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When going to the movies, it's always wise to temper your expectations
Liam Neeson, right as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and Ewan McGregor as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace." - photo by Jim Bennett
Drew Struzan may not be a household name, but I guarantee youd recognize his work.

Hes an artist who drew all of the iconic movie posters that everyone remembers, from Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Back to the Future. Hes semi-retired now, but every now and then he bursts back on the scene with something special. His latest masterpiece is his poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which shows three new characters and one old favorite, a crusty-looking Han Solo wielding a blaster and just waiting to shoot first. Its truly a thing of beauty.

To help him prepare, Struzan was given a copy of the script and a rough cut of about half the movie, and he shared his reaction with fan site, saying that its beautifully made and its a wonderful story" and that it is far and away probably going to be THE BEST Star Wars youve ever seen.

I really wish he hadnt said that.

Dont get me wrong. Im hoping against hope that The Force Awakens will be magnificent, but Ive been badly burned before. Back in the waning days of the 20th century, I remember leaving my dial-up Internet connection on all night long to download the first trailer for The Phantom Menace. I couldnt wait to see that movie after the trailer blew me away. That preview had everything cool new creatures, Jedi slashing things up with light sabers, and even some new Yoda wisdom about fear, which leads to anger, which leads to hate, which leads to suffering, which eventually proved to be prophetic when millions of moviegoers subsequently suffered through two pointless hours of midichlorians and Jar Jar Binks.

The problem with The Phantom Menace wasnt just that it was a terrible film, which, of course, it was. No, the real problem was the vast disconnect between fan expectations and the dismal cinematic reality. Its often painful to watch a bad movie, but its much more painful to watch a bad movie that you expected to be good.

The flip side to this is that low expectations can actually help salvage an otherwise dreadful experience. I remember being dragged to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which had gotten dismal reviews and terrible word of mouth. With my expectations firmly buried below cellar level, I settled in and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the film didnt stink nearly as much as I thought it would. I dont know if that opinion would make a good blurb on a movie ad Its not quite as bad as youve heard! One thumb halfway up! but on that occasion, low expectations made for a more pleasant night at the movies.

This phenomenon is even more satisfying when you watch a genuinely good movie that you expected to be awful. I went into the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, thinking no young whippersnappers could even come close to the genius of Shatner and Nimoy. So imagine my delight to discover a compelling and original film that honored all the Star Treks that had come before.

Unfortunately, this vastly inflated my expectations for Star Trek Into Darkness, which turned out to be a tepid remake of The Wrath of Khan. Truly, the expectations game can often be a double-edged light saber. (Yes, I know they dont have light sabers in Star Trek. Be quiet.)

Which brings us back to Drew Struzan and his prediction that this next Star Wars will be the best of the bunch. How can that not raise my expectations sky-high? So as a favor to you, Ill predict that The Force Awakens will be even worse than when Paris Hilton made her movie debut.

And when it isnt, youre welcome.