THE LAST FIVE ...
Closing up shop
It may be time for a change
Entry in the air
Music of the moment
Or ... BE RANDOM!
Wednesday, June 1, 2005 - 4:36 p.m.
A visit to another galaxy
I could have been a stereotype.
Dressed in a black t-shirt, jeans and sneakers white enough to have been on their first outing from the box, some observers might have taken me for another nearly 30-year-old fan who had the kind of job that allowed him to take in the 11:30 a.m. Wednesday showing of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
But that wasn't the case. My t-shirt was from a Springsteen tour and the sneakers have been worn outside plenty -- I'm just doing my best to keep them clean at the moment. I merely amused myself -- one of just four patrons with the day off who decided to take in the final chapter of George Lucas' pet project. I'm not a die-hard fan of the series by any means, and I had no intentions of dealing with the yahoos at any of the midnight screenings. Born in 1976, I was too young to have seen Star Wars in theaters in 1977. I was 3 1/2 when The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters, so even if I had gone, it would have been over my head, if not downright terrifying. As for Return of the Jedi, I just didn't have the parents who figured I would enjoy such a film.
I can't remember when I first saw the movies, but I remember being aware of my older cousin's collection of the toys. Perhaps some of my own friends had them too, but our use of them during playtime was virtually nil. We played with Hot Wheels and other toys resembling autos, such as M.A.S.K. and Transformers. Among my Mobile Armored Strike Kommand favorites, those that I owned, were the Boulder Hill gas station/headquarters; Thunderhawk, the Camaro with the gull-wing doors that enabled it to fly; and Hurricane, the '57 Chevy/tank.
So my first Star Wars viewings would have come at someone's house when the movies hit TV or we rented them from the video store. Then I'd catch them on my own when they appeared on cable, and in college I remember at least one after-hours marathon of all three episodes (to that point) in the sophomores' corner suite my freshman year. By the time I graduated, all three had been re-released to theaters after a digital upgrade and sharpening and I did make it a point to catch them all then. For at least one, a campus dorm had rented out the theater for a late-night viewing and half a dozen of us got tickets and made a party of it.
Having missed the first run in the late 70s and early 80s, I decided I'd keep up with the first three episodes as they were released beginning back in 1999. I knew enough of the story to be interested, though I don't have all the characters and events straight in my mind even now. But I like serials and I was determined to see all six movies in theaters, even if the original three had been during the re-release 20 years after they'd first been screened.
But it's been three years since the last episode hit screens, and I have no idea who I saw Attack of the Clones with. It must have been Dave, with whom I attended a Friday afternoon opening of The Phantom Menace on its opening day. Casey has no interest, though, and I don't know the last time I saw a movie with Dave, even in a group, so I decided that if I was going to catch this last installment on the big screen with Dolby Surround Sound, I was going to have to take it upon myself to go solo. That the multiplex down the street offered an 11:30 a.m. viewing certainly helped matters, allowing me to get the movie in and still have a significant portion of the afternoon left to take care of my Wednesday responsibilities.
I have no problem watching movies by myself if they're films I want to see. Comedies aren't as fun without someone to laugh beside, and mysteries are probably a borderline genre because much of the fun comes from discussing the plot twists afterwards and bragging about which ones you saw coming a dozen scenes before they were revealed. But dramas and action flicks are perfect for a solo trip to the theater, and two previews reminded me that I'll probably be making return visits in the coming weeks. One is Cinderella Man, which is sure to be an Oscar contender next year, and the other is Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which appears to be a gratuitous shoot-'em-up display of cinematic candy. Even the constant coverage and oversaturation of the Brad Pitt-Jennifer Anison-Angelina Jolie triangle in the rags and even rather legitimate media hasn't turned me off of Michael Bay's newest offering, so I'm a bit relieved.
I'm happy I managed to stick with the plan today and haul my ass down the street, even if it did cost me nearly $15 for a matinee, small popcorn and medium Pepsi. The popcorn was delicious, even if the soda caused me to squirm in my seat throughout the final half hour of the movie. The climatic scenes and even the denouement were riveting enough to take my mind off of my discomfort.
It's not too often that a movie comes out that you know, before it opens, before you read one review, will rake in $300 million during its run. Sometimes, you just want to be a part of that. Or, at least I do.
Next page: The 101 update and an addendum
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