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Star Wars: The Acolyte Review - The First Three Episodes

Published 6/18/2024

Rating : 2/10 A Train Wreck

Let it be known I drank the Star Wars Kool-Aid at a very young age and remain hooked to this day. As a child I had all the original figures and ships. I was there in 2015 in Hall H, San Diego Comic Con, celebrating the Force Awakens to a star-studded panel. Yes, I was one of the 4,000 lucky few! And, I still have my free lightsabers which still work by some form of dark magic since the batteries are well over eight years old now.

With that being said, Star Wars has seen a lot of high's and low's, more low's than high's post-Disney acquisition, but it is what it is folks. For every Mandalorian we're given Boba Fett, for every Rouge One we're given Solo. There are iterations that are spectacular, like Andor and others that fall somewhere in the middle like Ahsoka. Animated shows enjoy a streak of quality shows like the Bad Batch and Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures.

Star Wars The Acolyte falls into the poor category: a sure-fire miss. Three episodes in I can say the budget is healthy. There's plenty of on-location shots intersped with CGI backdrops but that's showbiz. For the most part the actors play their roles fine. This has the look and feel of a well-intentioned and supported show, however, once you sit down and attempt to engage with the show the warts come out.

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. How we get there may be another matter.

I'm a huge fan of Lee Jung-jae. His lead role in the Squid Game was both exhilarating and heartbreaking. He deserves top billing, but moreso he deserves a quality script to lean on. Three episodes in and The Acolyte has already shows us the writers' possess the attention span of an 8-year old. The plot is all over the place and littered with holes. Furthermore it showrunner Leslye Headland was the wrong choice to lead this. There is little, if any, connection to Star Wars save for the outfits, and some Disneyland-quality lightsabers. Folks, there is fan fiction out there with more nuance and depth than this schlock. If Leslye was looking for a congratulations for trying to branch out and do something different you failed in spectacular fashion.

If episode one maintained the same focus on detail and care as the subsequent episodes you probably wouldn't see a 14% Rotten Tomatoes score. Episode three "Destiny" marks a new low point in the Star Wars franchise. We're forced to watch two little irritants squabble for 40 minutes, followed by brief yet laughable scenes of Jedi testing them. The self professed witches are hiding and are aware of the Jedi near their coven. They are watching their movements intensely, as the Jedi are watching theirs, so what happens when they finally meet? Nothing. We get nothing.

The girls are obviously representations of the light and dark. When the light wants to join the Jedi guess what the dark does? Trap them in a room and light it on fire. But wait! This fire spreads so fast it WIPES OUT the entire coven, but the viewer only sees a score of bodies centered in what has to be their gathering place. What happened to the fire? Where are the burn marks? The crumbling pillars? The smoke? Why are the bodies not burned to cinders? The scene looks like a group of women decided to lay down and take a nap.

TL:DR - this was the laziest, most uninspired piece of filmmaking I've ever seen. And to happen in a Star Wars show was unfathomable right up until yesterday. To add insult to injury, Kathleen Kennedy feels like the bad reviews are from men who dislike women in leading roles. This couldn't be any further from the truth as it relates to The Acolyte. What Kathleen has showed fans is her utter disconnect from the franchise. A replacement is sorely needed. Someone who will endeavor to make quality programming. We can only hope, but on a positive note this show can only get better, because episode three was rock bottom.

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