COLUMN: Locking Hype Foils in Attack Position


Grant LeFaive

I was a "Star Wars" kid. 

I had the toys, from the dainty little X-Wings to the knuckle-bruising, tear-inducing collapsible lightsabers. Personally, I rejoiced when they finally came out with the ones where the blade actually disappeared fully into the hilt, and I could carry it comfortably around the house like a six-year old badass.

But when I think about why I love with "Star Wars," I never think much about the toys. And no, it’s not a movies-have-been-commercialized-and-I-totally-bought-into-it reaction, but the feeling that I get when I think about those movies.

The original trilogy told a story that was both simple and effective, and reached a cultural watermark that has arguably never been surpassed. Apart from revolutionizing special effects and making approximately a shitzillion dollars, "Star Wars" was a franchise that found a connection with the audience.

The story was a classic parable of good and evil. It was a romance in space, combining spiritual and science fiction elements to turn a story that’s been told to death into an exciting tale of adventure and discovery. Even archetypical characters were turned into relatable, flawed people that the audience could latch onto. It became something too big for George Lucas to own, at least in a spiritual sense. Culture had taken it, and has never really let go. Ironically, this achievement seemed to have gone over the head of its creator.

"A New Hope" shined in its idealism and innovation. It brought a group of interesting, worthy people together to thwart an unquestionably wicked (and gloriously iconic) villain. In doing so, many of the characters were able to aspire to an ideal and become something more. People loved the idea of a farm boy, a smuggler, and old man and a princess as the galaxy’s heroes.

"Empire Strikes Back" did a great job of completely tearing all that down. It told the same story as A New Hope but in reverse -- a group of people who have become friends and heroes are torn apart and end up marginalized by an evil they weren’t equipped to fight. Empire ripped the formula of the previous movie apart accordingly, creating an unpredictable and unsettling film that left fans worrying for their heroes.

"Return of the Jedi," despite having some flaws, concluded the trilogy on a strong note. The movie began and ended with strong characterization and some great action, giving the series’ most compelling conflict a solid sendoff.

It seems strange talking about where "Star Wars" started. Here we are in 2015 and the film is once again poised to become the most relevant piece of mainstream pop culture since -- it did 30 years ago. It feels right for "Star Wars" to once again become a generational film, and I am excited that I can be part of it.

I am going into this film hoping J.J. Abrams understood why "Star Wars" was able to become everything it has. I am not expecting every character to be a complex, dynamic individual or every plot point to make sense- after all, contemporary films about space battles and space magic really should be realistic in the strictest sense.

I’m just looking for a film that can take an out-of-this-world story and raise it to an emotional, human level. I’m not looking for the best, most over-choreographed lightsaber battle ever, or even TWO death stars.

But if "The Force Awakens" has either of those, it'll just give everyone a reason to care.