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Werner Herzog Presents: A Jedi Makes His Return

Into the Woods

“Are we still waiting?”

This was the fifth time the lieutenant had come forward to the cockpit. Maybe it was a different one. Most Imperial officers, like the shuttle captain, paid little attention to Stormtroopers. Or their officers. They may as well be clone troopers.

Anyway, both pilots were occupied. The Imperial shuttle Arrik had been waiting for some time as the shuttle ahead of them dealt with some sort of issue.

He looked over at his co-pilot, who was doing most of the piloting at the moment. Even though they were in a holding pattern,... More

Transcript of a CNN panel discussing President Whitmore’s speech given on July 4, 1996 concerning an alien invasion

President Whitmore is speaking. He’s in a tiny box in the corner of the TV screen and the chyron reads “President tries to put mishandling of alien invasion behind him, outline new focus.”

“… vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our independence day!”

Cutaway to the studio as Whitmore finishes and before crowd’s cheers begin

Wolf Blitzer President Whitmore has just made another attempt to revive his failed plan to save humanity. Will his speech change opinions of a skeptical, war-weary public? Is it too little, too late?... More

The Backlash Awakens

I spent the holiday around my 3-year-old nephew.

While he is very cute, with sandy brown hair and vivid blue eyes, he’s also like all children, a child. That means that he’s entirely at the sway of his emotions. One morning he said he wanted yogurt for breakfast. My brother didn’t have any.

What followed was a slow-motion deterioration over about a half hour that led into a full tantrum. It’s said we grow out of this.

Maybe, in the sense that we generally don’t throw tantrums, but the underlying pattern is there. We dress it up in reason and... More

Stupid, annoying people being chased by a monster

Alien may be one of the most influential movies ever made, but the actual plot of the movie could not be more simple.

It’s the stuff of many a B-grade monster movie. The crew of a space tug Nostromo brings an alien creature on board their ship that proceeds to kill them all. That simplicity is a strength.

Alien is so good because of how the story is told. It’s why it’s such an enduring and timeless 1 masterpiece. The claustrophobic setting, the tension and the groundbreaking production design alone are enough to define it as a classic.

... More

Why the Empire always loses

It’s really all TK-421’s fault.

He wasn’t at his post, a mistake that led directly to the destruction of the Death Star1. Abandoning an assigned post is a fundamental violation of military protocol.

It’s similar to “I forgot to bring any bullets” in its forehead-slapping stupidity. It’s a court martial offense.

While the temptation might be to personally blame Mr. 421 for the error, his actions are really a sign of greater underlying problems in the Empire’s military training regimen. A certain sloppiness is evident.

It’s the kind of thing that allows a legion of the Empire’s... More

Gone girl

Of all the movies in the Star Trek canon, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is an outlier.

It’s a total lark, a romp, a love letter to fans who just wanted to have a damn good time watching a Star Trek movie. After the heavy life-and-death themes of Star Treks II and III, it was a welcome respite 1.

Most people remember the film for the “nuclear wessels” scene or Spock nerve-pinching the punk rocker2 on the bus or Scotty saying “hello, computer” into a Mac Plus mouse.

However, one aspect of the movie... More

There will never be another good “Star Trek” movie

The sequence showing the Enterprise being destroyed in Star Trek Beyond is a technical marvel.

The techniques that created the vast swarm of ships that suddenly attack, overwhelm and pulverize the iconic vessel is light years beyond the original series. It’s far beyond the model work used to destroy the Enterprise in Star Trek III.

But when the Enterprise goes down in a heroic sacrifice in ST:III, it feels tragic, a lost friend. “My god, Bones, what have I done?” Kirk intones as the crew watches horrified as the ship burns up in the atmosphere.

Star Trek Beyond isn’t... More

Battle Beyond the Stars

S tar Wars vs. Star Trek. Which is best?

This is an eternal burning question that cannot be answered, seemingly. Do we even need to? For many a geek, both franchises embody a deep love.

It’s as ubiquitous as East Coast vs. West Coast or Ginger vs. Mary Ann. The debate has even spawned such subdebates as The Enterprise vs. an Imperial Star Destroyer. 1

Like that episode of Cheers that argued there’s enough room in this world for fans of The Munsters and The Addams Family, we can always cop out and refuse to make a choice.

... More

It isn’t evil being green

When watching a movie, most people just assume things.

We automatically go with the movie’s morality. We side with characters that the directors and writers want us to side with. They go out of their way to stack the deck against the bad guy or gal.

Sometimes they do it by playing to ugly prejudices. Physical deformities, foreigners or a swishy male villain are particular go-to favorites. They certainly always make sure the bad guy is seen doing evil things.

But if you strip away all this artifice and set-dressing and off-the-shelf moral cues, one might find a... More

Bond title songs, ranked

Even as Sam Smith rustles through Tom Petty’s back catalog looking for a melody for his new Bond tune, we take a look back at 50 years of songs from the venerable film series. We’re just going to be honest here that this list is so authoritative and complete that it’s the only one you will ever need.

The best

  • Goldfinger (1964) The gold standard1 for themes. Sweeping, sultry and backed by urgent jazz orchestra horns and quotes from the iconic Bond theme. This John Barry song is not just a Bond theme it is the... More

The problem with “Jurassic Park”

When Jurassic Park was released in 1993 it was clearly a groundbreaking film.

The sense of awe of Drs. Grant and Sattler seeing a specialeffectasaurus grazing the treetops transferred directly onto audiences. Likewise, the T-Rex attack put man and dinosaur together realistically (and dangerously) in the same frame for the first time ever.

The dinosaurs felt genuinely alive. We were badly outmatched. Even Samuel L. Jackson got eaten.

This movie and 1997’s Titanic showed that if computer effects could resurrect dinosaurs and a long-lost passenger ship, they could do anything.

But through three sequels – although I’ve... More

James Bond will return …

Word of a new Bond movie is always welcome news.

The teaser trailer for Spectre premiered online this weekend, with Christoph Waltz in a role he was born to play: Bond villain.

Thus begins the cycle of getting excited about a new Bond movie all over again. 2013’s teaser for Skyfall was superb, with a line that distills the Bond franchise perfectly: “Some men are coming to kill us. We’re going to kill them first.”

The movie itself was a beautifully shot muddle, with Roger Deakins’ jaw-dropping cinematography – the fight in front of a giant video screen... More

Are you there god, it’s me, science fiction?

If Christopher Nolan’s movies are anything they are grounded.

His breakthrough Memento is a time travel movie with no actual time travel. His Batman trilogy stripped away Tim Burton’s gothic operatics to create bleeding, bruised Caped Crusader confronting a terrorist siege.

And The Prestige – which I call “Batman vs. Wolverine, With Magic” – doesn’t contain magic or mysticism, just stagecraft, misdirection and technology.

Nolan’s literalism has led some critics to ding his movies for lacking “poetry,” and rightly so. Still, the Batman trilogy remains intriguing and unique, in part, because Nolan seemingly had to understand the... More

Force majeur

About 15 years ago a group of us were gathered around a computer waiting for “The Phantom Menace” trailer to download.

It was still early enough in Internet time that an online debut was a problem. The combination of a big movie file and huge demand led to a giant trainwreck. It took hours to download even on our company’s fast internet.

The trailer had 10 million downloads, which I seem to recall was the most popular download of its time, though it’s likely been surpassed since.

Within seconds of “The Force Awakens” trailer popping up, thousands,... More