Why Star Wars?

A long long time ago in a state not so far away (from me at least). I was living in a town called Sterling. This town didn’t have many people living in. When I was growing up, it was definitely under 15,000 people. It was one of those “everyone know your face and your business” kinds of towns. There wasn’t a lot to do in my hometown. You could sneak alcohol from your parents and meet up at the park with your friends, or you could invite friends over to hang out and play video games at your house. I’m thinking you can guess which one I did, mostly.

My dad introduced us to Star Wars at a pretty young age. I’m pretty sure we wore out the tape on a few Original Trilogy VHS box sets. I loved Star Wars. Growing up in a small farming community and realizing you don’t want to be a farmer, can make you feel stuck. As I grew older I felt myself identifying more and more with Luke. I wanted something more than the life I had and Star Wars was my escape for many years. I’d play games like Knights of the Old Republic, Episode I Racer, Super Star Wars, and other games just to feel an actual sense of belonging. I would check out books from the expanded universe from my middle school library and rack up late fees because I would try to hide how much I really loved Star Wars.

When I became a parent, one question started rolling through my mind. When is the right age to share my love of Star Wars? I wanted J to be old enough to understand some of the dialogue while being old enough to ask questions. How would I introduce him to Star Wars? I thought the easiest way would be to listen to the soundtrack over and over again. So, after I became an at-home dad, I would turn on the soundtrack while I was doing the dishes or the laundry. Then, I started buying the Jefferey Brown “Darth Vader and Son” books, waiting for the day that J would know the characters and want to know more about the stories. When it was announced that Disney was purchasing Lucasfilm, my heart jumped for joy. I remember thinking to myself, “my dad was able to see the original trilogy in theaters, I got to see the prequels in theaters and now J gets to experience the same feeling we had all those years before.” I decided that J needed to see the Original Trilogy before we went to see The Force Awakens. He was 4, and I was surprised by how much he sat through in his first screening. He recognized every song that we had been listening to for years. His eyes lit up with the first ignition of a lightsaber and he’s never looked back.

After we watched the original trilogy, we ventured into Episode I and Episode II. J loved that Anakin was so young when the Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon found him. He loved the creatures, and yes he even loved Jar Jar. We took a break after Attack of the Clones so we could watch clone Wars. After watching every season, we jumped right back into the prequels. J saw the struggle in Anakin and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He was in awe during Obi-Wan and Anakin’s battle on Mustafar and after the battle was said and done, he simply said, “well Anakin had to get robot parts somehow.”

Then came Rebels. A show that we could start together and finish together. We watched every episode we could together. Sometimes I watched ahead because I can admit that I have little self control when it comes to watching my stories. Rebels was a show that we could talk about and (even though he youngling) have meaningful conversations about. We talked about light, dark, and balance. It’s amazing to think that so many wonderful memories that I will have for the rest of my life with my son revolve around Rebels.

At this point you are probably bored out of your mind at my babbling, so we will move on to Rogue One. I have a rule about making costumes for J. He has to ask me to make them. I will not force a character’s look on him. Rogue One was a movie that I wanted to see before taking J, I wanted to see if it would be “okay” for someone of his age. During the credits I leaned over to my wife and said, “I hope he asks for a Cassian cosplay!” She agreed. After watching Rogue One, my wife and I agreed that the movie was no more violent than anything else in the Star Wars universe, so I immediately purchased tickets for J and myself. When J and I were in our screening, he leaned over and said, “daddy, can you make me a Cassian cosplay?” Immediately my heart began racing at the thought of how adorable J would be as Cassian. I never thought it would take the internet by storm. Because of that costume, he was on the Reddit front page, he had an article written about him on starwars.com, and he’s had the chance to meet a few actors from various Star Wars films.

Now onto the conclusion of this piece. If you’ve hung on this long, you deserve a solid answer. Why Star Wars? Star Wars is a connection. It connects 3 generations of fans all over the globe and I am lucky to be apart of that statistic. Some of my fondest memories and friendships have happened because of Star Wars, and I will never be able to thank George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, the actors, the writers, the directors, the production teams, and everyone else who has ever been involved with Star Wars enough for all the memories that you have helped create for my family with the stories you tell.

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In This Fight Since He Was Six Years Old

By now, I’m pretty sure that most people who have found their way to our blog have watched Rogue One. If not, you may want to stop reading this post until you’ve watched it. I’ll wait. Have you started watching it yet? It was pretty great, right? Well, everyone has a right to their own opinion.

As most of you probably know or guessed we loved Rogue One. We’ve seen it quite a few times, and yes it still is as emotionally charged as the first time we saw it. The characters were amazing, the writing was fantastic, the cinematography was spot on, the directing was great, and the actors were spot on. Before we continue, this is not another review of Rogue One, this is a deeper look into what one line of the movie means for Star Wars fans of all ages. 

During a heated conversation between Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian says, “I’ve been in this fight since I was six years old.” In this day and age, a statement like this is both exciting and terrifying. Terrifying in the sense that child soldiers are a reality, yet exciting for younger fans who may feel like they are too small to make a difference. 

As a youngling, I remember wishing I could be like Luke Skywalker. Fighting the evils of the Empire in my X-Wing along side all my rebellious friends, all the while thinking, “how can I make a difference?” This feeling followed me throughout my youth. If I didn’t like the way someone was being treated on the playground, I would feel the courage starting to build and yet that one thought would creep it’s ugly head and I would end up shirking back into my shell. Star Wars taught me to be courageous, but how could I be courageous at a young age?

When J started going to school, I worried that he would end up like me and that he would be a victim of bullies and would sit back while others were bullied around him all because that one thought would find it’s way into his mind. When J found himself a victim of a school yard bully, he turned to his favorite comic book dealing with school yard bullying, “Avengers: No More Bullying”. He found comfort in the words written between those pages and found courage in the story of Captain America, Luke Skywalker, and Ezra Bridger. All characters in favorites comics, movies, and cartoons that were courageous in their youth.

While Ezra showed courage at such a young age, it was still quite a few years ahead of J and I was worried that he might let that fact stop him from reaching into his courage when he really needed it. I know what you are thinking, what about all the younglings who became Jedi? Yes, younglings show great courage, but they also can rely on the force to aid their courage and while that is great, I think something closer to the realm of reality can have a bigger impact. Before you say, “but Ezra is a Jedi!!”, you have to remember that we first see Ezra before he discovers that he is Force sensitive. Cassian is just a regular human from the planet Fest. He has no Force sensitivity and no cybernetics to enhance his person, so when he says those eleven words, he fills those younger fans with hope. A hope that they too can make a difference and be courageous too.

 Who were some characters that you pulled inspiration from as a kid? Which characters do you pull inspiration from these days? 

“Rouge One: A Star Wars Story” Review

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY Directed by Gareth Edwards; Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy; Story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta; Based on Characters and Situations created by George Lucas; Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn ; Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi action and violence; Running time 133 minutes

Rogue One was the first Star Wars movie that I had to skip out on opening night because I made a scheduling error and told my wife that she could plan her work Christmas party on the same night. However, I was lucky enough to see it twice, for free, the next day with the first screening being with my wife and her amazing coworkers and without J. It was kind of nice not seeing my first screening of Rogue One without J because I’m usually checking on him to see how he’s taking in the movie and I usually end up missing some things. It also gave me the chance to catch as many Easter Eggs as I could so I could share those with him when we saw it together, which was an hour after my first screening.

If I had to choose one word to describe Rogue One it would be superb. The story was amazing, the actors were fantastic, and K2SO almost took the top spot for my favorite droid. Rogue One had something for everyone. I believe that even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie, that you would enjoy Rogue One. The action sequences were on par with any other Star Wars film (minus the lightsabers), the comedic timing of K2SO was mesmerizing (Thank you Alan Tudyk), and the drama was pulling away at my heart strings the entire time.

There have been a few articles telling parents not to take their younger kids to see Rogue One. While I get that this is one of the franchise’s “darker” films, it is still a Star Wars movie. If your kids know the difference between fantasy and reality, and have seen all of the other Star Wars movies, then they should be able to sit through Rogue One. J (5) saw it with me last night and he absolutely loved the movie. He was catching Easter Eggs like a pro, and was squeezing my hand in excitement throughout most of the movie.  That being said, you know your kids better than I or any other person writing about Rogue One would, so the final say is up to you.

Something that I would recommend that fans of the Saga do, that was recommended to me by Bryan Young from the Full of Sith Podcast, is watch A New Hope one more time before seeing Rogue One. You will never be able to watch it again without having Rogue One on your mind. As a matter of fact, I am watching it right now as I write this and all I am thinking about is Rogue One. I am really looking forward to the next time I watch A New Hope with J.

If you can’t tell, we absolutely loved Rogue One and would recommend that every man, woman, child, droid, and Jawa see it. You will leave the theater forever changed, and it is worth it. I have some spoilery things to say, but I will leave that for private messages and Facebook groups. If you’ve seen the movie and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on our Facebook page or Instagram. I’d love to hear what you thought and if you caught the same Easter Eggs as I did.

We hope you have a great holiday season and May the Force be With You.