The new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, will be opening on Friday. I don't plan to see it until the end of December, and I will do my best to avoid reviews until then. But I'm going to go ahead and express my worries.
I come from the generation whose younger years were essentially defined by the original trilogy–the movies, and, maybe even more importantly, the associated toys, provided the common mythology of our childhoods. And it was my generation whose entrance into adulthood was greeted by the prequel trilogy.
The prequels clearly weren't as good as the original trilogy. But I still enjoyed them. I remember walking out of The Phantom Menace and feeling the old feeling of wanting my own lightsaber, wanting to swing it as I sneaked around the dark corners of a space station, and hear the vroop vroop sound that it made as it cut through the air.
At the time of the prequels, the general feeling was mixed—that there were some good parts, and some parts that weren't good. But in the ensuing years, popular sentiment was evolved such that now the only socially acceptable opinion on the prequels is the following three statements:
1. "The Star Wars prequels were the worst movies ever made."
2. "They ruined my life."
3. "George Lucas must be killed."
(And, I would note, the omnipresence of these sentiments has pretty much destroyed what enjoyment I did get out of the prequels.)
I doubt that the new movie will generate the ill will that the prequels did. I'm sure that J. J. Abrams knows which buttons to push, as well as which buttons not to push (such as the Jar Jar button), to get the desired audience reaction. But at the same time, I can't help thinking that the new movie might come across as a transparent copy of the original trilogy.
The comparison that comes to mind: The prequels were like what would have happened if the Beatles had gotten back together in the late Seventies and made some albums that nobody liked. The Force Awakens is like what would happen if somebody were to hire professional songwriters to write an album in the style of Sixties Beatles, and then get America's best Beatles cover band to record the album.
And so, ultimately, I worry that with the new movie, the situation will be the reverse of what happened with the sequels—everyone else will love it unreservedly, and I will be left feeling that maybe it wasn't quite satisfying.