Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

The Star Wars Effect ; A New Generation Awaits Blockbuster Franchises Return; ANALYSIS

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

The Star Wars Effect ; A New Generation Awaits Blockbuster Franchises Return; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Long before I was a movie writer and critic, I was a teenager driving up the Garden State Parkway in a Storm Trooper helmet, inquiring toll booth attendants if they had seen two droids. I don't know what this means for my relationship with "Star Wars and the coming sequel, "The Force Awakens, which is some mix of boyish excitement and adult despair. I do know that it's difficult to operate a stick shift with a Storm Trooper helmet on and that New Jersey toll booth attendants are a hard bunch to faze.

As "The Force Awakens makes its way into theaters, moviegoers and critics of generations old and young will again have to wrestle with a cultural force as colossal as the Death Star, whose cinematic firepower is alternatively seen as the vile source of today's franchise-mad blockbuster-crazy Hollywood or the ultimate expression of a glorious movie passion that spans time, galaxies and dreadfully disappointing prequels.

For a fairly impersonal epic of corny characters, "Star Wars inspires curiously personal reactions. It drives some people to don Wookie costumes and others to curse an entire industry as infantile. Since the 1977 debut of "A New Hope, it's become a generational rite of passage not just to experience the saga, but also to form one's relationship with movies around it, whether in happy lockstep or rebel opposition.

"Star Wars' made, and changed, movie and cultural history, and anybody who wants to make sense of either has to take it on, wrote critic Glenn Kenny in "A Galaxy Not So Far Away: Writers and Artists on Twenty-Five Years of Star War.

"Star Wars didn't, by itself, change movies. But more than any other film, it heralded the blockbuster era that would follow the maverick filmmaking of the '70s a continuing chapter in movies that swells with every new superhero movie.

Lucas himself straddled the divide he came to be the poster boy of. Coming off the success of "American Graffiti, which he wrote, his pal Francis Ford Coppola wanted him to direct "Apocalypse Now. (Take a moment to contemplate THAT parallel universe.) Lucas was instead busy with his script for "Star Wars, a project that few expected much of and that Universal Studios passed on before 20th Century Fox paid Lucas to develop it.

But to the astonishment of everyone, including Lucas (who fortuitously negotiated for the sequel and merchandising rights), the movie he called "The Sting' in outer space' was a smash that was still No. …

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