By Alex Campbell
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a trilogy of movies was released, and it revolutionized science-fiction filmmaking. Then, not so long ago a prequel trilogy was released, and it was a severe letdown. Yet it seems the franchise now has ‘a new hope.’ In November 2013, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced and since then, the excitement has only been building toward the Dec. 18 release date.
However, when the film was first announced many people were not so thrilled, and rightfully so. The trainwreck of the prequel trilogy had many people, myself included, doubting the future of the franchise.
But right now, it looks like Star Wars: The Force Awakens has all the components of a great Star Wars movie. One of the most promising aspects is director J.J. Abrams. Abrams is a skilled director with a background in sci-fi filmmaking, directing hit movies like the recent Star Trek films and Super 8, and has also been a fan of the Star Wars films his entire life.
The film is also capturing fan attention through its original story. Since the release of The Return of the Jedi in 1983, hundreds of books and comics have been written detailing writers’ ideas of what happens to the heroes after the events in the movies. But the Force Awakens screenwriters decided to leave those plot lines alone and create their own post-Jedi story. While there are some who want them to stick to the Star Wars universe that they know, using an original storyline allows fans to experience a new story that they haven’t seen before.
The movie, however, still has promise because it attempts to emulate the original trilogy. One of the worst aspects of the prequel trilogy was that it failed to use practical effects, as episodes IV, V and VI did, and it really hurt the movie. The practical effects of the original three movies, as opposed to computer generated imagery, really drew the audience into the universe and gave the story a much more tangible quality. The creators of The Force Awakens have tried their hardest to recapture the feel of the original trilogy, using practical effects wherever possible. We have been shown examples of this many times through the 2015 Comic-Con behind the scenes video, where viewers were treated to glimpses of the filming locations and realistic alien costumes, as well as the many set pictures showing fully constructed spaceships and sets.
So, will The Force Awakens live up to the hype?
Personally, I don’t think it will for most people. Disney announced the movie almost two years in advance, and in my opinion that was far too early. This allowed too much time for people to get excited and construct their own version of the perfect Star Wars VII. This is a franchise that has defined people's childhoods, and occasionally, their entire lives. The excitement has reached such great levels that any movie—even if it is a great one—won’t be able to live up to their expectations.
That is part of the reason why I am keeping my expectations a bit lower. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited, but I also want to enjoy this movie. If I let my expectations get too high, I know that in some way I will be disappointed. I think the movie will be great, but I’m not expecting it to revolutionize the entire sci-fi genre and blow people’s minds. That’s what episodes IV, V and VI did, and that can only happen once.