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All Things Star Wars

Sith or Jedi?

  • Sith

    Votes: 32 37.2%
  • Jedi

    Votes: 51 59.3%
  • Chuck Norris

    Votes: 3 3.5%

  • Total voters
Because all kids’ films revolve around protracted negotiations about trade embargoes.
Begun as such, not centred around, really. It was just the opening public ploy of Palpatine's master plan. Even Qui-gwon Jin's first lines on camera are, "I sense a great deal of anxiety for something so trivial as a trade dispute." But, I guess that analysis moves even further away from the typical, "kid's movie plot."
TA cost 180 big ones, 4 years to make and is 8 eps, 30 mins per ep.

Leslye Headland Hopes the Force Is With 'The Acolyte'​

Headland's show, "The Acolyte," will debut on Disney+ on June 4. Costing roughly $180 million (for eight episodes) and taking four years to make, it attempts two feats at once: pleasing old-school "Star Wars" fans — who can seem unpleasable — while telling an entirely new story, one that requires no prior knowledge of "Star Wars" and that showcases women and people of color.

For the faithful, "The Acolyte" serves up scads of Jedi, a franchise fundamental that the other live-action "Star Wars" TV shows have depicted sparingly or not at all. The opening scene in "The Acolyte" takes place in an eatery crowded with colorful aliens, a callback to the Mos Eisley cantina from the first "Star Wars" movie, in 1977.

Other shout-outs to core fans — we see you, we haven't forgotten about you — are sprinkled into the dialogue: "May the force be with you" and "I have a bad feeling about this" makes an early appearance. At the same time, "The Acolyte" embraces what some people call "New Star Wars," an era defined by diversity and expansion beyond the Skywalker saga, which started with Disney's purchase of the franchise in 2012.

Amandla Stenberg stars as a dreadlocked warrior who has a complicated relationship with a Jedi master played by Lee Jung-jae from "Squid Game," in his first English-speaking role. Jodie Turner-Smith ("Queen & Slim") plays the lesbian leader of a regal coven of witches, while the Filipino-Canadian actor Manny Jacinto ("The Good Place") appears as a shadowy trader. In one of her most action-oriented roles since "The Matrix," Carrie-Anne Moss plays a steely Jedi named Master Indara.

"The Acolyte" also breaks new ground behind the camera: While women have directed episodes of shows like "The Mandalorian" and "Obi-Wan Kenobi," Headland, 43, is the first to create a "Star Wars" series.

"It was like working on a razor's edge," she said during a Zoom interview, pushing her oversize glasses higher on her nose. "You're thinking, 'This is what people want from "Star Wars." This is what people don't want.' It can mess with your head."
"During the creative process," she continued, "I had to give myself the forgiveness, as an artist, to fall off the razor — as long as I got back up. That was my promise to myself."

From the second that any new "Star Wars" project comes into public view — Disney announced "The Acolyte" in 2020 — fans claw for information and pick apart what they find. It's part of what makes "Star Wars" so powerful: People care. But the attention also creates problems.

Rumors can solidify into facts. Some "Star Wars" obsessives, for instance, have worried that Headland's show "breaks canon," or tinkers with already-established story lines in the franchise — the ultimate "Star Wars" crime. It does not.

In fact, Headland chose to place "The Acolyte" at the very beginning of the "Star Wars" timeline so canonical issues would be minimal. The show is a mystery-thriller — someone is killing Jedis — set at a time when the Jedi are at their peak, the pre-"Phantom Menace" era that has been explored in "Star Wars" novels but never onscreen. The only character in "The Acolyte" that previously existed anywhere in the franchise is a Jedi Master from novels named Vernestra Rwoh. (Headland cast her wife, Rebecca Henderson, in the role, giving her a lightsaber that can transform into a whip.)

"Leslye wanted this show to be accessible — no homework needed before watching," said Jocelyn Bioh, the Ghanaian-American writer. Headland added Bioh to the writing team for "The Acolyte" specifically because Bioh was not a "Star Wars" devotee.
"She asked me what I knew about 'Star Wars,' and my answer was, 'Harrison Ford runs around space with a giant dog?'" Bioh recalled, laughing. "And Leslye said, 'You're hired.'"

"She wanted to potentially invite in new fans — people like me," Bioh said.

The first "Acolyte" trailer, released in March, racked up 51.3 million views in its first 24 hours, a record for any live-action "Star Wars" series, including "The Mandalorian," according to Lucasfilm. Sneak-peek "Acolyte" footage, released in theaters in early May, highlighted the show's unique martial arts sequences; fan sites instantly deemed the fighting style Force Fu.

But a loud, primordial part of the "Star Wars" fandom has pushed back in predictable fashion.

"Why are there so many women, girls and minority characters increasingly dominating the ranks of Jedi?" reads a comment on "The Acolyte" trailer, with others expressing a similar worldview.

It is a version of the same misogyny and racism that greeted Rey, the female Jedi (played by Daisy Ridley) who made her debut in "The Force Awakens" in 2015, and that drove Kelly Marie Tran off social media when she appeared in "The Last Jedi" (2017). Kathleen Kennedy, who runs Lucasfilm, has also experienced it, with "South Park" harshly attacking her in an episode last year. The cartoon depicted Kennedy giving the same feedback to "Star Wars" creators over and over: "Put a chick in it! Make her lame and gay!"

Some trolls have nicknamed Headland's series "The Wokelyte." In a brief telephone interview, Kennedy's support for "The Acolyte" was steadfast. "My belief is that storytelling does need to be representative of all people," she said. "That's an easy decision for me."

"Operating within these giant franchises now, with social media and the level of expectation — it's terrifying," Kennedy continued. "I think Leslye has struggled a little bit with it. I think a lot of the women who step into 'Star Wars' struggle with this a bit more. Because of the fan base being so male dominated, they sometimes get attacked in ways that can be quite personal."

Headland has tried to limit her exposure to the online conversation, both good and bad, instead relying on friends for "weather reports."

"As a fan myself, I know how frustrating some 'Star Wars' storytelling in the past has been," Headland said, declining to cite specific examples. "I've felt it myself."

She followed up with a text message. "I stand by my empathy for 'Star Wars' fans," she wrote. "But I want to be clear. Anyone who engages in bigotry, racism or hate speech … I don't consider a fan."

"Star Wars" projects aren't known for personal or idiosyncratic filmmaking. The production and marketing budgets are simply too high; the storytelling must appeal to the widest possible audience to make the numbers work.

Rian Johnson, who directed "The Last Jedi," told The New York Times in 2017 that he didn't even try to put his own stamp on the franchise. "It would be bad news if you came into this saying, 'How do I make this mine?'" he said.
Kennedy, however, pushed Headland to do just that with "The Acolyte."

Kennedy had read one of Headland's plays, "Cult of Love," which explores a complicated relationship between siblings. "It's about her personal experience," Kennedy said. "And it was just so well done and incredibly emotional. I remember reading that and saying, 'Leslye, this is exactly what you should tap into as you write this story for us.'"

Explaining exactly how Headland took Kennedy's advice would spoil a major plot point in "Acolyte." Let's just say that Headland heightened a clash between characters.

"I have a very strained relationship with my youngest sister, and I feel like one of the reasons it is strained is that we both see each other as the bad guy," Headland said. "And if I was going to tell a story about bad guys, it seemed to me that the place to start should be a familial relationship where one person is adamantly convinced of her correctness and the other person is also adamantly convinced of her correctness."

"We don't speak," Headland added. "I think this will be a surprise to her."

"You've written a great 'Star Wars' show," Kennedy told her in 2019 in response to early scripts. "Now go write a Leslye Headland show."

She wouldn't say anything more on the topic, except to emphasize that she has a good relationship with her other sister, who helped make a visual presentation that Headland used to pitch "The Acolyte" to Lucasfilm. (Headland described her concept in the meeting as "'Frozen' meets 'Kill Bill.'" Kennedy bought it on the spot.)

Stenberg, the show's star, said "Leslye really is driven by emotion and heart and relationships. So even though our show is within the 'Star Wars' universe and set in outer space, in a galaxy far, far away, it's really a family drama."

Headland had directed indie films ("Bachelorette," "Sleeping With Other People") and served as showrunner for "Russian Doll," the hit Netflix comedy about a New Yorker (Natasha Lyonne) caught in a reincarnation loop. But she had never managed a big-budget production.

What she lacked in experience, she made up for with "Star Wars" geekdom. Headland became a "Star Wars" superfan as a teenager. It was an apocalyptic period of her life, or at least it felt that way.

"I had no friends," she recalled. "I ate my lunch in the bathroom."

She found solace among the misfits in George Lucas's space operas, discovering books like Timothy Zahn's "Heir to the Empire" (1991) and collecting action figures. When Lucas released the "special editions" of his first three "Star Wars" movies, Headland lined up at her local theater on opening night. A few years ago, she had Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for Princess Leia tattooed on her right hand.

"'Star Wars' has been a part of my personality since I can remember," Headland said. "So working on this show has been a dream. I had to take my shot."

She paused for a moment. "If it doesn't succeed, it's because of me," she said. "That's really scary to think about."

"No, no — I'm not going to go there," she said, climbing back on that razor's edge.
That does look interesting, silly lightsabre weapons aside.
First ep of The Acolyte (2024) was good. The duel at the beginning was a fun homage to Chinese wuxia movies. Everybody knows that Star Wars (1977) was heavily influenced by classic Japanese movies, specifically The Hidden Fortress (1958), but to my eye, the Force and the Jedi have more of a Chinese flavor than Japanese. The Jedi obviously seem inspired by samurai, but I think in the original trilogy they're more like the monks of the Shaolin temple, masters of a forbidden art chased down by the forces of a tyrannical emperor, but some few of the monks escaped and went into hiding. And the use of the Force to push enemies and jump impossible distances is straight out of a Chinese wuxia movie. This particular fight a the beginning of this episode reminded me strongly of New Dragon Gate Inn (1992), the Tsui Hark movie with Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung and Donnie Yen. Probably that was mostly in the setting, the Chinese-style tea house/tavern, but something about Carrie Anne Moss' character made me think of Lin's character. (Full disclosure, I haven't seen New Dragon Gate Inn in at least 25 years, so to say that my memories of it are hazy would be an understatement.)

Anyway, good start to the series. It didn't immediately grab me by the [lapels], but I don't think it needed to. I was a little surprised how short it was, but not bothered.
I agree that the choreography is good. I also like the diversity of aliens and the set design.

The plot feels really flimsy to me, though, and I can already see weaknesses in how scenes are framed because of the not-being-an-actual-twin situation. Eventually there'll be a fight scene, maybe multiple, and they're going to CGI her face onto a stunt double, and I fear how awkward it is going to be with the VFX crunch the industry has been in lately.

They are doing a decent job thus far of showing how stagnant the Republic/Order has become. It feels less damage-control-y like the work they've done to hammer the sequel storyline into coherence. That's a low bar, but I'll take what I can get.

The Critics Must Be Crazy — ‘The Acolyte’ Is Just Another Mediocre ‘Star Wars’ Show​

Erik Kain
Senior Contributor

The critics must be crazy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This time, it’s Star Wars: The Acolyte that has aroused the profoundly odd sensibilities of the professional media class. That and the broken aggregation system that is Rotten Tomatoes.

The latest show from the House Of Mouse is fine (at best) but you wouldn’t know it perusing the internet. Behold:

[IMG alt="Screenshot 2024-06-05 171211"]https://imageio.forbes.com/specials...-171211/960x0.png?format=png&width=1440[/IMG]
Audiences and reviewers do not agree about 'The Acolyte'

That’s a wide divide. There are many reasons for it. We’ll get there momentarily. First:

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away . . .

Seriously, it was a long time ago. 100 years before the rise of the Empire. The Acolyte takes place in the High Republic’s final days, just before the long era of peace and prosperity came crashing down into turmoil and strife—at least partly thanks to the arrogance of the Jedi Order itself. Partly, too, thanks to a mysterious new villain who (we can only hope) turns out to be Darth Plagueis.

It’s a cool idea for a new Star Wars setting that before now we’ve only seen in games, comics and books. We’ve been stuck in the Skywalker era for so long. Even a show like Andor which has no Jedi and never mentions the Force or Luke Skywalker, still takes place within the years of the Imperial rise and fall. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a Star Wars show actually branch out.

Unfortunately, The Acolyte retains many of the franchise’s worst habits and does next to nothing with the new setting that makes it actually feel new. This could be set two years before the prequel trilogy and nobody would be the wiser.

I wrote a review covering the first two episodes of the show before I’d watched the next two. You can read that right here. It’ll catch you up on the story without too many spoilers. I was tentatively optimistic after two episodes. I’ve become decidedly less so after four. Quite frankly, even if the final four episodes of the season turn out to be fantastic, the first four will hold it back from greatness. And how often does a series get that much better in its second half?

Disney and the show’s creators have billed this series as a “darker” delve into Star Wars. Critics have echoed this sentiment, calling it a show that makes “bold choices.” Inverse says that The Acolyte is “An experimental, galvanizing standalone story that establishes a new caliber of what Star Wars TV can do.” Galvanizing! New caliber!

Gosh, we must be watching different shows.

Elsewhere we get such quotes as:

  • “'The Acolyte' presents in its first few episodes, a dashing adventure of mystery, action, impressive fight sequences and a cat and mouse game that keeps you intrigued from one episode to the next.”
  • “Showrunner Leslye Headland, best known as the co-creator of the Netflix series Russian Doll, breathes new life into the Star Wars universe with The Acolyte.”
  • “[Leslye] Headland has created one of the best Star Wars series to date making it a character driven revenge story over one relying on copious action scenes, light sabers battles or legacy characters to drive the series.”

Again, I feel like I’m living in an alternative universe reading these, one in which being a critic no longer requires you to be critical, but rather rewards you for simply liking the Right Things and disliking the Wrong Things. One of these quotes gushes over the “impressive fight sequences” while another says it doesn’t rely on “copious action scenes.” But really, the number of reviews calling this some version of a “compelling mystery” or a “riveting thriller” or “STAR WARS HAS NEVER DONE THIS THING BEFORE’ simply boggles my mind. None of this is even remotely true. I say this as someone who has been mildly entertained by this series so far and will gladly watch the next four episodes. But really, you have to be realistic about these things. The only ground being broken here is in the cemetery where they bury our hopes and dreams.

Nothing here, beyond the era, is actually all that new. And very little about it is particularly compelling or well-written. It is, however, very, very diverse and I suspect that this focus on diversity drives a great deal of both the positive critical reception and negative audience reviews. When you commit so utterly to making a social cause the thing that defines your show, you effectively guarantee that it becomes just another shouting match in the never-ending culture wars. As I’ve noted elsewhere, there are better ways to approach this (Andor!)

Many positive critic reviews are . . . less crazy, however. They’re marked Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, but they include phrases such as:

There are tons of these, and because Rotten Tomatoes is a binary—Rotten or Fresh—there’s no middle-ground upon which they can fall. Another juicy tomato: Many critics don’t even pick whether their review should be regarded as “Fresh” or “Rotten.” They have that option, but Rotten Tomatoes can also just pick that for you instead. I discuss other issues with the review aggregator in the video below:

The Acolyte Is Bombing With Audiences​

Audience scores reflect another extreme. At 39% (as of this writing) the show is decidedly rotten. Is that an accurate representation of actual audience opinions? Are people just mad because The Acolyte is so diverse? The Star Wars reddit doesn’t seem too upset or too thrilled. I get an overall sense of ‘meh’. Maybe not 39% but far, far from 93%.

Whatever you might think on this front, most of the complaints I’ve seen so far don’t focus on the diversity issue, but rather on the stilted dialogue, predictable plotting and so forth. Mostly, longtime Star Wars fans just continue to feel generally deflated by the overall mediocrity and lack of ambition that Disney is bringing to the table. A sampling:

  • “The show was watchable, which was an improvement over Obi-Wan and the listless Ahsoka but there is no sign of genuine creative ambition in this show and it suffers from the same sense of weightlessness and lack of dramatic sense as Ahsoka. The characters don't grab my interest and I haven't spent two seconds thinking about the plot during or after watching.”
  • “Ugh. This is as bad as you've heard. Visually, it looks...OK, I guess? The fights are fine but being massively overrated by Disney-friendly media. The rest is a garbage fire. Terrible acting, weird pacing, bargain basement writing, and pointless changes to Star Wars mythology. It just "feels" wrong throughout, even compared to other Disney Star Wars”
  • “Having thus far watched the first 2 episodes the show is just very....eh. Like a lot of folks are saying the score is fantastic & it's probably the highlight. But good sound can't carry a show. Thus far the characters are all a bit bland - I'm hopeful of further character development in the next episode.”
I’ll have more to say about the core, fundamental problems with The Acolyte in a separate post now that I’ve watched the first four episodes, but I have to largely agree with these commenters. It’s just incredibly underwhelming. The critics gushing praise for this series sound out of touch with Star Wars and its fandom (and what makes it tick!) and really out of touch with good writing in general. The Acolyte is just okay. It might get better; it might get worse. Maybe the back half of the season will blow our minds. But right now? It’s just a deeply bland Star Wars series with some cool fight scenes and a handful of cool characters I’m afraid will ultimately be wasted, just like the cast of the sequel trilogy.

I’ve written about this before, and I’ll say it again: Relentless mediocrity is what’s killing Star Wars and Marvel and DC and so much of pop culture. The majority of Disney’s Star Wars shows and movies have been watered-down and disappointing affairs that seem to want to capitalize on the property without bothering to understand what makes us love it to begin with. They have just enough redeeming qualities to prevent them from being truly terrible. Mostly, they’re just bland and forgettable and lacking the great charm and heroics that made the original trilogy such an iconic entry in the history of cinema.

What a shame. It could have been so much better, so much more. The unlikely existence of Andor proves my point. A diamond in the rough. Or as the Mandalorian would put it: This is the way.
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Reynold's as Solo and Sally Field as Leia, i can picture it.

Apparently, even more shocking, Robert Englund was also offered the role of Han Solo before Harrison Ford. Imagine an alternate universe where Englund was given the role of Solo (and perhaps Indiana Jones) by Lucas and Ford was offered the role of Freddy Kruger by Wes Craven. :aargh:
All I'm going to say about the Acolyte, at this point, after watching the first two episodes at a friend's (and this won't need a spoilers filter, as there's no details), but when was the fine art of coherent and compelling script and screenplay writing cast by the wayside, or at considered highly optional, in modern, recent TV and movie making?
All I'm going to say about the Acolyte, at this point, after watching the first two episodes at a friend's (and this won't need a spoilers filter, as there's no details), but when was the fine art of coherent and compelling script and screenplay writing cast by the wayside, or at considered highly optional, in modern, recent TV and movie making?
Somewhere in the middle of Twin Peaks, perhaps?
I see. It sounds really messed up, and makes me wonder what it was like when these were physical artists. Is there more hours going into animating Sonic the Hedgehog than The Aristocats (1970)?
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