Experiencing Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Over, the long wait is. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is here and it does not disappoint. To say the anticipation for this movie has been high, is an understatement. We've been inundated with a constant barrage of trailers, toys and news stories over the past year which would make it hard for anyone not living on Dagobah not to have felt the disturbance in the force [an awakening in the force]. The experience of seeing The Force Awakens 30 years after the Return of the Jedi is every bit as important to the overall viewing experience in theaters. With that in mind, I wanted to give you a few insights and tips to get you excited to see The Force Awakens this weekend. The line will be nothing short of trademark Disney. At four hours, my wait for the movie clocked in two hours less than the six hour wait for Star Tours back when it opened at Disneyland back in 1987. Unlike the visually exciting experience that you'll find at a Disney theme park, waiting at a movie theater can be down right boring, but not for Star Wars. There will be plenty of people adding color to the wait. Including some dressed like Jedi, Wookies, and Stormtroopers. If you're not a super fan, go early and enjoy the line, it's the pre show that sets the mood for what is to come. Let it in and remember that you are all there for a shared experience. Going early means you'll also snag the best seats. You will end up waiting with the most dedicated Star Wars fans, and it will make the wait even that more enjoyable.

The movie was carefully made to appeal to all generations. If you don't remember Star Wars, don't worry. You don't need to revisit the prior episodes to enjoy The Force Awakens. However, you should know the general storyline and the main characters of Episode IV - A New Hope, Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back and Epsiode VI - Return of the Jedi. These stories center around the heroes of the Light-side against the villainous Dark-side. On the Light-side, you have Luke Skywalker, Princes Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2. They're rebelling against Dark-side lead by Darth Vader and the evil Imperial forces who are terrorizing their Galaxy. To tie everyone together and heighten the experience, the legendary John Williams penned the score and it too does not disappoint.

The story is not complicated. Like the three episodes preceding The Force Awakens, the story is humorous, dark and mysterious at times. There is plenty of nostalgic bits that will have the casual Star Wars fan grinning with delight. I was concerned that J.J. Abrams would take a similar approach to Star Wars as he took with the Star Trek reboots. The Force Awakens is really not a reboot in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a continuation of the beloved original movies. J.J. treats the past with respect and faithfully delivers new characters that we love for their youth and imperfections, just like the original characters. For the more hardcore fan, you'll realize by the end of the movie that there are plenty of technical checkboxes that J.J. gets right. From transitions and sound effects to the worn look and feel of the Star Wars universe, everything really does hit all the right notes.

The audience is part of the viewing experience. If you typically find yourself at a quiet theater off the beaten path, this is one of those times you should step out of your comfort zone and head to a mainstream theater with a lot of people of varying ages. If you're not familiar with what it's like to be with a lot of Star Wars fans, then you're in for a treat. This is the type of movie where people cheer and scoff at just the right moments that further enhance the overall movie-going experience.

So if you can get out to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens this weekend you won't be disappointed. Some theaters are adding extra shows to meet the demand, so check Fandango for available tickets.

Chris Ratner

Founder and CEO of reelXperience Entertainment. We are developing the future of event cinema.