The Two Best Star Wars Films of All Time!

I appreciate all the Star Wars films, even the ones that do not appeal to me or I did not love.

We have a tendency to want to glamorize the three first Star Wars films, but as someone who saw those films when they first came out in theaters as a wee lad, while wildly popular, with the exception of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, none of the original three were masterpieces. They were flawed films, but the mythos, the characters, the message, the hope, and the gestalt, the end product was enough to outweight any flaws.

Perfection is for Gods. And the goal of filmmakers and a film is to try to give us something… wondrous. To share a bit of love, and awe, and joy with us.

I never liked the first Star Wars, even as a kid. It was overlong, badly paced, dragging in the middle.

But I found things to like and to love in that imperfect movie. The characters, the visuals, the bad guys, the spectacle. I never loved the first Star Wars film, but I never hated it. I always liked it, if finding it flawed.

As an adult having revisited the first STAR WARS film several times throughout my life, if is still flawed, and overlong, and badly paced, and plodding in the middle.

However the good in it, always outweighs the negatives. The great characters, the wonderful visuals, the hopeful message. To not take away more good from all that effort expended and all that talent and all those moments, to not at the very least appreciate a flawed but essentially good movie, I think would say more about the viewer than the viewed.

The first STAR WARS for me is not a 10 movie, but it is at least a solid 7 to 8. Which is a passing and respectable grade. EMPIRE is a 9 to 10. RETURN is an 8 to 8. 5.

All in all it is a fondly remembered movie trilogy. But I do not judge things on Nostalgia.

Because something came out when I was a kid doesn’t make it the greatest thing ever, and because something new comes out when I am an adult, it is not the worst thing ever. Because it fails to be for my adult sensabilities, what that old movie was to my kid’s sensabilities does not make it wrong.

As an adult rewatching those movies, I can judge them based on not what they made  me feel as a kid, but on what I get from them now. And the same for a new movie, we should not judge it based on what we want or thought it would or should be, we judge it on what it is.

The prequels for me, judged for what they were, I thought they were underwhelming. They had nice visuals, but suffered from core characters not as interesting, and a story not as compelling or well told as the original trilogy. I was not a fan, I did not like them, but I did not hate them. They were simply a miss for me, simply not for me. Not everything is for everyone. For me they were flawed films, possibly a 5 to 7 for the trilogy.

However I realize for a younger audience, the trilogy, flaws and all, may be more appealing to them. Again not everything needs to appeal to everyone, and with the Prequels, after a long layoff, Lucas was perhaps looking to  introduce his aging Mythology to a new generation. Not a bad idea. a good idea actually, just not well pulled off in various areas. But overall, flaws and all, it is a rich addition to the mythology. The good that came out of the films, being a richer mytholgy that subsequent tv shows and movies get to build on.

Enter the new Disney Star Wars films. As of this writing, four films, FORCE AWAKENS, ROGIUE ONE, SOLO, and THE LAST JEDI. Films that for some inexplicable reason have met with controversy and hate from some corners, most vocally SOLO and LAST JEDI.

As I said, I have never hated a Star Wars, I can’t readily think of any movie I hate. Hate is a strong word, and I do not go into a theater, pay money, looking to hate or tear something down. I go into a movie looking to be entertained. And even when a movie has flaws, just like that first Star Wars movie all those years ago, if the good outweighs the bad, I count that as a win. It may not be 10 out of 10 movie, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good,. With me, in a world spinning toward mendacity and hate, if a movie has hope and heart and a cogent story and a likeable cast, that cuts a lot of weight with me.

I think all 4 of the new Disney Star Wars films have at least been 8 out of 10. If I had to rate them off the top of my head I would say 8.5 to FORCE AWAKENS, 8.5 to 9 for ROGIUE ONE, 8.5 TO 9 for SOLO, and 9 to 10 for LAST JEDI.

For those of you counting I am saying yes, the new batch of films, as a whole I find more enjoyable than the original 40+ year old trilogy.

With the big exception of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, I, an original Star Wars fan who saw the trilogy in the theaters, have no problem not seeing them with rose-colored glasses, and saying quite easily… as a whole the new movies are better made.

They are, as a whole, better movies than the original trilogy. Which is no slight against the original trilogy, but is respect and kudos to just the progress in the level of craft of filmmaking and directors.

And yes I will go further with my sacrilege, I think Rian Johnson’s inexplicably panned and railed against THE LAST JEDI Is a flat out masterpiece. Is it perfect? No, nothing made by man ever will be, or should be, but it comes close enough to earn my standing ovation.

My better half and I just finished watching it again on Netflix, we loved it the first time we saw it. But rewatching it.. it is even more impressive. It is in its DNA the heart and soul of STAR WARS distilled right to its closing moments.

Both of us thoughout the movie kept marveling at how good the movie was, and openly mystified by the virulent hate and attacks those involved in this movie endured.

Again I have never hated a movie, much less to extend that hate to people whose only ‘crime’ is making a living trying to entertain people, it is for us the inexplicable mewling of the mob. Of people who grade movies either 10 or 0, and attack movies for not agreeing with the version of the movie they make up in their head. It is the mewling of people who watch all the trailers, and spoilers, and gossip, and script leaks, pre-chew and digest and second guess the movie before ever getting in the theater, than complain about how there were no surprises in the movie.

I don’t aim this at those  who fairly watched LAST JEDI and it wasn’t for you, that is fine, not every movie is for everyone, but the attacks LAST JEDI has endured is largely from armchair directors and armchaoir writers, railing against the movie for not being their fan-fic of what the movie should be.

And for that demographic, who go into cinema looking for something to rail against on social media, the 10 or 0 crowd, the truth is, they would have hated the original trilogy just as much as THE LAST JEDI if they came at it with this same level of entitlement and armchair quarterbacking.

If today’s fans, was the fandom of the original STAR WARS film, that film would have bombed and there would have never been an EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Fandom has become people with uninformed opinions and too much access, spreading their noise over the signal.

These are the same behind the curve types who hated on Carpenter’s THE THING when it first came out, or buried Welles’ TOUCH OF EVIL.

Here is the thing.

People, the taste you have today, will grow and matiure as you do. And things that do not resonate with you today, you likely will grow into tomorrow. That, is the goal, of growing and maturity. So be wary of sticking your flag too deep in the ground on what you hate, because the ground shifts.

Always.

Two best STAR WARS films of all time?

That’s easy.

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and Rian Johnson’s THE LAST JEDI.

And the most gorgeous, and visually impressive STAR WARS film of all time, well, not even a question, Rian Johnson’s THE LAST JEDI.

That we lost out on him completing his trilogy due to the mewling of the uninformed social media lynch mob, well we and a future generation of filmgoers who rediscover THE LAST JEDI (just like THE THING was rediscovered) will be the losers.

 

Here endeth the lesson. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s 12 MUST OWN DvDs and BluRays in the Age of DIGITAL!!!!

Go back ten years in this blog and you will see I was singing the praises of Walter Hill’s EXTREME PREJUDICE as not just one of Walter Hill’s best films, but one of the best action films ever made.

Here is where all of Walter Hill’s loves and inspirations (from John Ford to Sam Pekinpah) took him furthest and took all involved furthest. Much like Anthony Harvey’s seminal THE LION IN WINTER it was the best film of everyone involved.

So EXTREME PREJUDICE‘s lack of availability in a great Bluray, and better yet Steelbook format, has always struck me as a missed opportunity.

While the US has yet to correct that wrong, Germany and Japan (and the UK had an out of print version as well) evidently know a brilliant movie when they see one, as you can get Walter Hill’s best film on BluRay thru those countries.

Shame on you US!

In my best PLANET OF THE APES growl… “BOW YOUR HEAD!!!” 🙂

But yeah, came across the below BluRay version from Germany…

I have recently gone on a steelbook kick thanks to recent absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful steelbook releases by Shout Factory. I’ve kinda grown to despise the titular blue bar on the top of traditional BluRay packaging. I was never a fan of that branding, but accepted it because, that was all there was.

Well today we have great companies releasing wonderful Blurays done with an eye to aesthetics, that makes not just the film a work of art, but the whole gestalt, the whole process, a work of art. Which is what hopefully anything that takes up space, precious space, in our homes and our lives should be… a thing of beauty.

A thing that makes us smile, to look upon it.

The twelve movies below, including the aforementioned EXTREME PREJUDICE release… make me smile.

Reach out to me, if you need assistance in acquiring any of these.

Without further ado… 

Today’s 12 MUST OWN DvDs and BluRays in the Age of DIGITAL!!!!

The Japan and Uk version use similar art for the BluRay, but both are out of print. But they have that blue branding at the top that I can deal with, but does not inspire me to rush out and get a copy. These days I drag my feet before buying anything that doesn’t completely thrill me. Streaming has spoiled us, even us DVD and Bluray fans: today even for an increasing # of us, owning physical media is a luxury that has to justify itself, in an age of Digital.

Digital… meet justification. The German mediabook of EXTREME PREJUDICE…

 

HOLY … BLOODY… HECK!!! 

That is a magnificent cover! And I even forgive it the Blue branding at the top.

Man… when I saw this, even though the book portion is in German (And the title is AUSGELOSCHT which translates loosely to Elimination or Annihilation), I had to have it. Especially when I saw that it was sold out nearly everywhere. 

Okay that was one Bluray down, here are today’s other 11 must own BluRays.

 

 

https://amzn.to/2LeMZ4s

Yes, I listed THE THING Steelbook last time, and yes it still takes my breath away. SHOUT FACTORY has just knocked it out of the park with this and their other recent Steelbook releases. I own it now and still am impressed with it every time I see it on my shelf.  And people, this is nearly out of print everywhere. Pick it up while you can.

 

And moving on, here are the remaining must own Blurays of today!

 

 

https://amzn.to/2Lgq2Oj

https://amzn.to/2NKS3iF

 

https://amzn.to/2zMhgkM

The Blue Branding is just a removable cardboard piece, thankfully, and at the price this classic is a must own.

https://amzn.to/2NLjN6X

https://amzn.to/2MS9CxN

https://amzn.to/2NLzsmF

 

https://amzn.to/2MR0HMT

https://amzn.to/2HCv1qf

I do not love THE HOWLING steelbook, but it is growing on me. I kinda like it. And it is currently affordable.

https://amzn.to/2MSacvt

While everyone is proclaiming the death of physical media, I have to tell you, there are people like me, who will always support beautiful things. And while it is great to stream movies, and stream comics, and stream books, and stream magazines, there is no substitution for being able to hold and peruse and showcase a well designed work of art.

So if companies up their game like SHOUT FACTORY is doing, don’t just slap a photo on the cover, but put some bloody creativity into the packaging. Custom artwork, great design, and they will sellout their SteelBook Blurays… just like SHOUT FACTORY is doing. People will support… quality.

Choir… preach. 🙂

Guys if you like this post. go ahead and support this blog by using the links provided. Purchases thru the included links earn this blog a few much appreciated pennies to keep the virtual lights on. 🙂

Thanks for viewing, leave a comment, like or email or subscribe. It is all appreciated. Till next time… be well!!

 

Best Comic Book Covers of All Time: Joe Kubert’s LOSERS run

What makes a great comic book cover, in this age of virgin variants and gimmick covers, is the same thing that has always made a great cover. When all these flash in the pan virgin covers, are resigned to the 50 cent bin (where most of them belong), the really great covers, will still be… great covers.

They will still have stunning typography, married to great art, with great placement of the various parts, and together the whole, in one moment, both tells a story and sells a product. It is not just this lazy and brainless current fad of a pretty image, but with no context to the story or to the storytelling. Today’s cover artists and editors and art directors, and buyers, confuse a pinup with an effective and affecting cover, and the two are not the same.

Now that is not to say there are not exceptions, where the pinup is so good that you want it for eye candy’s sake alone. That does happen, and is fine, but in my experience it is rare, and is not conducive to books you are actually buying, serialized entertainment you are actually buying,… to read. In that case a pretty picture does not cut it, you need a storyteller as an artist and an art editor, to design a cover that tells a story.

And like i said it is a marriage of many things, some of which are not in the artist’s hands. But when all those disparate elements come together, you have have some of the greatest covers of all time.

There were a lot of people I could have started this new segment with, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Berni Wrightson, Jack Kirby, but for my money the best cover artist of all time very rarely worked in Superhero Comics, and that is the great Joe Kubert.

Kubert had many magnificent cover runs to choose from but the one that launches this segment is the work of his that made me a Conflict Comics collector. His run on OUR FIGHTING FORCES AT WAR. Not the whole run, because while he did hundreds of covers not all of them have the elements that make an iconic cover. I mentioned a great cover having to do with things sometimes beyond the artists control such as typography and placement of disparate elements on a cover. But Here, for this run of issues, Kubert had complete control over the typography of his covers, and completely integrated that typography into his artwork, in a manner that would have made Eisner impressed. Creating a brilliant image AND telling a story and selling a product.

In the 181 issue run of OUR FIGHTING FORCES AT WAR, all of which had good covers,  there are nineteen covers that stand out as masterpieces… only nineteeneighteen. They are not ‘key’ issues, they are seminal issues in the history of comic book cover design. The following scans were the best I could find on short notice, and do not do the books justice. But they give you a taste of the brilliance that make these 19 consecutive issues of OUR FIGHTING FORCES AT WAR a milestone of cover design, and worth owning.

They are…

 

Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #123Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #124  Our Fighting Forces #125 Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #126Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #127Our Fighting Forces #128  Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #129File:Our Fighting Forces Vol 1 130.jpgFile:Our Fighting Forces Vol 1 135.jpg

 

Issue 142 would signal the end of the ground breaking covers, as well as heralding the end of Joe Kubert as editor on the series (his name would officially be removed as editor two issues later). Archie Goodwin would take over for a while as editor, followed by Jack Kirby(with all due respect to Jack Kirby, I am not a fan of his work on this book). And while Kubert would continue to do covers sporadically for the series up till the end, never again would the typography and mast-head be part of the story-telling. 141 would be the last of that wild imaginative experimentation with art and typography, the last of nineteen issues of the best and longest consecutive run of great covers by one creator in the history of comics. Pick them all up today, while they can still be had affordably.

 

Use the link below to get your issues today:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=180611&AffID=200301P01

If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, please subscribe, leave a like and comment. And what are your favorite cover runs, or cover artists/artwork?

Till next time… be well!!

Best Youtube Channel of the Day courtesy of Roku/Amazon Fire!

If you are not watching CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT you are missing out on one of the essential resources for movies on DVD and Bluray, especially of the classic B movie and cult status variety. CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT celebrates those works of yesteryear that are worth picking up, even in this age of streaming.

His latest episode, and he sold me on purchasing the UNIVERSAL HORROR COLLECTION VOL 1 on Bluray.

Mostly because I am a huge fan of THE BLACK CAT. What is the BLACK CAT you ask? Well beyond being the name of the famous Edgar Allen Poe Short Story, it was also the impetus for many films of that name.

This 1934 Edgar G. Ulmer directed BLACK CAT (which only uses Poe’s story as a aesthetic, to  go places even Poe dared not) is the best of the half dozen or so feature films to use that title.

Powered by a lurid, and haunting, and maniacal story by Edgar G. Ulmer and Peter Ruric, the film grabs and does not let go. Ruric would never write anything as memorable or deranged or sublime again. Which leads me to believe even though the script is credited to Ruric, that it was Ulmer’s hand you see in it. 

 

Ulmer, an unfortunately little remembered director, was one of the best directors of the strange and the avant-garde (experimental, forward looking), and the disturbed. This film fits perfectly in his mold. And with the best combination of big time studio, large budget, iconic stars, talented craftsmen, that he would ever get, he produced his best movie.

BLACK CAT beyond being Ulmer’s best movie, is without argument the best of the Karloff and Lugosi collaborations, and is arguably the best UNIVERSAL movie, right up there with masterpieces such as BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE INVISIBLE MAN.

 

Ulmer’s BLACK CAT is so stylized, and so paired to the bone, that like the short story it derives its impetus for, it is entirely possessive of your attention and your awe. And even though I consider BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN a masterpiece, there is something even more heightened and hypnotic in Ulmer’s BLACK CAT.

The only real cinematic comparative to it, would be the feel you get from watching Erle C. Kenton’s ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, which predates BLACK CAT by two years. ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, like BLACK CAT, was both acclaimed and vilified for its horror and its sexuality.

 

Both are films I consider seminal films, masterpieces of mood, and must own films. And i have owned both films for years in DVD, as generally speaking I do not see the need to upgrade to Blu-ray with these earlier 4:3 Black and White films. However with this new Blu ray also sporting multiple new commentaries, it is worth the double dipping for me.

If you are still deciding check out the video below, and subscribe to the CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT youtube channel… and tell them HT sent ya!

 

 

Currently Watching : TOMBSTONE TERRITORY courtesy of AMAZON PRIME Channel

TOMBSTONE TERRITORY.

I had never even heard of this show from 1957, until stumbling across it on Amazon Prime, this year in 2019. Now you would think there was no way a 62 year old series could impress.

You would be wrong.

Six episodes in and TOMBSTONE TERRITORY is pretty much better than anything currently on television. Just straight forward, riveting storytelling, performances and camera work.

It is so EFFING good! With shows like this and the RIFLEMAN you can see why WESTERNS back in the 1950s were King. They were then, and remain now, timeless examples of our grandest myths, and basest desires, the constant pull of chaos and order, writ large.

TOMBSTONE TERRITORY is that abandoned format of the 30 minute drama, done about as well as it can be done. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the episodes.

Catch it courtesy of streaming/VOD, on better streaming devices everywhere.

3 days left to PREORDER your comics in October! Here is how! The FINAL Part!

Here is the promised final part.

Just in time to order, pull the trigger by this Wednesday 24 July 2019!

 

Books worth pre-ordering by 24 July 2019, and save money off cover price, of books being released early October! Halloween!

Here then are the recommended books!

 

Books worth buying from Marvel:

While Marvel under the auspices of the great film division helmed brilliantly by Kevin Feige, are doing gangbusters on the big screen and television screens; the comic books are a train-wreck. I’m not talking talent wise, I think Marvel, The Comic Book Division has talented and creative people actually writing and drawing and creating the books.

Where Marvel falls down is in marketing and pricing their books, and over saturating a small market, with a lot of noise. I think Editorial and Marketing between the two of them are steering the company, periodical wise, at high speed right into a wall.

You do not have to be a genius to realize, Johnathan Hickman or any writer, is not going to revamp crap, if you are diluting and smothering a good idea, (in this case the ‘revamping’ of the X-men) right out the box, by comprising your jump on story 6 to 12 new titles, by that many creative teams. It is the moronic, diminishing returns crap, Marvel publishing has been doing for the last few years. Drowning whatever signal they may produce, under a crap load of noise.

 

One X-men title. One exciting creative team, writer, artist, colorist, letter. One steady price-point, $2.99. Not 10 mutant titles to dilute and confuse your audience. One title. One jumping on point. One easy brand to market to retailer and customers. If you are a Marvel Comic book company, with Marvel Studios having done the hard work of giving you a potential GLOBAL audience of BILLIONS. And you can not sell ROUTINELY hundreds of thousands, if not millions of EVERY issue of X-MEN, the issue is gross mismanagement.

It is not the customer, it is not people do not read, it is not competition from video games or movies, it is gross incompetence by your marketing/management and arguably editorial divisions.

Disney needs to farm out the marketing and management of Marvel Comics, to anyone but the people who are currently failing at it.

Books to buy from Marvel:

None

 

Books to buy from DC:

My above rant about Marvel periodical, also applies to DC periodicals. (With the exception of their $1 reprint line, one of which you will see below).They raised their periodical prices to $3.99 to coincide with hiring Marvel Poster Boy Brian Michael Bendis. And they were on an upswing before doing that. Following their price hike I dropped all of the books that went up in price, except Christopher Priest’s DEATHSTROKE. And to this date, that is the only periodical book I am buying from DC Comics.

 

TWOMORROWS PUBLISHING

 

Alter Ego 161 - Click Image to Close

November 2019 – 100 pages (FULL COLOR)

ALTER EGO #161 (100 pages, $9.95) is a full-issue tribute to Stan (The Man) Lee and his contributions to comics! Roy Thomas writes on his more than 50-year relationship with Stan—and shares 21st-century e-mails from Stan (with his permission, of course)! Art by Kirby, Ditko, Maneely, Everett, Severin, Romita—plus tributes from pros and fans alike—and special sections on Stan by Michael T. Gilbert, Bill Schelly, and even the FCA! Vintage Galactus cover by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta! Edited by ROY THOMAS.

Diamond Comic Distributors Order Code: JUL192270

 

Order Books here:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/subscriptionservice?AffID=200301P01