So of course my friend and I were eager to see The Force Awakens once more in the theater, but where? Somewhere in Rockville? Closer to DC? Did we want to check it out in 3-D? As I so often do, I entrusted my friend with the final decision. He'd do the research; we'd have a great time.
What he found was an article from Wired. And what he learned--and I learned, not long after--is that he lives within driving distance of one of those screens--the Airbus IMAX at Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, near Dulles International Airport, and located within a companion facility to the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum. Now, living close by to all those great Smithsonian museums and galleries (and the zoo!) is fantastic enough, but you're telling me there's a friggin' IMAX with laser projection too? One of only seven in North America, fourteen in the entire world? You're telling me we're going to watch The Force Awakens the way it was meant to be seen?
Yep, that's what he was telling me. So now I will tell you--if you are a Star Wars fan and you live near one of the theaters listed below*, go. If you have already done so, then you already know so. Seriously. Go. Forgot those cookies, this is the treat you really want.
Oh, you want reasons why? Well, lemme see what I can do.
--Sparks, dust motes, snowflakes...I haven't been this impressed by elements since Earth Wind and Fire's cover of "Got To Get You Into My Life."
--After spending the day prior in thrall of the original soundtrack anthology, I vowed to pay closer attention to the music of The Force Awakens. "Rey's Theme" recurs at least four times throughout, and for good reason: it's already one of the most superlative pieces John Williams has composed across all seven movies. Yes, it's occupying the same rarefied air as "The Imperial March," "The Asteroid Field," "Duel of the Fates" and "Binary Sunset." The haunting music for the showdown between Han and Ren stood out during the second viewing as well.
If the audio accompaniment to the climactic saber duel seems insufficiently, well, climactic--I say it's giving to the action no more than what it takes from the action. The clash between Kylo and Rey features a pair of still-raw fighters going at it amid a deteriorating environment. Williams' work, much like the entire film itself, looks to the past for inspiration.
Snoke's music gave my bones bumps. What a familiar drone, eh? Yeah. He's still not Plagueis, guys.
--Ren's saber stood out even more this time around. Not just the instability of the blade itself, but the feral growl that emanates forth when it's switched on.
--Everything that was awesome in 2-D either remains so or increases its awesomeosity exponentially. I'm somehow an even bigger fan of the Poe/Finn palship this time around, and Hux's Nazi rant filled me with a giddiness that only the most deranged scene-chewing can. BB-8 will get old around the same time Peter Pan does.
Rey? Still awesome. There are people out there who don't see this? Seriously? Yes, Virginia's daughter, Rey haters exist. A more abhorrent congregation of fuckboys I cannot fathom, let alone imagine.
--Oh, and I'm ready to say it right here right now. Rey is a Kenobi.
Kylo is occupied with living up to the legacy of his grandfather. (Why precisely is he aspiring to be just like Vader? Vader's downfall was that he had not banished all the light within; he could not stand by and let the Emperor kill Luke. Wouldn't it make more sense for Ren to think Vader was a waste of evil? Instead of finishing what he started, wouldn't Ren want to succeed where his grandpa had failed?) It would be amazing if he was building up to a life-and-death battle with the granddaughter of the man who trained both Skywalkers, the man who fucked Anakin up and necessitated his transformation into Darth Vader, the man who died at the hands of Vader in the very first movie?
The fact that mention is made of Luke's light saber once belonging to Anakin, but not of the fact that it belonged for an even longer time to Obi-Wan Kenobi, is important to me. I could be wrong, and wouldn't be upset if I was, but man that would be one sweet turn of events.
(My friend suspects that Rey was a Padawan who may of may not be from a special lineage saved/memory-wiped by a teenage Kylo Ren, sent away to Jakku in the hopes that she could be lured to the Dark Side in the future. This is interesting; creates a scenario where Rey owes her life to the man she called a "monster," among many other things.)
--You might expect the fight sequences to be much improved in 3D, and you'd be correct. Rey and Finn's escape in the Falcon and the rescue on Takodana are just two of several sequences where I felt like I was watching a true masterpiece. This is not to disparage the 2D experience whatsoever. But one is a taco without guacamole. One is the taco with not just guacamole, but several spoonfuls of it.
*TCL Chinese Theatres IMAX – Hollywood, CA
AMC Metreon 16 & IMAX – San Francisco, CA
AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19 & IMAX – Universal City, CA
Sunbrella IMAX 3D Theatre, Jordan’s Furniture Reading – Reading, MA
Scotiabank Toronto & IMAX – Toronto, Canada
Airbus IMAX, Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center – Chantilly, VA
Boeing IMAX and the Pacific Science Center – Seattle, WA
IMAX, Melbourne Museum – Australia
Event Cinemas Queen Street IMAX – New Zealand
VOX Cinemas & IMAX – UAE
Cinestar Berlin & IMAX – Germany
Filmpalast AM ZKM IMAX – Germany
Empire Leicester Square IMAX – United Kingdom
Cineworld Sheffield & IMAX – United Kingdom