Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Day in History and Some Reviews

30 years ago today, (well, now I guess yesterday) Star Wars was released.

It was released on an absurdly small number of screens due to the fact that the studio releasing it assumed that it was going to bomb.

They weren't the only ones.

Before it was scheduled to be released, George Lucas showed the film to some of his closest friends.  (Now to be fair, it wasn't yet completed when he showed it to them, some of the special effects still had to be added.  Instead of the space battle scenes, for instance, there were scenes of World War II fighter planes in battle, which I'm sure looked kinda cheesy.)

Resoundingly, those friends hated the film.  His own wife said it would be a failure, comparing it to a well known bomb at the time.  In modern language she would have said something to the effect of "it's the sci-fi Gigli."

Only Lucas's friend Stephen Spielberg had anything pleasant to say when he correctly predicted it would be unbelievably huge.

Lucas himself wasn't convinced however, and went so far as to be on vacation and unreachable thirty years ago today.  He didn't want to have to hear about what a flop his extremely personal film had turned out to be. 

Of course, in the theaters lucky enough to be showing it, the exact opposite was in fact true as lines were leading out blocks away as people waited to see it.  Ultimately it would become the highest grossing film of all time.

It also had a lot to do with making me who I am today.  I became a writer because of Star Wars, or more precisely, Empire Strikes Back.  I was three when Empire was released in theaters, which means I had to wait an additional three years (or the entirety of the life I had lived to that point) in order find out what the hell happened to Han Solo.

Since waiting three years (and again, I'd only been alive for three years at that point, so this seemed like an eternity) was clearly unacceptable I began writing in my head various versions of Return of the Jedi, even going so far as to put myself in the exact position that Solo had been frozen into whenever I was in the bathtub.  (My own version of method acting, I suppose.)

At any rate, that event (along with many other factors, granted) went a long way towards my realization that I wanted to write and make movies myself some day.  So, today, I thank George Lucas for introducing us to that Galaxy far, far away.

Speaking of movies, two were released today, Pirates 3 and Bug.  I saw them both.

Bug was brilliant.  However, it is very different from the movie that has been advertised.  If you go in expecting to see something in the vain of Saw or Hostel, you will be disappointed, as evidenced by the huge exodus of people about halfway through the movie.  (Can't say I'm sorry that a lot of them left, however, since all that they were doing was disrupting the viewing for everyone else.)

If instead you go in with an open mind, I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised.  The movie was based on a play, and the adaptation doesn't stray far from its source material as much of the film takes place in a rundown motel room.  Due in part to the story and in part to the wonderful camera work, the single set doesn't get a bit tiring.  While one could classify this film as a horror movie, it is much more then that.  It is a psychological character study that takes you into the disturbing world of the two main characters played superbly by Ashley Judd and the relatively unknown (in film anyway, he also played the same character on stage in New York and London) Michael Shannon.  The acting in this film (by both of the main characters and by Harry Connick Jr. in a supporting role) are worth the price of admission by itself.  I highly recommend it.

Honestly, I wasn't going to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3.  If I hadn't gone to the movies with a girl who wanted to see it, I probably wouldn't have.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  Personally, I loved the first one and detested the second.  The third was likable.  It wasn't anywhere near as good as the first, but seemed to recapture some of the magic that the first one had.  Sure there were parts of it that were tedious (like the majority of the second film) and it was unnecessarily complicated, but there was a lot of it that was just plain fun (like the majority of the first film.)

In the interest of telling the whole truth, I was tempted to walk out early on in the film, but once Johnny Depp

Until Next Time, May the Force Be With You... Always

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