THE LAST JEDI: What Happened?

By Tom Holste

Jan. 16, 2018

There has been a grave disturbance in the Force.

The new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, released last month to an astonishing level of critical acclaim, with “the best movie in the series since The Empire Strikes Back” being a common refrain. But once fans started seeing the movie, a much different anthem started gaining traction: “the worst movie in the series, worse than The Phantom Menace.”

Rotten Tomatoes, a site that pulls reviews from around the Web and compiles percentages based on positive and negative reviews, has been at the center of the controversy. At the time of writing, Last Jedi’s critical consensus stands strong at 90%, but the Audience Score (which can be affected by any user who signs up and votes) has currently plummeted to 49%.


“Oooooh. Triggered, people on the Internet are. Hmm, hmm, hmm!”

So, what happened to cause such a wide gap in reception between critics and audiences? What follows is not a review, but an attempt to objectively show both sides of the argument. (Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven’t seen the movie!)

It’s Different. A common sentiment after the release of The Force Awakens is that there were too many things that felt like clichés from other movies in the series. People wanted (or thought they wanted) the sequel movies to be different. Writer-director Rian Johnson took the message to heart, and ironically delivered a movie that felt so different in its tone and structure that it became off-putting to many fans. For critics, though, who probably like cinema as a whole more than they like Star Wars in particular, any change was welcome.

It’s Sad. Rather than playing it safe and having nothing bad happen to characters from the Original Trilogy, as one might expect from a major corporation reviving a franchise, Disney-owned Lucasfilm has surprisingly taken a lot of risks, putting the classic characters through the ringer. In Force Awakens, we learned that Han Solo failed to be a good husband and dad and that he went back to a life of crime before ultimately being killed by his son. In Last Jedi, we find a bitter, depressed Luke Skywalker who failed to revive the Jedi Order and enabled his nephew to go on a killing spree. (In fairness, all of these ideas are already in Force Awakens, but in Last Jedi, everything gets spelled out in detail.) In the end, Luke also dies.

These sequels have also shown us that Leia failed in her diplomatic duties to restore the Republic. By the end of this film, the heroes are once again broken and on the run. And since actress Carrie Fisher has passed away, there’s no chance for her character to take part in any happy ending in the next sequel. All of the major classic characters are now dead. While critics enjoyed the risk-taking elements, fans are crushed from watching their childhood heroes meet such sad fates.


“I hear there’s going to be a new TOY STORY trilogy, where Woody dies, Buzz dies, and Jessie gets written out of the story.”

It’s All About the New Characters. Unsurprisingly, Disney has made the new heroes—Rey, Finn and Poe—the focus of the new trilogy. As already mentioned, the major characters from the Original Trilogy are now all gone (with no mention of whatever happened to Lando Calrissian), and supporting characters such as Chewbacca and the droids have been reduced to cameos in films that juggle a very large cast. Critics appreciate the focus on the new, interesting characters; nostalgic fans come away with an empty feeling.

A Twist or Not a Twist? Poe’s subplot is about trying to stop Admiral Holdo, who he believes to be a spy. He recruits Finn and Rose to help him. Ultimately, their plan fails, but it doesn’t matter because Holdo’s plot succeeds. For anyone who thought that Poe’s plan was going to succeed, this movie has two great twists in it. For those who guessed that Holdo was in the right, though, the Poe/Finn/Rose subplot has no twists.

Elsewhere on the plot-twist front: Virtually no one saw the twist coming that Rey’s parents aren’t anyone famous or connected to the overall Skywalker/Solo saga. For those who enjoyed the feel of the original movies, and remember that Luke Skywalker himself started off as an “everyman” character from the middle of nowhere in the original movie, this twist feels like a return to form. However, with this saga’s famous shocking family reveals, and with the previous director (JJ Abrams) known for crafting mystery stories like the TV show Lost, this reveal fell flat for some.

Another genuine surprise was when the villainous Snoke was abruptly killed off in this installment, when nearly everyone expected him to make it to the last film in the trilogy. Critics loved the surprise and the renewed focus on Kylo Ren as the main villain. Fans who wanted to know more about his backstory were frustrated that he was dispatched so quickly.

Social Commentary. Many critics gushed over the apparent social commentary, with the movie seeming to take an anti-war stance and to criticize wealthy people. Many fans hated this aspect and preferred the saga when it was more mythic in its storytelling. Ironically, Star Trek fans were upset when the new movies became like theme-park rides rather than the social commentary that they’re known for; now Star Wars is criticized for its commentary from fans that are used to the movies being theme-park rides.


Star Wars fans: “I hate the Ewoks! They’re too cutesy.” Also Star Wars fans: “Porgs are adorable! I need to buy all the toys!”

With all of these issues in mind, the Star Wars franchise stands at a tenuous crossroads. Last Jedi has made a ton of money despite the backlash (it was #1 for three weeks in a row and quickly became the highest-grossing movie of 2017), but many long-term fans have sworn off seeing Ep. IX. To Disney’s credit, they’ve tried playing it safe and got criticized, and they’ve tried taking chances and gotten criticized. Where do they go from here?

The questions remain as both the studio and audiences find out that Star Wars means something very special to nearly everyone, but we all have different ideas about what exactly it is that makes it special.


Disney Out-Foxes Its Competition

By Tom Holste

Dec. 14, 2017

Last week, I reported on the potential merger between the Walt Disney Company and 20th Century Fox. As of today, via their website, Disney has announced that the merger is officially happening.

Some of the terms of the deal are even weirder than initially expected: Disney will own FX Networks but not the Fox Network. Disney will own both ESPN and Fox Sports. Fox will own a controlling interest in Hulu, but are already planning on launching a streaming service to compete with Netflix in 2019.

According to some of the reports I read, this deal is bigger than any of Disney’s previous acquisitions combined (for Pixar, Lucasfilm, the Muppets, and Marvel). Disney will now own about a third of the entire entertainment industry.


The Fox Fanfare is now as much a Disney song as “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” (Image source: Slashfilm)

Many questions still remain, the biggest one in my mind still being: If Fox Networks will continue to function independently, who gets to own the logo? Will one of them be forced to change their name?

If Disney gets to use the Fox logo, then I can see them using that brand for their R-rated releases, such as the Alien and Die Hard movies. If Fox Networks keeps the logo, I expect that Disney will revive its nearly defunct Touchstone Pictures. Lately, Touchstone has been a shell of its former self, only existing to distribute DreamWorks live-action movies (and DreamWorks is moving over to Universal). But if Fox keeps the logo, I expect Touchstone will release the Alien movies and so forth.

Other weird aspects of this deal:

–Universal Studios, Disney’s chief competitor in the theme park arena, recently opened a Simpsons area of the park. They’ll now be licensing those characters from Disney. Since Disney also owns the Marvel characters, which are in Universal due to a prior licensing arrangement, Disney will now own about half of the characters in the Universal park.

–Disney will own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly (although those will also probably be distributed under the Fox logo or Touchstone, as mentioned above). Expect their long-running comics at Dark Horse to end, and for new series to start up at Marvel. The same thing happened to Star Wars.

–Disney will own all of Fox’s animated movies, including the Ice Age films. Expect those characters to show up in the parks soon. Anastasia will also technically become a Disney princess, although whether that will just be a humorous footnote or something we’ll actually see in the parks remains a question.

There are good aspects to this deal. (And not everything mentioned above was bad, just sort of weird.) Kevin Feige’s track record with producing excellent Marvel movies is unparalleled. I expect the upcoming X-Men movies to be amazing. And we’ll probably finally get a good Fantastic Four movie for once.

Anyway, one source I read said it would take a year for the deal to finalize, and the current Fox movies in production (Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix) will probably reach completion before the big reboot. It’ll be fascinating to sit back and watch what happens in the coming years with possibly the biggest entertainment merger in history.

STAR WARS: Where to Start

By Tom Holste

Dec. 11, 2017

Over and over again in my Facebook feed, I’ve been seeing the same question show up in groups: “I want to watch Star Wars, but where do I start?” The hype for The Last Jedi, which opens this Thursday, is at a fever pitch, and some people who have never dipped their toe into this franchise want to give it a shot. But with nine live-action theatrical films and a ton of animated TV shows and other media, the barrier for entry is getting bigger and more overwhelming.

This blog is intended to help those who want to get to know Star Wars, with different levels dependent on your level of interest.


Let me be clear: I’m not saying that The Force Awakens is the only Star Wars movie you should ever watch. I’m saying that, with the goal of getting ready to watch The Last Jedi this weekend, The Force Awakens is probably the only one you’ll need to watch to understand the new story. The caretakers at Lucasfilm don’t want audiences to have to watch everything in order to understand what’s going on; they want as many people in the seats as possible. The Force Awakens itself was made in such a way that newcomers could easily understand what’s going on, and any references to the past are clearly explained. By all means, eventually watch other Star Wars movies, but if you’re short on time and just want to be ready for this weekend, The Force Awakens is an entertaining entry point.



Let’s say you have more time on your hands this week, or you’re going to wait until the crowds die down. Then you should start with the original trilogy – Star Wars (1977), retroactively titled A New Hope to distinguish it from the others; The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983). People argue about the relative quality of the other films, but pretty much everyone agrees that the first three movies are good, and they tell a complete story unto themselves. For most people, I would recommend having these under their belt before watching the new movies if they have the time.



In homage to the old adventure serials that he grew up watching at the movie theater, George Lucas playfully added “Episode IV,” “V,” and “VI” to the first three movies that he made. After fans kept asking him what happened in the other episodes, Lucas finally fleshed out the details of the backstory that he had created for the saga in Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II: Attack of the Clones  (2002), and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).

Many people feel that these movies are not up to the craftsmanship of the original films. Still others defend them passionately. Whatever the case, the original movies made sense without this backstory so they can be watched independently. Despite being numbered “Episode I,” etc., these movies ruin some of the surprises of the Original Trilogy for new viewers, so if by some chance you’ve managed to remain unspoiled on some of the most famous plot twists in movie history, don’t destroy the pleasure of discovering these for yourself for the first time. Save these movies for after you’ve seen the others.

My personal favorite way to view the films has become the Machete Order, wherein a couple of the prequels are viewed as a flashback in the middle of the Original Trilogy to preserve the surprises yet create greater emotional impact in the final installment. However, if this method seems too confusing, just ignore it and save the prequels for the end. (Also note that the blog I linked to has some NSFW language.)



Lucasfilm is now also making standalone “Star Wars Story” movies, the first of which was Rogue One, which in my opinion was excellent. Next year will see a standalone movie about Han Solo, one of the most popular characters in the franchise. Despite being set in the past, the standalone nature of these movies means that they aren’t necessary to watch immediately to understand anything else.

If you’re still excited after seeing all of these, there are two different animated series under the name Clone Wars; I preferred the first, although the second is more popular. Rebels, Forces of Destiny, and LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures are other current popular animated series. There are also TV movies featuring the furry Ewoks from Return of the Jedi; a couple of Saturday morning cartoons from the ‘80s based on the Ewoks and the Droids from the films; and an awful, unwatchable Holiday Special that only ever got a semi-official release when the Rifftrax crew released a mocking commentary on it. These latter projects are mainly for the hardcore completist.

There are also a variety of excellent comics, novels and video games, but sifting through those requires a post unto itself.

Happy viewing! As Obi-Wan Kenobi say, you’ve just taken your first step into a much larger world.

9 Problems with Disney Buying Fox

By Tom Holste

Dec. 7, 2017

Fans everywhere have been celebrating the news that the Walt Disney Company is in the final stages of purchasing the entertainment division of 20th Century Fox (not the news or sports divisions).

Currently, Fox still holds rights over some Marvel characters, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. This purchase would allow Disney-owned Marvel to bring those characters into the Avengers-related movies, known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU for short). This purchase would also allow Disney to own the few bits of Star Wars not currently covered through their purchase of Lucasfilm.


This is one of many things eerily predicted by THE SIMPSONS.

Everywhere I look, fans are cheering: “Wooo! X-Men in the MCU!” But has anyone thought of some of the other ramifications of such a purchase?


Fans seem to think that if Disney buys Fox, there will be just as many X-Men and MCU movies as there are right now, the only difference being that they’re interconnected. I think it’s much more likely that Disney will put out the same number of films they currently do, meaning that we’re about to get half the amount of movies that we currently get from each studio.


Part of what’s so great about the MCU is that Marvel took the time to develop second- and third-tier characters into awesome franchises. Iron Man and Captain America are A-level characters now, but do you think Marvel would have bothered with those characters if the company had the rights to Spider-Man and X-Men in the first place? I can’t see Marvel developing characters like Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy when they can just crank out three X-Men movies a year.


Many of the fans cheering the idea of the X-Men joining the MCU are the same people who lobbied Fox to release edgier, R-rated superhero fare like Logan and Deadpool — movies that would never get made under the Disney regime. That actually doesn’t bother me personally, since I prefer the more family-friendly stuff already. But do fans who petitioned for those other films realize what they’re getting into?


Because Hugh Jackman (who plays Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine) has said in interviews that he’d love being part of the MCU, many fans think that this will finally be his chance. But when Marvel finally brought Spider-Man into the MCU, one of the first things they did was recast Peter Parker, even though it felt like Andrew Garfield had just started his run as the character. Plus, Jackman got to go out on top with the acclaimed Logan. How many actors can say that? Maybe it’s best to let sleeping wolverines lie.


On the same note, Marvel started with a fresh continuity with Spider-Man even though there had only been two previous films since the last reboot. Does anyone think Marvel is going to expect people to watch nearly 20 years’ worth of X-Men films before watching their debut in the MCU? I can pretty much guarantee you that Disney is going to start with a clean slate (much like how they wiped out all the Star Wars comics and novels prior to their purchase of Lucasfilm).




When Disney bought Marvel, they canceled fan-favorite animated TV shows The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Spectacular Spider-Man and replaced them with their own series. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they canceled the Clone Wars cartoon and replaced it with Rebels. Two of the most acclaimed live-action shows on the air right now are Fox’s Legion and The Gifted, both of which are X-Men spinoffs. If Disney buys Fox, how much do you want to bet their days are numbered?


People forget that this purchase isn’t just for Star Wars and Marvel. If the sale goes through, Disney gets all of Fox’s assets: the Alien movies, Die Hard, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and tons of other stuff that’s tonally a complete mismatch with the Mouse House. Will they make these franchises more family-friendly, or will they make Disney synonymous with some very non-Disney stuff? Either decision will probably tick a lot of people off.


Disney has a habit of largely ignoring their lesser assets: the Muppets, Winnie the Pooh, Inspector Gadget (when they owned DiC), the Fox Family TV library, etc. Why bother building up struggling brands when they can just re-release Pinocchio for the 300th time in a Super Deluxe Diamond Anniversary Super Unleaded Edition – and make a lot more money doing it? Expect a lot of Fox’s programming to just get tossed into the attic and forgotten about if this sale goes through. Even Disney doesn’t seem to see anything but X-Men and Star Wars in this purchase.


Yes, Disney would technically own the hilarious animated series THE TICK. But don’t expect them to actually do anything about it.


Why is no one talking about antitrust issues? Disney doesn’t have an entertainment monopoly yet, but the industry is getting frighteningly close to an oligopoly, where just a few people own everything. Doesn’t that make anyone else nervous about the lack of opportunities for independent artists and alternative voices if there are three big monolithic companies owning everything we watch and hear? No? Just me? Okay, then.

So there are my reasons.  I honestly hope I’m wrong. And actually, I overall really like Disney. But to quote some of my favorite Star Wars characters: I have a bad feeling about this.



More STAR WARS News Than You Can Shake a Gaffi Stick At

By Tom Holste

Nov. 10, 2017

Yesterday was an unexpectedly busy news day for Star Wars fans.

First up was the announcement that Rian Johnson, writer-director of the upcoming film The Last Jedi, has been given the greenlight to develop an entirely new Star Wars trilogy after the current one. The trilogy will be the first to go in a new direction in this universe and not be tied to the Skywalker-Solo family saga.

As I said back in September, I’m really surprised that Lucasfilm is putting so much faith in Johnson without yet seeing how the fans react to Last Jedi. I don’t doubt that he’s talented, but is it wise to give so much power and creative control over such an important franchise to one person before we see one Star Wars film completed by the guy? If the movie is well-received, I could see this announcement being made in January. But this seems a bit premature.


Yeah, if I was Rian Johnson, I’d be jumping up and down with excitement, too.

I am grateful that the new trilogy won’t just rehash what’s been done before. The poor Skywalkers and Solos have been through enough misery already. (Weirdly, many people are speculating that the new trilogy will be an adaptation of the Knights of the Old Republic games. Seeing as how the press release went out of its way to say that Johnson is being given a “blank canvas,” and that he would “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored,” I don’t see how anyone could think that this is going to be an adaptation of any previous material.)

As if that all wasn’t enough for us, an hour or so later brought the announcement that Lucasfilm is finally moving forward with a live-action Star Wars TV series for Disney’s upcoming streaming service. Fans have waited a long time for such a series, since George Lucas announced in 2005 that he was developing a live-action series called Underworld. That long-gestating project never got off the ground, and it’s unlikely that this new series is in any way related to it.

I’m intrigued by the idea, and having waited so long to see new Star Wars, I certainly don’t want to complain. However, considering all the behind-the-scenes difficulties that Lucasfilm has been dealing with over the last few years, with multiple directors getting replaced, I would almost think it would be smarter for the company to step back and get their bearings for a minute before rushing into other projects.

This all feels very much like the post-Avengers effect. I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the powers that be at the studio continue to turn out great movies and shows. Unfortunately, as with any success in Hollywood, everyone rushes to imitate them, usually to significantly lesser effect. (This is no different than the rush of lesser outer-space movies released after the success of the first Star Wars.) In this case, Marvel has been able to keep so many plates spinning at once, everyone else thinks they need to do the same thing with their franchises. And so Lucasfilm keeps greenlighting one movie after another, and multiple TV shows (counting their animated output).

I’m keeping an open mind. I don’t have a problem with a lot of Star Wars. I just really, really want it to be good more than I want it fast and plentiful.

Gaffi Stick

This is a Gaffi stick, in case you were wondering.

Ep IX Update

By Tom Holste

Sep. 15, 2017

Last week, I commented on the removal of Colin Trevorrow from Star Wars Ep. IX, and suggested possible replacement directors.

Just a few days later, Lucasfilm announced that JJ Abrams, who had previously directed Ep. VII: The Force Awakens, was returning to cap the series by taking over Ep. IX.


Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Originally, I expressed a bit of concern over the possibility picking Abrams. He’s a talented director, but ironically, I actually thought his two Star Trek movies functioned really well as imitations of Star Wars, but when it came to actual Star Wars, I found The Force Awakens just ever so slightly lacking. It was exciting and fun, but I strongly disagreed with the fates of some of the characters, particularly from the Original Trilogy. It’s still miles better than the prequels, but it was just a little less than what I hoped.

Having said all that, when this news broke, I found myself realizing that it was a completely sensible choice. While other directors may have potentially been more exciting, the last thing that Kathleen Kennedy wants right now is exciting. As the head of Lucasfilm, she’s had to fire far too many directors. She wants a dependable person who can bring this thing to the finish line on time. There were murmurs of some tension on the Force Awakens set, but Abrams and Kennedy still managed to get out a really good film that was popular with both audiences and critics. Considering how often the director hasn’t managed to survive all the way through production, that’s saying something.

As for “on time,” shortly after the news of Abrams’ hiring broke, yet another huge news item hit: Ep. IX got pushed back to December 2019, causing Disney to have to shuffle around the rest of their schedule. Originally the movie was supposed to be released in December anyway, but Disney has been trying to get the Star Wars back to their more traditional May release date. The Han Solo film is the only one on the current release schedule to still be slated for May 2018, even though that also recently had a director swap.

Again, I was originally skeptical when Disney wanted their Star Wars movies released in December instead of May, but at the moment, that makes more sense. In fact, I think positioning the Han Solo movie just a mere 3 weeks after Avengers: Infinity War might actually hurt both films. Star Wars: Episode IX was scheduled to be released 3 weeks after the fourth Avengers movie, and I was concerned about Disney cannibalizing themselves in that case as well. The December date avoids that problem.

And, at any rate, I would rather have the final episodic Star Wars movie to be done right than to be done quickly.

Apparently, Rian Johnson (currently working on The Last Jedi, due out in September) reportedly was asked to take over Ep. IX as well since Lucasfilm is so impressed with him. But he turned it down because he’s still too busy finishing the current Star Wars film to take on another one! To me, that seems like a very smart move on his part. He shouldn’t spread himself too thin.

The only worrisome point is that Chris Terrio has been brought on board to rewrite the script, despite having previously worked on the much-loathed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. But I’m trying to keep an open mind.

When I told my wife the news about Abrams, she had the appropriate reaction: an excited gasp! We’re both huge fans of Lost and Alias (TV shows that Abrams produced), and Abrams’ film Super 8 is one of her all-time favorites. So, yeah, despite a little bit of reservation, I think Abrams will overall do a bang-up job. I’m looking forward to this.


Lucasfilm Entrance Should Have a Revolving Door

By Tom Holste

Sep. 9, 2017

By now, you’ve probably all heard about Colin Trevorrow being removed as director from the as-yet-unnamed Star Wars Ep. IX, the final film in the Skywalker saga. (There will be other Star Wars films, but this will be the end of the Episodic cycle involving the Skywalker-Solo clan.)

This news comes barely two months after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were removed from the upcoming unnamed movie about a young Han Solo, replaced with Ron Howard, an old friend of George Lucas and an accomplished director in his own right. And it also comes after director Tony Gilroy was brought in to do extensive reshoots on Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One last year (although Edwards cooperated with the reshoots and got to keep his name on the film). And this is after director Josh Trank was removed from an untitled Star Wars spinoff movie.


“Really? … ANOTHER director gone?”

While it’s natural to be slightly nervous about all these abrupt behind-the-scenes changes, I suppose it means that Kathleen Kennedy (the current head of Lucasfilm) is leaving nothing to chance, so perhaps it’s cause for relief.

As for Colin Trevorrow, I enjoyed Safety Not Guaranteed, and Jurassic World was passable fun, but I don’t think it had very much to do with the direction. As stated in an earlier blog post, I think it had more to do with good timing on a film fueled by nostalgia that offered a nice alternative to people tired of superhero movies. Don’t get me wrong, Trevorrow did his job well, but I don’t think the film’s massive success was about that.

Many people are suggesting that Rian Johnson, writer-director of the upcoming Episode VII: The Last Jedi, should take over Ep. IX as well. Rian Johnson might be a good choice, but frankly, I’ve been a little nervous about his work. Looper is certainly a clever film, but there’s nothing in that movie at all that suggests that Johnson knows how to handle the light-hearted, family-friendly tone of a Star Wars film. And yet, they let him write and direct this Episodic film and co-write the next one. Add in Mark Hammill’s comments about “fundamentally disagreeing” with every choice Johnson made regarding Luke, and I’m a little on edge about this one guy having so much say over my favorite franchise.

Having said all that, Kathleen Kennedy has seen Johnson’s work on this film and kept him around, when she hasn’t done the same for others. We know she takes this too seriously to just let anyone do whatever they want, so I consider it a high compliment to him that he’s been allowed so much creative control.

I’m not outright saying he’ll do a bad job. I’m saying I don’t think it’s wise to hand over direction of the next film to him when we don’t know how audiences have reacted to this film yet. (All that being said, I’m still looking forward to December. Again, I haven’t seen Johnson’s work on The Last Jedi, while Kennedy has, so I’ll defer to her judgment if she picks him for Ep. IX.)

So who should Lucasfilm go with? Here are my thoughts on the other names I’ve heard bandied about:

JJ Abrams: He did direct some Star Wars-y stuff before working on The Force Awakens, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by his work on this franchise. He initially resisted taking on the job because he didn’t think he was the right choice; he thought he was too attached to the source material to have an objective eye. He may have been right on that.

George Lucas: Yes, heaven help us, a lot of fans are insisting that this is the time for George to step back into the franchise. There’s even an online petition to get Disney to hire him. I say: No, no, a thousand times, no! George is great at many things — he’s a creative visionary and a technological genius — but he is not a director of actors, nor is he a good editor.

Joe Johnston: The director of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji and Captain America: The First Avenger — as well as an old-school Lucasfilm employee who created Boba Fett’s armor, among other things — is a solid choice, but he’s working on the next Narnia film, The Silver Chair, and I think Narnia needs him more than Star Wars at the moment. I hope he doesn’t jump ship on that project. I’d like to see him direct a different Star Wars film later on, though.

Ron Howard: He’ll probably do a solid job on the Han Solo movie, but I don’t want him to feel rushed trying to also get Ep. IX out the door.

Brad Bird: Would do a great job, but is busy with Incredibles 2 at the moment.

Steven Spielberg: Gets asked every time. He isn’t interested because this isn’t his franchise.

Robert Zemeckis: The director of Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump is rumored to be in talks to direct DC Comics’ Flashpoint, but if that doesn’t happen, he would be an exciting choice for Ep. IX, and his career could use a boost right now (his recent films haven’t done so well), but I don’t know what his interest level is. He reportedly turned down directing one of the Episodic prequels (as did Spielberg and Ron Howard).

Ryan Coogler: Director of Creed, so he knows how to take long-running franchises and give them new leases on life that are both popular and acclaimed. He’s also finishing up work on the Marvel movie Black Panther. I have no problems with this choice; I only put it at the bottom because I haven’t yet seen any of his movies.

Now here are some names I haven’t heard, but would be interesting choices:

Jon Favreau: Director of the first two Iron Man movies, among others. I know a lot of people don’t like the second one, but I don’t think its problems were related to the direction (and I kind of love the movie anyway).

David Fincher: Yes, as with Rian Johnson, his work is very dark, but he’s also another former Lucasfilm employee (ILM, specifically) that’s gone on to direct movies, which makes him an interesting choice.

Hettie MacDonald or Rachel Talalay: It would be nice to have some women behind the camera, and both of these directors have helmed fan-favorite episodes of Doctor Who. MacDonald worked on “Blink,” nearly everyone’s choice for best episode ever, and Talalay directed the acclaimed season finales of the past two seasons. Yes, TV is somewhat of a different animal than features, but they’ve shown that they can handle special effects and tight pacing while pulling strong performances out of their actors.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this all develops!