Showing posts from November, 2012

Low Point

If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you've probably noticed that as of late most of the entries are movie reviews, some of them which are complete and others which are essentially "teasers" which contain links to the original versions at Epinions.  Over the past few months, that's all that I've really been doing; I've written a few "op-ed" columns about Trayvon Martin and the civil war in Syria, but not much else which can be called original blog content.

If this disappoints some (or all) of you, I apologize. I started this blog last year with every intention of providing a variety of entries that weren't limited to movie reviews and/or the creative process. I wanted to explore all kinds of topics which may be of interest to a diverse audience, and that is still my hope, because I want this blog to, as the Vulcans say on Star Trek, "live long and prosper."

However, I must point out that this is possibly one of the lowest points of…

Back to Bataan: Not one of John Wayne's best WWII movies

One of the problems about making a movie an actual conflict while said conflict is still raging is that sometimes events on the ground tend to overtake the filmmakers’ production schedule, especially if the movie is set in a specific place where battles are being fought. 

This is exactly what happened to producer Robert Fellows when he was making Back to Bataan, a blend of action-adventure, wartime propaganda, and a not-so-subtle reminder to the American public that the Philippines wanted independence not only from their Japanese occupiers but also from their U.S. “protectors.” 

Written by Ben Barzman (who was pro-Communist, as was director Edward Dmytryk), William Gordon, and Aeneas MacKenzie, Back to Bataan starred John Wayne as a U.S. Army colonel who stays on Luzon to help organize a U.S.-Filipino guerrilla group to fight the occupying Japanese forces and help pave the way for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s long-promised return. 

During the filming of Back to Bataan,  which took 130 days t…

Hasbro's Bail Organa (Alderaan Senator) from Star Wars Saga: Attack of the Clones

vSenator Bail Organa of Alderaan is a trusted advisor in Chancellor Palpatine's inner circle. An impassioned supporter of civic virtue, Bail regrets that to counter the Separatist threat, the Republic must deploy a newly discovered clone army. Although the Republic garners an equivocal victory at the Battle of Geonosis, it is only the first step in a much larger, carefully conceived Clone War. The noble Senator stands in somber observation as thousands of clone troopers, marching in military formation, board countless warships and disperse throughout the galaxy to new battlefronts. - From the Hasbro Star Wars Saga - Bail Organa (Alderaan Senator) action figure's package blurb

Introduced in 2003 as the 33rd action figure of the Saga line, Bail Organa (Alderaan Senator) is the very first figure depicting one of the future founders of the Rebel Alliance. 

 As "action figures" go, this is a good example of how Hasbro lavishes attention to detail on figures whose characters…

Hasbro's Garindan (Long Snoot) Star Wars - The Power of the Force: Action figure review

Garindan, a Kubaz informant, works only for the highest bidders - usually the Empire or Jabba the Hutt. Garindan followed the young Skywalker and his mentor Ben Kenobi through the alleys of Mos Eisley.  - From the package blurb. 

The shadowy spy retroactively named Garindan only appears briefly in A New Hope as the shrouded figure with the long nose and goggled eyes, he is the character who tips off the Imperial stormtroopers that Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi have gone to Docking Bay 94 in Mos Eisley.  He appears twice or thrice, following the Jedi Knight and his new apprentice through alleys and bystreets and muttering into a handheld comlink in a squeaky language. 

Garindan is not identified by name in the film or the 1976 Alan Dean Foster-penned novelization; the figure is also known colloquially as "Long Snoot" because of his long proboscis. 

The Figure: 

Height: 1.85 Meters
Status: Spy
Classification: Kubaz
Affiliation: To The Highest Bidder
Weapon of Choice: Blaster Pistol, Hold-Ou…

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: A brief review of the Original Soundtrack album

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade's soundtrack recording, like most albums of the genre, has its virtues and vices. Even keeping in mind that it was released originally in 1989 in records, cassettes, and the still-new CD format, it is still an album that offers John Williams' score for the third film in the Indy series, but not enough of it. 

Having veered by design into dark thematic and musical territory in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, director Steven Spielberg, producer George Lucas and composer Williams decided to revisit the more fun and thrilling tones of Raiders of the Lost Ark, adding depth to Indy's character by including his father, Professor Henry Jones, Sr. and new themes reflecting the father-son dynamic and the quest for the Holy Grail. 

Keeping in mind the limitations of this album, the music here is enjoyable. Listen to "Indy's Very First Adventure" (track 1) and you can almost see young Indiana Jones (as incarnated by the late River P…

Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless (Book Review)

Depression, it’s been claimed, sometimes triggers spurts of creativity, particularly in writers and musical artists. Either that or it inspires creative people later on to give the world memorable songs or poems – such as Jerome Kerns’ “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” or Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam.” 

Unfortunately for fans of the late Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy five-volume “trilogy,” the author’s bout with the blues didn’t help much in the writing of Mostly Harmless, the bleak, somewhat underwhelming final book in the series. 

As in the previous four novels, Adams pokes fun at various science fiction themes, mainly the concept of parallel universes and the notion that aliens have been monitoring the Earth’s various television and radio broadcasts since the mid-20th Century. And of course, as in the other volumes, Adams also makes various brilliantly funny observations about life in the Universe…or in New York City: 

One of the extraordinary things about life is th…

Attack of the Hawkmen: Young Indy goes aloft in unfriendly WWI skies

After the cancellation by ABC of his ambitious and expensive television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, executive producer George Lucas tried several methods to save the show and give viewers - especially pre-teen kids and young adults - its trademark mix of education and entertainment.

For instance, after ABC axed Young Indy from its lineup (citing the show's lavish budgets as its primary reason), Lucasfilm Limited produced four made-for-TV movies which aired on cable's Family Channel over a two-year period (1994-1996). 

Another life-saving measure was the hiring of film editor T.M. Christopher, who not only had worked with Lucas as an editor on the Classic Star Wars Trilogy, but also with Milos Forman in cutting 1984's Amadeus.

Christopher (who also was involved in the 1997 updating of the original Star Wars films into their still controversial Special Edition versions)  was assigned to  re-edit 44 episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and fashioning 22…

Supreme Chancellor Palpatine: A Star Wars Action Figure Review

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

It is a time of turmoil in the galaxy. A decade after the Naboo crisis and the election of Senator Palpatine as Supreme Chancellor, a new menace to democracy has emerged as Count Dooku, a former Jedi Master, becomes the leader of a Separatist movement that has enticed ten thousand systems to secede from the Galactic Republic.

In the face of this and other crises, the Galactic Senate has allowed the charismatic and seemingly incorruptible Supreme Chancellor to remain in office despite constitutionally mandated term limits. Quiet, unassuming, and devoted to maintaining peace and justice in the galaxy, Palpatine seems to be reluctant to use force against the Separatists.

But as it becomes apparent that the 10,000-strong Jedi Order may be becoming overextended in its efforts to maintain the peace throughout the galaxy, Palpatine's stance on negotiations shifts to a harder line as his operatives in the Senate and elsewhere push for the creati…