star wars

STAR WARS: The Mandalorian – new trailer

“New The Mandalorian trailer looks like the Star Wars we’re used to,” says the media.

“What the fuck are you on?” says I.

The Mandalorian is Jon Favreau’s new Star Wars bounty hunter series starring Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers and Werner Herzog.  And it looks nothing — nothing at all — like “the Star Wars we’re used to”, so ignore the hype.

No Jedi.  No Skywalkers.  An unexplored timeline (just after Endor).  No, this looks like something entirely new.  Which is good.  Don’t believe the hype.  Tell the hype to fuck off.

“Is the world more peaceful since the revolution?” asks Herzog.

One thing that is exactly the same as old Star Wars:  Nobody knows what a parsec is.

The Mandalorian arrives November 12.

STAR WARS: The Rise of Skywalker – Final Trailer

Did you sit through Monday Night Football to watch this?  The final trailer from the final film in the Saga has arrived.  This is the last time we will analyze a Saga trailer for clues.

 

Some thoughts:

  • John Williams is going to outdo himself with the score, if this trailer is any indication.
  • I can’t believe they’re giving away so much about C-3PO.  I know what happens to him and it’s basically in the trailer.
  • The Ghost, from Rebels, is apparently still flying.
  • The Emperor’s throne is badass and exactly as described by the leaks at Making Star Wars.

Otherwise at first glance, not much in the way of new spoilers with this trailer.  Lots of our heroes, a little of Kylo, and a little of Lando Calrissian.

What was the black figure that Rey and Kylo (with original mask) shattered?  The old-school Star Destroyer emerging from the water?

Get ready for December 20.

 

 

 

Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker – Final Trailer due Monday night October 21

The Rise of Skywalker has been light on trailers compared to other Star Wars films.  The final trailer comes this Monday.  What are you hoping to see?

My arbitrary wishes:

  • a Knight of Ren
  • Palpatine
  • Sith troopers
  • Endor
  • Zorii Bliss

How about you?

 

 

#785: Seasons End (Oh Deer) + BONUS Nutshell Review: El Camino – A Breaking Bad Movie

A sequel to #774.5: Seasons Ends. Buckle up, it’s a busy one!

 

GETTING MORE TALE #875: Seasons End (Oh Deer)
+ BONUS Nutshell Review: El Camino – A Breaking Bad Movie
+ BONUS Star Wars – The Black Series 6″ figures “Abandoned” Video Reviews

“Be careful of the deer problem,” said my dad when I phoned him from Lucknow, about 20 or 30 minutes away from the cottage.

“Don’t worry, I’ll drive safe,” I reassured him in that voice that hardly reassured him.

“You know about the deer problem?” he asked to confirm.

No, but now I did.  Funny thing; I’d been driving up to the lake by myself for over 20 years and never came close to hitting a deer.  There are warning signs along all the major roads, some with flashing yellow lights.  Turns out Thanksgiving 2019 was my first on-the-road deer sighting.

It got dark quick after Lucknow, and soon it was like pitch.  I had been driving slower since the sun went down but it was Jen who saw the deer first.  I slowed down carefully until he jumped away unto the brush.  The guy behind me wasn’t paying attention and almost rear-ended me.

It’s so strange to review the dashcam footage afterwards. What felt like an eternal moment of tense surprise was really only seven seconds.*


Until that moment, we were wrapped deep in Iron Maiden.  I played the first album, with Paul Di’Anno, and the bonus tracks for the full-on experience.  This was music I’d been listening to for 35 years and under the weight of all that nostalgia, I immediately began singing along.  I remember “Charlotte the Harlot” coming up just as we were detouring past a town called Dorking.  I don’t know about you, but I think that’s funny.  Once completed, we switched over to Piece of Mind.  That’s the Maiden studio album that I have the longest deep relationship with.  Every word was dancing on my tongue, even “Revelations”.  But then again, I remember having that song memorised back in highschool.  My friend Andy and I sang it back to a rap kid named Patrick Barnes who claimed that metal lyrics are just unintelligible noise and nonsense.

All this Maiden reminiscence led to the writing of a new future chapter of Getting More Tale called “Run 2 the Hills”, a direct sequel to Record Store Tales Part 1.  Look for that one in the near future.

We had the near miss with the deer after both albums were complete, and I’d started on random tunes from Powerslave.  “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” was  the song playing when Bambi was spared by some good driving.

Upon arrival, I had get my Netflix fired up to watch El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.  Nutshell review:


EL CAMINO: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019 Netflix)

I didn’t think I cared where Jesse Pinkman went at the end of Breaking Bad.  Turns out, I cared enough to watch this well-written coda to a great TV series.  Aaron Paul rules, equipped with very little dialogue and only his body language.  Paul gives us a hard insight to the PTSD-infested survivor Pinkman.  Every cameo you desire is in store via relevant flashbacks, fleshing out the original series a little bit.  After a while, you, like Pinkman, are disoriented and can’t remember if you’re watching past or present.

4/5 stars


It was a little freaky when I finished the film, went on Twitter, and saw Bryan Cranston announced that Robert Forster had died, just after I watched his final film.

In the morning I wrote up the rough draft of my new Maiden chapter while it was all fresh in my head, but I otherwise accomplished very little, creatively speaking.

I tried, I really did try.  When mom & dad stepped out of the house for a few minutes I thought I could squeeze in time for a Star Wars Black Series video review.  You’ll see what happened.  Something like this occurred any time I attempted to make a video.  So what you see is what you get; I gave up!


Abandoned Reviews

For entertainment use only.  Back off, fanboys!


Instead of using my creative juices for this one final weekend of the lake this season, I decided to pour it into cooking instead.  I picked up three beautiful steaks and a pound of lobster tail. I made some garlic butter, clarified it, and put the tail on the grill.  Everything was phenomenal.  I felt like we ended the season right with these meals.

There was the traditional turkey dinner the following night too, stuffed with goodness, but I feel the lobster tail and the steaks really put a cap on the season.

The drive home was enabled by Twisted Sister’s Live at the Marquee and The Razors Edge by AC/DC.  I don’t know how often I’ve played The Razors Edge in the car since it came out before I could drive.  Could this have been the first time?  I liked it better in the car than I do sitting at home.  As for Twisted Sister, Live at the Marquee is by far their greatest live product.  The raw heavy stage purity can’t be touched.

And now we are home, preparing for the arrival of winter routines and monotony.  Hibernation begins.  But spring will return again, and with it, so will the roadtrips, the steaks, and the sun.

Stay warm, my friends!

 

* It was just a young deer  When you start having more frequent animal sightings in cottage country like this, it means they are being displaced from somewhere else.  There has been a lot of building and development this year.

VIDEO REVIEW (GOES WRONG): Star Wars The Black Series – Hyperreal 8″ Darth Vader (2019)

2/5 stars?

Sunday Chuckle: May the Nerd Toys be With You

Maybe some things are only funny to me.  My buddy Chris likes to tease me.  He calls my treasured action figure collection my “dolls”.

He went to Disney a little while ago, so I asked if he could pick me up an exclusive Star Wars set while he was there.  “Sure, I’ll look for your dolls” he said.  A few days later, I had an email from him titled “Nerd Toy”.  “I dropped your dolls off at work,” it read.  My dolls, my nerd toys!  And I love them.  He even put them in his carry-on bag so they wouldn’t get damaged.

Thanks buddy, it’s worth the teasing that I take!

This is one of three Disney Park exclusive sets, and it’s awesome!  Thank you Chris and Laurie for picking them up for your nerd friend.

Star Wars The Black Series First Order 4-Pack

  • Kylo Ren
  • Commander Pyre
  • Mountain Trooper
  • MSE Droid

#781: What Happened to C-3PO’s Hand? (Video story)

GETTING MORE TALE #781: What Happened to C-3PO’s Hand? The Story

Pardon the volume on this video, I really struggled with it and then said “fuck it”.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – D23 special look

What is this?  A surprise twist?  A mere tease?  Or is it…destiny?

Let me know what you think of Rey’s “new look”.

#772: The Phantom Menace (20 Years On)

GETTING MORE TALE #772: The Phantom Menace (20 Years On)

If you can believe it, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is 20 years old this year.  2019 is a significant year in the history of Star Wars.  It is the 20th anniversary of its return with the prequels, and it will also witness the final movie of the Skywalker saga in Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.  Back in Record Store Tales Part 209: The Phantom Menace, I said I wasn’t “interested in contributing to the background noise” regarding the movie, but I’ve since changed my mind.  Now that George Lucas is out of the picture and J.J. Abrams is helming the finale of the sequel trilogy, it’s hard not to get a little nostalgic for 1999, when things were…simpler.

Netflix has different movies available in different countries, but you can sidestep this with some VPN software.  Some countries have no Star Wars, but between them, all of the films are available.  Bahamas is the only territory I’ve discovered so far with the first two trilogies, so I’ve been re-watching from I to VIII.  And for all its flaws, with the benefit of hindsight, The Phantom Menace is still quite enjoyable.

George Lucas had his own ideas about where to take Star Wars, but the fan hate that Phantom Menace (and the other prequels) received took the wind out of his sails.  He laid the groundwork in Phantom Menace, with that talk about the highly maligned midichlorians.  Now, midichlorians were an awful idea.  J.J. Abrams is right to leave them out of the sequel trilogy.  The idea of little microscopic organelles in your blood giving you the ability to tap into the Force?  It creates so many problems.  Like, if you have more midichlorians in your blood than someone else, does that automatically make you more powerful?  Can we therefore rank numerically every character by midichlorian count and deduce who the most powerful is?  Can you get a blood transfusion from a Jedi and steal his or her Jedi powers? That’s the kind of shit that fans hate on.  Why couldn’t Lucas leave the Force alone with all its mystery intact?

Because he was going somewhere with that.  Lucas came up with the name and concept of midichlorians back in 1977; the idea is very old.  Now we understand why.  George was also setting up the final trilogy, the one that J.J. is currently finishing. Episodes VII through IX “were going to get into a microbiotic world,” George Lucas told James Cameron. So, like Ant-Man?  “There’s this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force.”  Fans recall that “Whills” is an old word.  The first Star Wars novelization refers to the entire saga as The Journal of the Whills.  In Lucas’ own sequel trilogy, Jedi were to be merely “vehicles for the Whills to travel around in…And the conduit is the midichlorians. The midichlorians are the ones that communicate with the Whills. The Whills, in a general sense, they are the Force.”

Like Ant-Man meets Dr. Strange meets The Fantastic Voyage, maybe.  With lightsabers?  Terrible; undoubtedly awful.  I can’t even fathom how he would have executed this idea.  The fans would have rioted.  You think the hate that fandom gives Disney today is intense?  Imagine if George’s microscopic version got made.

But at least George had a vision.

Lucas wasn’t about making the trilogies the same.  Having watched both The Force Awakens and Phantom Menace recently on Netflix, it’s clear that J.J. made a better movie that feels more like Star Wars.  Flawed, yes, but it seemed to be setting up some pretty epic storytelling (until Rian Johnson took a shit all over it with his left turn Last Jedi.)  J.J.’s Star Wars is better acted, paced and edited.  The dialogue is far less stiff.  But George’s Phantom Menace has something that J.J.’s Force Awakens does not:  daring imagination.

One of the most successful sequences in Episode I is the pod race.  It’s completely irrelevant to the story, which is one of the many problems, but on its own, it is a glistening example of George’s unfettered imagination.  In 1999, this race was unimaginably new.  The only thing that came close was the speeder bike chase in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, primitive as it was.  Lucas broke new ground in multiple ways with his prequels, whether you like his innovations or not, and primitive CG characters aside.  People complain that J.J.’s Star Wars is just a soft reboot.  Well, watch Phantom Menace if that’s not your cup of tea.  The pod race, at least.  Lucas combined his love of race cars with science fiction and directed one of the best race sequences in the genre.  In any genre.  Even little Jake Lloyd shone in that cockpit, confidently flying himself to victory.

It’s a shame that pod race sequence was completely unnecessary.  I mean, you’re telling me Liam Neeson couldn’t figure out any other way to get off that planet, other than a complicated scheme of betting; gambling on a child pod racer?  Liam was supposed to be a goddamned Jedi master.  They keep talking about how much time they’re wasting on the planet, but they wait to see how this damned race plays out?  A race that could have killed a little kid!  Weird choices.  If you were a Jedi, you could have figured out dozens of faster and safer ways to get off that planet, right?

Once they do finally get off that planet, the Jedi arrive home on the capitol world Coruscant.  This was a bit of fan service, something that they wanted to see more of, since it had been such an important part of comics, novels and production artwork.  Cloud City aside, it was the first real time we saw an urban city environment on Star Wars.  True to form, Lucas made the whole planet one environment, in this case a city.  It was also some of the most brilliant visual designs on the prequel trilogy, one which would set the tone for the two movies that followed.

For better or for worse, Lucas spent much of the prequel trilogy defining who the Jedi were.  What they could do, what they couldn’t, and what they believed in.  We learned of the “living Force”, and oodles of Jedi wisdom about attachment and fear.  Jedi couldn’t marry, which was surprising, considering the Skywalker bloodline is the entire focus of the saga.  Yet George was throwing tons of ideas at us.  Stuff that he had been keeping in dusty old notebooks for years.  Nothing in the sequel trilogy comes close to revealing as much about the Star Wars universe as the prequels do.

Though Phantom Menace is the movie with the most cringe-worthy moments, wooden dialogue and shitty acting, there are the odd scenes that George did artistically and perfect.  Take the moment that Anakin and friends arrive on Coruscant, an overwhelming moment for the little boy.  George shot some of the footage from kid-height, allowing us to experience Anakin’s anxiety without clumsy dialogue.  The aforementioned pod race sequence is brilliant, and so is the final lightsaber duel.  For the first time, serious acrobatics and martial arts moves were incorporated into the laser sword battles.  This went on to define how the Jedi normally fought throughout all the prequels:  with a lot of jumping, leaping, and somersaulting.  For all the epic duels in the saga, one of the greatest (if not number one) is Kenobi and Jinn vs. Darth Maul.  From John Williams’ score (“Duel of the Fates”) to the choreography by Nick Gillard, it was focused through George Lucas’ lens into something absolutely brain-melting.  Until Darth Maul lost like a chump.  No excusing that; although remember that George did something similar to Boba Fett in Episode VI.

The droid designs were also pretty cool.  As iconic as a stormtrooper?  No.  But sleek, interesting, new and believable?  Absolutely.  This helped shape the visually stunning Naboo land battle scenes.  J.J. didn’t introduce any new infantry troops in his movie, he just updated the existing ones.

There was one thing that The Force Awakens and The Phantom Menace did equally well.  One very important thing that neither gets enough credit for: they made us anticipate the next film in the trilogies with hunger.  (Until Rian Johnson pissed all over J.J.’s ending, that is.)  Both films’ endings felt like the setup for events we couldn’t wait to see on screen.  The training of Anakin/Rey, for example.  A clue to the truth about the big bad guys (Sidious/Snoke).  The next meeting between good and evil.  J.J. and George both succeeded in creating this feeling of heavy anticipation.

By the time all three prequel movies played out, each problematic with wooden acting and stiff stories, fans were burned out on prequel-era Star Wars.  The Clone Wars TV show did a better job of living in that universe, but fans longed for the old familiar again.  X-Wings and Han Solo and the Empire and all of it.  So that’s what J.J. delivered.  And J.J. Abrams learned what we all know:  there is no pleasing Star Wars fans.

We fans take this stuff too seriously sometimes.  You’ve just read 1500 words, comparing Star Wars movies’ strengths and flaws.  That’s excessive, for both the reader and the writer!  We take this too seriously, friend.  Sure, we don’t go and harass the actors on Twitter like some juvenile delinquents do, but we’ve invested so much time and thought into a goddamn space movie series.  Too late to turn back now.  I think it’s important to take a break, step back and appreciate the movies from a different perspective.  Having done that with Phantom Menace, I can see it has its mitigating traits that still make me smile 20 years later.

 

 

#763: L’Empire contre-attaque

GETTING MORE TALE #763: L’Empire contre-attaque

We didn’t have a VCR in 1980.  You could rent them; this was usually reserved for special occasions.   That meant, unlike today, we couldn’t just watch the latest Star Wars any time we felt like it.  The best way to re-experience the movie was on your own, with action figures and soundtracks.  The Empire Strikes Back was my favourite album at that time.  I played certain tracks on those records so often with my kid fingers that they started to skip.

I used my parents’ big living room hi-fi.  Giant wooden speakers as heavy as oak doors.  A turntable, an 8-track, and a receiver.  Once I discovered Star Wars, I think I used it more than they did.  The Empire Strikes Back came in a luxurious gatefold, with photos from the film, liner notes, and a generous booklet.  It didn’t take long for the rips and tears to set in; that record was well loved.  Usually, I would plug in the set of headphones and listen quietly while turning the pages of that booklet.  On weekends, my sister and I would probably set up a big battlefield and re-enact the movies, with the soundtrack playing in the background.  The most frequently played tracks were “Yoda’s Theme”, “The Asteroid Field” and of course “The Imperial March”.  Sometimes we would ambitiously re-enact the entire movie in sequence using the whole soundtrack.

We had to improvise.  There were lots of characters and vehicles we didn’t have.  When the Wampa ice monster attacks Luke Skywalker and knocks him off his tawn-tawn, we had to use Chewbacca as a stand-in for the monster.  Before we had a Boba Fett, we used a Micronaut with an actual missile-firing backpack.  We didn’t have an AT-AT, so we used my sister’s cardboard Jawa sandcrawler.  The centrepiece of our play time was usually my huge Millennium Falcon toy.

Before anyone gets too nostalgic for the good old days, I’ll remind you those Kenner toys were actually quite shit.  My two biggest toys, the Falcon and the X-Wing, both broke immediately out of the box.  The wings on the X-Wing never worked right and I had to wedge marker lids in the wings to keep them open.  The hinge for the boarding ramp of the Falcon snapped when my dad put it together.  He tried to glue it, but ultimately the door was held on by an ugly piece of masking tape.  Sturdy toys they were not, and parts were always popping off.  The guns refused to stay on the wings of the X-Wing.  The canopy of the Falcon always popped open mid-flight.  It too eventually got locked down by masking tape.

During these huge play battles, my sister and I would take over the entire living room floor.  There was a coffee table that usually acted as Imperial headquarters.  You could park a TIE fighter on the shelf underneath.  All the while, John Williams and the London Symphony spun behind us.  I’d flip sides and cue up another track, or just play “The Imperial March” again.

When we were done playing Empire, we would do our own original stories.  We usually set these “pre-Empire“, since Han Solo was frozen in carbonite at the end of the movie.   He was a favourite character and we had two Han Solo action figures:  original Han and Hoth Han.  I loved Hoth Han.  Not only did he look cool but he was the only figure you could take his gun and plug into a holster on his hip.  It was hard to really make good coherant “pre-Empire” stories though, because we also wanted to play with other cool figures like Lando, and Yoda.  It didn’t particularly matter because we had tremendous fun without a logical story.

I’ll say it again:  improvisation.  We built a custom multi-level Cloud City out of cardboard boxes.  It had sliding doors and sort of an elevator.  We made our own figure-compatible vehicles out of Lego.  Before I had a figure of Han Solo frozen in carbonite, I took my Solo and put him in a glass of water.  If I put him in the freezer for a few hours, I’d have a frozen Han ready to go for the next adventure.  My dad was bemused to go into the freezer and find Han Solo in there so frequently.

No matter the story or setting, the Millennium Falcon was there.  You could fit several figures in it, with two in the cockpit, one in the gunner’s chair, and several tossed into the opening rear compartment.  The cool thing about the gunner’s chair was that it rotated in sync with the top quad-cannons.  The Falcon’s rear compartment was equipped with a space chess table (called Dejarik), a Jedi training area (you know, for that one scene), and a smuggler’s compartment with secret hatch.  This made it more of a playset than a ship, but it did have several features that made it more a ship than a playset as well.  Close up the rear compartment, raise the working landing gear, and you are airborne.  The Falcon also had sound effects and a large battery compartment where the escape pod would have been.  While playing on the living room floor, if the track “The Asteroid Field” was playing, you just had to get the Falcon ready for take off.  Close the ramp, the canopy, and the rear compartment.  Raise the landing gear and you were space-bound!  Then I’d fly the ship around the living room in sync with the swells and crescendos of the theme.  It really felt like Star Wars at that point.

In 1981, the first Indiana Jones soundtrack was released, also composed by John Williams.  It was official then:  Williams was my favourite.  I didn’t have very many records; most of the others were “Story Of” soundtracks with full narration and dialogue.  That was another way to re-live a movie in a pre-VHS household, but I kept coming back to the actual movie scores.  I outgrew the “Story Of” records but not the scores.  Even so, nothing topped the original two-record set of The Empire Strikes Back.  When Return of the Jedi was released in ’83, it was only a single record.  It didn’t have as many memorable cues.  I loved and cherished it, but not as much as Empire.

Besides, in 1983 something else happened besides the end of the Star Wars trilogy.  I was getting older, and there was this new song out.  I heard four words — “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto“, and my world shifted once again!  But that, friends, is another story.