Regal did a very good job last night. Even though they had three sold-out theatres for the midnight show, they had cleared the previous shows and when we arrived at ten, were ready for us to go into the auditoriums. No long lines, no arguments over having left the line and come back, no "Oh, I want to join my friends in line" nonsense. We just went in and got seats. it was calm, cool, and collected.
I'd guess some 96% of the people in our theatre last night had not been born when "Episode IV" (then just "Star Wars") was released in 1977. Of our group, Alan and Robert and his two friends and I were probably the only ones. Ira was there. Small handful of other people who looked late-20s or older. Alan's right... the excitement in the room among people who weren't even alive when this saga began is a fantastic sign that enjoyment of science fiction has taken hold in a new generation!
Also, while the stereotypes did hold for part of the crowd (did I mention Ira was there?), this was obviously a far more mainstream crowd than went to midnight showings of sci fi films in the '80s. Yes, there were even a number of attractive women!
Despite some occasional hooting and cheering, and some laughs at idiotic lines or delivery (as opposed to laughs at intentionally funny bits), the crowd was quiet enough that it wasn't tough to enjoy the movie. Not as much inane chatter as I've gotten used to at the movies, such as with the idiots behind us for "The Interpreter."
Yes, there was idiotic dialog. Surprised? Thought not. Yes, there was poor acting. There was also some great acting, and some... shall we say situationally appropriate acting. By that I mean some of the performances weren't Oscar-calibre acting, but were suitable for "Star Wars." Samuel L. Jackson, who I thought was good last time, fell short here.
The music rarely leapt to the foreground for me, as it has a couple of times in the past. (The end of "The Phantom Menace," with Augie's municipal band, is the best example, and the end of the original "Jedi" is another.) It was fine, and I look forward to listening to the soundtrack.
Best thing about the movie? The visuals were far and away the best of the series. The CG characters (like Yoda) were better rendered than ever before, the scenery was stunning, and everything blended pretty much perfectly.
Thoughts on the plot will come after tonight's second viewing, when I hope to remain awake through the whole thing.