Friday, April 17, 2015

The Force Awakens



I admit that Star Wars slipped away from me some years ago.  Or perhaps I slipped away from it. 

I was a Star Wars nerd as a kid.  I can remember watching Return of the Jedi in the theatre.  Multiple times.  I would excitedly tell those around me in the lunch line how many times I'd seen a New Hope (dozens thanks to cable, though I'd just as breathlessly recount that my brother had seen it more than 20 times.)  I also have very distinct memories of renting the original trilogy on VHS when that was a very new concept.  I was rediscovering it then, having seen them before but not necessarily remembering them, but I would rush at my mother telling her how wonderful those films were.

This all gets jumbled up in my mind and I no longer remember the sequence of those events, which things I did first or later in life.  But they are all there, strong memories that make me happy.  Whenever these things occurred by the end of High School I was a full fledged nerd often citing the trilogy as my very favorite films of all time (well even then I knew Jedi wasn't great, but still we got to see Vader with his helmet off and that was SO COOL!)

I was in college when they special-editioned  the films and I caught each of them opening night.  When they announced the prequels were really getting made I could hardly contain my fan-boy squeals.  I even sat through the travesty that is Evita because I'd heard the trailers were being shown in front of it (they weren't and I'll never forgive myself for loss of two hours of my life.) 

Then the prequels came and they weren't good.  In retrospect they actually aren't as bad as they get maligned for being, they just aren't very good.  And when you've got decades of anticipation for them not very good just doesn't cut it.  But still I find myself standing up for them more often than I probably should.

Time passed and I moved on.  I discovered other movies.  I fell in love with the old classics, with art house films, with foreign movies.  Star Wars held a place in my heart, but I had to make room for so much more.  When I sat down and watched the original trilogy for the first time in probably a decade several months ago I was underwhelmed.  They are still very entertaining and I certainly understand their place in movie history and the cultural zeitgeist, but when I hold them up to something like Casablanca or The Seventh Seal there just not anything more than fun family films. 

Still when JJ Abrams got on board to do a new one I allowed myself some excitement.  It was nowhere near what I felt coming up to the prequels, but I was gearing up for something fun.  I explained it to friends like this:  the prequels pretty much destroyed the franchise so if the new ones suck its no skin off my back.  But if they are good then we can all have our faith restored.

When I saw the first trailer my skeptical excitement remained about the same.  It looked fun, it hit the right beats, but it didn't do much more than that.  But this new one, it totally does it for me.  When we scroll across that desert land that must be Tatooine and see the crashed Star Destroyer my heart skipped a beat.  Throw in a burned out Darth Vader Helmet, a Mark Hamil voice over and freaking Han Solo with Chewbacca! and I'm so there.

I can't wait for Christmas.

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