Review: The Force Awakens Première


This isn't a review of the new Star Wars film, it's a diary entry about my experiences at the première. No spoilers, sweetie!

I love Star War. Probably more than is healthy. When tickets for the new movie were released, I snaffled up a pair... for the next morning! Look, I'm getting old, and I didn't fancy watching a midnight screening full of screaming fans. So I booked a 10 am showing on the (entirely correct) assumption that the cinema would be empty and I could enjoy it in peace.

My employer, O2 (standard disclaimer), had been giving away tickets all week to their customers via a competition which, reasonably, staff weren't allowed to enter. They did have a competition to go to an exclusive screening which I hadn't won. :sad face emoji:

I was sat in a meeting and, while my colleagues are riveting, had cause to check my phone. I flicked into my email - having exhausted Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and some cool app you've not heard of yet - and spotted this subject line:

Tickets To Tonight's Star Wars Premiere. Reply ASAP
Email1-fs8

omg!

I hit reply to the email claiming the tickets. Then read the email properly and emailed the correct person. Then I sent another email just to make sure they got the first two. Then waited.

And waited...

Email2-fs8

OMG!

I texted my wife and then ran out of the office as fast as my dignity would allow.

Texts with Liz

Stopping to tweet first, of course!

OMG!

Star Wars Ticket Envelope

OMG!

Star Wars Tickets

I've been to film previews in Leicester Square before - 5 years ago for the disastrous Tron sequel - but this was the first time I'd been to a première. It was crazy!

Star Wars Vue

The place was packed with fans in costumes - and people getting selfies with them.

Star Wars Selfies

We didn't get to see any of the stars - the place was far too packed for that, so we started queueing. I've seen photos of the queues at the 1977 screening - but I'd never experienced anything quite like this.

Star Wars Queues

Literally queues around the block and back again! But, for all that, they moved quickly and we were able to get into cinema without much trouble. Only to be met with these dire warnings.

Star Wars Piracy

I was ridiculously nervous. I was shaking - I don't know if it was fear (what if it's crap?), excitement (OMG!), or the free ice-cream we'd been given. But my stomach was cramping and my head was spinning.

The cinema was showing us the Sky TV coverage of the stars arriving which wasn't exactly must-see-TV. I squeezed my way past a full row of people (sorry, excuse me, thanks, much obliged, sorry). Because I didn't know how long it would be before they started the film, I went for the quickest toilet break in the history of cinema-goers.

Well, that was the idea - I got stuck behind a escalator full of Storm Troopers.

I ran back to the screen - only to be faced with another half-hour of celebrity interviews. It was so weird seeing the red-carpet interviews. I'd been avoiding spoilers - even trailers - so I could have a completely fresh experience. I had no idea that Lupita Nyong'o was in the film until they started interviewing her. So strange!

And then, with knots in my stomach, the lights went down and the screen came alive with magic.

I'm not ashamed to say I bounced in my seat with excitement at the space battles. I had a visceral need to buy a remote control BB-8. I was beside myself with joy for every single second of the show.

I stand by what I said in my tweet - it was too good. The intertextual fan-service bordered on the gratuitous but, after the anodyne prequels, it was most welcome. Much like "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" was a love letter to Kevin Smith fans, The Force Awakens is a beautiful apology to long-suffering fans of the franchise.

I left the screening grinning wildly. We were handed free lightsabres as we left (toy ones, alas) and spent the tube journey home subtly duelling.

I remembered my original review of The Phantom Menace. I thought it was amazing. In retrospect, it wasn't. Would I feel the same way about this movie?

The next morning we saw it again - in 33DD! It was even better. The use of depth was just perfect - the static shots of gigantic space-ships were mesmerising. Like all 3D films, the extra dimension doesn't add anything the majority of the time - and it's no different in Star Wars. I'm looking forward to reconstructing some of the models in 3D

Some people have complained the the film is a direct clone of A New Hope. Those people are, bluntly, ignorant. If you think that ANH is somehow original, you've misunderstood the point of the film.

The Force Awakens is a beautiful homage to the films I grew up with - and I love it.

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