The Indiana Jones film series is one that keeps on giving. Forty-plus years old, the story of historian/adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) has kept audiences enraptured for generations.
The 4th movie in the narrative, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) takes place in 1938. Indy’s father, Professor Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery) disappears while looking for the Holy Grail. On top of searching for his father, Indy, with the help of Elsa (Alison Doody), has to stop the Nazis from getting their hands on the grail and its power.
This movie is so much fun. It is a heart-pounding, blood-pumping, roller coaster of a ride. Ford and Connery have incredible chemistry as on-screen father and son.
My only complaint (which, as I spoke of in my last post), is that Doody as Elsa (who does not have a last name) is a film version of the “girl of the week”. Just like Connery’s other well-known series, James Bond, there is a new female love interest/co-adventurer in every story while the male lead remains as is.
The wonderful thing about the movies is the ability to take us away from our daily lives for a short time. The not so wonderful thing about movies is that stereotypes can easily be spread.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released in 1984. This chapter of the Indiana Jones narrative takes place in 1935 in India, which was then part of the British Empire. When a mystical stone is taken from a small village, Indy (Harrison Ford) teams up with Wilhelmina “Willie” Scott (Kate Capshaw) and Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) to find the rock. It has been taken by a secret cult who is driven by death and slavery.
I have mixed feelings about this movie. As an adventure film, it’s fine. Ford is at his finest as the title character. I understand that this is a heightened reality that would never exist in real life. The one thing that stands out to me how extremely annoying Capshaw’s character is. She is whiny, she is needy, and she contributes nothing to the story other than being the obligatory female. I don’t understand how Capshaw and co-screenwriter Gloria Katz could bring this 2D character, who is completely unlikable, to life. I was also struck by the portrayal of the Indian people. I wish this image had been a little close to the truth and less of a caricature. While I appreciate the inclusion of Short Round, it does little to improve my opinion.
*A New Hope will be referred to as ANH and Empire Strikes Back will be referred to as ESB.
Logically speaking, we know that a film (unless it is a documentary) is a work of fiction. It is the cumulative work of many who come together to create a final product that seems real. But a good film has a way of touching the audience in a way that lasts well beyond the final credits.
Thursday was the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The second of three films in the first Star Wars trilogy, it is widely ranked as one of the best films in the overall series. While it’s predecessor, A New Hope, is the simple story of how a farm boy, a princess and a pirate destroy an evil empire, ESB takes that basic concept and expands it tenfold.
From a writing perspective, ESB is everything one would want in a sequel. The characters have grown and are facing new challenges. The world that the story takes place in is wider. The stakes are higher as the Empire has rebounded and is eager to take back the ground that they lost in ANH.
From a fan perspective, there are two major narratives that will forever hold a place in my heart. I love the will they or won’t they between Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (the late Carrie Fisher). The tension between them is absolutely perfect. I think that it goes without saying that the exchange between Han and Leia just before he is frozen in Carbonite is simple, sexy and utterly romantic.
And then, there is the most jaw dropping revelation in film history. To this day, new fans watch this scene and their minds are still blown that Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) father is no other than Darth Vader.
Here is to the 40th anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back. May this film live on for another 40 years and beyond.
For some of us, May 4th is just May 4th. But for Star Wars fans, May 4th is a momentous day.
Today is Star Wars Day, or as fans refer to today, May The Fourth Be With You.
What makes Star Wars special for me is that underneath the special effects and other-worldly story is the fight against tyranny and oppression. It is a story that is as old as humanity itself and a fight that still continues to this day.
Though George Lucas may have mucked up the narrative with the prequels, the basic narrative still holds up decades later for a reason. The story of farm boy, a princess and a pirate coming together to fight for freedom is still as emotionally and politically relevant as it was in 1977.
Though the narrative is a basic one, Lucas (at least in the 70’s), knew how to expand on the expand on this basic premise. He knew that Princess Leia (the late and still very missed Carrie Fisher) had to be more than the standard damsel in distress. There had to be something more to Han Solo (Harrison Ford) that just a space pirate who is looking for the next job. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had to have a future other than running his Uncle and Aunt’s farm.
To my fellow Star Wars fans around the world, May The 4th Be With You!
On paper, sequels look like an easy money-maker for movie studios. They know that there is a built-in fan base who know and love the characters. The question is, does this sequel hold up to reputation of its predecessor?
In 2008, Indiana Jones once again returned to the big screen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s been quite a few years since the audience saw Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). It’s 1957 and The Cold War is red-hot. A young man, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) bring Indy a cryptic message from an old colleague, Professor Oxley (John Hurt). Following the message, Indy and Mutt travel to Peru. Hot on their trail is Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), a Soviet spy who will do anything to complete her mission. It’s up to Indy, Mutt, Professor Oxley and Indy’s ex-girlfriend, Marian Ravenwood (Karen Allen) to discover the secret of the crystal skull and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.
Compared to other sequels, this film is is pretty good. It holds true to the Indiana Jones cannon while introducing/re-introducing characters that don’t feel forced or out of place in this world.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the new characters that were introduced to audiences for the episodes seven and eight in the Star Wars franchise. Read at your own risk if you have not seen The Force Awakens Or The Last Jedi.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Star Wars to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
Life is often a series of choices. What we don’t know is the the repercussions that may come about from those choices. In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was introduced as the film’s baddie. Like Darth Vader before him, Kylo was determined with a capital D to destroy the rebellion at any cost, regardless of the ties to the heroes of the rebellion.
Kylo Ren’s birth name was Ben Solo. He is the son of Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), the nephew of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the grandson Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). With his lineage and natural abilities when it comes the force, he could have followed his uncle Luke to become a Jedi. Instead he took the same path his grandfather took. Seduced by the dark side and Supreme Leader Snoke, Ben Solo becomes a think of the past. He is now Kylo Ren, master of the knights of Ren and supreme leader of The First Order.
In The Force Awakens, while Kylo is committed the destroying the rebellion, there is a part of him that still goes back to the light and the family he left behind. That is, until he kills his father. Even so, the questions about his loyalties still never quite disappear. His interactions with Rey (Daisy Ridley) bring those questions to the surface, especially he has the opportunity to kill his mother in The Last Jedi. But, he makes the split second decision not to.
In the end of The Last Jedi, after Rey has rejected Kylo’s offer to join The First Order, he frames her for the murder of Supreme Leader Snoke and goes after in the rebellion with everything he’s got. He has made the choice to completely give into the dark side.
To sum it up: Kylo Ren/ Ben Solo made the choice to forego any return to the light side and completely become one with the dark side of the force. In this process, he killed his father, nearly killed his mother and become a younger version of his grandfather. Characters make choices and like all of us, will have to live with those choices. Episode 9 starting filming this week. While we will have to wait until next year to see the repercussions of his choices, he made them and will have to deal with them.
Alden Ehrenreich will be stepping into the very large shoes that Harrison Ford first made famous 41 years ago when Han Solo was introduced to audiences. Taking place 10 years before A New Hope, Han is still Han. Brash, cocky and still hell of a pilot, he gets entangled in the criminal underworld and goes on a journey that will lead him to the rebellion. His journey to the rebellion is incomplete without Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).
As usual, Lucasfilm (and Disney by extension) gave fans just enough to get us excited without giving too much away. At this point, the film can go one of two ways. It can be like Rogue One and open the door to new characters/narratives within the Star Wars universe. Or, it can be like the prequels and basically suck.
Only time will tell. I can only hope and pray that the film lives up to the promises laid out in the trailer.
Yesterday, Lucasfilm teased us with the teaser trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Today the full trailer was released.
Needless to say, I am very excited about this film. Han is such a dynamic force of a character. To see where he came from and how he became the man the audiences meet in the bar on Tatooine in A New Hope is very exciting.
Han would not be Han without Chewbacca (played by Peter Mayhew in the original film and played by Joonas Suotamo in this film) Lando Calrissian (played by Billy Dee Williams in the original trilogy and played by Donald Glover in this film). There are also new characters, Qi’Ra (played by Emilia Clarke) and Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson).
So far, based on the trailer, it looks to be a good film. I can only hope that the film lives up to the promise in the trailer.
Han Solo is one of the most recognizable characters in film history.
Played by Harrison Ford in four of the nine released Star Wars movies, Han Solo was the space cowboy who became a hero of the rebellion.
This summer, Solo: A Star Wars Story is slated to hit theaters. A prequel to A New Hope, the movie tells Han’s story before he joins the rebellion. Alden Ehrenreich will be stepping into the very big shoes that Ford created forty-one years ago.
While Lucasfilm is not releasing any details beyond what is in trailer (which is not unexpected), I can only hope that this film not only lives up to the legacy of the series, but also gives the audience new insight into one of our favorite heroes.
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