Star Wars: Episode VII
I finished inking Phase 7 #021 yesterday, so I'm finally going to write some blog entries that have been backing up (while I still can!)
On the 17th, my old college friends Frunch & Gwyn (and their 4 year-old son Brenyn) and Gabe (and his girlfriend Danielle) all came out to Santa Fe to watch Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Frunch and Gwyn came from Madison, Wisconsin (actually, Frunch was at a conference in San Francisco, but you get the idea) and Gabe and Danielle came from Portland, Oregon.
This was not the first time these awesome friends have traveled thousands of miles to watch a Star Wars movie with me. The original plan was actually for me and Claire to go watch the movie with them in Madison, to repay some of this karma, but Claire's due date ended up being two weeks after the movie. We wouldn't be able to fly then, so they once again traveled across state lines to watch the movie with us, which was a real treat.
We were also joined by Claire's friends Amanda & Dustin and Benji and Emily. We went to an 11am viewing on Friday the 18th. We chose a local Santa Fe theatre (The Violet Crown, shown in the background above) which lets you reserve your seats, so we didn't have to wait in any crazy lines or anything.
I'm hopeless when it comes to Star Wars. I'm one of the few people I know who genuinely enjoyed the prequels, and have said many times before that I'd happily watch a movie if it was just a character reading off the Star Wars phone book ("Antilles, Raymus.... Antilles, Wedge....") so it should go without saying that I loved this movie.
Disney's approach for this film felt very similar to their 2011 relaunch of The Muppets. That movie tread on very familiar Muppet ground ("we have to put on a show!") and made sure to hit very specific beats that fans had come to expect. There was a sense throughout that the filmmakers were almost breaking down the 4th wall to try and hook old fans ("people have forgotten about the Muppets!") while also slightly nudging the story forward, or updating it here and there.
So a lot of the plot of The Force Awakens feels very similar to previous Star Wars movies, especially A New Hope (there is a droid carrying a secret, a protagonist from a remote planet discovering the force, a giant weapon that must be destroyed, etc. etc. etc.). There are specific jokes and references put in just for old fans, but plenty of fun things to keep the series moving forward, including a much-appreciated, increased diversity amongst the main characters.
Speaking of characters... During the final X-wing battle, I was shocked to see my good friend Stefan on screen as the pilot Yolo Ziff. At first I thought I had imagined it but then he was on a second time, with a big line (something like, "Looks like there's a new hole in that oscillator!") The second time, I was sure it was him, and so I was keeping an eye out for him during the credits. SURE ENOUGH:
Luckily, Claire did not go into labor during the movie, and I've been fortunate enough to see it three times in the theatre (probably the last movie I'll be able to go to for a while....) I love it and can't wait for it to come out on DVD so I can rewatch some scenes over and over, to suss out all of the details. I already started my countdown for Episode VIII.... only 515 days to go!