Hey guys, I'm not sure if you've heard, but there's a new Star Wars film that's just been released. I had told myself that I was going to wait a while before I went to see it, in order to let the crowds die down. Then, curiosity got the best of me, and I discovered a theater that allowed you to reserve seats. I probably don't need to tell you that my mind was quickly made up, and my tickets were soon ordered. Sure, it was an hour and a half away, but this was going to be my first time seeing a Star Wars movie in a theater, and I was willing to make the trip.
That's right, my first Star Wars experience in a theater. I was only two when Return of the Jedi was released, so I was still a bit too young to go see a movie in a public place. In fact, I wasn't even introduced to the series until 1989, when Return of the Jedi was the Sunday night movie on NBC. Even at the ripe old age of 8, there were still parts that scared me. I'd have nightmares about being chased by the Rancor, all while Jabba's laughter echoed through the hallways. I still enjoyed the film, but it never really made an impact on me. I didn't pretend my G.I. Joe's were Jedi's, and Cobra Commander never teamed up with Darth Vader. It never bothered me that the movie seemed to start in the middle of the story. I had skipped to the last chapter and didn't even realize it. It would be another couple of years before I would see A New Hope, and even then, I never put the pieces together. That movie was Star Wars. The one I'd seen years earlier was Return of the Jedi. Why would I think they were connected? It wasn't until my early teens that I was introduced to the trilogy as a whole, and that's when my love for the series began.
It's strange to think that I "discovered" the series so late in life. I began to see just how influential it had been. It also opened my mind to a whole new world of toys I never knew existed. At that point, it became a yearly tradition for me to watch the entire trilogy either the day before Thanksgiving, or on Christmas Eve. Sometimes I would watch it on both holidays if I had the free time. It's funny, but my late discovery of Star Wars sort of set a precedent for me always being late to the party. I had missed out on the craze, and the only toys to be found on store shelves were a handful of Bend-Ems.
That trend would continue through the release of the special editions, and the prequel trilogy. By that point, I was too busy with work and college to worry about a galaxy far, far away. When I finally saw the new movies, it didn't just feel like someone had let the wind out of mysails. I felt like they rolled them up, tossed them in a fire, and scattered the ashes. Over the next few years, there would be rumors of a new movie in the works, but after the travesty that was the prequels, I wasn't sure I wanted more Star Wars films.
Fast forward about 10 years, and I found myself sitting in a theater Thursday night with my wife and 65 other people, watching Episode VII scroll up the screen. I had been cautiously optimistic over the teasers and the trailers, and I had managed to avoid seeing any spoilers. In my mind, Star Wars and I had been broken up for a while, and I was giving her one more chance. I'm glad to say, that it was a great date, and I'm looking forward to seeing her again. In other words, Star Wars is back.
I loved the new characters, especially Rey, Finn, and the ace X-wing pilot, Poe. There was a chemistry there that was sorely lacking from the last batch of movies. It was great to see Han and Chewie again as well. They felt like an integral part of the story, rather than being shoehorned in as fan service. The new Sith Lord, Kylo Ren, actually felt like he posed a threat to the heroes, and I'm looking forward to seeing his character grow over the next couple of films. Everyone seemed like they were having a great time, and it showed in their performances.
If I had one complaint about The Force Awakens, it's that it didn't really introduce anything new to the story. The First Order, though it seems to be a much smaller entity right now, still feels like the Empire. I don't want to give anything away, but the Imperials really do like ball shaped weapons. The whole deal kinda felt like A New Hope 2.0, but I would gladly take that over A Phantom Menace. I've seen some people complain that there was some contemporary humor that seemed out of place, but I can't say I remember seeing anything that jarring.
In the end, The Force Awakens looked, sounded, and played out like a Star Wars movie should. It was like seeing an old friend that's been away for twenty years. And I for one can't wait to get reacquainted.