Why you should give the Disney-JJ Abrams Star Wars a fair chance



The trailer for the first of the new Star Wars films is here and I’m not sure how to feel. I’m still skeptical about Disney being able to do Star Wars and I’m still skeptical about the idea that JJ Abrams can do anything well at all but it occurs to me that I might be poisoned.

When the first Star Wars film came out I was 7 years old, when Jedi premiered I was 13 and spent most of the day standing in line to see it on opening day. At the time the first movie was released (1977) it was revolutionary. There was really nothing to compare it to.

Star Wars was the first film to deliberately incorporate the work of Joseph Campbell. It was the first “space western”, 25 years before Joss Whedon gave it a try with Firefly. It revolutionized special effects (audio, visual and makeup). In addition to the franchise itself, the first Star Wars movie gave birth to the special effects company Industrial Light and Magic as well as the audio company THX, which was spun off of LucasFilm in 2002.

When the first film came out I didn't just see it, I saw it over and over again - returning to the theatre every time I could scrape together the money. The following year Star Wars played all summer long in a dollar theatre (there was no 'home video at the time) and I went to the matinee 3-4 times per week, all summer long. It was, in short, how I spent my summer vacation and I wasn't alone. Nearly every other child I knew did the same thing.

For years anything and everything Star Wars was golden. We played Star Wars on the playground, collected action figures, stickers and pretty much anything with a Star Wars logo on it.

So, not only did George Lucas make a great movie and launch a great franchise but he revolutionized filmmaking and, to an extent, storytelling. He also radically altered the childhoods of an entire generation.

Now the trailer for the 7th film is here and it has an uphill battle. I'm no longer 7, it is unlikely to revolutionize anything, and there is plenty to compare it to.

Sure, George Lucas' prequels had their problems but if I'm honest with myself neither the Empire Strikes Back nor Return of the Jedi captivated me the way Star Wars did when it came out. They are both great films but I was no longer 7 and they didn't change the world. It's very likely that part of my issue with the prequels was simply that they couldn't possibly have lived up to that first experience with A New Hope.

So, despite my skepticism about Disney and general dislike for JJ Abrams work to date, I'm going to try to like the Force Awakens. I'm hoping that an awareness of my issues with everything that came after the first film and an awareness that the new film can't possibly live up to the standards set in 1977 will allow me to give it a clean slate.

So, here is the trailer for Star Wars VII. It doesn't really reveal much about the story or the characters. But it's all there; X-Wings, Tie Fighters, the Millennium Falcon, light sabers, droids, Tatooine - generally all the elements that should be there for a Star Wars story.

There is also a quick shot that made the words "Winter is Coming" pop into my mind (I doubt if that was an accident). See if you can spot it.

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