And that means that I just saw Rogue One for the first time and I only got to see The Force Awakens earlier this year. Frankly, flat screen TVs and modern sound systems make the difference between seeing a movie at home versus the theater not as big a deal compared to when I was growing up.
While I liked Rogue One better, I also liked The Force Awakens a lot too. Despite a couple odd bits (really, just why is Han Solo smuggling Cthulhoid monsters and not caring about losing crew?), I felt it was a fun film that did the very essential job introducing Star Wars to a new generation.
What I found interesting is that my friends who were hardcore Star Wars fans hated the Force Awakens while folks who were just science fiction fans in general loved it. In particular, my friends who had kids and The Force Awakens was the real introduction to Star Wars for those kids really had a positive reaction to it.
And those same kids didn’t like Rogue One and found it too depressing. Which makes sense. It is a darker movie with a lot of unhappy themes. While the diehard Star Wars fans absolutely loved it.
One of the problems that the friends who hated The Force Awakens is that they felt it was a retread of the original movie. That it reinvented the wheel.
But... that was kind of the point. Since that wheel was invented, that wheel has had Harry Potter added to it and the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Marvel Ciniverse and much more. Star Wars changed the way movies told stories but it kept evolving after that. If Star Wars was to continue and bring new people on board, particularly children, it needed a new jumping on point.
And while Rogue One is second only to the Empire Strikes Back in my arrogant opinion, it is not that jumping on point and it really isn’t for kids. And I honestly believe that kids are a crucial audience component to Star Wars. I mean, I was a kid and I really liked it before I discovered the Tomorrow People and then Doctor Who. (Okay, I may have been a weird kid)
These are the conclusions that I have come to. The original Star Wars is the most important film out of all of them but it is not an immutable, perfect movie. There is clearly room for improvements.
And those of us who saw Stars originally in the theater are no longer the target demographic :D