The Star Wars series is back…finally.

The release of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” reminded me of why I used to love the series so much.

Variety magazine hit the nail squarely on the head when a reviewer said, “for the original generation of ‘Star Wars’ fans who weren’t sure what to make of episodes one, two, and three, ‘Rogue One’ is the prequel they’ve always wanted.”

I saw the first movie, then simply titled “Star Wars,” at least a dozen times at the Phoenix Cine-Capri Theatre, a cavernous venue with just one massive screen.

The cool, welcoming air hit me like a wall as I stepped in from the 110-degree Arizona heat.

I recall the majesty of the John Williams score, the scrolling story at the beginning, and my feeling of awe watching the space scenes unfold. It was made just for an 11-year-old kid.

The Cine-Capri is gone now, torn down in 1998. Before it was, I was able to see Star Wars there once more, in the1997 re-release. It wasn’t quite the same, because George Lucas had tinkered with it. (Han shot first!) But it’s my last memory of seeing a large-scale motion picture there.

Yes, I know there’s a new Cine-Capri. It’s not the same.

In 1977 and ’78, I had the action figures and the vehicles (landspeeder, x-wing fighter, TIE fighter) and the Death Star. I played with them until they wore out, making up elaborate battles and heroic rescues.

I liked “The Empire Strikes Back,” even though it seemed incomplete, and cheered along with the movie crowd at “Return of the Jedi,” despite what Harrison Ford has called the “Teddy Bear Tea Party.”

When I was Chief Photographer at a cable news operation in a small South Carolina town, in 1996, I was sent, with reporter Matt Friedman, to cover the set-up of a comic-con sort of event.

There was nothing to shoot—it was tables and chairs in an empty hall.

But the organizer told us to wait a few minutes and he’d have someone we could interview.

We almost passed out when we learned we’d be talking with Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett)  and Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok).

I remember saying, “Please don’t ask them what it was like to work with Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford,” but that was an unfounded concern.

Matt was perhaps a bigger fan than I, and he worked hard to not seem star-struck and do a professional interview.

No one in the newsroom was as excited as we were about our “get.”

Later, I had an uneasy feeling that came with the announcement that these three films would soon make up episodes 4, 5 and 6 of a nine-part series. I didn’t want that.

In fact, I became certain that I didn’t want it when I saw episode 1, “The Phantom

The face of the enemy.

Menace” and met the completely objectionable character Jar-Jar Binks.

Much has been written about him, all bad and all accurate.

I despised this CGI character. (And I note here that Vidangel, the streaming video service that allows you to filter profanity from movies, also allows you to filter Jar-Jar from Episode 1.)

The plot was dumb, too–midi-chlorians? A trade war? I was so disgusted that I skipped Attack of the Clones and caught Revenue of the Sith on satellite.

Last December, I began to see signs of the series returning to a worthwhile endeavor again, and went to see “The Force Awakens,” episode 7. It was not bad. A little slow in parts, but certainly a good deal better than the prequels were.

So I was willing to see “Rogue One.”

It was everything I could have hoped. There are new characters and new technology, but plenty of nods to Star Wars canon.

Grand Moff Tarkin was back, courtesy of CGI that resurrected the late Peter Cushing; Red Leader and Gold Leader once again led their squadrons into battle.

And Princess Leia returned, in her 19-year-old persona, thanks to CGI as well.

Carrie Fisher died the day I saw the film, which made it even more poignant.

It set up “A New Hope” perfectly.

“Rogue One’ really is the prequel I wanted from the start.
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