Did We Need Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

In 1977, no one could have predicted the success of the Star Wars franchise. No one could have imagined that, almost forty years later, they would be reviving the movies for the their seventh episode – and third trilogy – and that the original cast members would be making an appearance.

I’ve been to see The Force Awakens, and the question remains: did we need it?

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Full disclosure: I really enjoyed the movie. I thought it was a lot of fun. I loved that the traditions of the original movies have remained in place, from the scrolling text to the screen wipes, to beginning with a camera pan to the first planet of interest. All of that was greatly appreciated.

It does not answer the question. When we left Luke, Leia and Han – and all the other assorted characters in the original trilogy – we were given a sense of closure. There was peace in the galaxy. Anakin Skywalker was at peace. Leia and Han could begin their relationship in earnest in the knowledge that Luke was Leia’s brother – so that was a no-go area. Even if she did already kiss him to make Han jealous.

Closure.

It would have been the perfect happy ending, if not for a little thing called the Expanded Universe. Between the countless books, various comic books, games and follow up animated television shows, Star Wars did not end with Return of the Jedi. Far from it.

Daisy Ridley as Rey
Daisy Ridley as Rey

With the first trailer of The Force Awakens, fans began putting together theories over the identities of the only-named characters we’d been introduced to – Rey, and Kylo Ren. I won’t give anything away. While a great number of people have already seen the movie, it has only been out a few days at the time of writing. But the mention duo are important for this discussion. It was who they might be that made the story appeal to so many fans so much. People needed to know if their suspicions were true, and, if they were, what was going on with these two characters.

(If you’re curious, and you’ve already seen the movie, USA Today kindly put together a list of fan theories that covers this issue. Otherwise, I’d leave it be for now. Some people have taken it upon themselves to ruin Google searches for the movie already.)

The simple fact is, simply by releasing a trailer, they’ve garnered the attention of the fans. In the removal of the canonical state of the Star Wars novels, Disney ensured that whatever story they chose to tell would not be directly influenced by the expanded universe, which filled in the gaps before, during and beyond the scope of the pre-existing movies. The end result is that, for the regular fan who doesn’t have access to all of that information on the host of characters explored in the universe, there are new stories to be told.

Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren

It isn’t certain that we really needed to have this movie exist, except that – now – it might offer younger cinema fans the opportunity to know and love the franchise in the same way people of generations before them did. The original trilogy might not have lived on for younger audiences the way it has done so far. Even the awful arrival of Jar Jar Binks into the franchise served the purpose of giving the story another episode, another opportunity to appear in the public sphere.

If, generally speaking, the third trilogy fails to capture and retain public interest, it can still serve the purpose of re-introducing Star Wars into the lives of so many people. We might not need the new story, but for the originals to survive, we do need the new fans. At least The Force Awakens achieved that much.

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Seven Sci-fi Movies to See Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to Ireland

Curated by @SimonCocking guest post by Paul Carroll

As we get closer to the holiday season, it’s coming, no matter how much we try to deny it, and, unless you’ve been living on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, the 7th coming is just around the corner. Of course if you’re living on a certain island off the South West coast of Ireland, then you’ve probably already seen some of part VIII already.

Source: Seven Sci-fi Movies to See Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to Ireland

My article on Irish Tech News went live this morning. As a companion piece to my post here – 8 Sci-Fi Comedies to Watch Before The Force Awakens – I present to you a list of alien-featuring movies to accommodate for the lack of attention all the interesting aliens get in the Star Wars movies.

Even the most annoying aliens can sometimes get a write-off. Maybe. If you’re trying to get into the Star Wars mood, check out the fan-theory about Jar-Jar Binks below. It’s a little bit redemptive of our least favourite character in the franchise.

Thanks again to Simon Cocking of Irish Tech News for the opportunity to write for them. If you like the list, and want to add your own recommendations to it, leave a comment on their website.

8 Sci-Fi Comedies to Watch Before The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is coming out on December 17th. For many, that seems like a long time away. For those of us who attend the cinema on a regular basis, we’ve already reached saturation point with advertising. A walk through Dublin city centre is a painful experience, with Star Wars clothes on sale in Penneys, LEGO on sale in Arnotts, assorted merchandise  on sale in Forbidden Planet, a new game available in HMV and Gamestop, and books and other items to be found in Eason – all within a short walk of one another.

Remedy time: Sci-Fi Comedy movies. They’ll keep you in the mood, but you’ll get a whole other experience.

1. Attack the Block

Attack_The_Block

Set in modern-day London, Attack the Block pits a gang of inner-city kids against a pack of furry aliens. There’s swearing, there’s banter, there’s a whole heap of laughs, and there’s a sense that – while these kids were more than willing to mug a stranger in the street – the hooded youths really care about their flats and the people in them.

2. The World’s End

The_World's_End_poster

In a similar vein, we have Simon Pegg on a session in his home town. Who doesn’t love a good drinking movie, right? Well, when people start acting strangely – as they do in Pegg’s movies, quite often in fact – we get a whole different sort of film. With a great supporting cast (including Martin Freeman and Nick Frost), and the relatability of Pegg’s character Gary King to the audience, it’s one to watch during these dark winter nights.

3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Hitchhikers_guide_to_the_galaxy

If drinking movies aren’t your thing, but you still quite fancy the idea of seeing Martin Freeman in a Sci-Fi movie now that it’s been brought up, then look no further than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Based on the novel of the same name, it’s a film full of weird aliens, improbabilities, and British-isms, and the voice of Alan Rickman as Marvin the Paranoid Android.

4. Evolution

Evolution_movie

If the witticism of British writing and actors are too much for you, and you want something a bit sillier, there’s always Evolution – a humorous flick exploring extraterrestrial lifeforms, shampoo, and Darwin’s theory of evolution on overdrive.

5. Dude, Where’s My Car?

Dude_Wheres_My_Car_movie

Considered more of a stoner film, it still passes my base-level Sci-Fi test: it has aliens in it. In this case, you have a choice between a pair of vaguely Norwegian muscle-men, and a pack of incredibly attractive women with a fetish for sexual innuendos.

6. Paul

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If human stoners aren’t your thing, perhaps an alien one would be better for you. Featuring Seth Rogen as the voice of Paul – and essentially playing the same role he plays in a number of his other films – with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Kristen Wiig, it’s the story of grown-men with alien-obsession meet real-life alien, and all the disappointment that usually goes with it.

(Side note: My name is Paul, and I was essentially a third wheel when I went to see this with some friends a few years ago – they took a lot of pleasure out of the fact that I shared the name of the titular character. It didn’t help that one of the toilet paper companies ran an ad at the same time with the line “I’m going to have a poo at Paul’s”. That made for an interesting few months.)

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

GOTG-poster

Okay, not exactly a comedy, but given the comedic tone of the film, the 80s cringe, and some of the best dialogue of the summer blockbusters that year, and the fact that I’ve already included a stoner film in the list, I’m giving it a pass.

Pelvic sorcery

Fun for all the family, and equipped with exactly the sort of emotional manipulation Disney depends on to make people care about Groot. It’s also got an amazing soundtrack to help make your Christmas/New Year’s playlists that much better.

8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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If you’re still not satisfied, and you just want something a little bit freaky to go with your funny, look no further than cult-classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Featuring the most remarkable transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania – Frank N. Furter, played by Tim Curry – and a whole host of weird songs and weirder characters, it’s one for when the kids are in bed, and the wine bottle’s been opened.

And there we have it! 8 comedies. 8 vaguely-Sci-Fi movies. Less than three weeks to go before The Force Awakens. What would you add to the list? Which would you recommend most highly? And how many times do you think we’ll need a list like this to distract ourselves from the Disney marketing budget for Star Wars movies?