There is a new “Star Wars” movie coming out this week. I should be more excited, but I’m not.
Pretty much all of my enthusiasm for the latest “Star Wars” trilogy died when that goth loser Kylo Ren shoved a lightsaber in Han Solo’s chest and let him fall into blackness.
Yep, I should be more excited about a new “Star Wars” movie but I’m not.
It wasn’t always that way.
A long time ago
The year was 1977. My brother drove my sister and me to the Tower theater in Springfield to see this new sci-fi space adventure, “Star Wars.” Words cannot describe. I walked out of the theater wanting to walk right back in.
I feel nothing but a great swell of pity for everyone who never saw “Star Wars” for the first time in a movie theater in 1977 when it was all pristine and new. If you experienced “Star Wars” for the first time via videotape, DVR or TNT — you have my sympathies. You simply can’t imagine what life was like before “Star Wars.” Science-fiction space adventure movies were crap. It was as if a whole new universe had been opened up for us, thanks to George Lucas.
A few weeks later we went to Columbia to pick up my other sister from college and we saw it again. It was even better the second time. Keep in mind we were poor country folk, we rarely went to the movies at all. Let alone the same one twice.
I was 15 years old at the time — the prime age for the merchandising machine that would follow. I bought the poster to hang on my bedroom wall (the Hildebrandt version is still one of the all-time great movie posters) and the soundtrack album (which I didn’t listen to much because, you know, it’s just instrumental). I got a watch for Christmas.
I loved “Star Wars” but it didn’t become an obsession. I didn’t buy any action figures, I didn’t bother with the comic books, I didn’t read the novels. The movies were enough.
Like all right-minded people, I believe “The Empire Strikes Back” is As Good As It Gets. The perfect mix of drama, humor, special effects, character bits, Yoda, the giant worm in the asteroid, surprising revelations, Lando, and those giant Imperial tanks that look like dinosaurs.
Sitting through the third film I started to feel that, yeah, maybe it is time to wrap this up. They’re taking down a Death Star — again? Why are trained Imperial stormtroopers being taken down by walking teddy bears? Why teddy bears? Getting a little tired of the Emperor going on and on about “the power of the dark side…”
A Bad Feeling About This
Lucas claimed early on that the plan was for three trilogies and the next one would be a prequel to the original. It took so long to get around to making the prequels that I began to think it would never happen. When “The Phantom Menace” finally showed up some 16 years after “Return of the Jedi,” the expectations were high. The disappointment would take a while to sink in.
I don’t need to recite all the ills of the prequels, but let’s go over the major ones:
- Darth Vader, one of the great villains of cinema, is reduced to a precocious child and a whining adolescent. I’m sure Hitler was a precocious child and a whiny teenager, but I don’t want to know about it.
- The Jedi Knights, once thought of as samurai cowboys wandering the galaxy fighting evil, are reduced to clueless politicians sitting around debating what the hell’s going on and never figuring it out.
- Ridiculously complicated plots involving trade federations and clones and the machinations of Palpatine.
- The worst love story in the history of film.
You’re probably wondering why Jar Jar Binks isn’t on this list, but I think the hatred of JJB is overblown. He’s just another witless comedy relief character. He serves the same role as C-3PO but nobody complains about him.
The prequels do benefit from superior special effects, but here is where I learned that there is more to “Star Wars” than awesome FX. All the pretty planets and weird aliens and exciting space battles don’t mean a thing if you don’t care about the characters. And I just didn’t care about anybody in the prequels — except Obi Wan. And maybe Mace Windu, but even Sam Jackson was wasted in these films — and when you’re wasting a talent like Samuel L. Jackson — you’ve done something seriously wrong. (I also liked Qui-Gon, but they kill him off in the first film).
For me, “Star Wars” isn’t about lightsabers, odd hairdos or the Millennium Falcon (although those are all important) — it’s about Luke, Leia and Han.
There is Another
With the tepid reception to the prequels, and anger over Lucas tinkering with the originals, it seemed unlikely we would ever see that third trilogy. Then Disney bought out Lucasfilm and the next thing you know — Everything’s Star Wars.
When I learned that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford had signed on for the new movies — I was excited about “Star Wars” for the first time in a long time. Oh sure, they’re older and they’ve been through the wringer, but then, haven’t we all? I just wanted to see Luke, Leia and Han all back together, cracking wise and fighting the dark side, one more time.
And then that f—king Kylo Ren shoved a lightsaber in Han Solo’s chest and let him fall into blackness.
I mean, seriously? Han Solo and Princess Leia have a son and it’s this loser? We go from the great Darth Vader to this loser? I’d be more scared of the offspring of Jabba the Hut and an Ewok than I am of Kylo Ren.
The rest of the additions are fine but I’m not in it for them. I want The Beatles, not New Kids on the Block. Which leads me to my next great analogy.
Let’s say The Beatles announce they are planning a reunion concert (I know two of them are dead — work with me). You’re excited, right? You mortgage your home to buy a pair of tickets. You show up at the concert hall. The curtain goes up and there are Paul, George and Ringo playing all the hits. You’re enjoying the show, but at the same time you’re thinking “Where’s John?” Intermission. Act 2 begins and there’s John! with George and Ringo. But now Paul’s missing. You’re enjoying the show, but at the same time you’re thinking “Where the hell did Paul go?”
In the end, you did see The Beatles, but not all four together like you were hoping and expecting. Still a good show, but still somewhat disappointing.
And that’s where I am with “Star Wars.” I suppose they could bring Han back somehow but there’s no bringing Carrie Fisher back, so I’m not going to get what I really wanted.
At any rate, I’ll be sticking with “Star Wars” to the end (although now that Disney is in charge, I doubt there will ever be an end). I am excited to see Luke again and see where he fits into this strange, new galaxy. And I need to know what happens to Leia. And I am pretty fond of Rey. Maybe there is hope.
But I’d still like to see the Fab Three again.