"Star Wars" (no subtitle in those days) opened in May of 1977 into a world that hadn't seen a major science fiction movie in many years (which makes me wonder how history would have played out if "Close Encounters" had opened in May and "Star Wars" had opened in November, rather than the other way around, but that is a discussion for another time). The special effects were jaw dropping, and the story wasn't really on the screen at all, but was more of an outline that invoked dozens of cinematic cliches and let the audience fill in the blanks for themselves. It was fun to watch, AND it managed to get inside of you; it had the best score in the history of cinema, and it made a huge amount of money. I LOVED it, saw it six times that summer, bought all the memorabilia I could afford, and read all of the ancillary material I could get my hands on. Sure, there were problems, like the fact that not one person associated with the production knew that a parsec was a measure of distance rather than time, but WHO CARED? It was still WONDERFUL.
In 1980 "Empire" came out, and I loved that too. I CRIED during the opening credits the first time I saw it, because it felt so good to be sitting in a theater watching a Star Wars movie and listening to that music again. Sure, the universe had been completely re-written between movies, and yes, the AT-AT walkers were painfully stupid (but SO FRIGGING COOL!), but who cared? The magic was still there, and I was still in love.
And then it was 1983, and "Jedi" came out, and it was, well, crap. The universe had been rewritten again (or at least severely tweaked), the effects had stopped serving the story and fallen down the "bigger, better, more" rabbit hole, the script had started to take its dime-store Buddhism WAY too seriously, and the focus of the film shifted from telling a story to selling toys. The wonderful mythic conflict between "Vader murdered your father" (from "Hope") and ""I am your father" (from "Empire") was THROWN AWAY, and Darth Vader, heretofore one of the best villians in the history of cinema, was REDEEMED. I left the theater disgusted and heart-broken.
Time passed; Lucas re-tooled (and mauled) "Hope", and we saw it, and mostly enjoyed it in spite of the stupid changes; Lucas re-tooled "Empire" without damaging it significantly, and we saw it, and enjoyed it; Lucas re-tooled "Jedi", and we couldn't be bothered. We saw the prequels because we are movie sluts, and thought they were mostly a waste of time and effort.
So now it is 2015, and Lucas is no longer in the equation, and there is a new Star Wars movie in the theaters, and ten days into the release we decided the crowds had diminished enough to risk watching it. We went into the theater with REALLY low expectations and high hopes, which is pretty much the perfect frame of mind to see any movie...
The movie started, we read the trapezoidal crawl, and I whispered to Dementia, "Is it just me, or was that incredibly lame?" and she replied, "It's not just you." And we were off...
There are moments that are absolutely wonderful, and the new characters are engaging. But they HAVE re-written the universe, again.
We are, as I have said, movie sluts. And we REALLY wanted to like this movie, and we really HATE MST3K, and it takes a LOT to get us into MST3K mode in a theater, but... Yeah. The word that kept echoing in my head through pretty much the whole movie, in spite of how much I liked the new characters, and in spite of my great fondness for the returning characters, was, "Hollow."
Demenia's comment, after a good night's sleep: "Hope" told its story by invoking cliches from the entirety of literary and cinematic history, and "Force" tells its story by invoking cliches from the Star Wars canon.