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The Crazy Jumping Man of Mars

So I finally got around to watching John Carter. This was supposed to be a HUGE summer blockbuster in 2012 and instead was a critical and financial failure. That said, a few friends insisted that the movie wasn’t that terrible and that I ought to give it a try. 

The movie felt like a mixture of Flash Gordon, Stargate, and prequel-era Star Wars (with a dash of Fringe‘s Observers thrown in). Sort of. Also, our hero leaps around Mars like a flea. A better description would be a flea in a bouncy castle. 

My favorite character is this lizard-dog called Woola that’s just freakin adorable. It sort of has Jabba the Hutt’s face had Jabba been a baby. I know I just used “Jabba the Hutt” and “adorable” in close proximity. It will never happen again.

Anyways, effects-wise, the movie looks really good. Story-wise (and yes, I know this was based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel) it’s a little predictable. At the same time, since I know Star Wars and Flash Gordon  and all the adventure serials spawned from the Burroughs novels, I can’t help but wonder what is echoing what?

During one scene, the green Martian Tharks are in some kind of arena to punish Carter and some other Tharks who helped him. The whole scene reminds me of the big arena climax on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. I half expected a barrage of lightsabers to appear at one point. Did this scene occur in one of Burroughs’ novels? If so, did Lucas base that whole scene after Burroughs or did the moviemakers look to Clones? Chicken or Egg? 

That’s my deep thought for this film which I did mostly enjoy. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again, but I’m glad I finally got around to it.

Afterthought: Both Ciaran Hinds and James Purefoy are in this movie. Anytime they were near each other, I kept thinking about how Julius Caesar and Mark Antony were going to get the band back together.  I see it as a sign to re-watch Rome

 

 

 

Technology Corner

You probably aren’t aware, but up until very recently, my entertainment system has been running old school. You’d think with my obsession with films that I would have a 55″ mega flat screen and the latest in Blu-ray goodness. Um no. I tend to use appliances (and clothes and cars and shoes) until they can no longer be repaired. I will use an item up until the point it has died, and even then I will try to salvage it somehow. I think I’ve inherited that from my grandmother. She’ll save three green beans and call them leftovers.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot of teasing from some folks over my ye olde 23″ television. This would be the giant boxy tube tv that had to have a converter box affixed to it a few years back when everything went digital. That’s right. I don’t have cable or satellite either. I have noticed lately that one of the speakers in my tv crackles and hisses and sometimes just plays hooky when it’s supposed to be doing speaker things.

About five months ago, I upgraded my Playstation 2 to the PS3 model. You know…just in time for the PS4 announcement. *sigh* Anyways, I’ve had some difficulties reading text on my wee tv screen when playing my PS3 games such as  Mass Effect 2. Something had to be done. So….a new tv was procured. A fancy flat-screen that’s 32″ and quite nice. Alas, herein lies the problem.

The tv is a bit too nice. My dvd player (with VHS side as well) won’t hook up to it. Everything is HDMI. Crazy new technology!! I now run my movies via the PS3, so that problem is solved. However, it took me 4 hours to set all this up. Four hours and 2 trips to Wallyworld. But it’s done.

I’m all upgraded for now. I have to admit, movies look good on a bigger screen, and I can actually read the text in my video games! Monumental stuff, folks.  I have just one final worry…

I still own the VHS box set of the original Star Wars trilogy. This would be the set that came out in the early/mid-90s with the Leonard Maltin interviews prior to the whole “Special Edition” versions. This is the last known edition of the films as they were—before the changes. We are talking original Ewok song! We are talking about a friendly old man as ghostie Anakin instead of Hayden Christiansen.  HAN SHOOTS FIRST!!!!!.

I need to really research how I can hook up my spare (yes, I keep a spare) VCR to my newfangled set. Ideas, anyone? Is there some sort of converter cable out there? Old school on one end and new style on the other? There’s got to be a Tosche Station somewhere nearby.

Think, think, think…

A Disturbance in The Force

***We postpone the long-awaited movie review to bring you this late-breaking opinion.***

So a little while back, when Uncle George announced he was selling Lucasfilm and all the wonderful Star Wars-ness that goes with it, I had a toddler-sized meltdown. I was conflicted in my anger, sadness and my feelings of relief that Uncle George wasn’t going to hurt my beloved franchise anymore. Because, as sad and selfish as it is to admit, it’s the truth. The fans have so embraced the SW universe, that it’s no longer Lucas’s. In our hearts, it’s ours. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

So once I got over my conflictedness (Is it a word? It is now), I joined the throng of folks eagerly awaiting what would come next. After all, we had been promised a new installment by 2015. Entertainment media jumped in with crazy speculation. Who would direct? Steven Spielberg was the obvious choice since he and Lucas had worked together before (and for any dozen other reasons you can come up with). But no. Spielberg passed. Brad Bird’s name was next. Nay, not Brad. David Yates, Christopher Nolan, Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Vaughn… All of them were a no. Even J.J. Abrams said no. But not so fast! Now it’s a yes.

J.J. Abrams will take on the mantle that is Star Wars. And once again, I’m soooo conflicted. There has been a disturbance in the Force, and I just don’t know. I have a bad feeling about this.

Pros:

  • He’s a total geek fanboy, and that’s a good thing.
  • He’s brought us some of the coolest television shows ever (Alias, Lost, Fringe).
  • He loves Star Wars.
  • He is a more than capable film director. And he is not any of the following: Michael Bay, Joel Schumacher (who ruined the Batman franchise), or Roland Emmerich.

Cons:

  • He already has hold of the Star Trek film franchise.  Is this too much to have on his plate?
  • While his TV shows easily hit the mark for good entertainment, his movies have been inconsistent. Mission Impossible III was, in my opinion, Jerry Maguire with guns. I almost walked out of the theater on that one. Cloverfield felt pointless, and what’s with the creature in that movie looking almost exactly like the one in Super 8? Yes, I know Cloverfield came out first, but someone should have drawn a new creature. Also, Abrams was a producer for Morning Glory. Have you seen it? Don’t.
  • And he’s a big Star Wars fan. I know I mentioned it as a pro, but it’s also a con. His love of the movies might cause the same type of tunnel vision Uncle George sometimes suffered from.

Questions:

  1. In a lot of Abrams’ work (well, on TV at least) the idea of a parallel universe or alternate timeline or mythological device sometimes comes into play. Will he use his trick of the trade in the new movie? Will there be a smoke monster on Hoth? Cause that would be cool.
  2. Will Greg Grunberg have a role? Yes, duh. But what role will it be?
  3. Will the Cloverfield / Super 8 creature show up? Maybe we’ll learn its origins. Now, that would be an interesting tie-in.
  4. Unrelated to Abrams, but will any of our original cast members be in the new movie? Pretty please?
  5. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Can we trust Abrams with our Star Wars  universe? I mean, we have no choice about it, but can we?  What are your thoughts on this?

I know I’m doing the worry-wart thing on this. In a couple weeks, I’ll  be so over it all and totally on board with my 2015 installment. But for now, I just don’t know.To quote Adam Sandler’s character, Louie, in the wonderful Mixed Nuts, “oh so many things for me to wonder. I love grape jelly!” Ain’t that the truth.

Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi!

On October 30, I took a five-minute break at work to browse the headlines. What I read came as a horrible shock. George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney for 4 billion dollars. The sale included Star Wars and all the licenses, movies, TV options, games, etc and so on and so forth. I almost cried. Seriously. I was almost in tears. My co-workers, should they ever be interviewed for my reaction, would tell you that I sat there mumbling to myself for a good 5-10 minutes saying “No, nononononono noooooooooo” over and over again. I felt a dull sort of crack form in my cold little heart. Something stable and solid and foundation-like in my life had suddenly changed.

I didn’t know which part of the news headline upset me the most. The fact that Uncle George sold Lucasfilm was bad enough. He had Kathleen Kennedy on board as his heir to the kingdom. I thought things would just pass along to her. Then the Disney aspect upset me. Disney is, in many ways, the evil Empire. Yes, they bring good, but all I could see was High School Musical and the crazy Disneyfication of beloved characters. Would they now appear in a Kingdom Hearts video game alongside Mickey Mouse? I don’t think I could survive Han Solo sitting around with Donald Duck or Goofy. The next part that upset me was the 4 billion part. In my mind, Star Wars alone is worth much, much more. But I’m not a film executive. Maybe that was a hefty fee. Who knows? Also, I was and still am concerned about the other Lucas companies. From what I understand Lucasfilm Ltd. is the parent company for Industrial Light & Magic, LucasArts, and Skywalker Sound.  Does that mean that Disney now owns those as well? [Note: If someone can let me know, that would be super.]

So yeah, I was upset. For several days I pretty much felt like I had been betrayed. I don’t know a world without Star Wars. The original trilogy is this holy set of movies for me. To think that someone who isn’t George Lucas now has control over them is really scary to me.

So let’s fast-forward a few days. The news had sunk in a bit. A couple of friends of mine (who were also initially upset) pointed out that the prequels were pretty bad. I hate to say it, but it’s so true. Phantom Menace aside from the groovy Darth Maul and a cool light saber fight at the end, was a kids’ movie. And I HATE little kid Anakin Skywalker. I hate him and his “yay, I’m a slave!” mentality and his little bowl haircut. This kid does not deserve to grow up to be Darth Vader. Nope. Attack of the Clones wasn’t much better. We were stuck having to watch the lack of chemistry between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christiansen. When we weren’t doing that, we were stuck watching Christiansen’s teenage Anakin start to delve into his darker side. Not dark enough though. I saw no motivation. Revenge of the Sith wasn’t that bad. I enjoy parts of it—specifically any scene with Ewan McGregor. I’ve found that if you skillfully fast-forward the right scenes, you can enjoy what I like to call Star Wars Episode 3: The Adventures of Obi-Wan. 

Right, so the prequels were definitely not all they could have been. Most of the blame for that can be aimed at Lucas who wrote and directed all three films. Maybe if other directors had been brought in, the movies could have been so much more. But they weren’t. Oh, and Jar Jar Binks is just wrong!

I was conflicted. I was angry at Lucas for selling the company, but I was also upset about the way the prequels turned out. I was also sort of relieved that Lucas wouldn’t be able to hurt and tweak the movies any more. I prefer the original, hokey Ewok song. Special Edition versions of the movies still don’t feel necessary to me. But at the same time, Lucas is the man who created the Star Wars universe. Without him, we wouldn’t have Obi-Wan, or Luke, or Lando. There would be no Millennium Falcon or Death Star. I didn’t have a solid opinion. Confusion!!!

And then there was a beacon of hope in the form of my hero, Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill was interviewed about his opinion of the sale, and he was onboard with it. Well, if Luke Skywalker says it’s okay, then I’m okay. So I decided that since (obviously) there was nothing I could do, I might as well just get over myself and see what happens.

But wait! There’s more! Announcements were made about three more Star Wars films. Episodes VII, VIII and IX? How could it be done? Our three leads are still active in their professions, but it’s been 30 years! How far in the future would these sequels be set? And what will the story be about? For about a week now, I’ve been brainstorming plot ideas with a buddy of mine. We have a few good ideas but only time will tell. I just have to have faith that since Disney now owns Marvel Studios and they didn’t screw up any films out of that universe, they’ll treat the Star Wars universe with the same respect.

In some ways, I feel like a hypocrite. On October 30 I was ready to join the mob of angry villagers with my pitchfork and torch. Two and a half weeks later, I’m looking forward to 2015 (the year of Episode VII). Maybe the whole thing is one big Jedi mind trick. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  These new films could go in one of two ways. They could be super-awesome, most excellent sequels and live on as wonderful Star Wars films. They would be known as worthy successors to the franchise. OR…they could go the way of the prequels as highly anticipated yet ultimately disappointing to the masses who grew up with only Original Trilogy. [I do understand that there are whole populations of children and teenagers who know the prequels as the main films of the series.  *shudder*]  Now would be a really good time for Yoda to do a little bit of future-checking.