Star Wars and My Birthday

A long time ago in this galaxy, Star Wars A New Hope found its way into movie theaters. Lines circled the block in Longview, WA, where I lived with my mother and sister at the time.

I didn’t see it. When its sequel released a few years later, I didn’t watch that either. Yes, I loved Star Trek, but the movie theater wasn’t a place I frequented (cash flow problems).

Enter teenage years and the idea of going on dates. Where does every date want to take you? To the movies. What hormone-riddled teenage boy doesn’t want to corner a girl in a dark place?

It wasn’t like that when I went on a date to Return of the Jedi. He wasn’t that kind of guy.

And I fell in love. With Han Solo and R2D2 and Chewbacca and those cute, cuddly ewoks. So I rented the other movies and watched them. Yes, even whiny Luke Skywalker dazzled me.

My fantasies of moving to Narnia embraced The Force with  all its mysticism. Why not include a few light sabers with my talking horses? Who would ever think up that sort of pairing?

My Parenting

As every good parent does, I indoctrinated my children to love the movies I loved. Sadly, love for the original Star Trek movies never manifested in them.

Star Wars? Oh my, yes. Their adoration reached new heights. To the point that we bought Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, Star Wars Life and the boxed set of episodes one through six.

And many conversations have been held since we learned there would be a new Star Wars movie. The Force Awakens into lively discussions around the Hughson table.

When the release date was announced, we blocked out the date. It would be all about our family renewing our love affair with Han Solo and the wookie. Oh, and those new people, whoever they were.

My Birthday

The filmmakers investigated to discover the day of my birth *snorts* and graciously offered to release the new blockbuster the day before.

However, getting my four adult children together at the same time proved too much for even The Force to accomplish. My oldest had tickets to a premiere through his job. His wife had to work.

My youngest and his fiance were involved in a stage drama with showings that weekend. My husband was offered premiere tickets from two different vendors through his employer.

Our compromise: a 10:30 am viewing on Friday the 18th with my youngest and his girl. This would free them up in plenty of time for their evening commitment.

Was the Force Awakened?

First off, going to the movies before lunch is disorienting. I always come out of a theater expecting the black of night. Going to P.F. Chang’s for lunch on the back side of a film viewing?

Talk about the Twilight Zone.

But going to an event planned by a sales representative guarantees you won’t leave empty-handed. After the movie, they distributed the gift. In this case: a light saber.

If you don’t want to know anything about Episode VII, you should scroll to the bottom now. Go ahead. Leave me a scathing commentary about how wrong it is to hand out spoilers and ruin the movie for everyone.

If you’d rather read a more positive reflection on the movie, one that doesn’t contain story spoilers, visit my friend Jenny’s blog.

Consider yourself warned.

My Personal Reaction

On Facebook, I read a comment about the story reminding them of Episode IV. I agree. It was a remix of that theme within the original trope. With new characters thrown in the mix.

You have the orphan on a desert planet. She salvages parts off of wrecked ships and somehow has become an incredible mechanic and pilot. You won’t find out too much about Rey. Except that “the Force is strong with her.” And she doesn’t know it. Until she does. (Sounding familiar yet?)

There’s a droid hiding plans the bad guys want. The Empire is gone, but from its dregs comes the First Order. Lead by some alien who communicates with his minions via holographic message. There’s a masked Sith and a uniformed General with an epic weapon of planet-eliminating power (major echoing should be happening for you by now.)

Somehow, a Storm Trooper decides the whole idea of genocide doesn’t sit well with his life-long programming. So he’s the one who helps the rebel captive (chimes of deja vu should be gonging) of the dark forces escape the clutches of Kylo Ren.

A smuggler we know and love plays a central role in the plot. A certain princess is a general in the rebellion these days. Somehow, the Millenium Falcon can still out-maneuver tie fighters and avoid blaster cannon fire.

It’s all very familiar.

There is a father-son issue. Someone dies. In fact, there’s blood on the screen in this film, something unheard of in the original two trilogies.

I was entertained. I cried too much. I laughed. I missed C3PO’s ridiculous puns.

It wasn’t a loss. I don’t regret spending four hours inside a theater on a winter’s day.

I liked the new characters. They had spunk and skills and obvious issues driving them forward.

But too many essentials remain unexplained. And if the parentage of our not-a-Jedi who holds the Skywalker light saber in her hand turns out to be as we suspect, I’ll have a hard time buying into it.

It gets one thumb up and a hand wiggle from me. Which doesn’t mean I hated it. I just didn’t LOVE it. Although it was much more Star Wars-esque than anything I’ve seen in three decades. And PLEASE remember. I came late to this party. The first Star Wars movie I saw was Return of the Jedi (which is still my all-time favorite).

Of course, as a Star Wars aficionado, I will add The Force Awakens to my Blu-Ray collection. It will be watched and re-watched. Even the much-maligned Episodes I – III have been viewed multiple times in my household (although rarely from start to finish by me – especially Episode I).

Part of the problem with this film lies with the months of media hype. As a result, my personal expectations ramped to skyrocketing levels. Could any movie really rise that high?

Probably not.

Have you seen it? What is your reaction?

6 thoughts on “Star Wars and My Birthday”

  1. I thought it was great for all the reasons you listed. I suppose that’s the nostalgia in me. I love knowing that Abrams has created a ‘new beginning’ for young people today. It excites me to know that there are 2 more to follow. Our younger generation will have their own versions of Luke, Hans and Leia, as well as Darth. And I’m glad he stayed with the old-time feel of the original films.

    I, too, felt cheated on some characters explanations, but I’m sure Abrams will delight us and unravel the who’s, what’s and wherefor’s in the films to come. For now, I’m going to enjoy this for what it’s worth. It’s Star Wars. I’m going again after Christmas.

    1. I guess since I came late to the Star Wars party, I just don’t have that same sense of nostalgia most of my friends are exhibiting over the movie.
      I enjoyed it. But I do feel the hype was overblown. Same story, new chapter.
      I’m glad there will be a new generation of Star Wars characters for younger people to fall in love with! as well. I will happily watch this movie again and again. And I feel like it can be enjoyed without a marathon viewing of the previous six episodes which is a plus!

  2. l felt there were many recurring themes. I wondered how Rae developed so much knowledge, abandoned alone on a planet…. I left with the same sense of upset as when Spock died in Star Trek, I don’t like to lose my favorite characters! We’ll see what the Force brings to these new characters, I’m sure the new generation will become attached to them as we did with the original cast! Yes, I enjoyed the movie, but more so because I went with my son and then had a great text chat regarding the movie with my older son, who saw it the same day but earlier.

    1. I wasn’t disappointed in the film, but it didn’t measure up to the hype. I’m not sure anything could have.
      Yes, there’s been much speculation around our house as to the hows and whys behind the movie, as well as the “whose” of Rey’s parentage.

  3. This is a “family” movie. One you can take your kids to and everyone enjoy. It would have been a better movie it bore a “R” rating and been produced for an adult viewing audience. That having been said, I disliked the cheesy parts of the movie, but I did find the new characters to be engaging albeit shallow just as in the original Star Wars movies. Harrison Ford is outstanding.
    I have seen this movie thrice and would recommend seeing it in 3D vs. 2D if you can tolerate 3D.

    1. Star Wars follows all the “principles” of good storytelling and screenwriting, but it has never had amazing depth. I’m afraid the story continuity might not be buyable, but I’m willing to invest in watching this trilogy, the same as the other two.
      We are hoping to see it in 3D tomorrow.

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.