KEARNEY — I saw my first Star Wars movie in theaters before it had become “cool” to hate on popular movies.
Or, perhaps in the late ’ 90s that had already started to be a trend, but having been born in the same decade “The Phantom Menace” was released, I was blissfully unaware.
Being an ignorant 4-year-old who could not afford my own movie ticket, I saw Star Wars: Episode One with my dad. It was a fun outing for just the two of us, since my mom wasn’t that interested in Star Wars and neither was my 8-month-old sister.
As a little kid, it seemed like the perfect movie to me, with a delightfully doofy Jar Jar Binks that made me giggle multiple times, exciting surround-sound during the epic lightsaber fight and an adorable Anakin Skywalker, who was a kid just like me.
I loved the next two films when they came out, too.
When “Revenge of the Sith,” the “last movie” of the Star Wars series, was released, I remember thinking it was my favorite Star Wars installment.
So, you can naturally imagine my disbelief several years later when I learned that not only did some people dislike the Star Wars prequels, but they actively hated them. Some of their criticisms were even about the things I most enjoyed. How could you hate Jar Jar Binks when he represents what peak comedy is as a child?
Even though I was personally ecstatic several years ago to get three more Star Wars movies in the Skywalker Saga, plus some extras, I knew that some people would be less than thrilled. But sitting in the theater last weekend — the Cinema 8 this time, not the World Twin — to see “Rise of Skywalker,” I felt like that little kid again.
For me, it was just what I wanted: insurmountable odds like an emperor back from the dead, delightful new characters like D-O and Babu Frik and answers to my burning questions — which you’ll have to see the movie to find out, no spoilers here.
I saw it two more times in the next two days.
Of course, this time around I was aware there was a slew of people who thought it moved at too quick of a pace, like reviewers who gave it a 57 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But I wanted to be in for a wild “Star Wars” ride.
I knew some people were skeptical as to whether J.J. Abrams could pull off a grand finale to the series, but I had been dying for the conclusion after the credits first rolled in “The Last Jedi.”
I had heard some die-hard Star Wars fans deep in the threads of Reddit were planning to boycott the movie altogether and go see “Cats” instead, just to hurt “Skywalker’s” box office totals. I knew that they were in for a disappointing evening no matter how good or bad “Skywalker” was.
Even if I hadn’t personally enjoyed the movie — and I thoroughly did — maybe that wouldn’t matter.
Each generation has had a bit of the Star Wars saga for their time.
My generation had the prequels. Those older than me had the originals. Kids today get the experience of seeing the sequels. (And if we’re being realistic, Disney probably will cash in on Star Wars again in a couple of decades, for my kids to someday see.)
No matter the trilogy, I don’t think Star Wars ever has been concerned with pleasing the haters.
For every reviewer who gave the film a rotten rating, or every “fan” who skipped out and saw “Cats” (again, their loss), I hope that there was some little girl or boy staring up at the screen, falling in love with Star Wars for the first time.
I hope the kids who look up to Rose are blissfully unaware that the actress, Kelly Marie Tran, had to quit social media after “The Last Jedi” because of all the hate she was getting.
I hope that the kid I saw at the Cinema 8 Sunday sitting in the front row who almost leapt out of his chair after the last line was delivered wasn’t aware the the two guys sitting in front of me seemed to think the line was corny.
Because, maybe, Star Wars was never meant to please the skeptic or the critic. Maybe it’s meant to please the kids and the kid inside each of us; we just have to “become one” with that kid again.