I am a pretty little kid, maybe five or six. One day, while I eat my cereal and read the back of the box, I see the bold headline STAR WARS above a picture of a creature that looks like fuzzy cauliflower with pointy ears. I wonder what this Star Wars thing is. I bet it’s not as cool as Star Trek, which I’ve seen my dad watch. At some point I ask my dad about it. The only thing I remember him saying is that it features a princess with “donut hair.” I am very disappointed when I find out that she has not literally strung donuts onto her hair like beads, but I still like it. Amidst warnings to remember that The Force isn’t real, I watch the original trilogy many, many times with my family. Okay, we watch Return of the Jedi many, many times. We watch A New Hope quite a bit, and we hardly watch The Empire Strikes Back at all, because it’s the boring one where Luke spends all of his time in the swamp, learning voodoo from the Cauliflower Puppet who talks funny.
I am an older kid, maybe ten or eleven. I’m excited, because a NEW Star Wars is coming out. I’m going to actually get to SEE how Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader. Well, of course, he’s just a kid in this first one, but it’s the start of it all. The Phantom Menace is going to be so interesting. We go to see it. I realize that I don’t know what’s going on half of the time in the less action-packed parts...something about trade negotiations? (It will be about ten years before I fully understand and appreciate the plot, but even then I will never remember it well enough to explain it to anyone, whether in person or a blog post). And since I’ve never really cared that much about action scenes, all the pod-racing and light-saber dueling in the world can’t make up for it. Not to mention that they feature a whiny child narrating his piloting abilities with such riveting dialogue as, “Let’s try spinning! That’s a good trick! Whoooooaaaah.” And there’s a robotic queen, and there’s a demon Sith, and there’s a Jar-Jar Binks (the last of which I won’t dignify with any more words on the subject). Things aren’t going as well as we would have hoped. Then I watch Ani (Ani? ANI? Really?) grow up in Attack of the Clones, and not only is his love story embarrassing, but his whininess and general toolishness is at such a level that Luke’s determined desire for power converters in A New Hope seems endearing (at least whininess decreased by generation). Also, there is a somehow wheezing robot named General Grievous. Also there are clones, but I don’t really remember how they fit into the underlying plot of Senator Palpatine becoming more evil. I go into Revenge of the Sith chastened but feeling a little more excited, mostly because I’ll finally get to SEE how Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader. After watching Ani break everyone’s hearts, I watch as Darth stumbles around in his new black suit, hears of his wife’s death, and cries “NoooOOOOOOO!” I die laughing. Oops.
I am adult. I learn more about how Star Wars came to be and I mourn what could have been. I see how George Lucas loved the characters and world that he created so much but didn’t know how to do what was best for them, CGIing everything senseless. I wish that if he was going to make awful sequels that he had at least taken advantage of the opportunities he had in them. He had Samuel L. Jackson in there, and his character finds out some really bad news, and yet there was no Samuel L. Jackson-style spaz attack. What a waste! I appreciate boring swamp-time The Empire Strikes Back above all the others; the writing, character development, and story are all at their deepest and finest. The fact that George Lucas was the least involved with that one does not seem like a coincidence. I find that even that movie has its flaws, however; the beginnings of the Jar-Jar spirit are definitely there in Limbless C-3P0. As The Force Awakens date draws near, I realize that I’m not overly excited about it. I no longer think it’s a terrible idea like I did when I first heard about it, and I want to see it, but I’m certainly not counting down the days or watching the trailers five thousand times. I feel a little sad about this. Maybe it’s because I’ve been burned before, even though George Lucas is out and I trust J.J. Abrams. Maybe it’s because, as I realize, I really have no idea what’s even supposed to happen in this movie. I’m not eagerly awaiting a now-all-of-our-questions-will-be-answered situation like I was before. But then I read about Abrams’ lack of CGI and use of real locations, and I feel better. We’ll see if that changes in a week or so. Until then, may the Force be with us all.