Dianna and I arrived at the Loew's Theater in NYC (located only a short 3 minute walk from Penn Station) at around 5:45pm or so for the 7:00pm showing. When we walked into the theater lobby, there were about 15-20 fans already waiting on line. At the front of the lobby area was the donated toys table and a cardboard standee of the Savage Opress giveaway poster that was available after the show. We met Mitch, Glen, and Erik who were only a few fans deep waiting in line. As Mitch had mentioned earlier, it was great to match up the face with the e-mail address after years of communicating over the web. And yes, I had to swallow hard and try to look past the fact that Mitch had the audacity to wear a NY Giants sweatshirt to the showing. Something tells me he wore that sweatshirt on purpose knowing that we were gonna meet up. But this wasn't a night for NFL rivalries, so I overlooked this wardrobe malfunction on Mitch's part and instead focused on our common bond.
In the lobby area were a few costumed fans dressed up as Commander Cody, Capt. Rex, and a Shocktrooper. They were chatting it up with fans and posing for pics. It was expecially cool to see them spending time interacting with the kids who were eager to discuss battle tactics with Rex and share their love of The Clone Wars. Fandom at its highest level to say the least. There was also a radio-controlled R2-D2 unit who was rolling around the lobby floor and yucking it up with the fans. And who wouldn't want to snap a few pics with everyone's favorite star-studded astromech droid?
At around 6:30, we were able to start heading into our assigned theater, which was Theater 7 located on the second floor of the building. As we approached the donation table, we dropped off our unwrapped toys and they handed us a yellow VIP ticket that was valid for free popcorn and soda. We then proceeded to head upstairs and into Theater 7. Upon entering the theater, there were four rows of seats in the prime viewing section that were designated "Reserved Red Tickets Only", so we grabbed two seats in the row immediately behind the last reserved row. I'm still not sure of what the red tickets represented or how one acquired such a ticket, as the ushers who were located on either side of the theater removed the reserved signs from the rows about 15-20 minutes before showtime. We saw 6-8 people sitting in those reserved seats, but we weren't sure who they were.
At 7:00pm, the lights dimmed and the familiar voice of Capt. Rex came on, reminding us to turn off our phones and prohibiting any recording of what we were about to see.
And what we saw was truly epic indeed.
I'm not going to relay any of the details of what we saw (you know me and how I feel about spoilers), so I'll leave the spoiling to be done by others. But what I will say is simply this: fans haven't seen ANYTHING like this before. The showing was a cinematic masterpiece that once and for all shed the "it's only a cartoon" label that has been affixed to this series by some. The word "cartoon" does not apply here, not one bit. Yes fans have seen the huge leap in animation from Season 1 to Season 3 so far. But this showing was a clear demonstration of how The Clone Wars deserves to be enjoyed in a theatrical setting and can easily stand toe-to-toe with other big-budget animated feature films. No denying that at all. The action was intense and fast-paced, basically to the point where if you got up to go pee you were screwed, as you were assured of missing an important scene/moment. Which was exactly why I passed up the free popcorn and soda - no way was I gonna let my bladded interfere that night!
At the conclusion of the showing, Dave Filoni appeared on screen and gave us a preview of what's in store for the remainder of Season 3. Again, I'm not gonna spill the beans on what was shown, but I can say that the trailer made what we were treated to at Celebration V seem like an after-thought. I've said it before and I will continue to say it for everyone to hear: if you haven't made the investment in a new HDTV yet, I cannot beg you enough to do so. I know the reality of the economic situation these days does not afford fans the luxury of heading to their local Best Buy at the drop of a hat and plunk down cash for a new TV. But if there is any means in their power to get one before Season 3 concludes (hey, ask the big guy in the red suit - he's been known to come thru this time of year), I urge them to act. And I'm not talking about getting one of those cheap 40" Dynex models that are scattered all over Costco and Sam's Club. I'm talkin' a 55"+ bad boy with THX Certification and a picture image that will leave you slack-jawed. Trust me - your wallet may cry a little, but your eyes will thank you a million times over every Friday night at 9pm (well, and on Sundays too of course...).
Upon leaving the theater, we found two tables that were set up on either side of the entrance that had stacks of the Savage Opress giveaway posters as well as an awesome black Savage t-shirt, temporary tatoos, and $10 StationCash cards. What's of important note is what was printed on the reverse side of the tatoo card: "NEW TIME FRIDAYS 8:30/7:30 C beginning Januarry 2011". We grabbed a few of each (after asking permission of course from the employees manning the tables). What was great was the calmness and politeness of the fans. Nobody was pushing or shoving to grab the freebies - everyone waited their "turn" and I even saw a few guys let some kids move ahead of them to pick out their size t-shirt. Once again, Star Wars fandom rises to the occassion.
All in all, The Clone Wars screening was an event like no other and one that we sincerely hope will be repeated in the future.
Bring on Season 3!!!