This weekend in a galaxy far, far away…

This weekend, I did something pretty exciting.

My wife and I spent Friday night amongst the Rebel Legion, the Droidbuilders, the lightsaber crafters and the 501st.  Star Wars costumers and builders united for a private screening of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hosted by the Golden Gate Garrison.

I work with a Garrison member and through him was able to purchase reserved seating tickets for the film around a month before tickets went on sale to the general public for any other screening of the film.

Seeing a private screening removed trailers from the mix, and added a bunch of slides of things the cosplay groups have done over the past year.

Eventually, around 10 minutes past 7, we got to what everyone in the theater was waiting for.  The Lucasfilm logo adorned the screen to loud cheers and then some familiar words:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

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The next 2 hours and 15 minutes flew by as Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron, General Hux, Supreme Leader Snoke, Captain Phasma, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Maz Kanata and Chewbacca’s stories all played out on the screen.  It was both the continuation of an epic saga and the beginning of something new.  An older generation of Star Wars fans will enjoy the movie for the nostalgia factor and continuing the story that started playing on screens the summer before I was born.  What I really liked about the film is that it also allows new fans to be exposed to the lore and history of Star Wars without the need to go back and watch the six movies that preceded it.

JJ Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt did a great job encapsulating a terrific stand alone film that both brings newcomers up to speed on the history of the war between the Republic and the Empire and how that extended to the First Order and the Resistance in this film.  Han Solo plays the role of the wizened old man that fills in newcomers Finn and Rey about the Jedi, the Force and the Dark Side.

There are many parallels between The Force Awakens and A New Hope.  In a lot of ways, I’d describe The Force Awakens as A New New Hope.  People have already started criticizing the film for some of those similarities, but I think the creative team did a great job making a film that is both a sequel and a bit of a reboot to a franchise that we all thought was potentially lost to the ages.

The Force Awakens both reintroduced old friends and new and left viewers with plenty of questions in anticipation of May 2017’s Episode 8.

I ended up seeing the movie again last night and my wife saw it as well, each of us with a different set of friends.  We both originally thought seeing it on back to back nights may have caused us to not like it as much but at least in my case, I caught some things I missed from the first viewing and was able to hear the dialogue a bit better the second time around.

I’d say The Force Awakens holds its own among the previous films released films in the saga.

Tonight, I tried something a bit different.  I watched the six previous films, all together on the screen at once, thanks to some creative geniuses that posted it on YouTube.

It didn’t seem like something that would be enjoyable, but by the time I got around 10 minutes in, it really worked for me.  I was able to absorb all six of the previous films in just over 2 hours and 20 minutes and it really added to my appreciation of both the old films and the one that just released.  I still dislike Attack of the Clones more than any other film in the series and my opinion wasn’t swayed in any way on that front.

I really like the new characters and it was great to see the older generation as well.  I loved Han Solo and Chewbacca’s roles and was sad to see the screen time for some of the other favorites was fairly short, but this wasn’t a movie about the folks from the original trilogy.  The movie is about the next generation and Rey, Finn and Poe are developing into heroes just like Luke, Leia and Han did when I was a kid.

In 522 days, we’ll get to catch up again with them in Episode 8.

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