FINAL POST & REVIEW! Star Wars: The Hype Awakens, December 18
This is it… the eighth and final week of PorchDrinking.com’s Star Wars hype blog. Our mission to get excited about The Force Awakens now enters its final stages, as the movie comes out this week. To follow the progress of the past seven weeks of anecdotes, viral Star Wars content, and just general nerd ecstasy, check out the links below…
And if you just want all the latest stuff:
Sunday, December 13
The Force Awakens comes out in 5 days. I’ll be honest: I’ll be relieved. You know what makes waiting for something really awesome a whole lot more frustrating? Writing about how awesome the thing you’re waiting for is. It’s like I ordered a delicious pizza, then to kill an hour of time before the pizza was delivered, I decided to watch videos of pizzas being made, research the history of pizza, and write 24,000 words about pizza. In my case, the pizza is Star Wars. For the better part of 2 months, I’ve ensconced myself in a world of Star Wars canonical trivia and general anticipation. It’ll be sort of a relief to unplug when the movie comes out… to just enjoy.
Still, our time together has been educational. I’ve learned a lot about Star Wars. I hope you have, too. Or at the very least, maybe you’ve gained some insight into what Star Wars means to one diehard fan (me). Here’s a look back at what we’ve learned together, with links to catch up or refresh yourself.
What have we learned?
- Sunday, October 25 – Alec Guinness wasn’t fond of A New Hope while filming it.
- Monday, October 26 – My co-workers’ office décor shows I’m not the only nerd in the office.
- Tuesday, October 27 – Google images of cosplayers don’t count as evidence for anyone’s The Force Awakens theories.
- Wednesday, October 28 – JJ Abrams is beloved, except by an O.G. Star Trek actor he didn’t cast in the new Star Trek.
- Thursday, October 29 – The destruction of Alderaan was NOT justified.
- Friday, October 30 – Harrison Ford is wise when it comes to the right approach to spoilers
- Saturday, October 31 – Little kids in Vader costumes for Halloween are the future
- Sunday, November 1 – Harrison Ford likes George Lucas and doesn’t like interviews
- Monday, November 2 – Flying to France to see The Force Awakens early would cost $2,456.49.
- Tuesday, November 3 – There’s a lot of Star Wars merchandise I really want but don’t need.
- Wednesday, November 4 – The Phantom Menace was a disaster behind the scenes.
- Thursday, November 5 – Wookieepedia is an excellent resource for learning way more than necessary about the world of Star Wars.
- Friday, November 6 – The international trailer for The Force Awakens had great new shots.
- Saturday, November 7 – The question of which Star Wars movie is best can change over time.
- Sunday, November 8 – George Lucas was fined $250,000 for that epic New Hope crawl.
- Monday, November 9 – TV spots started coming out.
- Tuesday, November 10 – The National Cathedral in Washington, DC has a real sculpture of Darth Vader’s helmet affixed to it.
- Wednesday, November 11 – Entertainment Weekly gave away details of a Force Awakens plot we’ve seen before
- Thursday, November 12 – Oscar Isaac has come a long way from playing Detective Fartman.
- Friday, November 13 – Hillary Clinton shares a Myers-Briggs personality type with Darth Vader.
- Saturday, November 14 – You can’t call a fan-made trailer “epic” just because it combines Star Wars and “Always Sunny.”
- Sunday, November 15 – Even the most remote areas of California have Star Wars-themed merchandise.
- Monday, November 16 – My grandfather made me the coolest Star Wars toy I ever owned.
- Tuesday, November 17 – Luke Skywalker killed 369,470 people.
- Wednesday, November 18 – History says The Force Awakens is going to crush Tina Fey & Amy Poehler’s movie at the box office.
- Thursday, November 19 – The cantina band has more backstory than anyone could have ever guessed.
- Friday, November 20 – Jabba the Hutt is the epitome of George Lucas meddling with his masterpiece with terrible results.
- Saturday, November 21 – Star Wars trailers have a long history of building hype.
- Sunday, November 22 – Presales for the new movie have already surpassed many movies from 2015.
- Monday, November 23 – Disneyland is the center of Star Wars hype.
- Tuesday, November 24 – It’s fun to watch kids find out the truth about Vader.
- Wednesday, November 25 – The best order for watching the movies is 4, 5, 2, 3, 6.
- Thursday, November 26 – My friend Jake & I wrote Star Wars/Space Jam crossover fan fiction in 1997.
- Friday, November 27 – Boba Fett deserves his status as a fan favorite because he was a badass.
- Saturday, November 28 – Empire Strikes Back almost had a campy slapstick scene.
- Sunday, November 29 – That dude from “Girls” is now the face of the franchise.
- Monday, November 30 – There’s a pink robot in Star Wars canon which has a very special real-life origin story.
- Tuesday, December 1 – The guy who wrote the “Hamilton” musical wrote a new cantina song with JJ.
- Wednesday, December 2 – Han shot first, but it shouldn’t matter.
- Thursday, December 3 – The rebels ruined the galactic economy.
- Friday, December 4 – John Boyega does a pretty convincing Pinocchio from “Shrek.”
- Saturday, December 5 – Daisy Ridley & Oscar Isaac also have a talent; they sing well together.
- Sunday, December 6 – The guy inside Vader’s suit sounds nothing like Vader’s voice, and was left in the dark about that whole “father” thing.
- Monday, December 7 – Every Christmas tree should have Star Wars ornaments.
- Tuesday, December 8 – Don’t bury rare action figures in a park.
- Wednesday, December 9 – The worst thing I can say about The Force Awakens is that George Lucas likes it.
- Thursday, December 10 – People don’t care about reserved seating; they just LIKE camping out for the premiere.
- Friday, December 11 – It’s cool to watch a $150 Millennium Falcon break into 1,300 pieces.
- Saturday, December 12 – Donald Trump would make a good Vader.
And then there’s the few lessons we’ll learn in these last few days.
Monday, December 14
One of those lessons we’ll be learning this week: beware the dark side. And spoilers.
Disney has been very careful about keeping secrets regarding what happens in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We haven’t seen a single frame of who Andy Serkis is playing. We don’t know where the hell Luke Skywalker is. We don’t know what has happened in the 30 years since Return of the Jedi. And we don’t know what happens immediately before and after all those blaster shots and lightsaber swings we’ve seen in teasers and trailers.
Well, WE might not. But there are people who do. There are people who have spent countless hours sifting through call sheets, set photos, crew reports, and any other bit of information they can to come up with a complete view of what happens in The Force Awakens. And for those who want to be spoiled, there are ways of finding out.
I’m anti-spoiler. There are things I know already that I wish I didn’t know. Small details, mostly. Vague ideas to suggest in what chronological order the footage I’ve seen will be arranged. And rumors. Oh, those pesky rumors. I’m finding myself covering my ears when a few co-workers discuss rumors, because I know for a fact that a few people at my water-cooler have read detailed, largely confirmed story outlines. I don’t want to be one of them.
Here’s the thing about spoilers, though. I would venture that a vast majority of people Googling Star Wars spoilers and digging through message boards aren’t doing so in an effort to spoil the movie for anyone else. They want to know what The Force Awakens will be like to confirm or refute any suspicions they have about whether or not it will be a good movie.
It’s like peeking in your mom’s closet right before Christmastime not because you want to ruin the magic of the holiday, but because you want to confirm that there’s a lot to be excited for on Christmas morning. BTW, sorry, Mom… I totally knew where every one of your hiding spots was for about 5 Christmases in a row.
But even Master Yoda knew that Luke needed to confront the dark side in order to realize its power and understand the importance of beating it.
So I’m going to do something possibly insane. I’m going to tempt you. Though I have not read the detailed and largely confirmed outline of The Force Awakens, I know where it lives.
And then shut your effing mouth and don’t tell me ANYTHING. I know where the post is. I refuse to read it.
Everyone has the right to enjoy Star Wars in their own way. Once the movie drops in Europe on Wednesday, the internet will no longer be a safe place anyway. I might as well bring a little bit of chaos here.
This weekend was my company’s office party. I took Lyft (stay safe out there, revelers!), and this was my driver.
For a few seconds, I misread my screen and thought I was on a Jedi mission IRL.
Tuesday, December 15
It has awakened. The premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was last night in Hollywood. They shut down a half-mile of street here in LA. They premiered it on 3 different screens on Hollywood Boulevard.
Though commoners like you & me won’t get to see it for a few more days, it’s officially rolling out. Beware spoilers, folks.
A few non-spoiler-y and short-form reviews, with my own reaction to those reviews:
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is a strong, promising kickoff. As a standalone, I'd rank it #3 in the series.
— Josh Lincoln Dickey (@JLDlite) December 15, 2015
Hey, not bad! That means The Force Awakens is better than all the prequels and a third of the original trilogy.
I got chills. I got goosebumps. I laughed. I teared up. #TheForceAwakens
— Chris Taylor (@FutureBoy) December 15, 2015
Yes. This is exactly how I want Star Wars to make me feel. Although, Chris Taylor could also be referring to the flu here.
I have some more complicated thoughts on TFA, but will save them for the review. Some faults, but no doubt best Star Wars film since '83.
— Eric Vespe (@EricVespe) December 15, 2015
Hmmmm, some faults? Well, sure, I guess every movie has faults. I can forgive some faults.
JJ did it. #StarWarsForceAwakens
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 15, 2015
Yes, Patton. We know that JJ did this movie. Although George Lucas was at the premiere, which was sort of weird. That’s like going to the baptism for the kid your ex just had with their new spouse.
Amazing!Amazing!Amazing! In awe. It's all you want it to be.Old/new/funny/heartbreaking.Daisy Ridley is astonishing! pic.twitter.com/XKoyw8XXcj
— Fred Savage (@thefredsavage) December 15, 2015
Heartbreaking? Damn. You’re making me nervous, Fred Savage? What broke your heart, Fred Savage?!?!
— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) December 15, 2015
Mention of Ridley, Boyega, and Isaac… but no Adam Driver? Why no Adam Driver? Did Adam Driver break Fred Savage’s heart?!?!
This isn’t a new interview, but it’s new to me. And this one part nearly got me choked up. During a big Q&A with AOL, JJ Abrams stopped the moderator’s flow to call on a young man who had a question to ask. And it was really sweet.
I love the way JJ treats this kid with such sensitivity and maturity at the same time. And it’s such an interesting approach to asking the good old “why is Star Wars special?” question I discussed here last week. It’s great to hear JJ talk about how Star Wars shaped his moral approach to this galaxy. And how crazy that kids are now cosplaying JJ Abrams?
Another reminder that PorchDrinking.com has a deep bench of Star Wars fans. Jess has another post you should check out if you like Star Wars and incidentally stumbled upon a beer site, or vice versa.
I’m a big fan of SNL, and lately their pre-taped bits have been very well done. Expect a couple Star Wars jokes on the show next week when Tina Fey & Amy Poehler (whose movie opens the same day as The Force Awakens) co-host.
This week, they got in a pretty solid joke about Star Wars fans.
By the way, tune in the rest of the week.. take it from this grown-ass man who loves Star Wars merch, I have a few ideas of what you can get the Star Wars fan on your Christmas list.
Wednesday, December 16
EXCLUSIVE!!!!!!! Huge leak here. I have attained the audience satisfaction survey that Disney handed out to preview audiences at special screenings of The Force Awakens. This says a lot about our new Star Wars film, and maybe about Disney’s corporate structure.
So, y’know how I’ve been blowing up PorchDrinking.com and my own social media with Star Wars posts for the past two months?
Even I am reluctant to put a lightsaber in my profile picture. But you can. If you go to the official Facebook page for Star Wars, you can do so by heading to the Facebook page for Star Wars. Instructions are here, and my warning about how you’ll look is in the below image:
Thanks, Dad, for sharing this link. A very Nate-Silver-y approach to the questions of hype, expectation, and redeeming the legacy of the Star Wars franchise after the prequel installments. Walt Hickey, contributor at Silver’s 538 blog, breaks down the averages to determine how good The Force Awakens would have to be in order to make it up to fans:
If “The Force Awakens” gets 79 percent fresh or better on Rotten Tomatoes, it will be a positive force for the franchise and pull the aggregate score higher. That’s our benchmark for minimum success.
If it gets an 80 percent fresh, it’ll be better than the worst film in the original series, “Return of the Jedi.”
If it gets an 81 percent fresh or higher, it’ll be better than every prequel film, too.
But the magic number here is 90 percent fresh. If the film is 90 percent fresh or higher, it’ll be on par with the average quality of the first three movies. That, I imagine, has been the goal all along. Anything higher than that is frosting.
So the benchmarks are set – 79% or better, and we’ve improved Star Wars overall. 90% or better, and JJ Abrams will have been better than the average original trilogy Star Wars movie. But I’m a Star Ways fanboy, and even a mediocre movie that takes place in a galaxy far, far away is something to be hyped about.
Most late-night hosts have their modus operandi. Or, put more nicely, there are some recurring bits that tend to go viral. Kimmel has mean tweets and the theft of kids’ candy. Fallon has his games and a capella singing bits. The latest is an acapella Star Wars medley involving pretty much the entire cast of The Force Awakens.
I like to imagine that Harrison Ford looked at a producer and said, “I’ll give you one ‘bum-bum-bum’ and nothing more.”
Honest to God, I thought this was going to link to a FunnyOrDie video. Bill Hader (that guy from SNL) and Ben Schwartz (that guy from Parks & Rec) did the voice of BB-8 in The Force Awakens. Seriously.
Thursday, December 17
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I was a kid at his grandma’s house in Pennsylvania and I saw a movie I loved. And as my parents realized my newly found passion for Star Wars was only going to grow, they enabled it with VHS copies of the movies, action figures, and play sets. One purchase, though, stands out to me.
The annotated screenplays of the original trilogy may be the most influential book on my shelf (or second, after the Bible). Published in 1997, Laurent Bouzerau’s annotated screenplay (which has appreciated in value over the years) has more than just the scripts for all three Star Wars films. it has descriptions of how the script evolved over the course of the 4 years George Lucas took to create A New Hope. It has interviews with Lucas where he explains how characters evolved (in some surprising ways). It explains in margins the scenes and shots that were added and modified for the 20th anniversary Special Edition release. And it serves as a prelude to George Lucas justifying his prequel trilogy.
Take for example this passage at the very end of the book. You may remember that at the end of Return of the Jedi, pre-1997 audiences see Ewoks dance with our heroes to celebrate the defeat of the Empire while the ghosts of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker looking on smiling. Since 1997, that celebration has included shots of Coruscant, Bespin, Naboo, and Tatooine also reacting to the Rebels’ success.
About that scene, George Lucas said this:
“At the very end of the film we’ve added several shots to show that the whole universe… is celebrating the victory… I wanted them originally, but I wasn’t able to do it at the time I made the films because of a lack of resources. Now the films are more the way I intended them to be.”
“I wanted Anakin, Ben, and Yoda together again at the end of the film. That was the whole point because the first three films I’m currently writing are about them.”
This was 1997, mind you. George Lucas is talking about writing the prequel trilogy. The special edition of his original trilogy was really a shot across the bow that he was about to ruin his legacy and tarnish the good will of the fans.
But I didn’t know that when I read this book in 1997. I just knew the story of Luke Skywalker and his friends. I’d read along with the script while watching the movies for the umpteenth time and pausing to catch up in Bouzerau’s notes. I couldn’t have imagined 18 years ago that I’d grow up wanting to write movies, influenced in many ways by the glimpse I’d had into the process behind my favorite movies. I couldn’t have imagined 18 years ago that I’d follow a bunch of passions and opportunities related to making movies until they led me to working in TV as a 25 year old who still loves Star Wars.
The original trilogy sculpted my view of the world. It informed my morality with an urgency for choosing a path that avoided the dark side’s temptations. It gave me a catalog of clever catchphrases and even the most subtle allusions that made for a quick litmus test when meeting new people (I’ve never disliked someone who’s good at making Star Wars puns). It has helped me make some of the best and longest-lasting friendships of my life. It’s allowed me to accept that some things that make me nerdy are entirely okay. It opened my eyes to film-making and served as a baseline for comparison with all movies for the rest of my life.
I know for certain that I’m being nostalgic and over-stating things because this is the penultimate day of a very long waiting period for the new Star Wars movie. But if I may over-state one more: I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if it wasn’t for Star Wars.
I’m eager and nervous and excited and running out patience to see The Force Awakens tomorrow. And I’m grateful for another entry in a franchise that has meant so much to me and countless others over the past several decades.
May the Force be with you.
Friday, December 18
I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night. (NO SPOILERS BELOW)
As someone with tangible proof of how astronomically hyped I was, I can tell you that it lives up to the hype. It’s hard to discuss what makes The Force Awakens so wonderful without giving away all of its wonderful-ness… and you deserve the experience of finding out for yourself in a theater full of people what’s in store in this movie.
We can put away the baggage of the prequel films. We can stop worrying about how Disney has their corporate claws on what was once George Lucas’s groundbreaking visionary creation. And we can stop wondering whether any new Star Wars movie can live up to the hype of its predecessors and satisfy its rabid fanbase.
Of course in the coming days, weeks, month, and years, I will excitedly talk to other Star Wars lovers about The Force Awakens, and there may be spirited debate about characters, lines, plot points, or even entire sequences that we may have loved more than others. And time will tell whether The Force Awakens really holds up – after all, it is part of a trilogy of films, and these guys in 1999 thought they had seen a terrific movie until the dust settled.
But last night, there was something really magical about being with people I love in a movie theater watching new Star Wars – a story I had never imagined, told more beautifully than I could have hoped. My review of The Force Awakens contains no spoilers, no cynicism, no disappointment. I’m entirely satisfied, and I’m already hyped for what lies ahead.
Let’s be honest, though… my review is moot. If you’re here, you were always going to go see this movie anyway.
Finally, a programming note. This is the very end of “The Hype Awakens” here at PorchDrinking.com. Thank you to Tristan for encouraging me to actually do this when I mentioned it on a whim. Thanks to Josh for editing these pieces and sharing them on social media so creatively. Thanks to Jess and all the other PorchDrinkers who have linked me to Star Wars content that has filled this space. Thanks to family and friends who have read, shared, and liked.
I’m pretty lucky to get to write about something I love (and relieved that I still love it after the new movie). And though I’ll miss sharing my passion every day here on PorchDrinking, I’m sure now more than ever that I’m always going to be a Star Wars nerd.
May the Force be with you… always.