Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Watch "George Lucas Discusses the Jar Jar Binks BACKLASH with Robin Williams" on YouTube

On Tue, Oct 18, 2022, at 3:04 PM Albert  wrote:
Interesting discussion. George Lucas points out that fans hated C-P3O in the first movie, Ewoks in the second movie, and Jar-jar Binks in the 4th movie. As for me, I had few qualms about C-P3O except that I am not a fan of the "Barney Fife" line of characters. When you have to provide comic relief using a bumbling, incompetent character, I cringe. This might be due to my military background.  There's no room for comic relief unless your willing to let let people die for a laugh. Imagine if your surgeon used Barney Fife as a comic relief role model while conducting surgeries. Now, it's not so funny, especially if your the patient.

I agree with Lucas about the Ewoks. I hated them. They felt out of place. It seemed too far fetched to have 2 foot teddy bears defeating the most technologically advanced military force ever assembled in the universe. Of course, the Star Wars universe was no longer catering to their original fan base, but rather their new up and coming fan base.

Jar-jar Binks was the worst of all. I have no need for a bumbling, animated "Jamaican" alien. Especially one who looks like Bugs Bunny had taken a direct hit at ground zero, melted, morphed and mutated into a Jamaican alien. I remember thinking what could be a worse character than Ewoks. Jar-jar. WTF George Lucas? Lol



The Ewoks came about because of a lack of funding.  George Lucas wanted to do a planet full of Wookies, which he was able to pull off in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  I would have thought that Lucas would have had all the money in the world to make his third movie, but the way expensive movies get financed is complicated, involving multiple producers providing funding often through loans.

We got 11-year-old Warwick Davis playing the main Ewok, Wicket, and as a result, he went on to play other parts in Star Wars and other movies like Willow and Harry Potter.

It was always Lucas' intent to have the Empire defeated by a bunch of "primitive" people.  There is a little bit of an anti-technology theme in Star Wars, like when Luke turned off his targeting computer.

I wasn't thrilled about the Ewoks, but the only thing that really bothered me was their singing at the end of the original movie, which felt super cheesy to me.  Fortunately, they took this out later but added an even worse musical number in Jabba's Palace earlier in the film.

I don't feel like we should be bothered by accents in Star Wars films, because the placement of accents was deliberate by Lucas to make alien characters feel different from other characters.   The character Watto the junk dealer has his own accent, and some people have described him as a Jewish stereotype.  I'm not sure that he is.

A friend of mine complained about the series Rome because everyone spoke in an English accent instead of anything that remotely resembled Italian, but I pointed out that had the series been made in Australia, almost everybody would be speaking with an Australian accent.

It made sense to me that not all the characters in a science fiction movie would be of equal intelligence nor follow the same behavioral norms.  The Gungans seem to be less intelligent and more warrior-like, but if you have a planet with two sapient species, they are not going to be the same.  Part of what makes Star Wars interesting is different species interacting with each other.

I feel that you need comic relief in an otherwise almost over-the-top serious movie such as The Phantom Menace.   I don't see the portrayal of Jar-Jar as outrageous, over-the-top, or insulting to the audience.  However, I do feel that way about the musical number in Jabba's Palace.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Monday, October 10, 2022

I Think We're Alone Now


In a post-apocalyptic world, Del, played very well by Peter Dinklage, seems to be the last man alive.  He lives in a small town in New York state, and he has taken it upon himself to bury the 1600 other residents who are all dead.  He is content with his solitary life, but that life is turned upside down when Grace comes to town.  Whereas he is very reserved and introverted, she is the exact opposite.

The cause of the apocalypse is never explained because the characters have no idea what happened.  Del doesn't even care; he wants mostly to be left alone.

Later we are introduced to a questionable character, played by Paul Giamatti, who I really loved in the HBO series John Adams.

The words "slow burn" are popular now to describe some entertainment, especially science fiction, that moves at a slow pace.  We have certainly seen that in several series and movies.  The French TV series "Les Revenants" is extraordinarily good and very popular in Europe, but the story doesn't seem to go anywhere.  The Apple TV series "Invasion" is nothing but a slow burn and fails to deliver.  The Amazon series "Outer Range" is definitely a slow burn but keeps the viewer interested   The Disney+ series "Andor" turns slow burn into high art.  You see the same pattern in some movies, such as "The Vast of the Night", "Annihilation", and "Signal."

There is a reason for all this.  Good science fiction is extremely expensive to make.  Cheap science fiction typically has at most just one good idea.  In the beginning, they will introduce a mystery, keep the audience in suspense, and then reveal the one good idea at the end.  We see this pattern way too often.  The special effect at the end of the movie "Signal" is so brief that if you just happen to close your eyes for a couple of seconds then you will miss it along with the point of the entire movie.  This is what cheap science fiction looks like.

The main issue is whether a slow-burn series or movie can hold our attention long enough and end well enough to make us glad that we watched it?

I initially didn't think of "I Think We're Alone Now" as a science fiction film, but it is told in three parts which are quite different from each other.  The first part is about post-apocalyptic survival.  The second part is an awkward romance and the third part involves a twist that takes the film into "Outer Limits" territory, although I have seen better twists in better movies.

The movie has a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Much of the criticism revolves around people not liking all three parts or feeling that it is disjointed or too slow.  The final twist might have been too much for some people.

However, the movie totally worked for me.  Even though the pace is slow, it progresses just fast enough to keep me interested.  It stretches the suspense out but keeps the story moving.  Also, Peter Dinklage is a good enough actor to turn the movie into a fascinating character study, otherwise, I think that the film would not work at all.  The payoff at the end isn't particularly great, but it is not bad either.

I am trying to figure out if there is a deeper meaning to the film, and I am not coming up with much.  It could be a study on dealing with grief and loneliness.  The ending could be a metaphor for "haves" versus "have-nots", but I am stretching here.  The film touches on other issues such as obsessive behavior, authoritarian control, and cults.

The movie is rated R perhaps for its post-apocalyptic subject matter, but I saw very little that people would find offensive.  A more appropriate rating would have been PG-13 for some swearing.

Rating: B. The movie is streaming on Hulu.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Andor


The Disney+ Star Wars series Andor is shockingly good. Just how good is it? It is on par with an average Star Wars movie. I liked "The Mandalorian" series even better, and I regard it higher than any of the Disney sequel trilogy movies.
For $8 you could get a month of Disney+, watch all 11 Star Wars movies, Andor, The Mandalorian, and the really excellent animated series such as The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, The Bad Batch, and Star Star Wars Visions. In addition, you could watch 37 different Marvel movies starting with Iron Man, and some fairly good series such as Wandavision, Loki, and "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier"
Plus you get all the Disney and Pixar content.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Andor isn't "real" Star Wars? Or is it as "real" as Star Wars gets?

This video is very insightful.

Invasion


Daniel Fienberg, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, said that "Invasion verges on 10 episodes of setup so pure and unfulfilling that a better title would be Evasion", and that is the problem.  The series spends all its time following many different clueless people who don't yet realize that the world is going to hell because we are under attack from extraterrestrials.  Their first suspicion is that this is a massive terrorist attack as they flee looking for shelter.  This creates some interesting personal stories, but the show never delivers the goods.  When we finally do see the aliens it is too little and way too late.

Sam Neil plays the most interesting character, a small-town sheriff who on his retirement day is dissatisfied with his life but starts to realize that something big is about to happen.  Unfortunately, he is only in the first episode and I suspect that he was hired just to give the show a recognizable name.

 About halfway through the series, a lady President of the United States announces, "We are not alone in the universe", as if this were some great scientific discovery and all we have to do is extend a hand to the invaders.  Meanwhile, cities are being shelled from space.

These ten episodes might have made for a slightly interesting two-hour movie, but the way it stretches out its story bores the audience to tears.  I am shocked to learn that the show has been renewed for a second season.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Thor Love and Thunder

 


Marvel Studios Thor: Love and Thunder is a very fun watch just so long as you don't take it too seriously.  If you took out all the comical parts then the movie would be about half as long.  The film is a comedy and it is pretty clear that Chris Hemsworth loves hamming it up in a big way.  His character Thor was always a bit comical, which offends some people because they look at Thor as a classical hero.  However, the other half of the movie makes for a pretty good Marvel adventure, and the combination of comedy and adventure is great just so long as you are not put off by that kind of thing.

Christian Bale deserves much credit for his portrayal of the villain Gorr, who is on a personal mission to destroy the "gods".  You need a good villain to make a good superhero movie.  Although Gorr is not as deep of a character as Thanos, and at times might seem a bit superficial, Christian Bale pours his heart into the role.  He gets the job done.

Thor: Love and Thunder streams on Disney+.

Rating:  A-.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Willow 1988

 


When I saw the movie Willow 34 years ago, it felt inspired.  Many people like me remember loving the film.  Never mind the slightly negative reviews, this was like a retelling of the Star Wars story in a mythical setting, where an evil sorcerer's obsession with a child leads to her undoing.  

The film was a great success for Warwick Davis who played the eponymous character Willow.  He previously played Wicket as a 11-year-old in Return of The Jedi.  He went from being an anonymous extra in a major film to the star of his own movie.  He has since played many characters in Star Wars and other movies and has made a career out of his fame, appearing in all sorts of shows and conventions.

However, 34 years later the movie doesn't feel inspired at all.  It is dated and unoriginal.  It has its moments, but the film is a little slow and too low-budget.  What charm there once was has been lost to time as far better films have come out.

But there is quite possibly a happy ending to this story.  A new Willow TV series is coming out on Disney+ on November 30th.  Let's hope that it redeems the Willow franchise if you can call it that.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Pinocchio

The problem with the 2022 "live-action" Pinocchio is that it fails to justify its existence.  I say this having watched only about the first 20% of the movie.  The 1940 version of Pinocchio has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and for a good reason; it is a triumph of Disney animation.  It is perfect.  Over the last few decades, there have been several second and third-rate Pinocchio movies, but why do we need to watch any of them when there is a much better film that might possibly never be surpassed?

The term "live-action" is a bit relative since the Pinocchio character and other characters like "Honest John" are computer animated.  I am biased since I watched the so-called "live-action" The Lion King and that movie is a scene-for-scene imitation of a much better original, which was just barely as long as it needed to be at 90 minutes to tell an effective story.  The remake was 30 minutes longer and failed to utilize as well the Oscar-winning music from the original.

The Disney computer-animated remakes are a triumph of technology, but I don't go to the movies to watch a video game.  The Lion King remake looks amazingly good, but so does the original animated film. 

The dilemma is that The Lion King remake is 80% as good as the original, which technically makes it a good movie, but why do we need an inferior version of a nearly perfect film?  The Pinocchio remake feels like a good effort, but it still falls short, and there is almost no way that it could have lived up to the original.

It appears that the Disney corporation thinks that we will watch anything just so long as it is new and a little bit different in some way.  

Pinocchio began to lose me during the early cuckoo clocks scene, which in the original was a triumph of animation and humor.  The new versions of the clocks feature many Disney characters, turning the scene into a commercial for other Disney movies.  But then I gave up on the film, at least for now, after a scene where Pinocchio is walking to school and encounters a pile of excrement in the street.  Since Pinocchio hasn't been alive for very long, he doesn't understand what this is and is fascinated by this new experience.  However, if this is the case, why isn't Pinocchio fascinated by a hundred other things in the street that he hasn't seen before?  The scene with the excrement is a bit jarring and feels out of place in a fairy tale.

The fact that Tom Hanks plays Gepetto is interesting and really caught my attention.  He gives a good effort, but I found his presence distracting.  I kept thinking about how the character is played by Tom Hanks.  The movie would feel more authentic, and believable, with an older Italian actor.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

John Williams & Vienna Philharmonic – Williams: Theme from “Jurassic Park”

At the end of season 3 episode 7 of The Orville, I heard a new music theme with just a few notes that sounded vaguely familiar.  With some effort, I figured out what this reminded me of.  

John Williams is a great composer.  I think that the first half of this theme is wonderful.  However, the second half seems repetitive.  I think that the music is meant to be experienced with the movie.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Andor is doing something very risky

“Outer Range”


You can tell the difference between great science fiction, which has many good ideas, and cheap science fiction that usually has just one good idea. I have seen repeatedly the same pattern where a mystery gets presented early on and this mystery does not get solved until the big reveal at the end of the movie, which is the one good idea. A movie that did this really well was the ultra-low budget "The Vast the Night". The problem with Amazon's "Outer Range" is that it takes eight episodes to get to the big reveal, although along the way it gets much mileage out of its mystery.

Best wishes,

John Coffey