We’re entering the final stage of the long wait for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. After years of waiting for a true successor to the original trilogy that embedded itself into the pop cultural lexicon for all time, and sifting through the mountains of speculation, theories, set reports, and spoiler alerts, the home stretch is finally upon us. Soon we can experience firsthand the thrill that comes from a galaxy far, far away, which hopefully revitalizes the series and rekindles our cultural love affair with the saga and its universe.
Starring Adam Driver (Girls) as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley (Scrawl) as Rey, and John Boyega (Attack the Block) as Finn, in addition to original trilogy stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hammill, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set to become a worldwide phenomenon on par with, well, Star Wars. The film has already broken records with pre-release ticket sales, and any available metric suggests that it might become a blockbuster of unparalleled proportions. Now the J.J. Abrams helmed project has gotten the seal of approval from the man who started it all, too.
Star Wars creator George Lucas confirmed that he had seen the movie while being interviewed on the red carpet at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington last Sunday. Lucas, who was set to receive a lifetime achievement award in arts and culture, not only confirmed he’d seen it but also, according to Vulture, that you’re going to like what you see, succinctly opining that,
“I think the fans are going to love it. It’s very much the kind of movie they’ve been looking for.”
Fans, of course, have a love/hate relationship with Lucas; many love him for creating Star Wars, but hate the creative choices he's made on the franchise over the years. Lucas' Special Editions of the original trilogy were less than well received, and his prequel trilogy, especially The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones - despite being phenomena in their own right - are even more controversial, by comparison.
Indeed, this love/hate relationship kind of works both ways. Over the years, Lucas has seemed flabbergasted by the outrage of his once loyal followers, and has been unwilling to hear the criticism and the complaints from those who love the Star Wars series. So while a Lucas seal of approval might not be the best of news for fans, sometimes there’s something to be gleaned from what wasn’t said.
As Vulture also points out, Lucas was careful not to say he loved The Force Awakens (though LucasFilm President Kathleen Kennedy recently said that Lucas "really liked it".) Instead, he said that fans are going to love it. To my mind, this seems to suggest that the film Lucas saw is what fans have been telling him they wanted since Return of the Jedi. At the very least, it seems that he’s acknowledging that what he delivered with the prequels was not what many fans were expecting, and that The Force Awakens will be giving us the goods that we so crave.
Time will tell if he’s right about how fans are going to feel once The Force Awakens hits theaters; after all, there are still plenty of ways the new trilogy might leave fans disappointed. Abrams has something of a rocky relationship with many sci-fi fans due to his reboot of Star Trek, so a bit of skepticism is healthy. For now though, as we’re enter the final countdown for the film’s release, it finally seems that Star Wars fans might have found their new hope.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens releases in theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.