When I was in sixth grade, my friend Michael explained to me that there were supposed to be more than just three Star Wars movies. His uncle worked at Industrial Lights and Magic, and was involved in the animation of the light sabers and blasters. He explained that the reason the original (and then, the only) trilogy had episode titles was that George Lucas had a master plan for trilogies to take place before and after the movies we knew.
Less than a decade later, the world had three new Star Wars films to enjoy. They weren’t worth the wait, but that didn’t stop fans from keeping up their appetites for more. When The Phantom Menace was released, everyone hoped the next one would be better, then they hoped the third one would be the prequel they had dreamed of. It didn’t happen that way.
Perhaps it’s time we stop getting so excited about Star Wars.
Let’s start off by looking at the numbers. We’ve had six movies in this franchise, and two and a half of them are good (you know where Return of the Jedi goes wrong). Exactly none of the movies filmed since I have been on this planet have actually been a satisfying experience. And it’s not like they have the defense of die-hard fans, either. That means that about 42% of these movies have lived up to the hype. You’ve got a better shot at seeing a worthwhile X-Men movie than that.
They haven’t even been well cast. Mark Hamill may have done his best work in those movies, but he was still flat. Perhaps Lucas cast Hayden Christensen as adult Anakin Skywalker to show the audience that the lack of acting ability passes from father to son. Harrison Ford looks positively electric compared to these guys, and he’s rightfully the best character in the whole series. But Ford wasn’t really sold on the films, and wasn’t sure if he wanted to be in the third installment, that’s why he’s frozen by the bad guys at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Let’s not forget that Lucas and company also turned Billy Dee Williams, one of the coolest men on Earth, into a proto- Colin Powell. I’ll leave the prequels alone, you can make fun of them in your own time. I’m here to go after the ones that matter.
You would think that an honest and sober assessment of the six Star Wars movies would get fans to calm down and approach the new ones with caution. That’s not what fanboys and fangirls are known to do. You can’t go a day on the internet without seeing some meme or fan tribute to the films.
Apparently, 10 years is all it takes for people to forget their mistakes. Excitement for The Force Awakens seems to be at least as high as it was for the release of the prequels. Maybe they’re just excited because they get to see the original trilogy being remade.
J.J. Abrams is good at not tipping his hand, so we don’t know a ton about the new film, but we do know that he is a mixed bag. Sure, he did a decent job with the Star Trek reboot, but he bungled the follow-up Into Darkness, which was an attempted remix of what is easily the best Star Trek movie ever made. He’s attempted other science fiction feats, but I don’t think anyone’s comfortable with calling Cloverfield or Fringe triumphs.
What we do know about the new film from trailers and interviews is that what’s old is new again. Remember that time the Empire was defeated by the Rebellion? You’ll love the First Order (which sounds like they’re not planning on existing very long) facing off against the Resistance. They do battle in ships slightly updated from the original trilogy. They’ve got a villain dressed in all black wearing a big, scary mask. They’ve got an army of dudes in white, plastic-looking armor, who may or may not have learned how to shoot. They do battle in exciting places we’ve never seen before, like a desert planet, a frozen planet and a lush, green planet. The
Empire First Order even has a large, round weapon called the Star Killer, which is in no way yet another Death Star.
This isn’t the sequel fans have been dreaming of, this is a remix of the first three movies. As far as I can tell, The Force Awakens is to its franchise what Terminator Genisys is to the Terminator movies.
I’m still going to see it. I’m just not going to have any higher anticipation for it than I did for the last Star Wars movie 10 years ago.