After getting saturated at 2010's overstimulating Star Wars Celebration V fan convention, I publicly swore off Star Wars, and this column has remained largely Lucasfilm-free ever since. This week, I'm not only breaking my vow, but threatening to do so again soon - and I blame it all on Twitter.
It started last Wednesday, when the 140-character airwaves began vibrating with hashtag hails of "May the Fourth be with you!" Late to the meme party, I initially recoiled from thounding like Luke Thkywalker with a lithp. The following day I felt another disturbance in the Force, as if dozens of theme-park bloggers cried out in anticipation and were suddenly tweeting. The tweets were triggered by an official Disney Parks blog post announcing an invite-only event at WDW's Hollywood Studios to preview their freshly renovated Star Tours simulator. From midnight until 2 a.m. on the morning before the ride's May 20 official grand reopening, 250 selected attendees will take in a behind-the-scenes presentation and make the 3D-enhanced jump to hyperspace ahead of the huge crowds expected later that day. I RSVP'ed 16 minutes after the event was announced, which turned out to be about 15 minutes before capacity was capped, and in the end, I made the cut, so expect a brief break from the Fringe Festival in two weeks when I bring you my final verdict on this revamped virtual voyage to a galaxy far, far, away.
After that one-two punch, it seemed stars were aligning to shatter my anti-Star Wars deflector shields. Even so, I was wary when alerted to a free marathon of the films being screened at A Comic Shop on the night before Mother's Day. I'm resigned to seeing the movies again during their upcoming (and certain to be nauseating) 3-D rerelease, but wasn't looking forward to that day. Besides, as a regular Coliseum of Comics customer (and before that Big Apple Comics, R.I.P.), I'd never actually set foot in the popular store across from Full Sail University.
What sealed the deal was when I called A Comic Shop to verify the show time and ask if they were showing the prequels or digitally revised "special editions." The voice on the other end defiantly responded, "Hells to the no! No prequel crap. We are only watching the original theatrical release versions, before George Lucas crapped on his own masterpiece."
A Comic Shop turned out to be less of a comic book vendor and more of a third-space hangout for genre fans - a Stardust Video & Coffee for fanboys. I'd hoped to pick up the last few issues of my favorite series, but I discovered that this store stocks scarcely any back issues; there's barely an archival bag-and-board in sight. Instead they focus on best-selling graphic novels and trade paperback collections, along with the latest issues from DC and Marvel's big names (Supes, Bats, Spidey, etc.) and a smattering of indie books. (Perhaps it was just bad timing, as my visit coincided with the heavily promoted "Free Comic Book Day.") I was bummed not to find any copies of Tiny Titans, though I did discover an orgy of gratuitous rape and mutilation called Crossed: Psychopath (bring one home for the kiddies!) that could be the poster child for a revival of the puritanical Comics Code.
By 6 p.m., the Jedi faithful had gathered in the Geek Easy, an adjoining lounge decorated with Super Mario Brothers murals and hi-def TVs. I immediately exposed my aspect ratio anal retentiveness by observing that their newfangled Sony Blu-ray player couldn't comprehend the aging non-anamorphic DVD, which is the only format Lucas begrudgingly released the original unmolested prints in. Since I didn't want to see Princess Leia looking like she was 4 foot 3 and 180 pounds, I volunteered to help fiddle with the remote controls until a fix was found, doubtless annoying those attendees who couldn't care less how big the black letterbox bars are.
The viewing itself was almost anticlimactic, featuring the expected audio commentary from the audience, including trivia (did you know actor David Prowse was unaware James Earl Jones had dubbed over his performance as Darth Vader until the first film premiered?) and MST3K-style snark; when Luke first meets Leia, a "Man, my sister's hot!" from the back of the room drew approving laughter.
Finally, I must tarnish my geek cred once again and admit that my mind began to wander in the face of the classic film's stately pacing. I found myself wondering about the blatant disregard of OSHA standards on the Death Star (no handrails?) and where the Empire found an insurer to underwrite a second space station after rebels destroyed the first. Since I'm old enough to have seen the originals in the theater, I ended up home in bed long before the diehards heard the Ewoks sing "Yub Nub." Thank Yoda, I've still got a couple of weeks to store up sleep before my late-night trip back to Endor.