Kalyn Saucedo walks by the bar at Alamo Drafthouse. Photo by Scott Ball.
Kalyn Saucedo walks by the bar at Alamo Drafthouse. Photo by Scott Ball.

Thursday night’s premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was greeted by super-fans and newcomers alike with spacey cheer and an occasional Wookie call. Fans of cosplay and nerd fandom should take pride in the Alamo City’s Star Wars cult turnout.

Costumed duos of parents and children had the exact same glow of anticipation on their faces as they floated up the escalator at the Alamo Drafthouse, capes billowing. At the second showing on opening night, the crowds were enthusiastic yet navigable.

Caley Richardson dressed as Padmé Amidala poses for a photo at Alamo Drafthouse before the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo by Scott Ball.
Caley Richardson dressed as Padmé Amidala poses for a photo at Alamo Drafthouse before the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo by Scott Ball.

The pre-opening hype was overwhelming, but so was fan anticipation. Critics gave the film strong reviews, calling it the best in the Star Wars series in some years. Equal parts nostalgia and excitement, the reboot to Star Wars connects today’s viewers to cinema’s past while updating the series with current witticisms, visual effects and other technology advances, and the depth of multi-faceted, morally ambiguous characters.

There have been more Star Wars commercials than Christmas jingles this holiday season, but the long lines of expectant fans in San Antonio were still whispering speculation about the secret plot behind J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII.

Frenetic conversations usually reserved for comic-con were just barely in earshot in the Drafthouse’s lobby.

“Of course Chewie is still in his prime! Wookies can live for nearly 300 years…”

“But the power of the dark side…”

“Hope we see some Leia’s buns…”

“If I see an ewok I’m going to walk out. I swear…”

Star Wars is so fundamentally ingrained in the popular culture that it has permeated into every possible subculture. Some (mostly Trekkies) choose to hate the series at their own risk, but hate leads to suffering and some stories stand the test of time. Children (and some adults) everywhere will continue to try to use the force when no one is looking, just in case the tempting tale is true.

While I can’t say anything about the plot, it’s a safe bet if you’re considering the movie that you’ll find it beautifully filmed with compelling characters. Consensus seems to be that the movie is better than the prequels and closer to the caliber of the origin story.

Cosplay fan Jimmy Carpio rides the escalator to Alamo Drafthouse. Photo by Scott Ball.
Cosplay fan Jimmy Carpio rides the escalator to Alamo Drafthouse. Photo by Scott Ball.

The crowd of San Antonio first-nighters, bedecked with Ewok ears and lightsabers, looked as happy going out as coming in. The new villains are frightening and mysterious and the new heroes are fantastic.

For many of us, there is a sense of coming home when the arresting musical score rockets through the theater and scrawling yellow letters drift through the stars. Something from a long time ago is new again, and that sense of nostalgia is far and away the most forceful thing about the movie.

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Mitch Hagney

Mitch Hagney is a writer and hydroponic farmer in downtown San Antonio. Hagney is CEO of LocalSprout and president of the Food Policy Council of San Antonio.