Category Archives: george lucas

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Here are the introductory cinematics for the new game Star Wars: The Old Republic from EA:

I can’t be the only one thinking this. Why the hell did George Lucas give us The Phantom Menace, the rest of that crappy trilogy, or even Cartoon Network’s “Clone Wars” when we could have had this?

Seriously.

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Rango

Rango ~ The first animated feature from George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic is a disaster.

Take Don Knotts, pump him full of hallucinogenics, and have him play a computer animated lizard. Yeah, that’s what Johnny Depp as Rango is like – and none of it in a good way. This is an ugly film with a bare skeleton of a plot that pretends to be much more than it is.

There are some interesting visuals done with the CGI, clever angles, different textures, but mostly a whole lot of ugly as it’s about desire dwelling creatures. It’s like bad scary cartoon taxidermy, and it’s hard to watch.

The bat-riding hillbilly varmits arrive much too late to save this flick. The western character templates (like Eli Wallach and Clint Eastwood) and cliches, and the Chinatown comparisons and parodies can’t save it. Even the Hunter Thompson cameo in the beginning can’t save it. Avoid at all costs, unless you are a die-hard Depp fan, or need a nap.

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Wishful Drinking

Wishful Drinking ~ The previews of this one woman show/video memoir on HBO made it seem quite funny, but I knew the facts – that Carrie Fisher has long suffered from alcoholism, drug addiction and manic depression, and I thought for sure it wouldn’t be all laughs. I was pleasantly surprised.

The actress begins with the rather grim story of a friend dying in her bed but quickly recovers with her family history, which is hysterical… unfortunately probably because it’s true. Her family tree is a twisted root turned in on itself and provides much entertainment in her retelling.

There’s a lot of material covered here, and a lot for folks who have followed various facets of her career. If you know Carrie as Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds’ daughter, or if you know her as the real lead character in Postcards from the Edge, or if you know her from a little movie called Star Wars – there’s something here for you.

Also, if you’re watching on HBO OnDemand, like I did, don’t forget to watch all the extras like interviews with her parents and the poem from Star Wars that clogs up her head. Recommended.

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New Moon

New Moon ~ Unofficially called The Twilight Saga: New Moon for the folks too dim to realize it was a sequel to Twilight, happily the actual credits of this film read just New Moon. Remember back in the day we didn’t have to be reminded what we were watching? We know a James Bond movie without having to see his name in the title. I wish this kind of nonsense would stop, and yes, I blame you, George Lucas, for starting it.

Let me start by saying that New Moon is no Twilight. I was quite surprised by the first movie despite the hype both good and bad, and liked it quite a bit. The sequel is a serious drop in quality of story and character development – a true disappointment. After the first flick I was ready to read the novels, and after this one, I think I’ll pass. New Moon is the kind of crap I expected when I first watched Twilight. It’s emo, it’s melodrama, it’s just bad.

When vampire Edward pushes our heroine Bella away, she becomes closer to werewolf Jacob. It is literally gothic romance meets afterschool special with some horror undertones. The flick gets a bit disturbing when Bella starts taking dangerous risks and Edward seems to be psychically stalking her ever step. Creepy. It does get mildly exciting toward the end when Bella encounters the Voltari, the masters of the vampire world, but it’s far too little, far too late.

This movie was hard enough to get through without the douchebag factor, which ruined a couple scenes for me. Peter Facinelli plays Dr. Carlisle Cullen, a fact that meant nothing when I saw Twilight. Since then I have become acquainted with him as the obnoxious Twittering doctor on “Nurse Jackie,” and now I just can’t take him seriously whenever he’s on screen. I kept expecting him to start texting or to say something stupid, rather than be the wise patriarch of the vampire family.

Maybe some of that dark “Nurse Jackie” humor might have helped though. This dreary thing barely held my attention and was difficult to sit all the way through. Give New Moon a pass.

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Fanboys

Fanboys ~ Four Star Wars fans travel cross-country and have adventures on a quest to see Episode 1 before anyone else – the dream of one of them who’s terminally ill. This is a road picture plain and simple, chockfull of wonderful cameos like Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, William Shatner, Harry Knowles and a particularly hilarious one by Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes. Chris Marquette, late of “Joan of Arcadia,” is also good here.

While it’s respectful and infinitely knowledgeable of the genre, unlike previous mockumentaries like Trekkies, it doesn’t seem to know that it’s own title is somewhat derogatory in itself. Behind the scenes horror stories aside, and there are many, this is a fun homage to Star Wars and the entire genre.

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Indy 4: The Ride


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, besides having three too many words in the title (“the Kingdom of” should be removed in my opinion), is more of a ride than a film. In fact, I suspect that someone, probably Disney or Universal, have one in the works already, but there’s really no need. The film is the ride. And trust me, it’s a better ride than a film.

We pick up with Indy in 1957, and we know it’s 1957 because we are hammered over the head with this fact several times. The rock ‘n’ roll, the atomic bomb tests, the Cold War and the McCarthyism of the time are beaten into us enough to make it a distraction more than a background. It seems to me that if George Lucas wanted to make a film about America in the 1950s he should have just done it and left Indiana Jones out of it. Of course, however, with our principal character, and the actor Harrison Ford, feeling and looking his age, the time really had to be some time in the 1950s.

The rest of the cast is really outshown by brunette Soviet psychic spy Cate Blanchett. She is more than suitably evil and engaging. The screen lights up when Cate’s on it – an excellent foil opposite Ford, who for the first time in years (maybe since the last Indy flick) isn’t playing wooden and unlikable on the screen. Oh, Karen Allen is back again too, John Hurt does his best catatonia and schizophrenia, and then there’s Shia LaBeouf, the homeless man’s Marlon Brando imitation. Sorry, for me he justs gets more annoying in every movie I see him in.

Storywise, what story there is, seems to indicate that George Lucas has been listening to far too much Coast to Coast AM. This shift in the Indiana Jones series from Christian mythology to crypto-mythology is especially jarring. For me, the mix of Indy with aliens is akin to mixing fudge and mayo. It ain’t pretty. This flick is a mix and match nightmare of the paranormal culture, throwing in such aspects as Roswell, Nasca, Eldorado, among others to tell Lucas’ tale of the crystal skulls.

That’s not to say that it’s all bad. There are interesting nods and winks to “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” and Star Wars, and we even catch a peek at the Ark of the Covenant in a loose end that could, if pressured by box office success, lead to a sequel. There are a few memorable lines, and a sweet ending, but in my opinion, this is the weakest of the series. Still, see the flick, and ride the ride – it’s still worth it.

Top Ten Premonitions for the Film Season of 2002

Flashback time, this was written in January of 2002… was I right?

“TOP TEN PREMONITIONS FOR THE FILM SEASON OF 2002”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Legal Disclaimer: For the uninitiated, this is satire, please don’t sue me.

* Stan Lee will give several incoherent interviews regarding Spider-Man, a character he has very little to do with for over thirty years.

* They’re making up the story to T3: Rise of the Machines as they film.

* More crummy remakes of bad 1970s sci-fi flicks.

* A third Austin Powers movie come hell, high water or legal action.

* Chris Columbus saying he could film the neighbor kids playing hide and seek, call it Harry Potter 2 and still make a zillion dollars.

* X-Men 2 will feature top billing from Halle Berry who appears in a smaller role with fewer lines and more money.

* More Ben Stiller movies than you can shake an Owen Wilson at.

* More sequels to classic Disney masterpieces – so many so that the originals become stale and diluted.

* George Lucas will claim he wrote all the Star Wars movies years ago even though we all know he wrote Episode II over a drunken weekend this past December.

* The Powerpuff Girls Movie!!!

Previosly published at Project: Popcorn
http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn

The Hidden Fortress

“SO WHERE’S THE FORCE?”

A Video Review of The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Kakushi toride No San Akunin or The Hidden Fortress, as it is known in the United States, has long been touted as the inspiration for Star Wars. Having recently seen it I gotta say I have my doubts. To paraphrase that annoying old pitch woman for Wendy’s – “Where’s the Force?”

This samurai tale of a war hero trying to save his princess by using two farmers going home after being enslaved as a cover is pretty standard fair for the Japanese cinema at the time and only elevated by the direction of the master Akira Kurosawa and the always superior performance of Toshiro Mifume but Star Wars it ain’t.

There are similarities storywise, two bumblers, a rogue and a rescued princess but it ends there. The Hidden Fortress lacks a Luke Skywalker character who George Lucas freely admits is a product of ‘the hero’s journey’ postulated by Joseph Campbell I still find it hard to believe Lucas outfitted the rest of his cast from this film. While the relationship of the two farmers bears a slight resemblance to the antics of R2-D2 and C3PO so do Laurel and Hardy from most of their work.

The Hidden Fortress is an enjoyable two hours plus of vintage samurai cinema but Star Wars it ain’t.