Skip’s Quips: Sorry, But the New ‘Star Wars’ Trailer Looks Blah

Blog Sketch 082813Unfortunately,  we can’t go back in time to feel what it was like to experience the original Star Wars firsthand.

We can, however, watch the trailer to the forthcoming Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and after doing so, I have to say that I’m not impressed.

I wasn’t too happy with director J.J. Abrams’ work on Star Trek Into Darkness, which I felt was a lot of posturing. Tedious, sloppy filmmaking, in my opinion. Now’s he’s getting his hands on the Star Wars franchise, and I’m cautiously pessimistic. The trailer to the 2015-destined new installment suggests it’s very special-effects-heavy – nothing new for this series. But I have a bigger problem. Why add more to a story that’s already ended … and in a satisfying way, to boot?

You won’t get a more iconic villain in this franchise than Darth Vader, and I don’t know if Abrams will try for that. Part of the reason the original worked, however, was due to the strength of the mythology behind Vader and his minions. They were bad. They were evil. And they had James Earl Jones’ voice leading them.

You’re not going to get the same effect in the latest sequel, and I’m worried it’ll fail because of that.

The Star Wars fan base is sizable. I’m sure this will make a lot of money. And putting out a teaser trailer now for a film that’s slated for a late-next-year debut is a good marketing strategy.

I just hope it’s not all for naught. Given the many problems with the prequels, this isn’t a new hope.

Unfortunately.

Skip’s Quips: Having Another Go at ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Blog Sketch 082813Why, I asked myself last night, am I watching the original 1982 version of Conan the Barbarian again?

Isn’t once enough for this film? It doesn’t have great cinematography. Much of the acting – except for stalwarts such as James Earl Jones and Max von Sydow – is atrocious. And the special effects are pretty poor by today’s or even yesteryear’s standards.

Oh, yeah: And the blood squibs are gloppy. Really gloppy.

Well, parts of it are watchable, for some reason. I’ve read one of the original Robert E. Howard Conan stories, “The People of the Black Circle,” and the film stays true to the tale’s sensibilities. You know: blood, gore, lust and all that. Plus, there’s the much-lauded score by Basil Poledouris, which is somewhat bombastic but definitely works.

Then there’s the script, courtesy of director John Milius and Oliver Stone. Pretty simple stuff, but at least it’s not verbose and pretentious. I was grateful for that.

There were also a number of seemingly derivative moments that may have been “inspired” by classic films such as Kwaidan (the scene in which the wizard writes runes on Conan’s body to protect him from demons) and The Seven Samurai (the stake-adorned defense against Thulsa Doom’s cohorts). Surprisingly erudite stuff for a film such as this. I did see part of an interview a long time ago in which Milius lauded Kwaidan as being “dreamlike,” so perhaps he was mining that movie for Conan. Nevertheless, it made for strong viewing.

So all in all: kind of a sloppy film, with dull moments and some very good ones. I may end up watching it again in the future and asking myself, once more, why I’m doing so. Hopefully, I’ll be able to answer myself the same way.

Skip’s Quips: Disliking ‘The Comedians’ Is No Laughing Matter

Blog Sketch 082813Well, I tried to watch The Comedians. It was a valiant effort.

Unfortunately, it failed.

I’m not sure what the issue was. The pacing seemed off. Direction, by Peter Glenville, was a bit plodding, especially during the scenes involving Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who have never been my favorite acting team. It certainly was a powerful subject – Haiti during the reign of “Papa Doc” Duvalier – and it had some terrific performers, including Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov, James Earl Jones and Lilian Gish, but the components didn’t really fit together. The movie felt like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle with inaccurately measured pieces.

Oh, well. I do like trying new things, but this picture didn’t grab me. Perhaps it’s one of those films that deserves to be remade. Better direction and a tighter script might serve it well.