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By Reyan Atassi, Hinsdale Central

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has a December release date, but already toy stores are rolling out themed merchandise to address its hype. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has a December release date, but already toy stores are rolling out themed merchandise to address its hype. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

When I was a kid I remember talking about “Star Wars” with someone, and when someone heard me I got a bunch of “Nerd!”s.

Now in high school I’m talking about it with the same friend and suddenly everyone runs over to talk about it, the new trailer has literally taken people by the millions. Why though? What is it about this sci-fi epic that appeals to so many people? I think it really started with the beautiful masterpiece that is the original “Star Wars” trilogy and the universe that has been built around it.

“A New Hope,” simply called Star Wars at the time, was a standalone masterpiece of a hero’s tale. A young boy leaves home to go face a new threat to the galaxy, picks up a few friends along the way and stops the evil empire. Pretty standard, but so masterfully done, there are almost no flaws that can be pointed out with this legendary movie. “The Empire Strikes” back continues this trend of quality as a thrilling sequel, bringing romance, twists, and a darker element to the franchise.

However this trend hobbles on the same rock that will destroy the prequels in the eyes of many “Star Wars” fans. George Lucas’s brain. The first half of the movie is just downright bizarre, with so many odd design and plot choices that I will never understand. First is the Hutt Palace scene with the obscene and disgusting aliens which to be fair have always existed but in this scenario not only do they litter the screen in their horrible design but also sing and dance for us. Insect abominations and creepy monsters with feminine lips sticking a foot out of its face. Watching that scene again made me realize that the prequels had struck early in their horror by appearing in the first half of “Return of the Jedi.” Other than that portion of the movie, I love “Return of the Jedi.” Epic space battles, tense and emotional scenes, and memorable characters will keep “Return of the Jedi” in our memories forever.

Even after the movies disappeared, new forms of “Star Wars” remained, like TV shows, games, and books which stayed behind to entertain those “Star Wars” nerds. Amazing stories, characters, and designs added to the legendary space universe. This is when things start to go wrong. I believe that the inspiration for the prequels comes from a few lines in “A New Hope.” “Your father fought in the Clone Wars.” “Vader was seduced by the dark side.” Some poor soul out there must have said “I wonder where Darth Vader comes from, what’s his story?” and it somehow reached George Lucas’s brain. He seizes the opportunity to exploit our wallets by not making one, but THREE movies. Then, not only does he build off this question no one really asked, but he goes back way farther then necessary to tell us this tale to when Anakin was a little boy. “The Phantom Menace” turned out to be a movie for children, too much comedy and a villain who looked scary but carried no weight behind him as a character the way Vader did.

From there on the prequels fail to maintain a consistent and enjoyable story by trying to be too much at once. Appeal to kids, adults, teenagers, “Star Wars” fans, romance lovers, and basically any other genre you can think of. I won’t say the prequels are horrible but they’re not made the way they should be. If the prequels had maintained a steady and consistent villain and chosen a more noble, heroic way to portray Vader as a Jedi, we might have had a series worthy of being the prequels to the “Star Wars” trilogy.

Years later we hear that once again, someone is trying to bring back “Star Wars.” Of course like before this movie will survive on the title’s weight alone, but will it be able to live up to that name? Disney has declared all extended universe content not canon (which means everything but the original movies and shows produced by Disney will not be real in the “Star Wars” universe moving forward) which means they have a lot of freedom to be creative. Many hardcore fans act like Disney has macheted “Star Wars” with this decision, but it is clearly the right move. The extended universe is like an overloaded trunk that is filled with so much junk that Disney does not have the time to sift through it all and make a new movie that doesn’t contradict that content. Essentially the extended universe sealed its own fate by being too large and too nerdy for any normal movie goer to want to deal with. It is clear from the trailer and movie hints that the story will not focus on the old characters of the trilogy and that they are merely side characters for the new characters.

George Lucas won’t be able to tarnish it with his own hands, but will it manage to be “Star Wars” without them too? “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will not be a true sequel for our beloved cast of the original trilogy but it might be something fresh and new and, hopefully, just as good. In the end, it seems that the reason “Star Wars” has left such an imprint on us lies with its masterfully constructed story in the original trilogy. The prequels and any other derivative of “Star Wars” are entirely reliant on the name to draw fans in.

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