Star Wars™ or Star Bores?

207c93cfdc316ebbc17f2e0765a10381

For the last couple of days during this unending lockdown, I have been thinking of Star Wars. The feeds on various social media platforms such as Google, YouTube and Instagram are pretty much just cars and science fiction, with random bits of friends and family stuff in-between. Anything from lightsabers on sale to how the USS Discovery’s Mycelium spore-drive works and how fast spaceships in The Expanse actually travel. (Feel free to notify me, I still don’t have a definite answer.)

I then thought about what I think of the Star Wars movies since everyone is criticising the absolute crap out of the sequel trilogy. So without going into too much detail, I will now give my honest opinions about each one – in chronological order (by era, not release):

The Prequels

The Phantom Menace – Meh

Attack of the Clones – Good

Revenge of the Sith – Better

 

The Fillers

The Clone Wars Series – Excellent! Brilliant! Magnificent!

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Okay

Rebels Series – Meh

Rogue One – Bloody Brilliant!

 

The Original Trilogy

A New Hope – Very Good

The Empire Strikes Back – Really Very Good

Return of the Jedi – Good

 

The Sequels

The Force Awakens – *cough* Knock-off *cough*

The Last Jedi – Uhmmm… What’s with all the comedy?

The Rise of Skywalker – WTF was that?

 

(I have not included The Mandolorian in this for the sole reason that I have not seen it. Sorry. I hear it’s very good though.)

So that’s my short honest opinion. The Sequels really disappointed me – like it did many other people. The Force Awakens was just A New Hope remake to introduce the new characters and get rid of some old ones. The Last Jedi was a complete farce. It was the first Star Wars that I saw in the cinema and I really looked forward to it. Oh boy, was I in for a shock. Why is there so much humour in it? The cinema was laughing more than anything else. It’s Star Wars, not Spaceballs! And why the heck did Cantonica (the casino planet) get so much screen-time?

The only two remotely cool things about the whole movie was the fight scene where Kylo and Rey were fighting together in the throne room on-board the Supremacy (Mega-Star Destroyer for the non- Starwarsians who read here) and the bit where Kylo ordered all the guns to shoot at Luke and he brushed it off like dust (because, of course, he was a projection).

And finally, we get to The Rise of Skywalker. What a fustercluck. The marketing was “the end of an era” and “40 years in the making”, which got me really excited. When I heard Palpatine’s laugh at the end of the trailer, I got really, really excited. So I went into the cinema all pumped up with excitement. But oh, was it crushed fast. I stood outside the cinema afterwards and thought WTF WAS THAT?.

During the run-up to the movie, leaks were happening and fans were going rampant with their theories. I read some of them and I can honestly say that most of them were better than the final product. I like JJ Abrams. I think he’s a great director. He’s the reason I like Star Trek. (Don’t worry, the 80s and 90s ‘Trek are still the best.)

Many of these theories regarded who Rey’s parents were. Many believed that they were nobodies, which would have been cool as it would have made Rey an ordinary galactic citizen who rose up and defeated the most powerful Star Wars baddie. But no, instead she is the granddaughter of said most powerful baddie. Not a Kenobi, not a Skywalker, not a random scavenger, but a freaking Palpatine! This was the single stupidest decision made by Disney and the feminist Kathleen Kennedy should spend some time in the Sarlacc Pit for this and everything else she has done!

Instead of showing people that a nobody from a wrong-side-of-the-tracks place can become great and inspirational, it showed that in order to become truly great and successful, you need to have a favourable background (like many famous people). It’s stupid and uninspiring and very un-Disney. Walt would have a hissy-fit.

This movie also resolved some of the plot holes of the previous movie. I’m not going to bother thinking of examples as I really don’t care, but instead of answering the pressing questions everyone had, they simply added more. For instance, one of the things I was most excited about was the news that Richard E. Grant would be joining the cast as an Imperial General. This was an excellent addition, but it was still ruined. The scene in question was how the movie got rid of General Hux. General Pryde (Grant’s character) just shot him. PEW!, and he was out of the movie. No ceremonious end to the leader of the Imperial Navy, like the one Cutler Beckett got in Pirates of the Caribbean. He didn’t deserve the end he got. More ‘going down with his ship’ would have been so much better instead of ‘getting unceremoniously shot as an afterthought’.

I have this thing when I watch a movie – I want my mind to randomly wander to a bit of the movie that I found cool or inspiring, hours, days or even weeks after watching a movie. I find this to be an indication that the movie was good and that I really enjoyed it. Good examples of this feeling are the murderer being shown less than halfway into the movie in Knifes Out, the beautiful twist at the end of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and the sheer beauty that is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty . The movie must want me to dissect parts of it in order to make sense of the rest. I had one heck of a time with Inception, figuring out which were dreams and which were reality, weeks after watching the movie.

With The Rise of Skywalker, I forgot about the events of the movie as soon as I got home and never really thought about it again – until now when I realised how bloody angry I was and decided to write this sort-of blog, sort-of rant about it.

So, the question is, will I watch it again? The answer; only if I have to – which coincidentally is the same answer I gave with Marvel’s Black Panther. I will however, buy it as it is the only Star Wars movie I need to finish my collection.

But only if it’s on sale.

 

©2020 MICHAEL DE KOCK

 

Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking nerd, petrolhead, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.

Star Wars… Yay!

Now, I just read that Star Wars Episode VIII will begin filming this month in Skellige Michael, Ireland. Apparently people thought it was a reshoot for a scene because the ending of Episode VII coincides with the beginning of VIII. I did not know this as I’m not one of those people who went and looked at all the leaked photos and stuff. The only leaked photo I saw was on of J.J. Abrams standing in front of an X-Wing.

All of the leaked stuff came up on my Facebook Wall as I ‘follow’ many Star Wars related pages, but even before they started filming Episode VII, I decided I wasn’t going to look at leaks. This is because I want to experience the feeling Starwarsians had in 1980 and 1983 when they went to the cinemas for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The feeling of excitement and concern, not knowing what to expect from this instalment of your favourite interplanetary adventure series.

I had this sort of feeling only with one movie. When we went to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I didn’t expect much. I mean, the trailer looked good, but it is a Ben Stiller film. So it was either serious to the point of being boring, or it would be inappropriate to the point of walking out of the cinema. Much to my surprise, it was brilliant! The story is very well done, the visuals are magnificent and the musical score comes very close to John Williams or Hans Zimmer. I will no doubt tip my hat to Ben Stiller if I ever meet him.

But anyway, I am a guy who has only seen the Star Wars movies once, apart from Episode II and V (and instantly fell in love with them), and who also quite likes the prequel trilogy because the special effects are better and I love the Clone Wars to bits. However because of this, I cannot judge or comment of Starwarsian matters. Heck, I will probably be cast into a pit with Jabba’s rancor just for saying these things…

Happy Birthday, James Bond!

IMG_1100 - Copy

Happy Birthday, James Bond!

(from different sources on the Internet)

So, today I bring you one and the other about the James Bond story and would you believe, our friend 007 is with us already for 50 years (in 2012)!

The Man behind James Bond

The 007 adventure started with a man who lived his life much like James Bond. Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in London in 1908 and educated in England, Germany and Austria.

After working at the Reuters news agency, Fleming became a stockbroker. During WWII he worked as the assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence in London, privy to many secrets. It was this experience that provided material for many of the characters and incidents in the Bond novels. Fleming was an intelligent man and participated in quite a few covert missions, which he crafted the plans for.

At age 43, Fleming settled at his Jamaican Estate, Goldeneye and produced his first novel, Casino Royale, in less than two months’ time.

His love life was much like that of James Bond, but he eventually married the love of his life, Anne Rothermere, and had a son, Caspar, with her. Unfortunately, their marriage wasn’t very happy.

While recuperating from his first heart attack in 1962, he wrote a short story about a flying car, called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, for Caspar.

Ian Fleming died at age 56 at Sandwich in Kent – apparently on his son’s birthday. After his death seven other authors were commissioned to write the James Bond novels.

A Bit of History

It’s not that well known, but there were two James Bonds before Sean Connery. Before the movies we came to love so much, there were also unofficial films, comic strips, a TV series, and radio shows and later on also electronic games starring 007 as a spy-hero.

Two of these early Bonds were portrayed by  Barry Nelson in 1954 And  Bob Holness in 1956. From 1962-1967 Sean Connery played the first Bond on the silver screen – as the 007 we know today. He was replaced in 1964 by Roger Moore. David Niven played Bond in 1967 in a rather weird, uncharacteristic, old Pink Panther-like version of a Bond-movie. He was replaced in 1969 by George Lazenby. After that Sean Connery played in another few movies from 1971 on and Roger Moore commenced his duty in the majesty’s service from 1973-1985.

In 1973 Christopher Cazenove portrayed Bond in a BBC documentary and in 1983 Sean Connery returned after he told his wife that he would never play 007 again. The name of that movie? Never Say Never Again!

Timothy Dalton was the first of the younger generation James Bonds from 1987-1989. Scottish Mama Mia singing star, Pierce Brosnan, saved the world from various villains between 1995-2002. He was followed up by the latest 007, the very serious Mr. Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig even played James Bond in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games alongside a parachuting queen of England.

Frequent Characters

Although their actors die, go on pension and are replaced by new faces, some characters appear in every James Bond movie. They are M, MI6’s boss; Q, the guy behind 007’s gadgets; and Moneypenny, M’s secretary, who is very in love with 007!

The Gadgets

Let’s be honest – James Bond is cool, but his gadgets are just fantastic and some movies had some outrageous stuff! (Although he went old school in the latest movie, Skyfall…)

The Cars

All of Bond’s cars are now on display at a museum in England. Bond’s BMW 750Li is personally my favourite Bond car, because it is the only 4-door Bond car and it is remote controlled with a phone!!! Unfortunately, as always, Mr Bond destroyed it.

Bond’s Aston Martin Vanquish/Vanish (as Q put it) had stinger missiles, shotguns, tyre spikes and can turn invisible. It could also perform a flip (when upside down) with the ejector seat.

The Lotus Espirit was able to turn into a submarine, with little fins and gas launched arrows.

I will stop here, otherwise I can go on forever…

And Then There Were the Girls

And of course, without them, James Bond won’t be James Bond! Actresses such as Ursela Andress, Linda Christian, Lois Maxwell, Zena Marshall, Claudine Auger, a former miss France, Joanna Lumley, who played Purdey, Jill St. John. Lana Wood, Jane Seymore, Brit Ekland, Kim Basinger, Barbara Carrera, Grace Jones,   Maryam D’Abo. Minnie Driver, Teri Hatcher, from Desperate Housewifes, Hally Berry and Ava Green played in Bond movies. Some of them went on to become most successful Hollywood stars, while others’ careers died a bit after their 007 fame.

Some Facts you Probably didn’t Know about 007

  • Sean Connery chose to donate his entire base salary to a Scottish education charity.
  • A quarter of the world’s population have seen at least one Bond film.
  • The first novel, Casino Royale, was published in 1953.
  • Kate Westbrook wrote three novels based on the diaries of Moneypenny.
  • Ian Fleming took the name for his character from one of his ‘heroes’ – an American ornithologist, Caribbean bird expert and author of the Definitive Field Guide Birds of the West Indies.
  • A series for children novels, The Young Bond was written by Charlie Higson and, between 2005 and 2009, five novels and one short story were published.
  • Bond films are produced by Eon Productions, the company of Canadian Harry Saltzman and American Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli.
  • The Bond-movies are the second highest grossing film series, just behind Harry Potter. (But probably not for long, as Skyfall had just became the 11th movie to ever earned more than a billion dollars.)
  • 007’s parents were Andrew and Monique.
  • In the novels, James Bond apparently had three wives – one, Teresa di Vicenzo died, while the other two, Kissy Suzuki and Harriett Horner became invalids. I couldn’t find out if they are still alive…
  • 007 has a son named James Suzuki Bond!

And I thought that I knew what there was to know about James Bond!

And that in short was the story of James 007 Bond. The newest movie, Skyfall, is still showing in SA cinemas. If you haven’t seen it – go! It’s different, but good.

Happy b’day, 007! May there be many action-filled returns.