The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Nerds everywhere have been gushing about Episode 7 since the first teaser was made available. With the release of the official trailer this week, the excitement builds to a pitch and the countdown to Dec. 18th is on.

This guy? I’m tempering my enthusiasm.

First, Hollywood has gotten very good at churning out trailers that are fun and exciting and full of promise, but end with movies that are all style and no substance. There are plenty of examples to choose from. And Disney is behind a lot of them. One of the greatest pleasures in this life is to be told a good story. But in 2015, those are rarely found in the cinema.

Apart from that, the Star Wars franchise has to prove itself to me after the failings of Episodes 1–3. Look, I was like many of you … my parents rented a VCR (that’s right) to watch Episode 4 at my 5th birthday party. One of my fondest childhood memories was seeing Imperial AT-ATs in the attack on Hoth for the first time on the big screen. I still consider the deep space dogfight in Return of the Jedi to be some of the best special affects of all time.

But George Lucas stabbed me in the back. After camping in line for 36 hours to see The Phantom Menace, in the rain, my faith in his ability to tell a story was lost. He’d clearly focused on effects and computers for so long that his ability to write and communicate a good story were gone.

And so the franchise has to win me back. I’ll admit, the trailers look good. But I’ve grown old and I appreciate storytelling far greater than CGI and lush landscapes. Is there a good story being told? I sure hope so.

I do know one thing: I enjoy the work of JJ Abrams. While some of his movies have been just entertaining (see Star Trek), others have been well told tales (see Super 8). And his greatest ability is to keep you guessing. There is always something in his stories that you’re not sure of, some puzzle to solve that keeps you coming back for more. Lost is the greatest example of this.

And so the Internet is buzzing about why Luke is not on the official Episode 7 poster and the real identity of Kylo Ren. It seems most are confident that Abrams can restore the Star Wars franchise to its 1980’s form. Me? I’m cautiously optimistic.

You might say I have … a new hope.