So, OK, bloody disgusting ran an article that Fox doesn’t know what to do with a proposed sequel to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, and that the source of the problem is that when Lost’s Damon Lindelof re-wrote Jon Spaihts’ original Alien prequel script into what became Prometheus, he turned a one-shot film into the start of a trilogy, except now he isn’t returning for film two and so Ridley Scott and Fox are left holding the bag with no idea where to take the story next. The article is pretty fierce in attacking Mr. Lindelof, and no surprise he has responded to defend himself, saying that Ridley Scott and everyone at Fox all wanted Prometheus to be the start of a trilogy and explaining why he isn’t returning for the sequel. I have no reason not to take Mr. Lindelof at his word, but the real story to me, here, is how clear Mr. Lindelof’s comments illustrate the brain-dead decision-making that went into the making of Prometheus. Mr. Lindelof comments that the whole idea was that, if/when they made a sequel to Prometheus, they didn’t want that sequel to be the already-made original Alien. They wanted room to explore the story further, to tell what he describes as a “parallel” story to the events of Alien and its sequels. That’s why instead of making the planet that they find in Prometheus LV-427, the planet where Ripley finds the crashed ship and the alien eggs in Alien, they decided to set Prometheus on a different planet (despite the fact that they kept in the film the Engineer’s ship that looks exactly like the one Ripley found, crashing at the end so it looks exactly like what we saw in Alien. Guess those Engineers just crashed their ships on LOTS of barren planets, huh? So stupid!!). Am I the only one who sees how easily the filmmakers could have had their cake and eaten it too? Had they stuck with Jon Spaihts’ original plan, the events of Prometheus would have beautifully lined up with what we saw in Alien, explaining who the Engineers were and how their ship carrying Alien eggs wound up crashed on that planet… and meanwhile, had the movie ended exactly the way it did, with Dr. Shaw and David’s head surviving the Engineer’s rampage and setting off in search of the Engineer’s home-world, they could have had their “parallel” story-line right there, continuing to explore Shaw’s adventures in future films without connecting any further to Ripley. Am I right or am I crazy?? Once again I am struck by what an enormous, jaw-dropping missed opportunity Prometheus was. (Click here for my original review … [continued]
I am absolutely loving this new Iron Man 3 trailer:
This movie looks fantastic from what we have seen so far. I love seeing Tony really challenged. I love the idea of connecting this film to the Avengers not by featuring other super-heroic characters, but by exploring the psychological ramifications of what Tony went through in that film. I love what we have seen of Ben Kinglsey’s interpretation of the Mandarin as a media-savvy terrorist. I love the teases of what looks to be some great action set-pieces. It’s Shane Black working again with Robert Downey Jr. I am in.
I am intrigued by this announcement of The X-Files Season 10 in comic-book form. And I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Faraci’s statement that the time is ripe for an X-Files revival. I posted a lament when the date for the alien invasion came and went a few months ago, with no sign of the massive X-Files third movie I had been hoping for. I would love to see that remedied someday, before all the actors get too old. A man can hope…
I am always too busy over the summer to watch The Daily Show, a fact which eased my initial dismay when reading this announcement that Jon Stewart is taking 12 weeks off from the show to direct a film. What’s particularly fascinating is that Mr. Stewart isn’t planning on directing a comedy, but rather an adaptation (that he has written) of the book Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival. The book was written by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy, and tells the true story of the detention and torture of Mr. Bahari, a BBC journalist, for 118 days in Iran. Viewers of The Daily Show might recall Mr. Bahari, as he appeared on the show both before and after his ordeal. One of the pieces of evidence used against him by the Iranians, who accused him of being a spy, was a previous comic appearance he had made on The Daily Show.
The fact that Warner Brothers seems to have no idea what to do with all of the DC Universe super-hero franchises they own, exhibited by their inability to get a Justice League movie off the ground, would be hilarious if it wasn’t so disappointing to folks like me who would love to see a whole slew of kick-ass DC movies. Here’s hoping Zack Snyder’s Superman film doesn’t disappoint. Going back to Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale seems like a desperation move to me. Though I would rather see Christian Bale back in the bat-suit than Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as had been rumored. Look, I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt … [continued]
Did you enjoy the new Hobbit trailer I posted last week? If you haven’t seen them, here are all of the other alternate endings to that trailer.
Uh oh. Looks like Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt has dropped out of work on the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, apparently because Fox is rushing the film to meet the release date the studio had chosen. This is not a good sign.
This past weekend, on the eve of Treme’s season 3 premiere came the good news/bad news that HBO had renewed the show for a fourth and final season (four seasons was apparently David Simon’s ideal length for the run of the show), albeit a shortened season. The exact length of this shortened fourth season, what Mr. Simon refers to as “season 3.5,” is TBD. I’m bummed the show couldn’t swing a full final season, but I’m thrilled that HBO is at least giving Mr. Simon and his team some episodes to bring their television masterpiece to a conclusion of their choosing.
Well, now I know why Robot Chicken did a DC Comics special this year, rather than a fourth Star Wars one. It’s because Seth Green and many of the rest of the Robot Chicken gang are working on a whole new Star Wars parody show, Star Wars Detours. This first trailer is funny, though I’m not sure why this is a whole new show and not just more Robot Chicken…
Speaking of Star Wars, it looks like Episode II and Episode III will be getting a 3-D theatrical re-release in 2013. I sat out the Episode I re-release (I must admit I was a little tempted, but that film is just so bad I couldn’t see spending the money, even though I was curious about the look of the 3-D), and I’m not that much more interested in seeing Episode II. But seeing Episode III back on the big screen, and in 3-D? That just might have my ticket. But I am really waiting to see if they re-release the Original Trilogy. Any excuse to see those films on the big screen again is exciting for me, no matter how much new digital fiddling Mr. Lucas and his minions have done…
This is an interesting list of the Top 5 Best-Acted Moments in a Steven Spielberg Film. I definitely agree with numbers 5, 4, and 1, not so sure about 3 and 2…
I was already interested in Judd Apatow’s new film, This is 40, and this interview with Robert Smigel and Albert Brooks, both of whom are appearing in the film, has … [continued]
This is a fantastic article from the New York Times about how baseball dugout payphones are the last bastion of the landline.
The web-site io9 always has some great lists, and I particularly enjoyed their recent list of 10 stand-alone episodes that totally represent their respective shows. Choosing “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” for The X-Files was a great choice.
Quint from AICN has begun posting reports from the set of The Hobbit. Check out Part 1 of his Unexpected Journey here. Meanwhile, Peter Jackson has recently posted the fourth video diary from the set of The Hobbit, this one focusing on the film’s 3-D effects:
Did you catch that glimpse at The Hobbit’s official logo, there at the end? Cool!!
This review of the Star Wars saga on blu-ray from Chud.com is interesting — especially the “fuck you” opening (early in “the lowdown” section)! The reviewer has some interesting comments on all the films, particularly Empire. (Though his rating both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones as better films than Return of the Jedi is lunacy. Jedi is flawed, absolutely, but still way better than those two prequels.) (By the way, so far I have held firm in my vow not to purchase the saga on blu-ray. I’m itching to watch the series again, and I will admit to a morbid curiosity as to what has been changed in this latest version of the films, but I’m still avoiding paying almost a hundred bucks for something that I know will, in the end, just sadden and/or anger me. Still, if anyone wants to give it to me as a GIFT…!)
But the articles that have really reminded me of my love for Star Wars, and that have got me thinking about re-watching the series, is Drew McWeeny from HitFix’s series of FilmNerd articles about showing the Star Wars films, one at a time, to his young kids for the very first time. These articles represent some of the finest writing Mr. McWeeny has ever done, and if you’ve ever enjoyed a Star Wars film, these are well-worth your time. It’s fascinating to re-experience these films through the eyes of someone who has never seen them before. Consider, if you will, two boys who have seen the Clone Wars cartoons but not the films. They think Anakin Skywalker is the hero of Star Wars. Reading how they react to what the film series is REALLY about is poignant and mind-blowing. Start with Drew’s article about showing his boys the original Star Wars (A New Hope) and go from there. Here’s his piece on Empire, and then his pieces on Episode I, Episode … [continued]
With the recent release of all six Star Wars films on blu-ray, Star Wars is on my mind (and I’m sure I’m not alone). I am standing by my vow not to purchase this new set, since I am confident that the additional changes to the films (most heinously represented by Darth Vader’s new ridiculous “NOOO!!” yell that has been added into the climactic moment of Return of the Jedi, I guess to parallel the most aggravating moment in Revenge of the Sith) will only piss me off.
(Addendum no. 1: I have no problem with George Lucas making as many changes as he wants to the Star Wars films. AS LONG AS HE WOULD RELEASE THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL VERSIONS TOO, along with his ever-more-Special Editions. That he refuses to do that, when so many fans like me would GLADLY GIVE HIM LOTS OF OUR MONEY to purchase those original versions, boggles my mind and makes me angry and sad.)
(Addendum no. 2: While the newly mucked-with versions of the films don’t have a lot of appeal to me, the special features on the new blu-ray set, particularly the deleted scenes from the Original Trilogy (click here for a tantalizing preview), look awesome. So I just want to clarify that I wouldn’t oppose being given this new blu-ray set as a GIFT!)
Where was I? Oh! Right. Star Wars. So even though I haven’t bought the new blu-ray set, I was thinking about the best order in which one should watch the six Star Wars films. George Lucas obviously, feels that they should be watched in the order he has numbered them, I-VI, with the prequel trilogy first, followed by the Original Trilogy.
I, on the other hand, have always felt that they should be watched in the order they were MADE. So that would be the Original Trilogy first, episodes VI-VI, followed by the prequel trilogy, episodes I-III. That was the order in which audiences originally experienced the films, and so it makes sense to me that that should be the order which is preserved. A side-bonus of this order, to me, is that it would also help minimize the jarring change in the look and style of the special effects from the Original Trilogy to the prequels.
(Caveat no. 1: Anyone who would prefer to skip Episode I: The Phantom Menace entirely, when re-watching the saga, is OK in my book.)
(Caveat no. 2: The one thing I will say about George Lucas’ preferred order is that I must admit there is something cool about watching the original Star Wars (now called Episode IV), immediately after watching Episode III. After first seeing … [continued]
I have had to reevaluate my opinion of Adam Carolla after listening to his marvelous interview (well-over an hour long) with the great Albert Brooks. This is a MUST-LISTEN, friends.
Attorney General Eric Holder has challenged David Simon to produce a sixth season of The Wire?? That is awesome.
This expose on the dramatically underlit images found at many big-chain Boston-area movie theaters is very frustrating to read. Every time I read about an amazing theatre chain like the Alamo Drafthouse, I wish there were better movie theatres in my area.
This is a great article about when to show Star Wars to one’s kids. I’m going to face this dilemma in a few years! The follow-up piece is great, too: when to show the Indiana Jones films to one’s kids!
Io9 has weighed in on the 10 Best Star Trek Episodes. It’s an interesting list. I’m thrilled by how well-represented Deep Space Nine is, but having an episode of Voyager on the list really nullifies any credence the writer might have. And “The Void” of all episodes? Decent, but I could name about a hundred Trek episodes from the other series that are superior. For my own list of my favorite Star Trek episodes of all time, click here.
I am very excited by the report that the phenomenal comic book series 100 Bullets just might become a TV show on Showtime! 100 Bullets is one of the finest comic book series of recent memory. Click here for my thoughts on the series. Now, I’m not holding my breath for this proposed TV show to actually happen, but damn would it be cool…
In my review of Super 8 last week, I mentioned that I felt the monster in the film (directed by J.J. Abrams) was quite similar to the monster from Cloverfield (produced by J.J. Abrams). Don’t agree with me? Then check this out. Case closed, I think!… [continued]
Following up on my review of Source Code, which I posted yesterday, click here for a wonderfully spot-on assessment of all of the myriad problems with the film’s ending. It’s a sweet ending that felt right when I walked out of the theatre, but like the rest of the film, if you think about it for more than five minutes, it totally falls apart.
Here’s another trailer — this is for the very low-budget indie sci-fi movie Another Earth. I don’t know anything about this film, but my curiosity is piqued. It’s always interesting to see sci-fi elements mixed with drama (rather than action).
This is awesome. Lucasfilm Animation’s new building is shaped like a Jawa Sandcrawler.
It’s really happening! The Avengers has begun filming!! Here’s what Joss Whedon had to say on the matter. Funny as always. Boy, The Avengers is happening, The Hobbit is happening… this is all very exciting! Now if we could just get the next James Bond film into production, then I’d be over the moon.
I’ve written before about how I think the way some people defend bad movies by saying “oh, it’s not a movie you’re supposed to think about” is incredibly stupid. Here’s a well-reasoned support of my opinion.
This is a beautiful article but it also made me kind of sad. No matter how much we might try to read all the books we want to read, or watch all the films we want to see, or listen to all the music we want to listen to, the simple mathematical truth is that we’re all going to miss almost everything.
I’ve always thought that the next Star Trek TV show needs to move the story forward (the same way Next Gen did after the original Star Trek), not backwards. Apparently I’m not alone in that thinking. Trekmovie.com has put together a fascinating piece on the pitch for a new Star Trek TV show that Bryan Singer, Chris McQuarrie, and Robert Meyer Burnett put together in 2005-06 put never actually presented to Paramount. I would have watched that show!
This is a great defense by Nordling of AICN on the experience of seeing movies theatrically. I agree with him wholeheartedly, but I wish there were theatres like the Alamo Drafthouse here in Boston. It kills me to go to a movie and have people talking on their cell phones or texting or doing other annoying things that distract from actually watching the movie.
Finally, … [continued]
It’s difficult to express just how much fun I’ve had watching the dueling Star Wars specials that both Family Guy and Robot Chicken have been releasing over the past few years! I was blown away by both shows’ initial Star Wars episodes (Robot Chicken’s Star Wars Special and Family Guy‘s episode Blue Harvest, an hour-long parody of the original Star Wars), and I have been thrilled that the continuing installments have become something of an annual tradition. The end of December saw both the broadcast of Robot Chicken’s Star Wars: Episode III as well as the release of the DVD/blu-ray of Family Guy’s Return of the Jedi episode, It’s a Trap!
Of the two, I prefer the Robot Chicken special, but it’s pretty close! As usual, the Robot Chicken episode is a collection of skits — some just a few seconds long, others lasting several minutes — having fun with the whole breadth and scope of the Star Wars saga. As with their Robot Chicken Star Wars: Episode II special (which focused on The Empire Strikes Back — click here for my review), Episode III focuses on one of the films — in this case, no surprise, Return of the Jedi — though as always there are still skits throughout the show referencing all five of the other films.
The episode begins at the end of Return of the Jedi, with Darth Vader having thrown the Emperor down the deep trench of the Death Star. The video freeze-frames mid-fall, and we hear the Emperor — once again voiced with an extraordinary amount of sardonic bitterness by Family Guy‘s Seth McFarlane (just one of many crossovers of talent between the two shows) — asking, in voice-over, just how the heck he got into that position! McFarlane’s hilarious depiction of the Emperor as a grouchy fellow constantly beset by life’s circumstances was one of the stand-out characters of the first Robot Chicken Star Wars special, and the shows creators have wisely chosen to again spotlight him here. The other character who gets a spotlight — surprising to me, but pleasantly so! — is the unnamed Stormtrooper voiced by Scrubs’ Donald Faison. He gets some choice moments in the show (we see his mishaps driving the Death Star and at Lars and Beru’s home), and Faison is an absolute riot.
Other great skits include a spot-on evisceration of the ridiculous Padme/Anakin scenes from Episode II (“This is my room for talking about non-sexual matters”); a musical version of Emperor Palpatine’s first 66 orders; a dark take on the cave scene from Empire (“Think you would cut his head off, I did not!!”); and … [continued]
One of my favorite web-sites these days is Badassdigest.com — you should definitely check it out if you’ve never seen it. They’ve had some great pieces up recently, such as Devin Faraci’s simple, rational piece about why you should avoid purchasing the just-announced Star Wars saga on blu-ray, and this article decrying the ridiculous people who are putting together a version of Huckleberry Finn with then “offensive” language removed, and this scary story of a Lost fan who won the lotto using the cursed numbers (“the numbers are bad!!”). They also linked to this illustrated history of the Batmobile, which is really fantastic (and extraordinarily thorough!!) Seriously, the site is great. Check it out.
Drew over at Hitfix has also had some killer articles up recently that are well worth your time, such as this epic interview with Edgar Wright (seriously, anyone out there reading this who hasn’t seen Scott Pilgrim vs. the World needs to remedy that RIGHT NOW) and this in-depth conversation with The Social Network director David Fincher.
Speaking of in-depth conversations, those fine folks at the Onion AV Club have posted a wonderful career-retrospective interview with the great Jon Lovitz. This is a great read. (Thanks to my buddy Ethan for sending this my way!)
So, they’re actually making a fifth Jack Ryan movie, with Chris Pine cast as the lead? I’m not sure how I feel about that. I guess I hope that they can pull it off. I have a lot of faith in director Jack Bender (a prominent director from Lost) and I do think the series still has legs. I absolutely adore The Hunt for Red October, and while I like all three follow-ups I don’t think any of them quite succeeded on all cylinders. I’d love to see another great Jack Ryan film. Will this be it? One can hope…
I’ve got LOTS more reviews of 2010 movies (and some TV shows) coming up in the coming days, and I’m hard at work on my Best of 2010 lists (which I expect to post at the end of the month), so keep checking back to MotionPicturesComics.com!… [continued]
It didn’t arrive in 2010, but I’m very much hoping that 2011 will bring us Adywan’s version of The Empire Strikes Back. (Click here to read me waxing poetic about his magnificent Star Wars: Revisited.) Here’s a peek:
Did you notice the new approach to Cloud City? The way he has replaced the Emperor’s hologram with the way his face appears in Return of the Jedi (far more elegantly than the hatchet job done on this scene in the 2004 DVD)? The far more action-packed escape from Hoth? The inclusion of additional snow-speeders? The laser burns when Stormtroopers get shot? How robotic bounty-hunter IG-88 finally moves? The way we no longer see the rebel’s laser cannon on Hoth blown up in the scene where the rebels all line up with their weapons, several minutes before the cannon is actually blown up? How we now see other ships fleeing Cloud City, along with the Millennium Falcon, after Lando gives the order to evacuate?
CAN. NOT. WAIT.… [continued]
I’m a big, big fan of Adywan’s fan-edit of the original Star Wars, so much-so that I consider it to be the definitive version of that film. I am chomping at the bit for the release of his upcoming edit of The Empire Strikes Back! Here’s a fascinating interview with this dedicated fan.
Cars is my least-favorite Pixar film, so I don’t have an enormous amount of excitement for the upcoming Cars 2 (despite Pixar’s being on an incredible winning streak). However, this recent announcement has raised my anticipation level significantly!
This is a fascinating read: A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I’m an Atheist.
It’s nice to see that Ira Steven Behr, one of the key creative masterminds between Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (my favorite of the Trek series) is still getting work as a show-runner (even if this new show Alphas doesn’t interest me that much).
New trailers! Here’s a glimpse at Terrence Malick’s long-in-the-making new film, The Tree of Life. I don’t know quite WHAT to make of the film based on that trailer, but I am definitely intrigued. Here’s a trailer for a new film called Hanna starring Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, and Saoirse Ronan. I’d never hear of it before seeing this trailer posted on Hitfix, but it looks interesting. Lastly, here’s a trailer for Kevin Smith’s new Horror film Red State. That’s right, I said Kevin Smith’s new HORROR film. I have NO IDEA whether this is going to be any good, but I’m certainly interested, and happy that Mr. Smith is moving beyond his familiar brand of talky raunchy comedies. Not that I have any problem with his talky, raunchy comedies, mind you!!
Speaking of bad-ass, here’s a funny piece from JoBlo called 10 Bad Ass Villains Who really Weren’t.
The casting announcements have been coming fast and furious for the new Spider-Man film, but I just can’t muster up much excitement. I simply think it’s a terrible idea to re-boot the Spider-Man franchise, which felt to me like it still had a ton of gas in the tank (despite my dislike of Spider-Man 3). Take the recent news that Rhys Ifans will be playing The Lizard in the new film. That should be exciting news — I think the Lizard is a great Spidey villain. But I’m just bummed that they’re finally using The Lizard in a Spidey film and the great Dylan Baker — who appeared as Dr. Curt Connors in ALL THREE previous Spider-Man films — isn’t going to get to play the character.
Speaking of big announcements about which I just can’t muster up too much excitement is the news that George Lucas will be releasing the Star Wars movies back to theatres in 3D, as well as the follow-up announcement that they’re also working on 3-D conversions of the Indiana Jones films. On the one hand, any excuse to see the Star Wars and Indy films back on the big screen is exciting. (After having so much fun seeing Back to the Future back on the big screen, I’ve been hoping that other studios would follow suit and bring some of their best films back to theatres so we can enjoy them as they were meant to be seen.) But I’m not so excited about the 3-D conversions. That has the potential to be cool, but a big part of me would really just rather see a beautifully restored 2-D print of those films. Also, Lucas has unfortunately decided to release the Star Wars films one per year, in order of episode number — which means he’s starting with Episode I, and we won’t get to see The Empire Strikes Back until something like 2016!! That stinks!
I’ve been interested in the upcoming sci-fi film Skyline ever since seeing the trailer. But I’m even more interested now, after reading Mr. Beaks’ great piece at AICN about how Colin & Greg Strause basically made the film independently, free from studio oversight or interference. I can’t wait to see what they’ve put together.
Check out this amazing web-site that contains a treasure trove of footage of Andy Kaufman performing throughout his career, arranged chronologically. Astounding.
I’d never heard of this movie before seeing the trailer, but now I’m intrigued:
The combination of Andy Serkis (who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films) and Simon Pegg is genius, and it’s exciting to see John Landis directing again!
Like most viewers, … [continued]
Quint over at AICN has posted an amazing, career-spanning interview with the extraordinarily talented Drew Struzan. Mr. Struzan has illustrated many of the most iconic movie posters of the last several decades — posters I’m sure you’d recognize for all of the Indiana Jones films, the Star Wars films, the Back to the Future films, and so many more. The man is an incredible talent. I have already ordered my copy of The Art of Drew Struzan, and I can’t wait for it to arrive!
The AICN seaman has also been posting a really fun series called The Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day that is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already been following it. Maybe you’ll want to start with this one that has done far worse than kill you, he’s hurt you, and he wishes to go on hurting you. Heh — fits right in with my current run of cartoons!!
A fun animation test for the abandoned Roger Rabbit 2 project, from 1998, has recently surfaced on-line. Worth checking out.
This recent brief interview with Joss Whedon, discussing his work on the upcoming Avengers film, has been making the rounds of the net but it’s worth reading if you haven’t seen it yet. I love Mr. Whedon’s comment that “I would like to put these actors in a room and just make Glengarry Glen Ross.” Boy would I happily pay to see that!!
This is an interesting list of the 33 Greatest Movie Trilogies of all time, as voted for by readers of Empire magazine. There are some weird choices (I think the terrible fourth entries in the Die Hard and Indiana Jones series would disqualify those as trilogies — and what the hell is the Star Wars prequel trilogy doing on that list???) but it’s a fun read.
So actor Robert Wuhl, who once played a sports agent on the TV show Arliss, is now hosting an actual sports radio show? That’s pretty funny.
I love this:
If you’re a member of facebook, check out this list (compiled by a key contributor to The Digital Bits, my favorite DVD/blu-ray-related web-site) of films that he’s still waiting to be released on DVD. It’s a hoot. While I’m discussing the Digital Bits, here’s something cool: In anticipation of the upcoming release of all four Alien films on blu-ray, they have posted an extensive look at the making of Fox’s amazing Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set from a few years back. This was originally published in the book The Digital Bits: Insider’s Guide to DVD. Since all of this material will appear on the blu-ray set, this is well-worth a read, if you’re a fan of these films.
The deleted scene from Return of the Jedi that was shown at Star Wars Celebration V has been taken down from youtube, but as of this writing it can still be seen here, so check it out. It’s a cool moment showing Luke’s constructing his new lightsaber, and Vader trying to speak to his son through the force.
Speaking of Star Wars, I have waxed poetical many times on this site about the magnificence of Adywan’s e-edit/restoration of Star Wars: A New Hope. (I am sick of referring to it as Episode IV.) Here is a phenomenal visual guide to over 500 of the changes/fixes that Adywan has made. If you have any way of getting your hands on this film (and fanedit.org is a good place to start), then do so immediately.
This is an interesting article about a new book about the Bond films: The Man With the Golden Touch: How the Bond Films Conquered the World. This is a book I need to read! By the way, I don’t agree with the author of the article’s closing thought that the recent films have been entirely without artistic merit. I was disappointed by Quantum of Solace, but didn’t think it was a complete catastrophe. I also am not nearly so down as that writer on Pierce Brosnan. I love Brosnan as Bond. He was just in some bad Bond films. (His first two were strong, but his last two — The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day — were TERRIBLE.) But I don’t blame Brosnan for what went wrong in those films. It’s a shame that MGM’s financial woes have put a halt to the series for now. But James Bond Will Return. Someday, I guess.
There’s a nice defense of Tom Cruise by Nick Nunziata over on CHUD, and I must say I agree wholeheartedly. Speaking of CHUD, I was very sorry to read of Devin Faraci’s … [continued]
A few days ago, at the Star Wars Celebration V convention in Orlando, FL, it was announced that the Star Wars films will be released on Blu-Ray in the fall of 2011. Click here for more details.
I should be overcome with excitement at the propsect of seeing the Star Wars films presented in the crystal-clear quality of Blu-Ray, but I really can’t muster up much enthusiasm for this announcement.
Back in 2004 I spent a lot of money to purchase the Original Trilogy on DVD, and I felt that the presentation of those films was so catastrophically bad that, after watching the trilogy in the week after I bought the set, I have not once gone back to re-watch those DVDs, and I can’t imagine that I ever will. George Lucas has a long history of fiddling with the Star Wars films, and in theory I don’t object to that concept. It’s just that so many of the changes that he has made to the Original Trilogy in recent years have, in my opinion, really been to the detriment of the films.
There were all sorts of problems with the 2004 DVD of A New Hope. For some reason the Star Wars main title had been changed so that it receeded into the distance at a super-fast speed. The color-timing was off in countless scenes, so that often Luke’s blue light-saber seemed green, and Vader’s red saber seemed pink. In the climactic Battle of Yavin at the end of the film, the audio was poorly balanced so that, in one instance, John Williams’ score was totally buried under the sound effects. The Han-Greedo scene was further altered and, even more annoyingly to me, the timing of Greedo’s subtitles were messed up. Now the subtitles for Greedo’s first line of dialogue appear on screen a beat before he startles Han, ruining the surprise of his entrance. I could go on and on. Perhaps none of these changes seem particularly egregious to you, and taken on their own I admit that none of them are that huge a deal. But all together, when scene after scene in the movie was altered — and not for the better — I was incredibly frustrated and disappointed by what had been done to the film.
Empire and Jedi were similarly mangled. In Empire, all of Boba Fett’s dialogue had been re-recorded by Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett in the prequel trilogy. I understand the idea behind that change — Boba is a clone of Jango so would surely sound just like him when he grew up. But the few lines of dialogue spoken by Boba Fett in Empire have all attained … [continued]
So is Peter Jackson going to direct The Hobbit? Or will it be his protege Neill Bolmkamp, who directed District 9? Who knows — I just hope this mess with MGM gets sorted out soon. I’m still getting over my enormous disappointment that MGM’s financial situation resulted in Guillermo del Toro’s departure from The Hobbit films. But boy would it be great to see PJ take the helm once again…
Great new trailer is up for The Social Network, the new film about facebook directed by David Fincher and scripted by Aaron Sorkin.
So, we finally got out first glimpse at The Green Hornet and… I’m still not quite sure what to think. This film is either going to be awesome or a total catastrophe…
CHUD’s list of the Worst CGI in Film History continues, and it’s well worth your time.
Will we ever get another decent X-Men film? I loved X-Men and X2, but X3 was a crushing disappointment and the less spoken of the abominable X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the better. I hate prequels, as a rule, so when word came out last year that the next X-film would be a prequel entitled X-Men: First Class, I thought that was a big mis-step. So what now gives me hope? Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick Ass) and stars James McAvoy (Children of Dune, Atonement, Wanter) as Professor X and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) as Magneto. An ember of hope is fanned…
Are we about to finally get another decent Predator film? The first Predator is awesome — one on my favorite movies ever. But the second one (set in the future with Danny Glover as the lead) is weak, and the less spoken of the two Alien Vs. Predator films the better. But Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal’s Predators is set for release in just a few short weeks, and damn if this new trailer isn’t pretty awesome. An ember of hope is fanned…
It’s hard for me to believe that a new Planet of the Apes film is really happening. And now I read that John Lithgow and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) have joined the cast? Um, okay… An ember of hope is… well… we’ll see…… [continued]
Has the pain of the end of Lost faded yet? (Click here for my thoughts on the finale.) Wanna rub some salt in the wound? Then be sure to check out this video compilation of all the questions Lost left unanswered.
Movie adaptations of Philip K. Dick stories have a pretty terrible track record. But I’m pretty excited about this one. Click here for a trailer for The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt (who really should have been the Black Widow in Iron Man 2).
Has Rob Reiner finally made another good movie? Check out this trailer:
I’m intrigued by that sweet trailer. Rob Reiner had one of the great winning streaks of all time when he directed This is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, and A Few Good Men. But with the exception of The American President, it’s been a long, loooong dry spell since then. Here’s hoping that Flipped represents the master’s return to form!
Whee, still more great trailers to see! Here’s the second peek at Scott Pilgrim vs The World (about which I must admit I know very little, but these trailers have hooked me), as well as our first glimpse at Part One of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
CHUD is running a fantastic list of the Worst CGI in History that is sad, funny, and well-worth your time.
See you all back here tomorrow!… [continued]
This made me laugh:
Let the Best of 2009 lists continue! I hope you all enjoyed my list of the Top 10 TV Episodes of 2009.
Now let’s dive into my list of the Top 10 DVDs (or Blu-Rays) released in 2009!
First, I’d like to give Honorable Mentions to the complete series sets of three amazing TV shows that I had just about given up all hope of ever seeing on DVD: It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and Andy Barker, P.I. So why aren’t these shows on my list? Because I can’t put anything on this list that I haven’t actually watched, and I’ve been way, way too busy to get through any of these sets. Of the three, the only one I own is Andy Richter Controls the Universe. (That one came out first, and I’m not going to purchase the other two sets until I actually have time to watch them.) But I take great delight in knowing that these three DVD sets exist here on planet Earth, and I know that I’ll get to them all in good time.
10. Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut (Blu-ray) — I’ve seen Watchmen quite a few times since it was released early in 2009, and while the film certainly has some weaknesses, I remain overwhelmed by the enormity of its successes. It’s hard to believe that Zach Snyder brought this seminal graphic novel by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, which long had been considered unadaptable, to life. It thrills me to see such a faithful take on the material and that the filmmakers had the confidence to craft a super-hero film that was aimed squarely at adults. The Ultimate Cut of the film is Zach Snyder’s longest version, stitching together his Director’s Cut with the animated Tales of the Black Freighter sequences. It’s pretty astounding. This Blu-Ray set would be much higher on this list were it not for the paltry special features. Not only are the special features lame (this is a movie that cries out for a full-fledged making-of documentary), but this set just reproduces the special features that were already released on the Director’s Cut set. (I guess I’ve been spoiled by the amazing extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films, which came not just with phenomenal extended versions of the films but with extraordinarily elaborate making-of documentaries that didn’t duplicate the special features on the theatrical version DVDs.) (Read my review of the theatrical version of Watchmen here, and of the Director’s Cut here.)
9. Contact (Blu-Ray) — A beautiful film that manages to combine a serious, cerebral sci-fi tale with an effecting story of the personal journey … [continued]
Did my run of Star Wars: Episode I cartoons last month (click here to see ‘em all) not fill your craving for Episode I bashing? Then take a look at this phenomenal fan look-back at The Phantom Menace that was posted over on CHUD. Apparently they came across this seven-part video series from a tweet by Simon Pegg (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). I guess I’m not the only die-hard Star Wars fan still scarred by the debacle that is Episode I.
I wrote about my experience seeing Episode I for the first time in a theatre here, and gave my thoughts on the film looking back a decade later here. But this guy dives into the film quite a bit deeper than I did. (That’s putting it mildly.) I’m not sure I quite understand the almost psychotic mumbling fan-boy persona this guy puts on for these reviews, but it’s pretty damn funny (though also more than a little bizarre).
Take a gander at part one:
Pretty funny stuff. Head back over to CHUD to see the rest. Part two examines the story of the film, and kicks off with the comment: “it’s almost mind-boggling how complex the awfulness is.” Couldn’t have said it any better myself!… [continued]
I followed a link the other day to the 10 Most Insane, Child-Warping Moments of ’80s Cartoons. Pretty funny stuff there. I’d also like to direct your attention to this list of the 10 Star Wars Toys that Unintentionally Look Like Other Celebrities. (It’s worth your while if only so that you, too, can be stunned by the resemblance of General Riekaan — from The Empire Strikes Back — to Senator John Kerry!!)
I’ve just discovered a phenomenal web-comic called Let’s Be Friends Again. It’s mostly about comic books. I love it to death, and it’s well worth your precious time, so check it out.
Have you seen this ten-minute fan-made live-action G.I. Joe film, Battle For the Serpent Stone? I’m a big proponent of fan-films, and this one is of pretty high quality. It’s quite an achievement — take a look.
Here’s a link to an terrific interview with IDW Comics editor Scott Dunbier, discussing his work in putting out the gorgeous new hardcover Bloom County: The Complete Library, Volume One (1980-1982), the first of five books that will collect every single strip (many of which have never before been collected) of Berkeley Breathed’s masterpiece comic strip. I lust after this collection, and very much hope that Mr. Dunbier is able to move forward with collections of Outland and Opus as well.
This is a great story about an annoying movie theatre patron. I wish there was a theatre like The Alamo Drafthouse here in Boston, because I would be more than happy to spend an enormous amount of money watching movies there and nowhere else. I am sick to death of having my enjoyment of a movie interrupted by some jackass talking, texting, or some other such nonsense.
I never believed it would happen, but filming on the two-film adaptation of The Hobbit is coming closer and closer to getting underway. Click here for an interesting interview with director Guillermo del Toro with some updates on how things are progressing.
Despite my renewed appreciation for the final run of episodes of Battlestar Galactica, this hilarious evisceration of the plot points in the last 45 minutes of the finale is impossible to argue with.
Here’s a terrific list of one fellow’s Top 15 Episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. It’s an interesting list. I absolutely adore episodes such as “Over The Edge,” “Mad Love,” “Robin’s Reckoning,” and “Heart of Ice,” and I was also pleased to see some lesser-known gems like “The Ultimate Thrill” and “Growing Pains” make the cut. (However, while “If You’re So Smart, Why … [continued]
OK, so this is about the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of — Star Wars fans worldwide are uniting on a project to re-make the original film (A New Hope), 15 seconds at a time. Fans can claim individual 15 second moments of the film, recreate them in whatever for they desire (re-enactments, animation, etc.), and then the whole thing will ultimately be strung together. Wild. Click here for all the details on Star Wars Uncut, or just watch this bizarre trailer below!
After watching Julie & Julia with my wife Steph recently (you can read my review of the film here) I was interested in learning more about Julie Powell, so I tracked down her Julie/Julia Project blog and her current blog (since she ended the Julie/Julia Project blog in 2003, with only one additional post in 2004 after Julia Childs’ death). Both blogs were fun to read through after having seen the film.
Not a week goes by, it seems, that I don’t read about Ridley Scott being attached to yet another movie-in-development. I’m not the only one who’s noticed, it seems. Check out this helpful guide: Know Your Ridley Scott Projects That Will Probably Never Happen.
I am an enormous Beatles fanatic. Thus it is really painful for me that I have not yet had an opportunity to sample the newly remastered versions of all of the Beatles albums that were released last month. Scorekeeper from AICN’s detailed run-down of each Beatles album, and how the new versions match up against the original CD releases from 1987, has only further whetted my appetite.
CHUD (Cinematic Happenings Under Development) has been running a ridiculously entertaining series of posts entitled “Bad For Us, Worse For Them.” What is it about? Let me quote from their intro: This is a list of forty deaths in cinema, twenty of which that have a profound affect on the viewer whether by the sheer tragedy of it, how emotionally impactful it is, or how it is a catalyst for a real descent in the progression of the story. The other twenty are deaths that go beyond the call of duty, not because they’re cool or really well executed FX, but because they are just knee-capping in their immediacy, brutality, or simple visceral impact. Kills that will probably leave a mark. The whole list is fantastic, but I was particularly pleased to see that Spock’s death in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan merited inclusion.
So, wow! After the recent Comic-Con the web has been flooded with all sorts of teases about upcoming movies, TV shows, and other geeky goodness. Here’s some of the best stuff that I’ve found:
After so many years of speculation and false starts, the sequel to Tron is finally, actually happening!! Check out the STUNNING trailer here. It’s going to be in IMAX 3-D?? I’m THERE.
I cannot believe they’re actually making a Jonah Hex movie. (And with Josh Brolin, no less!) Check out the poster.
The ending of Lost revealed? Um, not quite. Check out this video from the Lost panel! Quite a lot of additional footage from that panel can be found here. For some reason, Michael Emmerson’s fake audition for the role of Hurley isn’t included, but you can find that here. Funny stuff.
Here’s a pretty bad-ass trailer for Season 2 of The Clone Wars. I actually found the first season to be fairly watchable, and this glimpse at the next season looks pretty promising.
You know what it takes to sell real estate? The same thing it takes to re-make one of the most brilliant TV shows of all time. Well, AMC’s version of The Prisoner, starring Ian McKellan and Jim Caviezel, is nearly upon us. Check out this lengthy trailer. I must say, that looks pretty damn intriguing!
Amongst all of this glorious fun is the extraordinarily troubling continuing story about the newly-resurrected Futurama‘s uncertain future. This report from the Futurama panel at the con is grim indeed. Can’t everybody just make nice already?!!
That’s all for now — have a great weekend everybody!!… [continued]
Earlier this year I wrote about The Phantom Edit of Star Wars: Episode I. Michael Nichols was a fan of Star Wars who, like sane people world-wide, was tremendously disappointed with Episode I when it was released in 1999. While the rest of us just whined to our friends, Mr. Nichols set out to see if some thoughtful re-editing of the material could shape a more successful film out of Episode I’s lengthy, bloated run-time. As I discussed at length in my review, in my opinion Mr. Nichols succeeded wildly. On the one hand, the film is still Episode I, and there’s only so much one can do with that story that, really didn’t need to be told. On the other hand, by skillfully tightening up scenes, removing large swaths of dull and useless exposition, and cutting down much of the juvenile humor, Nichols was able to craft a much more dynamic narrative from the film.
When I read that he had also taken a pass at Episode II, I was ecstatic. I was able to get my hands on his fan-edit last month, and as with his Phantom Edit of Episode I, I enjoyed it thoroughly!
Once again, Mr. Nichols demonstrates how a small trim (by removing just one line of dialogue) can really change the feeling of a scene for the better. Let me give two examples. In the opening sequence, after Amidala lands her ship on Coruscant, her bodyguard Captain Typho jogs up to her and says “We made it. I guess I was wrong, there was no danger after all.” Then, of course, Amidala’s ship explodes. Typho’s dumb line takes all the air out of the scene — instead of it being a SHOCK when Amidala’s ship is destroyed, the audience is primed for something bad to happen by Typho’s ridiculous declaration. So Nichols just snips out Typho’s line. The queen lands her ship, steps onto the platform, and then BOOM. Much more exciting moment. Example number two takes place soon after, when Amidala enters Chancellor Palpatine’s office. Yoda gives her a creepy greeting: “Seeing you alive brings warm feelings to my heart.” OK, ew. That bizarre line slams that scene to a halt, in my mind, as the audience tries to not think about what else of Yoda’s is warmed by seeing Natalie Portman. So Nichols eliminates the line. Amidala enters, and gets right down to business. Much better.
As in his cut of Episode I, Nichols also removes most of the more juvenile and dumbed-down elements of the story. Do you remember, with pain, all of the ridiculousness of C-3PO getting his head placed on the body of … [continued]
So Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) is joining the cast of 24 next season? Time for the Battlestar Galactica actors to learn what the members of the ensemble from The Wire have discovered: they’ll never again be in a TV show as good.
Did you see The Daily Show’s John Hodgman’s uproariously funny speech at the 2009 Radio and TV Correspondents’ Dinner? Not to be missed.
A nice farewell to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles can be found on Composer Bear McCreary’s excellent blog, as he lists his 15 favorite moments from the show. (They are all excellent choices.) This show had its flaws, to be sure, but I am really disappointed that we won’t be getting a third season. (By the way, Bear was also the composer for the reinvented Battlestar Galactica throughout its run.)
I don’t play videogames, but I must admit that this trailer for Lucasarts’ new Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer is ridiculously cool. I wish we’d seen half that much bad-assery in the prequels…
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog has made his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien! Watch him make fun of some hippies here.
Have a great weekend, everybody! See you back here on Monday!… [continued]
Big dumb summer movie trailer alert! It’s the new trailer for Transformers 2, filled with lots of robot smashing action, and the new trailer for G.I. Joe, filled with Ninjas and, um, Eiffel Tower smashing action! Sigh. Hard to believe these two iconic and beloved cartoons of my youth are both now big-budget blockbuster movies coming out this summer. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were both really awesome? Isn’t it sort of sad to know that they definitely won’t be?
For a peek at a movie that might actually be good, click here to check out District 9, the new sci-fi flick directed by Neill Blomkamp and executive produced by Peter Jackson (The Lord of The Rings). Color me intrigued.
Keeping up with the trailers, here‘s a glimpse at the new film from Francis Ford Coppola, Tetro. I never saw his last film, the critically-demolished Youth Without Youth, but this looks really interesting. It’s a new film from Francis Ford Coppola! Of course it looks interesting!
Did you know that Robert Rodriguez is working on a new Predator film?? If it happens, it’ll be called Predators (in a clever nod to James Cameron’s sequel to Alien, entitled Aliens). Check out the tantalizing details here. I need to see this movie RIGHT NOW.
So it’s been ten years since The Phantom Menace, huh? Here’s an interesting look back. I agree with this fellow’s thoughts about the two Phantom Menace trailers (among the finest trailers ever crafted), but I certainly don’t think anywhere nearly as highly of that dreadful turd of a movie as he does. (You can read my memories of first seeing Episode I in theatres here, and my thoughts on the movie looking back almost a decade later here.)
Did you not have enough Star Trek content here on the site for the past two weeks? Then check out this great piece from the Onion A.V. Club: “Space Racism is Bad and 17 Other Not-So-Subtle Lessons Learned From Star Trek.” If you’ve never seen it before, you MUST scroll down to the clip of William Shatner’s Kirk reading the Preamble to U.S. Constitution in selection #12, from the absurd Trek episode The Omega Glory. ”WE… the… PEOPLE… not written for thekingsorthechiefsortherichorthepowerful but for ALLTHEPEOPLE!” Classic Shatnerian magnificence.
Since seeing J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film, I’ve been enjoying reading all the different reactions on-line and in the press. I always enjoy Alexandra DuPont’s film reviews when they appear (not often enough to suit me) on aintitcoolnews.com, and her take on the new film is well worth your time. (I remember well … [continued]
I have just seen the definitive version of Star Wars.
And it wasn’t created by George Lucas or anyone at ILM. It was made by one fan.
For years I have been reading about the variety of “fan-edits” of the six Star Wars movies that have been floating around the internet. Last month I finally got ahold of the famous Phantom Edit of Star Wars: Episode I, which I wrote about last week.
I was so blown away by the high quality of that edit that I decided to check out some of the other fan-edits that are out there. I am eager to watch the Phantom Editor’s take on Episode II (and I’ll certainly write about that here once I see it), but after perusing various sites such as fanedit.org and originaltrilogy.com, it became clear that people were very excited about a fellow called Adywan’s special edition re-edit of Star Wars: Episode IV, titled Star Wars: Revisited. I decided to track it down and take a look.
Let me say again: Wow.
This one fan has produced an astounding re-edit of Star Wars that is, in my mind, by far the best presentation this film has ever received on any home video format.
Before I go into detail about what Adywan has done, let me give you a brief history of the many versions of Star Wars. Even in the earliest years of its existence, George Lucas had a habit of fiddling around with it (adding in the Episode IV: A New Hope subtitle, for instance, or the brief scene on the Death Star where Chewie growls at the little black droid). In 1995, Lucas returned the original three Star Wars films to the big-screen with the Special Editions. In addition to giving a whole new generation of folks (like me) a chance to enjoy the Star Wars films on the big screen, these versions contained a number of CGI enhancements. Some of these changes were very cool (particularly many of the snazzy new space-ship shots, like the Millennium Falcon blasting out of Mos Eisley and some action-packed additions to the Death Star battle). Some were controversial (the re-insertion of a scene between Han Solo and Jabba the Hut; the many new creatures added into the background of Mos Eisley). Some were down-right stupid (Greedo shooting at Han and somehow missing at point-blank range, before Han shoots and kills him). In 2004, the Star Wars Original Trilogy was finally released to DVD. Sadly, it was a mess. There were additional changes to the film that were not for the better (the Han-Greedo scene was further mucked with, with Han and Greedo … [continued]
I have been reading, for years now, about the mysterious Phantom Edit of Star Wars: Episode I. Apparently, some time after Episode I was released, a fan who was as dissatisfied as all the rest of us were decided to take matters into his own hands and re-edit Episode I in an attempt to address some of its many flaws. Word of this Phantom Edit spread, and it wasn’t long before I was reading about in on-line and even in some mainstream magazines. (For example, here is an interesting piece on the Phantom Edit from Salon.com from back in November, 2001.) Kevin Smith had to publicly deny being responsible for this re-edit. (Eventually the Phantom Editor was revealed to be Mike J. Nichols from California.)
Finally, after many years and a little help from one of my friends (you know who you are — THANK YOU!) I have finally had a chance to watch the Phantom Edit of Star Wars: Episode I myself.
It is a revelation.
By lifting out lines of dialogue, re-arranging moments, and even deleting entire sequences, Mr. Nichols has worked to excavate the core of a decent story buried under the bloated two hour and twenty minute run-time of George Lucas’ original film. (The Phantom Edit runs just a hair under an hour and fifty minutes.)
So what has changed?
Nichols has removed many of the more juvenile (and, let’s say it, stupid) elements of the film. The main focus of his deletions is, surprise surprise, on Jar Jar. Now, Jar Jar is still in the movie, don’t get me wrong. There is no way to have the story be coherent without his presence. But Nichols has trimmed Jar Jar’s presence in the film WAY back. No longer does he step in poodoo, or get his face numbed and start talking like Bill Cosby doing his dentist routine, etc. Nichols has even, in many places, reduced the volume of Jar Jar’s dialogue, subtly shifting the viewers’ focus away from his antics in the background to the things we SHOULD be paying attention to that are going on in the foreground.
Nichols actually gives Jar Jar something of an “arc” in the film, mainly by cutting the scene during the end-battle on Naboo where Jar Jar surrenders to the battle droids. On the commentary (yes, there is even a commentary, and I was very pleasantly surprised by how well-spoken Nichols was, and the straight-forward way in which he laid out his rationale for all the changes he made), Nichols argues quite persuasively about how ridiculous it was to have Jar Jar on the podium celebrating with everyone at the end of the movie. Wouldn’t the … [continued]
I’ve seen some very funny movies in the theatres lately, but let me tell you about the two best pieces of entertainment that I’ve seen this week:
Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith — Back in 2002, film-maker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, etc…) released a two-DVD compilation of the best moments of five lengthy Q & A sessions he had held at various college campuses. This little slice of comic genius was called An Evening With Kevin Smith. It is a raucous, profane, and relentlessly entertaining four hours spent learning FAR more than you probably ever wanted to know about Kevin Smith’s life, career, show-biz interactions, and sexual habits. The kids ask Smith questions on all sorts of topics, and he answers with surprising honesty and brilliant humor. The man is a spectacular story-teller. There are so many gems to be found on this DVD set (one of the most-watched in my large DVD collection), but my two favorites concern Smith’s experiences filming documentary footage for Prince (“Chaka mad? Chaka real mad!”), and his lengthy tale of the year he spent, in the late 90′s, working on a Superman movie script for Warner Brothers. In addition to being one of the funniest stories I have ever heard (as Smith goes into painful, hilarious detail of the ins and outs of trying to get the relaunch made in crazy Hollywoodland), that tale also serves to explain (to me, at least) why so many big-budget Hollywood movies wind up being so awful. Oh, and the epilogue to the story, about Smith’s public fight with Tim Burton, is a classic as well. Oh, OK, and I must also mention the tale of Smith’s first hook-up with the woman who would become his wife. This story might sound innocuous, but it has to be heard to be believed. (Remember what I wrote before about Smith’s honesty? Let’s just say that it is on full display here.)
In 2006, Smith released An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder. While bearing a phenomenal title, this set contained footage from just two Q & A shows, and as a result it was a bit weaker. (There was less material to draw from.) However, that’s not to say that there’s not a lot of fun to be had. The discussion of Jason Mewes’ “half-half-whole” technique (which I will not explain any further here) in particular is a winner, and left me anticipating the hopeful future release of a third DVD set.
Which brings us to Threevening. This double-DVD contains footage from just one show, but it’s a doozy: Kevin Smith’s celebration of his 37th birthday with an almost … [continued]
After much debate, I decided to skip the animated Star Wars Clone Wars movie that was released to theaters in late August. It is almost unimaginable to me that I wouldn’t rush out to see a new Star Wars ANYTHING on the big screen. But as I read bad review after bad review, claiming that the Clone Wars movie was chock-full of all the worst aspects of the prequels — stupid, juvenile jokes, wooden characters, etc. — that, in short, it was a movie clearly made for KIDS and not adults, I decided to pass. Why go see something that it was certain I’d hate?
When the Clone Wars TV series began this past week, I again had a decision to make. Should I tune in? (You see, the Clone Wars movie was the first three episodes of this new show edited together. It was really just a splashy launch for the new, half-hour weekly animated show.) But this time, the decision was much easier. These shows were on TV — it was free, after all, and if they stunk I could always turn them off.
So I checked out the first two episodes, which Cartoon Network aired back-to-back. Things started off strong with the first episode, “Ambush.” Yoda and a group of clone troopers head to the planet Toyndaria (the species to which Watto of Episode I belongs) to negotiate for permission to construct a Republic military base. Of course, Count Dooku and the separatists are interested in the planet as well, and Yoda and three clone troopers quickly find themselves on the run from a horde of Battle Droids. This was a solid episode — very fast-paced, with a ton of great Yoda-vs-droid action, and surprisingly good characterization for Yoda, Dooku, and the clones and Toyndarians. With almost no human characters to be found, this episode also showcased what the computer animation does best — droids, ships, and actions. (As became apparent in the second episode, the animation of humans is rather weaker, displaying a lot of the same problems seen back in the first Toy Story movie — the humans wind up looking rubbery and weird.)
The second episode, “Rising Malevolence,” reintroduces us to many of our familiar characters — Anakin Skywalker is the focus, but we also see R2D2, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, and others. Anakin and his padawan apprentice Ahsoka (a young girl apparently introduced in the Clone War movie — and how young Anakin has a padawan of his own is a mystery to me) investigate a new ultimate weapon that Dooku and General Grievous are testing. We also spend time with Jedi Knight Plo Koon (a character seen but not given much to do … [continued]
There’s a weird phenomenon that affects me sometimes (and I know I’m not alone in this) where I so fall in love with a story, or a group of characters, that I will watch those characters even in something really really bad.
I know Star Trek V is a terrible movie. Terrible. The story is weak (A search for God? Spock suddenly has a half-brother?), the special effects are terrible (the ending really suffers…and compare the Bird of Prey shots with the much superior effects in Star Trek III made several years earlier), and the beloved characters are treated very poorly (Uhura’s “fan dance,” Scotty knocking himself out in an Enterprise corridor, navigators Checkov and Sulu getting lost in the woods, and, oh yeah, Kirk, Spock, and Bones singing “row, row, row your boat”). And yet I so love those characters, that every now and then I’ll watch Star Trek V, somehow hoping that this time I’ll find something I sort of like about it.
This is also what happens with me and Episode I. I’ve probably seen the movie 6 or 7 times now. (About every 2 or 3 years I’ll make my way through all the Star Wars movies, usually in the order they were made: Episodes IV-VI, and then I-III.) And always I sort of hope that maybe this time I’ll be able to focus on the positives about Star Wars: Episode I. The visuals are, mostly, pretty sweet. I like Watto. Darth Maul is cool. The climactic three-way lightsaber battle is pretty dynamite.
But its hard to get over just how boring the movie is. For a movie called Star WARS, there’s not a heck of a lot of action to be had. Just a lot of talking. There’s a terrific assemblage of actors – a far stronger ensemble, I would argue, than in the OT. Ewan McGreggor. Qui-Gon Jin. Natalie Portman. Terrence Stamp. Ian McDiarmid. These are fine actors, and they are WASTED. And that’s what’s most frustrating to me about Episode I (and, frankly, the entire prequel trilogy). It just seems like such a wasted opportunity. I wanted to see more of the Jedi in their prime – kicking ass and taking names. I wanted to learn more about the Sith. (In one of Darth Maul’s few lines of dialogue, he speaks of having his revenge against the Jedi. Revenge for what? What happened between the Jedi and the Sith thousands of years ago? How did the Sith now return?) Most of all, I just wanted another fun, exciting chapter in the space adventure series that I grew up loving.
And it still sort of bums me out that that’s … [continued]
So. Sigh. The Star Wars Prequels.
Its interesting to me to look back now, some years distant, on Episodes I-III.
For someone like myself who grew up with the Original Trilogy but who has no memory of seeing those films released, it was an incredible thing to be able to experience the release of three new Star Wars films. At the time, of course, the tremendous excitement of the build-up was also accompanied by the crushing disappointment of actually seeing the films. Especially Episode I. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed sitting in a movie theatre. Going in, it really never occurred to me that the film would be bad. That notion just never crossed my mind. And yet, only 5 minutes in, when suddenly those Japanese-sounding Trade Federation aliens in very fake-looking rubber masks came on screen, I have a distinct memory of starting to shift uncomfortably in my seat. Then Qui-Gon and Ob-wan find themselves on Naboo, and they meet Jar-Jar…and then they go to the city of Jar-Jars…and then they travel through the planet’s core which is filled not with molten lava but with water…and then they’re attacked by a fish but a bigger fish eats that fish and Qui-Gon says “there’s always a bigger fish” and then two minutes later the exact same thing happens and oh my god we’re only 25 minutes into this movie and it is BRUTAL.
But, watching that film for the first time, I was still filled with hope that, OK, the introduction is slow, but maybe Lucas was thinking about the saga as a 12-hour, 6-movie saga, and so the opening of a 12-hour saga would be a little longer than the opening of a 2-hour movie, so I should relax and be patient. No, I didn’t give up all hope until about an hour and a half into the movie, when our motley band of heroes visited Coruscant. Finally, FINALLY we were getting to see Jedi in their prime – and not just ANY Jedi, but the Jedi Council. And what happens? They sit and talk. And they are not just boring, but they are stupid. I don’t mean stupid as in, “its silly to take grown men wearing lightsabers who talk about vergences in the Force seriously” kind of stupid. No, I mean stupid as in I have been totally emotionally involved in the world of Star Wars and Jedi since I was a kid and here we finally meet the greatest of the great of the Jedi and they are so colossally stupid and inept that, after Qui-Gon reveals to them that he’s discovered the existence of the first known evil Sith Lord in … [continued]
So…are you aware that there’s a new Star Wars movie being released in theatres this summer?
It’s a computer animated film that takes place between Episodes II and III, during the Clone Wars. (Apparently there’s a Clone Wars TV series coming our way from Lucasfilm sometime next year.) I’d really really love it if this were super-cool, although its hard to muster too much hope.
Anyone one remember when the prospect of new Star Wars on the big screen was something to drive people crazy with anticipation?… [continued]