Thursday, December 24, 2015

Opening night for 'The Force Awakens' is family bonding time (CCC feature)

Without a doubt, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" already has become a cultural and box-office phenomenon in just one week. I won't bore you with all the box-office records it has broken; you can look those up online.

Regular readers of Cary's Comics Craze have witnessed how strong the Force has been on my blog. As of today (Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!), nine of the 16 posts this month have been about "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."

Just to mention a few of the recent highlights, there's been op-eds and features about :

The Princess Leia side buns are back!
Melanie Myers, 19, of Norwalk, Ohio,  rocks actress Carrie Fisher's
iconic 1977 look at the special screening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
Below is a feature of post-"The Force Awakens" interviews I did with fans after the  7 p.m. viewing last Thursday at Premiere Theatre 8 in Norwalk, Ohio. The story ran Dec. 18 — the day the movie officially opened — as part of a three-story "Star Wars" package in the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper, where I'm a full-time staff writer. Enjoy — and may the Force be with you! Always.

NORWALK, Ohio — Melanie Myers hadn’t watched any of the “Star Wars” films until about a month ago.

“I told my boyfriend I’d watch them if he watched the ’Harry Potter’ movies with me,” she said.

Myers watched the “Star Wars” saga in the chronological order of when the films were released — Episodes IV through VI (aka the original trilogy, released from 1977 through 1983) and then Episodes I through III (aka the prequel trilogy, released from 1999 through 2005).

“I watched them the proper way,” she said proudly. “I liked watching them that way. I liked knowing the background.”

For Thursday’s (Dec. 17) 7 p.m. showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at Premiere Theatre 8 in Norwalk, the 19-year-old Norwalk resident got into the fangirl spirit. She wore the iconic, danish-shaped side buns worn by actress Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia in the first film, now titled “Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.”  

“I wanted to wear it,” she said. “They kept falling out.”

It took Myers about an hour to get the hairstyle right.  “I actually have cups in them,” she said about what supports her hairstyle.

Comparing her enjoyment of the “Harry Potter” films to the “Star Wars” saga, Myers said: “It’s close.”

Maplehurst Elementary kindergartner Luke Fulton wore an outfit depicting a Stormtrooper. Thursday was family night; his parents, Tom and Dawn, took their son to see his first “Star Wars” film in the theaters.

Luke Fulton carries an action figure of his favorite
"Star Wars" character, Boba Fett, to see "Star Wars:
The Force Awakens."
The 6-year-old boy carried a Boba Fett action figure.

“I’m pretty much into soldiers,” he said about why the bounty hunter is his favorite character.

Thursday also was a family affair for Mike Carpenter and his son Dalton.

Carpenter’s father took him to the first “Star Wars” film in 1977. A generation later, he bought Dalton the prequels, let him watch those when he was 6 years old and then the original trilogy.

Dalton said watching the saga in chronological storytelling order helped him see the development of the characters and how the plot developed.

Like audiences who watched “The Empire Strikes Back” with fresh eyes in 1980, the teenager didn’t know Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father when he saw “Episode V.”

However, Dalton said the big reveal was just as stunning, yet he noticed a clue at the very end of “Episode III - Revenge of the Sith” when “two children have to be hidden from Darth Vader” on Tatooine.

Seeing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was a family-bonding experience
for Mike Carpenter (left), of North Fairfield, Ohio, and his teenage son Dalton.
Mike Carpenter said “The Force Awakens” ties together nicely with the original trilogy, yet prepares audience for the “Star Wars” saga to continue.

“They opened it up to make it lead to the next episode,” he said. “It kept you captivated throughout the film. You wanted to know more after that.”

Myers agreed.

“I think this sets up a foundation for what is to follows,” she said.

Carpenter was asked what he would tell other “Star Wars” fans who haven’t seen the seventh episode yet.

“As anybody would say, ’May the Force be with you,’” he said.

Myers, on the other hand, took a practical approach: “Bring your tissues.”

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