I went and saw the latest Star Wars movie last night (I have already forgotten the full title). It was a box checking exercise and besides, I had to see what the hype was about. Ok, I also need to admit it was the first Star Wars movie I’d seen. Yes, ever! I think the first one came out when I was at university and even then I was only vaguely interested despite the ground breaking special effects of the day. It was probably well after the release of the movie elsewhere in the world – those being the days of apartheid in South Africa where I was studying at the time. Well, there were no sanctions on films one just had to accept you were not going to be the first to see anything!
Last night was, I think, the last night of showing at the local cinemas. This run had started a month ago and I had a sneaking suspicion that it was about to end. Hey, do the maths, pretty good huh? We started showing it on the 14th December last year which must have been pretty close to the worldwide release. Unlike South Africa all those years ago Zimbabwe (contrary to what our politicians liked to claim until very recently) is not under any sort of sanctions. Maybe it’s also due to us using the US dollar so we can actually pay for things if we have the money, something most people in this country are struggling to find these days.
Well last night there was no shortage of money in evidence. I mean I actually had to walk some 200m from where I’d parked to the cinemas (last time I went I got a park as close as one could possibly park). The place was buzzing. I’d rather hoped with schools just starting their new term the place would be quiet. Nope, no chance of that. It was teeming with the youth. There are pubs, restaurants and a supermarket at that end of Borrowdale village shopping centre (yes, the supermarket was open at 7.30 p.m. – how times have changed) and of course I bumped into someone I knew. Harare is like that. A city by name but an oversize town by nature. Debbi from the gym had just been to see another movie with her family. Her eldest son Mike has just finished his medical degree in Johannesburg and is waiting for a placement for his internship. As he is not South African he has to wait for a placement; they have one for him but they don’t know where.
The movie theatres are pretty modern. Actually they have only been open about a year so one should expect this but in Zimbabwe one should not expect anything of this nature given the state of the economy (a lot of government employees were only paid for December end of last week). There are six small ones in the modern format. The ticket cost $5 (half price Tuesday) and the 3D glasses $1. Ok, another admission – this was my first 3D movie! I settled into my seat a few minutes into the movie and put on the glasses.
Two hours later I was not entirely sure that all the hype had been justified. The special effects had been good but then I’d been expecting that. The bizarre characters were certainly imaginative but there are some things that were bothersome. I mean, they had light speed capable craft right? That is serious tech (even if impossible by Einstein’s theory) but they still managed to miss most of the time in the dog fights. I don’t know what they were shooting at each other (balls of light things) but they only seemed to go in straight lines. The one set of missiles that did actually track the goodies also missed! And they actually had non-robotic/computer pilots. Not very good. The main character, the kick-ass chick (and boy could she kick) looked like she could have done with a few visits to the gym before hand. I WAS pleased that she was not drop-dead gorgeous but just sort of normal in a Hollywood sense. There were lots of characters from the original movie there too. Harrison Ford was looking his age as was Princess Leia (whoever she is). The former got stuck with a light sabre which is a truly stupid piece of high tech for waging hand to hand combat (get the contradiction?) so we won’t be seeing him again. The rest of it was of course left wide open for yet another sequel/prequel/something-quel. We left with Luke Skywalker (in a hoodie – I bet he has tatts he’s hiding) looking decidedly uncomfortable about accepting his old light sabre from the kick-ass chick. No doubt he was thinking he’s in for another epic.
And the 3D? Well on one occasion I took my glasses off to see if they were clean because background lights in the movie were more than a bit fuzzy but all was clean. So I think tech has a way to go on that one though I do admit that a couple of times I almost ducked as fighters “flew overhead” so I’ll keep the 3D glasses for another occasion. I’m not at all sure it will be for the next issue of Star Wars though. Been there, done that, checked the box.
The rain had reduced to a light shower by the time I walked out and the carpark was quiet. It seems that Zimbabweans go to bed early during the week. My evening’s entertainment had cost $6 plus a bit of fuel. Not bad – about a day’s wage for the average horticultural labourer in Zimbabwe. Well, for those lucky enough to be employed.