Tag Archives: Star Wars

[Movies of the Month] May

MAY

NEW RELEASES
Mad Max: Fury Road
 – Utterly bonkers and high octane entertainment, an absolute adrenaline rush. ★★★★
The Water Diviner – Weaving several genres into one, Russell Crowe’s directorial debut is a hit, pulling on your heart strings against the backdrop of war. ★★★★

1ST TIMERS
Days of Thunder 
– A loud, fast-paced, entertaining product of its time. ★★★
Zero Dark Thirty – Fascinating story but difficult to follow in parts. Jessica Chastain shines. ★★★★

REWATCHES
Footloose – Still entertaining but sadly not as much as on previous watches. ★★★½
Star Wars: A New Hope – It’s been a long time since I watched the epic space opera so ahead of The Force Awakens release in December, it’s time to start the rewatches. ★★★★
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – Perhaps it’s due to the opening scenes in the ice planet of Hoth but I’ve never warmed to this as much. The classic scene never falls to disappoint, though. ★★★½
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – The majority of the action takes place on a forest moon, revealing how even the smallest of species has become involved in the galactic war. Enough questions are answered with a few left to make us wonder, what next? ★★★★½
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – The original trilogy provided light relief in parts but, for me, this is too much of a children’s film. ★★★
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones – The action is taken up a notch making this the strongest of the new trilogy. ★★★½
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith – Distorted in parts, the first two thirds are too slow followed by short scenes attempting to wrap up loose ends. ★★★
Robot & Frank – This dark comedy is entertaining yet poignant in parts; a very good independent. ★★★★
Chef – Brilliant, feel good film that leaves you happy – and hungry! ★★★★½

Total: 12

Since 1/1/15 

New releases: 6
1st timers: 24
Rewatches: 30
Documentaries: 1

Total: 61

[Trilogy Thursday] Star Wars

Max and I are back with another edition of Trilogy Thursday. This week we take a look at the original Star Wars trilogy, starring Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Claire From the excellent imagination of George Lucas came one of the most influential and popular sci-fi films of all time, A New Hope. We were introduced to all manner of fantastic and mysterious creatures from Jawa traders to fighting Wookies. There was also this strange omnipresent power called ‘The Force’… Lucas dropped the film’s viewers slap bang in the middle of, quite literally, an inter-planetary war. There was your goodies (Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker and Co) and your baddies (Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers). Like thousands and thousands of other people, I was hooked and wanted to know more about this universe.

Max Growing up, A New Hope was always my favorite Star Wars film. It had that epic sense of exploration and a complete plot from beginning to end. It was the beginning of the saga and for the longest time people just referred to it as Star Wars. It was a major risk for Fox to finance such an expensive, unproven movie. The results were astounding though. The world was introduced to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). The plot can be summed up most easily as space rebels have to destroy an evil death star in order to bring peace to the universe. A New Hope will always hold a special place for me and is one of those rare movies that never gets old.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Claire The terrain has changed but the inter-planetary war continues. Stories that began in A New Hope continue, and more is revealed about our heroes. Relationships are strengthened as once again the Rebel Alliance must defend themselves against the Empire. As well as lots of fantastic battles scenes, Empire Strikes Back introduced us to more weird and wonderful planets. From the icy terrain of Hoth to Yoda’s hideaway in Dagobah, our eyes were certainly in for a treat.

Max George Lucas and company had a lot more freedom for Empire Strikes Back. Given the massive box-office success of Star Wars, they ramped up the drama and special effects. The battle on the planet Hoth is one of the greatest war sequences ever filmed. Hoth remains the most unique planet the team of Star Wars ever visited. This time the rebels are on the run from the Empire after having destroyed the Death Star. There’s a few news faces included in this chapter including Yoda, Lando Calrissian and the bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Over the years, I’ve seen the genius that fueled this particular chapter. The reveal at the end of the movie is one of the greatest ever. The Empire wins in every way imaginable and the ending doesn’t leave much hope for the fate of the galaxy.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Claire Picking up the pieces left from a series of startling revelations in Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi sees our heroes thrust straight back into the action. Apart from that teeny weeny problem called The New Death Star, there are lots of other stories that need tidying up. Once more, however, the action has taken us to a new planet, Endor, as yet another planet has fallen prey to the Empire. As Max rightly says, Endor brought us the most memorable creatures in the Star Wars universe: the adorable, yet charismatic and dangerous, Ewoks.

Max Return of the Jedi has the unfortunate task of ending the franchise. It seems a little tired that the rebels would have to destroy another Death Star. Sure the romance between Leia and Han Solo is in full bloom at this point. They have great chemistry together that it’s hard to imagine she could’ve ever been romantically interested in Luke. Easily, the most memorable part of Return of the Jedi is the creatures known as Ewoks. I can’t imagine how many puppets had to be made for these sequences of a David (Ewoks) vs Goliath (Empire) battle. The other subplot was the struggles Luke must face knowing his father is Darth Vader. George Lucas might’ve always planned the story around Darth Vader because of the outcome of this film.

Final thoughts

Claire I’m going to be honest, I can’t say which one of these three excellent films is my favourites. Visually, Return of the Jedi takes top marks for the lush green of Endor and the wonderful Ewoks. However, Empire Strikes Back is, arguably, the most important film of the trilogy: Luke started his Jedi training, the Rebel Alliance takes a serious beating from which there couldn’t possibly be a return and, of course, there is that bombshell. Saying that, though, A New Hope was the one that started it all and began this wild journey… Nope, I can’t do it!

Max One of the biggest success stories in the history of cinema, Star Wars still stands up to the test of time. While the special-effects will continue to show their age as new technologies come out, the character interactions will always hold up this trilogy. The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite chapter in the series, followed by A New Hope and then Return of the Jedi. While none of the movies are true disappointments, Jedi could’ve been a lot more. Star Wars is one of the most beloved franchises ever and I’m sure that love will continue for generations.

Films featured in the Trilogy Thursday series so far:
Toy Story 1, 2 and 3
The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum
Back to the Future 1, 2 and 3

Memorabilia 2011

A stormtrooper on the RS Prop Masters stand.

When I went to Memorabilia last year it was my very first visit to the event, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Dubbed the ‘ultimate collectors’ show’ by the organizers, the MCM Expo Group, I thought there might be the odd person dressed up and that the majority of the stalls would have new toys.

Happily, I was wrong. There were quite a few people dressed up – mostly Star Wars characters – and there was lots and lots of fantastic vintage toys. You can read my Memorabilia 2010 report here.

This year, it was even better.

There was a huge amount of stalls – more than last year, I think – that were packed full with a host of vintage toys, modern toys, comics and annuals, t-shirts, poster, signed photographs and lots, lots more.

Fantastic vintage lightsabers by Kenner.

Items ranged in value from a couple of pounds for an unboxed, action figure to £125 for a boxed Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters and £160 for a 1/8 scale limited edition collectable figure of the Green Goblin from Spiderman 3. With replica costumes and swords for sale I’m sure there were even more expensive item…

Some of my favourite vintage toys for sale included these lightsabers by Kenner. These original toys would have been produced in the late 1970s to coincide with the release of the Star Wars trilogy.

As you may know from my earlier posts, I’m a fan of movie memorabilia, models and toys. I especially like vintage toys, like the Kenner lightsabers, because the boxart is so fantastic.

I took nearly 80 photos from the event so I’ve uploaded just a small selection below. Click on the image and it should bring it up larger. Enjoy!

PS. This was one of my favourite moments from the show, which I just had to take a picture of: the Doctor meets R2-D2!

Rapunzel is crowned the 10th Disney Princess

Yesterday – 2nd October – Rapunzel was officially welcomed as the 10th Disney Princess.

The long-haired lovely joins Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, Snow White and Tiana.

As previously mentioned, I’m a big Disney fan. However, when it comes to royalty, I’d prefer to be of the elven kind, perhaps someone along the lines of Arwen or Galadriel.

In ode to the beautiful Rapunzel, of Tangled fame, I thought I’d take a look at some I’ve my favourite film princesses.

Princess Leia Organa – Star Wars
Being the big Star Wars fan that I am, I just had to start with Leia.

Revealed to be the twin sister of Luke Skywalker, Leia’s birth parents were Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala, though she was adopted by Senator Bail Organa. Luke was adopted by his uncle and aunt, Owen and Beru Lars, his uncle being the step-brother of Anakin.

Leia has to be one of my all-time favourite film characters. A very feisty yong woman, she is a talented warrior. One of Leia’s most memorable scenes is when she chokes Jabba the Hut to death in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, using the chain that had tied her to him.

Mia Thermopolis – The Princess Diaries
The Princess Diaries
(2001) is a guilty pleasure of mine… It’s a fun story: a teenage girl discovers she is the heir to the throne of the fictional Genovia, ruled by her grandmother.

Finding out your are a princess is many a young girl’s dream. This enjoyable film, based on the award-winng book by Meg Cabot, is a fun story about what would happen if that dream were to come true.

Princess Fiona – Shrek
Voiced by Cameron Diaz, Fiona is intially your stereotypical princess. When she first meets Shrek she is somewhat taken aback, and is disappointed that her rescurer isn’t the handsome prince she imagined. Well, he is an ogre after all.

However, her true (lovely) personality is revealed when Shrek finds out about the horrible secret she’s been hiding.

Fiona’s friends – Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty – are fantastic, too. The narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty has to be my favourite.

Buttercup – The Princess Bride
Thinking about it, I’m not sure whether Buttercup actually is a princess… However, she is engaged to be married to Prince Humperdinck and it is called the ‘princess’ bride after all.

Buttercup, played by Robin Wright, lives on a farm in the fictional country of Florin. After realising a mutual love for the farm hand, Westley, they decide to marry. Westley leaves to seek his fortune so they can have a life together though, sadly, he never returns… In the time that passes Buttercup has, unwillingly, become betrothed to the horribel Prince  Humperdinck. Before the wedding she is kidnapped: who will save her?

Xena – Xena: Warrior Princess
I know, I know, Xena: Warrior Princess isn’t a film but, Xena had to have a mention.

Xena is the definition of ‘fierce’. Portrayed by the fantastic Lucy Lawless, Xena first appeared in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, 1995-1999, before going on to appear in Xena: Warrior Princess TV show. The first episode was broadcast September 1995, with the last airing in June 2001.

A summary on IMDb explains Xena as a mighty warrior and healer, who once led a band of outlaws that terrorized all of Greece. She has come to regret the harm she caused and, with her companion Gabrielle, now travels the countryside seeking adventure and fighting the forces of evil.

Told you she was fierce!


Top 10 Fantasy Movie Locations

I’ve been thinking about doing a top 10 for a while — top 10 comic book adaptations, top 10 film baddies, top 10 mythical creatures — and now I’ve decided on my very first one.

One of the things I love about watching movies is that they are a window to something unusual, something out of the ordinary, something extraordinary. Much like a book can stimulate your imagination, a film can transport you to a world more mysterious and spectacular than you thought possible.

Sometimes these exciting worlds are something quite ordinary which has been jazzed up a bit. The pretty village of Shere in Surrey was enhanced by Snow Business to create an idyllic English hideaway for Cameron Diaz in The Holiday while the town of Stamford in Lincolnshire was transformed into the village of Meryton for Pride & Prejudice.

For the likes of James Cameron’s Pandora, however, the building blocks aren’t already there and it is the job of the art direction team, the cinematography team and the visual effects team to create something truly special and believable.

Ten movie locations I wish existed

10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m a chocaholic but I am partial to the odd piece now and again. My favourite scene from the film has to be when the children are on the tour of the factory and enter the chocolate room. Though Mr Wonka’s factory is filled with elaborate high-tec machines there is, in my opinion, nothing more exciting than seeing a chocolate river. Deee-licious!

9. The Chronicles of Narnia – Narnia
While I don’t like her much, I have to admit that Narnia does look pretty spectacular courtesy of the White Witch. In the wintery conditions gripping the UK at the moment, many comparisons have been drawn with Narnia. The moment Lucy leaves the wardrobe and enters Narnia is one of the most iconic moments in fiction. The crunch of the snow under foot, the chill in the air – these frostry traits are all Narniaesque.

8. Pirates of the Caribbean – Tortuga
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! Tortuga looks fantastic: it is the archetypal pirate island with its wenches, bar brawls and palm trees. I’m not sure whether I’d like to live there – it may be just a little dangerous – but it would be rather fun to take a holiday there. Perhaps Tortuga is one of the excursions available on the Black Pearl Cruise?

7. Alice in Wonderland – Red Castle, White Castle
One is a baroque masterpiece with perfectly pruned hedges while the other is a vision in white with rows of cherry blossom trees. If I ended up in Underland, I’m not sure which one I’d rather live in. Presuming the previous occupants have vacated the properties – let’s face it they’d both be pretty loopy housemates – I think the White Castle just takes the edge. With its stone pillars and big open spaces, the White Castle has a certain elegance.

6. Star Wars: Episode I, II and III – Naboo
Naboo reminds me of No 4 on my list. While the lovey-dovey Anakin-Padme stuff was going on in the foreground, I was admiring the beautiful scenery in the background. Remember Anakin and Padme sitting in the meadow giggling and chatting? No? You were probably too busy admiring the tall grasses and giant waterfalls like I was. Love O – Scenery 1.

5. Jurassic Park
I’m not silly – well, maybe a little bit – so my version of a jurassic park would have fully working electric fences and I would be the only one with access to the security system. No way are my fences going to deactivate so little Tyranny R can find a tasty snack. Jurassic Park is one of my favourite films and I think that the special effects have stood the test of time; they still look great today.

4. Avatar – Pandora
Ahh, luscious, beautiful Pandora. Say what you want about the Na’vi who inhabit it, but I think Pandora looks stunning. One of the things that struck me about Avatar was how amazing Pandora looked. With its unspoilt beauty, it looked like a rainforest on steroids. The array of colours, the massive waterfalls, the bizarre wildlife – everything is taken to the extreme and the results looks great.

3. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – Hobbiton
Hobbit holes. Pure and simple. Hobbits must be the most eco-conscious of all Tolkien’s creations. Not only do they live in environmentally-friendly homes but they also love gardening and do very little travelling. If they do fancy a stroll, they simply walk with their fantastically furry feet. I love hobbits. In hobbits Tolkien created a peaceful, charming race with terrific personalities. Their homes are terrific, too.

2. Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley
Honeydukes Sweetshop, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, Ollivanders – need I say more? These shops, and the others that make up Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, sounded amazing when I read the Harry Potter series and when I saw the film they all lived up to my expectations. I could quite happily spend a few hours milling around Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and I think a nice, warm butterbeer from The Three Broomsticks would round off my trip nicely.

1. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – Lothlórien
Reportedly the most beautiful place on Middle-earth, Lothlórien is home to Celeborn and Galadriel. The architecture of the elves (rather, the beauty of Tolkien’s imagination) created an idyllic, otherwordly haven for the elves.

One of my favourite scenes from The Fellowship of the Ring is when the fellowship, minus Gandalf, arrives at Lothlórien. The camera zooms out and reveals a magical setting: the trees are illuminated with intricate arches and pathways twisting around them. Just as the hobbit holes reflect the hobbits’ homely personalities, Lothlórien encapsulates the elves’ elegance and ethereal nature.