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It’s Time: Get Excited for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

It’s getting harder and harder for me to pretend that Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens might not be flat out awesome. In an Internet age when hype and snark dictate everything, you’re either With Us or Against Us. Light Side or Dark Side. Are you of the camp that is gushing at every glint of information, every Easter egg and every minor announcement, or are you too cool, above it all and need to cynically cut down everyone’s fun? (I mean, there’s a stop motion Charlie Kaufman movie coming out this year. Come on, guys) But with the debut of the new Force Awakens trailer during Monday Night Football, I’m telling you now, if you weren’t already, get excited. This movie is for real.

I started approaching Star Wars VII with severely tempered expectations. The whole sale of Star Wars to Disney, who already owned the Marvel Cinematic Universe, smacked of the exact same branded franchise building that in my view has marred Hollywood blockbusters’ artistic creativity for the last five years. Then the hype train started rolling, and the announcement and debate over spinoff films, sequels and more just confirmed my suspicions. Then the first teaser trailer was released and I said, “Welp, that looks like a J.J. Abrams movie.” Say what you will about what the same teaser might’ve looked like by George Lucas, but the teaser had all the trappings of being Abrams’s Star Trek in a different sci-fi skin: lens flares galore, chaotic CGI fire fights, Spielbergian pacing, and a hint of nostalgia baiting.

It took the first full trailer to be released for me to finally come around and admit the damn thing might be good. It was the sort of first look that reminded us exactly what we wanted out of such a massive franchise tag sequel. There was a hint of brand new world building along with remnants of the old one. Abrams had given a return to form with practical special effects and details like a hilted lightsaber that could ignite scientific nerd debates and key us in that he’s a director in perfect control of his source material. Now, there will be plenty of outlets devoted to breaking down every inch of that trailer. There will be memes, there will be reaction videos and tears of joy, and there will be more clickbait headlines from now until Christmas than I want anything to do with. That sort of attention to detail is more than enough to make a person like myself jaded. For anyone who just wants to watch the Eagles-Giants game it can be exhausting.

But this trailer has sold me. It doesn’t make sense anymore to try and avoid it and pretend to be above it. Unlike the pre-sold hype of every superhero movie ever made, or the tween excitement over a Twilight movie, The Force Awakens is quickly becoming a movie with real cultural relevance. One observation about the new trailer is that we still don’t have a strong sense of the film’s plot. Abrams has been really smart to make these trailers about character and about tone. People are crying over the appearance of Princess Leia and Han Solo or the charred mask of Darth Vader, and it’s not because Abrams has teased all the ways Chewbacca fits into Star Wars’s extended universe. But more importantly, The Force Awakens isn’t being sold as a franchise; it’s being sold as a good movie. The craft, the cinematography, and the gravitas of this story are all on display. If Mad Max: Fury Road can be a legit Oscar contender, there’s no reason to think that The Force Awakens can go above its popcorn movie expectations and be a real classic.

People genuinely care about this movie. People do not make Anti-White Boycotts for movies that aren’t really lighting a fire for people. There’s a sense of excitement that goes beyond a Marvel movie that’s market saturated or just marking time until the next one is released. We saw this level of anticipation for The Dark Knight, for the final Harry Potter movie, for the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, or even for the Star Wars prequels. The prequels especially have not aged well, but they are movies that have remained with us because of the love and devotion behind them. We can see that same glee on screen in this trailer, that New Hope that this franchise can be, not just awesome, but groundbreaking all over again in a way it was in 1977. If that can happen, it’s right to be excited. I’ll review The Force Awakens just like anyone else, and it may be just okay, or maybe even bad (gasp!). But we need this movie. We need the movies and the franchises that drive them to be special again. I’m starting to believe.


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