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no spoilers

"I wanted to take Luke as a confirmation name": Here's why we love Star Wars - what about you?

Tell us your memories and thoughts in the comments. Did we mention no spoilers?

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TODAY IS THE big day: Star Wars – The Force Awakens hits Irish cinemas at midnight.

To say there’s a bit of interest in this long-awaited cinematic event is an understatement. Almost 5,000 people have already checked out the Cineworld page to see when its screenings are on, and tickets for tonight’s midnight screenings flew out the door weeks ago.

To keep up with demand, some cinemas have up to 36 showings a day of the film.

With four and five-star reviews already streaming in, people are breathing a sigh of relief that The Force Awakens doesn’t appear to have gone the same way as the much-criticised prequels of over a decade ago.


This time, the film is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and sees Han Solo (a returning Harrison Ford) and his allies facing a new threat in the form of Kylo Ren (played by Girls’ Adam Driver) and his army (that would be the stormtroopers).

Newcomers Rey, a scavenger played by Daisy Ridley, and reformed stormtrooper Finn (British actor John Boyega) are also along for the ride – and yes, we get to meet General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) too. Plus, our own Domhnall Gleeson stars as General Hux, a “ruthless… strong disciplinarian” who’s a First Order leader.

Star Wars has an absolutely massive fanbase – the original trilogy is one that parents relish showing to their children, and fans fondly recall their first time watching Han, Luke and Leia on screen.

A phenomenon

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It’s a phenomenon for a number of reasons, not least the groundbreaking technical tricks it employed to bring a universe filled with different monsters to the big screen. It’s easy to take for granted now, in a digital world, what it takes to create realistic space ships, monsters, and lightsabers, but back in the late 1970s, it was quite a task.

The original trilogy connected with young fans, but also their parents – it had the classic good versus evil battle, but a stunning reveal at the end of The Empire Strikes Back ensured that the line between good and evil was always blurred.

In its talk of ‘the force’ it also had a deep, yet simple, philosophical lesson, one that was about embracing the good and positive in life, and not focusing on the dark side.

“It’s like a do-over for my generation”

To get a feel for why the series is so beloved, we asked three of‘s biggest Star Wars fans for their thoughts.

“The Force Awakens is almost like a do-over for people of my generation,” pointed out Paul Hosford, who was introduced to Star Wars by his best friend as a child and then, later, by his cousin.

They were “insanely excited” about Episode One (that would be The Phantom Menace, the first film in the second trilogy, which starred Natalie Portman and Liam Neeson) which came out in 1999.

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“Here was a NEW Star Wars movie. One of our time, one that OUR generation owned,” said Hosford. “And then Jar Jar [Binks] happened.”

The reality is that Episodes 1-3 are not very good. They have some great bits (Grievous, mostly) but they felt like the air had been sucked from the whole thing. Now, with JJ Abrams in charge, this feels different. The trailer and marketing has been perfect, not telling you anything, and I cannot wait to see it.

For writer Steve O’Rourke, watching the film has become a family tradition. “I was a huge Star Wars fan growing up and wanted to take Luke as my confirmation name but, sadly, wasn’t allowed,” he said.

He fell out of love with them a bit because of the aforementioned prequels being “shite”. “The first one may as well have been called, ‘Star Wars Episode I: The ruining of childhoods’, it was so bad.”

Cianan Brennan also found the prequels “completely dreadful”, saying they were “hamstrung because we knew where they were going”.

“Now we don’t know what’s to come,” he said of the new trilogy. “It’s incredibly exciting.”

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O’Rourke has passed the series on to a new generation. “After seeing a clip of R2D2 on YouTube, my two-year old son is now obsessed with the original trilogy and gets to watch one per week with either my wife or I there to fast-forward through the really scary bits.

In one of my more impressive feats of parenting (or, more likely, worst) he now says ‘that’s no moon’ every time he sees a picture of the Death Star but, worryingly, is a huge Darth Vader fan so we have to end Return of the Jedi early and tell him they all lived happily ever after.

“It’s great watching the original movies again through his eyes – even if I’ll have to explain to him some day that no, I can’t think of a reason why [Princess Leia is] wearing a gold bikini [in Return of the Jedi] either – and his face reminds me of the awe with which I watched them first time around. There are few movies that can cross generations like that.”

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“JJ Abrams is a solid enough hand”

For Brennan, who watched Return of the Jedi “hundreds of times” as a kid, the appeal of the new trilogy includes the fact that Hamill, Ford and Fisher are back, but he ”couldn’t care less about the new additions (which is also a bit worrying)”.

He’s happy to see director JJ Abrams (who was also behind the Star Trek reboot) at the helm. “We know JJ is a solid enough hand. You get the feeling he’s a crowd-pleaser who absolutely doesn’t want to recreate the crap that went with the prequels,” said Brennan.

Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, is back, another boon for Brennan. “He knows how to write likeable space people, as opposed to wooden old Hayden Christensen.”

What else? “The Millennium Falcon. It’s just so, so, so, so, so cool… The music. The twin suns of Tattooine theme is in all the trailers and makes me feel like I’m six years old every time I hear it.”

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He is worried though about the “silly melted Darth Vader helmet”:


He does have a feeling it’ll struggle to live up to the hype. “There’s also a chance it’ll be crap but reviewed brilliantly (Empire gave all the prequels great reviews).”

Like many a Star Wars fan, Brennan owned a couple of lightsabers, “which are long since faded at the joints from being battered off each other”.

Oh and myself and 13 others dressed up as Darth Vader, 12 stormtroopers and a rebel pilot for Halloween a few years back. It was great, apart from when I walked into a pole on West Street in Drogheda because you can’t see anything out of the helmet.

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What about you – what are your Star Wars memories? Have you bought your tickets to the showings already? Share your thoughts and excitement in the comments (and please, *no spoilers!*)

Read: Dublin’s Spire was lit up like a lightsaber for Star Wars last night>

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