What happens when a man goes to see a movie he has been waiting to see for over 30 years? Who will enjoy it more? The Man or the Child inside him?
That is the drama for our blog today. Star Wars the Force Awakens or #SWTFA or #TFA has finally opened. I have spent a lot of time over the past several months thinking about this film in anticipation seeing it. At one point, I was gobbling up every detail I could get, but then around the time the trailer debuted on Monday Night Football, I went cold turkey. I stopped reading articles, I stopped listening to podcasts that would talk about it, I even went so far as to stop watching videos from my favorite Lego Content creators because they were covering the NEW Star Wars toys!
What motivated me to do this? I had an impossible idea. I wanted to experience Star Wars with that same sense of wonder that I my six year old self experienced it so many years ago. As a child, I had no idea what Star Wars was until my parents plopped me down for a re-screening of the films just prior to the release of Return of the Jedi. Jedi came out in 1983 and I was six years old. An old movie house in Palm Springs was showing New Hope and Empire Strikes Back on Consecutive weekends prior to the release of Return of the Jedi. A very smart move on their part at the time. I was enraptured by the entire experience. I was captivated by the characters, the adventure, the story. I begged for the toys, I begged for a Light Saber. I wanted to LIVE in that Galaxy Far Far Away. I was so excited to see what the next film would bring. What would happen AFTER Return of the Jedi? But when it was all said an done, I was left to wait in anticipation for a film that would never come.
Does that sound a little sad? It somewhat is. I think George Lucas is a brilliant man. He has revolutionized the film industry and brought us so many wonderful films. However, in the end, he just could not bring himself to go back to that series of films. He could not continue on with the story. Sure, he tried to rekindle the magic with a few prequel films. Yet, those never brought us what we wanted. We wanted Luke and Leia and Solo. We wanted to know what happened after The Empire Fell and the Good Guys won. However, the man who brought us those stories (with a lot of help of some really talented people) did not have it in him to continue on with the journey.
And so, I continued on with my own journey. I grew up. I fell in love with different Universes. Universes that brought me new stories about Shield Throwing Captains and Aliens sent to earth as children to protect our world. There would never be sequel to Episode 6: Return of the Jedi. The child inside was upset and sad, but the adult had learned about disappointment. We all move forward.
Then one day a nemesis gave that child inside me some very good news. I cannot tell you how crappy it was as a child to be named after Mickey Mantle, the famous Yankees Baseball Player.Because, children do not know who Mickey Mantle is, but they know who Mickey Mouse is. I was often ridiculed at school with taunts of ‘Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse’. It was awful as you can imagine. Yet one day the mouse whose name echoes in my nightmares decided to redeem himself by buying ALL the rights to Star Wars. He hired this nice lady named Kathleen to run the Company now behind the brand, and she told me that I would in fact get a sequel to that movie I saw a child. It would come over 30 years later, but it was coming.
Last week it arrived. My best friends from College who remained local to Southern California gathered Thursday evening at the Arc Light theater. We were hopeful yet nervous, as so many fans of Star Wars were that night. We sat in a lovely theater with precision sound tuning and the best projection the business has to offer. Then the movie happened.
And everything worked out just fine.
Star Wars the Force Awakens reached past my cynical post modern mind and gave that six year old child a big ole high five and then a warm hug. I was on that galactic space adventure once again with blasters, light sabers, x-wings and giant planet destroying machinations built by evil doers in Dark Uniforms serving a mysterious Master. I met new friends, and saw new worlds. I had my heart strings tugged and my expectations more than met. J.J. Abrams and his team succeeded in doing something I thought was impossible. He brought the magic back to Star Wars, and both the child and the man thoroughly enjoyed it.
The film made me feel euphoric and excited, and in the end I choose to hold onto that experience. Sure, I could intellectually break down the different facets of the film and most certainly discover the flaws and departures from basic logic, but what would be the point? We saw some of our old faces return to form and usher in a new generation of Star Wars Heroes and Villains. The new team proved that not only is the Star Wars universe alive and well. It is still fertile ground for new stories and new adventures. The Force has been re-awakened.