Once again, I am looking forward to going with one of my children to see a Star Wars movie, I only have one left at home now but it feels like a kind of tradition.
I can recall being a very young woman and seeing the originally Star Wars movies. It was the kind of experience you don't really forget. We had never seen anything like it. We had grown up with Japanese Godzilla movies shown on Saturday on TV where the special effects were extremely low tech and the creature suits were pretty ridiculous. Mostly we laughed at them. Then Star Trek came along, which made anything before it look like a cartoon. Of course, looking at the special effects on that original show now, they seem pretty low rent, but at the time it was cutting edge stuff.
Star Wars was a kind of sci-fi revelation. To us, the special effects were extraordinary and totally cool. It wasn't just the spaceships, which seemed incredibly real, it was the fake technology and creatures that blew our minds. And the robots – the robots were awesome.
It was a great story. The hero was adorable and pure of heart, the anti-hero was charming and infinitely redeemable, the heroine was feisty, smart, and strong, and the bad guys were really, really scary and bad. It was sort of a space western with all the elements that made westerns so popular; great characters, terrific battles between the outnumbered heroes and the evil bad guys, wonderful scenery, and inspiring rescues. It was also like all those WWII movies we used to watch as kids. There was no doubt in your mind who was good and who was bad, no gray areas, no dark, internal struggles, and like those old movies, the bad guys couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with any kind of weapon 6 ft away with a target painted on it.
I took my two older children to the second release of Star Wars with all the technological upgrades. They were nice, but I didn't find them particularly necessary. My oldest son and daughter loved the movies and became life long Star Wars fans. Star Wars became as iconic for them as it had been for us when it was first released. The second time around there was a lot more merchandise that went with the movie, of course, so they ended up with a variety of Star Wars related stuff, including bed sheets and light sabers. I don't know for certain, but I'm pretty sure that those movies made a lot more money the second time around than they did the first.
I took all three of my kids to see the second set of movies, which were, as far as I'm concerned, a big disappointment. First of all, they had lost what made the first 3 movies so appealing. Suddenly, it was a lot more difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys. While the bad guys were still awfully bad, the good guys were hardly the stuff of heroes either. I found all the Jedi pontificating extremely annoying and the Jedi insufferably arrogant and stupid. In my world, your heroes should never make you want to gag or slap them silly. And, hello – enter all the dark internal struggles that people seem to be so fond of nowadays and we had happily avoided in the first movies. I could have lived without that.
I am hoping that this new movie is a return to the charming simplicity of the first three, although I confess to being skeptical. No one seems able to make movies anymore without boatloads of angst and psychological melodrama without making them so sappy and saccharine that you can actually feel yourself slipping into a diabetic coma just watching them.
I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that the Star Wars magic has returned. My youngest is incredibly excited to go see it. We have made the experience our Christmas present to each other since movies are too expensive to go to often and it will be a special treat. A lot of the original folks are back, which is nice, although seeing them so old makes me feel about 110. On the other hand, looking at some of them makes me feel that maybe I haven't aged all that badly, which is encouraging.
Judging by what I have seen so far it may be entirely possible that the movie is really just a giant, expensive vehicle invented by Disney, (the true evil empire), to sell mountains of overpriced merchandise and make a spectacular killing by bottle feeding our children consumerism like a drug, but if it is any good, I'll go ahead and enjoy it anyway.