First things first I want you all to know that this is not so much a review as it is more my history with Star Wars and my reaction to the Force Awakens. For those of you in fear of spoilers allow me to set your fears at ease, you will find none here. Spoiling Star Wars before someone gets to view it would probably hold the same emotional impact as finding out Jar Jar Binks is secretly the central character to Episode VII. I couldn’t possibly do that to someone. So let’s do this…
Initial Reaction: Oh. My. Sweet. Freakin’. Christ. Yes.
Okay now that we’ve covered my initial reaction we can move forward. Warning this story contains glee, some tears, major disappointment, and a great reclaiming.
Growing up in the 80’s Star Wars was a tremendous part of my childhood. I know, I know, real shocker here. Child of the 80’s had a love affair with Star Wars. I never said I was reinventing the wheel here people. This love affair though transcended just the movies although there were plenty of viewings. I’m talking bed sheets (still have one Return of the Jedi pillow case), clothing, and the most important… action figures which allowed me to create countless different stories within the Star Wars universe. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about these movies. It gives children and adults this feeling that there is such a thing as limitless imagination. Something which I have carried over into my 30’s despite how much George Lucas wanted me to disbelieve.
Star Wars is also something I have shared with my mother since I was old enough to say “yub yub”. Dad was never a big sci-fi guy, although he loved to quote Empire Strikes Back when he could (usually reminding me he was my father), but my mother loved watching Star Wars and there were many a time where the two of us would sit and watch Return of the Jedi. There are very few things more bonding then watching adorable teddy bears beat Imperial soldiers to death with rocks and sticks. Really touches the heart.
When I was younger my Moms used to work nights and would often come home from work and leave a new Star Wars figure on my dresser for me to wake up to. She would carefully select each figure based on the sole fact of how cool they looked. This in turn led to a very eclectic figure collection that contained some of the great back catalogue characters of Star Wars history. As a matter of fact one of the only good things to come out of the release of Phantom Menace was coming home from school and my mother telling me that she couldn’t help herself while handing me a first edition Darth Maul figure. Talk about bringing back all the feels of waking up as a kid and seeing that new figure on my dresser. When you think about it, in essence, Star Wars is all about preserving that inner child and allowing him/her to see the surface again.
As I’ve gotten older, as most of us have experienced, the Star Wars I had fallen in love with was taken away from me by the very man who provided it. I’m not going to go into a long diatribe on how George Lucas urinated on my childhood, but I will say his hubris robbed my childhood of one of its great loves and turned him into the very thing we were taught to fear. The Empire. By going back and re-mastering the original movies Lucas told a generation of children that Han didn’t shoot first and everything we knew and loved about this universe wasn’t good enough. More flash and glamour were needed which is kind of the equivalent of marrying someone and saying twenty years in “you know what, you’re great and all but you’ve aged and I’d prefer if you looked like a model”, and then paying for the surgery!
The fact that I haven’t been unable to watch the unbastardized version of Return of the Jedi, outside of VHS (have you tried to look for a VCR!?!) or the crappy quality DVD where the original movie is regulated to a bonus disc and comes across on the flat screen the size of a tablet, really grinds my gears. All I want is to experience the movies the way I loved them. You know when the Sarlacc pit wasn’t little shop of horrors, Han still shot first, and there existed no ghost form of Hayden Christensen. I’m not even going to get into the prequels here cause you know #obviousreasons.
So when the The Force Awakens was announced there was more than a little bit of trepidation in the pit of my stomach. This series had already hurt me so much I think another disappointment would have frozen my heart in carbonite permanently. Even when it was announced that Lucas would have no part of the new movies I almost refused to allow myself to be happy about it. Something deep inside told me that he would still find a way to return and muck it up. And then… then the first trailer dropped and suddenly I found myself believing again.
Then the second trailer dropped and I felt myself believing more. It did feel like being home.
By the time that final trailer hit, during another poorly played New York Giants game, I was ready to believe that the force was once again real (unlike the Giants secondary) and that this would be the Star Wars move I was owed. Forget the prequels and forget the bastardized versions of the originals. The universe was going to give us the Star Wars movie that would apologize for all that. Take all of us into its wookie like bosom, stroke our hair, and tell us it’ll never leave us again. Ever.
Despite my best intentions I had allowed the hype machine to swallow me up. As I sat in the theater on Thursday night and watched as that famous “In a galaxy far far away” pop on the screen I choked up because I believed this was going to be everything I wanted it to be. And sweet baby Jesus was it! I will not get into spoilers but I sat in that theater with my family for over two hours and allowed myself to be a kid again. From start to finish the prequels washed away, the re-mastered versions vanished, and I got to experience a new Star Wars for a new generation of children, both young and old, that felt so much like the originals.
Gone was the damn near cringe worthy dialogue from Episode II. I mean don’t get me wrong folks I have said some cheesy things to women over the course of my thirty-four years, but I have never said anything along the lines of “I’ve been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life”. WTF does that even mean!?! Who would be wooed by that? Intergalactic badass Darth Vader that’s who.
The cast has a tremendous chemistry and the way The Force Awakens allows itself to be its own movie while including throwbacks to Episode IV are seamless. Star Wars was meant to be fun and folks I am proud to tell you that Episode VII is exactly that. Fun in every sense of the word. It is the Star Wars movie we’ve been waiting almost thirty years for. The hype is real. I left the theater feeling that the world was filled with limitless imagination and the force runs strongly through it. My childhood felt like it had been reclaimed.
Also BB-8 was all types of boss.