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Archive for May, 2014

REVIEW: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

May 31, 2014 3 comments
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceDirected by: George Lucas
Produced by: Rick McCallum
Written by: George Lucas
Edited by: Ben Burtt, Paul Martin Smith
Cinematography by: David Tattersall
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Keira Knightley, Ray Park, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Silas Carson, Hugh Quarshie, Andy Secombe, Lewis MacLeod, Frank Oz, Samuel L. Jackson, Terence Stamp, Brian Blessed, Greg Proops, Scott Capurro
Year: 1999

 

Oh man, here we go… Read more…

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REVIEW: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

May 22, 2014 2 comments
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the JediDirected by: Richard Marquand
Produced by: Howard Kazanjian
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas
Edited by: Sean Barton, Marcia Lucas, Duwayne Dunham
Cinematography by: Alan Hume
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Alec Guinness, Sebastian Shaw, Denis Lawson, Kenneth Colley, Warwick Davis, Jeremy Bulloch, Caroline Blakiston
Review based on the 1983 theatrical version
Year: 1983

 

Back when recording things from TV was the only way to obtain certain movies you didn’t want to actually buy, I recall a friend of the family giving my family their collection of TV-recorded VHS tapes, most of them set to the longest recording time in order to maximize the content they had. One of these tapes contained both the original Karate Kid (save for the first couple minutes) and, yes, Return of the Jedi, making this the first time I ever actually could claim any sort of ownership over any of the Star Wars movies. Naturally, I watched it pretty often, and the mere fact that this was the only one I could watch without having to go seek out any rentals or borrow them from friends made this movie my second favorite (because there’s just no questioning the greatness of The Empire Strikes Back, kids). Now that I do own both trilogies (twice over for the original trilogy, thanks to the 2006 “limited” release of the DVDs which contained the original theatrical versions), however, the flaws of the once-final chapter in the Star Wars saga have really become rather apparent, thanks in large part to the prequels kind of bringing them out retroactively. Read more…

REVIEW: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

May 16, 2014 7 comments
Star Wars Episode V:  The Empire Strikes BackDirected by: Irvin Kershner
Produced by: Gary Kurtz
Written by: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay), George Lucas (story)
Edited by: Paul Hirsch
Cinematography by: Peter Suschitzsky, BSC
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz, Jeremy Bulloch, Jason Wingreen, Alec Guinness, Denis Lawson, Clive Revill
Review based on the 1980 theatrical version
Year: 1980

 

It’s all downhill from here, folks. Movie number 2, and I’m already at the best of not just the original trilogy, but the entire saga, and it’s honestly doubtful that even the new sequel trilogy will best the work put forth here. George Lucas still had some say in the story of The Empire Strikes Back, but this is the film that people point to when they want to point out how, even back then, less of Lucas was always a good thing, even if what his diminished presence improves upon is his own creation. Heck, even the subsequent retoolings couldn’t diminish the film’s quality – though sometimes they even improved upon it, as with the enhancements to Cloud City’s ambience and the insertion of Ian McDiarmid’s take on the Emperor in that holoconference scene between him and Darth Vader. Let’s just chalk all that up to the fact that The Empire Strikes Back is just too awesome for its radiance to not influence any such reconfiguring. Read more…

REVIEW: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

May 8, 2014 4 comments
Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope)Directed by: George Lucas
Produced by: Gary Kurtz
Written by: George Lucas
Edited by: Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas, Richard Chew
Cinematography by: Gilbert Taylor
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Phil Brown, Shelagh Fraser, Denis Lawson, Gerrick Hagon
Review based on the 1977 original theatrical version
Year: 1977

 

I told myself that I wouldn’t let my reviews of the Star Wars films devolve into insane fandom, and so I will attempt to keep that promise. That being said, let me start you off by letting you in on a secret that not many before now really know about me: A long time ago… I actually absolutely hated sci-fi, fantasy, and everything in between. The object of my particular ire was actually Star Trek, as my friend Tye was actually an insanely fanatical Trekkie, but coming in a close second was, yes, Star Wars. The reasoning? It had the word “star” in it, which obviously meant that it was for nerds, which I did not identify as at the time. (I so was…) Read more…

May the Force be with you – at least for about the month of May or so…

May 1, 2014 1 comment

Star Wars Saga

Hello, fellow nerds! Did you hear the news? We finally know the lead cast of Star Wars Episode VII! And it is freaking SOLID! Cannot wait! … But we’ll just have to, I guess, because it’s not coming out until December 2015… which is more than a year and a half away. GAH!

So, understandably, as a fan, I’m pretty freaking pumped about this new trilogy, and I need to get this energy out somehow. What better way than to do it publicly? So, even though I just got done doing a month of 90s nostalgia movies, I’m starting another theme month. Only… it might last a bit more than a month since I’m planning on reviewing all seven theatrically released films, and given that I might do a few theatrical films during that time frame, and with my time and energy being what they are these days, it might take longer than the standard month to get the reviews out. Oh, yeah, and that’s right — seven (7) films!

No, I did not time travel into the future to bring you the first exclusive review of Episode VII: Rise of the Gungans, and, no, I’m not reviewing The Star Wars Holiday Special, either (yet…). And, no, I’m not talking about Caravan of Courage, either. I’m including the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the lineup, even if it was just a theatrically released movie edit of the TV series’ first few episodes, as I feel like the series really has become a beacon of hope for what’s to come, even if it was from the pre-Disney era that we’re only just beginning to experience.

Star Wars - The Clone Wars (horizontal)

I also want you to know that these reviews will not go into esoteric things like “The Hero’s Journey,” Lucas’ personal influences that went into making the film, nor will I go (too much) into the series’ importance in shaping the landscape of Hollywood and blockbusters in general. These reviews will take the films on their own merits and pretty much strictly from my own personal perspective and enthusiasm (or even lack thereof) for each of the films. I feel like this would be the appropriate approach because, frankly, the whole Hero’s Journey thing has been played out — I even wrote my own personal essay about how the posters themselves reflect Lucas’ personal influences when I was in college.

I will also refrain as much as possible about griping about the many changes that have been enacted upon the original trilogy over the years. While I think that many of the changes were either inconsequential for for the better (better Death Star destruction, Hoth cockpit transparencies fixed, the Emperor in Empire being played by Ian McDiarmid, and, yes, even the replacing of “Yub Nub” with a more fitting galaxy-spanning montage at the end of Jedi), I will eliminate these complaints  mainly by reviewing strictly the original theatrical versions, which I do, indeed, have on DVD. (If you would like to hear my reactions on the Blu-Ray edition of the first film, please feel free to read them here.) So, yes, each review of the original trilogy films will be based on the versions where Han shoots first, the Emperor is initially portrayed by a woman with chimp eyes, Jabba doesn’t appear until Return of the Jedi, and Anakin Skywalker is strictly portrayed by Sebastian Shaw (which sadly cannot be said for any of the prequels). All that being said, while I will review all the films in the proper theatrically released order, I will still be using the newer naming structure of Star Wars Episode [#: Subtitle] for these reviews, mostly for the sake of order and unity and because of what’s to come…

Star Wars Episode VII cast roundtable

So, yeah, I think I’ve properly appeased all the fans and clarified my positions on the matter. It’s going to be a long process, but I’m looking forward to it! Wish me luck, and may the Force be with us all!

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