This is by far the easiest post since it’s not based on opinion. I didn’t have to sit and think about what I deem my favorite (nor did I have to worry about riling up you, oh avid reader). This is simply a matter of fact, although I did have to do some sleuthing in order to figure out the actual first movie I ever saw in theaters. Luckily, I’m the youngest of three and my older siblings and relatives have similar retention levels to myself, so I was able to narrow the choices down and then get clarification.
I was pretty sure what the answer was when I started this. I had already started to go back and map out my cinematic chronology (for another failed writing project idea I had). I had pinpointed the first R-rated movies I ever saw (Evil Dead 2, They Live, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and others) and first I saw in theaters (Terminator 2) which definitely made an impression on my young, impressionable mind. But I was also being
educated (or corrupted, depending on your stance) by my older brother’s eccentric musical and cinematic tastes. He introduced me at a questionably young age to Mel Brooks, Clint Eastwood, Pink Floyd, Public Enemy, and Judas Priest (although the latter always concerned me). I should thank him for that.
But if you trace it all the way back to the first movie I saw in theaters, you seen that I may have actually been born a nerd. It was 1984 and my extended family (I can actually remember most of my cousins being there) went to see the third part of a trilogy in the old theater that was down by the McDonalds in the Millcreek Mall in Erie, PA. You could still smoke in the Mall at that point. Now, I’m not sure if I had even seen the first two parts, although I’m sure I had since my brother wouldn’t have allowed me to see them out of order (another characteristic I still hold true to this day).
The movie in question? The Return of the f–king Jedi.
Yep, that’s right. The first movie I ever saw in theaters was the last part of possible the greatest movie trilogy ever made. It was my first taste of science fiction and sent me to seek out the literary greats (like Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein and William Gibson) and the cinematic ones (like Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and John Carpenter). Sure, I was too young to identify that the Ewoks were pretty terrible and designed solely for the merchandising purposes. But Jedi opened my imagination to what was possible, to not even limit it to this planet or species. The nobility of the Jedi order and of Luke himself can be strong influences on kids.
Now, I have my problems with where the franchise went and currently still is. I believe The Beard (how I usually refer to George Lucas as) has officially lost grips with what made the world and story Star Wars truly special. There are some truly hilarious clips of Lucas and the rest of the higher ups at LucasFilm watching the first cut of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace to a Once Great Franchise. The horror and confusion on their faces is the same look that was on the face of true fans while we watched opening weekend.
Honestly, if you are a massive Star Wars fan, you should take the time to watch all of these reviews:
You should watch all of his reviews of the prequels (or Star Trek if that’s your thing, loser). Yes, I’m aware they are a lot of them so it adds up to being pretty long. But they are f–king hysterical, well thought about, bizarre, and very like-minded to what I feel about this franchise. But I can write a book on what I think happened with the prequels, and that’s not the question of the day.
The Return of the Jedi won me over immediately. Looking back critically, it is the weakest of the three. But to a wide-eyed 5 year old, the Ewoks were f–king awesome, the plot holes weren’t there, and the goosebumps watching Lando escape an exploding Death Star were real.
They still are.