Yoda’s kung-fu is very good

A number of us attending the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch the premiere of Attack of the Clones. We gathered a geek army of the Republic of Blogistan (that’s Cory’s catchphrase for the community of people who maintain weblogs) and descended on the AMC theatre right by the conference hotel.

All twenty screens were showing Attack of the Clones at midnight, and the lineups curled completely around the building. The die-hard fans started the line early in the morning and established camps complete with deck chairs, beach blankets, ghetto blasters and some even brought tents and other portable shelters.

We bought our tickets inline and had already picked them up earlier. We decided that we’d lost any shot at the best seats to the hardcore fans who’d waited in line all day, so we spent the evening partying at Danny’s and Quinn’s place until 11:00 p.m., at which time we drove to the theatre. We spent about 45 minutes waiting in line, during which tiome I played the accordion to a captive audience hungry for entertainment. I wasn’t really hitting them up for money, but made twenty bucks nonetheless — enough to cover my ticket and lots of Junior Mints.

Once inside the theatre, we waited almost an hour for the movie to begin. I got some cheers simply by playing the Star Wars Main Theme and the Imperial March. A handful of people at the back yelled “Play it again, Accordion Guy!” (people who don’t know me have an automatic tendency to call me that). One really bored guy did a jig in front of the screen while I played Louie, Louie. We were being made to wait, but we were making the best of it.

There’s a fair bit oif story to tell in the movie’s allotted time, so it hit the ground running with the threat on Padme’s life and soon afterwards, we were treated to a chase scene through the speeder traffic corridors of Coruscant. This movie marks a return to the feel of the old-school Star Wars films, from the sense of grand adventure and stunning visuals to the bad actor hired to play the apprentice Jedi Knight and the sloppily written love story. It’s kind of odd seeing the Imperial symbol on the good guys’ ship, Obi-Wan playing the part of hard-boiled detective (right down to the bit where he meets up with an old friend and underworld contact at a greasy spoon), the stormtroopers as they guys who save the day and Yoda switching from arthritic old Muppet to a guy who’d have kicked the asses of both Li Mubai (Chow Yun-Fat’s character from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Neo from The Matrix. Jar Jar’s appearances are mercifully short.

This film is almost on par with Empire; Empire still has a slight edge because it didn’t have as much mythos to stand on as this movie. It’s considerably better than Phantom Menace, but that was to be expected: this movie’s strength, as with Empire, is the dark-ish ending, and from Phantom Menace, there wasn’t anywhere to go but up. I’m going to enjoy watching it again next week with my friends in Toronto.

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