Thursday, May 19, 2005

My Star Wars Episode III Experience

(Warning! Spoilers ahead!)

What a night!

I arrived at the Loews Monmouth Mall theatre at 11 PM last night for the sold-out 12:01 am Star Wars Episode III premiere screening. There had to be more than a thousand people there. I was not expecting that. The place was jumping! The theatre that I was in was nearly filled to capacity AN HOUR before the movie began!

After waiting for what seemed forever with the unruly crowd, 12:01 hit and the trailers began. Before Star Wars they showed brand new trailers for Batman Begins, War of the Worlds and Fantastic Four, each of which are looking better than ever.

Then SW3 began and the crowd exploded. Cheers met the Star Wars logo, fanfare and Episode III crawl. A hushed silence fell over the audience.

About 15 minutes into the movie, something happened that caused this sold out crowd to riot. Suddenly the soundtrack switched over to Japanese!! After it became clear that the theatre couldn't change it back, the crowd began to get belligerent. Oh no!

Finally, the movie was stopped and the crowd cheered and jeered. A visibly shaken Loews manager, flanked by police officers, stood in front of the crowd and tried to explain that the sceening had been canceled because of technical difficulties and refunds would be issued.

The crowd went berserk. Security stepped in front of the manager as disappointed customers screamed and shouted. Popcorn and empty soda cups flew everywhere.

Several of the prints had all gone to Japanese at a particular point in the film. Knowing that there were several midnight showings were planned, I ran out of the theatre and was pointed to another theatre by an usher. I ducked into the 12:30 showing, which had just begun! :)

Apparently several other members of my 12:01 audience had done the same thing as, when the film got to the point where it had switched over to another language in the other theatre, cheers rang out as it continued in English.

So, I will say that after seeing the entire movie, I do agree with the critics that this is the best of the prequel series. It's very exciting and the action starts right away, practically never letting up. Be warned, however: this movie is VERY dark as is definitely not for today's children (although I would have been right at home there as a little kid). Anakin becomes very scary as he turns toward the Dark Side and there are several scenes of graphically and psychologically disturbing images and events. This is all necessary, of course.

If you liked seeing Yoda kick some ass in Episode 2, then you are going to be very pleased with the final hour of the movie. Anakin and Obi-Won's confrontation is everything that it should be and ends in an amazing and grisly fashion.

Jar-Jar Binks appears twice in the film, but never speaks!

The rise and creation of Darth Vader almost happens too easily, but you will be amazed and shocked at Anakin's actions.

In the end, what we have here is a perfect final film in the first series. George Lucas did an excellent job and should be proud. The final 20 minutes are going to be a nostalgic and emotional experience for you, as we look backward at what came before and experience the events that will set up Episodes 4 - 6.

From the looks of the crowds last night and reports that I have read here:

it looks like SW3 may set an opening day record. It has to beat $40 million (Spider-Man 2) to do that. I will also go out on a limb and again agree with some other reviewers by saying that SW3 will be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. If things go like last year with The Return of the King, this may finally be the Star Wars movie that wins Best Picture.

I'd like to say that, even though I was shocked and disappointed with the Loews print problems, the Loews Monmouth management handled this unexpected problem with professionalism and aplomb. We all eventually got the see the movie and were rewarded with free movie passes for our trouble. Kudos guys.

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