I'm starting to buy my movie tickets online more. In one way, that's cool. For the fancier theatres that have assigned seating, you can easily pick your seat in the comfort of your own home, and not worry about the best seats being taken the day of. In the other sense, it ruins spontaneity. Well, in a more accurate sense, it ruins wussing out. When you wake up the day of the film, throw open your curtains, and want to crawl back into bed because it looks like a horrible day outside, dammit, you can't, because you've got movie tickets!
Such was the case yesterday, when I saw the gentle snowfall, the apartment still being a touch messy from Christmas hangover, and started thinking, "Gee, maybe I should stay home and tidy things up." No, dammit! Movie tickets! We're seeing The Force Awakens again!
People really know what I like, as the bulk of gift cards I got this Christmas were for Cineplex. Needless to say, they'll probably be used up by the time the summer blockbuster season rolls around. And I'd been planning on seeing The Force Awakens again, well, ever since a new Star Wars movie was announced. I said in my Christmas card letter that I would have probably seen it three times by now, but I haven't. Just the once. But I'm on my way to rectifying that.
I was a little surprised. Even though The Force Awakens is still making gobs of money, the theatre wasn't as full as it was on opening weekend. Even with assigned seating, I tend to show up a half-hour early to claim my seat, get comfy, and open up any noisy candy packages. In that first half-hour, had the whole theatre to myself for a good 15 minutes. The crowd was a little more active this time out. The first time I saw it, there were cheers for the Lucasfilm logo, then revered silence for the rest of the film. This time, though, cheers for the Lucasfilm logo, cheers for the opening titles, cheers for the first appearance of the Millennium Falcon, cheers for "Chewie...we're home," cheers for Leia's return...cheers for everything.
And that ending... I didn't burst into tears this time, but it definitely hit me like a ton of bricks. (SPOILER WARNING, but it just became the #1 film of all time, so if you haven't seen it yet, tough tiddies.) I'm still having trouble grasping why the ending hits me so hard. I'm just so...happy to see Luke Skywalker again. I mean, like a lot of Gen X'ers, Star Wars is a big part of childhood. One of the first books I remember taking out of the library was The Making of Star Wars. That's where I learned that Luke Skywalker was really a guy named Mark Hamill. Luke Skywalker is really named Mark...I'm also named Mark! I'm halfway to being a Jedi Knight! Dudes named Mark are destined to be Jedi Knights!
Seeing Luke Skywalker on the big screen again, and I go back to being that 7 year old who discovered that Luke Skywalker is just a guy named Mark...like me.
Having thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens again, I returned home. I was nervous about returning home, because I knew my evening was to be filled with one of my most fun, stressful things: figuring out new electronics.
I bought a new Blu-Ray player.
I've been blogging about this all autumn. My Blu-Ray player was starting to act up. I'd pop in a movie, and after the loading screen, the screen would go black. Refuse to play. I google the problem, and it'd tell me I need to install the latest update. I google my make and model, and I discovered that no updates have been released in three years. So, time to upgrade.
Of course, as I wandered into Best Buy, with their post-Christmas sales going on and a pocket full of gift cards, I couldn't help but feel guilty. There are so many other things I need more in life, such as the top worry in my life, new tires for my car. That being said, with post-Christmas sales and Christmas gift cards, this looked like the best opportunity to grab one. Going over the shelf, it looks like every major manufacturer makes two different models of Blu-Ray players these days: one with wi-fi, and one without. May as well go for the wi-fi model, because it'll mean one less wire in the rats nest behind my TV.
When I returned home that night, I gently opened up the box on my kitchen table and started going through everything. I hate that you don't really get instruction manuals any more. You get an idiot's guide to hooking it up, and if you want more, you can go download it. Hooking it up was easy, as I carefully removed the old Blu-Ray player and put the new one in its place. The old Blu-Ray player was then retired to my bedroom closet, which has become the graveyard of old electronics. I also have two old TVs, three old DVD players, an old VCR, and now an old Blu-Ray player living out their retirement in there.
I flipped on the new Blu-Ray player for the first time. As expected, once I got it hooked up to the Internet, it took a few minutes to download all the newest updates. I stuck with the same brand as my recently retired one, so the new menu screen didn't look that different. Once it looked like everything was hooked up correctly, it was time to test things out.
I went though my two standard home theatre tests: Praxis exploding from Star Trek VI, and Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul. Everything looked sharp, so it was time for the ultimate test: trying the discs that froze the old player.
First up, The Muppets. It's funny...everyone's complaining about Jurassic World and The Force Awakens being full of nostalgia for the earlier entries, but in the past five years, there's got to be no film more shamelessly nostalgic than The Muppets. Hell, lack of nostalgia is actually a plot point!
This was the first one that started giving the old player trouble. I put in the disc and held my breath. Everything started like with the old player. First the Disney logo, then the menu asking what language I wanted everything to be in. Then...the loading screen. I started to panic. The player was whirring and clicking a lot. Going back to the old days when I had a PC with a 5.25" floppy disk drive. If your drive is making a lot of noise and working really hard, your disk is probably fried. I was preparing for the worst when...the menu screen loaded. The movie started playing. The disk was working. It was working!
Next up, the most recent disc that gave me grief...American Graffiti. I made this discovery about a month ago when I was in the mood from some more George Lucas but didn't want to watch Star Wars again. Probably one of the best movies made about the power of radio, as all our protagonists are cruising the town, connected by listening to Wolfman Jack on the radio. Finally, one of our heroes realizes this and drives to the station on the edge of town to see if the station will broadcast a message to his dream girl, while getting some words of advice from the Wolfman himself. The next film George Lucas would make was Star Wars and he'd forever be trapped by his own creation.
I put the disc in and hit play. With my old player, it went dead after the loading screen. With this new player, what loading screen? It loaded so quickly, that the menu came up almost instantly.
But now, the final test. The widow-maker. The Last Unicorn. I bought Shout! Factory's fantastic Blu-Ray in the fall, but the disc would fry my player so bad, I'd have to cycle the power to get the disc back out. (I learned from the IT guys at work that "cycle the power" is the technical term for "unplug it, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in.") If The Last Unicorn didn't work, this whole adventure would be for naught.
I put the disc in. I held my breath. And everything worked perfectly.
It looked like this new Blu-Ray player would be a keeper.
Now that I had a fully working Blu-Ray player again, I stretched out to watch Elementary, which I PVR'd on Thursday night and hadn't gotten around to watching yet. I don't know why I still bother with Elementary. What started out as an American knock-off of Sherlock quickly evolved into a fairly routine police procedural.
After being mildly entertained by another Elementary, I went back to fiddling with the new Blu-Ray player, changing the settings to meet my personal tastes, and watching favourite scenes of favourite movies to keep breaking it in.
I'm still kind of bummed about buying a new Blu-Ray player, when there are many more adult things I should be working/saving towards. But I had to seize the opportunity. And at least I can now finally enjoy The Last Unicorn in hi-def.