AUBURN — It’s all fun and games until somebody lops off a limb with a light saber.

At least that’s how the management of Flagship Cinemas sees it. Just before “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was to begin Thursday night, dozens of moviegoers were told to disarm: to lay down their light sabers and other out-of-this-world weaponry.

“They told me when I got here that I couldn’t bring it in,” said 28-year-old Dustin Freeman, dressed as a Sith for the big show. “I brought it out to the car.”

For the most part, the “Star Wars” fans shrugged off the command. They had been waiting a long time for this movie; they were not going to let somebody’s anti-saber agenda ruin their fun.

The fun started hours before the movie began.

Nikki Yergin, for example, was all in, even though she considers herself a “Star Wars” noobie.


The 29-year-old Mount Vernon woman had a spot at the front of the line Thursday night, but it wasn’t just her line position that made Yergin stand out. She was dressed head to toe in an inflatable Jabba the Hutt outfit she bought on just for the occasion.

“Why not?” Yergin said, about an hour before showtime.

Why not, indeed. But there was one drawback: with the long tail and the overly plump body, Yergin expected to have trouble fitting into her seat in a theater expected to be packed full.

“I’m probably going to have to deflate it,” she said.

Expectations for the latest “Star Wars” release ranged from sky-high to cautious, although excitement was pretty much universal. Some showed up at the cinema hours early, to make sure they had a good spot in line but also to enjoy the out-of-this-world ambiance.

You want to talk about ambiance? Matt Lalemand of Auburn had a bit of that, and it was barely covered by the bra around his decidedly hairy chest. A bra and a red skirt, to be precise. The outfit was Yergin’s idea. Turns out Lalemand didn’t need much convincing.


“She said she needed a Princess Leia,” Lalemand said, “and I immediately volunteered. Didn’t hesitate at all.”

Lalemand was at the cinema all day waiting for the movie and all day, his get-up turned heads.

“I think everyone with a phone has taken my picture,” he said.

Lalemand’s excitement was obvious. His prediction for the movie?

“This is like Christmas for me, but I’ve been trying to keep expectations low because I’ve been disappointed in the past,” Lalemand said. “Although I can’t imagine that it’s going to be bad.”

Caution seemed to be the theme. These were people who had been avoiding the Internet because they didn’t want to stumble upon any spoilers.


“I have really tried to stay away from anything online,” said 38-year-old Brian Nickel of Buckfield who wore a dashing Stormtrooper coat for the occasion. “I’m just trying to stay excited without worrying about the outcome.”

Ernie Anderson of Sumner, who had tickets for the 10 p.m. show, had a similar sense of hope mixed with a vague sense of reservation. He’s been burned before.

“I’m hoping this movie is payback,” he said, “for all those people who stood in line for ‘The Phantom Menace’ and who were disappointed. Fingers crossed that lightning won’t strike twice.”

An hour before showtime, Larry Lefebvre stood at the midway point of the line and watched the buzz of activity around him. The 67-year-old arrived at the theater at about 4:30 p.m. Unlike the others, he was fairly confident that “The Force Awakens” was going to deliver the magic.

“I think it’s going to be a big hit,” Lefebvre said. “They spent $4 billion making it. I think they’re out to make something like a trillion dollars on this one.”

Lefebvre, incidentally, was at the theater in a simple coat and a Boston Red Sox hat.


“I don’t have any kind of costume,” he said. “But I sure like looking at the people who do.”

The recently disarmed Freeman was a bit optimistic about the show, as well.

“I think it’s going to be good,” he said. “I think it’s going to be closer to the original than the prequels were.”

It better be good, said Freeman’s wife, Kristen.

“We’re going to see the movie today, tomorrow and Saturday,” she said.

Shortly after 6 p.m., ushers began letting moviegoers into the theaters where the movie would begin in less than an hour. A few latecomers were stripped of their light sabers and allowed to go inside.


For the next two hours, they would be engrossed in the latest “Star Wars” installment for which they had so long waited.

Was it worth the wait?

Dustin Freeman, still in his Sith get-up, definitely thought so.

“Fantastic. Absolutely incredible,” he said on his way out of the theater. “The best one since ‘Return of the Jedi.’ The only complaint I have is that I have to wait until tomorrow to watch it again.”

Connor Dylan, 17, was likewise impressed.

“I thought it was great,” he said. “It brought back all kinds of nostalgia. It was nice seeing old characters from the past movies.”


Larry Lefebvre? Loved it. Plans to see it again.

A fourth man, Jason Friday, said the movie surpassed his expectations.

“It was a lot better than the prequels,” he said. “A lot better.”

So good that he might be tempted to see it again?

But of course.

“Probably tomorrow,” Friday said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: