Fair Weather Fans

So let’s begin with this; I love Star Wars.  The whole story.  All 6 films and every single book that I have read so far (I am a little behind on the book thing though).   I love the world, the lore, the characters…everything.

I am excited for new films.  I will love them.  That being said, there is a bit of  trepidation at the author being Michael Arndt. He is just starting his career and, a,s such, there is not a lot of work for me to form an opinion on.  I am also leery of JJ Abrams.  I love the new Star Trek and the one being released this year makes me giggle (I sooo wanted the preview to end with Kirk screaming “KAAAAAHN”). But it wasn’t the best one (IMO).  I am pretty old school when it comes to Trek. My favorites are between Wrath of Kahn and Voyage Home. Kahn because it is awesome and Ricardo Montalban rocks, Voyage Home because Spock in 1980’s America is hilarious. So, while Abrams can never replicate or redo the awesomeness that was Star Trek, I can appreciate the new story and still follow characters that I love.  In my eyes, though, there will only ever be one Captain Kirk.  But Abrams at the helm of Star Wars makes me nervous.

First of all, Abrams is not a good, clear, technical director.   He is a great story teller—though his plot twists will make you want to rip out your hair and scream: “Why JJ, why?!?!”  Case in point…Lost.  But it is a good formula and sometimes it works great, like in the new Star Trek.  That being said, it is overdone, especially by Abrams.  Though, I am very relieved that neither Abrams nor his team will be in charge of the writing.  Star Wars has always, always been about pushing the limits of technology.  I can’t see Abrams in that role…I don’t see him as an innovator.  I really don’t want a Star Wars movie with a bunch of choppy sequences that looked like they were done with a hand-held camera…and I could really do without lens flares.

I would have preferred a director, like Joss Whedon or Peter Jackson, who are more known for the fluidity and cleanliness of their art.  Hell, I think Ridley Scott would have been a good pick. It would have been damn pretty.  Scott and Jackson both make very beautiful films and Jackson usually does so with fantastic characters as well.  Whedon also makes things very pretty and is very, very good at character dynamics.  Admit it, one of the things you love about Star Wars is the back and forth between characters.  Say what you want about Lucas and his dialogue but I love it.

Star Wars fans will spout off one liners like no ones business.  “Who’s Scruffy looking?” or in the books…”Yub, yub commander.” are just the type of lines that keep us chuckling 30 years after seeing them.  And they are the types of things that Whedon excels at.  Scott and Jackson do a very good job at moving me…but Whedon can make me laugh and cry in the same breath.

I love what JJ did with Trek but I do not feel that the characters had any real chemistry together.  I was disappointed in that.  I love the new take on an old story (kinda like why I love Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet), but it will never compare to the original.  Nor will Kirk be better played by anyone other than Shatner and Spock by Nimoy.  And that’s okay, because I love the story, the world, and the characters.  I am just happy that a story I love is still being told.

Truth is, I am more than a little sad that Lucas has passed the torch.  It is the end of an era and I am saddened by this.  But I understand and am just glad that the stories will continue to be told. That is the important part. But I am most disappointed by the so called fans. I get so angry when people say that Lucas destroyed their childhood, f**ked the franchise, o,r whatever with Episodes 1-3.  How?  It was his story to tell.  Without him you wouldn’t have any of it.  It is the same as saying that you like the novels but cannot stand Timothy Zahn.  Don’t you get it?  We wouldn’t have what we have today if it wasn’t for them.  So you didn’t like it…so what…it’s not about you.  It was his story.

The problem with Star Wars, and Star Wars fans, is that they built up the stories so much in their mind that nothing was ever going to be good enough.  They idealized the story they wanted so much that gaining it was impossible to achieve…by anyone.  So when the new films didn’t live up to their over-exaggerated expectations, they became scavengers and turned on their beloved hero.  No matter who did it, how it was done, what story was told, they would have been disappointed.  They set themselves up for disappointment because they expected to get that same feeling they got from watching the newer movies as they did with the originals.  This was never possible for a number of reasons.

First, many of us grew up with Star Wars.  We were kids when we saw them and thus came at them with the innocent, wondering eyes of a child.  Not as an adult filled with doubt and skepticism.  That alone would be cause for disappointment.  Need proof? Take something that you loved as a child. I mean really loved.  For me, it was Fraggle Rock.  I was obsessed with that show.  I loved it.  I saw it with my children recently.  They thought I was crazy and I was wondering what the hell had I been thinking.  I remember having a similar experience with my own mother and Dark Shadows.  My mom loved that show…so naturally 20+ years later when she could watch it again on TVLand she just had to show her kids this great show from her childhood.  Personally, at the time, I could not see for the life of me why on earth my mom was so giddy about watching it again.

That was then, this is now.  Now I get it.  It is like looking back to a simpler, happier time and trying to relive that feeling you got when something first amazed you.  But you can see something for the first time, once.  I love film.  My absolute favorite is Casablanca.  I will never forget the way I felt when I first saw that film and, as such, it will always hold a special place in my heart.  But, no matter how many times I watch it, no matter how many remakes it is subjected to—no matter how many films I see in my lifetime—nothing will ever compare to the way I felt when I saw that movie for the very first time.  I think that is why people didn’t like the new trilogy; because it couldn’t grab at them like Episode 4 did so many, many years ago.

::SPOILER::Episodes 1-3 were not just for fans of the originals.  They were for everybody.  For us they were a back story…but for a new generation it was just the  beginning.  We knew, from the moment Anakin Skywalker walked onto the screen what he would become.  How could we be truly surprised and awed when we already knew the ending?  We were never, ever going to look at those films as someone who had never seen or heard of Star Wars would.  We knew the ending.  We knew what happened to Anakin…what he became.  We knew the Emperor would rise, knew his name…knew how Obi-Wan would meet his fate.

Recently I read the New Jedi Order series—yes, I am that far behind. Get over it.  When my husband read them, he fell in love with all the characters, met certain books with jaw-dropping surprise.  I, however, knew what was going to happen.  I approached characters lightly…met certain books grudgingly because I didn’t want these things to happen.  I loved the books, but somehow, I can’t help feeling that they would have been so much better had I approached them knowing nothing.

In truth, the reason it took me so long to get to them had little to do with college and children and had everything to do with the fact that I didn’t want Chewbacca to die—and if I didn’t read it then it didn’t happen.  Reading the book, all the interactions between Han and Chewie were so much more poignant because I knew the ending.  The lighthearted moments between the two that are so particular to those characters were so very, very bittersweet.  But, such is life.  Much as we want it otherwise, ,all life ends eventually.  I think that might be the problem with Episode 1. We knew what Anakin was going to become,as such, we didn’t want to like him.  Didn’t want to become attached to new characters because we knew their tragic ends.  The movies we grew up with were about hope and redemption…the new ones were about the fall.  They were darker, less up lifting.  We look at them as 1-3 and then 4-6 and as such miss the whole point.  Looking at them as 1-6 gives you a beautifully epic and fantastic story.

I may be skeptical about the new film, ,but honestly, I know I will love them.  I will love them because they are Star Wars.  I am sad to see Lucas go.  And there will probably be a little heartache when I go to see Episode VII in 2015 and I don’t hear that familiar Fox intro before the epic crawl.  It will be different for sure.  Knowing that Lucas will still be consulting and that his longtime producer Kathleen Kennedy will still be involved makes me very happy.  Humans don’t like change, thus the skepticism.  I want the story to continue and I want Lucas to do it—but I understand that it is time for him to move on.  I can respect that.  But that doesn’t mean I am not sad to see a dynasty end.

Star Wars has a new team at the helm.  It may not be the team I would have picked, ,but at least I get new films.  I will forever hold a special place in my heart for the original trilogy, ,as will many of us.  We hold it there because before Star Wars it seemed dreams had a limit.  Star Wars opened that up and showed us all that was possible.  As such, any film that comes after that will pale in comparison.  I love 1-3.  It is a fantastic story and I really am a sucker for a good story.  It may not have been the story I imagined, nor the story I would have told…but, then again, it was never my story to tell.  I was only ever along for the ride.  And what a freaking awesome ride it was too.

I may have a new captain, but I will stay on this ride until the end and will enjoy every minute of it…though some of it may be bittersweet.  In short, (too late) thank you, Mr. Lucas, for showing me how high I could dream.  That my imagination has no bounds.  Thank you for telling your story, even when you were criticized for doing so.  Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.  You defined my childhood…and continued to tell your tale in such a way that it may define my son’s as well.  You gave me the will to hope, the chance to dream, and memories to cherish forever.