Posts Tagged ‘Harrison Ford’

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December 22, 2015

Star Wars has been around my entire life. A New Hope came out 5 and a half years before I was born. The Empire Strikes Back came out two and a half years before I was born. I was five months old when Return of the Jedi came out. I don’t remember exactly when I eventually watched the original trilogy but I think it probably wasn’t at 5 months. I do know that when I watched the movies, I liked them a lot. Even as a kid I was a fantasy fan more than I was a sci-fiction fan but I did love space (I wanted to be an astronaut). Star Wars was able to give me both Fantasy and Space in sufficient portions. I liked the cocky smirk on Han Solo’s face. Luke’s lightsaber, Leia’s fire, Ben’s wisdom and Vader’s spookiness. I never really cared for the droids but hey neither did most of the characters in the movie. I had a huge pile of Star Wars action figures and I read some of the expanded universe stuff as I got older.

I eventually saw the original trilogy in theaters when they released the special editions and the magic that had faded was renewed. On the heels of that gift, they started to release the Prequel trilogy and now I was old enough to eagerly greet the movies in theaters. They were disappointing but they got better as they went along. I defended those prequels the best I could but eventually my enthusiasm cooled and I packed Star Wars away except for watching The Clone Wars tv show now and then.

So it was with a great mixed emotion when Disney announced that they were planning their own Star Wars trilogy now that they owned the property. Several franchises had flourished under Disney including Pixar, Marvel and The Muppets just to name a few. Still, I was concerned because the original trilogy was not perfect but the prequels had definitely tarnished a lot of what was good in the franchise. Were the original actors too old to come back? Would JJ Abrams lose his way and create something less than good? Was there even anything left to mine in the Star Wars universe? There were just too many questions. I had been hurt before, so why try again? Because the trailer was interesting and new and nostalgic all at once. Moreover, I felt obligated to see it out of geek pride. Also, my friends said it was good on Saturday. So all of this was in my mind as I stepped into a movie theater at 3 in the afternoon in Martinsburg, WV.

I will stop here to give a fair warning that, although I’m earnestly trying not to spoil anything, I understand if you stop reading now. Go watch the movie and come back here later. I try not to include spoilers but I know even the slightest thing can be a spoiler for some people.

From the very beginning I was hit with nostalgia and then I was very intrigued. The movie did a great job of mixing the new with the familiar. One of the greatest faults of the The Phantom Menace was that it started with a boring scene about trade negotiations. Every Star Wars film before or since has started with some sort of interesting and/or action-packed sequence. They definitely fully regained that ability to grab you right away and pull you into the story. I definitely felt pulled in and the movie didn’t let me go until the credits rolled. I walked away humming the music, just barely able to keep the humming under my breath. I was smiling pretty hard during and after film. Honestly, the film felt a little like coming home. Sure things were different but most of those things were better and all the things you liked were still there.

It was so good to see Han Solo again. I know Harrison Ford doesn’t really understand the impact of the character and doesn’t enjoy it but he really pulled it off. Carrie Fisher was even more likeable as Ex-Princess Leia and she was a sight for sore eyes. Thankfully BB-8 wasn’t annoying at all after months of having him shoved down my throat. John Boyega was a total surprise hit as I was intrigued about his character in the trailer but was unsure how it would work out. Daisy Ridley is absolutely the actress and character we all deserved for being fans all of these years. Both of them work so well together and separately and I’m excited to see where their story goes. Everybody was absolutely great in their roles even all the bit characters and the CGI characters were so well done that it didn’t feel artificial like the prequels. The whole thing was written by two people. JJ Abrams has come a long way from the mess that was Lost and has even come a long way from the Star Trek reboot. Lawrence Kasdan wrote The Empire Strikes Back which was, until today, my favorite Star Wars movie and his work showed in this one.

Go see this movie whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not. There’s so much I loved in this movie that I just can’t talk about openly. I don’t want to ruin it for somebody who hasn’t seen it yet. I want to tell everybody I know to see it and everybody I don’t know as well.

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The Frisco Kid

February 23, 2014

So.  I know I’ve started a couple things on this blog that I fully intended to continue on a regular basis but then I didn’t because of reasons.  Of course, some of those were in my head instead of on the blog so you don’t know about it.   Just think of this one as a continuation of my movie reviews like Man of Steel (which I actually want to redo).  I’m on a classic movie kick lately so we’ll start with….

The Frisco Kid

This is a western film originally released on July 13, 1979.  For the record, that’s over two and a half years before I was born.  If you did not notice, this was Friday the 13th.  Maybe that is why I heard the movie was considered a flop at the box office.

How could a Gene Wilder/Harrison Ford flick be a flop?  Those two actors are such legends in my history book.   I idolized Harrison Ford as a kid mostly for Indiana Jones but I got a kick out of most of his work.  I saw Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and then I was later introduced to Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and a host of hilarious movies.  These two were dynamite separately, now I would see how they faired when thrown together.

Now, when I think of western films, I don’t think of either Gene Wilder or Harrison Ford.  Of course, after this Harrison Ford wouldn’t do another “western” until 2011 when he did Cowboys and Aliens (which doesn’t fully count, does it?)  Gene Wilder visited the genre in  Blazing Saddles but don’t expect to see anything like the Waco Kid here.

Gene Wilder plays a bumbling and honest Polish rabbi on his way across the United States to San Francisco.  Harrison Ford plays a sarcastic outlaw who meets up with Wilder’s character on the road to the west coast.

Both actors are playing to their strengths.  Harrison Ford is not going to go near any heavy lifting acting-wise but will stick with being a funny outsider.  That is completely OK.   Meanwhile, Gene has excellent comedic timing and is great and being a subtle shade of goofy.  I would say that his very full beard covers up his usual great facial expressions but his eyes are the most expressive part of him.

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  Gene Wilder plays a stereotypical Jewish man complete with accent.  However, there is absolutely nothing in what he does that is insulting or untrue about the culture.  Well, he does mention Polan being near Czechoslovakia which didn’t exist yet in 1850.  Other than that, it’s a depiction of an honest, good-hearted man who just happens to fit a stereotype.  In other words, he is not playing the stereotype, he is playing a character who meets much of the criteria of that stereotype.

Speaking of accents, thankfully Harrison Ford does not attempt a western twang.  It’s not that I think that it would be be bad, it’s just I’m afraid that might be.  Harrison Ford is not a trained actor, he’s just really good at doing what he does best much like Bruce Willis or Charles Bronson.  So it may be unfair but I hold actors like Ford to a lower standard, a bar they can usually easily get over.  Still, he does a really good job here at being the unapologetic jerk with a heart of gold.

This was Gene Wilder’s story.  Much like Mattie Ross is the real hero of True Grit, Rabbi Avram is the true hero of The Frisco Kid.   Though this movie is mostly a funny comedy, it certainly does get very real at moments.   Gene Wilder has proven again and again that he can do comedy and he can do drama and he can switch from one to the other at a moment’s notice.  In my opinion, this movie is about one man’s unending determination.  It also ends up being about friendship and reaching across cultural dividing lines as well but that’s just a pleasant bonus.

It was also really refreshing to sit down and watch a comedy again that is smart and not offensive.  Two men lay together to keep warm without an extended five minute gay joke.   Now, I don’t know about the accuracy of Jewish and Native American culture but from what I could see it was alright.   It could have been just another buddy comedy film but it was definitely smarter than that.

Overall, the movie was funny all the way through and it was defintely heartwarming here and there.   It started well and finished really strong.  I would definitely reccomend it to just about anybody I know.


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