On this “holiday,” that’s grown in meaning and popularity thanks to the promise of a bajillion new movies, I thought I’d riff on STAR WARS.
Like many in my generation, my first exposure to STAR WARS came with the re-releases in the 1990’s, preparing the world for EPISODE ONE. After watching and loving and being enthralled with the original trilogy…I launched myself into the Expanded Universe, devouring Rogue Squadron, Young Jedi Knights, the Jedi Academy trilogy, The Bounty Hunter and Timothy Zahn’s brilliant Thrawn trilogy. I think my addiction ended sometime during the New Jedi Order series, though not because I didn’t like it. I just moved on to different universes, and different book series, as STAR WARS not only made me love movies, but the Expanded Universe is what really got me into reading. And for that, I’ll be eternally grateful.
STAR WARS was one of the first things I was truly nerdy about, as I found room for Yoda and Han Solo alongside Shawn Kemp and Jay Buhner as idols, fitting in STAR WARS books with baseball and basketball practice. My first little league team name was Jedi Knights. Needless to say, we weren’t very good. I remember during the first All-Stars practice in 8th grade, my rival SS who was entirely too likable told the squad STAR WARS was his favorite movie (I’m not sure if he meant the first one, the franchise as a whole, or if he did say a specific episode). I said AMERICAN PIE to get laughs and garner popularity. I was a douche, and a liar, because I remember thinking to myself that Tim took my favorite movie.
I remember watching EPISODE ONE at the recently renovated Cinerama in Seattle, back when a visit to Seattle was a rare and exciting treat, for my friend Jacob’s birthday. Afterwards, I was excited about Senator Palpatine and seeing his transformation into Emperor Palpatine. For whatever reason, Jacob shot me down, calling me an idiot for thinking that would happen. It’s one of the more angry, perplexing, yet absolutely fortified memories of my life. What was he talking about? I honestly didn’t hate the movie when I first saw it. It wasn’t until I became older, smarter (not really) and more cynical, that I grew to loathe the Phantom Menace and everything it represented, though I’ll admit to deriving some satisfaction and joy from the rest of the trilogy. But it obviously wasn’t the same, not even close, and I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when it was over.
Now…it’s back, with Disney, Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams around to bring it into fruition. And…
I have no idea what to expect with EPISODE VII. I’m a huge J.J. Abrams fan, as LOST and ALIAS forever transformed the way I watched TV, and the kind of shows I watched. For my money, the first STAR TREK is one of the best blockbusters of all-time. But is the right person for STAR WARS? Is there a right person for STAR WARS? It rubs me (and everyone) the wrong way that they’re ignoring the EU, since the Thrawn trilogy just makes too much sense as inspiration for these three films.
While I’m as disappointed as anyone by the lack of ethnic and gender diversity with the announced cast, I expect the final ensemble to better reflect a more balanced galaxy far, far away (it better). Bring on Lupita. But I was impressed with all the young talent Abrams has cobbled together. I don’t know Daisy Ridley, but she looks the part of a Solo/Organa daughter, and certainly got my attention with this short film:
Adam Driver has one of the more enigmatic, unique and interesting screen presences on TV. GIRLS has all kinds of problems…but his character is fascinating, thanks to his performance. I wasn’t a fan of INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, but Oscar Isaac is going to win one of the very awards he may as well have been named after someday (unless STAR WARS ruins his career). John Boyega was terrific in ATTACK THE BLOCK, and is an awesome choice to headline the cast. And Domhnall Gleeson may be the guy I like the most of all of the young guns, since he’s just so charming and likable and funny. And then we get to Max von Sydow?! Andy Serkis?! Are you kidding me. Fucking sweet.
I can’t help but be caught up in it all, and speculate over what characters they’ll play, whether they’re Sith, Jedi, evil, good, both, alien, human, etc., while choosing to hope the original heroes are mostly background, supporting players there to help shepherd a new generation.
STAR WARS remains a part of me…and even if these future films blow…it always will. People love to complain about George Lucas, and what’s become of the STAR WARS universe since the original trilogy, but to me, it still doesn’t take away or tarnish my childhood. I will always love Chewy, I’ll always fantasize about Princess Leia and being a Jedi, and I’ll always want to be Harrison Ford. Well, that Harrison Ford.
And that’s what I choose to think about on May 4th (and not the below image). May the 4th be with you all.