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Fans see "Force Awakens" taking "Star Wars" back to heyday

Fans see "Force Awakens" taking "Star Wars" back to heyday

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SIOUX CITY | Danielle Mosieur has seen the first six Star Wars films at least 1,000 times combined.

When the Sioux City woman learned in early 2013 that a seventh film would be released in late 2015, however, she initially worried it would hurt the overall brand of the blockbuster science-fiction franchise.

But her desire to see the new film, "The Force Awakens," went into hyperdrive this summer when she watched a trailer that featured the original music and mentioned the original characters.

"From what I've seen, I've cried into my pillow and I got goosebumps that I didn't even expect. I am getting choked up right now, thinking about it," Mosieur said.

"The Force Awakens," the first new "Star Wars" film since 2005, premieres Thursday evening. Superfans in Siouxland like Mosieur are expected to flock to theaters on opening night for the first showing.

Like Mosieur, Scott Goodvin, Tony Morris and Don Terry have compiled 1,000 viewings each of the previous Star War films, released in two trilogies from 1977 to 1983 and then 1999 to 2005.

Morris, 39, said he saw the first "Star Wars" film as a 1-year-old at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City and distinctly remembers it. The Walthill, Nebraska, resident swore a second and third time that is true, and his recollection from that early age may have been aided by having an uncle who took him 20 times in 1977.

Siouxland Star Wars fans said they are intrigued that director J.J. Abrams, who helmed a "Star Trek" reboot recently and a Steven Speilberg homage in 2011's "Super 8," has sought to keep old fans happy by returning many beloved original characters and mixing in new ones.

The new characters include Rey, who morphs from a desert scavenger into a strong female lead, Finn, who reportedly converts from being a bad-guy Stormtrooper, and Kylo Ren, a dark-side villain who may go on to rival Darth Vader. Also, the series will have a female villain for the first time, with silver-suited Stormtrooper Capt. Phasma.

Some fan boys have geeked out over such elements as Ren's red lightsaber and a new helper droid, BB-8.

"I am intrigued to see the development of Rey and Finn," Terry, 43, of Marcus, Iowa, said, especially how they may blend with the original characters.

Terry, Mosieur and Morris are glad "The Force Awakens'" plot remains a mystery, even though character names have been released and rough biographies have been pieced together by superfans. The three said they want to sit back in theaters and let the details hit them without preconceived notions.

"I want to be at least a little bit surprised when I walk in. I don't want to know a lot," Morris said.

Added Terry: "I go in with an open mind. I enjoy them. I don't nit-pick over stories (plots)."

Mosieur hates one guessed-at plot detail a friend shared.

"Someone told me Chewbacca dies. I don't know if he is trying to make me mad," Mosieur said.

For Goodvin, 42, of Sioux City, the allure of the series is the fantasy world where the hero Jedi characters battle with Dark Side baddies, including Sith Lords and others. "You can escape into (it) and it makes your life seem a little less hectic," Goodvin said.

Goodvin saw the first film in 1977 in theaters when an aunt, who "had the hots" for Han Solo, portrayed by Harrison Ford, took him. Goodvin thanks his aunt to this day.

"It overwhelmed you as you were seeing it at that little age," Goodvin said.

Terry was a young boy of an age to see the original film in theaters, like Goodvin and Morris. But his father was battling cancer that summer, before dying in fall 1977, so Terry did not go. However, he played with many of the "Star Wars" toys and other merchandise that came with the blockbuster and became a fan in that way.

Terry said his mother later said she was glad he had an outlet from the grief of losing his father through the film series with "a moral, strong compass."

"It helped her, in a way, so I could escape," Terry said.

The fave film of Mosieur, 39, is "The Empire Strikes Back," which came out in 1980, three years before she saw her first series movie, at age 7, with the 1983 release of "Return of the Jedi."

"I wrote letters to Han Solo and Luke Skywalker when I was little, just like people write letters to Santa. ...They were love letters. I was old enough to feel things in my heart," said Mosieur, who has since attended the national "Star Wars" convention in Orlando, Florida, and local conventions in Sioux City.

Mosieur can't decide between Yoda and Vader as her favorite characters, and she really likes the friendship between the only two characters to be in all six films so far, the robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. Mosieur said the allure of the robots may have to do with her father having the job of designing robots for Disney in California, where there was always a robot in their home.

"It is just a beautiful movie in many different aspects," Mosieur said. "I get emotional. I get goose bumps when I hear the songs. When Darth Vader first comes on the screen, I squeal. It is an emotional set of movies for me, it has to do with growing up, being surrounded by it."

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