Force-fed
POGI FROM APARALLEL UNIVERSE - RJ Ledesma (The Philippine Star) - December 22, 2015 - 9:00am

Am I a Star Wars fan?

Well, I did nickname my son “R3” in honor of the galaxy’s favorite scene-stealer (much to consternation of my mom who berated me. “Ano, ipapangalan mo yung anak mo sa robot!?” she cried. Excuse me, Mom. Droid ‘yan, ‘di robot).

But I’d wager that — for those of who were born in the Jurassic ‘70s and grew hair on our pink parts in up in the ‘80s — it was hard not to be a Star Wars fan.

One of my fondest memories growing up was a family vacation to the US right after The Empire Strikes Back had been released. My parents — God bless them and have mercy on them — let us run rampant in a Toys R Us store. That was the equivalent of letting alcoholics loose in a liquor store.   We stockpiled enough Star Wars action figures that summer to tide us over for Episodes 6, 1, 2, 3, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, the Ewoks and Droids cartoons, and the Star Wars Holiday Special. 

And though many of those action figures have joined my G.I. Joe and He-Man figures in action figure heaven, my family still bears remnants of our Star Wars excesses. My sister’s kids still use the same set of Star Wars bed sheets that we bed-wetted when we were growing up. Those were the bed sheets that bore an image of Luke gallantly holding a lightsaber above his head, allowing him to expose his Jedi abs.

During my “no hair on my pink parts” years, I remember jumping over rocks while swooshing my Cartolina lightsaber in our backyard garden, imagining that I was Luke Skywalker training to become a Jedi with Yoda in Dagobah, or spending hours after school with my classmates concocting endless sequels to Empire and (when we were close to hitting puberty) paying more attention to the intricate details on Princess Leia’s slave outfit in Return of the Jedi (which has since been replaced by the intricate details on Princess Leia’s — spoiler alert! — General uniform).  

Admittedly, though, I did not have enough midichlorians coursing through my bloodstream as die-hard Star Wars fans who soldiered on beyond the sequels and immersed themselves in the “Expanded Universe” of Star Wars lore — which included fan novels and comic books and cartoons (was Mark Hamill’s appearance as Luke alongside R2-D2 and C3-PO with Miss Piggy playing Princess Leia considered part of the “Expanded Universe”?).

However, I often “force” myself into Star Wars territory when it intersects with my favorite addiction — comic books — and depicts stories that don’t venture too far from the original trilogy. Among those stories were Tag and Bink, a comedic departure from the more serious Star Wars stories about two clueless Jedis-in-training who stumble through (and inadvertently cause) the most dramatic moments of the original trilogy (sort of like the Forrest Gumps of Star Wars); Star Wars Infinities — a limited series comic book that explored the “what ifs” of the movies (What if the Death Star never exploded? What if Luke died on the icy planet Hoth? What if they never rescued Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt?); and finally The Star Wars, a limited comic book series that adapts George Lucas’ original screenplay from 1974 where Luke Skywalker is older and already a Jedi, and the main protagonist is Annikin Starkiller (a name that finally finds its way into — spoiler alert! — Episode VII).

But Star Wars has always remained close to my scruffy-looking, nerfherder heart. Back in 1997, I watched the re-released special editions of the trilogy that were released in cinemas worldwide to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original film. Watching those retinkered versions of the trilogy, I gained a new appreciation of the franchise’s constantly evolving lore.  For example, did you know Greedo shot at Han Solo first? Did you know that Jabba the Hutt was in Episode IV? Did you know that there are no Asians in outer space?

And just like rest of the fandom — whether casual or die-hard or Mandalorian — I was as giddy as a boy with hairless pink parts to watch Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It was 1999, and I remember waiting anxiously inside the moviehouse as the lights dimmed, then yodeling like a Wookie when John William’s galactic overture filled the theater and the iconic Star Wars logo burst onto the screen. My R2-D2 underwear was filled to the brim. All of us who watched Episode I that evening were hoping that George Lucas would rekindle the magic of the Force that we last felt in the forest moon of Endor 16 long years before. Instead, he gave us Jarjar Binks (to quote the ostracized Gungan, “Weesa dying here!”). My Wookie yodel sounded hollow as the ending credits rolled across the screen. 

Despite my initial reaction to The Menace — este, Phantom Menace — I soldiered on with the next two installments of the prequels (Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith), partly out of a sense of obligation and partly out of hope that either of those movies would bring back the same sense of childhood wonder that I experienced a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Unfortunately, despite Yoda showing off his skillz with a lightsaber, these were not the Star Wars movies we were looking for. 

I thought that I would have to finally retire my R2-D2 underwear.

But, in 2012, guess who Bippity-Boppity-Booped into the galaxy far, far away?

After they gave Iron-Man, Captain America and Thor a pair of Mickey ears and treated comic book fans to an Avengers movie in 2012 that made us beam with geek pride, would Disney sprinkle the same sort of Pixie dust on our favorite space opera?

Then, in 2014, they announced that the original Star Wars cast would be reprising their roles for Episode VII.

Zip-ah-dee-doo-dah!

With the galactic fab four of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie making a return to the silver screen, it was high time to indoctrinate my son in the ways of the Force. To start off his training, I bought my Padawan a “Lego Star Wars All 6 movies in 100 Scenes” Book. However, since the book is ordered from Episodes 1 to 6, my son has only gotten as far as Episode 2. But he has practically memorized all the characters from the Phantom Menace — Jarjar Binks in particular (and, yes, yes, I am a hypocrite. I bought him a Jarjar Binks hero smasher figure. But he loves Jarjar! Mr. Lucas, what is this hypnotic force you hold over the younglings?). I bought R3 a collapsible lightsaber as well but we had to prematurely retire it as he was skewering all the chairs and houseplants.

And then the day came to reawaken the Force.

I remember 32 years ago when my dad hoisted me up on his shoulders to watch Return of the Jedi in a standing–room-only theater (fire hazards were theoretical concepts during the pre-Facebook age). Now, it was me bringing my own three-year-old son to watch a movie franchise that mesmerized me in my childhood. That night, I felt like a father bequeathing a legacy unto his son. I just pray that when my son finally comes of age, he will not slice me in half with his collapsible lightsaber (I also made sure that he was wearing his R2-D2 diapers to make sure that he wouldn’t need me to take him to the banyo in the middle of the movie).

After going to the restroom five times before the movie started (I should have worn those R2-D2 diapers as well), my heart was racing faster than the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run as the familiar overture of John Williams filled the IMAX theater and the iconic Star Wars logo burst onto the screen! I let loose one last Wookie howl as the opening credits rolled past the screen while praying to the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi (the Alec Guinness one) that this would not be another Episode I. 

So, how was Episode VII? You won’t find any spoilers here, but to quote from Han Solo when (okay, a slight spoiler alert) he and Chewbacca reenter the Millennium Falcon after years of searching for his lost, shabby starship: “We’re home.”

Thanks, J.J. Abrams. Thanks, George Lucas. And thanks, Mickey Mouse.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried ma-tears of joy several times during the movie. I think I cried a bit more than my son who looking for his BB-8 shaped dodo. And with an ending like that, we both can’t wait to see Episode VIII.  But — arrgh! — it won’t come out until May 26, 2017.

Oh, well. Since it’ll be more than a year a half until the next episode, it will give me ample time to convince my wife to nickname our upcoming bundle of joy BB-3. (But please don’t tell my mom.)

May the Force be with all of us. 

* * *

For comments, suggestions or a pre-loved Jarjar Binks action figure, email Ledesma.rj@gmail.com or visit www.rjledesma.com. Follow @rjled on Twitter or @rjled610 on Instagram.

ACIRC EPISODE GEORGE LUCAS HAN SOLO JARJAR BINKS NBSP PHANTOM MENACE PRINCESS LEIA STAR STAR WARS WARS
Philstar
  • Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with