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We sent a reviewer to the Rogue One midnight screening – here’s what happened

By Chris Edwards

I’m a massive Star Wars fan, said everyone ever. But seriously, I’ve had to pull myself away from my action figures just to write this. It therefore won’t surprise you to learn that I’m one of those people that booked midnight screening tickets for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the spin-off prequel set before A New Hope. You might have seen it advertised.

Watching a film that finishes at 3:00AM might seem like the sort of thing a psychopath would do, but I’m here to tell you that it’s actually the best way to experience a blockbuster of this magnitude. It’s more than a trip to the cinema. It’s an event. You can tell by the amount of nerds dressed up like movie extras.
We sent a reviewer to the Rogue One midnight screening
Attire is actually incredibly important at these things. I don’t possess the necessary confidence to wear a Jedi robe or bring a blaster that could be mistaken for an actual weapon and lead to me being arrested, but almost everyone else does. Seeing hordes of costumed nerds anxiously tapping their feet and twitching from sleep deprivation truly adds to the experience. (If you were wondering, I wore an Admiral Ackbar t-shirt underneath a thick jumper.)
You’re shoulder to shoulder with people that share the same passion and, most importantly, respect the occasion enough to refrain from audibly munching their food like feral bin scavengers.
We sent a reviewer to the Rogue One midnight screening
Just like last year for The Force Awakens, the stench of anticipation and excitement, which smells a lot like energy drinks, filled the air. One child, who definitely had school the next day, whacked my leg with a lightsaber, and in the spirit of it all I felt obligated to smile back. Meanwhile, a guy with a makeshift Rogue One t-shirt (the film’s title taped to his chest) steered a remote control Yoda around the floor of the foyer. I would have said it was as a bit weird had I not seen a grown man pretend to Force choke his wife in the queue.
There were cheers, whoops and laughs – and we’d only seen the age certification.
This kind of audience has a major impact on the viewing experience. Not only does it always guarantee a fully booked auditorium, you’re shoulder to shoulder with people that share the same passion and, most importantly, respect the occasion enough to refrain from audibly munching their food like feral bin scavengers. There were cheers, whoops and laughs – and we’d only seen the age certification.

Then everyone was stunned into silence by the film’s abrupt opening, immediately establishing that this is a different kind of Star Wars. There’s no opening crawl, theme music or even the traditional fade and wipe transitions, which might cause some fans to throw a Wookie wobbly, but you’re thrown into the action so fast you barely have time to contemplate it. Judging by the satiated, glazed expressions on everyone’s face, they seemed invested enough.
A woman at the front let out an audible gasp and I think the bloke next to me was crying.
We sent a reviewer to the Rogue One midnight screening
As everyone knows, including those living under a rock, Rogue One tells the story of the Rebels who stole the plans to the Death Star and transmitted them to the Rebellion, leading to the events of A New Hope. So considering we already know how it ends, it’s testament to director Gareth Edwards that he’s managed to make a prequel that keeps you on the edge, while also making you deliriously excited to see some old faces, some of which receive CGI treatment that genuinely caused my jaw to drop for the first time in my life. And I’ve met the Queen. A woman at the front let out an audible gasp and I think the bloke next to me was crying.

Suffice to say, I was incandescent with satisfaction. Once the staff had peeled me off the ceiling, I left the cinema with audience members grinning like they’d been heavily medicated. Admittedly, it’s strange to see a Star Wars film with so many of the traditional characteristics missing, but with the right amount of fan service, familiar aesthetics and, oh yeah, Darth Vader, it well and truly feels like part of the same universe. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to experience all of that several hours earlier than everyone else. Bear that in mind for the midnight screening of Episode VIII. Sleep is overrated, anyway.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is out now; get times and tickets here.