The Force is strong with Breaking Benjamin frontman and Star Wars fan Benjamin Burnley
Benjamin Burnley plays guitar and sings at venues around the country with Breaking Benjamin, but in the ’80s, a younger Burnley could be found playing Star Wars in his home with a Millennium Falcon (his favorite toy) and various action figures. The Northeastern Pennsylvania native has counted himself among fans of the series since family members took he and his brother to see the films in theaters decades ago. That feeling was reinvigorated with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
“I just watched the original trilogy not too long ago and there were really a lot of amazing visual things that were groundbreaking,” Burnley said. “I’m really looking forward to ‘The Force Awakens.’ It’s going to be awesome and I have my tickets and I’m counting the days down.”
Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of both “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” also served as a co-writer on “The Force Awakens.” Kasdan’s involvement is one of the main reasons the narrative-focused Burnley is excited for the upcoming space opera sequel.
“The actual story is going to be amazingly compelling,” Burnley said. “The characters look amazing, and if the story is there and the movie is good things like CGI or practical effects don’t matter to me. If the characters are amazing and doing amazing things and written really well then the CGI is the least of my concerns.”
Burnley may be focused on story, but that doesn’t mean the aspects of “The Force Awakens” that help establish it as a “Star Wars” film are lost on him. One of the things Burnley pointed out from the original trilogy was its humming and stuttering lightsabers. He described these aspects as unintentional side effects of the rotoscoping process used to create the iconic sword’s glow. Rotoscoping has become an antiquated technique, but Burnley sites the flickering sabers of “The Force Awakens” as a sign that the Force is strong with the movie’s director, J. J. Abrams.
Characters who align with the dark side of the Force have always intrigued the singer. He said he doesn’t have any favorite characters, but has always liked Vader and he already has a Kylo Ren suit and lightsaber. For an artist who just released an album titled “Dark Before Dawn” and frequently takes the stage wearing all black, this predisposition to the dark side is logical. Even playing favorites can’t stop him from agreeing with some of the decisions made with dark side characters in the prequels as logical.
“Darth Maul is a really cool character but he’s not in the movie long and (Darth Maul actor) Ray Park wasn’t even allowed to use his own voice,” Burnley said. “General Grievous is an OK character, and really, those are the only two that come to my mind. When you think about the original ones you have Lando, Han, Leia, Luke, Vader … even the prequel emperor is ruined because he’s not the same creepy character.”
Burnley said the prequels held tolerable aspects; nothing about them was actually good. On Dec. 18, he and an army of fellow Star Wars fans will visit theaters to begin their newest journey to a galaxy far, far away. The two-hour ride will feature the talents of faces both new and old in front of and behind the camera. Burnley is excited to see if the Force is strong with Abrams and company.
If his predictions hold up, he won’t be the only new Knights of Ren convert leaving movie theaters opening weekend.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts