When tickets went on pre-sale a month ago I was one of the fans maniacally clicking the mouse to refresh the web page because the site had crashed due to overwhelming demand.
After a few minutes and a sore index finger I received purchase confirmation: tickets for two adults and a child. We would watch it on Thursday night before the general release.
Even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, this is a big deal. After all, the first two of the original trilogy movies, Star Wars (A New Hope) and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, are included in the National Film Registry. Fans waited 16 years after Return of the Jedi to have another taste of the epic story with The Phantom Menace. Then another 10 years between Revenge of the Sith and the latest The Force Awakens.
There are several reasons why this film is so eagerly anticipated. First, a lot of diehard fans have a distaste for the prequels. Complaints vary from poor acting to weak plots to CGI overuse. Second, lots of uncertainty followed the 2012 sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. Third, famous director/producer J.J. Abrams was chosen for the film. Finally, this film would set the tone for the coming sequels already announced.
After seeing the movie in a sold-out showing on Thursday night, I’m happy to say that The Force Awakens does not disappoint. Abrams must’ve tirelessly studied Lucas and all the Star Wars movies. He has retained (or mimicked?) the gritty, warm texture of the original trilogy; I’d always thought the prequels were unreasonably shiny and smooth. There are still action-filled space dogfights that’ll keep up your pulse. Droids! Lots of blasters, and of course lightsabers. The overall plot is tight. The dialogs are engaging with a dash of humor throughout. The music is still John Williams. Obviously because of newer moviemaking technology, the action sequences are more refined and CGI allows much greater details in the frames.
I had goosebumps when the words “Episode VII” started scrolling from the bottom of the screen, against the classic dark starry background. I cheered and clapped with others when original characters appeared.
The best part of the show is the surrounding fans, old and young. Like the couple who sat next to me donning Star Wars tees and carried their Star Wars novels into the theater; or the few guys who started growling like Wookiees when the 15 minutes of previews were finally over; or the man dressed like a Stormtrooper; or my son, who’s seen the movies and learned all he could about the new one from LEGO magazines, still excited at the sight of the Millennium Falcon and Han Solo (albeit with gray hair) on the big screen.