Are we home?

I suppose I’ve always been a heretic to the Star Wars faithful.

I loved Episode IV, A New Hope, when I saw it in June of 1977 — back when it was just Star Wars. Loved Episode V when it came out too. I merely liked Episode VI, though. The Death Star II, I felt, was Lucas acknowledging he’d run out of ideas. And I didn’t like the Ewoks. Too cutesy by half, and their treatment was patronizing — one could even say racist. Racist against a fictitious race, granted, but does that really make it okay?

I’ve never minded Lucas’s later tinkering. They’re his movies, not yours or mine. I liked the new creatures on Tatooine, liked the restoration of the Han/Jabba scene in Ep. IV. Hayden Christiansen as Anakin’s ghost in VI was a mistake, but not one I get worked up over. And I do not care the slightest, least bit who shot first.

Worse yet, I basically enjoyed the prequels. In fact at the time I thought Ep. II was better than Ep. VI. Maybe I’d feel differently now. Hard to say, since I apparently didn’t enjoy them that much: I’m pretty sure I never watched any of them more than once, long ago. I’m not sure how much I want to see them again. Maybe I’ll try the Machete Order between now and Christmas.

Jar Jar was annoying. He was meant to be; that was the whole point. And you have to keep in mind Lucas’s target audience always was 10 year olds. Okay, arguably Jar Jar was a miscalculation even for 10 year olds. But anyway, I’ve always thought the hate rage was a serious over-reaction.

The whole concept behind the prequels, the depiction of Anakin’s becoming Vader, always struck me as an intriguing and challenging idea. I hoped Lucas could pull it off. In the end I didn’t think he did. But I didn’t hate him for trying.

The books, the comics, the animated TV series… didn’t pay any attention to them.

When Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney, I did not regard that as good news. I have extremely little respect for the Disney corporation. I won’t say their output has been entirely worthless… but most of it hasn’t been worth much. As for J. J. Abrams, I thought his first Star Trek movie was pretty good. (Seeing Nimoy as Spock was worth the price of admission alone.) I haven’t yet bothered to watch Into Darkness yet, though.

“Pretty good” isn’t good enough, of course, especially not for Star Wars. Given the iconic status of the original trilogy, and given the disregard for the prequels, anything short of magnificent for Ep. VII is going to be disastrous. Given Disney, and given Abrams, magnificence seemed too much to ask.

Probably still is, but I have to admit, I’ve liked the trailers. It certainly looks like Abrams is making a good effort at returning to the kind of storytelling in the first trilogy; not so much with the CG droid armies, more with the individual humans. They look like characters you can care about, more so than Anakin and Padme.

(It also looks like the central characters are going to be a black man and a white woman — a distinct improvement over the white male centric look of the first six movies. Yes, there was Leia, and she was a major character, but certainly second fiddle to Luke and Han. Nonwhite characters got even shorter shrift.)

And seeing Ford as Solo will probably be worth the price of admission alone. And Hamill and Fisher, yeah, yeah, come on, it’s Ford as Solo we all want to see, admit it.

(Hmm, first Nimoy as Spock, then Tom Baker as the Doctor, and now Ford as Solo. We’ve really had the trifecta of trotting out the old SF fossils, haven’t we? I’ve loved it.)

So, okay, some good signs. It might be pretty good. It even might be magnificent. I’m not letting my hopes run away with me, but I’m allowing myself a little bit more optimism than I had.


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