Note: this blog entry contains mentions of spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you may not want to read it.
I want to start off by saying that I actually liked the prequels. George Lucas had a very hard job of telling the story of the birth of the great Empire as well as the birth of the great Sith Lord Darth Vader. I’m guessing he felt his fans were now old enough to appreciate the political aspects of how the senate was slowly fooled over the course of a decade into believing that the Republic (led by Palpatine’s “light” side) had to approve this army of clones in order to stop the separatists (who were controlled by Palpatine’s dark side).
I’m not sure Palpatine’s plans ever accounted for this “Promised one who would bring balance to the Force”. He just happened to be there when Obi-Wan brought him back from Tattooine. Then, he figured he could just manipulate him and have a replacement for Dooku, or not, if Dooku would have actually defeated Anakin in their duel.
The point is, the story was a difficult story to make interesting. Lucas did his best to bring the nuances of the plot out in a science fantasy way, but his failure to solicit feedback and assistance from people in Hollywood was his biggest mistake. He surrounded himself with Star Wars fanboys and fangirls so enamoured by the first three films that they were afraid to tell him he had no clothes on. And that is why his dialog was terrible. That is why we had trouble believing that Amidala, a politician by trade, would fall in love with such a whiny brat who had just murdered a village of innocent women and children with his lightsaber.
So, here we are, December 21, 2015. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is in theaters and you can finally return to the galaxy far, far away. So I did, last Saturday.
Honestly, I don’t know how to feel about the movie. Everything was so fluid and the dialog was so good, that it was obvious George Lucas had nothing to do with it. That feeling stuck with me through this whole movie. Was it really Star Wars without George Lucas? Or was it just a fantastic space movie with the Star Wars label on it? Lucas sold the Star Wars brand to Disney and Disney released a new movie with that brand on it using mostly new blood. The fact that Lawrence Kasdan was involved in writing the film helped immensely, as he was the one who wrote The Empire Strikes Back, which was the best Star Wars movie ever in my opinion. But, it wasn’t George Lucas, good or bad.
This time, however, Kasdan got to write the plot point that Harrison Ford has been begging for since Episode IV became so popular. I don’t think Ford thought the movie would go anywhere, but when it did, he wanted nothing to do with it. He’s been an anti-fan for as long as I have kept up with the main Star Wars cast. There was a time when I could quote every single line from the movie (up until the Millennium Falcon blasted off from the Death Star after rescuing Princess Leia, as that’s where my 90 minute cassette tape ended; the tape that I would go on to wear out listening to it over and over again as a kid).
I have always been a Luke Skywalker fan. I had another friend who loved Han Solo, so we never argued over who would play which character growing up. I didn’t like the Falcon back then and I don’t much care for it today. When Solo was taken by Boba Fett, I didn’t much care, as I felt he got what was coming for him; he shouldn’t have entered into a deal with Jabba the Hutt if he wasn’t sure he could succeed in carrying out the task. He overcommitted, got busted by the Empire, and paid the consequences. End of story. It was no secret he was of questionable character. After all, he shot first when confronting Greedo in the Mos Eisly cantina and was only interested in the money when challenged with the prospect of breaking Princess Leia out of detention on the Death Star.
Here we are, a new generation of Star Wars. I really appreciate that the main protagonist is a female. I also appreciate that it looks like the love interest will be biracial. I also appreciate that, finally, Han Solo is out of the picture. Rey will take over as pilot of the Falcon and we’ll see a lot more of Chewbacca (Wookiees live a long time). The Stormtroopers are back, and we have a new costumed bad guy in a mask (though, I’m not sure why he even needs a mask. Even Darth Vader had a good reason).
I just don’t think I can grow up any more than I already have. I am an adult now, with no children to share the story with. My love of Star Wars ended at Return of the Jedi. I really appreciate that Lucas went ahead and told the story of the birth of the Empire, even if he did use far too much CG and introduced some really bad dialog and a ridiculously childish main character that committed far too many comic relief crimes (oh no, meesa stepped in poodoo!). But, I don’t think the world needs another Star Wars. Obviously, it doesn’t matter what I think as the world is now FILLED with overhyped toys and merchandise (come on, do we really need Star Wars makeup?)
So, if you don’t like Star Wars, better find another planet to live on, because if you thought Lucas had marketing power, you obviously know that Disney will find you no matter where on earth you live.
To be clear, The Force Awakens is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Hopefully, it will re-Awaken SciFi movies in our time so we can have more space stuff. I loved the movie, I just wish it didn’t echo so much of Episode IV with the main story line.