Young George Lucas. Kinda foxy...?
Being that last weekend's box office was dominated by "Jurassic World" and "Inside Out," it got me thinking about the legacy of George Lucas. Like most people in the world, I've always had a love/hate relationship with the guy. A few have even taken this 'relationship' this to the extreme, as a few years back someone made a documentary on the topic about Lucas called "The People vs. George Lucas."
True, while the prequels weren't what most people wanted, but does that warrant all the things that Lucas has contributed to the world of cinema obsolete? I say no. Why? Because if you look close enough, you'll see his influence is everywhere in modern cinema whether you like it, or not. The first examples, the recent box office champs, Jurassic World and Inside Out both would not exist, without the work of Lucas. You see, Lucas’ special effects company, ILM, created all the dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park film, way back in the 90s without a company capable of creating such awe-inspiring creatures, we wouldn't have a Jurassic World today. Even Inside Out owes a debt of gratitude to Lucas as Pixar, was a Lucasfilm company as early as the mid-80s. While Lucas didn't found the original incarnation of the Pixar company, he helped to water it, grow it, push its limitations and eventually hand it over to one Steve Jobs and the rest is history.
These aren't the only examples. Lucas' fingerprints can be seen all over the American movie landscape and this week, I'm going to highlight a few to help defend a genius that is now looked upon as a crazy old wizard that lives in a secluded part of Northern California.
Before the release of his 60s comedy, American Graffiti, popular music wasn't used much in feature films. Usually, films would have a score create for the soundtrack or have songs specially commissioned like in a James Bond movie. Lucas, in an attempt to be different and create a unique soundtrack for Graffiti, opted to use the songs that he used to listen to while crusin' the suburban San Francisco streets. Since no other filmmaker had ever thought of that before, he was able to license the pop songs of the 60s for next to no money. Well, after American Graffiti was a massive hit at the box office, and auteurs from far and wide took note of how pop music could enhance their screen stories, they all began to use pop songs in their films and still do today. Quentin Tarantino is famous of his ability to blend images and pop music, but without Lucas, he'd have no blueprint on how to do it.
Where was I in '62? Not alive.
Star Wars. Enough said. Really though when this came out in 1977, people's heads exploded as they had never seen such advanced visual effects used period, but more specifically in an action/adventure movie. With the progress made by Lucas and co. in the special effects world, it soon became possible for filmmakers like Ridley Scott to make Alien, Steven Spielberg to make E.T., and David Lynch to make Dune, just to name a few. More importantly, Lucas created the model of a filmmaker owning their own FX company to have more control in creating their vision. This can be seen today, as Peter Jackson owns WETA Workshop and James Cameron owns Digital Domain companies that were vital in creating the on screen magic we remember from such films as Titanic and The Lord of the Rings.
Sadly, this scene caused as many as 3 million minds to be blown in 1977.
Marvel gets a lot of credit for creating this 'universe' concept but in reality, an argument can be made that Lucas was there first and was thinking of this concept and applied it while most of the Marvel Entertainment executives were still in short pants. When the original Star Wars was released in 1977, Lucas, whether in a blaintant cash-grab or not (probably, yes) allowed the now infamous Star Wars Christmas Special to be produced for CBS that was meant to be a direct spinoff and official canon. Because it turned out like bantha doo-doo, said idea was abandoned, but my point is that it was attempted. It didn't quite stop there either as many Star Wars universe cartoons (Droids and Ewoks), books (Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the Han Solo Adventures) and event a live action TV movie (Caravan of Courage) were produced through out the 70s and 80s that attempted to expand upon the Star Wars Universe for a public hungry to consume all it could of the galaxy far, far, away. Oh, there were those other films, too. You know, the ones with the word 'Episode' in front of them that told one 'bigger picture' story. While the spinoffs and smaller media series stories failed to unify a solid state Star Wars story, Lucas did display his ability to show others that he was willing to think beyond the big screen and invented the 'Universe Model' version 1.0 for Marvel and now others, to build upon.
Nope. This isn't getting complicated at all. [Sarcasm]
I recently stumbled upon this website while cruising for some Ep. 7 news. It's called Star Wars Ring Theory and in great detail, the author expounds upon a theory he's crafted about how all the main 6 Star Wars films are interconnected using an ancient 'ring' storytelling structure. I read the whole thing and the author does present some pretty remarkable evidence that if true, not only gives one more appreciation for the prequels, but also would be the very first time anyone as ever attempted to try this structure in the film medium and if I've proven anything over the past few paragraphs, it's that Lucas is a man that likes to do things first. Please, I encourage you to visit the website and take in all the evidence for yourself. Then, maybe, like me, you too will see the prequels for more than just a jamboree of Jar-Jar. It even leaves room for a sub-theory on why the special editions are now needed with the realization of the prequels. While Lucas didn't invent the storytelling ring, his application of it in cinema may inspire future filmmakers to refine it and perfect it as so many of his other ideas.
Star Wars Ring Theory Website: http://www.starwarsringtheory.com/
May times, geniuses are so far beyond the crowd, when they create, the masses don't 'get' their creations. It takes time for everyone to catch up to the ideas and concepts they present. It has happened time after time throughout history to artists from all around the world. Geniuses think outside the box and while Lucas has gotten lucky and been able to speak to the common man at times, he still has had a hard time communicating his ideas when it comes to movies. Maybe future generations will come to revere all his work and truly give him the credit he's due.
What do you think? Have I convinced you that Lucas is worthy to be championed as one of cinema's greatest filmmakers, or is he still a mean old man that ruined your childhood? Comment below.
So, it would appear that Dinosaurs > The Avengers. Let's talk about that. (As always: Be warned, here there be spoilers!)
Cue the John Williams music.
When I was a kid I loved, loved, loved, dinosaurs! Heck, I still love dinosaurs, though I'm really just an overgrown kid, so no surprises there. The very first Jurassic Park movie came out when this love that I harbored was in full bloom, and it instantly became one of my favorite films of all time! It was a movie about a fricking theme park filled with actual, real, live dinosaurs that escape and wreak havoc. Who wouldn't love that!? Plus, it introduced visual effects that blew the audience away at the time. When I watched Jurassic Park for the first time in theaters (I kind of snuck in with my older cousin, sorry, Mom) my kid mind exploded, because I was instantly transported to Isla Nublar where ancient reptilian creatures roam.
Thanks, George Lucas.
The movie was a huge hit, and became the highest-grossing film worldwide until Titanic was released four years later. Evidently, I wasn't the only kid to be engrossed, and the kid in every adult simply couldn't resist. Nothing seems to have changed as once again, the infamous park has taken the number one spot in box office records beating BOTH Avengers films.
The world is just a bunch of excitable kids, isn't it? That would explain a lot, actually...
As is the case whenever anything is popular in Hollywood, a sequel has to be made. And the Jurassic Park franchise got to have two before 'Jurassic World', The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park 3. Both films (IMO) were terrible. The second one became too stupid and preachy while the third was filled with the most incredibly moronic characters I'd ever seen. So when I heard about the newest addition to the franchise I was initially skeptical. My thoughts were that if the sequels failed to bring anything new or interesting to the table than why would Jurassic World be any different? Then I saw the trailer...
And this guy...
Right away I had a good feeling. I was already seeing things I'd never seen before and never realized I'd wanted to see. My mind was made up right there that I'd see the new film and give it a chance. This was what I thought of it.
Earlier, I mentioned that the first Jurassic Park movie managed to actually transport me to the theme park and that I was completely engrossed. Jurassic World did the same. The park they show you is so similar to real theme parks (Think Disneyland or Sea World) but with the awesome inclusion of Dinosaurs. There is a petting zoo filled with baby dinosaurs (some of which kids can ride), a sea life show where the audience gets splashed, an attraction where you can go canoeing with dinosaurs bathing next to you, etc. You even see characters pass a Starbucks and Pandora shop! If a park like this actually existed, the movie shows you exactly what it would be like. And that adds to the 'realism'.
Oh, why can't this be a real thing!!??
We're also introduced to some new concepts about dinosaur behavior when we meet Chris Pratts' character who is the resident Velociraptor Trainer. Yes, you heard me right. His character trains the deadly killing machines from the first movies by using dead rats and a 'clicker' that's normally used on dogs. This idea, while borderline ludicrous and dangerous, is still incredibly fascinating and watching his character with them in any scene is absolutely captivating. That's the films major strength. It has amazing and unique ideas and knows exactly how to make them entertaining for the audience. It's visually breathtaking and will leave you entranced until the credits roll! All of this being said, it has some problems. For instance, this guy never takes his shirt off. :-(
If you're looking for the layered and multi-faceted characters from the first Jurassic Park, stop right now. You're not going to find them. Every single main character is a 'broad stroke' character, meaning that they have one trait they're known for and nothing else. Yes, we see some development with the director of operations (Bryce Dallas Howard) going from cold, business driven aunt to kickass "I'm-gonna-sick-a-T-Rex-on-you-to-save-my-nephews" aunt, but not much else can be said. The nephews may as well be called 'wide-eyed, younger genius brother' and 'teenaged angsty older brother'. At one point the movie gives us a scene where the younger one reveals that their parents are getting a divorce, visually upsetting both kids, and then we never hear about it again. In fact the boys go right back to going on rides and smiling and laughing like nothing is wrong.
The villains are of course interested in making dinosaurs into weapons now that they see you can train them, which is a nice change from 'let's steal them for our own park', but when your villain is a clear cut douche bag from the beginning and tries to reason with a velociraptor by talking to it, there's no way I'll be taking them seriously. And I would bet all of my life's savings that Chris Pratt took his role because his character speaks in nothing but trailer speak and one-liners. That and his character has a scene where he rides a motorcycle next to velociraptors.
I'm not going to be too harsh on the plot of the movie being about the incredibly poor decision to make a dinosaur hybrid that will scare their patrons more, because the entire idea of cloning any dinosaur is a pretty poor idea. But still, using cuttlefish DNA? A fish I know about ONLY because of its' ability to blend into surroundings? Really?
While you might think that this would take you out of the movie and ruin the entire film, it strangely doesn't. There's a tongue in cheek tone throughout the film and I couldn't help but wonder if the cliches were intentional. Plus the film never takes itself too seriously, there's no underlying message about animal cruelty or man vs. nature, it's a fun and exciting romp in a dinosaur park and nothing more!
Personally, I think nothing else is really needed.
If there's going to be another installment, I'd like to see the same director and writer(s) work on it. Just think of what else they could cook up and imagine for us! I only ask that they try to make their characters more complicated and less cliched. Then you'd have a classic to last throughout the years, much like the one that started it all.
What did you think of the movie? Comment below to let me know!
I've made it pretty clear here that I'm a pretty big sci-fi fan, so I was excited this week to see the trailer for "The Martian" directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.
This movie looks pretty darn good and hopefully is a return to form for Scott who pretty much invented the space thriller genre. In researching the movie, I found out it was based on a book with the same title by author Andy Weir.
I was surprised to learn, much like 50 Shades of Grey, this book first had its start online. It turns out that after putting in years of research, and getting rejected from every publisher he submitted to, Weir decided to put chapters of The Martian online for free in a serialized fashion. This method helped create a rabid fanbase for the material, and said fanbase convinced him to self publish his book and sell it on Amazon for 99 cents. Once it became a hit on Amazon, the big publishers began to take notice.
It's always inspiring to hear stories like this. It seems like Weir isn't too savvy with marketing and just made a good product that got noticed. It's also nice to see that good stuff can get noticed in a sea of sub-par fiction (50 Shades....). I was quite inspired when researching the book as I saw it as a great example of perseverance in the face overwhelming rejection. Being that I am going into the creative field with my comics work, a story like Weir's is just the kind of story I need to surround myself with as I prepare to put my work 'out there.'
I just started reading The Martian and I must say, it is quite engaging and packed with science that isn't too hard to grasp. This will be my book club suggestion next month for sure.
Although reading the book will spoil the movie, in this case I don't mind, as I think Ridley Scott will have some surprises up his sleeve to make another edge of your seat classic. Plus add in a long list of talented actors in the cast and this will be the must see film of the fall movie season. You can read the book too by buying it on Amazon.
You can find out more about the book on Amazon. Use either link.
We've talked about crushes here before and it got lots of attention as well as quite a few responses. From my experience, developing crush on a character from fiction in any medium is almost a right of passage in the 'Geek World.' But as my last list about crushes proved, we cannot always choose who we develop feelings for both in real life or in our own heads. In fact, even sexuality doesn't seem to factor in.
Can you categorize this type of sexuality??
Before I introduce the list I'd like to make myself perfectly clear: I'm not gay. I identify as straight and have confidently done so my entire life. However, that doesn't mean I can't be attracted to a fine 'specimen' of a woman. I'm not blind after all! My friends have told me that I have 'Bi tendencies' but I prefer to think that I simply appreciate sexiness in all of its forms, even if I only look but never touch.
Me and my VERY bisexual friend Margaret have had quite lengthy discussions on the sexiest and most kick-ass women we've found ourselves pining for and found both or our choices to be eye-opening and unexpected. Therefore we must share the women that made it into our Top 10!
(Caution: The following contains OPINIONS that you yourself may or may not agree with! If you find yourself with an opinion differing from ours please comment below stating your own in a CIVIL manner! That is all.) (BTW, some spoilers ahead)
10) Esmeralda from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame
I've never been one for Disney princesses myself. Yes, lately they've been marginally better but they still don't quite cut it for me. It's been the forgotten Disney 'Princesses' that always caught my attention. Megara from Hercules has wit and spirit enough to make a Greek God fall for her, Princess Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron is already escaping from The Horned Kings' dungeons when we meet her and proves to be a useful and headstrong ally, while Kida from Atlantis is a fricking warrior who becomes Queen of a lost and magical empire by the end of the film. But my favorite was always Esmerelda, not just for her ability to defend herself both physically and vocally, but for her heart and how much she cares for her people and the outcasts in her city. Her music solo always gets me right in the feels and I fall in love all over again. And, man, can that girl dance!
Now that's a limber lady.
9) Saffron (etc.) from Firefly played by Christina Hendricks
Let's get this out of the way, Miss Hendricks is very well endowed. I'd be lying if I said that my eyes didn't travel south when she showed Malcolm her 'wares'. But beyond her physique, her character ended up being one of the most intriguing of the short-lived series and I don't doubt that she would have shown up a few more times had there been more seasons (*sobs*). At first she seems to be just a confused and naive women, but ends up scamming the crew of the Firefly showing her true colors as a very crafty con artist. Later on in the season we see even more facets of her personality that are unexpected, but if you don't know about that already then I implore you to go watch the series. Right now. Do it.
8) Kaylee Frye from Firefly played by Jewel Staite
Okay, I couldn't pick just one girl from the Firefly series. But I feel as though it would be a huge disservice NOT to include my favorite character from one of my favorite shows of all time. The thing is Kaylee is adorable, almost unbearably so. Despite being an exceptional engineer and having the appearance of a tomboy with her pants and dirty face she's also sunny, warm, a bit naive, and extremely supportive of everyone on her ship. It's a brilliant contrast that makes her nothing short of lovable and I just want to hug and cuddle her across the galaxy! Her character is the very definition of 'Shiny'.
7) Ros from Game of Thrones played by Esme Bianco
No she was never in the books, but dammit she did something to me whenever she appeared onscreen. She's certainly not bad to look at (and we get to see EVERYTHING as she's a prostitute) and I must admit that I've noticed that I have a thing for redheads. I know full well that her only purpose was to reveal things about characters that actually 'mattered' in the grand scheme of things, but Esme breathed such charm and life into a role that could have ended up being cliché or dull that I couldn't help but develop a soft spot for Ros. When she started spying for Varys I had a sinking feeling that her days were numbered. In fact, the biggest reason why I don't like Littlefinger to this day is because he gave her up to Joffrey.
6) 7 of 9 from Star Trek: Voyager played by Jeri Ryan
For quite a while, Star Trek kept it's male viewers happy by introducing a new sexy alien chick each episode, but with Next Gen we started seeing a multitude of women who not only stayed over the course of many seasons but had big roles to play on the Enterprise. There's lots of women to choose from in the 'verse of Trek, but for me, none even came close to Seven. Forgetting that she wears a form flattering uniform and is gorgeous, she was by far the most interesting addition to the Voyager crew. She added a new element that made the show as a whole far more entertaining than it had been before her appearance. Yeah, she clashed with pretty much everyone on the USS Voyager but she made us all think about what humanity really is (the good, the bad, and the confusing) and I'll always love her for it.
5) Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer played by Alyson Hannigan
I'm probably going to get a bunch of hate for choosing Willow over Buffy or the countless other amazing female characters from the Buffy-verse, but I'll do my best to explain my decision. I got Willow, I understood her to a 'T' because she was pretty much who I would be in that universe. She's unsure of each new weird foe that her and her friends have to fight but she'll be there to do research and help in any way she can. Later on she'd have pretty powerful witch powers to contribute as well which I, unfortunately, can't relate to but the powers helped develop her into a compelling multi-faceted character that I admired and looked up to despite the fact that she made major mistakes as the show progressed. Also, she's a lesbian so I'd have a fighting chance with her.
4) Lady Loki from the Marvel Universe
Loki is my fictional boyfriend. It's true. He was a favorite of mine back when he was just in comics, but after he appeared in the films? Pffft, forget about it! Whether he intended to or not, Hiddleston made Loki a Sex God that I would gladly worship. So when I went back to catch up on the comics and found out he took a female form, my libido didn't know which way was up. The same personality and power but in a female body that can only be described as scrumptious? I was wrong. I CAN love Loki more.
3) Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games and Mystique in the Lastest X-Men Films
This choice is far from unique seeing as everyone loves this woman already. If you dislike Jennifer Laurence than you need to re-evaluate yourself as a human being. She's not perfect, no one is, but she is so real and genuine despite her fame that watching her is like taking a breath of fresh air after being cooped up in Jabba the Hutts' throne room all day. She's the perfect choice for Katniss (IMO) and brought a great vulnerability to Mystique that I don't think I've seen in any of her past onscreen personifications. Keep being you, JLaw!
2) Harley Quinn from the Batman Universe
She's crazy, can be an airhead, and has a high-pitched Brooklyn accent. You'd think she'd be annoying as hell, right? Wrong! By all accounts she should be one of the most hated villains of the Batman universe but I've yet to meet any fan who doesn't at least love to hate her. When introduced in BTAS, she was pretty much a Looney Tunes cartoon. She was funny because she was so outlandish in the violence she dished out and received (except from the Joker, that violence wasn't cool) and always rode that line between dark and hilarious, all while being incredibly entertaining. You can't watch a ditzy blonde dressed as a harlequin clown treat killer hyenas like puppies and not be instantly bewitched. If I had to choose one person to show me a fun night in Gotham, Harley would be the only person I'd call!
1) Wonder Woman from the DC Universe
Do I even need to explain this one? I've crushed on Wonder Woman since I first started reading comics in which she starred. She's a pioneer for every female superhero that exists today for Pete's sake! She is literally an Amazonian Goddess and looks the part, strong AND sexy. Her weapons were avant garde for sure, but she still managed to be a force to be reckoned with when using them! And you can't forget that she's held her own against Batman AND Superman, two of the most famous and powerful heroes in comics. You may as well just put the ring on my finger now, Diana.
Haters gonna hate.
What are your girl crushes? Do you think I missed anyone important? Leave your comments below.