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I've always liked Star Wars, but I was never a hardcore fan of Star Wars. I saw the original trilogy for the first time sometime around the age of twelve or thirteen, and then again when I was seventeen. I've seen each of the prequels once, somewhere around the age of fifteen. My family doesn't own the films, and while we may reference Star Wars on occasion or talk about which is our favourite film, we've just never been a Star Wars family.
The closer and closer it got to the release day for Episode VII, the more excited I became. My family went to see the new Star Wars film on opening day, at 10am, in IMAX 3D. It was AWESOME. Our cinema screening was sold out, and the entire room cheered when the theme began and the scroll started. They also cheered whenever a beloved character returned to the screen, of course.
I love going to see new films, especially films within a franchise, on opening day, especially in a screening like IMAX. You'll get a few casual fans in a screening like that, but more often than not, those screenings will be full of the people that absolutely love what they're there to watch. I'm not sure I find anything more enjoyable than watching people get really excited about things they love. I got swept away in it too. I'm one of the most casual Star Wars fans there is, and even I became completely swept up in the hype of Episode VII. I totally loved it, and I even saw it again two days later. Mostly because someone else was paying, but I was more than willing to go again.
Episode VII is fun. It's hilarious, charming, exciting, nostalgic, emotional, and everything I want out of a Star Wars film. I'm really excited for the rest of the trilogy, far more than I would have expected to be. My family has been discussing the story and hypothesizing about characters ever since opening day, and my father frequently breaks into, as he calls it, the "Imperial Death March."
Episode VII broke the global box office record that Jurassic World set earlier this year. A huge chunk of that massive sales record was from pre-sales. People were so excited about a new Star Wars film that they bought their tickets weeks in advance. I live in an area that doesn't tend to sell out IMAX showings regularly, even on opening day, and our showing was sold out even before the day arrived. It's amazing how beloved a franchise is that it can set records before it's even premiered.
I've seen a lot of my Facebook friends who aren't really Star Wars fans being massively critical of the hype surrounding the franchise, and being overly vocal about how much they don't care. Or, in the case of a few of my friends, going out of their way to criticize the film, which they went to see regardless of their lack of interest in the franchise. The fact that these people feel the need to be so vocal in their attempts to bog down everyone's excitement is really sad to me. Yes, the hype is definitely over the top, and some people do take it way too seriously, but a lot of these people are just excited about something they love. A world in which people aren't allowed to express their love of a story isn't a creative or expressive world at all.
More than anything, that's what I love about the Star Wars hype. People aren't excited because there's a new space opera to go see. People are excited because a story world that they love is getting new life breathed into it. I'm a writer. People loving stories is pretty darn important to me, and so seeing how much excitement Episode VII breathed into the Star Wars fans of the world is really amazing. If you don't care, please, keep it to yourself. A civilized discussion about story weaknesses and strengths and projection about where the story may be going is one thing, but the bitter criticism I've seen floating around is really uncalled for.
May The Force Be With You.
P.S. Happy Christmas, and have a very wonderful New Year.