Thursday, December 17, 2015

B.S.W. (Before Star Wars)!


I am a traveler from a far off land, a place where no "Skywalkers" roamed, nor "Droids", nor "Wookies", nor "Boba Fetts". I lived when there was no Star Wars, a benighted time when the filmed futures of science fiction were gleaming and polished and shiny and promising, though true enough the actual future then looked pretty bleak in this rough and tumble real world of Carter and OPEC and "Stagflation". Comics, fighting to stay afloat, were at least as entertaining as movies, and I for one first encountered the denizens of that galaxy far, far away in the pages of Marvel's original adaptation.


Now of course, the universe itself trembles at the advent of a new chapter in the Star Wars saga which has consumed decades in its telling and had filled up theaters and filled up bookstores with an endless array of products and prizes and cheap imitations.


People lost their minds when Star Wars appeared, a movie which I have to admit rocked the science fiction universe and utterly changed Hollywood and popular entertainment forever and a day.


But that said, it is not by any means an unalloyed good. People lose all perspective when it comes to this saga, elevating the originals above their true worth and debasing the sequels beneath their actual value. This nostalgic glamour might unravel the new flicks before they can properly achieve escape velocity, but the addition of vintage stars near in their dotage will likely give sufficient balm to the huddles of fans who want only ever to be as young as they once were.


I liked the Star Wars movies a lot when they hit the screens way back in 1977. In those proto-VCR days (a primitive technology at best) I went to see the first one four times. It was a ton of fun. But by the end of the first trilogy you could already see the energy was dripping and oozing out the end of the grand story. It nonetheless lingered and thrived in novels and comics and elsewhere until the prequels hit in the final days of the second Clinton administration in 1999. The fanboys raised up to denounce this new vision and frankly overstated their case. The new trilogy was encumbered by some leaden acting and a new political sensitivity which did not adhere to its serial-inspired predecessors, but nonetheless they were pretty hair-raising with some outstanding visuals.


Now we have another go, the saga having been shifted away from its weary and ancient creator into new hands which I feel certain will give it a new gloss that will make for some fun and games indeed. But this project always comes with the dread that the devoted will find fault and heap upon the story the brickbats of shame for perhaps daring to move the story away from its venerable but somewhat bedraggled roots.


The biggest deficiency any of the new ones, for all their evident craftsmanship and devoted storytelling, will ever face is that all hail from A.S.W. (After Star Wars) and will always be judged in the shadow of that epic historical achievement.

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10 comments:

  1. I made it about fifteen minutes into The Phantom Menace (on VHS....didn't make it to the theatre), before I tuned out. However, I wasn't sure at the time whether it was movie itself or the fact that some 18 years had passed since I'd seen any of the original three and maybe my tastes in entertainment had changed. I still haven't seen any of the middle (or first, or whatever) three movies, so I kind of think that it's the latter.

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    1. I really like Phantom Menace, especially the beginning. I think it bogs down a bit when they find the kid, but until then it hums along. It, like all its kind, is too long though.

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  2. I loved the first Star Wars film but the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father then, even more ludicrously, that Leia was his sister completely spoiled it for me. I've never taken Star Wars seriously since and I have zero interest in The Force Awakens.

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    1. I remember there being debate about Darth, as if you couldn't see it a mile away. Leia as his sister was supposed to be the swerve, but I agree it's always been a bit icky.

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  3. I can remember buying the Warren magazine special for Star Wars the summer it came out (1977) – and being more taken with that than the movie itself, oddly enough. Also, despite the Howie Chaykin art I never picked up the Marvel Comic past the 1st issue. I dunno…Maybe having been heavy into comics prior to Star Wars – gave me kind of a been there/done that ennui toward the movie(s). (Forced to make a choice, I’d always go Star Trek over Star Wars too…)

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    1. I picked up the Chaykin comic before ever seeing the movie, but still the first run was not that impressive really. At the time though, all we had to compare it to was Logan's Run and Planet of the Apes.

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  4. Star Wars came out when I was three, so I can't remember a time where these characters have not been a part of my life. Over the years, I have identified closely with all of them: I have been the kid with potential, the idealist, the cynic, the sidekick... now I find myself drifting in the role of wizened mentor.

    I love Star Wars because I've lived it.

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    1. There you go, that's what I'm talking about. I was pretty much Luke's age when I first saw it, and now I'm much closer to Obi Wan Kenobi's vintage. Sigh.

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  5. I watched Star Wars over and over again when I was a kid. But the prequels squashed a lot of my enthusiam. But I still want to see the new one :)

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    1. I'll see the new one, because it's going to be fun at least. I loved what Abrams did with Star Trek and I bet he's used a lot of his tricks on this one to spruce it up.

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