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[personal profile] tingjz
I don't remember the first time I watched Star Wars. Like parents or hating maths Star Wars is one of those things that have always been in my life, with no before. Logically I must have been introduced to it through one of the free-to-air television Star Wars trilogy runs which came at least twice a year, but I'm happy with my personal mythology that like DNA, Star Wars has just always been in my imagination.

And boy has it been my imagination. The X-Wing computer games let me fly my favourite starfighter. The Extended Universe books ate up all my pocket money and some of my parents', I shared the books with fellow fan-friends at school to read under our desks in class, and when the original trilogy was re-released in cinemas the only threat my mother needed to get me to behave was that she wouldn't let me see the movies. She did, of course, and bought me the full-size movie poster to boot. I had all the facts memorised, I knew how many TIE fighters an Imperial-class Star Destroyer could carry (72), the name of every alien glimpsed in the Mos Eisley cantina and Jabba's palace, and if you ever ask me to sing the entire film soundtrack from The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi from opening fanfare to end credits I'll do that too.

I went to the midnight premieres for all three of the prequels, the last one while costumed as Queen Amidala in her first Episode 1 dress and I was photographed for the local paper. No, I don't love the prequel trilogy the way I do the original trilogy, but neither do I hate it the way everybody else does. I'm aware that my memories of the original trilogy are coloured by nostalgia, that the originals were originally made for children, and those children-now-grown-up had ridiculous expectations married with grown-up tastes labeling the prequels as crimes against humanity rather than just mediocre movies. Plus the little kids I know who watched the prequels love the prequels the same way I love original trilogy.

Hearing the Disney had bought Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars hit both the cynic and hopeful fan in me, because oodles of profit off the biggest movie IP in history aside, if Disney's hands-off approach to Pixar and Marvel was anything to go by Disney owning Star Wars could work out. As I understood JJ Abrams to be much more of a Star Wars fan than Star Trek, him being slated to direct Episode VII didn't faze me. And then the cast list of a young woman, Moses from Attack The Block and the original actors and writers and John Williams himself ... I let myself hope. Hesitantly. Other than those news headlines I paid little attention to the production's development - but then the teaser trailer dropped. And all I needed was the Millennium Falcon soaring over desert and the John Williams Star Wars fanfare to be grinning like an idiot.

Star Wars is magic for me, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought every bit of it back and then some. The practical effects and film instead of CGI and digital shows on screen as real enough to touch. The new John Williams music and the old music - every call of Leia's theme, Han & The Princess, the fragment of The Imperial March, to say nothing of The Force and Here They Come almost made me scream in delight. The reveal of the 'garbage' ship and Han Solo with Chewbacca was greeted with audience cheers matched only by the faraway shot of a squadron of X-Wings flying in low over the water. I've seen some criticisms of The Force Awakens being a rehash of the original characters, plots and themes which is true, TFA retreads a lot of old ground but that's the point, it's coming home to Star Wars - and crucially provides a foundation for new cast to stand and shine.

And what a cast! A young woman up front and centre, who doesn't need anyone to hold her hand thank you very much, taking up the Luke Skywalker hero-with-destiny mantle; a black stormtrooper who ends up being the film's every-man heart, an intimidating female stormtrooper captain, female First Order officers, female Resistance officers, an Asian female X-Wing pilot hello can that be me please plus General Leia Organa - all that is the true new of Star Wars and it is amazing. As a girl escaping to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away from her all-girl private girls' school with school friends, just hearing faceless grunt stormtroopers speak with female voices had me wanting to go out and make a costume worthy of the 501st.

I'm dying to find out what Rey's backstory is, I'm fascinated to see what happens to Kylo Ren who I absolutely bought as a conflicted young man with parent and legacy issues (That Scene on the bridge had me and most of the audience staring in absolute shock), I want more of Poe and BB-8 soaring through the stars in their X-Wing, I can't wait to see where Finn goes from here and the expression on Luke Skywalker's face at the end--

Bring on Episode VIII.

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tingjz

May 2016

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