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  • 'A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away ...'

    The franchise of my childhood infiltrates my adulthood
  • A bloody and violent debate has long raged in the geek world, dividing families, ending relationships and turning best friends into the bitterest of enemies. The question? Do you prefer "Star Wars" or "Star Trek?"
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  • Growing up, I always wanted to be a Jedi.
    My earliest memory of going to a movie theater was when my dad took me to see the re-releases of the original "Star Wars" trilogy in 1997. I was 6 years old and completely captivated from the moment the screen read, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away ..." through Chewbacca's final roar and beyond.
    As we left the first movie, I realized that the week I would have to slog through to see the next film would not move fast enough (we saw them in three consecutive weekends rather than all at once).
    From then on, "Star Wars" merchandise adorned nearly every corner of my room growing up. While most boys my age were getting excited about cars and sports, I wanted nothing more than a lightsaber of my very own. Even as I grew up and realized that a plastic lightsaber was the best I could get in this century, "Star Wars" still remained close to my heart.
    When I was in high school, my girlfriend begged me to take her to see the first "Twilight" movie when it came to theaters. I agreed, on the condition that she watch the entire original "Star Wars" trilogy.
    The slightly long-winded point I'm trying to make is this: There's no way I wasn't going to talk about this week's announcement of the cast for "Star Wars Episode VII."
    This announcement has been a shadow on the horizon since Disney's more than $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm — and the promise of new "Star Wars" movies — in October 2012.
    J.J. Abrams, the man who revitalized "Star Trek," yet lived life as a "Star Wars" fanboy, was tapped to direct and write alongside "Empire" and "Jedi" scribe Lawrence Kasdan.
    Rumors began to surface that the original cast would be returning for the continuation of their story.
    Now we know. The original cast is returning. Harrison Ford will strap a blaster back on his hip as Han Solo, Mark Hamill will use the force as Luke Skywalker, and Carrie Fisher will kick all sorts of butt as Princess Leia. Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) also are returning.
    The film also will feature newcomers to the franchise in the form of "Girls" star Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac from "Inside Llewyn Davis," John Boyega (who starred in one of my favorite British sci-fi films, 2011's "Attack the Block"), Gollum himself, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson (who played Bill Weasley in the "Harry Potter" franchise), Swedish thespian Max von Sydow and newcomer Daisy Ridley.
    This is a pretty diverse cast, and it only increases the excitement with which I mark off days on the calendar until Dec. 18, 2015.
    It will be a long year and a half before that movie comes out and, until the lights come up in the theater, the fanboys and girls will probably echo the final lines spoken by Sam Huntington as he and his friends sat down to watch "The Phantom Menace" in 2009's "Fanboys": "What if the movie sucks?"
    Usually the fankids are a little more abrasive than that when they say things along those lines, but it's a valid point to raise. We were subjected to a three-part expansion of the saga that couldn't cut the mustard with a light saber. Why shouldn't we keep our blast shields up against this new trilogy?
    To quote Cracked columnist Tom Reimann (who said this in regard to Ben Affleck being cast as Batman), "Right now, I know as much about that movie as I do about Richard Nixon's casket — I can tell you who's in it, but that's about it."
    That's the approach I've been trying to take in regard to all the coming features aimed at the geek demographic. How can we judge a movie if we don't even know the plot yet?
    With the new "Star Wars," I take my opinion one step further.
    "Star Wars" was a major part of my childhood and beyond, and there are people out there for whom it is an even bigger deal. Disney did not pay more than $4 billion to make a mediocre "Star Wars" movie. Disney paid more than $4 billion for the opportunity to make the best "Star Wars" movie since "The Empire Strikes Back" (and yes, that is my favorite).
    Still skeptical? Look at Marvel Studios. The studio (owned by Disney) is a powerhouse with the fankids. With Disney's backing, the studio has the clout to get the right people involved with these projects. Lucasfilm will get the same treatment, and I wholeheartedly believe that fans will be rewarded for their loyalty to the franchise.
    Now, if you will excuse me, I'm off to get a good spot in line for the premiere.
    Ian Hand is assistant editor for Tempo and an enormous geek. Follow him on Twitter @IanHand_MT.
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