Ready for more from Star Wars? I sure am

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014

By Joel Myhre

Fergus Falls Daily Journal

When I saw a stormtrooper running across the sands of Tattooine, a dark figure turning on a new-fangled lightsaber, and finally, the Milennium Falcon screaming across my computer screen while the famous John Williams music blared, I couldn’t help but feel some adrenaline pump through my veins.

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Well, it wasn’t like mile 25 of the Fargo Marathon or anything. But knowing that, nearly 40 years after I watched the original, the newest episode of Star Wars is in the making, gave me a jump in my step.

Why, exactly, I don’t know.

I’m among the youngest who can actually remember going to the theater in 1977 to see Star Wars. I was 7 at the time, and I only remember random images before that age.

We lived in Little Falls, and even though the movie was in its second go-around, the line was around the block. I remember my dad telling me the movie was scary, but that nothing bad would happen.

OK, so Obi-Wan Kenobi died. But it wasn’t like he was bloody or anything.

Anyway, Star Wars has been a part of my life since then. We got premium cable service just to get access to Star Wars, got up at 5 a.m. to watch it the first time, and then watched it dozens of times after that. I still remember the door to the garbage compactor that almost crushed Luke Skywalker and his crew — 3263827. I’ve often wondered if that was creator George Lucas’ phone number in Hollywood, but never had the gumption to call it, or even look up the Hollywood area code.

I’m also excited because, frankly, the trilogy that Lucas directed in the 1990s and early 2000s was disappointing at best. Lucas was a genius for creating Star Wars, but I’m questioning his talent as a director. He seemed to fall in love with the special effects, and forgot that an interesting story and characters — which the original trilogy had in spades — are still the key to a good movie.

This time, I have reason for optimism.

For one, Lucas has sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney. Most importantly, it means he isn’t in charge anymore. Disney has handed the franchise to J.J. Abrams, who is in his 40s, and is famous for directing the series “Lost” and reviving the Star Trek movies.

Abrams, I’m sure, has spent years thinking about how to continue the Star Wars series. I also assume he was frustrated when Lucas insisted the series was complete after he completed the “pre-quel” trilogy. There have been countless books written that continued the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. Clearly, there was a demand for more Star Wars movies, and plenty of talented individuals capable of carrying the torch if Lucas wanted to retire, so to speak.

The other reason for optimism is that, unlike the pre-quel, there’s no direction the new movies have to take. We knew, for example, that Anakin Skywalker had to become a bad guy, the Jedi Knights would crumble, and the empire would take over.

Abrams and his crew can take the new movies anywhere they would like them to go. I have heard that “the force” could be a major theme of the new movies. It would make sense, because in the pre-quel, there was mention of “midichlorians” which were microscopic lifeforms inside all beings (according to the Star Wars Wookiepedia, with lots of pun intended.) Clearly, not enough has been told of these creatures, and there’s lots of meat to chew on there.

Most of all, who doesn’t want to see Harrison Ford (Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia) and Mark Hamill (Skywalker) on the screen again?

Frankly, it’s kind of a wonder that they’re all still alive.

By the way, all you get at this point is 88 seconds of a trailer. We have to wait more than a year to see the actual movie. But I’ve been waiting nearly 40 years anyway.

Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher.