It was 1999 obviously. The year I graduated from North Valley High School. The year time froze in a movie as you watched Trinity jump into the air. Bullet Time. Holy Shit. The year I moved out of the house. On my own, free to discover the world. I remember Y2K and how it somehow meant that the computers would shut down and the end of the modern world was at hand, and somehow it was embossed on every zipper. It was a different world then. Not a lot, but different. One big difference was at the movie theater. You see back in the 1900’s you weren’t able to just log into your smart device and reserve your seats with your ticket purchase. It wasn’t that easy. It was more savage, more chaotic, more menacing. It was - date - and the theatrical event of the summer was definitely underway.
I give you Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace, and I was in line for the midnight showing. Again, you couldn’t reserve seats, so when they would go on sale, you would have to line up just to buy them, and once the tickets were gone- they were gone. Sold Out. A devastating sign that would be hung in the window. Anywho, you could wait in line outside for your showing, so eager for them to let you in. You would file in as the doors opened and then hoped to find your spot. What row, how many seats, are we gonna have to split up, or worse, do I have to sit solo? You had to do what you had to do in order to see these blockbuster movies, and it didn’t get much more blockbuster at the time than Star Wars Episode 1. It was a Big Deal. Capital B, Capital D, Capital Capital. I grew up watching the Star Wars movies. I loved me some Empire, and part of Return of the Jedi was filmed only an hour or so away. Another George Lucas written and directed film. Heck yes. So when the tickets went on sale, I bought 4. Honestly I couldn’t tell you who I went with, but I can tell you that it was only 3 of us that night.
I had waited on the side of the building. At Night. In the dark. Glad I had a hoodie on. You know it’s gonna be a great night when the guy in front of you has a full on Jedi cloak and lightsaber. A Truck drove by and a kid popped out the window and started hucking water balloons at everybody. He got off 3 I think, one of ‘em was 15 feet in front of me down the row- but only landed at their feet. Still, kind of a dick move, but also kinda funny. The line started moving. So close yet so far away. Person by person, group by group, and finally I was in. You bypass the concession stand until seats are secured, but this night, no goodies were necessary. The pack of skittles I snuck in would suffice. After twenty minutes or so the trailers began. I love movie trailers. Honestly they’re one of my favorite things about going to the movies. A sneak peak into the future, always giving you something to look forward to. Finally the theater went dark, as the Star Wars motif kicked in and the slow reveal of white letters on a dark background began to scroll up… Yes! This was it!
Episode 1 kinda blows. There’s some nuggets of gold in the mud sure, like the dual at the end with the double sided Lightsaber. Yes you read that right, double sided Lightsaber. Darth Maul was so dope, and so underused. Needless to say, I left the movie feeling like I had just eaten a Double Western Cheeseburger meal at Carls Jr. Full, but not really satisfied. And the longer it sat with me the more unsettling I became. Don’t get me wrong here, I love Star Wars, and I’ll most definitely go see anything Star Wars in the theater (with the exception of Han Solo… sorry Childish Gambino) but this was quite the let down. Was I disappointed, sure, but only in the movie - not the experience. I miss midnight showings. I miss waiting in line and having to save seats for your buddies. I miss being young and free in anticipation for the summer. I was on the cusp of graduating High School, I had just recently turned 18, and I got a free early lesson in adulthood. Sometimes epic things are not all they’re cracked up to be, but pay attention, cuz there’s always a little gold in the mud if you just keep diggin. So go out there and dig it, and may the force be with you. JAR JAR!!!