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Saturday, June 28th, 2014
2:53 pm
Star Wars: A Retrospective
It was nearly 40 years ago that Star Wars the movie first appeared in American movie theaters. And I remember that like it was yesterday. I had the good fortune to be in the target demographic- age 15 – and I had just started going to movie with my teen friends away from my parents- so it really felt like that movie belonged to Us- the teens of the 1970s.

We now live in an age where CGI and digital special effects are the norm in nearly EVERY movie, and on TV, even in commercials. But in 1975, there WAS nothing. Star Wars was the first CGI movie and it blew us away. I remember seeing the preview with my Mom (she wanted to see New York, New York) and I was just stunned. The effects were too real! HOW did they do that? I knew I had to see that movie and it put a buzz in my head- so the first time afterwards when I saw my best friend, I told him “We GOT to go to see this movie!” And we did. I lost track of number of the times that we saw it. I knew a girl in college who saw it 300 times. Of course she was working at the theater at the time, but she never missed a show. It meant that much to us teens back then. It was more than a movie- it was a way of LIFE.

I have become jaded to the first movie though. It seems sophomoric now really. The dialogue is cheesy, the special effects are crude, the plot is ridiculous. I can’t watch it any more really. And I could anytime I wanted, as my wife has the collection on video. I can plug it in day or night anytime I like. But I don’t.

I don’t really like any of the other movies either. Oh I know, George Lucas has enchanted generations now with his storyline about the tragic life of Darth Vader and the rise of the Evil Empire and all that. But he has over merchandised them. In fact Lucas invented cross merchandising of movies and books, and TV; with every other damned thing under the sun. And he killed the romance of it for me. I mean EVERYONE has done Star Wars now- even fucking Mickey Mouse. It’s a become a joke- a parody of itself. It has lost all the original meaning and zest. I really feel that Lucas is just doing it for the money now. I’m tired of making him rich.

Who has kept up with all the plot twists and turns Lucas added to Star Wars over the years? I didn’t. But I know friends who did. I know a guy who saw all the movies, and knows them in the order that that little blurb says they should be in the beginning of each movie (Example the First movie ‘Star Wars” is called Chapter Six - “A new Hope” or some such crap) and calls them by that name .

He also has read and seen all the novelizations of the Star Wars story, all the comic books and the animated cartoons and knows them by heart. He knows shit that not even in the movies. For example- did you know that there’s a sci-fi novel where Princess Leia marries Han Solo and they have a daughter and she has her own adventures. That shit wasn’t in any movie. Who knows that shit? My friend does. I feel sorry for him, It’s like a sickness. A mental brain disease. George Lucas has eaten this guy’s imagination. And George Lucas does it for the money.

I don’t buy all that crap about Lucas having a story arc in mind from the beginning. Star Wars #1 was designed to be a stand alone movie. It’s a classic fairy tale set in a space opera setting- handsome hero saves the princess. It’s Snow White with laser pistols. Luke and Leia kiss each other romantically in it (and in the sequel) and there is NO indication anywhere except Movie Three- the Teddy Bears in Space movie (which I loathe)- that they are brother and sister.

No, Lucas made Number Two for the money, and then kept churning the next dozen movie sequels out for the money. He has now bastardized the whole concept of Star Wars just for the money. He uses it to sell Legos. I wish he would just admit it, and be honest about it. It would make no difference, as a huge segment of the population is completely mad about the whole George Lucas Star Wars Universe.

Over the past 40 years, I have read and seen better science fiction/ fantasy novels, movies and story arcs; for example the whole Star Wars story pales in comparison to say JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings; or to Robert Heinlein’s Lazarus Long stories. So Lucas doesn’t impress the me now – I , who was once an Star Wars enamored 15 year old boy, hypnotized by his computer graphically enhanced space age fairy tale. Now I know better.

For example; I don’t give a damn about the rise and fall of Darth Vader. It’s a cliffhanger space opera in the tradition of better movies like the Flash Gordon movie serials of the 1940s. I also despise the ‘religion’ that George Lucas invented called ‘the Force’. It should be called ‘the Farce’ since it allows the characters to spout the most ignominious clichés at any given moment. Compare the complexity of the alien religions in Frank Herbert’s Dune series or Heinlein’s Stranger in A Strange Land (to name a few scifi greats); if you want an original take on futuristic religions. Lucas’s ‘Force’ is something he invented from smoking too much 70s weed.

Then there are too many holes in the plot. How come Luke Skywalker gets to use the Force, but his sister Princess Leia does not? How come Darth Vader acknowledges Luke as his son in the second movie; but tortures Leia (his daughter) in the first one? How come the X Wing fighters can fly faster than the speed of light from one star system to another- and yet they don’t even have a toilet in them? And where the hell is planet Earth?

Because I don’t buy that “Long Ago in a Galaxy far far away…” crap. George Lucas’ science fiction future falls oddly flat at all times. He steals planet settings and storylines from every other science fiction or fantasy story out there. Lucas doesn’t even try to make his alien societies or cultures original like Herbert or Tolkien’s did. Lucas mixes up a few gibberish consonants and vowels and makes names for planets and characters out of them. And that’s the extent of his creativity. Its rubbish. But Lucas got away with it- because he did Star Wars on film first. And that’s it.

I do have a sneaking admiration for the second movie “The Empire Strikes Back”, because the good guys lose. Darth Vader is at his villainous best in this move and the Empire has a great menacing movie score as composed by John Williams that rivals anything the other movies ever had. The Bounty Hunters froze Han Solo in carbonite; and Luke and Leia escape in the Millenium Falcon flying away into outer space - beaten at the end by Darth Vader in every plot twist and turn. I loved it, and had no desire to see another Star Wars movie after that.

Because I had grown up. I was in my twenties, and I could see how shallow all of Lucas’s Star Wars culture was.
Without the CGI- no one would wasted any time on it. My own imagination had far better ideas than he ever did. And thank God for that.
Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
10:23 am
Book vs Movie: I am legend
I know the movie is more than a year old- but its on HBO- and I have JUST seen it. Here are my notes on the subject:
Please note- there WILL be spoilers!

I am Legend by Richard Matheson
I am Legend starring Will Smith

Book Vs Movie

1)Differences: Whole premise was changed from the book.

In the book: A strange new plague is turning humans into vampires. Dr. Robert Neville is the only survivor. By day he hunts the vampires down and stakes them. At night he hides in his fortified house while the vampires come out and endlessly taunt him in an attempt to drive him mad.

Driven insane by lonelinss and fear he tries first to befriend a starving stray dog- which dies. Then a miracle happens- he finds a woman survivor- who he takes home and tries to talk to. However- it is a trick she is one of the new breed of vampires- ex-humans who have learned to adapt to vampirism with drugs- and they are going to rebuild a new vampiric society. She betrays Dr. Neville to this vampire society- where he is imprisoned and executed for killing so many vampires. To them - HE is the bogeyman- the Vampire killing legend who MUST die- for his
crimes to the new vampire society. He is their legend of TERROR. Hence the title of the book!

In the movie: A mutuated viral cancer cure mutates 99% of the human race into darkseekers (vampires). Dr. Robert Neville is immune and bases his operations in New York City where he survives day to day by looting the ruined city, hunting for food and THEN tries to find a cure at night in his heavilly fortified Brownstone. His only compainion is the family dog. His family was killed trying to escape NYC while he remained behind. He's more than little crazy - endlessly listening to Bob Marley records and watching Shrek the movie.

Neville traps the Darkseekers occasionally and takes them back to his lab to use as experiments in a cure. But the Darkseekers don't know where he lives until- they kill his dog. Then he goes crazy and tries to kill hundreds of dark seekers in a failed ambush- but is rescued at the last second by another human survivor-a woman named Anna and her son named Ethan. They take him back to his Brownstone and bandage him up, but they are followed by the Darkseekers who tear the place apart.

Taking refuge in the lab- they have a standoff with the Darkseekers. During the attack, a miracle occurs when Dr. Neville discovers his experiments have worked and he has a cure, But he decides to kill himself and the attacking Darkseekers to allow Anna and her son escape with the cure and give it to band of survivors who are living in the mountains of Vermont. As the movie credits roll as we hear Anna say "He is our legend- he saved humanity."

There's a BIG *fucking* DIFFERENCE in the plot and concept of the two versions of the story.


IAL:The book is explicit in explaining the plague reanimates the dead-so the vampires there are true vampires- repelled by garlic, killed by stakes, etc and the humans who survive the plague-
who didn't die- are still vampires- but NOT undead ones. They actually destroy the animated corpses themselves- but hate Dr. Neville for his indescriminate killing of any vampire- dead or alive.

IAL:The movie doesn't even call them vampires. They are GCI monsters -naked all looking the same - no hair on their heads, fangs and fond of running around with only thier pants on. They are scarcely intelligent and incapable of speech. They also have CGI vampire dogs- one of them bites Nevilles dog and he has to kill it- making him even crazier.

BFD in the depiction of the vampires!

3)Background and lifestyles:

IAL:the Book: The location is never stated- it could be anywhere. Neville works out a strict daily routine of restocking food supplies, gas and other nessecities. And a routine of making more stakes and collecting more garlic. He also spends part of each day systmatically going house to house in the unnamed city staking vampires.

IAL:Movie: CGI rules the day in Neville's deserted NYC. Grass and trees are overgrowing the streets. Escaped zoo animals like antelope and lions roam the streets. Neville tries to hunt them from his sports car with a machine gun.

He has no routine- except for the beeping of his watch 20 minutes before sundown- so he can drive back to home before dark. Once home- he hides and listens to Bob Marly and talks endlessy to his dog. No one bothers him at night- and he is free to go roaming once more. He occasionally snares a Darkseeker to inject it with drugs in his lab to find a cure.

BFD in depiction of lifestyles of Dr. Neville!

The movie is no where near the book version. It twists the concept into just another doomsday movie. It is not as well thought out- depends too much on CGI, misses key elements of the plot and had me dozing off at points with Neville's boring life style. An utter failure as an adaptation of the book- which has been adapted brillantly twice before- once with Vincent Price (The last Man on Earth) and once with Charlton Heston (The Omega Man). Either of these movies is a better version. Watch them instead of this boring piece of pop culture trash.

Last Nagging Question:
WTF does Shrek the Movie and Bob Marley have to do with Matheson's book?
Um- er- NOTHING? Did these screenwriters even READ the novel at all?
Look for more movie book reviews as I write them! Just don't expect them to be up to date!

Current Mood: cranky
Friday, April 6th, 2007
2:31 pm
Friday Night Ghost Story

Note: Names followed by "*" have been changed for confidentiality issues.

This is a true story which happened to me at the age of 13. Please forgive me if this story does not supply enough information. To this day my friends and I still have a mild cases of Eisoptrophobia (fear of mirrors), but they have improved by far since our encounter with the paranormal.

Our experience took place in a friend's large house in the quiet suburb of Redlynch, which he still lives in today. I remember it being three weeks after my 13th birthday, and, as a joke, my good friend Dean* gave me a dodgy old Ouija board that had been in his garage for years, even before his family had moved into the house. He knew that this board was the only thing keeping me from helping him clean out the garage, because it always gave me an anxious feeling when I saw it. But, by then, I had gotten over my fear of the board.

One of my other friends, Harry*, had suggested that ourselves and three others go 'round to Dean's and use the Ouija board (his parents were the only ones who approved of us using one). I was having second thoughts, but my friends seemed to talk me into it quite well. So well, in fact, that I found myself looking forward to it.

We arrived at Dean's at about 7pm, just as the sun began to go down. After about four hours of playing X box and a movie, we decided it was finally time to hold our seance. It was decided that the seance would be held in the garage, which was full of old junk, and was (surprise surprise) the darkest in the house. I felt quite uncomfortable in the room, but didn't want to be the stereotypical youngest-and-most-afraid out of the group, so I didn't mention it.

After the whole process you normally go through in a seance (it will take too long to explain, and most readers will know how it goes anyway), Harry asked the first question; "is anyone there?" and the planchette moved to "NO". We all knew that this was quite absurd, as there must've been SOMETHING moving the planchette. Another question was asked by Harry; "Who is moving the planchette?" which it replied, "Arn". We all took turns in asking questions such as "Do we know you?", "Were you a student at our school?", and then two questions with quite interesting answers...I asked, "How did you die?" to which this 'Arn' character replied, "Sickle". My first thought was that this could have been the blood cell disease named sickle, but was curious as to if it was, so I asked another question; "Which type of sickle?" which was replied with the word, "Harvest tool". It didn't take us long to figure out what Arn meant by the word HARVEST TOOL. In case you didn't know, a Sickle is also a hook shaped, hand held tool used to harvest grain crops, if a harvesting machine was not handy at the time. By this time, we were all a bit shocked about the death of this spirit. Dean asked quite a personal question about the spirit; "Who killed you?" to which Arn replied, "Myself". This brought a bit more shock to the group. Reluctant to find out more, I asked where the death was, which was replied with the word, "Show". I got the feeling that this ghost wanted us to see where it happened, so I asked, "Would you like to show us?" to which he replied, "Yes". As soon as our question was answered, a rattling noise was heard coming from one of the old cabinets that was going to waste in the garage, and a box full of Dean's old toys fell off the top of the cupboard, with one tennis ball strangely rolling about 5 meters away from the cabinet and coming to an immediate stop. The planchette moved around to form the word "ball". We all looked over to where the ball had rolled to, just above a large, dark stain on the floor. Harry asked Dean if that stain was there before, to which Dean replied that it had been like that since before they had moved in. We were all extremely curious by now, so much to the extent where the most idiotic question was asked; "Can you show yourself?" with a reply that made me want to run out of that house at full speed; "YES". Before I could get up and leave, I felt a voice in my head telling me I needed to stay and see what happened.

There was a full sized mirror across the room that began to rattle. As soon as we all looked over, there was a figure in the mirror that did not appear in real form, this was in the MIRROR ONLY. This freaked the hell out of me, but the figure in the mirror continued to hold my gaze. It had to be the most horrific thing I had ever witnessed. In the mirror was a boy who looked about the age of 15, and had raggedy old clothes on. He seemed to resemble a farmer. In his left hand, he held a sickle. The right hand was covered in blood, and his face, I will NEVER forget. His flesh looked to have been torn, almost all off his face. He was drenched in blood, and he seemed to be laughing. Quickly thinking, we all moved the planchette to goodbye, bolted upstairs and into the bedroom, where we hid in the cupboard until the early hours of the morning, when Dean's parents found us huddled up in the cupboard, still scared out of our minds. We told Dean's parents what had happened, and they seemed to understand. They knew that it was possible for this kind of thing to happen. They did not want Dean to be excluded from our close circle of 6 friends, so they told all the other parents that the Ouija board had nothing to do with it, and that we were all just looking for an old game in the garage when we had seen this thing. They seemed to understand, and each of us were getting psychological counseling to control our phobias of mirrors.

After this incident, I have tried to look in mirrors a bit more often, but still see random things that may have to do with the whole Ouija incident, for example: a boy (with a normal face) crying, a hand reaching out of the wall behind me, and many other things that have made my phobia worse.

I am getting better, and there have not been any recent things I have seen in the mirror. If there are any people out there who are planning on having a seance, never ask for a spirit to show themselves or communicate through you, unless you are ready for living hell.


Current Mood: enthralled
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