‘Through the roof!’: Film Expert Discusses Fan Expectations, Anticipation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Maverick Moore
Maverick Moore, award-winning filmmaker and lecturer in Baylor University's department of film and digital media, answers questions about the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and discusses what legions of dedicated fans expect from this film. (Photo courtesy of Maverick Moore)
Dec. 10, 2015

Newest Star Wars film to debut Dec. 18

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WACO, Texas (Dec. 10, 2015) – For 38 years, the Star Wars saga has pulled millions of fans from multiple generations into its orbit. And in less than two weeks, on Dec. 18, the seventh – and most anticipated – film in the series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will make its debut.

Many believe it will be the highest-grossing film in history, with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprising their iconic roles for the first time since 1983.

Maverick Moore, award-winning filmmaker and lecturer in Baylor University’s department of film and digital media, answers questions about the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise – and discusses what legions of dedicated fans expect from this film.

“The nostalgia is strong. Getting to witness the continuation of the story of the original films and seeing these beloved characters again after such a long hiatus is extremely exciting. It’s what so many fans have wished for over these 32 years,” Moore said.

“There are unique and compelling characters we can love, or love to hate. There are fantastic worlds that exceed our imagination and allow us to escape into the screen. There are moments that delight us, thrill us, shock us, make us laugh and make us cry. There’s a lot to love in Star Wars.”

Q: The last time we saw Han, Leia and Luke, they were partying with the Ewoks. What will Baby Boomers be looking for, and what will the youngest fans be looking for with this new movie?

A: Younger fans will likely identify more with the new characters, and, perhaps like them, be entranced by the myth of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo or Princess Leia.

I would bet Baby Boomers are hoping to visit Luke, Han and Leia once again to find out what’s happened to them and their camaraderie over these past decades. The fact that it’s been over 30 years since we last saw them on screen only amplifies the nostalgia.

And, of course, all fans are likely looking for intense lightsaber fights, epic space battles, awesome planets, cute droids, eccentric aliens and scary villains too. I already have a Kylo Ren toy propped up on the desk in my office, so I’m guilty as charged.

Q: After all these years of George Lucas helming this story, what can we expect from J.J. Abrams? Does he have certain signatures we need to look for that will make this picture his?

A: Abrams seems to really care about the original trilogy, so it seems that his delicate handling of the story material and his faithful ambitions shooting the film are aimed at wholly respecting and preserving the integrity of the original saga and reinstating it within The Force Awakens.

He’s said it was paramount that The Force Awakens would be an honest-to-goodness Star Wars film in every way – a delightful, fun and adventurous space opera filled with hope, fear and wonder. That meant reconnecting with his childhood and even studying films outside of the Star Wars canon – the confidence of John Ford’s Westerns, the dynamic compositions within Akira Kurosawa’s films and the subtextual stillness within Terrence Malick’s films.

Q: Why did people admit to crying a bit when they saw Han Solo and Chewbacca on the trailer?

A: In a way, seeing video clips with the original characters, such as the snippet with Han Solo and Chewbacca, remind us of our childhood – that time in our lives when we first watched these films, met these characters and fell in love with them. This has caused people to have very emotional reactions, cheering or crying, from simply watching the trailer. The very-familiar John Williams score that accompanies these clips definitely adds to the swooning. It also helps that the film truly looks and feels, for the most part, like Star Wars should look – the way we remember it. The movie trailer is making people cry! That speaks for itself.

Q: It’s been noted that Abrams didn’t rely as much on the “green screen” technology we were exposed to in Episodes I, II, and III. Is this true, and why is this important?

A: From what I’ve read about the film, this is true. I admire George Lucas for leading the frontier of digital cinema with Attack of the Clones, but that film has not aged well. Furthermore, it has a distinctly different look and feel from the original films, which, because of the time period in which they were made, used only practical effects, real locations and sets, physical creature and robot costumes and models, and matte paintings instead of CGI and green-screen effects.

To remain as faithful, authentic and true to the original films as possible, Abrams’ mandate was to shoot on 35 millimeter film and to complete the effects sequences predominantly in-camera using practical effects. So, like the original trilogy, The Force Awakens utilizes practical effects, real costumes, sets, locations, and even matte paintings instead of CGI and green-screen techniques when they can afford to realistically do so without compromising the “wow” factor. CGI was apparently only used when it was unavoidable.

Q: What MUST happen in this film?

A: Don’t get me wrong, my expectations are through the roof! However, I’m just trying to not get married to any plot points that I predict.

I do think it's fair, however, to hope for a Star Wars film that is a respectful and appropriate addition to the saga story-wise and stylistically. J.J. Abrams has been very outspoken about this being a priority of the whole cast and crew in making the film – to make the film look and feel like it truly belongs and connects with the original trilogy and for audiences to be delighted, involved and awed the same way they were with the original Star Wars films.

I also think it’s fair to hope for everything that makes a good movie “good,” which, in many instances, is what makes a Star Wars film an authentic Star Wars film – loveable heroes, sinister villains, magical character chemistry, awesome set pieces, dynamic settings, beautiful cinematography and special effects, juicy conflict, an overwhelmingly satisfying resolution, and (most importantly) an unforgettably entertaining and immersive story. It just has to be a good time at the movies.

Q: What, if anything, CANNOT happen in this movie?

A: Kylo Ren removes his helmet only to reveal that he is, in fact, Jar Jar Binks. That can’t happen.

ABOUT MAVERICK MOORE

Maverick Moore, M.A., is an award-winning filmmaker and lecturer in Baylor University’s department of film and digital media in the College of Arts & Sciences. After studying film as a graduate student at Baylor University, Maverick served as the director of media production for Wooden Camera, a leading manufacturer of accessories for professional cinema cameras. Alongside his service at Wooden Camera, Maverick's filmmaking experience includes shooting, editing, writing and/or directing a variety of films – narrative films, documentary shorts, commercial spots, sports montages and promotional trailers. His most recent film, Shotgun, a narrative short film that he directed, edited and co-wrote, has screened at nearly 40 national and international film festivals, including Palm Springs International ShortFest, Festival de Cannes, and the Nashville Film Festival, where Shotgun opened for master filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard’s most recent film, Goodbye to Language.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 24 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit www.baylor.edu/artsandsciences.

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