Sunday, January 22, 2006

You "Padme" At Hello

Weather-wise, Saturday was a beautiful day, with initial warnings of showers never coming true and, instead, clear skies resting high above. Now, how does one take advantage of such limited nice weather during a New York winter? Stroll through Soho? Whisk away to the West Village? Skating at Central Park? Nope. Here's how:

By sitting in an apartment for 13.5 hours, watching The Star Wars Saga, Episodes I through VI, and loving it. Here's a rough play-by-play account of the proceedings, so that you can see how to not only succeed as well, but can do so with enough strength left over to go out to a party across town just to see a friend who is visiting for the weekend. Respect!

9:54am - Gerald, Susana (props to the mastermind behind this event), and I arrive at Jeff's Gramercy Park apartment. Furniture is rearranged, aerobed is inflated, the stage is set...

10:07am - The 20th Century Fox theme, the green Lucasfilm Ltd. screen, the infamous "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." screen, and then ... the music. Yellow title crawls up the screen for "The Phantom Menace".

10:16am - Jar Jar Binks makes his first appearance. A fully digital main character, Jar Jar is truly an achievement in the burgeoning world of digital cinema.

10:17am - I grow tiresome of Jar Jar Binks. He is truly an abomination in the slowly deteriorating world of Star Wars fandom.

10:30am - R2D2 receives commendation for its role as a service droid.

10:35am - Padme Amidala (played by Natalie Portman) kneels and cleans off R2D2, striking a pose that will be recreated in the beginning of the original "Star Wars", when Princess Leia hides the Death Star plans inside of R2 before her blockade runner is boarded by Darth Christiansen, I mean Vader.

10:37am - Jake Lloyd, the annoying boy who will grow up to become the annoying Hayden Christiansen, utters the classic line "Are you an angel?" to Natalie Portman, proving that no matter how young (he was 9 as of filming) you are, Natalie requires your A-game in order to get into her frock.

(Side note: in a scene where Jar Jar eats some food from a street vendor, the owner says, "Die wanna wanga?", which the subtitles translate as "Are you gonna pay for that?" However, in Return of the Jedi, when C3PO enters Jabba's palace, Bib Fortuna, Jabba's assistant, says the same thing to C3PO, with no subtitle but clearly not to mean the same thing. After all, there was no mention of things being paid for in that scene. I'm disgusted at the inconsistency.)

10:44am - C3PO, the robot that Anakin builds in his youth, is introduced. As you can see, I am taking copious notes on the proceedings. To maintain strong mind and body, Susana begins a yoga regimen. Off in the corner, Jeff and Gerald begin to make omelettes.

11:05am - The pod race, which will gain Anakin his freedom from slavery, begins.

11:55am - Darth Maul, the best character of the prequel trilogy, enters the best, and actually only good, scene in the entire movie. Cue the chorus, it's time for a lightsaber battle.

12:16pm - We've done it! Episode I is in the books, and thus, we've survived the worst of it. It's like climbing Mount Everest, only you have to begin with the Hilary Step. From then on, everything else is gravy. Smooth sailing to the summit!

12:17pm - Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Beware - romance is right around the corner!

12:35pm - Gerald begins to debone a chicken. He came under the pretense of cooking for us, but said he would be in-and-out all day. Would he go back on his word? Would he stay till the bitter end? Find out as the day progresses into night!

1:07pm - Film hits an all-time low when Anakin, in an attempt to impress Padme, proceeds to ride an animal like a surfboard in what amounts to the worst example of CGI ever. It's like a bad film student's thesis project, and I, for one, am not impressed. Notes are being taken less frequently as rigor mortis begins to set in. We're only 2.5 hours in, could our plan of having the worst movies first backfire on us?

1:08pm - Young Boba Fett is seen, strangely with an Australian or New Zealand accent (no big deal until the later films, when George Lucas redubs Fett's lines with this new voice, thus further ruining all that is good in this world)

1:47pm - Lunch is served! Thank you Gerald and Jeff for rice and curry chicken with green peppers, green beans, eggplant, and zucchini. I'm sweating like a madman so it's Sapporo or bust for me.

(unknown time) - Yoda mysteriously transforms into Pikachu, the wily yellow character in Nintendo's hit Super Smash Brothers. Sadly, I am disappointed that Yoda uses a lightsaber. In my mind, that weapon is beneath him, but when I saw this at midnight on opening night in 2002, a lot of nerdy superfans cheered at this scene, so I could be wrong. I, on the other hand, sulked.

2:37pm - Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Because this was the most recent film that we'd all seen, we decided to have a friendly no-limit hold'em poker tournament during the film. In retrospect, had we not done this, I don't know if we would have made it through the whole marathon. And Mike shows up, making our ragtag bunch a party of five.

2:40pm - Shuffle up and deal...

4:37pm - Many hands later, we take a moment of silence for Anakin Skywalker's legs and arm, which were all chopped off by one masterful swipe from Obi-Wan McGregor, er Kenobi. Obi-Wan leaves Anakin to catch on fire and wiggle in the sand. Mike says that the honorable thing for Obi-Wan to do would have been to kill Anakin and end his pain. I concur, but then there would have been that minor inconsistency of Darth Vader never being created, which would have conflicted with the three films of the original Star Wars trilogy. Even short-sighted George Lucas would have had trouble missing that plot hole. Not to mention the later-revealed inconsistency in "Star Wars", when Vader and Kenobi have their really slow yet still epic lightsaber duel, where Vader says "The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master." But wait ... didn't Obi-Wan leave Anakin. On the ground. With no arms and legs. On fire. Looks like somebody is suffering from some recall bias. Even if he had tried to leave Obi-Wan then, he would have been too slow, and Ewan could have just run past him and claimed he was the one leaving. Get yer facts straight, Darth!

4:46pm - Darth Vader, the most recognizable and formidable villian in cinematic history, is created. His first words? "Where is Padme?" Wuss. His reaction to finding out she's dead? "NOOOOOOOOOO!" Want to hear it for yourself? Go here. Hollywood is dead to me.

4:55pm - Finally. Episode IV - A New Hope (a.k.a. Star Wars)

5:05pm - In heads-up play between Susana and myself, I come out victorious in the poker tournament. My prize? A free dinner, courtesy of everyone else. No bracelet, but I'm getting a pizza instead.

5:13pm - Han Solo, the coolest cat in the galaxy, is introduced (not counting Return of the Jedi, but see below for explanation)

5:50pm - Pizza By The Inch arrives. Susana and Jeff open the door for the pizza guy. Everyone's differs. I got pepperoni and roasted peppers. Buen provecho!

6:44pm - Rebel assault on the Death Star. But I am getting TIRED. As you can see, notes have dwindled. Night is upon us. While I am tired, Mike is OUT. And Gerald? Still going strong (though unseen, since he's the cameraman).

6:56pm - Desperate times call for desperate measures. To Starbucks we go, a liquid crack injection we are to have. For 9.5 hours, watching films we have been. Behind us, two-thirds of the saga is. Weary though we are, excited are we to see Yoda, the Jedi Master.

7:12pm - Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (my favorite movie of all-time)

7:20pm - Mike leaves. And then there were four, again.

(various times) - Han Solo is elevated to the status, not only of Smuggler/Captain/Scoundrel, but to PIMP of the galaxy. I'll save it for a later post, but several scenes demonstrate why he is the baddest MF of all-time.

9:17pm - Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

10:02pm - Yoda dies, everybody dances now, and Jeff makes nachos. I'd explain more, but you still wouldn't understand.

10:39pm - As stated earlier, Han Solo loses one of his testicles at the hands of the writers and director of the film. "Could you tell Luke, is that who you could tell?"

11:09pm - Susana proclaims, "I'm so tired!" 20 minutes remaining in the marathon, she just might not make it to the finish line. The rules are stipulated to her that if she falls asleep within 20 minutes of the end, she is disqualified and must start again from the beginning. She protests, swinging violently at anyone within her path. The adrenaline seems to help her cause, however, for she is now wide awake.

11:21pm - Han's other testicle is lopped off, culminating in the ultimate character assassination on screen since the Keith Hernandez spitting incident on Seinfeld. "You love him, don't you? All right. I understand. Fine. When he comes back, I won't get in the way." A moment of silence for Han Solo. And I hate the Ewoks. (For anyone else who hates Return of the Jedi, read this. It's from "The Star Wars Compendium", and is a hilariously accurate assessment of the film which highlights just how much it deviated from the greatness of the first two films of the original trilogy.

11:26pm - The circle is now complete. Now, off to EarthNYC in the meatpacking district. Six consecutive films, and we can still go out? We are party animals. Star Wars-lovin' party animals.

Final thoughts - Now, did the viewing enhance my appreciation for the entire saga, or did it merely enlighten me to the growing mediocrity of the Star Wars universe? No and no. I knew what I was getting into. And it wasn't about the end result. No, what this marathon taught me was that the journey is the truly important thing. And journeys are always better when there are omelettes, curry, beer, pizza, nachos, poker, and good friends to share them all with.


Anonymous Cody said...

Very impressive. I can't sit through Episode 1 or 2, and I can't go 8 hours straight without sleeping, so I wouldn't have made it.

January 23, 2006 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Susana said...

I've decided what we should do during our next marathon. A speed eating contest. I think I can take all of you guys down.

January 23, 2006 4:16 PM  
Blogger mike wu said...

starbucks? you guys wewnt to starbucks while i was there?!?

susana - speed-eating? please. you haven't seen me when i'm serious.

January 24, 2006 1:42 AM  
Blogger Francis said...

seriously, where did the speed-eating idea come from? i don't really wanna puke during a movie marathon, i've seen kobayashi win the hot dog contest too many times to think this is a good idea.

mike, not only did we go to starbucks while you were asleep, you should ask jeff what HE was doing in the apt while we were gone! you were out cold, apparently.

January 24, 2006 8:28 AM  

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