I said I was going to do it. No matter what it took or how much punishment was inflicted on me.
I had a ticket for seven Star Wars movies, all in storyline order from The Phantom Menace to the new The Force Awakens, all showing at the Regal Crossgates Mall cinema in one full day.
The first film, The Phantom Menace, would start at 4:00 a.m., while the final film, a 3D showing of The Force Awakens, was scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
I can do this. All I need is a little adjustment in my sleep pattern, and…
Aw geez. Can’t sleep. So excited. Oh come on, how many of you as kids tried to go to sleep on Christmas Eve? Can’t do it. Nobody can.
And sure enough, it’s 1:00 a.m. on Thursday and I’ve probably gotten an hour of sleep at the most.
At around 2:30 a.m., I decided I would go to the mall early and get a nap in the theater before the first feature started.
Ha. No such luck. I’m there at the mall at 3:00 a.m., and there’s already a line for the marathon. There were a few costumed attendees, mostly wearing Jedi gear (which, based on Regal Cinema’s requests for no masked costumes, made sense). I talk with a few people in line about doing this marathon. All of us are excited.
The line moves forward. We all receive a ticket-lanyard, which allows us to leave and enter the cinema at will throughout the marathon. And sure enough, right on time, at 4:00 a.m., the marathon starts with Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Immediately I recognize some trends among the attendees. Many people took photos of the opening screen crawl for each film, ostensibly to prove they were at the marathon, and to let their Facebook friends know the same. People cheered at the first appearances of Han Solo or Darth Vader; they applauded at classic lines of “Do… or do not … there is no try,” or “It’s a Trap!!”
And then came the movie intervals. Someone mentioned that there would be 15-minute intervals between each film, with a 1-hour interval between each trilogy. Great. I can go to the food court, get lunch, and be back in time.
Well… not quite.
As I left the theater after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, I saw a theater employee and asked him about the intervals. “Fifteen minutes through all the films,” he said.
“And an hour break between the trilogies?”
“No. Fifteen minutes only.” He then showed me a printed movie schedule. Fifteen minutes tops.
Well, fifteen minutes was more than enough to get beverage and popcorn refills, and bathroom breaks. I’m sure there were a few padawans who thought there was an hour-long break inbetween episodes III and IV, they learned quickly that such was not the case. Oh well…
One thing I will say, in watching all six episodes in storyline order – you see the basic themes of a Star Wars movie repeated over and over again, as if they were paintstrokes on a master’s canvas. You saw the plotlines repeated and reinterpreted. You saw little things that tied each sequel to its prequel – for example, the white fighting suit worn by Padme Amidala in Episode II: Attack of the Clones is eerily similar to the fighting suit worn by Princess Leia in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
I also sensed that throughout the six movies, there were still “special edits” made of each film. Heck, I think they took the scene out of Episode I: The Phantom Menace where Anikin Skywalker makes an off-handed remark about Greedo getting in trouble some day. And yes, the original trilogy was “special edition”ed throughout the marathon.
“I heard that Disney plans on releasing the original trilogy in the original editions on Blu-Ray,” a theater patron said to me.
“Yeah,” I scoffed, “probably at the same time they release Song of the South on Blu-Ray.”
And then… at 7:00 p.m… after thirteen hours of classic Star Wars movies…
We saw previews of upcoming attractions. At least twenty minutes of them. X-Men: Apocalypse. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. World of Warcraft: The Movie. Jungle Book. The Fifth Wave. Blah blah blah start the dang movie already.
And then… at around 7:30 p.m…
There it was. The blue script for “A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
Cheers. Applause. Episode VII: The Force Awakens tilted text crawl filled the screen.
And we watched. And we cheered. And we cried. And we applauded. And we laughed. And yes, I think the new characters mixed well with the classic characters, and I think there’s new and exciting directions for this series going forward.
Wow. At 10:00 p.m., I finally arrived home. What an amazing experience. In all honesty, it’s been 40 years since I felt all this excitement and anticipation for a Star Wars movie.
Can’t wait for 2016, when the standalone Star Wars: Rogue One standalone film debuts. Or 2017, when Star Wars: Episode VIII: Whatever the Subtitle Might Be arrives at the multiplex.