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I recently attended the midnight release of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D. I was very unsure as to what I should expect for this movie.  The two primary things I asked myself were: how would this movie be able to be converted into a 3D film worth watching more than ten years after its initial release, and what kind of turnout would I run into for the midnight showing? Now if anyone can remember back to when The Phantom Menace was first released, there were people camping out for weeks just to be the first ones to see it; it was one of the most hyped movie releases of all time. This time around…not so much. I arrived at the theater around 1030; 90 minutes prior to the start of the film so that I could find four seats together. When I got to the theater there was only one other small group waiting to see the movie and they looked too young to have been able to see the film the first time around.  The theater wound up being maybe half full once the movie started.

This is not so much a review of the movie itself as it has been out for so long and everyone has already formed their own opinions on it, but a review of the re-release in 3D and what we can expect for the 3D release of the remaining 5 Star Wars films.

The 3D for this movie was actually a lot better than I had expected it to be. The opening scroll is one of the most important parts of any Star Wars film and it was quite enhanced and pops right out at you. All of the text throughout the film is this way, including all of the subtitles used when another language is spoken. I found myself taking my glasses off and on from time to time to see what really was and was not enhanced. This was because it didn’t really feel like an obnoxious 3D movie you might see where it is hard to focus your eyes because of the poor quality of glasses or too much happening or whatever other reason. I can’t really stress this enough.  Most 3D movies I have seen in the theaters are very straining on my eyes and never focus as well as I want them to, this conversion seemed to flow very well for me.  The scenes just kind of popped and looked nicer and clearer and certain things really stood out much better like foreground characters(specifically CGI/holograms), special effects, and most importantly…lightsabers. The only time anything really was thrown at the audience was during the Droid Army-Gungan Battle when a blue ball is thrown towards you.

The highlight of the enhanced 3D film is the same as the highlight of the original movie: the epic(I do not use this word loosely) lightsaber fight between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. I cannot start to explain how excited I was for this part of the movie; I was ten years old all over again. The lightsabers were 3D while the characters looked slightly enhanced but weren’t popping out of the screen.  All of the subtle 3D additions seemed to somehow enhance these scenes. There was also one major change to this movie from the original 1999 release and this was Yoda being converted from a puppet to CGI. This change was included on the recent Complete Saga Blu-Ray release.  The change bothered me initially, but makes sense for the continuity of Episodes 2 and 3 using a non-puppet Yoda.

If you have not yet seen The Phantom Menace then by all means go and see it in 3D.  Qui-Gon Jinn played by Liam Neeson and Darth Maul by Ray Park remain two of my very favorite characters in the entire expanded Star Wars universe.  Despite it not being the best of the “Saga” it is still very enjoyable and begins to show the progression of many important characters and the very political demise of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire.

The following is going to be extremely opinionated:  Seeing The Phantom Menace for the first time in a few years and listening to many Star Wars “fans” opinions on the prequel films made me somewhat unexcited for certain parts of the movie, i.e. Jar Jar Binks and podracing. After watching it again I cannot see why everyone is so down about the movie.  Jar Jar is obviously not Han Solo, so don’t expect him to be more than the silly comedic character he was intended for.  Not everything George Lucas makes is going to be The Empire Strikes Back or Raiders of the Lost Ark so don’t expect it to be and you won’t be disappointed. I for one cannot wait another year for Attack of the Clones 3D, but that’s mostly the fanboy in me.

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Last night, 1/19/12 I went to see Dr. Acula, a Long Island based deathcore band at the Webster Theater in Hartford.  If any of you know me well at all or hang out with me, then you’ll know that I can’t seem to stop talking about Dr. Acula and they are the only music that ever plays in my car unless someone else takes control of the stereo.

This was the group’s second to last show before they make their way into Canada to begin their “Deal With Hell” tour.  Also billed on this tour are the groups Alcatraz 1962 and Legion.  The group of people that I went with were overly excited for this particular show because in March, my band, Apostasy, is going to open for Dr. Acula when their tour comes to a close in Poughkeepsie, NY; so we really wanted to get a feel for what a Dr. Acula show was all about.

Once I arrived, I scanned the merch booth for what I was going to spend all of my money on later in the night and quickly made my way to the bar for the opening acts.  There are several windows in the bar next to the Webster Underground so you can still see and hear the bands who are performing while you are drinking and trying not to get hit in the face from the rowdy kids watching their friends play.  During these opening acts I was scanning around the area for members of Dr. Acula getting excited like a little kid in a candy store whenever I would see one of them and point the member out to all of my friends.  Bill Graffeo, guitarist and last remaining original member from the early days of the band saw me wearing a Dr. Acula hat at the bar and came over to chat with me and my friends.  We had a good conversation about music, entering the studio, guitar tone, Red Bull, and that my band will be able to join them on their tour in just under two months.  He left and came back again an hour or so later to rejoin us; this really meant a lot to me and showed how real they are and care about their fans.

The time finally came for Dr. Acula’s set to begin and they came out to the Breakfast Machine song from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. The group is really known for comedic samples and things like this so I found it very fitting.  This introduction carried into “Party 2.0” which also features samples from Pee-Wee Herman movies.  The second song of the set was “Fire Crotch (The Venereal Van Ride)” which is about women who tend to screw men over.  The group features two lead vocalists and whenever one of them was not singing they would put the microphone in front of me and my friends to drunkenly yell all of the words.  This created a very fun environment with everyone jumping over my back to shout out whatever words they knew.  They also played “Slampig”, a song about women whom they think very little of, “Welcome to Camp Nightmare” which is a nod to older Dr. Acula songs with titles taken from Goosebumps books (when the group first formed, all of their songs had Goosebumps titles), and  “Cocaine Avalanche” which doesn’t really need much of an explanation.  I hassled the band much of the night to play some old songs and their second to last song was my favorite by the group, “Shocker on Shock Street” from their first album. The last song of the night was, as to be expected, their big single  “Who You Gonna Call?!” and did not disappoint.

The set was much shorter than we had all hoped because it was snowing pretty badly at the time and they probably really wanted to get on the road. Overall it was one of the most fun shows I had ever been to.  As my friends and I had discussed prior to their set, it seemed to be a rarity for us to see a band in concert during our peak interest in them. And if at all possible, it made me even more excited to have the opportunity to play with my favorite band in less than two months time.