Tag Archives: Harrison Ford

Disney aquires Lucasfilm


It’s official. George Lucas will no longer be the creative force behind  the Star Wars franchise.

In a shocking development today, Disney aquired  Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. All of those funds, which include stocks and cash, will go directly  to Lucas himself, since he is the sole owner of the independent company that  never went public. In exchange, Disney now has complete ownership of the  Star Wars franchise.

What does this mean for fans? It means that we might  get a decent Star Wars
film! No longer is the franchise beholden to Lucas’ wooden dialogue and bad creative decisions that he had complete control  over. In a statement today Lucas said, “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. … It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.”

While I am  appreciative of the Star Wars films he’s created, I am extremely excited  about the opportunity that another director and writer could have when  bringing their vision of his world to the screen. Stay tuned! This is only the start of could be many Star Wars films to come. I say that because I’m positive Disney didn’t buy it in order to shelve it away!

Brian’s Review – “Cowboys and Aliens”

Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel series leaps to the screen as amnesiac gunslinger Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) stumbles into the Wild West town of Absolution, where he’s confronted by potent enemy Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and a terrifying problem: invading aliens. Aided by the lovely Ella (Olivia Wilde), Jake rallies a posse of the townspeople, Dolarhyde’s minions and local Apache warriors to fight off the extraterrestrial threat.

Brian – 2 out of 10
What an expensive mess of a film. How could they have possibly green-lit this script and lure Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Jon Favreu to work on it? If you’re wondering if the movie is just as disjointed as the title, you’d be right and then some. It literally feels like two different films. Neither have any bit of a fucking story but they’re there. We open with Daniel Craig waking up after an alien abduction and has an alien “friendship bracelet” attached to him. After that, we learn he’s a wanted man, a damn good gun fighter, and a man who’s soft side has been taken away because he lost the woman he loves. Ok, were they serious with this shit? I just described almost every western that ever existed. Now, just to make sure it runs through every cliché possible, Harrison Ford shows up pissed off because his son has been arrested despite shooting a deputy. He’s the bad ass of the town and he’ll be damned if any kin of his has to answer to the law! OMG, that’s shitty writing. So, what does this crack team of top Hollywood writers do when confounded by a script that contains 0% originality? Oh, we’ll just crowbar aliens into this fucking mess! That will solve all of our problems. Uhhh, no it won’t. All that does is make this pile of shit smellier and taller. The thing that makes it even worse is that the first 45 minutes to an hour is a conventional western. So, when the aliens do finally show up, you just stare in disbelief at what a bad idea this whole disaster is. The other main problem is when you have a genre mashing popcorn movie with likeable stars, shouldn’t it be fun? This film is no fun whatsoever and has little to no humor.

I find that quite shocking considering Favreu directed both Iron Man films. But, as you watch this hunk of mule shit, you quickly realize that decision after decision by the director is to play this dead pan serious. To top that off, this films cost a whopping $160 million to make and the special effects aren’t even very good. So, where the hell did that money go? The actors got paid, say 30 mil, maybe 5 for Favreu, the script was about 5 bucks, and the CGI was lame and fake looking. I’m assuming it went towards marketing and advertising because I kept hearing about this movie for months. Well, in your face ads or not, count me as one who thought this was one of the worst Hollywood blockbusters to come out in a long time.

Top 5 Technologies that Changed Movies Forever


What will Superman change in now that phonebooths are all gone?

5. The Cell Phone: This isn’t really a technology that was directly made for the cinema but it changed the way movies were written. No longer are characters tied to desks, telephone booths, or home phones. All conversations can take place anywhere at anytime and are untraceable. Stop and think about how many movies in the last 10-15 years could not have been made without a cell phone. Almost every modern crime, action, and horror film completely relies on them. Also, cell phones have to be accounted for somewhere in the story. A character will almost always show that they can’t retrieve signal on their cell phone, lose it, or damage it in order for the plot to progress where they are helpless and alone or the audience’s first question is, “Why don’t they just call for help on their cell phone?”

4. Panaglide: I’m sure some of you are saying, “What the hell is Panaglide?” Well, Panaglide was a steadicam that attached by harness to a cinematographer to allow them to have isolation between the movement of the camera and the movement of the operator. This allowed them to get shots that were previously considered impossible. In the past, sets had to be created to allow for fluid movement of the camera and space for dolly tracking and cranes so that it wasn’t done handheld with the “shaky cam” effect. Panaglide solved that problem by creating smooth motion with one operator in cramped spaces. A great example of Panaglide is the opening sequence of the horror classic “Halloween”. The technology allowed the Director of Photography (Dean Cundey) to smoothly move from outside the house, inside and through it, have a murder scene, and then exit the house in one continuous shot in cramped space on location without dolly track on a very limited budget. Remember that great shot in Goodfellas where we are introduced to all the mob characters in one shot? Panaglide. Remember that great shot in Boogie Nights at the pool party that kept going for almost three minutes and underwater? Panaglide. It changed how films were made forever.

3. Surround Sound: I remember like it was yesterday the first movie I heard in full Dolby Digital surround sound. It was the terrific film Star Trek: First Contact. I was sitting in the theater and the moment the opening credits started I got goosebumps. The theater was completely alive with sound coming from all directions with crystal clear clarity. Unlike the days of stereo, when a spaceship flew by it felt like it went right over your head and through the theater. It immersed you in the experience of the story in a more complete way. Surround sound also changed the way directors and sound engineers created their movies. Effects and sounds had to be thought of in a 360 degree environment where the audience was just as invested with their ears as their eyes.

2. CGI: Love it or hate it, CGI changed movies forever. A lot of movies in the past were considered unfilmable. The ideas of large creatures, otherworldly locations, or sheer volume of fictional characters on screen at one time required such a huge financial commitment from film financers that many scripts were thrown away. CGI changed all that. For example, Steven Spielberg has said that without CGI, he would have never made Jurassic Park. After George Lucas saw what the technology could do, he decided it was time to start making new Star Wars films. And, James Cameron sat on his Avatar film for years because he knew that he needed CGI in order to achieve his vision. The technology had an even greater effect on the world of animation. The majority of films today are made through the process of computer animation. Pixar, Dreamworks, and Sony are just 3 of the many studios that are computer generated only. It has resulted in billions of dollars of revenue and been a driving force for creative flexibility.

1. Home Video: There is no single technology other than film itself that has changed cinema more than the ability for us to have movie playback in our home. It has gone through several advancements over the years: Beta to VHS to laserdisc to DVD to blu-ray and streaming. But, no matter the method of playback, the technology created new businesses through the home video rental market, movie collectors to buy and own their favorite films, and opened up a second way to get revenue for studios besides box office numbers. But, the most important thing it gave us by far is for us as film lovers to see movies we never got to see before. In the past, films would get re-released in theaters for short periods of time so that we could see films that we missed during their initial theatrical run. But, you would never know which films would come back and for how long. Today, we are so lucky to be able to see almost any film we want through services like Blockbuster, Netflix, Cable on-demand, or streaming boxes like Apple TV. It’s a great age to live in if you’re a film buff and it’s the most important technology added to movies ever!

The Ten Greatest Movies Ever Made Part 4

Every day we’re cutting ten movies from our original list of 45 of the Greatest Movies Ever Made until we’re down to ten. Brian gets to chop five, then Matt

Here are the movies that didn’t make the grade.

Matt’s Vetoes:

Goodfellas – This is an amazing movie. All the movies on this list are. But, it’s often pushed to the back of the line with gangster movies because there are so many. It’s lost in the shuffle, and it’s unfortunate, because it’s so much better than movies like Godfather that get all the love.

Taxi Driver – Great performances, gritty realism, excellent direction, but this is not Martin Scorcese’s best. There are a handful I like better.

Up – This is Pixar’s best film, hands down, and probably better than any Disney movie. It has heart, drama, and it surprised me how amazing it was. Breaks my heart to take it off the list, but we’re talking ten best ever, and it doesn’t make the grade.

Boogie Nights – Mark Wahlberg’s performance always seemed lame to me, which was the one thing that held this back. All the films have to be flawless, or really damn close. Excellent film, though.

Citizen Kane – It’s unfortunate, but this film has been dated. Newspapers are dead. The story is relevant, but the industry isn’t.

Brian’s vetoes:

Passion of the Christ — Moving, spiritual, and one of the most powerful films ever made. But, if you’re not Christian, it’s a two hour blood orgy.

On the Waterfront — Great story and contains Brando’s greatest performance on screen, but not top 10 ever.

8 1/2 — I vetoed this only because I don’t think it’s Fellini’s best film. That goes to La Dolce Vita.

Unforgiven — A powerful statement about old west violence and loss. But, again, I have to narrow the list down.

The Bridge On The River Kwai — This was the hardest film to veto on my list. Again, it’s a numbers game. Can I make this #11?

Movies remaining on our list:

Forest Gump
Seven Samurai
Wizard of Oz
Paths of Glory
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
The Exorcist
The Shawnshank Redemption
The Wrestler
It’s a Wonderful Life
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Cowboys and Aliens trailer


Here’s the first peak at “Cowboys and Aliens,” Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel series that is making its way to the big screen next summer through the lens of director Jon Favreau. The story features amnesiac gunslinger Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), who stumbles into the Wild West town of Absolution where he’s confronted by potent enemy Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and a terrifying problem: invading aliens. Aided by the lovely Ella (Olivia Wilde), Jake rallies a posse of the townspeople, Dolarhyde’s minions and local Apache warriors to fight off the extraterrestrial threat. It’s a story of enemies coming together to fight a common enemy.

Favreau has more than proven himself as a director of action-based comic book movies with “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2.”   Heck, I even like “Elf.” As he did with the Iron Man series, Favreau has another stellar cast with Craig, Ford, Wild, and Keith Carradine, who was great in TV’s “Dexter” and the film “Peacock.” Carradine plays the town sheriff in this picture.  

We’ve had a string of crummy, forgettable summer action movies — from “The Expendables” to “ The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time” “Clash of the Titans” the Transformers films, and the list goes on. Favreau hasn’t steered us wrong yet with an action movie, so I have faith this is going to be one of the best popcorn movies to see next summer. 

Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special is a 1978 American two-hour television special (including commercials) set in the Star Wars galaxy and was the first official Star Wars spin-off produced. Directed by Steve Binder (who later directed the Super Mario Bros. Super Show), it was broadcast in its entirety in the United States only once, on Nov. 17, 1978 on CBS. In the story, Chewbacca and Han Solo visit Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s home world, to celebrate Life Day. Along the way, they are pursued by agents of the Galactic Empire who are searching for members of the Rebel Alliance on the planet. The special introduces three members of Chewbacca’s family: his father Itchy, his wife Malla, and his son Lumpy.

Rating: 1 out of 10

This is one of those movies that nerds like myself hear whisper of from one Star Wars fan to the next. George Lucas, who is usually a money-grubbing whore that will put Star Wars on anything to make a buck, has done everything in his power to keep this from getting out there. I was lucky, I guess, to have a friend with a DVD copy he picked up at a comic book convention. And let me tell you, it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. The quality of copies floating around isn’t good, but it’s not like it would make a difference in how awful this was.

I’m a giant Star Wars fan. I mean, I have the rebel alliance logo tattooed on my arm. But there was nothing about this “special” that was redeeming. On top of that, it’s a musical. I really awful musical that is nearly two hours long. It wasn’t even funny bad, like “The Room.” This was painfully bad. The first ten minutes of the film follow Chewbacca’s family, which wouldn’t be bad, except they just grunt like wookies the whole time while nothing happens.

On top of the awkward wookies, there are even more awkward dance and song numbers — one featuring Bea Arthur as a surly bartender who dances with aliens in her cantina. Even Princess Leia got in on the act, singing a Life Day song. She actually had a nice voice (her mom was Debbie Reynolds). Another dance number features some holograms being watched by Chewbacca’s son who juggle and do acrobatics for about five minutes. Another number features Jefferson Starship dressed like spacemen performing under horrible, fuchsia lighting.

There were a couple attempts at comedy with Harvey Korman (Blazing Saddles) as he played the cross-dressing alien host of a cooking show that Chewbacca’s wife watched as she prepared the Life Day feast. I can’t tell you what a mind-numbing experience it was for this fledgling bit to drag for more than five minutes.

Everything in this movie takes forever! It drags and drags with failed bit after failed musical and horrible effects and acting. They even got Academy Award winner Art Carney (Harry and Tonto) to fill in as a friendly trader and friend of the rebellion. The only thing that was decent was the 10-minute cartoon entitled “The Faithful Wookie,” which wast the first appearance of Boba Fett.

This movie was just unwatchable. Terrible on every level. It makes Episode I look like a masterpiece.

The first segment of the Star Wars Holiday Special

Star Wars saga to be re-re-released… in 3D


There is now a terrible divide in me. One of my greatest loves, Star Wars, is meeting one of my greatest annoyances… 3D.

Star Wars creator George Lucas, never one to be shy from whoring his creation for a buck, will be releasing the entire Star Wars saga in 3D in 2012, according to a story by Hollywood Reporter. According to the report, the films would be released in order, starting with Episode I, “The Phantom Menace” working through “Return of the Jedi.”

I can understand how Lucas would want to release these, since he’s only worth $3 billion. Poor guy! However, I’m not sure how to feel about this. The last re-release in 1997 had some unneeded and corny scenes, like the Cantina musical number that felt forced.  I have to say, though, that it was thrilling to see them on the big screen. The only one I remember seeing in the theater is “Return of the Jedi.” The rest were made before I was born, so I never got the theater experience and I was very glad I did.

However, I hate 3D. There is nothing added by 3D’s very flawed technology and it’s clear Lucas is cashing in on the trend. We’re seeing a dearth of 3D films released, and none are good; for example, “Piranha 3-D” “Yogi Bear” “The Smurfs” and “Clash of the Titans.” The only decent 3D flick this past year was “Avatar.”

I can’t see how Star Wars in 3D will be that much improved — if at all. I have to imagine they will have to do some digital tinkering to add some lightsaber moments that weren’t in the original. When I see those familiar goldenrod words scrolling across a star-flecked sky in 3D, I may be 10 years old again, or I may just be pissed at myself that I spent ten more dollars to see Star Wars. I can tell you I’m definitely NOT going to see “The Phantom Menace” again.

Films that defined us

All of us have particular movies we’ve seen, whether as an adult or child, that stay with us in a way others hadn’t before. They’re special experiences we hold onto, whether it was because you saw them with a close friend or the film connected with your life in a personal way. These are movies that define us, and we’re breaking down each by genre. Each week, one of our contributors will list the movies that defined them.


Horror: The first time I saw Jaws, my brother and I were at home and it was on Beta Max (OK, I’m old).  I had convinced my mother to let us rent it because it was only rated PG.  I still wonder how the hell Universal convinced the ratings board to get a PG with this much violence, but I digress.  I put the tape in the VCR and felt chills right when the opening music started.  By the time the opening shark attack was over, I was absolutely petrified.  I stuck with it until we got to the part where a kid, not much older than me, got sucked into the sea in a cloud of blood.  At that moment, I was terrified of the ocean for the rest of my life and shut the movie off.  As an adult, I watched this film recently. It is just as suspenseful, funny, scary, and engrossing as it was in 1975. It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest films ever made and a true testament to the legacy of Steven Spielberg.

Drama: I love home video.  It allows us to see films that were ignored during their theatrical run.  The Shawshank Redemption took in a modest $28 million at the box office despite being nominated for 7 Oscars, including best picture.  Since then, it became the #1 most rented video of 1995 and is currently rated #1 on IMDB’s list of top 250 films of all time.  I was part of the group that discovered it on home video and was absolutely blown away by the power of the story and the performances of all the actors involved.  It’s one of the greatest American films of all time and keeps getting better and better with age.

Action/Adventure: Who would have thought that a film based on an old television series could be this good? If you’ve never seen it, The Fugitive is one the greatest examples of action done right. The performances are spot on from both Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, the direction from Andrew Davis is almost flawless, and the action scenes are suspenseful like few before it.  It’s easily one of my favorite action films of all time.

Sports: Although it’s listed as a sports film and is comfortable within that category, Field of Dreams is more about how baseball is woven into the fabric of American culture.  It’s also about damaged father/son relationships, blind faith and love.  That’s a pretty delicate balance when you’re talking about a story that involves building a baseball field to resurrect baseball players that are dead because a whispering voice told you to while you were working in a cornfield.  The ability for this original and daring material to work is a great testament to writers Paul Alden Robinson and W.P. Kinsella.  When I think of what America is, I always think of Field of Dreams.

Films that defined us

All of us have particular movies we’ve seen, whether as an adult or child, that stay with us in a way others hadn’t before. They’re special experiences we hold onto, whether it was because you saw them with a close friend or the film connected with your life in a personal way. These are movies that define us, and we’re breaking down each by genre. Each week, one of our contributors will list their movie.


Action/Adventure: As a child, one of my favorite films was “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” I was 10 years old in the summer of 1989, the prime age for Indiana Jones, and had seen the other two Indy films on Beta Max. But this was the first one I remember seeing and experiencing in the theater. It was magical. The theme song still gives me chills and gets my heart pumping for those thrilling action sequences. Harrison Ford owned this iconic role and Sean Connery was a wonderful compliment to a script full of mystery, suspense and action.

Science-fiction: This one was easy. I can still clearly remember going to see “Return of the Jedi” for my brother’s birthday party. It’s the only Star Wars film to be released in theaters (minus the rerelease and prequels) in my lifetime, so I had to choose this one. I can remember being captivated as Luke pulled off Vader’s mask as we all got a first look at the old man within. I was glued to the screen and hooked on Star Wars for life. I felt so much angst during the fight scenes between Luke and Vader and loved watching the ewoks battle storm troopers. It’s a movie memory that will always stay with me.

Drama: I’m a huge Stanley Kubrick fan, and I could easily put a Kubrick movie in here for every category, but that’s another list. But his epic war film “Paths of Glory” is not only one of the best dramas I’ve ever seen, but one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a masterpiece from its incredible performances by Kirk Douglas and Adolphe Menjou to the incredibly smart script and stunning visuals by Kubrick. One of the most epic shots is in the opening sequence of the camera panning, seemingly forever, through the trenches of a French platoon as bullets fly overhead, wounded soldiers weep, men vomit in their helmets and soldiers prepare for battle. This is a poignant film with a clear message delivered in a powerful fashion.

Horror: I can honestly say “The Exorcist” still scares the hell out of me — no pun intended. I was 8 years old when I saw this movie. My sister was babysitting me and she rented it not knowing what and how scary it really was. We grew up Catholic. My brother told me it was real, and when I asked my mother if it was she said, “Yes, honey, it is.” That only scared me more. I didn’t take a bath alone for months or go in the basement by myself for years. This is by far the most scared I’ve ever been by a movie. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Animation: I think the movie that taught me to love animation for its ability to tell stories that are wild, yet refined, focused and with a heart and imagination, was Walt Disney’s classic “Alice in Wonderland.” The story is wild and spontaneous, sometimes visually scary to a small child with wicked characters who are vicious and insane. It also had a great sense of humor, was visually a masterpiece, and wildly imaginative. I devoured the books after seeing the movies and to this day I’m still a big fan. This film showed me that animation could be more than just princesses and romantic songs and it shaped my taste in animation for life.

Comedy: I am serious, and stop calling me Shirley. I love a silly but smart sense of humor, and that’s just what you get in “Airplane.” It’s the kind of movie I own and have seen dozens of times, but no matter how many times I’ve seen it, I find something new to laugh at. It’s just loaded with silly humor, spoofs, one-liners, word play, zany characters and just ridiculous gags that makes me laugh until my stomach hurts. I saw this as a child, and I missed tons of jokes, but really loved the ones I understood. This is a classic camp comedy and has withstood the test of time.

Family/Children: There are a bunch of great kids movies, like “Back to the Future” or “The Goonies.” This was a tough choice, but for me “The Karate Kid” stands out above the rest because it had such a fantastic blend of action, comedy and at its heart, a meaningful, coming-of-age drama. I think I’ve seen this movie in the theater more than any other film. It seemed like my brother and I were going to see it every weekend. We would karate kick each other silly, wear kung-fu pajamas, and I even took a karate class. But as a film, I still watch this one on a regular basis and I take something new away from it with every viewing.

Extraordinary Measures

Portland couple John and Aileen Crowley (Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell) have two children with Pompe disease, a genetic anomaly that kills children at an early age. John works in the corporate world but is determined to help find a cure for Pompe. He contacts Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), a researcher who has a theory on an enzyme treatment. Stonehill is underfunded by the University of Nebraska and a thorny personality that drives away colleagues and potential donors. John and Aileen raise money and eventually work with venture capitalists to create a business with Stonehill. Directed by Tom Vaughn (What Happens in Vegas).

Rating: 5 out of 10

This movie has an excellent story at its core — the unending love of a father determined by any means to save his children. Rather that focusing on the human element of the story, however, we get a corporate drama and very little of the most emotional story — children and families dealing with Pompe every day.

Ego got in the way of this movie. It’s based on a real story, but it was greatly altered for the script. Ford plays Stonehill, a fictional doctor who was actually Asian in real life and nothing like his counterpart. We follow John Crowley and Stonehill on their journey through creating a business for the cure, then get bought out and face corporate culture in a giant pharmaceutical company that pushes them around. Ford was the executive producer, and while his performance was strong and in some ways held the movie together, it was the wrong direction for the picture and the character was shoe-horned while detracting from the real story. It should have been about the father and the family and the struggles the children face. Instead, we are given very little storyline with the family and a great deal of business drama. This wasn’t an awful movie, but it was boring at times.