The first spoken line in The Force Awakens is said by Lor San Tekka to Poe Dameron. Tekka's voice is of a grandfatherly tone but one that demands utter attention because the message is very, very important.
"This will help make things right again"
Oh, really JJ Abrams. What needed to be made right?
If we’re going to read into things (and let’s face it, that’s what Star Wars fanboys and girls do) then this line appears to be a message to Star Wars fans from JJ Abrams. It’s like he’s saying, “Hey, we know you guys hated the prequels so I’mmma let you finish this movie but want you to know right now, that I’ve fixed everything. I’ve loaded it up with practical effects and alien monsters, you’re gonna love it!”
It’s like a deliberate psychological trick to frame the view’s perception of the movie as being better than the prequels. Or perhaps less charitably, not as bad...
It actually goes hand in hand with the fantastic marketing campaign that played so clearly on anti-prequel nerves and anguish by demonstrating that there were a googillion practical effects, sets and creatures in the movie. If you don’t understand this point, just understand that every Stormtrooper you saw in Revenge of the Sith was actually CGI generated and not a single practical uniform costume was made.
It could be considered an OK device if the prequels did totally suck, or at least if they were universally hated. But that’s not the case. A gabillion dollars raised at the box office, another gabillion in home rental and DVD / Blu Ray purchases suggest they are loved and a whole generation who were kids when they first saw them, totally LOVE the prequel movies, even now. JJ said so himself. Indeed, Revenge of the Sith in particular is actually critically assessed as being better than Return of the Jedi.
So are the prequels really worth apologizing for in the first minute of The Force Awakens?
So what JJ is doing here is responding to the hate and derision that was poured onto the prequels and George Lucas. And let’s not quibble here, some people do hate the movies. OK, a lot of people. But I venture an opinion that there are more people that love the prequels than people that hate the prequels. The Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society certainly love them! There’s probably a large middle ground too, people that think they are just OK, as in they were decent trip to the movies with your mates and that's that. Well, more than OK if Blu Ray sales are anything to go
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So let’s assume than that 1/5* of Star Wars fans do indeed do not like the movies and they hate them (despite watching them countless times so as able to discuss why they hate every particular part of every particular scene). Is that a large enough percentage for the TFA to offer an apology of sorts just before we jump into the action? (The action was awesome, nice job there JJ!)
The risk of making a new Star Wars movie was that it would not be accepted by fans and dismissed as the prequels have so vocally. It’s thus very reasonable for Disney to do as much as it could to make the movie a hit and produce financial returns sufficient to justify their massive investment in Lucasfilm and set themselves up for the long haul success of the franchise.
But is it worth annoying the 80 percent of fans that either love or are 'OK with' the prequels (assuming of course, they all reacted the same as this author to the line)? Yes, it actually is because we are going to enjoy the rest of the movie by sharing in the laughs with BB-8 and shedding a wee tear for Han Solo. JJ and scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan actually can totally get away with it! They did deliver a pretty good movie after all. Imagine if it was a terrible movie and they left that line it! Much egg over much face.
Is it necessary at all though, as those that hate the prequels seem to be pretty vocal about how much they love the OT - and thus they would have seen TFA regardless....
If you have got this far, thanks for persevering on a pretty inane point.
*I'd run the same argument if the number was 1/4 or even 1/3.