Star Wars Rise of Skywalker

John Boyega Claims Non-White Roles Are ‘Pushed To The Side’ In Star Wars Franchise 

British actor John Boyega recently spoke with the media and criticized the treatment of all non-white actors on the set of the most recent Star Wars film. Boyega claims that all POC actors may have been marketed as important and crucial elements to the storyline, but the reality was they were “ultimately pushed to the side.” Boyega specifically mentioned how his role as stormtrooper Finn had more of a crucial story line in his first film, but his character’s relevance faded in the latter episodes of the trilogy.  

“What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are, and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”

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Boyega went on in the interview to claim that his fellow non-white actors Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac all agreed and had their characters suffer similar fates as the trilogy progressed. However, white actors Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley had taken more of a leading role playing Kylo Ren and Rey. 

“They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.” He discussed how one of the biggest issues that always arises when POC speak up about injustices within their industry, they often are accused of “making it up” or being “overly sensitive,” when the reality is they’re expressing a very real issue within the industry. 

His biggest claim that in general, Star Wars just didn’t know what to do with non-white characters after having strictly white casts for a majority of the franchises existence. 

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“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you.”

Boyega recently went viral for expressing his thoughts on racial injustices in the world in a video that spread around social media in June. In the video Boyega is emotional and angry as he gives a heartfelt speech at an anti-racism demonstration in London following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police. 

Boyega may not have been in the industry for that long, however, in his short time working in Hollywood he’s managed to make a major impact. Not only was he involved in one of the largest film franchises in the world, but he also was never one to shy away from speaking up against the injustices he faced and witnessed on a daily basis. 

In his speech at the Black Lives Matter rally in London, one of the most memorable quotes regarded the actual meaning of BLM: “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.”

Boyega has remained diligent in his efforts to expose the racial issues in Hollywood while also trying to help the Black Lives Matter movement as much as he can from quarantine. If one thing’s for sure based on his most recent interview, he won’t be slowing down anytime soon.


Netflix’s “The Witcher” Eclipses “The Mandalorian” as World’s Most Popular TV Show

The recent launch of Disney Plus was accompanied by a live-action TV show based on the Star Wars universe, which soon became one of the most-watched shows in the world, thanks in part to its adorable alien creature fans have nicknamed “Baby Yoda.” But Netflix, undoubtedly the fiercest competitor to Disney’s new streaming service, has years of experience producing TV shows that capture the attention of critics and audiences alike, and has done so yet again with “The Witcher.” According to the data company Parrot Analytics, “The Witcher” has surpassed Disney’s “The Mandalorian” in popularity, drawing 127 million viewers as opposed to “The Mandalorian’s” 115 million viewers for the week of December 22 to 28. Based on a series of fantasy novels by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, “The Witcher” follows a monster hunter named Geralt of Rivia during his adventures in a medieval world. Though critics gave “The Witcher” a lukewarm reception, audiences flocked to the fantasy show, all but ensuring that Netflix will renew the series for several more seasons.

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A number of factors could explain “The Witcher’s” sudden popularity. For one, audiences may be familiar with the world of “The Witcher” not only from the eight novels that inspired it but from the popular video game series of the same name, sparking their curiosity about how Netflix would handle a live-action adaptation. Additionally, the end of “Game of Thrones” left many viewers unsatisfied, and “The Witcher” provides an opportunity for fans of the genre to immerse themselves in a new fantasy world. Netflix has advertised “The Witcher” prominently, and as of this writing a trailer for the show loads immediately after visiting the website. And while Disney Plus has seen tremendous success in its first few months, many more people have Netflix subscriptions than Disney Plus subscriptions, as the former service has been around for more than a decade. All eight episodes of the show’s first season were released on December 20th in keeping with Netflix’s tradition of releasing all episodes of a season at once to facilitate binge-watching. “The Mandalorian’s” first season also had eight episodes, but these episodes were released weekly, with the season finale premiering on December 27th. The success of both shows demonstrates that both release models are viable for attracting large audiences, though most viewers likely prefer Netflix’s approach as it allows for instant gratification.

Despite the show’s popularity, reviewers had a number of complaints about “The Witcher.” Overall, it holds a 59% approval rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, who criticized the show for failing to establish a convincing, believable fantasy environment and for its “boring” characters. Critics also complained that the show is poorly paced and features excessively convoluted storylines, which are particularly hard to follow for people unfamiliar with the books or video games. General audiences were more approving of the show, as “The Witcher” holds a 93% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Given the series’ high production values, engaging action sequences, and the audience’s familiarity with the source material, it is perhaps not surprising that “The Witcher” ended up being a crowd-pleaser. 

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Unlike “The Witcher,” both audiences and critics approved of Disney’s “The Mandalorian,” as viewers around the world fell in love with the show’s infant alien character. On Rotten Tomatoes, “The Mandalorian” has a 94% approval rating among critics and a 93% audience approval rating, indicating near-universal acclaim. Viewers praised “The Mandalorian” for its compelling characters, its engaging action sequences, and its adherence to the style of the Star Wars universe. Considering that “The Mandalorian” was likely the most successful aspect of the launch of Disney Plus, Disney is likely to continue to produce the series for some time. That being said, as a result of “The Witcher’s” early success among audiences and the vast expanse of narrative content available for adaptation, both shows are likely to continue for many years to come. 

Star Wars Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Popular with Audiences, but not Critics

The third entry in the latest Star Wars trilogy just hit theaters, and while the film undeniably did well at the box office, critics felt that it lacked imagination and it prioritized appealing fans over advancing the narrative. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 86% of viewers liked the new Star Wars movie, whereas only 57% of critics gave it a positive review. This stands in contrast with the previous two entries in the series; both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were well received by critics, earning a Tomatometer score of 93% and 91% respectively, though a majority of viewers disliked the second film, which has an audience score of only 43%. For the third movie, director J.J. Abrams set out to address what audiences perceived to be some of the problems with The Last Jedi; apparently, this effort succeeded with audiences but not with critics, suggesting that the movie sacrifices its artistic potential in service of providing audiences with a predictable spectacle.

Even director J.J. Abrams felt that critics’ assessments of the film were fair. During a Q&A session after a screening of the film, he was asked what he thought about critics’ and audiences’ differing perspectives. Abrams said that both critics and audiences were right, suggesting that much of the controversy comes from the differing opinions on what viewers want out of a Star Wars movie. The prolific director explained that during the production of the movie, he knew that many of the decisions he and his team had to make would please some and infuriate others, so he was not too surprised about the movie’s polarized reception. Abrams directed the first and third entries in the trilogy, and Rian Johnson directed the second movie; in the latest installment, Abrams decided to walk back some of the changes and developments that occurred in the second movie, causing much of the controversy that emerged in the wake of the film’s release.

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One aspect of the movie that was universally praised, through, was its presentation. In particular, the special effects were well-received across the board, and critics and fans enjoyed the musical score, which was composed by series veteran John Williams. Much like the The Force Awakens, however, the movie’s writing was considered by many to be too derivative of previous entries and lacking in imagination. 

Writing for NPR, Bob Mondello acknowledged the tremendously difficult task of satisfyingly concluding a story involving the nine films, the first of which was released in 1977, but criticized the director’s approach of doing so by recycling previously-seen story elements in an homage to the series that ultimately led to a predictable outcome. Matthew Rozsa of Salon liked the film overall, but acknowledged that it wouldn’t satisfy everyone, writing that people who disliked The Last Jedi would probably like The Rise of Skywalker, but people who liked The Last Jedi would probably not, though he conceded that “at times the plot does strain under the weight of its responsibilities.” And Brandon Katz of Observer opined that ending the nine-part series “in a universally satisfying conclusion simply isn’t possible,” but that at the very least Abrams gave fans “a swashbuckling adventure film that sparks the kid inside of you as it delivers a series of big movie moments ripe for broad appeal.”

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In many ways, audiences felt differently. Reviews submitted to Rotten Tomatoes were positive, as viewers found the experience entertaining, praising the use of CGI, the exciting light-saber duels, and the music, though some people complained about the plot. Among the 36,000 reviews, a common refrain was praise for all of the movie’s elements except for the plot, which proved controversial; while some viewers enjoyed how well the movie ties up loose ends, others felt that the story was too convoluted, at times nonsensical, and failed to honor story elements established in the previous eight films. Whatever the case may be, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker proves to be an entertaining and fun Star Wars experience, as long as you can overlook some of the more divisive storytelling decisions.