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Premiere of new ‘Star Wars’ film offers family-friendly fun

  • Alex Bartman arrives to see “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” dressed as the character Darth Vader at Regal Concord 10 movie theater in Concord on Thursday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Abigail Bartman poses as the character Rey before a showing of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” on Thursday.

  • The Giuliani family of Salisbury hits the concession stand before finding their seats for a screening of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" at Regal Cinemas in Concord on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • The Guiliani family of Salisbury hits the concession stand before finding their seats for a screening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at Regal Concord 10 movie theater in Concord on Thursday. Elizabeth Frantz photos / Monitor staff

  • The Giuliani family of Salisbury, including 8-year-old Ellya, hit the concession stand before finding their seats for a screening of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" at Regal Cinemas in Concord on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Alex and Abigail Bartman arrive to see "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" dressed as the characters Darth Vader and Rey at Regal Cinemas in Concord on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Friday, December 15, 2017

Hoth-like temperatures couldn’t keep fans away from the latest installment of the Star Wars series.

For many, the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth film in the series, was a family one, with parents and children alike bounding giddily into the Regal Concord 10 movie theater Thursday night. Many clutched prepaid and preprinted tickets in their hands; a few wore costumes, or Star Wars-related shirts.

But unlike the Skywalker family’s tradition of losing their hands, seeing the latest movie taking place in a galaxy far, far away is a happy one for Concord-area families.

“It’s just fun,” said April Bartman of Bow, watching her children, Alex and Abigail, race around the lobby. Bartman said her children, particularly Alex, had been eagerly awaiting the showing since they bought tickets in November for Alex’s birthday.

But April is a fan, too, she said.
“I think it’s great that The Force Awakens had a lead female character,” she said. “It’s girl power.”

Just minutes away from seeing the film, the two were having a hard time containing their excitement. Abigail, dressed as The Force Awakens heroine Rey, struck fighting poses. Alex, dressed as Darth Vader, demonstrated his grasp of the Force.

“It’s awesome because it’s fiction,” Alex said of why he loves the series. “It’s not all true stuff that has happened and not something that’s probably going to happen in the future, like Terminator.”

Bartman said her husband, who had arrived early and was already in the theater, had passed his love of the series on to his children.

It was a similar story for the Guiliani family of Salisbury who proudly displayed their Star Wars T-shirts while browsing for candy.

Nicole Guiliani said her husband, Dana, had started watching the movies when he was a child, and then passed the love on to his girls Ellya, 8, and Eliza, 13. He bought the tickets “months” ago, she said.

“I just kind of go along with it,” she said, sporting a Chewbacca shirt with the words “Bad Hair Day” written across the bottom. “But they’re a fun series to watch, even if you’re not a huge fan.”

Both girls said they were excited all day during school to see the film. When asked what’s their favorite part, they exclaimed, “Everything!”

Gregg Gilbert and his sons, Quilan and Matthew, were first in line to see the 7 p.m. showing, along with family friend Dave Nickerson, whose family was en route. Both men had seen the first film when it came out in 1977, but it wasn’t until they met at Grace Capital Church in Pembroke that their families were united in their hobby.

“It’s just a great story of good versus evil,” Gilbert said. “It’s always been a part of our household.”

For some, observing the ritual of seeing the movies means committing most of the day.

Cait McKay and Reid Messinger of Concord both took the day off to see the film, and had been in and out of the theater since 12:30 p.m. To pass the time, they were reading books.

The two self-identified as big sci-fi fans – their wedding cake toppers were Hans Solo and Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park) figurines.

Lifelong Star Wars fans, the two said they enjoyed the direction the latest installments were taking.

“I think they’re trying hard to be inclusive, and having more women and people of color,” McKay said.

And Jen Griffin of Bow, who also waited for her family with a book in hand, said the new series felt just enough like the old ones to evoke nostalgia.

“It’s just a reminder of my childhood,” she said.

Some, like Ellis Roundy and Emily Hargis, were a little more skeptical of the newer films, saying The Force Awakens felt too repetitive of the first trilogy. But that didn’t stop them from showing up early, Ellis dressed in his own custom-made armor modeled after Star Wars bounty hunter Jango Fett.

“It’s such a complex series,” Hargis said, “but it all ties together.”

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)