Archives for posts with tag: Carrie Fisher

Grade C+

 

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was a huge disappointment to a long time “Star Wars” fan such as myself.  Okay, here we go.

The rebel Resistance are on the run, hunted down by the evil First Order ruled by the Dark Side.  Daisy Ridley, who plays a young woman strong with The Force, seeks a Jedi master (Mark Hamill) who is in hiding; and begs him to help with the fight against the First Order and maybe train her to be a Jedi — sounds a bit like “The Empire Strikes Back” right?  Why not, as “The Force Awakens” was similar to “A New Hope.”

Then there is the puzzling and badly written (which fits right in with the rest of the movie which revels in its mediocrity and goofball jokes) subplot involving two Resistance fighters going to a casino to find a person who excels in hacking stuff so they can bring him back to the bad guys’ main ship to sneak in unnoticed and destroy some gizmo that allows the bad dudes to track the Resistance fleet — what’s left of it — even in hyperspace.  Destroy the gizmo, and the Resistance can zoom away and escape to fight another day.  But that may not be necessary because the leader of the rebel fleet intends to abandon the main ship and use escape transports to sneak into a planet that has been abandoned but has an old rebel base there.  Oh, the escape transports have a cloaking device to keep the bad guys from seeing them on their monitors…but…you can still see the escape ships!  Yes, the rebel fleet are miles from the bad guys’ ships, but are you telling me there is no one on the bad guys’ bridge with a super duper binocular to get an up close and personal view of what the good guys are doing?  At this point I may as well continue with my beef with this movie.

The opening sequence, which was very good in a menacing way, was completely ruined by jokes.

John Boyega, playing a Resistance fighter and the only black guy with a significant role in this movie, is still a damn clown.

Hamill’s character was handled badly.  The movie tried to make him look like a tragic character, something out of a Shakespeare story; but the writer, who is also the director, mangled the job so badly that Hamill came off as a blubbering fool.  In his first appearance of “The Last Jedi,” Hamill casually tosses his lightsaber behind him like a half eaten apple.  What a great way to start destroying a character that could have added sorely needed darkness and depth to this movie.  I understand that this movie is supposed to demystify the Jedis; but by doing that the writer/director/producers/studios are destroying the essence of “Star Wars.”  On top of that, demystifying the Jedis was done in a half-assed way, so the result is a double whammy.

There was no interesting lightsaber fight.  None.  The one with Ridley inside the Supreme Leader’s throne room looked like something out of a second day rehearsal.  As for the last lightsaber duel, it doesn’t even count — I can’t say why or else I’d spoil a big surprise.  A great lightsaber fight sequence could have saved this movie, but there was none.

There were too many elements stolen from “A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return Of The Jedi.”

Ridley’s character is hinted as someone who already knows the way to being a Jedi, and she can continue without Hamill training her and be fine.  Huh? What?  It is established that it takes many years to fully train a Jedi Knight.  As strong as Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) was with The Force, he still needed over a decade of training by Jedi masters.  So…Ridley will be okay and be a Jedi Knight one day because of three lessons Hamill taught her, plus reading the sacred Jedi books that she managed to take from Hamill’s island?

Captain Phasma was next to Boyega when the ship was damaged badly.  Everyone around Boyega was hurt badly or killed, and yet we see Phasma entering the cargo bay hundreds of feet away, unblemished and marching through smoke.  Yes, dramatic, but made no damn sense.

Hamill apparently has a newfound power that wasn’t established in any of the 7 previous “Star Wars” movies (including “Rogue One”).  So, Disney is just going to make s@#t up as they see fit, damn the “Star Wars” bible (the original three movies)?

There are more problems I noticed with this movie, but I don’t want to write a novella here, so…my most memorable, movie moment of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was the scene when Chewbacca was about to eat a cooked and tasty looking Porg as living Porgs gave him the sad eye/horror-stricken look.  This scene was genuinely funny, and it says a lot about this movie that this is my most memorable, movie moment.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” are movies that shouldn’t have been made if they were going to be this disappointing.  I understand Disney sees this franchise as a cash cow.  Fine, but Disney needs to put competent writers to work on this series.  Imagine how much more money can be made if the movie is actually good!

To Hollywood writers/directors/producers/studio executives: please refrain from using alcohol and drugs when making movies.

— M

 

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The final movie of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, “Return of The Jedi” bestows upon fans the rescue of Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford), the truth of the connection between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill), a massive, Rebel Alliance offense against the Empire’s new Death Star; and the long-awaited, final duel between Vader and Skywalker.

For the hundreds of millions who have seen this movie countless times, there’s almost nothing I can say that you haven’t already read or heard about.  For those who still haven’t seen the movies, what are you waiting for? Take 6 hours of your life and watch Episodes 4 through 6.

So what’s so special about this Special Edition?  An enhanced, Sarlacc monster (you know, the big mouth in the desert that looked like an angry anus), a new song and dance number in Jabba’s palace (which I thought was not in the same tone as the rest of the scenes in that place, and therefore made the movie worse, new celebration scenes and music at the end of the movie, and a bunch of little things here and there that most won’t notice…ksjgl…wlodkwwwlloosp0-0%$…sorry, I fell asleep.  Okay, let’s keep it moving.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Return of The Jedi” is the scene when Vader’s helmet is removed.  After 9 years of the “Star Wars” trilogy, we finally see what is behind the mask!

Second place for my memorable moment of this movie is the scene ***Spoiler Alert*** when Mark Hamill realizes that Leia (played by Carrie Fisher) is his sister!  She is the person whom Yoda referred to in “Empire…” when Yoda said there is another hope.

Taking third place among my most memorable moments of “Return…” is the scene that had Fisher in the Slave Girl outfit that put a smile on so many young boys.   Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher was at her hottest!

3 years after “The Empire Strikes Back,” George Lucas and company ties up the first trilogy in a mostly satisfying way.  Ewoks, eh, I could have done without them.  I would have preferred the original vision of having Wookies instead of Ewoks.  Sadly, the Special Edition didn’t replace the midget bears with Wookies.  On the upside, “Return of The Jedi” is the movie that had the least tampering when it comes to the Special Edition.  And that is a good thing, because Lucas has a tendency to keep changing the first 6 “Star Wars” movies.  I’ll take this movie as it was, flaws and all, back in 1983 when it first came out, the same year my parents took me to the movies to see it.

Flaws are usually not a good thing, but they are part of what makes us what we are.

— M

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My parents bought me these 2 items when we saw the movie in 1983

Rarely does the second movie in a series surpass — regarding quality — the first movie.  “The Empire Strikes Back” (the original and the Special Edition) is one of those rare movies that does so.  And of all the “Star Wars” movies, this is my favorite.

“Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back” brings back all our loved heroes and hated villain from Episode IV: Mark Hamill as Luke, Harrison Ford as Han, Carrie Fisher as Leia, Alec Guiness as Ben Kenobi, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, and James Earl Jones/David Prowse as Darth Vader.  Three important characters are introduced as well: Yoda, the Emperor, and Lando (played by Billy Dee Williams, Mr. Colt .45 himself, oh yeah!).

To paraphrase the prologue, since the rebellion’s victory over the Empire in the previous movie, the Empire has mounted a major offensive and has been kicking the rebels’ butts all over the galaxy.  The rebels have regrouped and found shelter on a remote, ice planet called Hoth, but Vader’s obsession with Hamill has Vader sending probes everywhere, and it’s only a matter of time before Vader finds what he’s looking for.

Hoth is assaulted by the Empire, forcing the rebels to scatter as their defenses are shattered by Vader’s forces.  Hamill escapes and sets out on a quest to find the Jedi master, Yoda, to continue his training to be a Jedi knight.  Ford, Fisher, Mayhew and C-3PO (played by Anthony Daniels) are in the Millennium Falcon, constantly pursued by TIE fighters and Star Destroyers.  And Vader, not able to find Hamill, will settle for capturing Hamill’s friends in order to force Hamill out of hiding.

Oooooh, there are sooooo many good things to talk about this movie!  First, “The Empire Strikes Back” is not directed by George Lucas; that credit belongs to Irvin Kershner.  Also, the screenplay was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan — story by Lucas, of course.  I believe the two main reasons why “Empire…” is such a great movie are that the screenwriting and directing are excellent.  Lucas did his story a great service by relinquishing his directing and screenwriting roles to others.  Hey, let’s face it, Lucas’ talents as a director and screenwriter are hit and miss.   One day he gives us the awesome “American Graffiti,” and the next day he gives us “Red Tails,” a movie that I’m still waiting for Lucas to pay me restitution for having wasted my time on that piece of mediocrity.  Moving on!

There are many new things in this movie that were not in Episode IV.  AT-ATs (All Terrain Armored Transports); AT-ST (All Terrain Scout Transport, you know, the one that looks like a mechanical chicken); Snowspeeders; Twin Pod Cloud Cars; TIE Bombers; Imperial Probe Droids; Super Star Destroyer; Tauntauns; Wampa Ice Monster; multiple wardrobe changes for Hamill, Ford, and Fisher.  What else…?  Vader has become more fearsome, killing his officers who disappoint him, prompting fearful looks from his Star Destroyer crew anytime he walks by.  We get a much improved, lightsaber duel thanks to Lucas hiring an expert swordsman to handle the choreography.  Ford shows what a badass pilot he really is.  Mayhew’s Chewbacca is shown to be more than Ford’s co-pilot, he is also a mechanic and great friend who shows sorrow and anger when Ford’s life is in peril.  Hamill is now part of a love triangle with Fisher and Ford — shocking, disgusting, and possibly titillating (depending on what floats your boat)…you know what I mean if you’ve seen Episode VI.

Now I will list the most interesting, new additions to this Special Edition version.  More shots of the Wampa Ice Monster, new shots of the Millennium Falcon flying through Bespin Cloud City, Hamill screaming as he falls after his fight with Vader, and a few shots of Vader preparing to go back to his Super Star Destroyer after his fight with Hamill.  Yeah, no major changes here; but then again, when you have a near perfect movie to begin with, why mess with it?   Sadly, Lucas messed with “Empire…” again years later.   By the time the Lucas dies, there may be a dozen versions of “Empire…”

Okay, time for some trivia.  Remember the scene when Hamill was in Bespin, and he was tailing the guard detail that was escorting Fisher to Vader’s ship?  Remember the Imperial officer who used Fisher as a shield from Hamill’s possible attack?  That officer is the same guy who played Boba Fett!  Also, Hamill had a car accident prior to the filming of “Empire…”  When I was a kid, I always wondered why Hamill’s face changed considerably from Episode IV to Episode V.  I didn’t know back then that Hamill was in an accident that damaged his face.   Having his character’s face mauled by the Wampa monster was a good cover to explain Hamill’s altered features.   Oh!  Oh!  You’re going to like this one: remember when Ford had the Falcon attached to one of the Star Destroyers as a way to hide from his pursuers?  Ford was watching the fleet break up, and he said something to Fisher like “if they follow standard Imperial protocol, they’ll dump their garbage before jumping to hyperspace.”  How did Ford know all this?  Well, I read somewhere a long time ago that Ford (Han Solo) used to be a soldier of the Empire, but was booted out when he fought another Imperial soldier who was maltreating a Wookie named Chewbacca.

As great a movie as “Empire…” is, it’s not without shenanigans.  When the Millennium Falcon is shadowed by Boba Fett’s ship after the garbage purge of the Star Destroyers, Ford had no clue that he was being followed.  Are you kidding?  Take a look at how close Fett’s ship was to the Falcon!  Hey, I love this movie, so it gets a pass.

Fourth place in my most memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Ford is about to be lowered to test out a carbon freezing process that may kill him.  Fisher says “I love you” to Ford, and Ford answers back with “I know.”  Ha ha!  What a cocky bastard!   That reply worked on so many levels.  By the way, I read that “I know” was not ad-libbed.  Ford was supposed to say something like “I’ll be back,” but Ford wasn’t sure he wanted to come back for  Episode VI, so they changed the line.

Third place in my memorable moments of “Empire…” is the scene when Yoda is telling Hamill about the Force.  How it surrounds us, and binds us.  That living things are luminous beings, not the “crude matter” that our bodies are made of.   These few words of Yoda packs a huge punch, because he touches on religion, the afterlife, and the need for being connected to the world around us.  The thought that our spirits, our minds, go on long after our bodies are gone is a great comfort to many people.

Taking the runner-up spot for my memorable moments of this movie: the scene when Hamill leaves Yoda and forsakes his training to look for and save his friends who are being tortured by Vader.  As Hamill’s X-Wing fighter ascends, Guiness says “that boy is our last hope,” followed by Yoda replying “No, there is another.”   Ooooh, that’s a big one there!   Episode VI reveals who this other hope is.

 

And finally…my most memorable movie moment of “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back”…most of you “Star Wars” fans would have to agree that it is the scene when Vader revealed to Hamill what happened to Hamill’s father.  I don’t know about you, but I get the chills every time Vader utters those lines.

May The Force be with you.  Unless you’re a d*@k, in which case may you always have sand in your shoes that you can never fully get rid of.

— M

This is me a few years ago geeking out with my Force FX Lightsabers.

This is me a few years ago geeking out with my Force FX Lightsabers.

This is my most prized, "Star Wars" toy, because it has a lot of sentimental value to me.  It is a 1977 Darth Vader action figure that is in near mint condition, with an intact lightsaber that is still tight.

This is my most prized, “Star Wars” toy, because it has a lot of sentimental value to me. It is a 1977 Darth Vader action figure that is in near mint condition, with an intact lightsaber that is still tight.

In the 1970’s, writer/director George Lucas created a magnum opus of science fiction and fantasy and religion, complete with innovative visual and sound effects that has changed how we experience movies.  That great work is “Star Wars,” later to be named “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.”  Lucas, not being satisfied with the production quality of his movie (mostly due to budgetary constraints), decided to fiddle with “Star Wars IV,” modifying some scenes and adding in completely new scenes.  So, in 1997, he released the Special Edition of “Star Wars IV.”

In another time, in a place very far away, an evil, galactic empire has constructed a Death Star, a space station that can destroy a planet with one blast.  Sowing fear and terror to subdue the empire’s territories are its primary purposes; total destruction of planets not falling in with the program will be its task should the rebellion against the empire not cease.  The main players in this story are Mark Hamill (who plays a young farmer who will soon be thrust into the heart of the rebellion against the empire); Carrie Fisher (who plays a Princess, rebellion sympathizer and prisoner of the empire); Harrison Ford (playing a cocky pilot/smuggler who reluctantly joins the rebels in rescuing Fisher); Alec Guinness (as a mysterious, old man who guides Hamill to his destiny); and David Prowse/James Earl Jones (as Darth Vader, terror of the empire, right hand man of the Emperor, wearing an all black outfit with a fully enclosed helmet, with a very intimidating breathing sound).

Now that I’ve gotten the synopsis (which most movie fans already know) out of the way, let’s talk about the more fun stuff about this movie.  First, I’ll talk about the major changes.  The greatest change is an all new scene between Ford and crime lord Jabba The Hutt.  Originally shot with a human playing Jabba, the scene ended up on the cutting room floor as it was redundant and it didn’t look good.  But with 1990s technology, Lucas had the human actor replaced with a computer generated image of Jabba (based on “Return of The Jedi”).  The result?  A redundant scene (due to most of the dialogue being repeated from an earlier scene) that looks cool the first few times you watch it.  After that, the fallacy of adding this scene becomes very obvious.  What’s more, we see Boba Fett hanging back with Jabba’s other henchman!  The super-cool factor of seeing Fett was destroyed when, at the end of the scene, Fett stops walking, looks at the camera, and then moves on.  It’s like Lucas screaming, “Hey, guys, did you notice Boba Fett!”  Yeah, dude, we saw him.  I guess we have to count our blessings that Lucas didn’t put a name tag on Boba Fett in day-glo colors to make certain that everybody notices him.  This scene, by the way, is one of my most memorable, movie moments of this Special Edition.

Another big change to the original is the addition of dozens, if not hundreds, of characters moving about the Mos Eisley Spaceport.  Lucas wanted a busier spaceport than he originally created, and now he has it.  Speaking of the Spaceport, there is a Spaceport scene that Lucas modified much to the horror of “Star Wars” fans.  That scene is the one where Greedo has a gun on Harrison Ford, talking all kinds of trash and obviously intending to kill Ford right then and there.  So what does Lucas do?  He has Greedo shoot first — and miss horribly — and then have Ford shoot back and fry Greedo with one shot.  Lucas, dude, WTF!  There was absolutely no need to modify that scene!  Oh, man, I think Lucas thought Ford came off as a bad guy because he shot first.  If that’s the case, Lucas’ fears were unfounded, as Ford shooting first was clearly an act of self defense — Ford’s life was in imminent danger of serious injury or death.  This controversial scene is my most memorable, movie moment of “Star Wars IV” Special Edition.

The last major change in the Special Edition of Episode IV that I will talk about is the addition of a scene between Mark Hamill and the character Biggs Darklighter.  Both are friends, going way back to their hometown planet of Tatooine, and now they reunite on a secret, rebel base, getting ready to launch an assault against the Death Star.  What’s important about this scene is it reinforces Hamill’s great ability to fly a ship, as mentioned by Biggs to the flight leader who asks Hamill if he is sure he can handle the X-Wing fighter.  Yeah, I know, there’s a bit of shenanigans going on here.  Hamill is going from low-tech, farm spaceships to a high-tech, fighter ship…with virtually no training!  At least none that the movie shows.  There are more shenanigans in this movie, of course, but this movie is so cool that I don’t want to harp on them much.  I’ll talk about some trivia instead.

Did you notice the stormtrooper hitting his head at the top of the doorway during the scene when the stormtroopers went into the command center where C-3PO and R2-D2 were hiding? Interesting that Lucas kept that in the movie.

Did you notice that Darth Vader’s light saber was white in the shot where he was walking toward the Millennium Falcon after he finished his duel with Alec Guinness?

Did you know Carrie Fisher thought she wasn’t going to get the role of Leia because she thought she was too short and chubby?

Did you know that when Lucas previewed this movie to his filmmaker friends, many of them basically said, “better luck next time, George”?

Have you noticed that many of the helmets in this movie are shaped like d@*$heads?  That Fisher’s spaceship in the opening sequence is shaped like a dildo?

And this part is really funny: the first time Hamill sees Fisher’s ­image, he is clearly enamored with her.  Hey, bud, put away the lightsaber; Hamill’s Luke has more in common with Fisher’s Leia ­­­­­­­than he knows.

I have seen “Star Wars Episode IV” over 50 times in its various iterations and will see it many more times before my time is up in this world.  It not only provides great entertainment, it also teaches about having faith, that there is a greater force in the universe that we can tap into to help us in our daily lives.  It tells the importance of friendship, courage and sacrifice.

Now, “Star Wars” fans, go watch this movie again.  You know you want to.  From the first movie to the last, so that you’ll be ready for the next “Star Wars” movie next year.  May the force be with you…unless you’re a jackass, in which case may Jabba sit on your face until you asphyxiate.

— M

Laserdisc set of "Star Wars" Episodes IV, V, VI Special Editions.  $102.99 from Tower Records!

Laserdisc set of “Star Wars” Episodes IV, V, VI Special Editions. $102.99 from Tower Records!

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