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The Fan Awakens

In just a few days, the seventh Star Wars movie will premiere in theaters, and I will be there for its opening. I'm older now, so this won't be any late night craziness (there's a 1:00am IMAX screening for those die-hard fans brimming with energy). This will be a 7pm showing, followed by food & drinks afterward with friends, to dissect the goings-on. Sixteen years ago I stood in line at the Savoy 16 for the midnight premiere screening of The Phantom Menace. Dear reader, I can not express to you enough how I hope Thursday isn't a repeat of that experience.

The first new Star Wars film in a decade (and the first without George Lucas's involvement), The Force Awakens promises a lot. I really hope it delivers. J.J. Abrams is at the helm for this installment. He isn't known for his originality, so I expect to see a lot of echoes and throwbacks to the original trilogy (hopefully none to the prequels). At least we'll have Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill on board again, and the newer characters seem like they might be interesting. In many ways, I still can't believe this is happening.

Scroll back nearly forty years, and I remember going to see the original Star Wars at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign. Mom took me and, really, I was too young for it. We left early on in the screening, as I was bored by the two robots endlessly walking around in the desert. A few years later -- still a kid -- I'd watch the movies on home video, and was still bored by the Tatooine bit, but enjoyed everything on the Death Star. For Empire Strikes Back, I liked the scenes on Hoth and the Super Star Destroyer. Everything else felt a bit slow. By the time Return of the Jedi came along I was having issues relating to my dad, so aspects of that film touched me fairly deeply. And what kid could resist the Ewoks?

The original Star Wars movies are forever part of my childhood. Their mania extended to merchandise, of course (which is purportedly how George Lucas made most of his money from it). I would play with friends Lyle and Josh, who had abundantly more Star Wars toys than I did. And then there were the occasional evening fairs at my elementary school, wherein items such as Emperor Palpatine's throne room playset, and the nifty Star Wars cook book would be sold (mom and I made several batches of Death Star cookies. They were quite enjoyable in all their sugary goodness).

So, Thursday evening will soon be upon us. I plan to head to the theater directly from work, as my tickets aren't for any assigned seats, and there will be four or five us, so getting in line at a decent time will be a must. I'm expecting things to be turnt up. The crowds will be massive. I feel for the theater staff who will have to deal with a crazy weekend. I will try not to add much to their work load. And, finally, it's got to be better than the prequels, right?


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