Star Wars has lost its mystique, and The Rise of Skywalker is to blame

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The Rise of Skywalker was a crowd pleaser for the worst possible crowd.

Walt Disney Pictures

Today is May 4th. Yep, that day. Star Wars day. May the 4th be with you, etc. A pun that, thanks to the internet, somehow transformed a regular day into a global holiday of Star Wars worship. But there’s only one problem: I don’t really want to worship at that altar any more. 

And The Rise of Skywalker is to blame.

It’s embarrassing, but there was a point in the pre-pandemic days — during my first watch of The Rise of Skywalker — where, in a packed theater, I audibly said “what the hell?” 

I can’t remember exactly which part. There were a few candidates.

It could have been right at the beginning, when Rose Tico (played by Kelly Marie Tran) was yanked from The Rise of Skywalker like Poochie from The Simpsons. A move that felt designed to placate the racist trolls who’d bullied Tran off social media in 2018

That sucked. Big time. Definitely worth a “what the hell?”

It could have been the moment they “unkilled” Chewbacca, rewinding perhaps the only challenging moment in a first act that felt like it was written and edited by a 5-year-old high on sherbet. 

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What the hell?

Disney

But if I had to place bets, I’d say my “what the hell” moment came during the big “Rey’s origins” reveal. 

Undoing one of The Last Jedi‘s most interesting choices, Kylo Ren tells Rey she wasn’t the daughter of drunkards who sold her off for booze money. Nah, scratch that. In a desperate attempt to tie everything back to the original trilogy (making the Star Wars universe feel smaller than a snow globe), Rey was revealed to be the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine: The big baddie who magically re-appeared in the third movie, minus any foreshadowing in the previous two.  

“What the hell?”

Years later, distanced from the warped bubble of Star Wars “discourse” — and its place in the culture wars that consume all light and reason — it’s still difficult to explain why this choice annoyed me so much. 

In hindsight Rey’s reveal was the moment when Star Wars stopped existing as an object I could believe in and transformed into banal fan fiction catering to the worst type of fan. When Star Wars shrank into a story in a Reddit thread far, far away. Designed to offend the least amount of people possible, built for people to sit in movie theatres and point. “LOOK, IT’S LANDO. LANDO’S HERE!”

I was pissed. 

Pity my poor wife, eyes glazing over, who had to endure the train journey home. Me, arms waving like a madman, trying to explain why the passable sci-fi flick she’d just watched (and immediately began forgetting, like a normal adult) was a betrayal. That it deliberately and systematically unraveled every attempt made by The Last Jedi to reinvent Star Wars and have it successfully escape the dull nostalgia pit it’s now fully descended into.

I stand by the assessment. The Last Jedi was a movie that demanded we “let the past die.” It railed against casual nostalgia. Entire sections, like the casino scene on Canto Bight, were far from perfect, but The Last Jedi was bold and inventive. It never invited us to point, “LOOK, LANDO’S HERE!” Instead, it did a fantastic job of shredding all fan expectations. It murdered its main villain halfway through the run time; transformed Luke Skywalker from a dull do-the-right-thing hero-type into a vicious, bitter hermit tortured by his own failings. 

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James Packer's stunning ties to Netanyahu and Israel's elite revealed

Billionaire Australian casino mogul James Packer is at the centre of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial after the pair forged an unlikely friendship. 

The embattled 53-year-old bought a seaside mansion next to Mr Netanyahu, kissed the feet of former Israeli President Shimon Peres and was nicknamed ‘James Bond‘ by a man who would later go on to take the reins of the spy agency, Mossad.

Stunning court documents also shed light on the fragile mental state of the former Crown Casino boss who flirted with the idea of converting to Judaism.  

‘There was tremendous chemistry forged between us. He decided that I’m the most impressive person he met,’ Mr Netanyahu said in evidence, reported local magazine ‘He brought his first girlfriend here (model Miranda Kerr) and afterwards his second girlfriend (singer Mariah Carey). A deep bond formed between us. He told me I was the person dearest to him.’ 

James Packer (pictured with ex-fiancée Mariah Carey in 2015) had a strange fixation with Israel

James Packer (pictured with ex-fiancée Mariah Carey in 2015) had a strange fixation with Israel

Mr Netanyahu (pictured with wife Sara)

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured with wife Sara) is currently on trial for fraud and bribery allegedly linked to Mr Packer

Mr Packer first travelled to Israel in 2013, where he was enticed by President Netanyahu – or Bibi as he’s often called by close friends – to buy a neighbouring property halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Witness statements outline that Mr Netanyahu seduced Packer into buying the mega-home so he could use it himself when he wasn’t there.

Mr Netanyahu had his own key and even stored grates of expensive champagne there for his wife Sara.

It is suggested that the controversial Israeli leader wanted to ‘benefit from the friendship’, according to his former bureau chief, and tried to convince him to buy an Israel newspaper that was critical of the leader.

Those alleged dealings, along with many other gifts from Packer, are now a major part of Mr Netanyahu’s bribery and fraud trial which could see him ousted from office after over 15 years in power.

Mr Netanyahu has given evidence denying all the allegations against him. 

Mr Packer first travelled to Israel in 2013, where he was enticed by President Netanyahu (pictured) to buy a neighbouring property halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa

Mr Packer first travelled to Israel in 2013, where he was enticed by President Netanyahu (pictured) to buy a neighbouring property halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa

Mr Packer, 53, is pictured with his girlfriend Kylie Lim in St Tropez, France on June 24, 2018

Mr Packer, 53, is pictured with his girlfriend Kylie Lim in St Tropez, France on June 24, 2018

Those close to the matter say the alleged plot to buyout the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper didn’t go to plan.

After reporting the bad news to the Netanyahu’s, Mr Packer went back to his hotel room and burst into tears sobbing to his personal assistant Hadas Klein that: ‘Sara Netanyahu shouted at me’.

‘He took it really hard,’ Klein told investigators. 

‘He very much admired them and loved them, and he’s a sensitive guy. A good soul with a huge heart, who needs warmth and love.

‘In the morning we took him to the airport and he threw up violently from the pressure.’

Pictured: Packer's luxury six-star hotel Crown Towers at Sydney's Crown Casino

Pictured: Packer’s luxury six-star hotel Crown Towers at Sydney’s Crown Casino

Regulators refused to grant the Barangaroo casino (pictured) a gaming licence after an 18-month probe found Crown facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars of laundered money between 2014 and 2019

Regulators refused to grant the Barangaroo casino (pictured) a gaming licence after an 18-month probe found Crown facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars of laundered money between 2014 and 2019

Ari Harow, a former bureau chief of Mr Netanyahu, told the inquiry: ‘It was clear that the relationship from his Netanyahu’s point of view was in order to benefit from this friendship’.

A housekeeper for Mr Packer’s Israel mansion told the bribery and fraud hearing the two high-profile men would lounge on the veranda together and smoke lavish cigars.

Mr Packer also entertained the likes of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the former Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort at the luxurious home.

During his repeated visits to the promised land, Mr Packer became close to many of Israel’s elites.

Documents reveal that when the former Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Mr Packer’s home, he dropped to his knees and kissed his feet as a show of respect.

The colourful businessman also grew so tight with the country’s National Security Chief Yossi Cohen, he nicknamed Mr Packer ‘James Bond’ and ‘No 1 Spy.’

The two were introduced by Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan, who told the inquiry Mr Packer offered Mr Cohen a job running a cyber security company.

Stunning court documents shed light on the fragile mental state of the former Crown Casino boss (pictured with Maria Carey) who flirted with the idea of converting to Judaism

Stunning court documents shed light on the fragile mental state of the former Crown Casino boss (pictured with Maria Carey) who flirted with the idea of converting to Judaism

Mr Packer owns a $200million superyacht called IJE (pictured)

Mr Packer owns a $200million superyacht called IJE (pictured) 

‘We were in the Savoy Hotel in London – myself, Yossi Cohen and Packer,’ Milchan testified. ‘And then, in the middle of the street he (Packer) suddenly broke into tears and cried about his situation.’

Mr Harrow gave evidence that he was also concerned about Mr Packer’s drinking and mental state.

After suffering a breakdown while in the US during 2016, Mr Netanyahu urged Mr Packer to come to Israel to receive help.  

Back home in Australia, the $200million superyacht owner has come under immense scrutiny from gaming regulators.

Crown recently opened its new $2.4billion venue in Sydney without the VIP casino that was meant to be its centrepiece.

Regulators refused to grant the Barangaroo casino a gaming licence after an 18-month probe found Crown facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars of laundered money between 2014 and 2019.

Mr Packer has since stepped down as director of the casino empire and there is now pressure for him to sell his remaining stake in the company. 

Daily Mail Australia have contacted Mr Packer for comment on the court proceedings playing out in Israel. 

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