The 602 Club 23: A Living 1930’s Comic Book

tsc-023-th-square Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. 

It took four years of blue screen shooting in his living room and work on a Macintosh II for Kerry Conran to complete his black and white short of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Through a friend of his brother’s wife, he was introduced to producer Jon Avnet who shepherded the project into a full-length feature film that would stretch the limits of computer technology.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by Megan Calcote and Darren Moser to talk about Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. We discuss our first encounters with the movie, the story, the revolutionary nature of the film, the look, the fun sci-fi gadgets, the cast and characters, the music, wrapping up with final thoughts, ratings and why everyone should watch Sky Captain.

The 602 Club 22: All Good Dragons Go to Heaven

tsc-022-th-squareDragonheart.

There are so many movies that come out in theaters and most of them will not be a mega hit. A majority of movies come and go with little fanfare after their initial run, yet there are some that find an even greater audience beyond the theater. These films become cult classics.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by Suzanne Abbott to talk about the cult classic, Dragonheart. We discuss famous dragons, the big themes of the film, the story, some of our favorite parts, the cast, production value, music and give our ratings.

Cinderella – Review

poster_66114In 1950, the Walt Disney company had not seen much financial success from its animated films. Fantasia, Pinocchio and Bambi failed to capture the imagination of the public at the time, and the studio needed a hit. Cinderella offered the answer. Critically and financially it became the biggest accomplishment since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and helped restore the Disney company’s reputation as the premiere animation studio. Fast forward to 2014 and Disney has begun a long campaign of remaking its animated features as live action extravaganzas, starting with its greatest princess movie, Cinderella.

“Have Courage and Be Kind”

Going into the movie, one would not expect much more than the basic story seen in the animated feature. What Branagh has done is create depth in a story that many have derided as nothing more than an old fashioned and sadly outdated tale. This simple yet elegant theme, “Have Courage and Be Kind” is the heart of the movie. As the world clamors for more strong female role models, Cinderella would be the farthest from most minds as someone to share with their daughters. Too many times today, for women to be seen as strong they must be presented as bow-wielding, ass-kicking, leather-clad, tortured souls, yet this shows only one side of true strength. The greatest gift of this Cinderella is the reminder to the world that it takes the utmost courage to be kind, especially in the face of constant adversity. Most films give us sarcastic, mean-spirited people who use their painful experiences as excuses to treat people terribly. Crafted with a deft hand, though, Cinderella lovingly directs us to see that it’s easy to be cruel and almost impossible to be kind, unless you have courage.

cinderella-richard-madden-lily-jamesAnother wonderful addition to the story is the meeting of Cinderella and the prince before the ball. Their meet-cute takes place in the woods where the prince is struck not just by her beauty but her virtue and character. He falls in love with her, not because she looks radiant in a dress, but because her true self, her inherent nature, reflectsgenerosity and kindness. Cinderella is never afraid to be anything but who she is–she remains true to herself and her belief that everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and grace. Her strength emanates from the inside out admonishing all of us that it is virtue and good character that make people worthy of being looked up to.

Conclusion

Most people walking into the movie will not expect any surprises, yet Branagh is able to construct something that feels familiar while at the same time fresh, relevant and new. As Disney embarks on this quest to craft live-action versions of its classic films, they’ve created a firm foundation with Cinderella. Not only should you see it, take others to see it and enjoy the delight of a simple fairy tale made new.

The 602 Club 21: Crying Droid Tears

tsc-021-th-squareStar Wars Rebels Season 1.

In October of 2012 it was if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy, followed by agony, as we learned that Disney bought Lucasfilm and with that came the cancellation of The Clone Wars. Soon afterwards Disney, announced it was creating a new animated show, helmed by The Clone Wars Supervising Director Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg that would chronicle the beginning of the Rebellion.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by fellow Rebels John Mills and Tristan Riddell to talk Star Wars Rebels first season. We discuss our reactions to the news The Clone Wars was cancelled as well as our initial impressions of Rebels, the struggle for shows to survive in today’s TV market, continuity, the Lando episode, the progression of villains, the characters, the huge ending, music, links to Luke Skywalker and our ratings.

star-wars-rebels-54254fa4dc9ab

Star Wars Heresies – Review

71gU+5spqhLFor almost three generations, the Star Wars Saga has captivated the imaginations and hearts of children and adults. In 1999, George Lucas introduced a whole new trilogy to the world and changed Star Wars forever. In the history of film, there many never be a more debated issue than the merit of the Prequels (until JJ Abrams releases Episode VII that is). These films have been characterized in pop culture as ruining the childhoods of many. Yet is this really the case? Do these films really deserve this intense hate, hate worth of Sith Lords? That is the subject of The Star Wars Heresies: Interpreting the Themes, Symbols and Philosophies of Episodes I, II and III by Paul McDonald.

The book walks through each film and dissecting the mythology, literature and religion behind the stories of the Prequels. McDonald explains his focus and process this way,

While understandably reticent regarding his own press, George Lucas made a telling statement during an interview recorded by the Star Wars Insider magazine regarding the release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. “If criticism were the kind of analysis it was meant to be in the first place— as it is in other arts, where you have literate, sophisticated people, who are knowledgeable— then it would be worthwhile to listen to it,” he remarked. “[ But] to have them [the critics] rant and rave about their personal feelings is a waste of my time.” I find this really intriguing for a couple of reasons.

To begin with, Lucas himself very clearly delineates between two types of criticism. The first is scholarly, studied, and refined; the second is mostly personal opinion and knee-jerk reaction. More often than not, Star Wars has been subjected to the second—especially the prequels— while Lucas tellingly identifies the first as more important. As we will see, this is where Star Wars really lives and breathes.1

McDonald uses literate criticism to prove his point that far from being nothing but money making, special effects extravaganzas the films are personal explorations of some of our most profound questions in life.

But clearly I must disagree with those who argue that the prequels were only driven by special effects (as well as Lucas’s alleged need to amass a large fortune, especially in light of his donations to charity). As this book proves , Star Wars meets you where you meet it. That Lucas didn’t simply farm out the prequel trilogy for someone else to create speaks not so much to an obsessive need for control but rather to a deep , personal commitment to the project itself. In some ways it could be argued that he was far more invested in the prequels than in the originals, as he purposefully took on the task of writing and directing each of them.2

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. McDonald shows just how well read and literate Lucas is as each Prequel entry is teaming with illusions to philosophy, mythology, religion and literary constructs from many different eras. Whether you are a Prequel hater or lover, this book has something for the Star Wars fan in all of us.

Notes

1. McDonald, Paul F. (2013-09-03). The Star Wars Heresies: Interpreting the Themes, Symbols and Philosophies of Episodes I, II and III (Kindle Locations 85-92). McFarland. Kindle Edition.

2.McDonald, Paul F. (2013-09-03). The Star Wars Heresies: Interpreting the Themes, Symbols and Philosophies of Episodes I, II and III (Kindle Locations 3616-3620). McFarland. Kindle Edition.

 

 

The 602 Club 20: We Were Fangirling

tsc-020-th-squareAgent Carter.

Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Solider both left us with the impression that Peggy Carter continued to be a respected member and founder of what became S.H.E.I.L.D. Yet what if the road to founder was a little rougher than was first thought?

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by agents Andi VanderKolk and Norman Lao to talk about the Agent Carter mini series but before that we take time to remember Leonard Nimoy and his life. We discuss whether Agent Carter should have been Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., things we liked and didn’t, the characters, the importance of a good foil for the hero, continuity, women at work after WWII and our ratings.

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi – Review

Heir_to_the_JediHeir to the Jedi is the latest book in the canon created in the wake of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. Following the excellent A New Dawn and the disappointing Tarkin, Heir to the Jedi has a lot riding on it. This is a first person tale of Luke Skywalker, set after the events of A New Hope but before The Empire Strikes Back. Luke is sent on a mission by the Rebellion to recover an important defector from the Empire, along the way learning a few things about the Jedi and his own powers.

I was really looking forward to this book. Knowing it was about Luke and from his point of view before Empire had me excited. Here was our chance to get the canon answers to how Luke learns to control the lightsaber in the Wampa cave on Hoth as well as possibly integrate some of the prequel era information.

The Good

There are some good things here. Luke learning a small bit about the Jedi on Rodia as well as receiving another lightsaber was a highlight. The book did a great job showing how Luke is already eager to learn everything he can about the Jedi as well as understand more about his lightsaber and how it works. This will also help explain Luke knowing how to build a new lightsaber after the events of Empire. When the book is focused on the story of Luke as the heir of the Jedi, it’s working well.

The Bad

Unfortunately the parts of the book about Luke as the heir to the Jedi are few and far between. Maybe I expected too much from the book in this regard, yet I felt a canon novel about Luke would delve deeply into this topic and while the scenes where it does are wonderful, it’s marred by a blasé story. The rest of the book just does not have the feel of Star Wars for the most part. The technology, the weapons and the use of technobabble, hamper that feel the films created, where that was just a vehicle to tell the story, never the focus or too recognizable.

The other big issue here and it’s the same thing that Tarkin ran into, is that the story feels disposable. It’s much like the feel you’d get with the old Star Trek books written while the series were still on television, all the toys had to be back in the box, the way you found them when you closed the book. As you reach the end, you don’t feel the reward of having read the story, as if you hadn’t read it, you’d be missing something invaluable to the whole. The Clone Wars did a marvelous job for the most part of making you feel like the series had value, it added to the characters and the over all saga. This new canon of books, aside from A New Dawn has failed to truly add anything of real value to the saga. The reader needs to feel like the story has weight and until that starts happening, many will be disappointed with this new book line.

Conclusion 

I can’t recommend that you pick this up, but if you come by a copy it not a terrible diversion. Two and a half out of five stars.

Disclosure: This book was provided by Del Ray as an early review and in no way affects the thoughts or feelings of the reviewer.