I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens the day it came out, though not in one of the first showing. I went to see it after work (and after the department holiday party) at 9:30pm. At that point I had to take whatever showing were open and that meant 2D regular screens. But after that first showing I’ve been dying to see it 1) with Spenser and 2) in IMAX 3D. We finally were able to do that Saturday and it was everything I could have hoped for. The movie itself was just as good and, in many ways, better than the first time. And seeing it with my seven year old son made it even more spectacular. Several times during the movie Spenser reached his hands out to try and touch the screen. He loved it.
Not that either of us are particularly big Star Wars fans; we’re just big fans of the movies and the movie experience. Our first movie together was Iron Man 3 and we’ve seen lots of stuff in between since then such as The Hobbit, The Lego Movie, and the abysmal Penguins of Madagascar. But this one was bigger in every way and it was fun to be able to share a great cultural and filmatic moment with my kid.
My history with Star Wars is a mix of the original trilogy on network TV and few of the expanded universe novels, namely the awesome Thrawn Trilogy. But I was a much bigger Star Trek fan. I read a ton of those books and my early attempts at fiction were hardcore Trek knockoffs. It was a great time to be a fan because the original series was still on the air in reruns and Next Generation was giving my generation their own great series to claim as their own. Even the movies of that time were pretty good.
So while I liked parts of Star Wars and I could appreciate it’s cultural significance, it was never my thing. But when the original trilogy came to big screens again in the late 90s leading up to the prequel trilogy, I was there on opening day with my day and loved it. I even loved seeing The Phantom Menace in theaters because it was such a big deal movie and I LOVE movies.
Related to this, over Christmas break I went to see another big deal movie: The Hateful Eight. This was big because it was Tarantino and he doesn’t make many movies so they’re all big deals, but this one was even bigger because the opening few weeks featured the film in giant 70mm with the full old school cinematic experience including an overture, an intermission, and a playbill. I was originally going to see it at the theater close to me, but a comment from Duane Swierczynski on Facebook about some theaters showing the 70mm film on regular size screens got me looking for a theater showing it on IMAX. Even though I had to drive an hour in an ice storm, it was totally worth it. The experience was at least. The film was pretty solid meh. I feel like Tarantino knew he didn’t have a story or a film big enough to justify it so he tried to compensate for it with a big-scale to-do. I think the reviews and the box office results support this theory.
But I loved being at the movies and I will continue to enjoy going to the movies in a theater for the immediate future even though last year I only saw 17 movies in the theater last year which was my lowest total since right after Spenser was born. Sadly, I seem to be in a declining minority of folks who prefer movies in theaters to movies at home and movies to television. And the product on the screen lately isn;t exactly going out of its way to bring back any of the audience it lost. But I’m already looking forward to Deadpool, Batman vs. Superman, Captain America: Civil War and any number of small films including whatever the hell that thing is the Coen Brother are promoting.