Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central, Star Wars, Uncategorized

Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back, created by George Lucas: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Three years have passed since the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star.  The Imperial Fleet, led by the notorious Darth Vader, is in pursuit of the new Rebel base.  As they send out probe droids across the galaxy to try and locate the group and their leader, Princess Leia.

One of the probes locates the base on the ice planet Hoth, a cold and deserted chunk of rock ignored by most of the galaxy.  Groups of the Rebel forces take turns to monitor the outer plains for the safety of the base.  Luke Skywalker is captured during one of his shifts, having gone further to investigate the mysterious asteroid that hit the surface…discovering that it was an Imperial Probe Droid.

As Han Solo goes out to rescue his friend, the rest of the Rebels begin to pack up and evacuate before the Empire shows up to launch a full-scale attack on the base.  Luke is saved but is convinced that he must seek out Jedi Master Yoda when the Empire arrives on Hoth.  The Rebels set out to meet the Imperial Army.

The Empire manages to push the Rebels to evacuate, cutting off the route that Princess Leia needs to get off the base.  Luckily, Han Solo is able to draw her away to the Millennium Falcon and their small contingency escapes the planet.  Luke makes it off world as well, heading to the Dagobah system.  As the group is spread across the galaxy in an attempt to escape and then reconvene to attack the Empire once again they learn hard lessons on who to trust and who to cast aside.

General Information:

-Genre: Space Opera

-Creator: George Lucas

-Length: 124 minutes

-Rating: PG (mild violence and gore, moderate frightening and intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: Disney+ (with subscription), DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billie Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz

-Page of Reference in RP1: 22

Review (contains spoilers):

This is probably my least favorite of the Original Trilogy.  It is necessary story wise, and I get that…but honestly I don’t like a lot of the characters and the situations that they are put in.

Between Cloud City and Dagobah, Hoth and the issues with the Falcon…and of course, Han Solo in carbonite…its just not as satisfying to watch.  I know that all of this is needed.  The betrayals, the secrets revealed.  The beginnings of the balance of the Force in Luke.  Leia realizing her feelings for Solo so she can make the rash decisions that she does in the third film.

While it isn’t as unbalanced as the issues in Episodes 1-3, this one is quite hard for me to watch.  It’s a lot of hurry up and wait.  Which is needed.  The next movie needs the groundwork built here. 

Luke needs to grow.  He needs Yoda to learn what he is missing with the Force.  We need the reveal of Vader as his father.  We need the tidbits of Leia being his sister.  The balance that he begins to bring to himself in the movie.

Leia and Han need to find their grounding together.  And need to have an adventure away from Luke.  They need to learn that they can rely on each other (and Chewie of course).  Lando needs his redeeming moments.

We need to learn more about the reach of the Empire.  And how the people outside of the scope we see are being treated.  How difficult the world is around the Rebels and why they are fighting so hard to end the tyranny.

This is all necessary.  But its just a long movie to get through.  And not in the same way as the first parts of the Skywalker Saga.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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SPOILERS ABOUND….you have been warned.

With the release and subsequent reading of Ready Player Two I believe a warning should be posted… this wasn’t really a spoiler free blog in the first place but as Ready Player One is a few years old I didn’t feel the need to make a big deal of the fact that every single post here could possibly be a spoiler for that book.

HOWEVER

As we continue to move forward with both books this is NOT A SPOILER FREE BLOG.

Spoilers can happen in all sorts of places in this blog from the tags, the pages, the titles of articles….and especially in the content of those articles.

You have been warned.

Posted in Blog Posts, Uncategorized

My Birthday….

And why I don’t celebrate it anymore…

So this is a longish story and may be a little too TMI for most people.  But I feel like its important to know especially since I’ll be releasing some articles on my views on grief, loss and the themes of that in Ready Player One.  And I feel like you all should know that I speak from a place of personal knowledge and not from a psychological perspective.

Please note this disclaimer: I am not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist but I will be speaking from a place of personal knowledge…

So.

My birthday is tomorrow. November 21st.

I’ll be turning 33 this year…which is both scary and awesome because I feel like I’m finally at a place in my life where I don’t care what other people think, I love what I love, and the big plans I’ve been making will actually start coming to fruituion.  Because you know what? I’m not going to let anything stand in the way of them anymore.

But that being said and out of the way isn’t why I don’t celebrate my birthday anymore.

The reason I don’t celebrate anymore is because of my mom.

Now I know what evereyone’s mind jumps to when I say that with no other information.  People automatically think that maybe we had a bad relationship, or I was abused in some way…or we were too poor to celebrate or whatever terrible thing that comes to mind when you automatically jump to conclusions from that simple sentence.

I don’t celebrate my birthday anymore because of my mom.

And here is why.  And why I wanted to tell you before I kind of go off the grid tomorrow more that I have lately.  I’m trying to get better about blogging guys…it just doesn’t come completely naturally to me. I’m getting there.

I don’t celebrate my birthday anymore because of my mom.

Because 4 years ago she died.

She was the big celebrator in our family.  My dad loves birthdays too but mom was the go to for everything.  Head to toe, top to bottom and everywhere in the house it was always something to celebrate. From holidays to birthdays to little love notes left around the house and in lunchboxes.

She didn’t really cook, didn’t do a lot of those things that most people in America usually associate with moms like sewing and homesteading and gardening.   But man could she celebrate.

She had a very specific aesthetic which I’ve defiantly picked pieces of up in my old age. But every single holiday had something up for it from orange and purple lights for Halloween to a valentines banner on the front door…everything had a decoration.

And we always had gifts…ALWAYS.  Leprechauns, cupid and the Easter bunny never missed a visits. We always had candy on Saint Nicholas’s day (even if we weren’t all that good that year).  There was always a package to my house when I was living in California be it Christmas or Halloween or even New Years.  And she never forgot my friends…ever.

I could always count on that.  Until she got really sick…and even then she did send stuff until she absolutely couldn’t even though I told her to stop and save her strength.

She was diagnosed almost 7 years ago with Stage 3 cancer.

She fought for 3 years.

She underwent chemo and experimental treatments and surgeries and all sorts of things I’m sure I don’t even know about.

And yet through it all she only thought about us kids.  My brother and I. And my dad.

When she died I just stopped celebrating.  On a regular day, or her birthday, the day she died, or even the day we buried her I don’t seem to miss her much.  Sometimes it hits me and there are certain things I can’t listen to (like the song my dad used to set the video of her life to) but for the most part I don’t think about her not being there much.

But celebrating is hard.  I’ve been able to get back Halloween which is my favorite holidays. Other more secularized holidays like Easter and Christmas are slowly coming back or being replaced by my own religious holidays.  And I’ve been able to go out and enjoy those seasons out in public.  Even going so far as to being able to pull out some of her decorations this last year.

But my birthday.  That’s when it all hits me.

And because of that…I don’t celebrate it.

I don’t do much.

I get a pizza delivered…watch some crappy movies and that’s it.

I try to forget the day exists.

I even shut off my phone so I don’t have to see the birthday wishes coming in on social media.

So again this year it will go.

And tomorrow. Ill try to forget its my birthday.  But because my mom isn’t here…I don’t think I’ll ever be able to.

me and the mini 4 layer cake from the Hello Kitty Cafe popup in California a few years ago
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The Drive-in Phenomenon and Their Resurgence During Quarentine

The drive in phenomena. We’ve all heard of them. We’ve seen them in movies and on TV. We may have even been lucky enough to go to one in our youth.

There was a time when they were incredibly popular. It was the easiest and best way to see movies while hanging out with friends or getting a little necking in in the privacy of your car. They developed a culture all their own that has been immortalized in films like Grease. Families could go for the price of a single car and even today the prices for going to the movies is minuscule compared to hitting the movie theatre to see the latest IMAX screening.

And for the most part new movies come to these wonderful pieces of history… and usually you get two or even THREE movies for the price of that single ticket.

Tibbs Drive-In Theatre in Indianapolis, IN. In business since 1967, this is the last remaining Drive-In Theatre in Indianapolis.

I mean… how can you turn down three full length movies for around $12. Popcorn costs more than that at a normal theatre! And you can bring your own snacks… can’t do that at your standard chain.

Even dogs can come to most drive-ins. How cool is that? All the comforts of home but with the social aspects of going to a movie theatre with your friends.

And this is why they became so popular. Kids could get their energy out on the playground (my local drive-in still has one set up at the base of screen 1). They could watch a movie and pass out in the back seat of the car while mom and dad watched a movie for themselves. Teens could meet up with their friends. Hook up with their dates. Kiss and (maybe) watch the latest horror flick.

But then they began to die out. With the advent of luxurious amenities like reclining seats, air conditioning, surround sound and high end concessions, chain movie theatres took over. Most towns have at least one large theatre owned by some sort of chain. From IMAX screens toting the largest film screens on the market to midnight movie premieres complete with celebrity appearances and special menus to luxury dine in theatres it is understandable how the idea of a complete in house theatre became popular. And hanging out at a drive-in in your car just… wasn’t anymore.

Hanging out at the drive-in before my double feature starts.

The other reason for this is the change in our society from the heyday of the drive-in theatre to now. Technology is partially to blame. But the other side of it is our family structures. We are just so busy. And honestly self-centered.

This culturally shift from community to the individual shapes the way that the world works. Companies and activities that center on their own culture shrivel and die when the community that they relied on no longer exists.

And so went drive-ins. Movies were exchanged for malls and then computers and video games. And now we can get pretty much anything sent to our TVs or tablets (even if we have to pay for them) so who needs a movie theatre you go to in your car anymore. Ick.

Then Covid-19 hit.

And suddenly those dystopian novels and movies weren’t looking so silly. The fact that we were trapped in our homes by a virus that is incredibly contagious and nearly as deadly hit all of us like a ton of bricks. And the independent world we had built for the last 70 years just began to crumble around us.

We needed something to turn to. Something to do while still complying with the restrictions in place to keep us safe. And… honestly… we needed a distraction. A really big distraction.

So drive-ins have come back! So much so that large box stores like Walmart and even malls have considered and talked about hosting drive-in films in the sides of their buildings.

But why support places like that when you can look local.

For me that would be Tibbs Drive-in. Formerly owned by United Artists theatres last year they were purchased by a wonderful local couple who has been determined to keep the place up and running. With 4 screens and plenty of social distancing the drive-in theatre is back and booming.

From spring to fall everything from big blockbusters to unique special events (like the 45th anniversary of Rocky Horror Picture Show) Tibbs has solidified itself once again in our community.

And I bet you don’t have to look too far to find one local to you. Families have held onto these properties and opportunities for years, often struggling to get by. But why? Why did we let this classic piece of American culture die?

And wheat can we do to keep it going?

Honestly the answers are simple. Look around and care about the community. And stop paying big companies for the things that the locals can do better.

Sun sets on the Drive-in. Getting ready to tune in for a great night

I say it here all the time. I’m nearly every single review you will see me say something like: support your local bookseller, or look at your local library. Well tonight I’m supporting my local drive-in. My local family. And my local community

So go! Go to the movies! Find your local drive-in. And support that family in these dark times.

You’ll be surprised at how much fun you’ll have. And maybe you’ll get hooked on the taste of the past. Because nothing goes better with the start of the fall than a good movie, some good food… and maybe doing the time-warp again.

It’s just a jump to the left…

Please note: this information has come from talks with various owners of drive-in theatres throughout my life, my own personal research through the years and a general love of basically everything from the 1950s. I do not have sources currently because, let’s be real… covid sucks and sometimes digging up where you heard or saw something is really exhausting. And right now. If rather just enjoy my movies. 😉