One of the true all time greats as far as comic book artists go is most definitely Bill Sienkiewicz! His style is like none other and as far as comic book covers go, he is one the BEST! Anytime you’d get a cover from Bill you knew you were in for something several notches above what was normally brought to the table. Here are 5 covers he did for the Marvel 1983 adaptation of Return of the Jedi, a bit different from his normal output in being they’re much more simplistic than what he’s normally known for. However his final painting for the trade paperback (the last image) showcases his epic classic style, this all brings me back to a time when Star Wars had limitless potential. Oh what could have been…..
Hello everyone out there, I hope you’re all doing your best during these unprecedented times, staying inside and staying SAFE! Being essentially trapped indoors leaves plenty of time to watch movies, well the other evening I’d found myself thinking about the colossal failure of the Disney Star Wars “Sequel Trilogy”. If only they’d have given us fans what they’d always dreamed of, a cohesive compelling story that gave us a truly unforgettable send off to the characters we’d been waiting 30 plus years to see again AND brand new fleshed out characters who we could continue to follow on cosmic adventures for years to come. In many hardcore fan’s opinions we got neither and I was thinking of how awesome it would have been to watch this “sequel trilogy” over and over if it’d had been done with care and not flat out wasted classic characters like Leia & Luke Skywalker.
Mark Hamill in particular really got the short end of the stick and many fans of arguably the most iconic pop culture character, Luke Skywalker left ‘Episode 8’ feeling incredibly underwhelmed. Well many fans might appreciate an alternative to ‘The Last Jedi’ in the form of a largely forgotten sequel to ‘The Watchers’ (the totally 80’s super fun Corey Haim Creature Feature), ‘Watchers Reborn’. The star of the whole show? You guessed it Mark Hamill! Technically the 4th film in The Watchers franchise, it’s the only sequel that’s really worth tracking down and technically more of a sequel to the first movie anyway. Keep in mind this one’s a fully b-level monster flick, it’s cheezy, it’s low budget but it’s got a lot more heart than The Last Jedi! You’ll get a great does of 90’s Hamill front and center in a pretty damn fun little horror thriller. Another plus is that it’s directed by John Carl Buechler (RIP), practical fx wizard behind New World Pictures, who’s done some stellar work right up until his death in 2019 (Hatchet, Nightmare on Elm St 4, Troll, Friday the 13th part 7) .
It’s been quite a wild one for Disney “Star Wars” over the past couple years, that’s for sure. It seems ‘The Last Jedi’ ignited some serious controversy that many people blame for ‘Solo’ underperforming massively at the box office. Me personally? I’d be a liar to say I wasn’t legitimately let down by The Last Jedi (and the Force Awakens to a certain degree) but then over the last couple years it became very clear: Disney Star Wars is really just high budget fan fiction, at least the sequel trilogy. It’s really no more legit than the ‘Expanded Universe’ stuff at this point, especially upon learning that Disney had the option to use George Lucas’ original treatment for Episodes 7-9. We all know now that they opted for a lesser original JJ Abrams & Rian Johnson helmed retelling of the original trilogy with ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’ which both follow the similar beats to the original trilogy. So in my eyes, not at least lightly following George’s treatment for the sequel trilogy is somewhat blasphemous and inauthentic. That all being said, I just don’t care as much knowing we’re not getting the creators true vision for the finale of the Skywalker saga.
My excitement level for the next Star Wars film couldn’t be any lower honestly. I’ll still go and see it, but I’m not rushing out opening weekend anymore for them. Over the years I’ve come to realize that Star Wars (for me) isn’t the cinematic “event” it once was after stepping out of The Last Jedi. It’s become a level of Hollywood sequel on par with ‘The Predator’ franchise, recent ‘Alien’ movies or ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’. Just bloated big budget remakes disguised as modern day “sequels” to beloved nostalgic franchises. Movies that end up quickly forgotten after leaving the theater. The more I’ve read and seen of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, the less excited I’ve become. One of the biggest problems facing the movie are the “Jedi Paxis” leaks, which dropped a couple months ago and now appear to be perfectly matching what’s been shown in trailers and tv spots for the movie. I checked the leaks out and I’ll admit, I’m not incredibly excited to see it all unfold on the big screen. In fact the inclusion of Palpatine furthers the fact that these sequels are not much more than disguised remakes of the OT. I’m fully open to the leaks being false and perhaps Disney has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes with some new form of marketing, but it’s really starting to all look pretty legit. But the ‘Game of Thrones’ leaks ended up true, ‘The Predator’ leaks, ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ leaks ALL ended up true as well. This presents a pretty damn big problem for Star Wars and JJ’s “mystery boxes” he seems to love so much.
Now I’m sure Episode IX will make a billion dollars, but I’m not sure what effect this movie will have on the cinematic future of the franchise if it further divides fans. If it fails to provide a proper story for the beloved original trilogy characters then it’s truly failed the fans. So far my gut feeling is ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ might end up being more divisive than The Last Jedi. On a positive note, ‘The Mandalorian’ seems to have fans all on the same page somehow? I’ve loved the first 5 episodes and I really wish that THIS would have been the movie we got instead of the sequel trilogy. At this point I think they should’ve just left the old characters alone and let the story rest with Return of the Jedi. None of what we’ve been served up in my eyes has been compelling or innovative storytelling and if you’re unable to pass the torch in a way that’s truly rewarding for fans, then it probably should have all just been left as was.
So my guess here is that this last installment from JJ is going to problematic for Star Wars cinematically. I think the Disney+ platform is where Star Wars will rule for the next few years or so. I mean how exciting will it be to see ‘Baby Yoda’ grow up?! So it’s sad that so far the return of Star Wars wasn’t at all what I’d hoped for and I really don’t think it’d have been all that difficult to send the old characters on an incredible adventure along with a set of new ones who could carry the torch into their very own trilogy. As far as fan fiction goes I’ll stick with the expanded universe stuff for the moment, but also happy that these new movies don’t bother me anymore. I’m fine with accepting them for what they are, big budget fan fiction from JJ & Rian…..
Here’s something truly unique and inspiring on the Star Wars front, as everyone’s talking about ‘The Mandalorian’ Disney Plus series this week and how damn good it was. I mean do you really need another review of the show at this point? I didn’t think so! Well it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Timothy Zahn Star Wars book trilogy from the early 90’s, one which many fans had considered the real episodes 7-9 for many years until recently. If you’re a fan of the original trilogy, were underwhelmed with the Disney sequel trilogy and never read those books I highly suggest checking them out to get the ultimate old school fix of Star Wars! In fact the best way to check them out is in the audio book form narrated by Marc Thompson, whose vocal impersonations of the original characters is mind blowing, as well as the music and sound fx that’ll make you feel like the movie has come to life. It’s really that good.
Well recently I discovered something pretty amazing on Youtube, it seems a fan named ‘DarthAngelus’ is attempting to animate the story of the first installment “Heir to the Empire” in a Clone Wars/Rebels style series. A truly ambitious project and a welcome one for the true OT fan. It’s the very first time we meet the iconic villain ‘Thrawn’ who really should have been utilized in the sequel trilogy as the big baddie in my opinion. I’ve really enjoyed what he’s done here and I’m looking forward to what comes next and how just the action sequences will unravel, which will be a big part of how well this epic story translates to this animation. So far it’s a real treat to see how much love a fan has for the series, if there was a way for them to put Marc Thompson’s (the audiobook’s narrator) voice into this it’d even more of a spectacle. In the meantime kudos to this fan, more people need to know about this as I think it’s something truly special in the works! Check it out:
This is one of the best things I’ve seen in a while, George Lucas reacting to the latest Star Wars: Episode IX trailer! It’s clearly a fake reaction video but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t what he was thinking while viewing it for the first time-Check this out!
So it’s no secret that the summer blockbusters of 2019 have been underperforming at the box office this year, unless you’re a Marvel movie there’s a good chance you just ain’t makin’ the boatloads of easy cash off of eager hungry consumers like you used to!! So far we’ve had some big flops and under performers in theaters this summer, Hellboy, X-men: Dark Phoenix, Men In Black International, Godzilla: King of The Monsters, Shaft and I’m sure a few more flops to come.
It almost seems that after the extravaganza of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ people just ain’t that impressed with what Hollywood’s a pushin’! So what the heck gives here? I’ve got 5 reasons why I think people just ain’t buyin’ what big ol’ Hollywood’s selling!
Bland, Soulless, Predictable & Safe Storytelling
One thing I’ve noticed over the recent years is that these big ass summer blockbusters don’t bring much new to the table, instead of setting trends they now play off of what’s trending on social media etc to try and ensure they make maximum profit. It’s clear to audiences that they’re being marketed to and a lot of the themes we see in current movies feel a bit forced into the narrative. The plot lines feel predictable & safe, being very careful not to push the boundaries. However, nobody likes to feel pandered to, especially just to make a quick buck. Today Hollywood blockbusters feel a bit too calculated, like a Mcdonald’s happy meal version of a movie. It tastes good for a moment but doesn’t provide much real nourishment. These huge movies need to set trends again and take more risks. Most of these stories being told on the big screen now follow a rigid formula, it’s time to shake things up a bit and develop some compelling content that will blow audiences minds & keep them thinking long after they leave the theater.
Cinematic Politics & Social Media Movie Battles
Sure social media can be a cool way to connect with friends all over the world but it’s also caused a major political rift in movie fans, especially online. Everyone has a damn platform and everyone’s ready to state their opinion for the whole world to hear. The landscape of politics (here in the USA at least) is a gigantic mess, people are more than ready to call each other names and insult each others political beliefs any chance they can and then some. If you’ve noticed now there’re Youtube channels whose main focus is to tear down movies that they feel promote left leaning agendas and vice versa. Now we’ve got boycotts & petitions galore that are raging against movies from angry fans who think they’re promoting a threatening political views. We’ve got Hollywood directors & industry people arguing with angry fans on twitter about their movies and political leanings. When a movie’s released people immediately jump in to examine what side of the political spectrum it falls upon & then get bent out of shape about it on their social media platforms. Most claim they want to go to the movies to escape from the worries of today’s society, but people are so divided (and making good profit off that anger on their platforms) these days and I’m not seeing this trend dying down any time soon. At least until we get a new damn President!
Poorly Planned Franchise Reboots & Sequels
There’s a lot of bad, uninspired franchise sequels and reboots out there these days making their way into theaters. Hollywood is trying their hardest to capitalize off of nostalgia these days. It seems they think that if they simply slap say ‘Star Wars’ brand on a movie that it’s gonna mean butts in seats at the cinema. Not the case, people are clearly smarter these days when it comes to their choice of entertainment. Lots of franchises attempting to reboot with younger “hip” stars and leaving the old actors in the dust. I mean what really is ‘Men in Black’ without Will Smith? How about Star Wars with crusty old grumpy Luke Skywalker that barely lifts a finger in the movie? Or the Ghostbusters without any of the original characters starring in it to properly pass the torch? Hollywood is a bit clueless when it comes to how to execute these sequels, fans want to see a respectful portrayal of classic older characters who’re set to pass the torch to younger generation. Some of these reboots/sequels actually seem downright disrespectful to the original characters, sweeping them under the rug as quickly as possible to usher in the new characters. There needs to be a class taught to all of these clueless Hollywood executives on how to successfully pass the torch in a franchise. If you take a crap on a beloved franchise the fans of it will roast your ass on social media. The fans today have more power than ever and it’s a new angle that’s got Hollywood baffled.
Spectacle over Story
It’s kinda crazy now, almost every blockbuster movie franchise has been trying to set up a cinematic universe because they think they can reap the same benefits as the MCU does. However what most of these franchises get wrong is that they simply haven’t spent the time worldbuilding building the way Marvel has over the the last 10 plus years. Most of these failing franchises spend their movie’s runtime trying to set up the next sequels rather than telling a compelling story with top notch character development. Instead they simply litter the movie with a bunch of shiny, glossy CGI & flashy explosions convinced that lone is enough to entice movie goers to get all amped up for their planned spinoffs. Well listen up Hollywood, going to the theaters is expensive and people just aren’t as dumb as you seem to think they are, yeah we got options these days with all the streaming content out there. Movies better step it with their storytelling otherwise we’re gonna stay home! So many of these franchise are dumbed down to a level that just won’t entice the masses like they used to. We want original stories, not rehashed plots from previous movies in the franchise. Sure the spectacle can be fun, but there’s a certain over saturation of mind numbing movies out there now and yours better be more than just fluff. Stop trying to predict what the masses are going to eat up and spend some time writing stories we haven’t already heard. Most of the movies feel like they’ve been looking at what’s trending on twitter and writing a story around that. I’ll say it again, Hollywood needs to set the trends again rather than blindly trying to follow them.
Star Power Ain’t What it Used to Be
Back in the 1980’s blockbusters were a just as big a deal but they usually had one thing going for them that’s missing today-star power. People would rush to the movies just to see Stallone or Schwarzennegar do their thing. It was an event. Not so much today, the days of larger than life celebs has somehow died, putting one of the stars of say the Avengers franchise in one doesn’t automatically equally box office gold. I’m not sure what changed over the years but people are far less starstruck than ever before. This means Hollywood has got try even harder to put something out that feels fresh and original, a good cast is still important but it’s clearly NOT a deal breaker anymore.
So people seem quite up in arms about the latest season of Game of Thrones to put it lightly, it’s been pretty much everywhere online, more drama online than this season of the show could churn out! I’ve been thinking about it all for a few days now since watching Episode 5 and I think there’s really is something to all the anger towards the show writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Now that they’ve got no more writing from George R. R. Martin’s final book (which he still hasn’t finished) to base this season on, we get to finally see the writing chops of these two dudes in action. I’ve got a few major problems with what went down so far in the final season, most it being the execution of plot points by these guys, but some it of it indeed revolves around some shoddy ass writing.
One thing that now makes perfect sense is that David Benioff was actually a writer of easily one of the WORST movies in recent Hollywood history, 2009’s ‘X-men Origins: Wolverine’. If you’ve seen it, most unanimously agree, it’s one of the most pathetic movies to reach the major cinemas in recent times. Single handedly ruining Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, Deadpool and Sabretooth all in one horribly executed, terribly written mess of a movie. It makes ‘X-Men 3’ feel like a god damn cinematic masterpiece. His buddy D.B. Weiss hasn’t written or directed much outside of GOT either. So it’s not all that surprising that this season feels a bit like a shit-storm to many today. SPOILERS AHEAD!
So I wanna point out a few things I think totally sucked about this final season so far, I realize that the internet is filled with GOT opinions right now so I’ll keep it all short. One of the BIGGEST problems for me is the handling the The Night King & the whitewalkers, seven damn seasons of fantastic mystery brewing around this incredibly intriguing and terrifying villain, then in one episode mid season it’s all over and nearly forgotten by the next episode. One of the things so many were most invested in was his true motivations. Would we see things from their perspective? Learn what fuels their rage towards the living? Find out what they really wanted from Bran? Actually hear The Night King speak his case with some real dialogue? Nope! The major supernatural threat of seven seasons was wiped from the plot in one murky battle and by the next episode everyone was back to acting like a bunch of spoiled babies after just surviving a possibly world ending event. Cersei wasn’t even affected by them in the least, but how awesome would it have been if The Night King and the Whitewalkers had shown up on her doorstep first and she had to flee to Jon Snow & Daenerys for help? Imagine the drama…Whatever the case the whitewalkers turned out to be a big ass nothing burger to say the least, a huge missed opportunity in my opinion. It actually felt as if the writers just wanted to quickly erase them from the last season for some reason.
The largely controversial Daenerys “mad queen” plot would have been fine with me, but the execution of it was seriously lacking the character development needed to add any real believability to her actions. She was majorly bummed off that most people seemed to love Jon Snow so much, but she’d just arrived on the scene, so I don’t know, maybe try and socialize a bit with everyone after the damn battle against the walkers?!! Geezus!! I’m sure this all must have been what George R. R. Martin had in mind ultimately (?) but if the writers expect me to believe Daenerys is then gonna go completely bonkers, exterminating a whole population of innocent, poor villagers, many of them children (who’ve already suffered under the rule of Sersei) you better have a lot more character development to occur to sell it. It all felt rushed & carelessly forced. I think it’d made a hell of a lot more sense if she’d went for Sersei directly in the battle with her rage, killed her personally or even better, captured her and viciously tortured her among the rest of her current crew. Reigning dragon’s fire upon the poor villagers who’ve already been punished for most of their existence was just not believable at this point. It felt like shock for pure shock value. The end of Sersei also felt anti-climactic, she never even shared any real dialogue with Daenerys & it felt for the most part like she was trying to commit certain suicide by her horrific slaying of Missandei. Whatever the case, this whole debacle mades perfect sense when I discovered that one tidbit of info that’d slipped through the cracks for me, David Benioff wrote the cinematic turd, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’…nuff said.
Damn! This dropped a day or so ago, it’s a fan made film that’s updating Star Wars: A New Hope’s classic but clunky fight between Obi Wan & Darth Vader. They used bits from the original movie and orchestrated a whole new fight sequence between the two and the results are pretty stunning to say the least. I never really minded the fight in ‘A New Hope’ but was also never wowed by it either.
This video from FXitinpost titled “Star Wars: SC 38” video which means “Scene 38” gives the classic fight more tension, more action and much more danger than the original with out going to far over the top with back flips, matrix back arches etc. Of course due to budgetary restraints you can see some CG spots a bit in the background and obviously they cgi’d Obi wan’s face several times over the stunt actor doing the battle with Vader. That’s all ok, because as you can see the passion behind it, the general idea they’re going for & choreography are pretty fucking incredible. Check it out as it adds a whole new dimension to this sequence in the movie!
One thing I’d like to ad, after watching this video, it got me thinking about how I’d hoped for something like this for an older Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, squaring off against Kylo Ren or The Knights of Ren. Instead I got my hopes and expectations “subverted” by director Rian Johnson. It’s odd that fans are more capable these days of giving fans of Star Wars, material that they might actually find more exciting than a multi billion dollar corporation can. I think Disney Star Wars needs to pay attention to videos like this so we can avoid uninspired scenes like this next one I’m posting, where an iconic character we haven’t seen for 30 plus years is replaced with as a ‘hologram’ & sorta “battle” for 30 seconds:
Ok so by now everyone has probably seen the new ‘Star Wars Episode IX’ trailer, but I’ve yet to hear anyone talking about the possible return of one of the missing legacy characters from the original trilogy….WICKET and the Ewoks!!
So in the trailer it’s highly theorized that Rey & Co are returning to the forest moon of Endor, where we’re shown the old decayed wreckage of the second Death Star had likely crashed down upon. As a HUGE fan of ‘Return of the Jedi’ and an unashamed fan of the damn Ewoks I’ll admit my mind immediately went to the possibility of their return when I saw the debut trailer for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. Who in 2019 can’t admit that the Ewoks were actually kinda bad asses? Come on now folks, people have shown a new love for the prequels lately, so I assume by this point in time we can admit that the Ewoks weren’t that bad and just maybe that in reality they were actually pretty awesome! Some things age really well with time and Ewoks are definitely one of em’ in my opinion. I’ll go on record here to state that the two ‘Ewok Adventure’ movies 1985’s Caravan of Courage & 1984’s ‘The Battle for Endor’ are two movies that I personally enjoy more than the prequels AND this Disney Star Wars stuff.
Go ahead, re-watch those movies and tell me they aren’t a ton of cheezy fun, filled with awesome creatures and even a little bit of that classic vibe of the originals. Whether you like it or not Wicket is a bonafide legacy character, that if you think about it got more screen time within The Return of the Jedi and the two feature length ‘Ewok Adventure’ movies than most of our favorite OG classic trilogy characters. Let’s not forget too that BOTH of the Ewok movies were written by Star Wars creator George Lucas and if we can give a god damn Porg real screen time in these new Star Wars movies then we certainly should be able to see the return of at the very least, Warwick Davis as Wicket.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that if Rey & Co. are indeed on the moon of Endor they’ll be escorted through the dangers of the forest to the wreckage of the Death Star by the Ewoks. I’m at this point not yet overly excited by ‘Episode IX’ even after the first trailer. That being said, I do admit that my level of interest has certainly been raised and I’m pretty open to whatever’s gonna happen next as I’ve got no real expectations for this last installment. ‘The Last Jedi’ all but sunk my Star Wars ship and I’ve no real investment in what ultimately comes to be for the new characters. So for me seeing the Ewoks return would be at least a ton of fun (as long as they can resist the urge to kill off Wicket). I think this time around they could even improve upon their look and maybe even make them a bit more badass (have you seen them in the Star Wars Battlefront II: Ewok Hunt?).
No matter what you think about the furry little devils you’ve at least gotta admit they’re a big part of Star Wars history and unlike the Porgs they were real characters that helped defeat the Empire in an epic battle. If we’re not going to get any more real action from Luke or Han at this point why the hell not revisit our furry friends from the moon of Endor. They must still be out there and likely are gigantic legends in the lore that today inspires Rey, Finn & Poe. Like it or NOT!!
So today we finally got the first trailer to Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, yeah…that’s seriously the name of it. Has anyone else noticed that the “Rise of” phrase in big Hollywood blockbusters franchises is just maybe a TAD overused these days?!! Terminator: ‘Rise of the Machines’, Gi Joe: ‘Rise of Corbra’, ‘Rise of the Guardians’, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance, Fantastic Four: ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’, 300: ‘Rise of an Empire’, Underworld: ‘Rise of the Lycans”, Transformers: ‘Rise of the Dark Spark’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’…..need I go on?! I mean I guess everything in Hollywood is fucking “rising” these days huh?! Good for them I suppose! So aside from Episode IX’s embarrassing title, check out this trailer if for some reason you haven’t already:
So after, what to me was the most disappointing sequel in movie history, ‘The Last Jedi’, we are now eagerly(?) awaiting the conclusion to this messy trilogy. JJ Abrams is back again folks, finishing what he started and as much of a fan as I was of ‘The Force Awakens’ when it debuted, I’m gonna admit, it was by no means great, inspiring story telling. Instead it was yet another rather bland Hollywood reboot/remake disguised as a sequel that managed to tug my nostalgic heart strings at all the right moments. So in that aspect story wise at least, it fits perfectly with it’s even messier, more uninspired story telling of it’s sequel. So this latest ‘Rise of Skywalker’ trailer seems to be trying it’s best to rope fans wallet’s back into the franchise, who after the last movie, found themselves a bit underwhelmed with the direction of things. Overall I think the trailer does a decent job at accomplishing it’s goal, I’m not going to sit this one out at the theater like some have threatened to do, but I still won’t be rushing out to stand in line for it opening night either. At least not yet. At the very least I’m intrigued at how this trilogy is going to try and find some sort of originality in the third and final chapter. AAfter two movies I’m not very invested in any of the new characters, but at least they throw us some Lando, Chewy, Leia and C3P0 in this. I’m not being an old grumpy original trilogy purist either, I was fully down and ready to fall in love with the new characters.
However, these new Star Wars movies are now feeling less like an epic event and more like another attempted cash grab reboot of a once beloved 80’s franchise we’re continuously spoon fed by Hollywood. I do I think that the laugh of Palpatine at the end of the trailer is a good sign that JJ devised a plan that he thinks will rope in any straying disgruntled Star Wars fan. I’m admitting I’m curious what’s going on here, I hope it somehow feels cohesive with what came before, as it’s started talk of Palpatine’s possible return in the flesh for the final installment. I’m giving this trailer a solid ‘B’. It didn’t blow my mind but it has gotten the wheels turning in my brain again pondering how this Star Wars “Saga” will end and more so if they can unite divided fans. As long as it NOT mirroring ‘Return of the Jedi’ I think it’s got a chance because at this point literally anything in my opinion will be better than the last installment….