Tag Archives: George Lucas

The Set of 400: #3 – My Favorite Nazi Monkey

Today! Because we have top men looking into it –

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x13)

Starring Harrison Ford (x9), Karen Allen (x5), Paul Freeman (x2), Denholm Elliott (x3), John Rhys-Davies (x5), Ronald Lacey (x2), Alfred Molina (x5), Wolf Kahler, William Hootkins (x3), Fred Sorenson, Pat Roach (x2), Anthony Higgins, Vic Tablian, Eddie Tagoe

Many, many films from my childhood fought their way onto this list – some decent and still relatively high in my estimation, some Howard the Duck – but none wind up above the utterly perfect first Indiana Jones adventure. I haven’t the slightest idea the first time I watched this movie, and can’t even realistically guess how many times I’ve seen it, but despite the decades wearing on and all the changes in film and my personal preferences, the greatness of this movie has never abated. Even my reasons for liking it haven’t changed all that much. Figure, The Muppet Movie still finds a high rank due mostly to my enduring love of the brand – as a kid, I think it was a lot more the silliness and the songs. Jaws I don’t think I saw uncut until well down the road, so it’s kind of a different movie for me as an adult. But Raiders is the same slam-bang, non-stop action thrill ride its always been, and it totally still holds up.

As I think I mentioned back in Temple of Doom, for a period of time growing up I thought this was the second film in the series, as the concept of a prequel was beyond me and the establishing dates to open these films set them up in this order. I guess the logic was…they didn’t want us to wonder why Indy and Marion weren’t still together? Why they didn’t mention the Ark of the Covenant while battling possessed children and eating monkey brains? It seems like a concept overthought, really, because Temple doesn’t give us any added insight to Indy that informs something in Raiders, like most prequels do. I guess it was so we might like Willie better. Couldn’t Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have both Karen Allen and Kate Capshaw return? That might’ve been more interesting than the bizarre mess they hurled at us instead. Geriatric love triangles! At least they could’ve returned Short Round.

I would totally watch this re-teaming in Indiana Jones and the Valley of the Drunken Mummy or whatever

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The Set of 400: #25 – My Favorite Walking Carpet

Today! Because I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!

Star Wars (1977)

Directed by George Lucas (x2)

Starring Mark Hamill (x4), Harrison Ford (x8), Carrie Fisher (x8), Alec Guinness (x4), Peter Cushing (x2), Peter Mayhew (x3), Anthony Daniels (x4), Kenny Baker (x5), James Earl Jones (x7), David Prowse (x3), Denis Lawson (x2), Garrick Hagon (x2), William Hootkins, Shane Rimmer (x2), Phil Brown, Shelagh Fraser

There is literally nothing I can write about Star Wars from a film perspective that hasn’t been written before. As I’ve stated a bunch of times, this is almost certainly the movie I’ve seen the most times in my life – I can’t even fathom a guess how many. 200 times? More? We had this recorded from television when I was a kid, and watched it so incessantly that I still remember the odd pre- and post-commercial bits that were included in that pirating. They interviewed random early ’80s celebrities about the film – or probably their favorite characters, as those are the quotes I remember. Magic Johnson saying “I dug R2” and Bruce Boxleitner’s “Han Solo had a wit -” and then we cut the commercial. I wonder if these are on YouTube anywhere.

We also definitely recorded the Mark Hamill bookending segments, later included on the DVDs

Also, to this day, I can’t hear the 20th Century Fox fanfare without expecting the Star Wars theme to follow it. So far as my brain is concerned, these are the only movies Fox put out in the last fifty years. And really, now that they are under the Disney fold, can they just throw the Fox music back in front of the new Jedi flicks? Just for my cerebral chemistry’s sake? Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #86 – My Favorite Golden God

Today! Because I’m out of it for a little while, everyone gets delusions of grandeur –

Return of the Jedi (1983)

Directed by Richard Marquand

Starring Mark Hamill (x2), Harrison Ford (x4), Carrie Fisher (x6), Anthony Daniels (x2), Kenny Baker (x3), Peter Mayhew, James Earl Jones (x5), Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid (x2), Frank Oz (x7), David Prowse, Alec Guinness (x2), Sebastian Shaw, Kenneth Colley (x2), Warwick Davis (x2)

The first movie I distinctly remember seeing in theaters, Return of the Jedi was everything to me as a kid. I don’t wholly remember a time before it – figure, I was a sturdy three-and-a-half when Jedi came out – but as this was the newest film, it rapidly became the go-to in our rotation of Star Wars flicks. Even now, while (spoiler) it is my least favorite of the original trilogy, I contend it has the single best sequence of any of the films – the Tatooine/Jabba’s Palace first act, obviously. And sure, it just drowns in stuffed animals by the end – and a final action sequence that goes on forever – but as much as you might hate the Ewoks, if you grew up with them, do they really bother you that much? This was a franchise built on merchandising first and foremost! They needed their own line of Care Bears! Come on!

Adorbs!

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The Set of 400: #332 – My Favorite Door Melting

Today! Because yud say boom de gasser, den crashin der bosses heyblibber, den banished –

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Directed by George Lucas

Starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Ahmed Best, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Brian Blessed, Terence Stamp, Ray Park, Warwick Davis, Pernella August, Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic West, Sofia Coppola, Keira Knightley, Greg Proops (x2), Oliver Ford Davies, Hugh Quarshie

Let me just start by saying SHUT UP. I know, I’m not exactly in the majority for my enjoyment of this film. And rest assured, I recognize the amount of ridiculous bullshit that’s in it. Why did I use a Jar Jar Binks quote at the top? Because I’m owning it, and I want you to know I’m not overlooking the crammed in nonsense that ruins this movie for people. And perhaps I’m projecting backward onto this film – because I largely haven’t enjoyed the Star Wars things that have come since 1999 – but I think this is a hugely underappreciated movie, with a lot to like. So just shut up.

Let focus on the big things – the lightsaber battle at the end is the best lightsaber fight in any Star Wars movie. Hell, it might be the best swordfight in the history of film. John Williams score for this movie is my favorite of the series. The pod racing scene stands up with any sequence in any Star Wars. Ewan McGregor was a terrific choice to carry the prequels, and is always excellent as Obi-Wan. Darth Maul is a terrifically cool villain. Mace Windu is pretty cool, too. Plus it cannot be overstated how eagerly anticipated this movie was in ’99, to the point that I can’t believe it could’ve been warmly accepted no matter how it turned out. Look at The Force Awakens – the only reason people fell all over themselves in love with that thing is because the prequels were so hated. The logic – let’s just straight remake A New Hope and pray no one notices – worked great, as things got so out of hand by Episode III that fans just wanted anything resembling the original movies, no matter how derivative.

Groan!

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