertainment Weekly featuring XYZ character).

Even so, I still tend to form some kind of expectations about a film, in the sense of "What might they do in this one?" or "What could it be about?"


So, with all that in mind, we come to TLJ. In the years beween TFA and TLJ, I did plenty of speculating about what they might do with things following up on TFA. What would Luke's role be? What other stuff would be explained that was left confusing in TFA (e.g. who the hell is Snoke? What's the deal with Rey's parents?). My big concern, though, was that the same way that TFA felt like it was a too-busy rehash of many of the beats of ANH (albeit still enjoyable on the whole), the next film wouldn't do enough to broaden what Star Wars can be. Instead, it'd just be a reiteration of ESB. Battle on a snow planet, young Jedi is taught by the wise master, duel with bad guy, etc. And that would've been kind of a disappointment to me, even if it had been done really well.

I think that is, in part, why I've come to so enjoy TLJ. I was expecting to be a little let down by a "Haven't we seen this all before?" rehash of major parts of ESB. For anyone who watches the various Gundam franchise shows, you often see this where new characters occupy positions that older characters did, go through similar arcs, and face similar opponents. There's some variation here and there, but even then, you see a lot of overlap. I wanted something that would shake things up instead, and allow the stories told in the Star Wars universe to expand well beyond "Plucky band of freedom fighters takes on tyrannical government and wins with the help of lightsabre-wielding ascetic warrior-monks." That gets especially annoying when you have a "fishbowl universe," too, where characters are closely related, and where you make a lot of on-the-nose callbacks to such-and-such character from other films.

TLJ, I think, blew a lot of that apart or at least offered the opportunity to blow a lot of that apart and really take the franchise in different directions. Heck, I'd even be happy to see the series move away from "trilogies" and focus more on episodes that lead into each other, telling various story arcs, but not necessarily focused on three-movie arcs.

So, when TLJ did a lot of that (in my opinion) my enjoyment of it went up even more. Again, because the film exceeded my expectations, I was able to enjoy it more than if it had fallen below my expectations or even simply met them.

Similarly, my expectations for Ep. IX are that JJ will lack the storytelling chops to let TLJ really stand, and will instead try to create an ersatz ROTJ that wraps everything up in a single film and ties a neat little bow on it, which I think would feel deeply incongruous. I suppose if he does better than that, I'll be happier. Guess we'll see...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
CRMcNeill
Director of Engineering
Director of Engineering


Joined: 05 Apr 2010
Posts: 11524
Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot here I agree with. While there is a lot to dislike about the prequels, I always liked that Lucas was willing to take the chance on telling a different kind of story within the same universe. I was disappointed as to how poorly realized it was.

The sequels, however, seem to be doing a lot of thrashing about trying to decide which path they're going to take. TFA, on the one hand, was a blatant copy of as many sequel themes as they could cram into a feature length movie. On the other hand, TLJ seemed to try as hard as it could to go the opposite direction, rejecting as many of the fans' expectations of Star Wars as possible.

However poorly the story was told, the prequels stuck to the same story across three movies. I am not convinced of the sequels doing the same. Things may play out differently once we see Episode IX, but JJ Abrams has a lot of patchwork to do. In retrospect, Rian Johnson would've been a better choice for one of the single film side projects, like Rogue One, with the story arc of the sequels staying under the hand of a single director.
_________________
"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

The CRMcNeill Stat/Rule Index
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Solo4114
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 18 May 2017
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
A lot here I agree with. While there is a lot to dislike about the prequels, I always liked that Lucas was willing to take the chance on telling a different kind of story within the same universe. I was disappointed as to how poorly realized it was.

The sequels, however, seem to be doing a lot of thrashing about trying to decide which path they're going to take. TFA, on the one hand, was a blatant copy of as many sequel themes as they could cram into a feature length movie. On the other hand, TLJ seemed to try as hard as it could to go the opposite direction, rejecting as many of the fans' expectations of Star Wars as possible.

However poorly the story was told, the prequels stuck to the same story across three movies. I am not convinced of the sequels doing the same. Things may play out differently once we see Episode IX, but JJ Abrams has a lot of patchwork to do. In retrospect, Rian Johnson would've been a better choice for one of the single film side projects, like Rogue One, with the story arc of the sequels staying under the hand of a single director.


The thing about the Prequels, though, is that in the midst of their being released, we (1) knew the rough direction of the story and where it had to go, and (2) weren't entirely clear on the rest about Lucas' goals.

I tend to think that Lucas was far more concerned not with the Republic's fall, but with Anakin's, and he basically rooted that fall in unresolved attachment issues. Anakin grew up knowing only his mother, as a slave, and having no other family. At the age of 9, he was taken in by the Jedi Order, which disdained passionate emotion, and which had (apparently) rigid codes against things like love and strong attachment.

The prequels plays out Anakin's attachment issues and passion eventually being his downfall, as Palpatine manipulates them to his own ends. And that seems to be the main focus.

Personally...I find that pretty underwhelming. Anakin blows up the galaxy because he misses his mom and he's essentially in an arrested state of emotional development around 9-ish years old? That doesn't interest me in the slightest. There are hints at other thought processes, though, such as Anakin's respect for authoritarianism and "means justify the ends" attitudes. I think those would be far more compelling as character flaws, given that you can imaging how a person with good intentions could end up doing horrible things in the name of the ends justifying the means. I'd have made the attachment issues sort of a back-seat thing, and otherwise an indication that Anakin believed himself to be above the Jedi's rules -- which you could argue are antiquated and dumb anyway. Buuuut I'd never have been able to figure that out until I finally saw ROTS.

My point here is that I'm not sure we can evaluate exactly how flailing the ST is currently, because we don't know what the end point is. It may be that the end will make it clear where they've been heading. Or, as I suspect, it may be that the "trilogy" is a lot closer to the PT than it is to the OT in terms of where it leaves things: with a sense of a particular phase of events coming to a close, but not the overall story.

For example, what if the "story" of the ST is basically two stories: The end of the Skywalker Saga, and the rise of both a new threat to galactic peace (in the form of the First Order) and the rise of a new band of rebels to fight against the First Order. So, at the end of Ep. IX, Luke, Leia, and Han will have all passed on, and the First Order will be far stronger than it was at the start of TFA, but the New Rebellion will be positioned to strike back in force, with the implication being that the story will continue.

Orrrrr...maybe the FO will rise to dominance at the start of Ep. IX, but by the end of it will be splintered into several different factions, with the New Rebellion in a better position to defeat its enemy in detail rather than as a united FO. Again, the implication would be that the story will continue.


As I said, I don't really think it would work to just have the Rebels win an outright decisive victory a la ROTJ. Maybe something closer to what they achieved in ANH. Destroying Starkiller Base should have been that thing, but because the First Order was able to almost immediately strike back and knock out the Resistance and reduce it to essentially everyone who could fit on the Falcon, it seems like they'd have to start over building up their forces to strike back at the FO.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Desert Kris
Cadet
Cadet


Joined: 01 Oct 2017
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was susceptible to expectations of what I thought the prequels were, and struggled with what the prequels turned out to be. I respect their imaginative production design, and GL's efforts to keep them fresh while still giving enough call backs to make clear they are in the same universe.

I was lucky with TLJ in that after a certain point of my own speculation and looking at other fan theories, I got tired of trying too hard to know what the movie was going to be. I got tired of Mike Zeroh's video's, too (sorry if anyone likes the content he puts out). Mike Zeroh's videos made me reflect on what I was looking for, and let go of my desire to know, or to get clues, or speculate endlessly. I thought to myself, "There are books and comics that I can read that I haven't gone through yet, and I won't have to wait a year or more to know those stories." So I stopped watching those videos, and enjoyed SW in other media (old EU and new EU), and caught up on other things that I like.

Having not invested time figuring out my theories for TLJ, I came to it with genuine curiosity. I ended up enjoying it to a certain extent, because I didn't have theories that were proved wrong. I had to look at videos of fans who hated it to understand some of the surface level objections. I kind of value the controversial nature of the film, up to a point. I wish it had eschewed some of the structural similarities with TESB more than it did.

I think that's all I've got for now. I was fine with TLJ because I wasn't as invested with expectations, and theories, and so forth. It wouldn't matter, because even if I had, I would eventually settled into a philosophical perspective about it, as I eventually did with the prequels. I can live with the disappointments, but I tend not to become livid with hatred about what doesn't work for me personally. I'll go and write out my own version, for my own satisfaction, and take it all in stride.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Solo4114
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 18 May 2017
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Desert Kris wrote:
I was susceptible to expectations of what I thought the prequels were, and struggled with what the prequels turned out to be. I respect their imaginative production design, and GL's efforts to keep them fresh while still giving enough call backs to make clear they are in the same universe.

I was lucky with TLJ in that after a certain point of my own speculation and looking at other fan theories, I got tired of trying too hard to know what the movie was going to be. I got tired of Mike Zeroh's video's, too (sorry if anyone likes the content he puts out). Mike Zeroh's videos made me reflect on what I was looking for, and let go of my desire to know, or to get clues, or speculate endlessly. I thought to myself, "There are books and comics that I can read that I haven't gone through yet, and I won't have to wait a year or more to know those stories." So I stopped watching those videos, and enjoyed SW in other media (old EU and new EU), and caught up on other things that I like.

Having not invested time figuring out my theories for TLJ, I came to it with genuine curiosity. I ended up enjoying it to a certain extent, because I didn't have theories that were proved wrong. I had to look at videos of fans who hated it to understand some of the surface level objections. I kind of value the controversial nature of the film, up to a point. I wish it had eschewed some of the structural similarities with TESB more than it did.

I think that's all I've got for now. I was fine with TLJ because I wasn't as invested with expectations, and theories, and so forth. It wouldn't matter, because even if I had, I would eventually settled into a philosophical perspective about it, as I eventually did with the prequels. I can live with the disappointments, but I tend not to become livid with hatred about what doesn't work for me personally. I'll go and write out my own version, for my own satisfaction, and take it all in stride.


Yeah, I think that's a big part of it, actually: letting go of your own theories. "OMG REY IS A KENOBIWALKER" or whatever. I had a lot of those going into the PT (mostly stuff that Lucas had alluded to over the years, about the parallels between the fall of the Roman and Weimar Republics, and the fall of the Galactic Republic). That was a big part of my disappointment (which was later assuaged by watching the Clone Wars cartoon).

Nowadays, I just try not to theorize. I think about stuff like "Hey, they could go in XYZ direction. Or maybe ABC direction." But I try not to predict the films or go in fully spoiled just to watch it unfold. The onyl thing I did that with was Han's death, because (A) I suspected it, and (B) it was one of the rare times that knowing in advance allowed me to experience the moment more effectively instead of just getting turned off.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Whill
Supreme Chancellor (Owner/Admin)


Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 4966
Location: Columbus, OHIO, USA, Earth, The Solar System, The Milky Way Galaxy

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:20 am    Post subject: Re: The expectations game Reply with quote

Expectation is a huge factor in fan experience.

Going into the prequels, we knew Obi-Wan, Vader, Palpatine, Yoda and the droids would not die. Other than those basic continuity realities of prequels, we really only knew some things that would happen in Episode III. We knew the Jedi Order would fall and Empire would begin. We knew Anakin would turn to Dark Side and become Vader. We knew Obi-Wan would defeat Vader on a lava planet. We knew Luke and Leia would be born, and where the twins would go.

Yes, Lucas plotted out the prequels around Anakin's fall to the Dark Side. The premise is based on Buddhist teachings about attachments and something very near and dear to Lucas, adoption. He researched separation anxiety and determined that a child of about age 9 would be the most traumatized by separation from his parent. Younger than that, they could form new attachments and be ok, and older than that they would be better equipped to deal with it. On average age 9 was the worst. From what I have studied, that could be true.

So the first episode was leaving his mother. The second was having nightmares about his mother leading up to their reunion only for her to die in his arms, and falling in love. The third was having nightmares about his love and in his quest to prevent her death, join the Dark Side and cause her death in a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is one of those things where you either buy it, or you don't.

I wasn't overly fascinated by this arc, but I can't say that I was uninterested in it. I think it is a well-plotted premise. The main problem is in the execution of it. I had no issue with Jake Loyd Anakin. I can't say that I have ever expected more from a child actor his age. But the adult Anakin-Padme love story was unconvincing, and Hayden Christiansen's performance of the crossing-over to the Dark Side leaves a lot to be desired. These things are probably due to Lucas's insufficient human direction more than actor ability.

So there were a few things that didn't live up to my expectations, but overall the prequel trilogy did. Overall the anthology prequels did too. I feel fortunate I was spared from experiencing the severe disconnect between expectation and result for the five prequels. But they are a different beast than sequels.

For TFA, a big problem for a lot of people was expecting more originality instead of reprise of ANH (in the spirit of the two Indiana Jones sequels being reprises of Raiders of the Lost Arc). I admit I did too, but enjoyed the result nonetheless.

For TLJ, I think a huge problem for a lot of people was in the expectations for Luke. I really think fans were largely hoping for Luke to just be more of a direct a continuation of RotJ but this time also the teacher. So many fans vehemently rejected Luke being a cynical failed master who only returns to heroic form at the end of the film. And a lot of fans were not expecting Luke to die.

For TLJ, I publicly called it that Luke would die on the day the title of the film was announced, so I obviously expected him to die. (Before that I expected him to die in Episode IX.) And unlike a lot of fans, I am not really bothered by Luke being a different character 30 years later.

There were unexpected things about TLJ I liked and some I didn't like. However I did expect similarities to other films that didn't happen in TLJ. I expected a film with Jedi in the title to have a lightsaber duel somewhere in the film (lightsaber vs. lightsaber).
_________________
*
Site Map
Forum Guidelines
Registration & Log-In Help
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Solo4114
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander


Joined: 18 May 2017
Posts: 174

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:09 am    Post subject: Re: The expectations game Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
Expectation is a huge factor in fan experience.

Going into the prequels, we knew Obi-Wan, Vader, Palpatine, Yoda and the droids would not die. Other than those basic continuity realities of prequels, we really only knew some things that would happen in Episode III. We knew the Jedi Order would fall and Empire would begin. We knew Anakin would turn to Dark Side and become Vader. We knew Obi-Wan would defeat Vader on a lava planet. We knew Luke and Leia would be born, and where the twins would go.

Yes, Lucas plotted out the prequels around Anakin's fall to the Dark Side. The premise is based on Buddhist teachings about attachments and something very near and dear to Lucas, adoption. He researched separation anxiety and determined that a child of about age 9 would be the most traumatized by separation from his parent. Younger than that, they could form new attachments and be ok, and older than that they would be better equipped to deal with it. On average age 9 was the worst. From what I have studied, that could be true.

So the first episode was leaving his mother. The second was having nightmares about his mother leading up to their reunion only for her to die in his arms, and falling in love. The third was having nightmares about his love and in his quest to prevent her death, join the Dark Side and cause her death in a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is one of those things where you either buy it, or you don't.

I wasn't overly fascinated by this arc, but I can't say that I was uninterested in it. I think it is a well-plotted premise. The main problem is in the execution of it. I had no issue with Jake Loyd Anakin. I can't say that I have ever expected more from a child actor his age. But the adult Anakin-Padme love story was unconvincing, and Hayden Christiansen's performance of the crossing-over to the Dark Side leaves a lot to be desired. These things are probably due to Lucas's insufficient human direction more than actor ability.

So there were a few things that didn't live up to my expectations, but overall the prequel trilogy did. Overall the anthology prequels did too. I feel fortunate I was spared from experiencing the severe disconnect between expectation and result for the five prequels. But they are a different beast than sequels.


Yeah, exactly. I get what Lucas was trying to do. I think he gets the A-to-B-to-C of it right. The problem is in the actual execution and a lot of the performances he got. Hayden Christensen is actually a pretty talented actor, but I only know this because I saw him in Shattered Glass. Natalie Portman I know is an excellent actor. But the script and the direction -- and some of the story choices as well -- weaken their overall arc. And there's a lot of stuff in the rest of the story that distracts from Anakin's fall. Big-picture-wise, I think the story works, but it loses it in the details.

For me, the real issue is...I don't really want to watch a story about Anakin's attachment issues bringing down the Republic and the Jedi. Or at least, I don't want to see it done the way Lucas did it. I've got my own "head canon" version of it, though, which is closer to what's in the Clone Wars cartoon, and which still allows you to showcase Anakin's attachment issues, but which jettison's TPM entirely because I think it could just be covered in exposition. But that's another thread entirely...

Quote:
For TFA, a big problem for a lot of people was expecting more originality instead of reprise of ANH (in the spirit of the two Indiana Jones sequels being reprises of Raiders of the Lost Arc). I admit I did too, but enjoyed the result nonetheless.


Ditto. To me, it looked like a good initial launching point to take things in a different direction. My reaction was basically "Ok. Pretty good start. A return to form. Now what else ya got?" Similar response to Rogue One when it came out, actually. I'm still on the fence about the anthology films, though. I haven't seen Solo, but the notion of mining OT characters and events for "origin stories" strikes me as incredibly myopic and boring.

Quote:
For TLJ, I think a huge problem for a lot of people was in the expectations for Luke. I really think fans were largely hoping for Luke to just be more of a direct a continuation of RotJ but this time also the teacher. So many fans vehemently rejected Luke being a cynical failed master who only returns to heroic form at the end of the film. And a lot of fans were not expecting Luke to die.

For TLJ, I publicly called it that Luke would die on the day the title of the film was announced, so I obviously expected him to die. (Before that I expected him to die in Episode IX.) And unlike a lot of fans, I am not really bothered by Luke being a different character 30 years later.


Same for me. I suspected he'd die, but I thought that as long as one could accept the events from the film's past that were shown in flashback, Luke (and the rest of the OT heroes) made sense as far as how he went from ROTJ to TFA/TLJ.

I know a lot of people have a very hard time accepting Luke's crucial moment, though, and have a vision of him that is chiefly informed by watching the OT over and over and over for decades, plus a residual sense of his character from the now-apocryphal EU which...basically froze OT Luke in amber and never really developed his character further.

Quote:
There were unexpected things about TLJ I liked and some I didn't like. However I did expect similarities to other films that didn't happen in TLJ. I expected a film with Jedi in the title to have a lightsaber duel somewhere in the film (lightsaber vs. lightsaber).


I was less troubled by that. Plus I think we'll get that in the next film. Wink
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Whill
Supreme Chancellor (Owner/Admin)


Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 4966
Location: Columbus, OHIO, USA, Earth, The Solar System, The Milky Way Galaxy

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 5:31 pm    Post subject: Re: The expectations game Reply with quote

Solo4114 wrote:
Quote:
There were unexpected things about TLJ I liked and some I didn't like. However I did expect similarities to other films that didn't happen in TLJ. I expected a film with Jedi in the title to have a lightsaber duel somewhere in the film (lightsaber vs. lightsaber).

I was less troubled by that. Plus I think we'll get that in the next film. Wink

We better Exclamation
_________________
*
Site Map
Forum Guidelines
Registration & Log-In Help
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Rancor Pit Forum Index -> General Star Wars All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group


v2.0