I didn’t get to elbow my way into an opening night viewing, or spend countless hours in a line waiting to see it, but a few days into a new era of Star Wars films, I finally saw the newest chapter.
If you’re hunting for spoilers, this isn’t the place today for it. Still too many folks on the outside looking just yet. A more complete spoiler filled review awaits on the horizon like a pair of Tatooine suns.
How pervasive is the George Lucas creation in our society? Well, Tatooine passes my spellcheck for one, with or without caps the application is able to reference a fictional planet from a fictional film filled with fictional people.
Life imitates art in such a case.
Ultimately, yes, it is a just a film, or as good fortune would have it, a series of films. In the months leading up to the highly anticipated film release, it was interesting to see some blowback from those souls who had yet to see anything Star Wars on the big or little screen.
I do get it. I know the world never universally agrees on anything. But it gets pretty close with this story. It has a bit of everything, for all ages including those required elements fans expect from the franchise; a battle of good versus evil, wacky aliens, space ships and light saber battles, oh my.
Time magazine did a recent feature where they attempted to explain the “genius of Star Wars” as they see it.
For me, the genius is George Lucas took bits from his childhood, spiritualistic stuff from eastern philosophy – by accident or on purpose, borrowed from some of the timeless tales we enjoy across genres, and packaged the standard ‘heroes journey’ format in space, complete with updated swords made of light.
It had to be that specific combo, brewed in that creative brain to do it all with a straight face. A serious approach to serial fiction. And it literally paid off. So many directors would have allowed ‘B’ movie cheese to creep in on a space opera. Others would have cut corners on special effects to save money and have those effects look corny instead of cool.
Star Wars was never a brand new story, it was a uniquely reformatted classic for the big screen and a more modern world. A hero overcomes adversity, learns to be a better being and stays true to a more just existence. Like Beowulf before him, Luke Skywalker tries his best to defeat a great evil threatening all of society.
As Luke was a bored kid trapped among mundane chores, looking to the stars to find adventure. What kid hasn’t done that before? And yet the wise Yoda warns us against such fancy, “Action. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.”
A kid has to grow up, be serious and kick some serious bad guy ass against impossible odds to win the day. Luke had his hands full.
My other big heroes? Those daring rebels. Big, bad Darth Vader fills the screen, cutting through doors with an army of stormtroopers behind him, and those rebel troopers hold their ground, well at least as long as they could, to protect their precious cargo.
Nothing complex in the film, but I was hooked. A dash of Shakespeare with some family tragedy crammed in between action scenes, but again, all of it thrown together really worked.
I was 12-years old in 1977. I got to see the original feature on a family vacation with my cousins as we visited California for the first time. In that era of movies, among Jaws and Godfather, it was an instant classic all its own. But it was science fiction. More fiction than science, and it didn’t matter. It was fun that stayed with you. Star Wars lived well beyond the big screen, it lived through books, comic books, action figures, ships, board games, role playing games, and a really bad Christmas TV special.
Of course, controversy and criticism follows anything that makes a lot of money or gets extremely sewn into the public conscious. George made some weird changes, re-released new versions every five minutes, went a little wacky at times during follow up films and eventually he tired of the battles beyond the big screen and he sold his baby away.
Hey, at four billion dollars, I’ll listen to just about anyone about anything.
JJ Abrahams got the nod to relaunch the formula. And I think the biggest high pressure hand off in creative history has paid off again. Younger, more diverse characters to compliment the aging classic characters. Good guys, bad guys and a plot twist have me back on the edge of my entertained seat.
There are more serious franchises, more critically acclaimed stories, but there are no apologies owed to anyone. I love it. Star Wars is fun. If you hate fun, stay away from this stuff. Escapist fun for a couple hours with the family observing our bold fictional favorites.
Until I can a hold a real life blue hued light saber that doesn’t require batteries, or fly an actual X-Wing fighter, Star Wars lives on the big screen, and the little screen once it comes out on blue ray, digital and DVD formats. Maybe I can get away with craving some excitement.
When it comes to checking out Star Wars, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Ignore Yoda’s advice at your own peril. We could use you, as Jedi always seem to be in short supply. Your choice, as we can take down the Death Star with or without you.
After all, the Force is with us…