The “geek” label is not as derogatory as it once was. It’s an all-encompassing term for a cultural subgroup that spans all demographics. One common denominator is that we take our media very seriously. The Observer canvassed the spectrum of Dallas-area geeks for their initial reactions to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a significant moment in geek culture history.
1. Marc Hairston, Research Scientist, William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
“As one of the original fans there opening weekend 1977 at NorthPark General Cinema 1&2, it was great to see Star Wars back in Dallas. The best part for me is that real magic of the first film is also back. And I use that term deliberately. This is magic, not science. Light sabers wouldn’t work that way; anti-gravity landspeeders aren’t real; you can’t fire planet-destroying laser beams across hundreds of lightyears in a couple of minutes; a Starkiller isn’t big enough to have an atmosphere on its surface and, even if it did, it’s unlikely to have any oxygen, so our heroes would be dead before they had a chance to battle with light sabers. But none of that matters. It’s the magic and the story that capture our imaginations, make our spirits soar and turn us all back into 10-year-olds filled with wonder. The rest is just details to quibble about. If you want a scientifically accurate (and true!) story that has heart and lifts your spirit, but lacks any cool special effects explosions, go watch The Dish (2000).”
2. Wanz Dover, DJ and musician
“JJ Abrams pulls off a perfect balancing act with The Force Awakens. The film manages to be a remake, a reboot and a passing of the torch from one generation to the next, all in one. The new characters Fen (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Riddle) are compelling, relatable and manage to actually outshine the original cast at every turn. Abrams recaptures the magic of the original trilogy by sticking to the “If it ain't broke don't fix it” mantra. All of the beats that made people fall in love with Star Wars back in 1977 are upfront and remixed into something familiar, but new. Real sets, real locations, real droids and aliens are combined with the best cinematography of the whole series to recapture the futuristic Western/samurai pulp film aura rather than the video game vibe of the disastrous Phantom Menace and its sequels.”
3. Brittnie Grono, film costume expert, UNT
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens was an incredible movie that was definitely worth the wait! It incorporated original characters we know and love along with new characters that we are excited to see develop throughout the series. The cinematography throughout this movie was spectacular, and the X-Wing and TIE fighter battle scene choreography was enthralling. The costumes were astonishing; Michael Kaplan did a great job with keeping the beautiful creativity of the costumes of the prequels as well as the authenticity from the original trilogy. Kaplan captured the characters with his designs, especially Kylo Ren, as the importance of his mask showed the conflict between his aspirations and his true self.”
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4. Joe Pappalardo, editor in chief, Dallas Observer
“I went into the theater with pretty low hopes, and still remained a little disappointed. Within the first few seconds of the movie we hear a quick update of what’s been happening — and it’s all bad. It turns out the universe we left, lovingly built in six previous movies, has been cast aside almost casually. Fascism is once again in ascendence, the children of our heroes have turned evil, the last Jedi has become a hermit instead of fixing the problem, just like Yoda and Obi Wan cravenly did before. Grim history has repeated itself, and you get the feeling the screenwriters went there only because it is identical to the conditions of the first movie in 1977. The desert planet orphan, the plucky droid, the chase scenes — all of that is the same derivative stuff. But the iconic characters have reverted to the first film as well: Lea is a rebel, Han Solo a smuggler and Luke Skywalker is an obscure loser living in a backwater. The rebels are losing the war and the fascists are entrenched and well organized. The problem with all of this is that it negates all the previous movies, casting aside all the character development and backstory. J.J. Abrams was given a finely tuned universe to drive, and he decided to do donuts in the parking lot with it. This overwhelming feeling of disappointment made the other flaws more aggravating, Namely, the plot holes (big enough to ride a Star Destroyer through) and the loss of a major player that only serves as a reminder of the failures of the old characters. Notice I said ‘old’ and not ‘original’ characters. The original cast of characters bumbles and fails through the whole movie. The film’s themes, cast and narrative seem more like anti-nostalgia to me, the transformation of a once great franchise into just one more reboot.”
5. Scott Alan Wilcox, TK-42194, 501st Legion, Star Garrison, North Texas Squad
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues the saga with a story that is well written and absolutely believable within the context of the franchise. While the film’s various themes are familiar (the struggle with self, the battle with outside forces, and the acceptance of that which cannot be changed), the heroes and villains, old and new, will impress you and make you reconsider their place in the Star Wars universe. Well-spaced humor binds the film’s more dramatic scenes together, but the dialogue can seem overly simplistic. However, the film easily redeems itself with some of the best acting ever seen in a Star Wars film. Newcomers Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley are fresh and fantastic. Ridley plays a strong, fully realized, realistic female lead who knows how to fend for herself; there are no damsels in distress in this film. Expect some of the new characters to capture your heart, and to be given a larger understanding of old ones. John Williams’ score is often lost amongst the action, but stands out in the film’s more personable moments. The Force Awakens is a winning combination of old and new, and sure to please. Bring tissues.”