Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Star Wars Awakens!

Seriously. I'm not kidding.

After snoring loudly through three insipid prequels, Star Wars is awake!

In varying degrees, in The Force Awakens we have been reunited with the original trio of Han, Luke, and Leia. And we have met the next generation of bad guys (Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke) and good guys--Finn, Rey, and Poe. 

A defector from the Storm Troopers? How cool is that! And a young Jedi who doesn't even know what she's doing yet? And Andy Serkis as Snoke? Wow. A new droid and a new puppet with attitude--Maz. Yup. Star Wars is back in town. 

This movie has everything that made us fall in love with Star Wars the first time. Interstellar swashbuckling, romance, reluctant heroes, beeping droids, light sabers, cool space ships, the ultimate battle between good and evil--all that sort of thing.

But this movie is a little darker than Episode IV, A New Hope. In Episode VII, Not Much Hope, you don't leave the theater with that same sense of "Wow, that was fun." More like, "Wow, I sure hope that somehow, against all odds, this mess comes out all right. . . ." Maybe that's because with the first movie, Lucas wasn't sure it would be a series.

The overwhelming box office success of Star Wars VII shows how deeply the original movies impacted the culture. The number of Star Wars parodies is staggering. Not to mention Star Wars books and comics and games and toys and merchandising. When you consider all the hours families have spent gathered around the tv, watching Star Wars marathons--well, geek families anyway--that alone tells us that Star Wars is part of the American experience.

It's hard to imagine now that this iconic series didn't spring full-grown from the head of George Lucas, like Minerva from Jupiter. Hard to believe Star Wars was rejected in its early concept stages. Or that the original story was called The Journal of the Whills. Or that a lead character was originally called Luke Skykiller. Anakin was a hero, not a villain, and he wasn't Luke's Daddy. ("Luke, I am your third cousin, twice removed"?)

Ohmygosh--Skykiller? Really? Never underestimate the power of perseverance. Or of editing. Or of collaboration with other people of vision and imagination.

Star Wars is back just in time to save us once again from the humdrum and earth-bound, whisking us away to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. May all my story-writing friends take heart and inspiration from the evolution of Star Wars through past decades and into the future. 

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