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'Star Wars' fans say it was worth the wait

May 19, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

A long time ago in a state far, far away, Ken Koll stood in line with his father to watch "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope."

On Tuesday night, Koll again was standing in line to see "Star Wars," except this time it was with his daughter, Brittany, 9. They were waiting for the much anticipated 12:01 a.m. nationwide opening of "Episode I: The Phantom Menace."

"Phantom Menace" is the first of three prequels to George Lucas' epic trilogy, "Star Wars: A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back," and "Return of the Jedi."

The first "Star Wars" movie was released in 1977.

"I was 9, the same age she is," said Koll, 30, of Waynesboro, Pa. At that time, he was living in Washington state. "Actually, there is no other movie that I even remember up until I was a teenager."

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Twenty years from now, Koll expects his daughter will remember the time they spent, standing in line and watching the premiere together at the R/C Cinema 10 on Leitersburg Pike.

"I thought it was a lot more family oriented with the humor than the original ones," Koll said after the 131-minute-long movie ended.

The approximately 900 seats in the two theaters at the Cinema 10 were almost sold out.

Fans urged the movie to start while waiting through several previews of upcoming films. A cheer went up when the 20th Century Fox theme began to play.

After the movie let out around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, several moviegoers huddled in groups discussing the finer details.

There were debates about the climatic battle scene between Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi against the evil Darth Maul with his dual-sided lightsaber. Some fans tried to tie together the movie series' episodes.

Don Hogan, 18, of Waynesboro, said he was impressed enough by the latest installment to rank it second behind his favorite episode, "Return of the Jedi."

Hogan said the visual effects were amazing, the action and choreography great, but some of the acting was bad. He said the lead actors did well and the movie had a good soundtrack.

While the floppy-eared Jar Jar Binks, the Jedi's comic sidekick, was not as bad as Hogan expected, he was far from Hogan's favorite character in the movie.

Hogan attended the premiere dressed as Boba Fett, the bounty hunter featured in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi."

His friend, Ken Heffernan, 18, of Waynesboro, was dressed as Darth Maul, complete with red contacts. His face was painted with red lipstick and black face paint.

"Honestly, I thought there'd be some more people dressed up," Hogan said.

Several teenagers sported toy lightsabers, even a dual-edged one. The group said they would return to see the movie a second time.

"(George) Lucas has done it again, definitely," proclaimed Chip Castellanos, 17, of Hagerstown.

Joe Sisler, 14, of Hagerstown, said he's planning to buy a video game about pod racing, an event in which young Anakin Skywalker competes on the planet Tatooine.

Pepper Ballard, 20, of Hagerstown, said she and her friend, Steve Livesay, are "Star Wars" freaks, yet neither was dressed in costume.

They do own all three box sets of the trilogy videos, the originals, letterboxed format and the updated rerelease.

"Everybody grows up with 'Star Wars,'" Ballard said.

Before the premiere, Livesay said he was skeptical about "Phantom Menace."

He said he hoped it wasn't all special effects, but also had a great story like the trilogy.

After seeing the movie, Livesay said, "I think it did maintain the integrity of the "Star Wars" trilogy."

Livesay and Ballard were among the majority of the movie's viewers who bought their tickets well in advance.

Shirley Hult, 42, of Hagerstown, waited until after 11 p.m. to buy tickets for her and her son, Ricky, 13.

Because Hult home schools Ricky, she said they could sleep in this morning.

"I didn't know how many people in Hagerstown are 'Star Wars' crazy," Hult said. The line of people with tickets awaiting entry outside the theater stretched around two of the building's corners.

Hult said "Star Wars" didn't phase her when it premiered, but she has become a fan since her kids became interested.

Calling the new movie "visually overwhelming," Hult said she would have to see it a couple more times, as she did the other episodes, to catch everything.

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