The Threeway: Top 3 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Couples (Adam’s Take)

3smallIt’s Valentine’s Day. That means we need to roll out the romance. What’s a geek site to do, that publishes lists every Thursday, when Thursday and Valentine’s Day intersect? We populate with Geeky Couples of course!

First, there are some couple that I think are iconic, but don’t make the list. Lois and Clark being the most notable (I just never, ever, really buy into their relationship). Or Riker and Troi (just because you are Imazadi doesn’t mean you have chemistry). Or…whatever their names are in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (wonderful love story, but if I can’t remember the character names, they can’t make the list).

buffy_angel1#3) Buffy and Angel: I was tempted to put them at #1. But, honestly,the Buffy/Spike fiasco of the later seasons diminishes this couple for me. Like Anthony said, I could make an entire list of Whedon characters: Buffy/Angel, Fred/Gunn, and Wash/Zoe are just a few. Angel/Cordelia, Wes/Lilah, Willow/Oz, Angelus/Darla,  etc., they are all great. I buy into their relationships every time I watch any episode and I’m immediately torn when, inevitably, Joss stabs us with an emotional dagger. The Season 2 finale of “Buffy” (where Angelus turns back to Angel, and now Buffy must send her lover, literally, to hell) was emotionally gut wrenching. Even re-watching it a few years ago it was amazing. TV rarely gets better. Continue reading

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The Threeway: Things We Want to See from Disney/Lucasfilm Merger (Anthony’s Take)

While I might not be quite as giddy about the Disney/Lucasfilm merger as my compatriot (though I argue that few could reach his level of fervor); I’m still overjoyed to see my favorite properties ripped from Lucas’ midget/amputation fetishist hands (Seriously, if the man could have made all of “Jedi” nothing but Ewoks running around and cutting each other’s arms off, he would have).

A lot of what I want has already been hinted at or announced, so let’s break down what’s got me hot and bothered and what could send me into a rapturous geek fit. (Any and all similarities to Adam’s list are unintentional…even though it appears I copied him entirely.)

3) Episode VII – When I first heard that Disney wanted a new Star Wars movie by 2015, I assumed that they would be shoe-horning even more narrative into the increasingly packed timeframe between the trilogies. When I heard that we would finally be lighting off into the unknown territory AFTER the original trilogies, I was ecstatic. Lucas has said that he “always” had treatments for Episodes 7-9. I don’t know that I necessarily believe that; but by now he certainly has something down. And one thing that Lucas is great at is coming up with ideas that are otherworldly and familiar at the same time. What he’s not so great at anymore is translating those ideas to screen. So his ideas of “what happened next” to the characters he originally saw as the stars of this universe, paired with some solid directorial talent…? Where’s the line start? I’ll be first.

2) Indiana Jones and the Journey into that Long Goodnight – Please, for all that is holy, let Indy go. Maybe make a cartoon about “Young Indy” or even release a game that keeps the property alive; but let’s just agree that Harrison Ford had an amazing run and shouldn’t have to don the fedora again (unless he’s doing it for kinky reasons…which, can you blame him?).

1) Star Wars Land – Adam took the more logical, rational route in that he suggested Disney revitalize Hollywood Studios with Star Wars properties. For me, that is not nearly far enough. There are several undeveloped parcels of land on property in Orlando that could be used to create an entire Star Wars theme park. I’ve seen what the Imagineers can do with a teeny corner of a park (that AT-AT gets me every single time I round the bend); I want to walk through the ships and locales that I’ve only seen on screen. There could be Empire and Rebellion themed sections! They could base the sections on the various planets! Hell, they could even put a dumpster out back and label it “Prequels.” I would never, ever leave.

EVER.

The Threeway: Things We Want to See from Disney/Lucasfilm Merger (Adam’s Take)

I’ve been giddy for a few days now. The Disney/Lucasfilm announcement…it’s like Christmas and Halloween had a baby. I’m a big Disney fan and grew up on a steady diet of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.” I’m the kid that obsessed over that giant ILM book back in the day. I bought a LaserDisc player just to have the original Trilogy in unedited, digital form.

Thus, I have some thoughts on this buyout. I have a list of desires longer than a Wookie’s arm. Here are the Top 3:

1) Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. This was part of the announcement and I am totally on board. Even more, I’m OK with Lucas serving as a creative consultant. The problem with the Prequels wasn’t Lucas, it was that no one said “no” to Lucas. No one was there to keep him in check. He isn’t a writer. He isn’t a director. He is a storyteller though. The story, the concept, that was his gift (that and business management, apparently). Allow him to breath some life into the idea and then PASS IT OFF.

I want a solid core creative team involved (NOTE: Not Seth Green). A team that can do the story design, writing, etc., and then team with solid directors to bring it to life. It’s too bad that Joss Whedon is tied up (at Disney, oddly) with Marvel Phase 2, because he would be perfect. I don’t want Nolan either. Or Bryan Singer (who just signed back onto “X-Men”). I don’t think I want Favreau either.

There a few people I’d be OK with, but the top of the list is Spielberg. I know, I’m a devoted worshiper and I’m blinded. But Disney just made his one of his long time producers, Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm and he was BFF with George. Announcing him as director…I’d explode like the Death Star in the Special Edition.

2) Some “Indiana Jones” love. Whereas “Star Wars” has stayed alive and become commonplace in theaters (new movies, re-releases), TV (“Clone Wars”), game, action figures, etc., Indy is regulated to pretty much the back room. I’m not saying I need another film. But, a “Clone Wars” style cartoon could be interesting. An Indy ride at Disney World would be nice. Something.

1) “Star Wars” Land at Disney World. Last year when Disney announced “Avatar”-land for the Animal Kingdom I was confused. I guess Pandora can fit into the Animal Kingdom, but it seems like a waste of money. Disney is grasping at a straw to combat Universal expanding the incredibly popular “Harry Potter” world. Then it dawned on me – Disney should make a “Star Wars” land. But, putting that much money into something they didn’t own doesn’t fit their M.O.

Now, however, they can. Licensing fees would be easy to arrange. They already have Star Tours at the Studios. Plus, they blow that place up for “Star Wars” Weekends every May/June; Hollywood Studios gets overrun with fans every year. So, obviously, there is demand. They could easily retrofit some parts of the Studios while creating new attractions. Some free food for thought for the Imagineers:

  1. Turn the SciFi Diner into Mos Eisley.
  2. Retrofit Pizza Planet for a “Star Wars” theme.
  3. Use the space for the “Muppets” to create a new “Star Wars” attraction (NOTE – I love the MuppetVision 4D show – but its time has gone).
  4. Take out the “Pearl Harbor” esque opening of the backlot tour and replace with something “Star Wars” or ILM focused.
  5. Have a “Star Wars” themed character breakfast.
  6. Replace “Once Upon a Toy” (at Downtown Disney) with a “Star Wars” store

Essentially, use the assets to bring new experiences to the Parks. This was a great start:

Darth Disney

DISNEY JUST BOUGHT LUCASFILM.

That sentence should break the Internet. WTH? Disney just threw $4 BILLION at King George and walked away with the Holy Trinity (and those other movies). Oh, and they say they want a new “Star Wars” movie in theaters in 2015 (and Lucas will only consult on it).

Even if the movie never happens – this is a MAJOR acquisition for Disney. The Merchandising and Theme Park rights alone should give them plenty to play with. When Disney announced “Avatar” land (or whatever) for Animal Kingdom I was perplexed. Why not arrange a deal with Lucas to do a Star Wars themed park? Looks like they were a step ahead of me.

I’m optimistic. I’m giddy. I’m sure to be let down, but in the mean time…

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.

UPDATE 1: Disney is getting full control of everything. “Star Wars,” LucasFilm, “Indiana Jone,” LucasArts, Industrial Lights & Magic (ILM), etc. The bought the entire Lucas farm.

UPDATE/Question 2 – Does this make Princess Leia a Disney Princess? Cuz, Slave Leia fits in sooooo well.

Streaming Saturday: The Beverly Hills Cop Trilogy

There is a short list of “holy trinities” in cinema. The “Star Wars” Trilogy. The “Indiana Jones” trilogy. The “Beverly Hills Cop” trilogy.

Ok, that last one is a reach. But, they did make three of them (I think the last one was made just to get George Lucas involved – and thus cement a place in “Holy Trilogy”). Have you ever watched them back-to-back-to-back? Now you can.

The point is…they are now on Netflix Instant. Is there a better way to shoot a Saturday evening than with Alex F? You probably haven’t seen them in awhile, so I’ll give you a quick rundown:

Beverly Hills Cop – The original and the best. It falls into bad 80s action cliche-land at the end, but it’s great until then.

Beverly Hills Cop II – Guns and Brigitte Nielsen. What else do you really need to know? It’s a good sequel and doesn’t make you hate yourself when you finish it.

Beverly Hills Cop III – The one that inexplicably takes place at an amusement park. And has a cameo by George Lucas (WTH is that about?). If you get this far in the movie marathon…you need to get out more.

The Threeway: Top 3 Spielberg Movies

Woops! Looks like the long weekend took more of my attention than I expected.

Don’t worry, dear readers, I thought of you fondly while I was lounging in the pool, being pummeled by my progeny, wondering if they would drown me.

Yet, I survived! And long enough to see Janie completely explode Adam’s head. Oh, what a glorious day.

Let’s see if I can’t add some fuel to the fire, get those embers flying, work Adam up into a firestorm that can only be doused by Richard Dreyfus’ ghost. Because, y’see, while I agree that Spielberg has been a prolific and entertaining movie-maker; I found myself hard pressed to find three movies to fill this list. “E.T.” is schmaltzy treacle. The Raiders series ground on far too long. “Jurassic Park” is nothing but “JAWS” with a T-Rex and less subtlety. Still. There are a few films where Spielberg manages to transcend and overcome his penchant for heavy-handedness.

3) “Saving Private Ryan” – This affected me deeply the first time I saw it; to the point where I wasn’t sure if I could watch the entire thing. It was gut wrenching and visceral and totally unlike the popcorn flicks that I associated with Spielberg. That said, I have watched it twice, and twice only, and I likely won’t watch it again. I’m OK with that – It’s one of the rawest portrayals of World War II that I have seen. When you strip the Hollywood out of war, it shouldn’t be something you casually queue up on a Sunday afternoon.

2) “Raiders of the Lost Ark” -By far one of the most iconic adventure movies of all time. It’s reverberated throughout pop culture to the point where cartoons like “My Little Pony” are riffing on it (I know you’ve been just waiting for me to name-drop the show, Adam. There you are). Harrison Ford is brilliant as the world-weary adventurer and brings to Indy more than just the swashbuckling tomb raider of the early pulp fiction cliffhangers. Ford and Spielberg infuse Indiana Jones with a modern cynicism that makes him resonate with the audience. While later movies stumbled (to the point where it was reported that Spielberg had made Indy 3 to apologize for “Temple of Doom”), “Raiders” simply owns the audience from the opening scenes and doesn’t let go until the opening of the Ark at the end.

1) “JAWS” – I absolutely love “JAWS.” I first saw it when I was about twelve and to say it affected me deeply is an understatement. I still hum “Farewell and Adieu” whenever I get on a boat. I still think twice about getting in the water after dark. “JAWS” didn’t just scare me. It terrified me. But it was so much more than the shark. Here were grown men, men like my father, confident and cocksure that they could outsmart a fish. Except they couldn’t. The happy ending was the very definition of a pyrrhic victory, to the point where I was certain Brody would never make it to shore.

And revisiting “JAWS” years later, I could see that the terror of the shark was more allegorical than anything else. This was a town on the brink of economic collapse. There wasn’t just fear of the water, there was fear that their livelihoods would be destroyed. That the shark’s impact would reverberate far onshore and take not just the lives of a few horny teenagers; but of an entire town. The hiring of Quint isn’t just the foolhardy bravado of men who believe that there is no creature they can’t overpower; it’s a desperate Hail Mary pass upon which every character’s fate rests. “JAWS” is inarguably Spielberg at his best.

The Threeway – Top 3 Spielberg Movies (Janie’s Take)

Okay, so here’s the weird thing.  I didn’t love doing this as much as I thought I would. Vinnie said, “Let’s do the Threeway on our favorite Spielberg movies.” And I was like: “Hells yeah, that would be awesome!”

But then I started going through all the Spielberg-directed movies (we only did directed otherwise the list was truly mind-boggling in its length) and I realized… God, I hate to say this but I really can’t find any way around it… I am not a huge Spielberg fan.

[That thump sound you just heard was Adam’s dead body hitting the floor. RIP Vinnie. I’m sorry I caused your demise.]

But yeah, that’s right, when I look at the list of Spielberg’s “greats” (Adam listed them in his response), none of them make me want to pull out the DVD and watch them right away.  As a matter of fact, I couldn’t  watch any of the DVDs immediately even if I wanted to because I don’t own a single Spielberg-directed movie.  Why? Well… at the risk of repeating myself… because evidently I’m not a huge Spielberg fan.

I believe Spielberg is pretty great at what he does best: create movies that delight his inner 15-year-old boy.  But seeing as I am not a 15-year-old or a boy, I have never been enthralled with any of his movies. (Also, romance is my thing, and Spielberg pretty much totally sucks at romance. Utterly.)  He also has a gift for picking out important adult stories (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich) and telling them well, although they’re still not my favorite movies.

I’ve said my peace. Now on to the ranking.

#3 Minority Report –I’m a sucker for a noir. This future-noir is rich and thought-provoking –weird and a little scary all at the same time. And maybe what I said before about not wanting to watch a Spielberg DVD isn’t totally true – talking about Minority Report makes me want watch it again. That’s a good sign.

#2 Jaws. Giving credit where credit is due. Jaws was pretty much single-handedly responsible for ushering in the new age of blockbusters. It was a cultural phenomenon. It is the reason we still have huge summer movie releases to this day. It undeniably works as a thriller (although without John Williams’ score could we still say the same??). It is perhaps, although not my favorite, Spielberg’s masterpiece.

#1 Raiders of the Lost Ark. I love all the Indy movies, even the bad one. But truly, it’s less about Spielberg’s direction (although I will be the first to admit that the opening scene in Raiders is the best first 10-minutes of any movie ever), and more about Harrison Ford.  Seriously.  I mean, even the most iconic scene in the movie – Indy shooting the crazy sword-wielding baddie – was Harrison Ford’s idea (because he was suffering from dysentery and too weak to perform the rehearsed fight scene).  Regardless, the Indy Jones movies are the closest I come to loving Spielberg’s films – and I credit that to the fabulous team he put together more than his actual directing.

The Threeway: Top 3 Spielberg Movies (Adam’s Take)

I’ve said it before – I’m a card carrying member of the Church of Spielberg. I can wash away his big misfires as things he didn’t really direct. Seriously, you think he was really on set for “Lost World: Jurassic Park 2”? Hell no. Maybe that one scene where the van falls into the tree (with the spiderweb/cracking windshield) but that’s about it. Same with “Crystal Skull.” The scene with Indy and Mutt on the motorcycle through campus – yes. Anything else? No.

Even the movies I wouldn’t put on this list are amazing:

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Color Purple
  • Schindler’s List
  • Duel
  • Jurassic Park
  • War of the Worlds
  • Adventures of Tintin
  • War Horse
  • Saving Private Ryan

Any other filmmaker would love to have those on his resume. For Spielberg, those are in the “also ran” pile. Hell, that doesn’t even get into films like:

  • Munich
  • Empire of the Sun
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Catch Me If You Can

The fact is – he is the man. Enough of my man crush on his cinematic excellence. Onto the official Top 3:

3) “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – If Adventure Had a Name… It Must Be Indiana Jones! Sure, that’s a tag line from one of the other ones, but I don’t care. Raiders is pure awesome. The movie is carefully constructed. One scene gets your heart racing, the next allows you to catch your breath. The next scene kicks in adrenaline, the next settles back down. Only, the “coming down” scenes get shorter and the “blood pumping” scenes get more complex, until we hit the face-melting final.

Best Scene: The opening or the The Opening of the Ark. I’m not sure which. Both are iconic and incredible.

2) “E.T.” – If I created this list a few years ago this movie would have sat at #1. I love “E.T.” It captures a childhood sense of wonder that few movies ever have. Spielberg films the movie from a child’s perspective (ground up camera work – you don’t even see the “bad guy’s” face until 3/4 of the way through the movie) and it is lit with awe. The lightning style (lots of search lights coming from behind objects) will become a Spielberg trademark, but it was never done better than right here.

Best Scene: Towards the end as the kids are trying to get E.T. back into the forest. The “Man” is after them. What’s a group of punk kids harboring an Alien supposed to do? FLY! As E.T. lifts their bikes up over the police blockade… I still cheer.

1) “JAWS” – This movie has shot up my list of all time favorites in recent years. I don’t know why, but it took me awhile to fully understand its brilliance. We all know the story on how they didn’t show the shark much because the mechanical shark didn’t work well. Whether the decision was conscious or just dumb luck doesn’t matter. What does matter is the result.

Hitchcock once said “Their is no terror in the BANG, only the anticipation of it.” I think Hitch would have loved “JAWS” (it’s possible to say that “JAWS” was an extension of “The Birds” in terms of nature turning against man). There is terror in a shark. There is pure terror in the anticipation of the shark.

Best Scene – to prove that… there’s a scene where there are two people trying to catch the shark. It’s night and they are standing on a pier. They throw a pot roast into the water (on a hook) and tie the chain to the dock. The shark comes. Eats the roast and takes off – pulling the pier apart! One fisherman is in the water. As he starts to swim back we see the dock turn around. His friend starts yelling “SWIM! FASTER! DON’T TURN AROUND JUST SWIM!” His friend knows the dock turning means the shark has turned and is now after his friend.

The glorious thing is that throughout the entire scene… we never see the Shark. Not one dorsal fin. It’s exhilarating.

What do you think? Your top 3 Spielberg films?

Cult of Spielberg: Emancipating “Lincoln”

Let’s get something out of the way early here – I am a complete Spielberg fanatic. Movies like “E.T.,” “Jaws,” “Close Encounters” and “Raiders” are all on my list of “perfect movies” ever made. I honestly feel cheated every year that goes by without a film directed by him. The drought between “Munich” and last Winter’s one-two punch of “Adventure’s of Tintin” and “War Horse” was painful for me. (Editor’s note: I don’t think Spielberg actually directed “Crystal Skull.” I also don’t think he directed “Lost World” either, if you care.)

Shoe-in for an Oscar Nomination – Daniel Day Lewis IS Lincoln.

As such, news of new Spielberg movies touch me in a special place. Disney announced that new Spielberg Oscar-bait “Lincoln” will hit theaters on November 16 (November 9th if you are a fancy-pants in NY or LA). These are interesting dates because:

  1. Spielberg has stated that he didn’t want this movie to be fodder during the upcoming Presidential election. Last I looked, Lincoln wasn’t up for re-election, but whatever.
  2. The Nov 9 date puts it in Bond’s cross hairs as “Skyfall” opens the same day.
  3. Worse (box office-ly speaking) is that Nov 16 opens it against “Twilight.” That means I will live in a world where the opening of a new Spielberg movie will LOSE the opening weekend Box Office crown to glittery vampires.

Now… if there were only a movie where Lincoln dispatched vampires. Dare to dream…