Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Star Wars

December 12, 2018

Not long ago, I saw the original Star Wars for the first time in many years. What I found most interesting about this movie is how well it stands up after all these years. The plot is a little silly with holes you can drive an X-Wing Fighter through, but so what? Star Wars is still a lot of fun to watch. The special effects still look impressive, not even a little dated or cheesy, as one might expect after forty years. George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic was truly a master of producing special effects in that primitive pre-computer generated effects era. For this reason, I really wish that George Lucas had not decided to enhance the original Star Wars trilogy with digital effects.

The digital additions didn’t really advance the plot and weren’t much of an improvement on the original. It was interesting to watch the scene with the confrontation between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt, which was cut from the original. The scene did help to establish Han Solo’s mercenary character and his motive for taking Ben and Luke’s commission to transport them to Alderaan, but it wasn’t essential. The computer generated Jabba the Hutt somehow didn’t look very realistic. Jabba didn’t seem to fit in the scene.

Changing the confrontation between Han and Greedo so that Greedo shot first ruined the scene. Han Solo was supposed to be somewhat amoral, in the beginning, growing more altruistic as the trilogy progressed. Changing the scene changed the arc of Solo’s character development.

However, even if the changes and additions had been an improvement, I still would have preferred that George Lucas had not made them. The special effects of the original Star Wars movies were truly ground breaking. Before Star Wars, science fiction movies had always looked rather cheap, no matter how much money was spent on the special effects, they never really looked good. 2001: A Space Odyssey was an exception, but it had Stanley Kubrick as director. It didn’t help that science fiction was not taken very seriously as either literature or as cinema. Science fiction movies were all too often relegated to a low budget ghetto to be enjoyed by children and nerds. Star Wars changed that. Yes, the plot was thin and it was kind of a kids’ movie, but the awesome special effects showed what could be done. Star Wars made science fiction a mainstream genre. When George Lucas went back and added in the digital enhancements, it was as if he was denigrating his accomplishments. It is as if D. W. Griffith had gone back and put a sound track in Birth of a Nation.

Watching Star Wars as an adult for the nth time can never be the same as the first time I saw it as a child, particularly after seeing the sequels and prequels. It is harder to fear Darth Vader as an evil villain when you know that behind the mask is a weary old man who hates what he has become. Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi seems to be less of a noble mentor and more of a cunning manipulator when you know he lied to Luke Skywalker about his father. (Yes Ben, that was a lie, not a truth from a certain point of view.) Even the whole premise of the movie can be called into question. Was the destruction of the Jedi by Darth Vader and the Emperor really such a bad thing? The prequels show the Jedi as being more than a little arrogant and narrow-minded. Maybe it is not such a good idea to rely on a small elite of people who happen to be blessed with a high midi-chlorian count. Is the rule of Emperor Palpatine really a bad thing? The Republic that preceded his rule was shown to be corrupt and ineffective. Maybe, from a certain point of view, the Empire stands for law and order and the Rebellion is a terrorist organization. After all, George Lucas said the Ewoks were inspired by the Viet-Cong, meaning perhaps that they were genocidal fanatics just as the real life Viet Cong were. That would make the Stormtroopers the Americans, the good guys.

Then there is the similarity between the award scene at the end and the Nazi rally depicted in Triumph of the Will

But now, I am overthinking it. Star Wars has never born close examination, either of its politics or its science, and George Lucas is not as profound a thinker as he would like to pretend. Star Wars is flashy, mindless fun. This is, by no means, a criticism. There is certainly a place for flashy, mindless entertainment. In fact, I think one of the problems with Hollywood these days is that they are taking themselves too seriously. They are more intent on preaching left-wing politics than with making movies people actually want to see. Even the Star Wars franchise has fallen victim to this plague of political correctness. We need more of the original Star Wars.

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Happy New Year

January 1, 2012
The Parr family. From left to right: Elastigir...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, its 2012 now. We didn’t do anything special last night. We watched The Incredibles. I imagine that if there really were Supers, they would be hated and forced to live in secret. in this age where every kid gets a ribbon for participating and they don’t keep scores for fear of hurting someone’s fragile self-esteem, it just wouldn’t seem fair that some people have talents that others don’t.

A Christmas Story

December 26, 2011
We watched the classic “A Christmas Story” last night. I love that movie. That is one of the few films I laugh all the way through.

A Christmas Story

Here is one of my favorite scenes.

I

Here is where Ralphie makes his appeal to Santa

And I love the Chinese restaurant where they sing Fa ra ra.

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

 

Shrek Forever After

June 13, 2011

We went to see Shrek Forever After at the Ohio Theater this afternoon. This was the first in their summer series of free moves for families. Anyway, Shrek 4 was as funny as the first three Shrek movies. Here is a trailer

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows pt. 1

May 1, 2011

We watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows pt. 1 Friday evening. It was a grim movie, but then it was a grim book.

Glen or Glenda

April 25, 2011

We watched Ed Wood’s movie “Glen or Glenda” last week. The consensus is that it was even worse than “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, simply because there were parts of “Glen or Glenda” that simple didn’t make sense. “Plan 9” at least had something like a coherent plot. “Glen or Glenda” was just confusing.

I think I know what Ed Wood was attempting. He wanted to make a plea for tolerance for transvestites or cross dressers, who practice a harmless perversion. He used his own experiences to make a semi-autobiographical picture. Unfortunately this was not the movie he was commissioned to make. He was supposed to be making a fictionalized movie about Christine Jorgensen, the first person widely known to have had a “sex  change” operation. To satisfy his producer, Wood tacked on a second story about a man who changed his sex. He also included a confusing semi-pornographic dream sequence. Bela Lugosi played a narrator of sorts, although his narrations had little to do with the film. The result of all of this was simply a mess.

Manos: The Hands of Fate

April 19, 2011

We watched Manos:The Hands of Fate this evening. While I cannot say that it is the worst movie ever made, I haven’t seen every movie, it certainly must come close. The technical ineptitude of this film cannot be believed. The plot is incoherent. There are continuity problems. The dialog was dubbed afterwards because the camera didn’t record sound, etc.

Ed Wood

April 17, 2011

We just ordered the complete collection of Ed Wood’s films, Manos the Hands of Fate, and Ed Wood starring Johny Depp from Amazon.com.  We haven’t become masochists. Kris heard about the worst movies ever made on the radio last night and after we watched clips on YouTube, we decided it would be hilarious to watch them.

Odd Thomas Movie

April 15, 2011

They’re making a movie of DeanKoontz’s Odd Thomas. Dean Koontz seems to be excited about it, even though he has generally not had very good luck with movie adaptations of his novels. I wonder who will be playing the title role.

I generally like to read Koontz’s books. He features good, likeable characters who often face monstrous evils. They are heroes, but quiet sort of heroes who do what they have to do without seeking glory. The lessons of his novels emphasize the simple but important things in life, love and family, decent behavior, etc.

I looked it up on that invaluable resource wikipedia and Anton Yelchin will be playing Odd Thomas. I’ve never heard of him but judging from the picture in the article, he looks the part.


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