hype

June 27, 2006

Just under two hours to go until the first public screenings of Superman Returns in North America begin. I have tickets to one here in Philadelphia, and my excitement is building to heretofore unseen levels (for this movie, that is). It’s been quite some time since I was last caught up in the hype machine’s frantic motions–probably since last year’s Star Wars Episode III–but the all-to-familiar inability to keep still has dredged up quite a collection of old memories.

To date, my most memorable moviegoing experience is the night I first saw, after what seemed an eternity, 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded. I remember it fondly: there were at least five or so screenings on May 14th, the night before it opened “officially”, and I, along with my sister and father, had tickets for a 10 p.m. showing. We arrived at the theater a good two hours ahead of time and proceeded to the back of a fairly large line to wait. And wait we did. By the time we were actually seated in the theater, my eagerness had reached explosive levels. Would it stand up to the first film? Could it possibly deliver on all the mysterious elements that had been teasing me for months in trailers, set photos, and magazine articles? Would it be the film?

In retrospect, the answer to all of these questions is a definite “no,” but when the lights dimmed and the haunting strains of that wonderful theme–played in the key of F this time–burst forth from the speakers arrayed around the room, I joined the rest of the audience in a round of cheering that came, not from the rational, calm self that I keep to in my day-to-day, but from that very special, rarely seen place where reality has no dominion and where emotions run rampant. The next 2.5 hours passed in a blur of martial arts, gunplay, and dialogue that I would later realize was strangely devoid of meaning.

None of that mattered when I exited the theater, though; I had seen it, the movie that everyone had been talking about and would be talking about for months to come. Hype makes us do very silly things in the name of other very silly things, but for me, silly can just be wonderful. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a screening to catch.

–D. S. W.

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