Tuesday, February 5, 2013
If you are not a complete moron, then you already now that The Empire Strikes Back is probably the strongest and best-made film of the entire Star Wars canon. A New Hope started it, Return of the Jedi made it teddy-bear friendly, and the prequel trilogy almost destroyed the adventure in a galaxy far, far away. But in one defining move prior to its’ 1980 release and before his yes-men green-lit The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull , George Lucas made the perfect call in hiring former mentor and teacher Irvin Kershner to helm directorial duties on his sequel to Star Wars. Kershner was more interested in the character’s relationships and growth than the special effects of the film, which Lucas and ILM handled with considerable success. His patience with the acting and his guidance on how the Han and Leia romance should be handled and how Luke would evolve further along the Jedi path made for a science fiction fantasy that took itself seriously. What he produced was the most mature and grown up film in the series, which has made it all the more entertaining and enduring since its’ debut almost thirty years ago.
When James Cameron had a feverish dream of a metal endoskeleton rising from the flames of destruction, little did we know that he would craft this vision into the terminator franchise and redefine what an action and science fiction series could be. Legend has it that Arnold Schwarzenegger auditioned for the role of Kyle Reese, human soldier sent back in time to protect one very important mother, due to his rising stature in Hollywood with the success of the Conan the Barbarian in the early 80’s. Upon meeting, both Schwarzenegger and Cameron secretly thought that the role of the terminator would fit Arnold perfectly, with his unnatural build fitting the nightmarish image of an unstoppable cyborg killer from the future. Cameron initially wanted the terminator to be a machine that looked like a completely normal man in order for it to blend in with the crowd. Lance Henriksen (See also Aliens) was initially going to play the terminator and although he would have provided a unique and original interpretation of a machine with no remorse, fate gave the world Arnold in what could arguably be called his most memorable and iconic role of his career.
It is a film of ideas and possibilities that takes itself seriously. What so few movies have today, let alone science fiction movies, is an original story in a believable universe. Not only did the makers of Alien create a world that seemed possible 100 years in the future but they also produced a sense of fear and claustrophobia from the get go which would only enhance the payoff later to come. A horror film with a brain, if you will. From director Ridley Scott, who also gave us Blade Runner and asserted his legendary status among science fiction aficionados with both movies, he hit it out of the park with this masterpiece and kind of redefined what a sci-fi film could be.
There is really only one thing that a man can say about this flick: F’ing A+. If you're going into this with the expectation of leaving the movie with a deeper appreciation for life, then you're shit out of luck. This movie is about bad people who need to be killed in creative ways and there is only one son of a bitch that can do it: John Rambo. IF you are reading this and HAVEN'T seen First Blood, then go and see that. Take it in for being the best of the series. All of the things that Rambo does in it to survive seem possible if a man was pushed to the brink. Rambo: First Blood, Part II pushes the mythos even further by having him return to Vietnam and perform actions that are a little more superhuman but never-the-less awesome. Watch these two nuggets before you go on the journey that completes the trilogy.