Boba Fett is a Terrible Bounty Hunter

Boba Fett, for all of his cool street cred and name recognition and raspy voice and supposed toughness, is just not very good at his chosen profession. Bounty hunters have to go after the worst of the worst, they’re basically mercenary police officers, and those kind of people have to have something about them that screams, “Look, dude, don’t mess with me, because I am so much more of a bad dude than you are.” Boba Fett has that vibe, that je ne sais quoi that projects intimidation, when, in fact, he is anything but a professional. He is, in fact, the clumsiest luckiest SOB in the whole Star Wars universe.

I’m basing this solely off of the original Star Wars films that Mr. Fett appears in and not any of the expanded universe, expanded editions or prequel stuff that came later. If you read books or watch cartoons based on the expanded universe you learn more about Boba Fett, and how he really is a totally bad dude who can survive falling into the stomach of the Sarlacc, but I’m not focusing on that, because diving into the expanded universe is a never-ending slogfest of links and other characters whose names you don’t know. I’ll be focusing only on the parts of the original trilogy where Boba Fett appears or does something, nothing more.

The first time we see Boba is in The Empire Strikes Back, awaiting orders along with a group of other bounty hunters from Darth Vader. Like Wesley from The Princess Bride, he mutters, “As you wish.” He then looks menacing while standing next to IG-88, a walking coffee maker.

The next time we see him he’s floating away in the garbage cloud that the Millennium Falcon used to escape from the Star Destroyers chasing them in the asteroid field. How did he get his ship, Slave I, into the garbage cloud? It’s not explained, but he follows, heroically pushing some buttons that make his ship’s engines turn on. Also, this is the only scene where we see Boba’s little optometrist scope being used. 1Speaking of the garbage cloud, have you seen the size of some of that stuff? These are like the biggest pieces of garbage known to anyone in the outer rim. Some of them are as big as the Millennium Falcon.

When our heroes get to Cloud City on Bespin, sneaky Boba appears next after Vader has disarmed Han Solo, sidling up next to Darth Vader while Stormtroopers point their blasters at Han, Leia and Chewbacca. He has literally done nothing but follow the Falcon to Bespin, and now he’s standing next to the most powerful Sith lord there is. This tells you that he’s a very tough, quiet individual! Later, after Han is being tortured for fun, Boba tells Vader that Han is “no good to (him) dead.” He then traipses around, holding his rifle while Lando Calrissian prostrates himself before Vader. After that it’s off to the carbon freezing chamber where he once again complains about needing Han alive. He then points his rifle at Chewbacca, who could rip Boba’s arms out of their sockets without even trying. Once again, he’s one tough dude, showing you what he’s made of. After Luke arrives on Cloud City, he shoots at Luke, then runs away like a scaredy cat, then tells a Bespin guard to put Han on board his ship before flying off to Tatooine.

On Tatooine, he comes across in an almost civil fashion when he acknowledges the bargaining prowess of Boushh (Leia), after the “bounty hunter” secures 50000 credits for handing Chewbacca over to Jabba the Hutt. Repeating his placement on Bespin, Boba stands (once again) behind a powerful individual (Jabba the Hutt) while said powerful individual talks to someone (Luke). But all of the supposed toughness and bravado come crashing down on him when Boba ignites his jet pack and flies into battle to recapture Luke, Han and Chewbacca on the desert skiff, only to have Luke slice his blaster in half. He performs the ultimate wimp out move by lassoing Luke (lame!) and getting hit in the jet pack by a blind Han. As his jet pack once again ignites, rocketing him across the desert expanse, he cries out, slams into the side of Jabba’s sail barge, and then plummets to his death in the stomach of the Sarlacc monster.

Why is this man revered? I’ll admit, his outfit is cool, he carries himself with a Harry Calahan-like confidence and speaks only when it’s necessary. He seems like a tough dude, but I think that lying beneath that mask is the face and eyes of someone who knows they’re hiding their fear from everyone and realizing that, deep down, Fett is a charlatan who has to keep up the act before someone finds out that he’s really only good enough to be Sarlacc food.

The song “Bells” from “Christmas In The Stars” Proves that Earth Exists in the Star Wars Universe

Even though it existed long ago in a galaxy far, far away, the characters of Star Wars appear to know who Albert Einstein was, the proof being the song “Bells” from the 1980 album “Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album”.1These lyrics appear to not currently exist anywhere on the web, so I’ve transcribed them myself from the original song. The plot:

C-3PO and R2-D2 have been chatting previously about Christmas (from track one, ‘Christmas in the Stars’) and their talk turns to a sound that R2-D2 hasn’t heard before.

*R2-D2 speak*
“What is that? That my silly friend, is the sound of bells.”
*R2-D2 speak*
“What are bells?”

For shame! C-3PO proceeds to berate R2-D2:

I cannot believe the question
It’s like, “what is indigestion?”
Not that bells and indigestion are the same.

I cannot believe the query
That you ask, “what is Einstein’s theory?”
Compared to “what are bells?” seems almost tame.

*R2-D2 speak*
What is indigestion? Who is Einstein?
Before you ask me, “Who is H.G. Wells?”
I will help your education with a simple explanation of bells.

So now we’ve thrown human digestive problems, one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, and a British science fiction writer born in the 19th century into the mix. Continue…

Getting a Little Nervous About Iron Man 2….

I freaking loved Iron Man. Looooved it. Loved it so much I saw it twice and now own it on Blu-Ray and watch it about once a month. It’s a great film, and John Favreau did a great job of helming a possibly career-sinking film1Just ask Bryan Singer of Superman Returns fame.. It’s cool and smart and confident and funny and smart and Robert Downey Jr., who a few years ago I would have written off as Cory Haim-in-the-present material, soars as Tony Stark. And having anybody else play Stark 2Nicholas Cage and Tom Cruise were interested in playing Stark. would have been weird in hindsight.

And I really love that movie. I truly do.

And now Iron Man 2 is coming up this Friday. And I couldn’t be more nervous about it.

I’m worried it’s just gonna be terrible. I think my reasoning is that the first time around there wasn’t so much focus on who the bad guys are, and I think that the people playing the bad guys are bad choices. The Batman franchise started to die when the films focused more on the bad guys than on Batman. Mickey Rourke? Really? He looks terrible. And silly. And Scarlett Johansson? Man, she’s so one-note actress (like Natalie Portman) it’s not even funny.

Maybe it’s the product tie-ins (I’ve seen about 25 in the past couple of days) or the bad guys in the movie. I don’t know. Just have a strange feeling about this one. Maybe it’ll be different once I see it, and I’ll see it, but we’ll see.

UPDATE – The reviews are in and they aren’t that great. Compared to the 92% that the first Iron Man film got among the top critics on RT, IM2 has gotten a rousing 66%. One of my favorite authors, Cory Doctorow tweeted “Iron Man 2: the stupid, it burns. Wait for DVD, watch in Italian, pretend it’s opera.” I kinda feel bad for John Favreau, who’s a great director, but I’m sure he’s laughing all the way to the bank since IM2 brought in, in the opening weekend, $128,122,480. Typical Hollywood. We’ll see, after word of mouth, what the dropoff will be.

Why Avatar Was Revolutionary and the Studios Just Don’t Understand Why

Ever since Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar hit movie theaters last year people have been oohing and ahhing at the technology that was employed to make the very-true-to-life planet of Pandora seem real. His use of 3-D technology and the ability to create photorealistic computer-generated characters out of pixels was cool and ahead of its time and cost a whole lot of money to make…and it shows. The film *looks* great and it’s enjoyable and all, but I’m glad it didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar. That would have been like giving Star Wars the Best Picture for having really awesome special effects.

And everyone said that Avatar would be a game changer, the meme was coming down the pipe even before the movie was released and the whole understanding of why it would be the game-changer-to-be was because of the photorealistic characters. But for some reason that whole angle of the film has been lost in the cloud that it was in 3-D.

Glorious 3-D! Plants and animals and those Huey helicopter looking VTOLs and floating mountains and all. All of it in 3-D. And like I said earlier, the film looks great.

So now other studios have latched onto that breaking new technology from the 1950’s also and films all over the place are about to be released in 3-D, whether you want them to be or not. Clash of the Titans was filmed in standard 2-D, but after Avatar splashed big Warner Bros. went back and made Titans into 3-D to satisfy this unquenchable desire for Perseus and the Kraken and Medusa’s head to be in 3-D. The remake of Piranha is going to be in 3-D and even more films are coming out in that cutting edge 20th Century technology.

But butts in the seats in theaters have been declining for the past several years since HD has been introduced into the home theater market. The big studios have been asking themselves what could bring people back to the theater and they think they’ve found it, for now.

Going back to the game changer – I don’t see why the studios haven’t figured out yet why Avatar is really such a big deal, because it’s fairly obvious. Maybe it’s because of legal issues that would be involved in the making of film, but the logical end to what Avatar has brought us is filmmakers being able to have any actor or actress, living or dead, in their film. George C. Scott as Robert E. Lee in a Ridley Scott picture? Done. Jimmy Stewart and Jim Carrey finally together in a comedy after all this time? Doable. Grace Kelly back to play Julia Roberts’ mother? Not impossible. All it takes is a bunch of LEDs on a stand-in actor’s head and we can paint Charlie Chaplin in a new comedy from the Farrelly brothers. He could eat poop or something and then do a funny dance.

Voice talent could be big then and actors that never got work before could (secretly) put blockbusters on their resumes. Like I said, legal issues abound, since the families of these people might disagree with allowing their loved ones to return from the grave to be resurrected again on the big screen, but everyone in Hollywood has a price, right?

So 3-D? It’s a fad again. Hollywood should look to the real future – harvesting dead actors for profit.

After Seeing Amores Perros, I Only Want to Go to the “Fake” Mexico

When I was a kid my family and I would rent a condo in Puerto Vallarta and go to the beach for a couple of weeks every other year or so. It was great, and we’d just hang out and go to the beach and explore around. We did a booze cruise too, but since I was 7 at the time it didn’t mean very much to me, but at least we got to go on a big boat.

And the people of the area were very nice and we always had a great time there. It was fun.

So fast-forward many years later. To a month or so ago.

I had seen the preview for Amores Perros at the Inwood Theater many years ago and remembered at the time that it had been said that it was a sort-of Mexican Pulp Fiction, so when I saw it was going to be on IFC a couple of weeks ago I set up the Tivo to tape it. It sat there for awhile, waiting for us, and we finally watched it.

Oh boy.

If you don’t know about the movie, Amores Perros follows several groups of people in Mexico City in a non-linear story. There is Octavio, who is in love with his brother’s wife and wants to help her leave him, so he starts putting his pet Rottweiler into dog fights. There’s also a guy who is cheating on his wife with a soap opera star and her dog falls down in this hole in the floor and then she falls into the hole and requires some sort of surgery and she can’t walk anymore. And there’s a homeless guy who’s a gun for hire, killing people for money, but all he really wants is to see his daughter again and tell her that he loves her, so he double-crosses two business partners and steals their money and then….

But that would give away the ending, which, like mostly everything in Amores Perros, is heart-wrenching and sad.

And what you see of Mexico City is horrifying. It’s actually worse than Man on Fire, which was also a film about a guy who’s seeking revenge for a kidnapped little girl in Mexico City. The only thing that Man on Fire has that Amores Perros doesn’t have is a guy gets his fingers chopped off. Or Denzel Washington. He’s in Man on Fire, which makes the cool quotient of Man on Fire rise dramatically.

But still, Amores Perros is terrifying. And I’m also glad I never paid to see it, unlike Trainspotting. I will never go to Mexico City after seeing this film. Do I want to fear for my life, or that I might be kidnapped, or a family member might be kidnapped and then held for ransom? What if I paid and that family member was killed by the kidnappers? Or caught in a car chase where someone is racing an injured dog to the hospital? Then again, the dog is a Rottweiler, so I wouldn’t feel too bad about it dying, but still, what if I was hit by those guys while driving? And then a crazy homeless hitman stole my wallet while he was pretending to help me? And what if a crazy homeless hitman killed me while I was there? How much would someone in Mexico City pay to have me killed if the Peso is so low to the dollar?

It boggles the mind. Give me a fake dreamy Mexico where the people are friendly and wonderful and no one will kill me if I decided to travel there. I’ll take Mexico in the late 1970’s for $1000, Alex.

What were some of Glenn Vance’s happiest memories of traveling as a child?

You know the answer.

The Creative Mind of George Lucas Divines a New Star Wars Character

The Place: Skywalker Ranch.
The Situation: A creative meeting is taking place to create a new Star Wars character who will be the focus of a new live action television series that takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.Major brainstorming is going on.
The People: Present are George Lucas and the LucasFilm databank keeper.

Databank Keeper – “Okay, so what have we got so far?”

Lucas shakes his head. He is tired and exhausted from running the Lucasfilm empire.

George Lucas – “Nothing. We have nothing.”
DK – “Alright…what is it? Human, creature of some sort….something…”
GL – “Not human. We have enough humans. Make it a creature.”
DK – “Sentient or not?”
GL – “Definitely sentient.”
DK – “Wise or not?”
GL – “Wise? Like Yoda?”
DK – “Yeah.”
GL –  “Hmm…not so wise. Just normal.”
DK – “Okay, a normal creature. What does it look like?”
GL – “Furry. Tall and furry.”
DK – “Like a Wookiee?”
GL – “Okay…no, make it short.”
DK – “Like an Ewok?”
GL – *Sigh* “Scratch furry. Make it scaly. And green.”
DK – “Like Greedo?”
GL – “…Okay. Scaly, green, big beaver teeth.”
DK – “Like Walrus Man?”
GL – “Why is this so hard?”
DK – “I don’t know. You thought this stuff up.”
GL – “Short. Pigish…creature.”
DK – “Like an Ugnaught?”

Lucas hits his fist on the desk – repeatedly.

GL – “Okay, not scaly and green. Scaly and…orange.”
DK – “…Orange is good.”
GL – “Yes, orange is good. Don’t have many orange creatures.”
DK – “What do we call the orange creature’s species?”
GL – “How about a…Rith.”
DK – “No can do. Too close to ‘Bith’. And ‘Sith’.”
GL – “Toynarian! Vimbanite! Morax! Anything!”
DK – “Toydarian, Mimbanite, Gorax. Already done.”
GL – “Okay…Flangian.”
DK – “Flangian?”
GL – “Yes. A Flangian. He will be a Flangian.”
DK – “Where did you come up with that?”
GL – “I just…created…it.”
DK – “Fine. What’s the Flangian’s backstory?”

Silence for 5 minutes…and then…

GL – “The Flangian was recruited by criminal elements on his home world, Flangia, and eventually grew up on a crime boss’ ship, the Bardo’s Luck. He eventually bought his freedom from the crime boss and joined the Imperial Academy. He was a good pilot but he got kicked out for…some reason…so he got back into crime and smuggled…things…around the galaxy. And then for…some reason…he got caught up in the Rebellion.”
DK – “…That’s Han Solo.”
GL – “YYYYYYYAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Lucas breaks a technical Oscar against the wall.

DK – “You know this isn’t easy, George! Remember how long it took you to come up with Yoda?”
GL – “Jar Jar was so much simpler.”
DK – “Yeah, but the whole ‘race’ thing with him…”
GL – “Yeah, that sucked.”
DK – “Yeah.”
GL – “Okay…he grew up privledged, but then was sent to a farm when his parents died. He moved to a swamp planet and then after being hunted down by Dark Jedi he fled there to go live with…Ewoks or something. And his best friend, he’s a Jedi too, and so his friend and he love the same girl but finally have a duel on a space platform -”
DK – “…You’re kidding…right?”
GL – “…What?”
DK – “That’s like everybody you’ve ever created in the whole saga, main-character-wise.”
GL – “Hey, who came up with this? Me? Yes, me! I’m detecting a more critical tone than usual, so don’t screw with me! Remember, man, I am your boss. Making this stuff up is hard!”
DK – “Well exsqueeze me.”
GL – “Shut up, Jar Jar.”
DK – “Okay, easy one. What’s his name?”
GL – “How about…Fluke Bolo?”
DK – “Or Gorge Mucus? Come on, man! Are you kidding? Are you really out of ideas? Come on, man!”

Lucas hangs his head.

DK – “Okay, let’s take a step back and start over again. What should we call our scaly orange Flangian? I don’t know. Just say whatever pops into your head. That’ll be his name.”
GL – “Bill.”
DK – “Bill?”
GL – “That’s the first thing that popped into my head.”

George twiddles his thumbs….

GL – “Okay, we can work with…Bill.”

In Defense of a Looooong Academy Awards Show

People always complain about the Academy Awards show; it’s too long, it’s boring, it has all of those lame musical numbers

But whether it’s Rob Lowe and Snow White dancing to “Proud Mary” or Savion Glover tap-dancing to the music from Schindler’s List, the musical numbers do serve their purpose. Imagine you’re the one sitting in that giant theater waiting for your name to be called as one of the honored few in your category. You’re crowded next to your co-stars and the producers, you kinda need to use the restroom but the lines are incredibly long and just at that moment the producers of the show have shined their timing wisdom on you and start showing a dance retrospective from the past eighty years of Oscars.

And all of those people that make the movies, most of them are the little guy, the guy you’ve never heard of that did something really cool with the special effects from Iron Man or The Dark Knight, shouldn’t he be honored too? Yes, he’s crammed into the boring part of the show, the part of the show that everyone watches just to see what the goofy costume designer is wearing and what bizarre political rant they’re going to go on during the Best Documentary award.

The Academy is made up of TONS of people, and they all want their moment in the sun.

What if you were that little guy? The guy that won Best Live Action Short? Wouldn’t you want your moment?

So stop complaining during the bloated, overly-long Oscars. Let’s win one for the little guy.

Richard Corliss and Why the Blockbusters Were the Best Films This Year

In last week’s issue of Time magazine their film critic Richard Corliss wrote a rather lengthy article on why he thought that all of the best movies this year were blockbusters. Some of his favorites from the past year were Iron Man, Speed Racer, WALL-E and The Dark Knight, and while I agree with two of his choices, Speed Racer didn’t appeal to me (so I didn’t see it) and, hate me if you will, and if you loved it you probably will, but I didn’t care about seeing WALL-E. At all. I’m a big fan of the Pixar pictures, but WALL-E just didn’t interest me.

But I have to agree with Corliss on his secondary point; being the end of the year this is the time for awards-caliber films, and this year is looking pretty lame. Early on I was interested in seeing Gran Torino but then my interest fizzled out for no perceptible reason even though I love Clint Eastwood. The Reader sounds so boring and Slumdog Millionaire deals with under-aged prostitution so they’re out in my book.

But Corliss doesn’t bring up the biggest glaring omission that he made about the two films that we do agree on. The Dark Knight was directed by Christopher Nolan who did the fantastic Memento 1And the awesome The Prestige. several years back and John Favreau directed Iron Man. Favreau started out in indie films (Swingers, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) and then moved on to directing (Will Ferrell’s second most underrated performance – Elf 2Most underrated? Stranger Than Fiction. ) Indie directors tend to focus more on story and plot than, say, Michael Bay or that dufus McG 3Why doesn’t he just use his real name – Joseph McGinty? because their budgets are usually in the high hundred-thousands or the low millions. What’s been great about Nolan’s and Favreau’s careers is that they so far have kept the indie ethic of storytelling first and just tacking on the special effects to aide the visuals.

I doubt Iron Man or The Dark Knight will get nominated for the big awards, other than Heath Ledger, but the were enjoyable and interesting films that deserved the critical accolades, and the piles of money, that they earned.

George Lucas Needs to Have Fewer Ideas

I’m a frequent reader of Ain’t It Cool News, the grandfather of all movie rumor sites that was started by rotund Austinite Harry Knowles in 1996. If you want to know something, anything, about an upcoming movie that’s sci-fi or arty or action related it’s the place to check out first. More than likely that movie you care about has already held a promotional screening and someone has written in to the site saying if it was good or not. On top of that they put to print many movie rumors such as upcoming projects, scripts that are in the works and what particular people in Hollywood are going to be working on next. It’s an amazingly comprehensive site for the movie nerd like me.

And so I was perusing it the other day and came across a headline, written with, as usual for AICN, with too many exclamation points –

Lucas Talks INDY 5!!

Wha…? More Indiana Jones movies? Isn’t Harrison Ford getting too old (Of course, it’s not the age, it’s the mileage.) to do this kind of stuff anymore? Shouldn’t he be the loving father in a Sandra Bullock or Kate Hudson movie? Why not an arty drama, Harrison, like the Michael Douglas role you turned down in Traffic?

But then again George Lucas has never seen a bad opportunity to return to the well too many times. The second Star Wars trilogy was enough to prove that and once again Lucas is bringing the anger to himself. From AICN, quoting a Fox News article –

“I haven’t even told Steven or Harrison this,” he said. “But I have an idea to make Shia [LeBeouf[/mfn] the lead character next time and have Harrison [Ford[/mfn] come back like Sean Connery did in the last movie. I can see it working out.

“And it’s not like Harrison is even old. I mean, he’s 65 and he did everything in this movie. The old chemistry is there, and it’s not like he’s an old man. He’s incredibly agile; he looks even better than he did 20 years ago, if you ask me.”

Come on, George! Leave. It. Alone! It was bad enough that you guys had to make just one more Indy film, we might have another 2 or 3 films where Indy is hobbling around while his son is the hero?

Good God, man, when are you going to know when to say when? Stop it! Just stop!

What I’m Not Looking Forward to With The Bourne Ultimatum

I like the Jason Bourne movies because they’re gritty and realistic (kinda) 1If you can say anything about these movies it’s that they reignited the James Bond franchise. Daniel Craig is no Pierce Brosnan in Casino Royale. He’s one mean SOB. and Matt Damon is much better as a CIA assassin than I thought he would be. When I first saw the preview for The Bourne Identity I was so-so with it, but in the years following that first knock-out punch I’ve been hooked like a zombie on fresh, delicious human brains. The two films so far have been great, but there are a few things I’m not excited about with this third one.

1) Damon has said no more Bourne films after this one.

I understand what he’s doing here. He wants to be identified with something else besides Jason Bourne 2Maybe he shouldn’t do any more of the Ocean’s movies then, either., but that doesn’t make it any easier.

2) The amazingly cool Brian Cox is gone.

I love Brian Cox. He’s one of the great character actors of his generation and seeing his character Abbott kill himself in The Bourne Supremacy was heartbreaking for me. I was very disappointed when he turned out to be a bad guy because up until that moment that he stabbed his lackey he was just a great amoral character.

3) More shaky camera fight scenes.

One of my big criticisms between the first and second films was the way hand-to-hand combat scenes were filmed. Doug Liman filmed the scene in Bourne’s Paris apartment from about 10 feet back, allowing you to see what was going on with the knife/pen fighting. Paul Greengrass shot the fight scene inside of the house in Germany way too close to the action and with far too many edits for my taste. French director Jean-Luc Godard 3If you don’t know him, Godard was one of the most influential members of the French New Wave movement in film. The New Wavers experimented radically with editing, visual style, and narrative, and the movement has been claimed to influence many movies, from Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde all the way to Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Wes Andersen’s The Royal Tenenbaums. said “Every edit is a lie,” and it’s true. I would have preferred a more continuous feel to the combat than a shaky pile up of visuals.

4) No more Franka Potente.

Unless some miracle happened in that Indian river, Marie’s not coming back. That’s too bad.

And unless there’s a huge plot change, this is how it will all go down – the CIA will find Bourne somewhere and try to dispose of him. Bourne will rely on his training and smarts and will outwit all of them and overcome his adversaries. In the end he will be more paranoid than ever.

I’m sure it will be good, though. We’ll see.