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REVIEW – Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure

May 31, 2017 1 comment
Directed by: John Korty
Produced by: Thomas G. Smith
Screenplay by: Bob Carrau
Story by: George Lucas
Edited by: John Nutt
Cinematography by: John Korty
Music by: Peter Bernstein, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Eric Walker, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Daniel Frishman, Debbie Lee Carrington, Tony Cox, Kevin Thompson, Margarita Fernández, Pam Grizz, Bobby Bell, Fionnula Flanagan, Guy Boyd, Darryl Henriques (voice), Sydney Walker (voice), Burl Ives (narration)
Originally known as: The Ewok Adventure
Year: 1984

 

What happens when you’ve seemingly brought an end to one of the most profitable film sagas, and yet you still want to make money off of the property in a similar medium? Why, you make a spin-off, of course! Return of the Jedi had brought the original film trilogy to a close on its release on May 25, 1983, but George Lucas was obviously far from finished with the series, despite this. (And who can complain, really?) Even before the concept of the prequel trilogy was thought up, and well before Disney’s acquisition and foray into the sequels and their own spinoffs, there were already plans to expand the series beyond the core films and even into the realm of television – just, you know, not in the form of a variety show. The Star Wars Holiday Special was considered to be an embarrassment by almost all involved, including George Lucas. So when this project began to move forward, Lucas ensured he had full creative control. Read more…

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Star Wars 40th Anniversary Mini-Event

 

 

On this day, forty years ago, a film was released that changed the landscape of filmmaking forever…

 

 

Star Wars (later known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), was released on May 25, 1977, becoming a worldwide phenomenon, expanding its universe beyond films into books, comics, video games, television shows, and… well, you name it, and Star Wars has probably licensed itself to it in some form. Who knew back then that the franchise would also go on to become part of the Walt Disney empire alongside the likes of Marvel Comics? Or that the House of Mouse would actually do such a great, respectful job of handling the franchise?

As a result of this momentous event, I wanted to actually do some more reviews.

If you know me, you know I’m a pretty big fan of this universe. Perhaps not the biggest fan, but pretty big, all the same. I followed The Clone Wars TV series and am following Rebels. I saw the prequel films each at least three times in theatres, and have also made a point of seeing Disney’s films the same number. My only regret in all this is that I only ever got to see the original film theatrically was its 1997 Special Edition, and also that The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi never made it to the theatres where I was living at the time (i.e., a military base overseas).

“But, CJ,” I hear you exclaim, “you’ve already reviewed all the movies! Including Rogue One and that hastily put together pastiche of an animated ‘movie,’ The Clone Wars! What are you going to do, review The Holiday Special in May!?”

Well, to answer your question, no! I do not. I still plan on doing that around Christmas – you know, whenever I get around to actually getting the resolve to watch that again. [shudders] Instead, I intend to review a couple actual, honest-to-George movies you may have forgotten existed, but ones that I sure haven’t! You might also find it odd that these films were actually – gasp! – my first introduction ever to the Star Wars universe, period. I’m talking, of course, about…

… Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor!

Yup. My first exposure to anything Star Wars-related was actually the post-Return of the Jedi TV movie spinoffs starring the original trilogy’s most annoying characters – the cuddly teddy bears who inexplicably helped Leia, Han, and Chewie take down the Empire on the forest moon of Endor.

I had no idea at the time that these were part of a greater whole, having only watched them because a friend insisted on watching his VHS copies every now and then when I came over or spent the night at his place when we were about 7 or 8. Oddly, he didn’t have any Star Wars films, but he had all six original Star Trek films – those VHS copies that, when the spines were lined up, created a tantalizing picture of the Enterprise. Luckily, he was also my gateway to that franchise, but while I do love that series and don’t ever really understand the supposed rivalry between the two franchises and its fans, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t far more inclined to call myself more a fan of Star Wars and its whimsical, fantasy-based world.

But I have seen neither Caravan of Courage (originally known as The Ewok Adventure) nor The Battle for Endor since then, and so I decided to revisit the movies that started it all – well, for me, at least. What would I suddenly remember from these films that I’d forgotten in the last two decades? Do the movies hold up? Did they expand upon the greater Star Wars universe in any meaningful or even little but appreciable ways? Are they as bad as enduring Jar Jar Binks for an entire movie or watching Chewbacca’s family roar-gurgling at each other incessantly and without subtitles while we, the audience, stare at our screens aghast as to why we continue to watch that monstrosity? These were questions I needed answers to, and while I intended to do this for May the Fourth, I figured the franchise’s 40th anniversary was an even better time, signifying not just its beginning, but also in remembrance of my own fandom’s beginning – and I also got a little too busy and, therefore, tired around May 4….

REVIEW – Alien: Covenant

May 19, 2017 2 comments
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Produced by: Ridley Scott, Mark Huffam, Michael Schaefer, David Giler, Walter Hill
Screenplay by: John Logan, Dante Harper
Story by: Jack Paglen, Michael Green
Edited by: Pietro Scalia
Cinematography by: Dariusz Wolski
Music by: Jed Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Carmen Ejogo, Demián Bichir, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby
Year: 2017

 

Alien: Covenant has a lot to live up to. Not only does it have to one-up a film that has largely come to be known as (inexplicably) a reviled film, Prometheus, but it must also bridge the gap between that film and one of the more widely respected sci-fi films ever made, Alien, just by taking on a more direct title, thus negating any “it’s just a side story” hand waving should it fail to live up to the standard of the first two films. Personally, I’m with everyone else in considering Alien and Aliens to be masterpieces, but I also think that the hate reserved for Alien 3 and Prometheus is largely overblown, too. (Resurrection and the AvP films can pretty much just go to hell, though.) As such, while I was certainly hoping for a masterpiece in Covenant, I also realize that this was probably never going to come to pass, and so I also had my expectations set accordingly – and had a pretty good time as a result, it turns out. Read more…

REVIEW – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Directed by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: James Gunn
Edited by: Fred Raskin, Craig Wood
Cinematography by: Henry Braham
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Debicki, Chriss Sullivan, Sylvester Stallone
Based on characters from Marvel Comics
Year: 2017

 

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was the little known film that could, becoming an unexpected smash hit with audiences and critics back in 2014 despite possibly being the most obscure and quite literally out-there property to be given a major film by Marvel Studios – or, really, any previous comic book adaptation, save for maybe Howard the Duck, a fact acknowledged by Guardians’ post-credits scene. Say what you will about Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but while Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were almost certainly not on the same level as Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, they weren’t nearly as bizarre in concept as a team that features a talking, gun-toting cybernetic raccoon and his sentient tree companion whose specifically limited vocabulary makes Chewbacca’s system of howls seem plausibly understandable by comparison. Smart marketing and director/writer James Gunn’s keen sense on how to make all this palatable to even mainstream audiences, however, won out, and the film – and even its soundtrack – was, again, a massive success. Naturally, a sequel has been made. Read more…

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