Roads Not Taken: My Emotional Journey Through “The Force Awakens”

After seeing Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens almost a week ago (I was at the Chicago press screening) it’s taken me this long to process it. When the movie ended, I sat in my chair and felt conflicted. I felt like the kid who had opened all his Christmas gifts but didn’t quite get what he wanted.

Like many Star Wars fans, I’d been waiting for this installment of the Skywalker Saga for decades.  Sure, the Prequels were fine but I wanted to know what happened in that galaxy far, far away in the post-“Return of the Jedi” years.

And when you look at the marketing campaign that the folks at Lucasfilm/Disney put together, it was obvious that Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams knew what buttons they wanted to push, and what audience they were trying to reach. They wanted to reach the fans of the Classic Trilogy, the ones who grew up with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and the rest of those iconic characters. In short, a fan like ME.

So why did I have such conflicting emotions once the credits started rolling? Why was I not flush with joy as my fellow Star Wars fans who left the theater with me? Why is there a contingent of “fans” who are declaring their hatred for the film? And finally, how do I feel now that I’ve taken the time to sort out my feelings about the film and have seen it a second time? Here’s my 2 cents (or Republic credits if you’re not in the Outer Rim) WARNING – SPOILER TERRITORY AHEAD!:

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Soldier for The Empire: Peeking Inside “The Imperial Handbook” with Dan Wallace

If you ask me, Dan Wallace is living the dream! As the author of such geek-tastic tomes like The Jedi Path and The Iron Man Manual,” he has gotten to play with some of the most iconic characters in pop culture.

Now, after giving readers a look at what it’s like to become a Jedi Knight (or follow the path to the Dark Side in Book of Sith) he delves into the life of an Imperial recruit in “Star Wars: Imperial Handbook.”

Corresponding via e-mail, Wallace and I discussed what it’s like working in the Star Wars Universe; how Stormtroopers really aren’t clones; and who would win in a face-off between Darth Vader and Iron Man:

Geek To Me: Let’s get some of the basic fanboy stuff out of the way, shall we? How long have you been a Star Wars fan?

NewessentialguidetodroidsDan Wallace: Since forever! I had the toys, memorized lines, the whole deal. I’ve soaked in Star Wars pretty much my whole life, so to have a chance to contribute a tiny piece to it in my own way is just the best.

Geek To Me: Of all the characters in the saga, which one really resonated with you the most?

Dan Wallace: Personality-wise, I’m most like C-3PO. Not particularly heroic, obsessed with minutiae and procedure. But from a favorite character standpoint I’ve always liked Lando Calrissian. He’s like Han Solo but with a lot more suaveness and gambling skills. Lando is 20% James Bond.

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“Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions” are released on Blu-Ray

As I mentioned in a  previous post, with the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” drawing closer, it’s getting more and more difficult to wait. For me, it’s very much like waiting for Christmas when you were a kid!

Luckily, there are plenty of goodies out there to keep me – and fellow Star Wars fans – occupied. For instance, I’ll be sitting down and portioning out episodes from the latest Blu-Ray edition of The Clone Wars animated series, which hits store shelves TODAY! Here are the details:

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS: THE LOST MISSIONS

Blasts onto Blu-ray™ and DVD November 11th, 2014

Synopsis: Against a backdrop of ever-shifting loyalties, uneasy alliances and ancient hostilities, the conflict between the Republic and the Separatists ramps up, setting the stage for Darth Sidious’ ultimate act of treachery against the Jedi. In these uncertain times, some of the deepest mysteries of the light and dark sides of the Force are revealed as an intrepid clone trooper uncovers a shocking conspiracy, Anakin Skywalker’s closest relationship is tested to its limits, and Master Yoda makes a discovery that could forever change the balance of power in the galaxy.

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Voice Cast: Tom Kane as Narrator, Dee Bradley Baker (TV’s “Phineas & Ferb,” “American Dad,” “Ultimate Spiderman”) as Clone Troopers, Matt Lanter (TV’s “90210,” “Ultimate Spiderman”) as Anakin Skywalker, James Arnold Taylor (TV’s “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.,” “Jonny Test”) as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ashley Eckstein (TV’s “Sofia The First,” “That’s So Raven”) as Ahsoka Tano

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Lucasfilm Ltd. brings animated “Strange Magic” to theaters January 23. 2015

With Star Wars fans anxiously awaiting the release of “The Force Awakens” in December of 2015, it’s nice to know that there are going to be a few geeky films to whet our appetites in the meantime. May of 2015 will see the release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which still seems like an eternity away for me.

Now it looks like I’ll be able to score a fantasy fix even sooner, with word of a new animated fantasy feature from Lucasfilm Ltd.!

The film is called “Strange Magic” and is based on a story by George Lucas, who appears to be returning to the territory that he last staked out in “Willow.”

Oh yeah, and it’s coming out in January!

Read the details after the jump…

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Where were you when the Star Wars Episode VII title was announced?

So yeah, today while many of us were still trying to recover from election returns, the folks at Disney/Lucasfilm decided to drop this on the interwebz:

Now, I’m going to be honest and say that with the exception of “Return of the Jedi”, I’ve never really been thrilled – at least initially – with how the Star Wars films have been titled. And even when it came to “Return”, it was first called “Revenge of the Jedi” (a pretty cool title IMO) only to be changed later. (Because Jedi don’t take revenge. Duh.)

But that’s not to say that the titles didn’t eventually grow on me. Heck, when a buddy of mine told me that the very first Star Wars sequel was going to be named “The Empire Strikes Back”, I thought that was downright silly. Of course I feel differently about it now.

What do you think?