I was talking to a few of my buddies last night about the Star Wars movie when I realized that the only way The Force Awakens is going to live up to the hype is if it blows everybody away.
I contained my excitement before giving in to it when the trailer was released, but after a few days I’m back to I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it mode. What pulled me back?
I recalled the anticipation for Episode I was just as high (or at least as high as it could be in a pre-social-media world). People were going to the movie theaters, buying tickets for the main feature, and leaving after the Star Wars trailer.
Thankfully, now we can avoid paying admission to see a two-minute clip, instead watching it endlessly on youtube in the comfort of our own homes. The Force Awakens trailer is perfect in that it gives us just enough to quell our Star Wars cravings without giving too much away. We’re introduced to the main characters, our nostalgia is sated with the appearances of the Millennium Falcon, Han, Leia, and Chewie, and it’s all beautifully tied together with the always brilliant score from John Williams.
The other day I mentioned how I hope director J.J. Abrams and writer Lawrence Kasdan don’t rehash too much in order to satisfy the audience’s appetite for the original trilogy. In the poster and the trailer we get glimpses of a Death-Star-like orb and a long trench in the snow.
As much as I hated all of the CGI in the prequel trilogy, this was Lucas at his best: pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with special effects. After the prequels were released it seemed as if the entire movie industry’s special effects departments had grown by leaps and bounds. The biggest benefactors were all of the my favorite superheroes that could finally get on the big screen, thanks to CGI.
Ultimately it was the weak stories of the prequel that doomed them. No amount of political intrigue, midichlorians, or tragic love story was going to get the audience to enjoy what amounted to a special effects show.
Abrams has said that he wants to capture that sense of awe from the original trilogy. He’s using more practical effects and less CGI. Sure, he’ll still have his trademark lens flares, but that’s fine with me.
This is my (guarded) hope with The Force Awakens: that Abrams lives up to half of what he’s said and shown so far. I can’t expect him to pull an Empire Strikes Back right out of the gate, can I?
Something that my buddies reminded me about was how much we all loved Abrams’ Star Trek movies. He’s used to dealing with unrealistic expectations from a diehard fanbase. Since I’ve already enjoyed the Star Wars teasers and trailer more than the prequel trilogy, though, I’d say he’s halfway home to meeting those crazy expectations.