This month for my blind spot pick we are diving back into the mind of George Lucas. After watching Attack of the Clones and Indy 4 I lost faith in the guy to tell a good story. So this month I decided to check his debut film THX 1138 off of my list. Who knows maybe I’d like young George better than old George?
You know what I think I do! THX 1138 isn’t a perfect sci-film but it is solidly entertaining and very unique.
THX 1138 is set in a black and white dystopian world. (It feels a little bit like Tron but more stark). Every part of the people’s lives is controlled including mating and emotions. They all kind of work in these giant factories and have brief names like SEN and LUH. By changing out his drug, LUH is able to convince THX to have sex with her.
The couple is then chased by an agent named SEN and the entire corporation that runs the world and forced to separate. I don’t want to give any more of the story away for those that are spoiler sensitive.
The acting is pretty great especially for a George Lucas movie (who is notoriously bad at working with actors). I particularly liked Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasance and Maggie McOmie as the 3 main leads.
Visually the movie is stark, glaring and always interesting ot look at. That is probably it’s greatest strength.
There are some problems, however, with THX 1138. I found the story to be kind of hard to understand at first. It does not take any time to give backstories or explain the world or the character motivations at all. The dialogue is also very simple. It’s really a movie all about the visuals and the overall broad mess.
For those sensitive there is also a fair amount of nudity in the film, so be aware of that. It is only 95 minutes but it felt longer than that.
But problems aside, if you want to watch something that is different, that a million people could all get different interpretations on give THX 1138 a shot. I think you will really enjoy it.
Hi guys! So we just finished the third in our review and discussion of the Star Wars films with our look at Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. This is definitely the strongest of the prequels and we had a great time talking about it.
Episode 3 starts out with war between the Republic and the Separatists. Obi-won and Anakin lead a rescue of Chancellor Palpatine from General Grevious. They confront Count Dooku who Anakin kills at Palpatine’s urging. Later on Coruscant Padme announces to Anakin that she is pregnant. Anakin is happy over the news but also worried because of the rules against Jedi loving. Anakin also becomes worried when he has dreams of Padme dying while giving birth.
Anakin is angry when the Jedi Council decide against making him a Jedi Master. Palpatine feels he will be able to manipulate Anakin and he goads his ego and tells him about the power of the dark side to possibly overcome death. He then tells Anakin that he is the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. Anakin tells Mace Windu this who then confronts Palpatine. The two fight and Palpatine is nearly defeated but Anakin decides he needs to know how to save Padme so he stops Windu who then Palpatine kills. After this Anakin pledges with the dark side and is named Darth Vader.
Obi-won kills Grevious. Then Palpatine changes the orders of the Clone army using order 66 to kill the Jedis and Anakin is sent to the Jedi Temple and he oversee’s all Jedi’s even children in training are killed. The only survivors are Obi-wan and Yoda. Vader then kills the Separatist leaders on the volcanic planet Mustafar while Palpatine convinces the Senate to change from a Republic to a Galactic Empire. Padme hears of Anakin’s betrayal and goes with Obi-wan to Mustafar. Vader feels Padme has betrayed him by continuing to associate with Obi-wan and he force chokes her and she collapses. Obi-won and Vader have a light saber battle over the lava. Obi-wan severs Vader’s limbs and he is burned in the lava.
Meanwhile, Yoda battles Palpatine with the light saber and other methods but ends up escaping. Padme has twins Luke and Leia before dying. Palpatine creates a body and respiratory mask for Vader so that he can go on living creating the iconic Darth Vader we know. Obi-wan and Yoda hide the twins, Leia with Senator Organa in Alderaan and Luke with his uncle Owen in Tatooine.
As I say in the video, my main response to Revenge of the Sith was ‘meh’. It’s not terrible but I didn’t love it either. It was ok but that’s a big improvement over 1 and 2.
There are a couple of reasons this one works better than the other 2. First of all, there is actually a story with a climax that matters and villains that are menacing. Everything in this film is leading up to the creation of Darth Vader so it gives it some momentum and excitement we didn’t get in the others. Second, there is way less dialogue in Revenge of the Sith than the other prequels, which is a good thing because George Lucas isn’t great at writing dialogue. Finally, the special effects are better and more convincing than previous endeavors.
I felt like they tried to remove a lot of the stuff people hated in episode 2. We get way less awkward romantic dialogue. We get way less political talk and we even lose the villain of Episode 2 right away, which really surprised me. Ian McDiarmid also gets to shine as Emperor Palpatine as he becomes the Emperor we know in the original trilogy.
I did think Anakin’s transformation to Darth Vader was somewhat sudden but I didn’t hate it either. I was annoyed by Padme becoming basically a Bella Swan type waiting and adoring needy woman and kind of giving up in the end.
I also found the plot to be very confusing and didn’t like General Grevious as a character. I wish they had just kept Count Dooku who I think was much better than Grevious.
The Order 66 and the change of the Clones to kill the Jedi was very sad and compelling especially having watched Star Wars Rebels and seeing some of that aftermath.
There’s lots of light saber battles in this film and I enjoyed most of them even if they are a little bit cheesy special effects-wise. I’m still not a fan of Yoda using a light saber and that whole section but the Vader/Obi-wan battle lava aside looks pretty cool.
The final creation of Darth Vader is good but I didn’t like the No at the end especially because Lucas put it in Return of the Jedi at the end.
Overall, I still had problems with Revenge of the Sith in acting, a confusing plot and some character jumps that don’t quite make sense. That said, I was entertained and found it much more entertaining than Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones.
I am very excited to get to Episode 4: New Hope which is my personal favorite Star Wars film even though I admit Empire Strikes Back is the better made film. It’s going to be fun to discuss the 3 original trilogy and then Force Awakens!
What do you think about Revenge of the Sith? Put your comments down below. Thanks!
Hey guys! Well, my friends Abby, Jeremy and I have made it through the cinematic masterpiece that is Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. In truth I really hate the film but on the rewatch I found some things to praise and I had a great time talking about it with my friends (doing these discussions after bad movies would make movie-going so much more pleasant!)
Here is our discussion and even if you hate the movie I think you will really enjoy it. I’m surprised we had so much to talk about it but look at this as more of a podcast style than a review.
As I am doing with all these Star Wars reviews I wrote up a little summary of the film.
Taking place 10 years after events of Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones focuses on mounting threats to the Republic. Padme Amidala is now a senator and she goes to Coruscant to vote on the building up of an army to thwart the threats. However, there is an assassination attempt on her life using killer centipede-like creatures. Obi-won and Anakin are put in charge of protecting her but Obi-won goes after Jango Fett the bounty hunter instead. Anakin then takes Padme to Naboo to hide but a romance develops between the two.
Obi-won finds out an army of clones is being made for the Republic with Jango Fett as the DNA. Anakin and Padme decide to leave Naboo when he has a dream about his mother on Tatooine. When they arrive, he finds his Mother has been taken by Tusken Raiders who then Anakin seeks out. His mother dies in his arms and in his rage he kills all the Tusken Raiders, women and children included. He tells Padme and she is sympathetic.
Meanwhile, Obi-won is on Geonosis and finds Jedi Master Count Dooku is building an army out of droids and that he wanted Padme dead. In fear the Senate gives Palpatine emergency powers and the clones are sent into battle. Anakin and Padme attempt to rescue Obi-won on Geonosis and they are almost killed but a group of warrior Jedis and their clone army fight a battle against the droids and Dooku. Anakin and Obi-won fight Dooku with light saber along with Yoda with Anakin losing his right arm. Dooku flees from Yoda’s power and goes back to Coruscant and presents his plans for the Death Star superweapon. Anakin and Padme marry to end the film
THOUGHTS ON THE FILM
My over all thoughts on the film is that it is a rough one to sit through. I blame George Lucas in his inability to get anyone to help him on the parts that aren’t his strength like working with the actors and writing the script. This is something he was willing to do in the original trilogy.
The core story could have been good or at least has good elements. Like the idea of Palpatine siezing on the chaos of war to get emergency powers from the senate is interesting. Also the backstory of Boba Fett watching his father getting killed by a Jedi has potential. The villain Count Dooku is pretty menacing and had potential especially with Christopher Lee as the actor.
Unfortunately all of that gets lost in a terrible romance between Anakin and Padme with some of the worst romantic dialogue I’ve ever heard. The acting is atrocious but it is hard to fault them for dialogue not even campy enough for a soap opera (and I like my share of cheesy romances). Not only is it groan inducing but it involves characters making nonsensical choices especially Padme.
The Droid Battle is pretty cool with all the Jedis fighting droids but I hate the Yoda light saber duel. Yoda is not a Jedi that needs to use a light saber. He says repeatedly the force is his weapon. At the very least Count Dooku has not been shown or developed in a way to lead us to believe he is even close to a match for Master Yoda. As I said in the video I have no doubt Yoda can use a light saber but to me it doesn’t make sense that he would use one. Plus, the CG Yoda is not my cup of tea and the bouncing around looks lame.
But all of that could be ignored if the lead character was watchable. In recent years we’ve seen examples of compelling anti-hero stories (mostly on television like Mad Men and I’m told Breaking Bad). Anakin’s story could have been done well but Lucas chose to make him a whiny, creepy brat. And to top it all off he murders a whole village of Tuskens Raiders and Padme’s response is “To be angry is to be human,” because that makes sense…
The special effects don’t even look that good (especially in the scenes on Naboo with the weird snail cows)
Sigh… In the end, it is a huge missed opportunity and it basically turned me off movies for a while back in 2002. I went on my mission from 2003-2005 so I actually have never seen Revenge of the Sith. That’s how much I hated Episode 2 (there’s a huge gap in movie knowledge for me between 2003-2005. I’ve seen like 5 movies). So we will see what I think of Episode 3 in 2 weeks (we are taking one week off because of Halloween).
Plus, the title doesn’t even make sense. The droids are attacking not the clones!!
What do you think of Episode 2: Attack of the Clones? I know some people love the prequels, which is cool. I just call it like I see it (it is my blog after all 🙂 ).
I know I can’t wait for Force Awakens and for the series to be redeemed (Please JJ)!
I hate to say it guys but I’m calling it- Dreamworks time of death, March 2015. Let’s give a little bit of background. For years Dreamworks has been battling it out with Disney and Pixar scoring some hits with particularly the Shrek films being the apex of their financial success. They’ve also had creative victories like the How to Train Your Dragon series, Kung Fu Panda and Prince of Egypt. Unfortunately they have been unable to curtail costs so even seeming successes were actually studio failures.
Last year it all came to fruition with 3 releases. Mr Peabody and Sherman with a budget of 145 mil (ridiculous for a comedy like that) made 272 million at box office. This might seem pretty good but when you take into account theater shares and marketing they took a 57 million hit on it. Then they had How to Train Your Dragon 2, a healthy success, with budget of 145 million (see Sherman should not have cost as much as HTTYD2!) making 618 million. Most of these proceeds were overseas (over 400 million of it) and it was significantly less than its predecessor so on the whole a disappointment (total profit 107 million).
Then we had Penguins of Madagascar, a fun comedy which cost $132 million and made $367 million Sounds pretty good right? Nope that 132 doesn’t include incentive based pay to the actors! So in the end they took another 57 million hit on Penguins. This is after losing 87 million on Rise of the Guardians and 13.5 million for Turbo in 2013. As you can see whatever good Dragon did is quickly evaporated.
Then at the end of last year they closed their PDI animation studio laying off 1/3rd of their artists.
That’s where we get to their latest release, Home. I think many of us were hoping this could be a Frozen size savior for the studio but sadly it is far, far, from that. In fact, if I am honest it is closer to this years’ George Lucas offering Strange Magic than anything else. It cost $135 million to make and I have a hard time believing it will do better than Mr Peabody and Sherman which was actually pretty clever. So in other words another loss.
I’m grasping at straws to find things I liked about Home but there isn’t much.
The best thing I can say about home is that it is harmless. Kind of like Strange Magic there is nothing offensive or off putting. Your kids will be moderately entertained so if you need a babysitter you could do worse but that is about it.
Home is based on the book The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, which my sister says is quite brilliant. It is about an alien named Oh that is the ‘most special’ character in his entire race like we’ve seen in movies from Twilight to the Host to Harry Potter. What makes him unique? Well, he makes mistakes and likes to have friends and be happy. Not exactly defeating Lord Voldemort but we will go with it.
He is part of a race called the boovs who run away from their nemesis and conquer other planets. They have just conquered earth and sucked up all the humans relocating them all to Australia. I suppose if I had been more engaged I wouldn’t have been left asking so many questions about this basic premise. For example, why do the boov know enough about humans to build houses for every human family, evidently recreate hospitals, schools, and even an amusement park and yet they do not know something like ‘humans live in families and have a Mother and a Father’?
How do the boov know how to run everything in a city like New York and yet are eating paintings, footballs and using a hair dryer for an inhaler? How do they know how to work a power plant and yet the lights are always on? How are they planning on getting food in this land they have conquered and wouldn’t gathering all of the human race in one place be a really bad idea? Nothing like 6 billion humans that have mastered interstellar flight and atomic warfare all together on an island…especially for a race that is evidently so gun shy?
Also why does Oh drink gasoline, motor oil, eat plastic and yet is disgusted by a blue tablet and urine from a restroom? I think that is an attempt to be funny but it doesn’t really make sense so it didn’t make me laugh. It would have been more funny if he had loved the urine and blue tablet. I mean if we are stooping to that level isn’t that funnier?
I know I’m overthinking it but again it just shows how disengaged I was with the story and characters that I started asking these questions.
So our misfit Oh tries to throw a party for his new neighbors but nobody in his race likes him or parties (which again makes me ask how does he even know what a party is? And yet he has a banner, appetizers, the whole works..).
Nobody comes to his party and so he goes outside to try and get people to go but his ‘friend’ doesn’t want to so he sends him an ‘e-vite’ (these aliens still use email and internet just like us) but the email to the party he is currently having goes to the entire galaxy including their sworn enemy, a woefully undeveloped ‘bad guys with spaceship’ called the vrogs I think.
The leaders of the boov’s try to arrest Oh with the captain played by Steve Martin who is actually only in 3 scenes of the movie.
But Oh runs off before he can give the boov his password to stop the email. (Always bad in a movie when the entire plot could be resolved by a 3 minute conversation…). In his running he bumps into a girl named Tipp who was left behind by the human relocation and is trying to find her Mother. She is far too calm and collected for someone who’s entire race and Mother has been sucked up by aliens. Plus, her car has been hidden by trash. How did she know to do that? And why hasn’t the trash been sucked up by the unnecessary item balls? They are sucking up bikes wouldn’t they suck up her car? And would she have been the only human to escape? Wouldn’t it have been more interesting to have had a few that band together with Oh?
She is voiced by Rhianna and it is a terrible piece of voice casting. She sounds like a grown woman and I was never exactly sure how old she was supposed to be. She sounds like a grown up, looks like a child but can drive and yet she talks about getting an A in 8th grade geometry. At best it is completely bland.
Oh is voiced by Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parson and the two of them are the only characters in the movie for 90% of the film and he isn’t right for the part either. It just sounds too much like Sheldon which was distracting. But I have a hard time blaming him because the part was written a lot like Sheldon and didn’t give him much to work with. He’s socially awkward and oblivious most of the time. I like Big Bang Theory but I know it has its haters and they will definitely find the voicework very annoying but again I don’t think anything Parsons could have done would have saved the character.
Most of the movie is a road trip story full of road trip movie cliches. Tipp and Oh must go to Paris to enter the password (I guess no cell phones in this world even though the Boov have these little tablet things) and then to Australia to find Tipp’s Mother voiced by Jennifer Lopez who has maybe 3 lines in the movie.
There were about 6 kids in the theater with me and they laughed at a few bits of toilet humor but they seemed squirmy and disengaged.
A lot of people will want to compare this to Lilo and Stitch, a movie that grows on me the more I see it. Lilo and Stitch is not a perfect film but it is far superior to this mess. First of all Lilo is a much more complex character than we ever get from Tipp. She is strange but in interesting ways. We see her interacting with students and fighting with her sister. We see her crying and mourning her parents before Stitch is even introduced.
Stitch is also a consistent character. He is a wild creature and pretty mean throughout, to the point of frustrating me as a viewer. Here Oh is sometimes smart when the plot needs to be and other times stupid. He sometimes understands complex words and other times speaks in 2 word phrases. He’s whatever the plot needs him to be which makes it really boring and hard to root for.
I really did not care about Oh or Tipp’s journey because I knew exactly what was going to happen and the movie didn’t give me any reason except for telling us ‘people think I’m strange’… Lilo is pulling heads off of her dolls. We know she is strange and we are rooting for her because of it.
It’s also a little unclear if the Steve Martin character is intentionally lying to everyone about their enemy and the ‘shush stick’ or if he is just too stupid to know. If he is lying on purpose than he is a really bad alien and that sense of evil is never laid out at all. I mean this is Darth Vader bad if he is conquering planets and relocating everyone.
The lesson of the story is that ‘everyone makes mistakes’ and that you should ‘run towards your fears’ not away from them (I don’t know if I agree with that last one…). Again this is usually told to us not actually shown. Lilo and Stitch conquers weighty themes of family, grief, loss and it does it with the gravitas perhaps only Disney can muster. Plus, it looks so unique with the watercolors and the Hawaiian feel. Home looks anything but unique.
A movie like Penguins of Madagascar works because it was funny. The script was very clever that it could overcome a silly story. I’m not saying it was a masterpiece but it made me laugh. Same with Mr Peabody and Sherman. Home did not make me laugh one time.
Like I said at the intro if you take your kids they won’t be miserable. It’s harmless but I said the same thing for Strange Magic and that movie at least had voicework that made sense.
I’m sorry Dreamworks I want to help you out but I can’t in good conscience give this any higher than the D I gave Strange Magic. It just doesn’t deserve it. (This movie has 5 people listed in the voice cast. Why on earth did it cost $135 million to make? In contrast, Pixar’s Bugs Life with a huge cast cost $120 million!).
The music is by Rihanna and it is nice but feels like it is written for a different movie. It is dark and solemn when they are just flying across the ocean or walking around. It’s not nearly fun enough for this kind of movie (think Happy by Pharrell for Despicable ME 2. That made sense.). The whole Rihanna choice was just wrong all the way around. What a disappointment and the absolute worst timing for a Dreamworks dud.
Sometimes I feel sorry for George Lucas. Then I remember what he did to Star Wars and I don’t feel so sorry but still what must it be like for one human being to be so high and then so low? I can’t even imagine. Well, he certainly hasn’t let failure get to his head because last week he released an animated film, Strange Magic, emblazoned with “from the mind of George Lucas” right on the poster for all to see. I’m still baffled by that choice. I can’t think of a single person who would see that tagline and think “George Lucas? I want to go to that”.
But I promised you I’d see every animated film in 2015 and I intend do so. And no matter all the bad reviews I always try to go into every movie with an open mind and have been willing to go against popular opinion on more than one occasion (Atlantis: The Lost Emipre and Wreck-It Ralph anyone?).
The only theater I could find showing it (and just opened on Friday I will remind you) is this strange theater about 13 minutes from my house. Everytime I’ve been there it is like a ghosttown and tonight was no exception. Had the whole theater to myself which allowed me to take notes on my phone and not bother anyone.
So here’s the deal on Strange Magic. It is bad but mainly because of the writing, annoying music and obvious story. The animation is not half bad. It is for that reason I would put it above last year’s stinkers Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return which didn’t look finished and the garish and unfunny Nut Job. If it was just a predictable fairy movie I might be able to place it with The Tinker Bell movies in animation quality but those movies are more clear, vibrant, better vocal performances and stories.
Evidently George Lucas made this movie “because nothing is made for girls any more”. That was definitely true in the 70’s George but since Little Mermaid I think you’d have a hard time proving that at least with Disney (Pixar yes but plenty of movies made for girls). I mean Frozen made over 1 billion!
The strangest thing about him making this for girls is a good chunk of the movie is about Sonny the elf finding the fairy Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull) with little scenes of Dawn and Marianne(Evan Rachel Wood) fairies usually thrown in to sing about love or how tough they are.
I think Lucas also thinks it will appeal to girls because there is lots of talk about love (it is Midsummer’s Night Dream in the same way Gnomeo and Juliet was about Romeo and Juliet). And of course you have to throw in a wedding, a Spring Ball and an Elf Festival because girls love parties! (Groan…).
The two faeries are sisters (of course) and one is free spirited and the other is bitter about love. There is also a Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth) who is taken captive by the evil Bog King (Alan Cumming) who is known simply as Bog by his mother and followers.
All of this could be good in a corny kind of way but the music puts it over the top with each choice being so on the nose it is like playing a game of Name that Tune. We know the moment we here the character is named Marianne we are going to hear “C’mon Marianne” by Frankie Valli. As soon as a character is at the dance we hear “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston. It’s like Moulin Rouge but a decade too late and with an even more predictable plot.
The worst was at the end when a character breaks into Wild Thing by The Troggs. Couldn’t they have been a little more creative? It’s like George Lucas downloaded his ipod, threw in a few modern songs like Kill You Makes You Stronger and Say Hey.
Even the songs would be passable if the script was better. We get lines like
“Looking for trouble? Well, you’ve come to the right place” says the Bog King and then we get Trouble by Elvis which has lines “Well, I’m evil so don’t you mess around withe me”. Groan. It’s like these guys learned to write scripts in kindergarten.
Another line “You’re one to talk with your magic recipe. A recipe for failure”.
“See what happens when love is unleashed on the world”
“Even with a love potion I’m too hideous to love”
“Why would you think a beast like you could get a beauty like Marianne” (surprised Disney allowed that one. Gaston should be offended!
“My life flashed before my eyes. I was hot…”
“I’ve learned something. Never judge someone or it by the way he, she or it looks” Thank George for explaining the most obvious moral in the world to us in case we didn’t catch on…
And my favorite “Pull your head out of the clouds. Clouds of boys…”. Oh boy. Now I’m thinking the writers have never met a little girl. Do they think this is how they really talk?
Basically the story is a girl fairy is jilted on her wedding day by a jerk fairy. She turns against love but her sister is still a believer. The elf Sonny is in love with fairy Dawn and wants to get the potion for her from the Sugar Plum Fairy. The jilted beau also wants the potion to force Marianne to love him (the antidote is so groan inducing).
Then they meet various obstacles but get the potion fairly easily which is not guarded well by the Bog King who wants to keep the fairy because the potion didn’t work on the girl he loved. (that darn antidote again!).
They all end up meeting in the forest and battling over the love potion and it is so predictable and full of terrible puns and one liners.
I can’t figure out why they wouldn’t have made Kristin Chenoweth Dawn? The Sugar Plum Fairy isn’t in the movie that much and has only 1 song.
Lucas did get some decent singers in Alan Cumming, Chenoweth and Wood but it is all like a karaoke theme night on romantic songs.
Like I said the animation is tolerable and it isn’t going to harm your kids like something such as The Smurfs with all its obnoxious product placement. This is just a predictable bland movie with a lot of music kids won’t have heard of like People are Strange by the Doors or Mistreated by Deep Purple. What little kid knows those?
As far as content goes there is a scene where two male characters kiss for laughs which has gotten so tired a joke. Get over it! The Bog King might be scary to little children but it is tempered pretty quickly with songs and jokes (and the Bog King’s mother trying to set him up).
So it is not as bad as Nut Job or Legends of Oz but that’s really damning with faint praise. A definite skip. (The things I do for you guys!).