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WILD WILD PODCAST #34: (IMAX 3D Review Update!) – Finally the Force Awakens as we review Star Wars Episode VII & share our favorite Holiday TV Specials

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Mother said if I Force chocked too much my hand would freeze like that. (I should have listened.)

 

Welcome to the WILD WILD PODCAST #34

The Force is strong (and long) in this episode as Geek Outlaw & co-host Spunky Destructor sink their teeth into the long awaited release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We also deliver some holiday cheer in the form of our favorite Holiday TV specials!

(NOTE: Our Star Wars coverage begins at approximately the 49 minute mark of our special 2-hour holiday extravaganza!)

(WARNING: Minor spoilers there are. Caution, you should use.)

LISTEN HERE! —>  Wild Wild Podcast #34

 

IMAX 3D REVIEW UPDATE:  As hinted at in the original post below, I took in my second viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in one of the half-dozen available laser-projected IMAX 3D theaters. I was persuaded by the director himself, J.J. Abrams, as he confidentially declared it the best possible way to view the film, in his own unbiased opinion of course. I’m sure you could feel the sarcasm awaken on that last comment seeing as how IMAX 3D tickets fall within the higher echelon of the price bracket, right up there with booking a first-class flight on an upcoming Virgin Atlantic spaceliner.

Not that the extra-inflated prices of the IMAX screenings would have deterred the seventh chapter in the franchise from capturing the North American box-office throne, which it did yesterday in a mind-altering 20 days. As a comparison, the now runner-up, Avatar, took over 7 months and a re-release to hit $760 million.

 

Star Wars Jurassic

What, no Hallmark card from Mr. Cameron?

 

Dollars and sense aside (see what I did there?), the grand questions are, was the IMAX 3D showing worth the price of admission, and did the second go-round change my overall enjoyment of the film itself.

Let’s start with the former, shall we (as this is going to be a very short summary). IMAX 3D does for The Force Awakens that Photoshop does for Kim Kardashian’s backside, it enhances the entire package to great effect. It should be noted I had the privilege (and luck of living within a droids’s throw) of the Universal Studios Citywalk theater that features one of the largest IMAX theaters in the known galaxy. When footage actually shot with an IMAX camera is being projected on the Citywalk screen, it all but forces audience members to crank their necks upwards in a 90 degree fashion in order to take in every inch of the massive display which is roughly the size of North Carolina. Sadly, there was only one approximately 10 minute portion of the movie that utilized the IMAX camera, but to say it was a sight to behold would be a vast understatement, particularly during the Millennium Falcon chase scene.

 

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When size of the Schwartz does matter.

 

On the extra-dimensional side of things, the 3D element was probably one of the best implementations of the technology outside of Avatar (coincidence?) and a handful of all-CGI films. It was quite literally jaw-dropping to see one of the First Order cruisers seemingly float out of space and into the theater itself. Bottom-line, if you’ve got an IMAX 3D theater – be it laser-projected or not – use The Force to get yourself there posthaste.

As for my second helping in general, I was honestly a bit surprised when I walked out of the theater with a more favorable opinion of the movie compared to my initial outing. Dare I say, it didn’t have anything to do with the rose tinted 3D IMAX glasses I was sporting this time either. Oddly enough, I found myself connecting to the characters and the relationships more so during my repeat visit, which in turn made for a more emotionally satisfying experience overall.

 

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The Dark Side didn’t have cookies, but they did have plenty of vodka.

 

Unfortunately, a psychology degree is not part of my repertoire yet, so telling you why this was the case is outside of my pay grade. If I had to guesstimate however, I’d most likely chalk up my not-as-awesome first sitting with the film to sensory overload. The excitement of seeing the first Star Wars sequel in over 32 years by the man who has delivered one of my favorite television series (LOST) and arguably the best reboot-that’s-not-a-reboot (Star Trek), may have prevented me from absorbing the human components underneath all of the Jedi polish.

Needless to say, whether you see it in IMAX 3D or not (at minimum shoot for 3D), I highly recommend a second viewing in any format, as it might positively alter your take once you’ve broken through the coolness factor of it being a brand new Star Wars sequel. It even prompted me to raise my review by one whole spur! Don’t call it a comeback though, The Force was always awake.

 

5 Spurs

~

ORIGINAL 2D REVIEW: Unless you’ve been living under a rock – or within the carcass of a hairy kangaroo-looking alien creature – you’re probably aware that one of the most anticipated movies this side of The Dark Side just landed at theaters a few days ago. Yes, I not only delivered another non-senseical metaphor, but more importantly, Disney finally broke their Lucasfilm seal with the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It’s the first in a long line of new films and theme parks that should keep fans of the franchise happy long after they’ve passed on to the spiritual side of The Force.

Worries of whether Disney’s acquisition of humanity’s most beloved Sci-Fi franchise would be a successful endeavor all but disappeared back when the second teaser trailer was released featuring Han Solo and his furry friend gracing the big screen together again for the first time in over 32 years. While most people, myself included, will tell you a trailer does not a movie make, there was enough positive nostalgic tingles provided within the aforementioned trailer that I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney made their money back on the film through licensing partnerships based on those 2-minutes alone.

 


I’ve seen the movie already but this teaser still gives me the warm and fuzzies.

 

For all intents and purposes, the record-shattering $247 million this film hauled in during its opening weekend (plus the $281 million earned internationally), is proverbial icing on the cake for Disney whom has already been raking it in since acquiring the rights from George Lucas.

Enough about greenbacks though, I’m fairly certain all three of you reading this are wondering what our thoughts are on the flick itself. However, before I start down the road on another of my mostly incoherent ramblings, I want to send out a huge thanks to author and Podthingy host John Mulhall for orchestrating a mass viewing at the historic Arclight Cinema in Hollywood, CA. A special thanks as well to Midnight Movie Squad member Robert Takata for commandeering the tickets in person when our chances of pre-opening night viewing looked as bleak as Lindsay Lohan’s career. Among those in our group were many friends and family members of the late Podthingy co-host, Blayne Alexander. Blayne was as big a fan of the franchise as any, and a toast was made in his honor before heading to the seats. Blayne’s force was strong with the entire group in attendance and we knew he was enjoying the viewing with us all in our own special way.

 

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The Midnight Movie Squad out in “Force”.

 

With regards to my written review, I’m going to try and refrain from getting too wordy here since most of what we have to say is revealed in the podcast itself, but I will sum up my general thoughts in four simple words.

Star Wars is back!

Despite the notion a franchise like Star Wars never really leaves per say, the core elements of what made the originals so popular felt as if they went on a bit of a hiatus with the prequels produced by Mr. Lucas himself over a decade ago. As he did with his original Star Trek refresher, J.J. Abrams succeeds in revitalizing a property that was needed a shot of adrenaline. To be fair though, Abrams had the capability to tap the nostalgia factor of the popular human actors from the original trilogy those of whom, understandably, couldn’t really be utilized in any substantial capacity for the prequels. On a related J.J. topic, the sci-fi loving director noted one the best ways to view the film is in a 3D laser projected IMAX theater, which the Outlaw will be partaking in later this week for his second viewing. I’ll update the review accordingly if “The Force” of 3D IMAX in any way reshapes my opinions of the flick.

 

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“Can you hear The Force now? Good…”

 

Abrams wisely makes use of the nostalgia at his disposal at almost every turn. This is by no means an undesirable aspect seeing as he incorporates the feel-good nods to great effect. If anything, story wise his homage to A New Hope comes across as semi-carbon copy of said original when one steps back to look at the entire series of events. Alas, this didn’t bother me sensibilities too much as I more or less perceived it as an endearing, yet honorable way to reintroduce the Star Wars universe to a whole new generation without [shudder] completely revamping it. Furthermore, in general I feel The Force Awakens gives all fans A New Hope for the future of what’s to come. (See what I did there?) One of my few major gripes with this installment had more to do with the predictability of a major scene, and the rushing of another.

 

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The Wild Wild Podcast with Chromedome. (And yes, I’m referring to the Stormtrooper, not me.)

 

On the character front, seeing old favorites like R2-D2, C3P0 and Leia grace the screen after the events of Return of the Jedi sent a warm tingle down my leg. Although, that could have been the product of drinking too many adult beverages before the showing. Make no mistake about it though, The Force Awakens was the BB-8 and Han Solo show. The new little soccer ball colored droid stole every scene he was in much like R2-D2 accomplished when he first rolled onto the scene. BB-8 and Harrison Ford – whom looked as if he slid back into the role of Solo with relative ease – provided most of the film’s levity and humor. In addition, the pure magic of the non-computer generated practical effect used to make the spherical robot come to life, drew me out of the movie several times due to the pure mesmerizing joy of watching that orange and white colored ball spin swiftly through rough terrain.

 

BB-8 Gif

“You are getting sleepy…”

 

Nevertheless, before my love letter to BB-8 requires an FCC sensor, I will end my written thoughts here and use Jedi Mind Tricks to direct you all over to podcast episode #34 (although providing the link works too), where both Spunky Destructor and I engage in a more detailed discussion. May your data plan be with you.

 

Holidays Star Wars

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year fellow Outlaws. May the Force be strong with all of us in 2016!

 

The Force is strong (and long) in this episode as Geek Outlaw & co-host Spunky Destructor sink their teeth into the long awaited release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We also deliver some holiday cheer in the form of our favorite Holiday TV specials! 

(NOTE: Our Star Wars coverage begins at approximately the 49 minute mark of our special 2-hour holiday extravaganza!)

(WARNING: Minor spoilers there are. Caution, you should use.)

LISTEN HERE! —>  Wild Wild Podcast #34

 

4 Spurs

 

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