The ongoing hype about Star Wars is about getting back a thrill that can be no more.

  1. I was six years old. I heard about Star Wars from a boy in my small neighborhood. My dad took me. It was thrilling. It was a big deal. I was also the perfect age to enjoy all the toys to the fullest. (I still loved Micronauts the most, however.)

I saw the next two movies in the theater as well, of course. It was a time of thrills in general, lots of movies that are remembered as iconic, such as ET (which I actually didn’t like that much) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (which I did). Wouldn’t it be great to get the thrill of such movies back?

Well let’s just pretend that we can. Forever.

When Star Wars came out, you could count the total number of big budget space movies on a couple fingers. Forbidden Planet (1956) and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Um, that’s it. We can debate whether things like Barbarella (1968), Silent Running (1972), and Dark Star (1974) should count, and maybe I forgot something, but the number wasn’t big, right?

TV was extremely limited. The Wonderful World of Disney was a must-see on Sundays. If The Wizard of Oz (1939) or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was on TV, all of the kids in the neighborhood would know about it and run into their respective homes and watch it. Every time, every year.

So Star Wars comes along, and it’s a no-brainer. Everyone’s got to see it. And everyone did. And it was a fun time to be a kid, since imitations came along, and they were pretty good too. Shows like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Battlestar Gallactica. Late 70s, early 80s corn that a 6-12-year-old could enjoy. Things really did feel fresh. Adults didn’t tell you otherwise. Sure a lot of this stuff was based on 1930s comics and serials, but that stuff was not available for viewing (I never saw a Flash Gordon Serial until on YouTube), and no one asserted that quality of the originals was better, as it clearly wasn’t. (Nor did most people get the connection between Star Wars and the old serials. A few critics did point this out, but mostly people saw it as something radically new. Which, despite its origins, it was.)

But somewhere along the way, it all just wasn’t as thrilling any more. Instead of there being a handful of space movies, there were an uncountable number. Subcultures multiplied, the market became fragmented. They started serving beer in movie theaters (OK, not all of the changes have been bad).

And my point isn’t that ain’t nuthin’ good no more. People went batshit over Harry Potter (understandable) and Twilight (umm). But those were mostly specific fandoms that reached that fever pitch. The universal surprise and joy that Star Wars had generated wasn’t quite present.

The thrill of Star Wars was so unique that, for a very brief period of time, we pretended that the Prequels were good and/or hoped that they would get better (the Emperor is campy fun in the third movie, but that’s about it). And we’ve pretended yet again in the case of the Force Awakes, which I think is just as big an inexcusable abortion as the Prequels, and in some cases a worse movie. As if to emphasize the pre-picked-dom of the low-hanging fruit, after more than 40 years, with all the money to hire the best writers in the world, including one who had done such a good job on The Empire Strikes Back, all the could come up with was a rehash of the plot of the first movie? Really?! WTF?! (I’m not saying that these were the best writers in the world; merely that they could have afforded the best.)

And then we got the same hype for Rogue One, which I didn’t see because it looked so boring. But we collectively pretended again. Ooh, we get to see Darth Vader in a scene! We really can go back!

And now the movies are totally falling apart with directors being fired and whatnot. But still we pretend! And the next movie will be a huge hit because people can’t let go. That’s the only reason, since if Force Awakens had been a one-off like the recent Valerian (which did seem to suck), it would have been at best a mildly successful movie, more likely a flop.

Look, the OT were fun, good, campy 70s and 80s movies very much of their time–in a good way. They hold up fairly nicely precisely because they are good examples of movies from that time. But we can’t go back. Star Wars lives on in the OT, but otherwise it is dead. A movie will never thrill us the same way ago.

I was in grad school when ANH came out, and the reason it was great was that the technology finally allowed us to see the really cool stuff we had read about for ages. Aliens, a lived in galaxy, awesome space battles. Plus they had a good plot arc.

The prequels were DOA because we knew how they were going to end and required the Jedi - the shining knights of the first movie - to be idiots. Heinlein had space in his history for prequels showing how Nehemiah Scudder took over the US. He was smart enough to have never written them.
I also agree about The Force Awakens. In the ANH the rebels were a spunky band facing an overwhelming foe. In this movie they are the idiots who somehow lost control of a free galaxy. I for one don’t buy Extended Universe books, so I have little clue about how this happened.
Something new please. Who else is betting that there are going to be Ewok clones in Ep. IX?

Eh. I’m really enjoying the continuing story. Sorry you aren’t.

I tuned out as soon as you said you haven’t seen Rogue One. It’s easily the best Star Wars movie since ESB. Arguably better (Personally I think it’s slightly better). It was definitely thrilling. Is it thrilling in the exact same way as the OT was? No, I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t have the desire or the time to obsess over the toys and collect the limited edition glasses from Burger King. But the movie itself is quite thrilling.

Ok, now I’m visualizing a huge parade field filled with very short stormtroopers in gleaming white armor (with tufts of brown or black fur poking out of the seams).

If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

[QUOTE=Aeschines;20477611The thrill of Star Wars was so unique that, for a very brief period of time, we pretended that the Prequels were good and/or hoped that they would get better (the Emperor is campy fun in the third movie, but that’s about it). And we’ve pretended yet again in the case of the Force Awakes, which I think is just as big an inexcusable abortion as the Prequels, and in some cases a worse movie. As if to emphasize the pre-picked-dom of the low-hanging fruit, after more than 40 years, with all the money to hire the best writers in the world, including one who had done such a good job on The Empire Strikes Back, all the could come up with was a rehash of the plot of the first movie? Really?! WTF?! (I’m not saying that these were the best writers in the world; merely that they could have afforded the best.)[/QUOTE]

First I gotta say that I seen Rogue One and enjoyed it. But I agree with the rest of your post. Being of the same age group, the eighties and nineties were a golden age in science fiction. Star Wars, BSG orgininal, Buck Rogers, Star Trek (various) and the lesser shows that might have lasted a season. And then The predator movies, Alien movies.

The TV side, as noted BSG and Buck Rogers , Babylon five, Space above and beyond, Stargate franchise, Star Trek Franchise, and into Andromeda and I am sure that most people could continue this.

So what happened, If I were to do a forensic audit, I’d have to say that I seen the Wars, in the eyes of a child going into a teen. When the prequels came out, I was seeing them with an adult’s eyes and experience and its not the same. I seriously had more fun watching Fanboys, than any of the prequels. When Force awakens came out, I waited a month to see it, and felt it was two hours gone, that I would never replace.

To recapture us, the Wars franchise is going to have to adult up, which is part of why I liked Rogue One. No director, regardless of credentials or pedigree is going to let us relive our childhoods.

Not everyone was 7 years old when it came out.

I was 17, not quite an adult but not a kid, and it was the greatest movie I had ever seen. In my entire life! I watched it about a month ago, and I could watch it again right now, even 40 years on. Maybe I will.

It was good because it was good. And the prequels sucked not because we are older, but because they suck.

Re Rogue One it looked boring to me, but it didn’t look terrible. The main criticism I heard was that the characters are very shallow. In any case, I would watch on video or something if a friend had it.

I’ll answer Declan and Just Asking Questions at once, as you had related points.

This is for the younger people here who don’t remember this, but in 1977, the film ratings were G, PG, R (and the rarely used X). R films were typically quite violent (or had strong language or nudity), while PG could encompass what would be PG-13 today. G movies were almost always true kids movies. These ratings worked for a time when then was much less of a division between what was for adults and what was for kids. A lot of movies were seen as appropriate and fully entertaining to both. The same was true for a lot of TV. For example, The Muppet Show] was loved by both adults and kids, as were a lot of 70s, early 80s entertainment.

Thus, yeah, I don’t buy the labeling of Star Wars as a kids movie, as is sometimes done to justify the prequels (“the prequels are for kids, just like the OT; you’re an adult now, so you can’t appreciate them!”). It’s yet another thing that made Star Wars and its two sequels of their time.

So, I don’t think Star Wars can now “adult up.” Or rather, it could try but I think a lot of its original appeal would be lost. Nothing can put the genie back in the bottle. Or onto the big screen again.

An interesting criticism, and one that I don’t agree with at all. For a series that’s notoriously weak on character depth anyway, Rogue One was, easily, the most mature of all of the Star Wars films, and, I think, had better character development than pretty much any of the other films.

To be fair…Lucas, himself, used that justification, particularly in the wake of criticism of TPM. He said that the movies had been kids’ movies all along. One big difference, I think, is that, when he was making the Prequels, he actually had children, and I think that he made choices (particularly in TPM) to pander to them.

Yeah, I was going to post the same thing. A lot of these Star Wars threads on the Dope seem to start with the assumption that it was a childhood experience that we all shared. I was in college when Star Wars was released (I still refuse to call it “A New Hope”) and I saw it with my friends on opening day. Afterward we went out for beer.

I’ve concluded, after reading many of these SW threads, that there’s an enormous gulf between people who “grew up with Star Wars” and people like me who didn’t. I loved it, but it wasn’t a formative experience; it was just a movie. I simply can’t relate to some of the emotions expressed in the OP, or the rage some people feel at Lucas for “pissing on our collective childhood” or whatever.

I’m always baffled when people call it a kids’ movie. My cynical college-age self was hypersensitive to such things, and if anything in SW had seemed non-adult in any way, I probably would have complained about it. Hell, there were people getting killed right and left in the opening scene, the incinerated skeletons of Luke’s aunt and uncle, a severed arm in the cantina, Han shooting Greedo, etc. Some film critics did deride Star Wars as shallow stuff, but that’s because the 70s were a time when serious, gritty dramas like Taxi Driver were celebrated.

I never thought Lucas was aware of younger audiences until the Ewoks turned up in ROTJ.

Star Wars is now competing in a field that was created by itself. You can’t win that battle 40 years down the track. But they are successfully breathing new life into something we thought had died an ignominious death.

The behind-the-scenes stuff is frustrating, but it really seems to be for good reasons, and so far is working out well for them.

I disagree with the criticism of TFA and especially Rogue One. The OT was amazing and enduring because it had wonder, excitement, and humor. The prequels sucked because they had flashes of excitement overwhelmed by boredom, minimal wonder, and no humor.

TFA was exactly what it needed to be to restore the franchise. Who cares if the overall plot was a rehash (well, obviously lots of people)? I thought it was a great way to call back to ANH while still having enough originality. And more importantly, it had plenty of excitement and plenty of humor. Rogue One went one better in all departments.

I agree that it can’t be the same as the OT because of the volume of choices now. But you lose me with the rest of it.

I thought Rogue One did a very good job of recapturing the thrill of the first movie; did I obsess over it as I did then (toys!toys!toys!)? No. But it was (and is) a very good Star Wars movie that has come closest to the original in terms of overall quality and enjoyment factor.

I think that the words I bolded above is the explanation. I agree with the symptoms described by OP. And yet, I don’t reach the same diagnosis.

The thing is, we - the people who saw the original trilogy in theatres - are NOT the target demographic for the new movies. Nor should we be. To be blunt, they’re making new movies to make more money. They need to have us on board BUT also, and more importantly, a new audience. So, they’ll try to remain faithful to the original movies in order not to piss off the older generation but not at the expense of pleasing the new crowds. And I’m perfectly fine with that.

When The Force Awakens came out, I took my daughters (age 6 and 8 then) to see it. I had previously watched the original trilogy with them (not the prequels, though). My aim was for them to experience the same thrill that I had felt 35 years before. And they did.

As for me, my goal was more modest. I hoped to see an entertaining film that managed not to destroy the feel of the first movies. And it delivered - more than I expected, actually. I don’t think that the people in charge of the new movies owe me more than that. And I also agree that Rogue One was the best of the lot since The Empire Strikes Back. While not exactly deep, it was more subtle in terms of characterization than, well, all the other films in the franchise.

So, as long as they keep on making movies that leave my daughters in awe and entertain me, I’ll give them my money.

“The Force Awakens” was not a great movie, not groundbreaking. It was, however, fun and competent, two words that cannot be applied to the prequels, which are ineptly made movies. Forget “you can’t recapture the wonder” - those movies were just badly made.

It is hardly a surprise that “Star Wars” is not a repeatable experience, simply because it is one of the most important movies, if not THE most important movie, ever made. The Star Wars of the 1990s wasn’t a Star Wars movie at all; it was “Toy Story,” in the sense of a truly groundbreaking film, a huge financial success, appropriate for all ages, that changed the way movies were made and created a filmmaking empire. I’m not sure there was any equivalent movie in the 1980s. I’m not saying “Toy Story” is equivalent in importance to “Star Wars” because its not, but it’s the closest thing to it that has been made since 1977.

(I suppose people will make an argument for the Harry Potter films, and they are WILDLY successful, but they really don’t meet any of the other criteria.)

The next “Star Wars” won’t be a Star Wars movie. It will be something else, an absolute game-changer; a massively popular film that breaks new ground, changes the way movies are made, and in so doing captures the public consciousness. It might not happen for another fifty years, I don’t know.

I think you’re forgetting Encino Man.

I’d say it might have already happened, with Avatar.

Not that I’ll ever see it. But people say the same things about it as like SW.

In my mind, somewhere just after Jaws and Star Wars, movies stopped being entertainment and just two-hour commercials you paid to see to sell you toys and Happy Meals.