This article contains no spoilers from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, though I have seen it, and I do plan to include some general opinions. But before we get to that, we need to talk about anticipation. It’s a word Star Wars fans know all too well. Many of you experienced it back when the original trilogy was releasing, and again when they re-released into theaters years later with CGI "enhancements." And then when the prequels released into theaters. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you know the wait. You know the anticipation. And maybe you even know the disappointment. If you’re in that camp, you’ve had your heart broken before and now your guard is up. You’ll see the new movie, and maybe you’ll even like it, but you won’t allow yourself to be disappointed again.
I grew up in the 80s amidst some of the original Star Wars craze. I wanted to be a Jedi. (Also a Ghostbuster, a Goonie and a time traveler, but that’s not relevant here.) And then, in my young adult years, I experienced the "huh." sensation that immediately followed my first viewing of The Phantom Menace and a far less neutral sensation that occurred after Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Recently re-watching those films, I stand by my initial impressions. With that in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that I’ve encountered more than a couple Star Wars fans, in recent days, who’ve admitted they’re afraid to get excited about Star Wars: Episode VII because they were let down before. "I don’t want to get my hopes up," they say. "But we’ll see." They're holding a ticket and their breath simultaneously, and waiting for Thursday or Friday or whenever it is that they'll see this film.
It’s time to breathe, Star Wars fans. For one thing, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is good. It’s not the prequels. And it's the start of a new, potentially amazing story.
You’re going to read a mixture of reviews about this movie. Rotten Tomatoes currently has it at a 98% fresh score, with only 4 negative reviews. That’s bound to change, but it’s unlikely the ratio’s going to shift all that drastically. CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg was mostly positive in his honest assessment of the film, while Sean O’Connell has it down as his favorite movie of the year. Having screened the movie as well, I fall somewhere in between. I agree with Eric’s criticisms, but I’m inclined to give the movie a least half a star more for the way it lays the foundation for a bigger story. Also, I was legitimately entertained from start to finish by what J.J. Abrams and this excellent cast have delivered to us.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens seems designed to draw us back into this story, introducing a new set of characters full of promise for exciting things, while also revisiting favorite characters from the original films, tying the old with the new to carry this saga forward. It thrills. It captivates. And perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t try to take itself so seriously. It’s emotional and exciting and fun, which is what it should be. And perhaps most importantly, it had me leaving the theater excited to know what happens next.
"Ok, well, it’s a relief that the reviews seem mostly positive," you’re thinking. "But I’m still not going to get excited until after I see this movie and can decide for myself."
Again, I get it. And I’m not going to sit here and promise you that you’ll love this movie, or that it’s perfect, or that you’ll agree with all of the reviews once you see it. That’s all too subjective to apply to everyone universally. But before you spend the next couple of days or hours or minutes with your breath held as you distract yourself with other things and try desperately to avoid spoilers (that part’s not a bad idea, actually), let me just add one more thing:
Anticipation is a part of loving something. Don’t deny yourself that because you’re afraid to have your heart broken again. Star Wars is back and in no time at all, you’re going to see it. It’s time to let the hope you’ve been suppressing rise in your chest. Realize that in a matter of days or hours or minutes, you are going to be sitting in a movie theater, and that familiar Lucasfilm logo is going to appear on the screen, followed by the words:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
The music’s going to come up. The opening crawl is going to roll, and you’re going to realize that new Star Wars is starting. Do you feel it? That flicker of excitement that you’ve been holding in? Let it out! The force is awakening and it’s time to be excited.
Are you excited for Star Wars: The Force Awakens?