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‘The Acolyte’ – Woke, Wobbly and Steeped in Feminism

Pedestrian storytelling meets twists that defy 'Star Wars' canon

The Force is far from strong with the Disney+ series “The Acolyte.”

Neither horrible nor binge-worthy, the series won’t make people forget “The Mandalorian,” let alone any classic “Star Wars” tales.

The Acolyte | Official Trailer | Disney+

The setting is roughly 100 years before the events of “The Phantom Menace.” The Jedi Council is alive and well, training young Padawans and learning hard truths about some alum.

Namely, Osha (Amandla Stenberg), who in the show’s opening moments does a very bad thing. That’s all we can say thanks to the Emperor … we mean Disney’s legal team!

Appearances may be deceiving, but it doesn’t prevent Osha from feeling the wrath of the Jedi Council. That includes Sol (“Squid Game” standout Lee Jung-jae), the only character to capture the gravitas of the Jedi order.

Another figure comes close but isn’t around long enough to count.

Is Osha a criminal? If not, can she clear her name before the Council declares her guilty?

“The Acolyte” dispenses with any talk of Skywalkers, past or present. The focus is on the Jedi way of life, which it turns out is rather dull. So is the writing in the first three episodes. Showrunner Leslye Headland (co-creator, “Russian Doll”) has a sprawling canvas on which to create, but so far it’s a paint-by-numbers affair.

Disney+’s “Andor” delved into the geopolitical workings behind the saga. Everything in “The Acolyte,” at least from the jump, is surface-level deep.

Sometimes, it’s not even that.

Star Wars: The Acolyte - Exclusive Clip (2024) Lee Jung-jae, Amandla Stenberg

A key mystery is solved toward the end of episode one … robbing the series of an early boost. Every time something bubbles up it’s quickly buffed smooth.

It’s anti-tension.

The third episode offers more thematic weight, and longtime fans better buckle in. It’s the most overtly feminist part of the series and likely to draw old-school fans’ wrath for canon-shattering fodder.

“Acolyte’s” “Star Wars” trappings give viewers a false sense of security.

Production values make fine use of the saga’s visual texture, from colorful extras to that steampunk mix of new and old technology. We also get the signature “Star Wars” screen wipes plus musical cues that evoke composer John Williams’ inimitable sound.

Instead of a droid or R2D2 type we get Pip, who serves a similar service but looks like a “Star Trek” tricorder. Not bad…

It’s all an imitation, an attempt to recreate a fabled universe and the passion it once stoked. And when someone says, “I got a bad feeling about this” it’s enough to make a Comic-Con regular weep.

We know what Jedis can do, but occasionally “The Acolyte” pretends we don’t. A heroic gesture is treated with great suspense when even a casual fan knows how easy it was to pull the feat off.

This is Disney’s “Star Wars,” so the show’s diverse casting is as extreme as any recent TV commercial. It’s … distracting in its aggressive sense of purpose.

There’s more. A one-line comment tells us a key figure has two moms. Later, 21st century pronouns make themselves known, according to Film Threat’s Alan Ng. Reminder: We’re still in a galaxy far, far away but they know our 2024 culture rather well, no?

Disney CEO Bob “calm the noise on the culture war front” Iger would like a word with “The Acolyte.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Themes of cultural oppression rise up in episode three. It’s about power and how various communities use it. How far will that narrative thread be pulled?

One morally twisted turn. A heroic character lets an accused criminal go sans regret. Defund the Intergalactic Police?

Another? Granting children the right to control their destiny without parental consent. Do we even need to connect those dots in 2024?

“The Acolyte” moves at an agreeable pace, but there’s precious little “why” behind the narrative so far. Yay, diversity! Woo-hoo! Female characters aplenty! Bechdel Test … nailed! That feminist streak gets a workout. It’s also where Comic-Con nation may shriek the loudest.

Disney should be accustomed to that by now, but it least the sequences feel fresh to the franchise.

For a while.

That episode loses control mid-story. The ensuing plot pivots make little sense beyond getting to where the storytellers need us to go. To label it clunky is being kind.

“The Acolyte” could find its legs, eventually. The bigger threat looming over the story might be worth the wait, and the writing could mature with more time.

How many people will stick around to see is another question.

Editor’s Note: It’s a brutal time to be an independent journalist, but it’s never been more necessary given the sorry state of the mainstream media. If you’re enjoying Hollywood in Toto, I hope you’ll consider our Tip Jar option.

26 Comments

  1. It’s funny how Disney and Hollywood is turning movies and TV into Chick Flicks and then lamenting about low revenue. It’s hilarious, really. Real men will find their entertainment elsewhere. Count on it.
    Go woke, go broke.

  2. Haven’t the nightsisters always been this way? Sort of like a Star Wars version of the Amazon female warriors except they have force magic. I don’t really get why people are acting like this is new. Lucas made this stuff before he sold to Disney. It’s very weird to hear people talk about this being woke. Why wasn’t this woke in the 2000s when it was introduced?

  3. FAKE REVIEW. Failed writers with understandings of structure , plot or character THAT DIDN’T MAKE THEM BIG TIME SCREENWRITERS , should not review movies! This one sentence early on reveals your bias.
    “The Acolyte” dispenses with any talk of Skywalkers, past or present.

    WHY THE FRIED GREEN TOMATOES WOULD YOU BE EXPECTING SOMETHING THAT TOOK PLACE LONG BEFORE LUKE SKYWALKER WAS BORN TO “TALK OF SKYWALKERS”?

    You complain about “overt feminism” in a movie set BEYOND your stupid sinful RACISM AND FEMINIST HATE. You COMPLETE MORONS miss the ENTIRE POINT of the Star Wars universe WHICH WAS TO CREATE A UNIVERSE WHERE YOUR STUPID BIASES AND RACISM were long dead things of the past. YOU WERE TOO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND THIS even though it was shown TO you in the first few minutes of the ORIGINAL Star Wars “A New Hope” when LUKE WENT INTO THE “HIVE OF WRETCHED VILLAINY, WHICH LITERALLY SHOWED YOU STUPID BACKWARDS MOFOS ALL RACES CREEDS SEXES AND SPECIES CO-EXISTING. But SOMEHOW you STUPID MF’s thought your RACISM AND SEXISM would be included SOMEWHERE. You people are disgusting.

    1. “Racism” is a cudgel used to scare whites into ignoring our own in group preference, a thing all races have and are allowed to embrace except whites. But guess what, white people are waking up to that fact and pushing back. We don’t want token blacks inserted into our media, it’s bad enough we’re forced to live among them and their extreme criminality. And Star Wars and scifi is still predominantly consumed by whites, especially males. If you make a misandric and blatantly anti white media in a genre mostly watched by white guys, you can expect it to fail. Especially if it’s awful beyond the divisive anti white casting and misandry. Cope and seethe, in that order.

  4. More woke trash from Disney. They are right on target with their agenda in your face. all the wokeness aside it could have been a good show. I won’t watch it just because Disney needs to get their act together. Fire Kennedy and get back to making a show for your target audience or lose them to other shows.

  5. I watched episodes 1 & 2. They were okay. Nothing special. Kind of like if Ashoka and Andor had a baby. It feels much more grounded than Ashoka, but it has more lightsabers than Andor.

    The big thing will be episode 03. If it turns the “force is female” into canon, then the Star Wars brand will be dead. SW can’t suffer from any more divisiveness. But I suspect the reason they went back 100 years wasn’t to create an interesting story, but to lay the foundations of a new feminist future.

    Unfortunately for Disney and Lucasfilm, Star Wars is a boy brand. Without the boys, there is no brand. I expect all SW going forward to be bargain bin stuff. It may live on in male dominated spaces like video games. But even that is unlikely since feminism via DEI / SBI efforts have crapped that bed as well.

    The result from all this will be massively profitable IPs going the way of the dodo. Females will have their girl brands intact, while males seek stories from other sources. There has already been a great shift to retro- and indy-gaming, away from AAA titles. We can see the Hollywood blockbuster is on life support. Men are dropping out, and the bottom is dropping out of many formerly profitable and reliable enterprises.

    In the end, men will organize and have their revenge.

  6. Speaking for women who may be part of their target audience. We’re not going to turn out for this. It sounds preachy and I can’t get past the name OSHA..( Occupational Safety and Health Administration) .. it’s just a mind block I can’t get past right there!

    1. “Osha.” You’re so very spot on there. When I saw that was the main character’s name I thought “Seriously? A whole room full of ‘writers’ and that’s the best they could come up with?” One of the dumbest character names ever to land in a TV show.

  7. Couldn’t care less. Lost all interest in Star Was when Mary Sue and Darth Emo proved that Jar-Jar wasn’t the worst possible thing that could happen in a sci-fi movie.

  8. I am a charter member of the anti-wokeness club, even being triggered by all the mixed race couples in TV ads and dumb man/smart woman dyads in US movies, but I really enjoyed episodes one and two of this show.

    For the record, I completely hated Season 1 of Rings of Power as well as Kenobi and the Sequel series, but have been pleasantly surprised by this show.

  9. I disagree based on the two I’ve seen so far, I think it’s a pretty solid story and a lot of us WANT to know more about the Jedi workings.

    Also I feel like you didn’t give it nearly enough credit for great practical effects used all over, and also for real world sets.

    As for that “early mystery” being solved too early – there’s where I STRONGLY disagree because the “mystery” is nothing more than a super old storytelling McGuffun as old as time, I was dreading that it would drag out for several episodes so I was extremely happy when they moved past it in the first and got on to other things. It would have been lazy writing to lean on that for more than one episode, the fact they didn’t linger on that gives me a lot of hope.

    To me this seems like one of the Star Wars series most worth watching.

    1. I’m to the right of most and really hate Mary Sues, so I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the 1st two episodes.
      1. To my nerd-sense, the technology looks like it predates that of the Prequels.
      2. The female characters are just characters who happen to be female.
      3. The alien species were diverse and that’s the only kind of diversity I like.

  10. Contempt for the customer – now that’s a winning formula!
    These people will never stop, no matter how much money they lose. Asking them to change would be like asking a devout, evangelical Christian to deny God. Woke is their religion.
    The only way it will change is to fire each and every single one of them – starting with Kennedy. But Disney ain’t got the nards to do that.

  11. Woke garbage, and Amandla Stenberg is insufferable…awful actress, awful person, and an awful stupid world view….
    The ruination of Star Wars at the hands of Disney is almost total.

    1. she’s “non-binary” AND lesbian, both somehow. . . I’m so f’n tired of being given disquisitions on peoples’ sex lives.

  12. Trash. Another Disney vehicle to push the woke agenda. I turned off after about 20 minutes. Saw about 30 characters and not one white male, main character has 2 moms – cmon it’s down your throat wokeism at in all its blatant self rightous glory.
    I love Star Wars and can’t believe I turned it off as I usually try to ignore this stuff (I watched all of the new lord of the rings series). But this is really bad.

    1. Make-believe politics, not 1 to 1 analogs to current-day, real world politics. But I suspect you know this already, and are just making excuses.

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