The Star Wars Prequels are Much Better in Japanese

A while back, Topher Grace (of “That 70s Show” fame) cut all of the fat off of the Star Wars prequels and it was praised by many. Peter Sciretta of /film pronounced it the best possible cut of a terrible series of films. Today I discovered Darth Lunar’s version. They wanted to test Sciretta’s claim and see if it could be done better. The result is this. A reworking of the entire trilogy using the Japanese overdub but with English subtitles that actually sound like they were written by someone… well, other than George Lucas.

Sometimes we make fun of our resident culture snob, Kurt Halfyard, for unwittingly giving passes to certain films just because they’re in a language other than English. He claims it isn’t so, but after watching bits of this, I’m starting to wonder if there maybe is something to that theory. This is surprisingly pretty good.

Film maker’s NOTE: Unlike many other fan-edits of the prequels, “The Blackened Mantle” is not simply three separate films glued back-to-back with the fat cut out. It has proper dramatic pacing, new character arcs, reworked image quality, and a heavily modified plot constructed from a brand new, non-chronological script. It is not necessarily compatible with any Star Wars canon other than the original film trilogy (such as the fantastic “Clone Wars” animated series). Apologies go out to fluent Japanese speakers, who will likely not be able to watch the film without muting the audio.

The film makers have also graciously included a downloadable version of the movie. Or you can just watch it right here…


Cinecast Episode 414 – Juggling Walls

Please bear with some of the sound issues at the beginning; for that we apologize. Once we get to the main reviews, everything gets smoothed out. With Canadian politics out of the way, we talk a bit about the Star Wars experience as it exists in popular culture at the moment (trailers, marketing, waiting in line for tickets, etc.).

The real show starts when Andrew walks out of Crimson Peak and the boys both feel a bit disappointed by Señor Del Toro. Kurt offers context on the Gothic Romance as a genre and the misunderstood nature of its marketing and overall reception. But audience ignorance and expectation still DOES NOT excuse the modern-overkill on display in the film. The Spielberg/Coen Brother cocktail, Bridge of Spies bats slightly higher (mainly due to British stage-actor Mark Rylance, and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski) hitting a ground-rule double in the Cold War Era.

And it being the Halloween season, we’re checking out a new-ish horror film each week his month. Next week will be Ted Geoghegan’s We Are Still Here, so get ready for that. As for this week, we look at the documentary/horror The Nightmare. Pro tip: skip this movie!

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!





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Episode VII Trailer 3 – “Just Let It In”


Got my tickets this evening for the first 2D screening of Star Wars Episode VII after waiting in line all day (first in line, I might add). I have to admit I was kind of “whatever; that might be alright…” when it was announced that Disney was taking over the franchise and episodes VII – IX would be released. But as the date gets closer and the merchandise is all over the place and the marketing looks pretty great… I’m getting excited. Hence the 7-hour standing in line thing.

Then I came home, half wired and half exhausted, to this…


Star Wars VII: A New Trailer

I was absolutely head over heels for the first trailer Disney released for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was simple, minimal and looked exactly like the original trilogy look – it even had the same feel. JJ Abrams was making something classic without his signature lens flares and hand held space action. It was like coming home.

Despite this trailer claiming to “be home,” the tone feels much more what I think the haters came to expect from this sequel of sequels: Glossier, busier and pandering. Am I still excited? Of course! Only with the caveat that this looks very much like an Abrams joint.

There is some great imagery of a fallen Empire in here.



The Force Awoke Almost 40 Years Ago

So it’s Saturday and I can post whatever I want. Those are the rules. When the Star Wars VII trailer was first unleashed to the world a couple of weeks ago, people all over the place were sighing and pooh-poohing the thing. It’s too fake and glossy looking they said. The lightsaber doesn’t make sense they said. There’s too much CGI they said. I, on the other hand love the trailer – especially the more I watched it. In my comments I mentioned that the trailer actually looks a lot like scenes from the original movies. It’s very minimal and open when it needs to be, detail oriented and claustrophobic when it needs to be.

I found this trailer today which kind of proves my point. It even shows moments that I specifically mentioned in my comments.

What this mock trailer also proves of course, is that it’s ludicrous to judge a movie based on six or seven 3-second shots from a movie; context is imperative. But I think in terms of visuals, from what I can see, Abrams has nailed it.

The Empire Strikes Back: Uncut (Director’s Cut)

It’s finally here. The full, uncut version of the fan made version of The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars Uncut was released a few years ago and after the success, the powers that be deemed a sequel was necessary. It’s been a long wait, but The Empire Strikes Back is ready to be watched in all of its fan-made glory.

It’s the entire length of the movie cut into short clips (from about 5 seconds to 15 seconds) and created by fans from around the world. Drawings, action figures, home CGI, live action office hijinx, marionettes, animals, stop motion, claymation and even just ethereal wierdness; you name it, all were brought in to recreate this masterpiece. And if you watch carefully, other areas of inspiration were brought in by many fans as well; from Wes Anderson to beer commercials to Devo to spaghetti and meatball Star Destroyers… and that’s just in the first fifteen minutes!

You can check out the entire uncut film below. Once you start, it’s difficult to stop watching. Enjoy1

Fantasia Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy

Confirming two axioms of popular cinema simultaneously, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (hereafter Guardians) demonstrates that there is nothing new under the sun, but also that execution can easily trump story to make a pretty swanky piece of pop bubblegum. Director James Gunn and his capable writers are only a few fourth wall breaks away from Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs in that Guardians is a loving parody of the space adventure genre while also delivering memorable characters and banter and sight gags. Every place name is ludicrously silly, all the stakes are kept thankfully low due to the attitude of the characters and the movie. It puts the fun back into the multiplex popcorn film that this summer has been lacking outside of Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Guardians feels like the entire film is set in the key of that dense, fun, and most importantly, cocky scene.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Gunn’s voice is not silenced by the Marvel machine, I am curious to see if this movie changes the way people look at Jackson Pollack, or for that matter, parents have to explain that one-off joke to their kids (it will likely sail right over their tiny little heads like the blow job gag in Ghostbusters). Much like Sam Raimi’s initial foray into studio filmmaking, Army of Darkness, Gunn gets to bring in all of his favourite peeps to the party: Nathan Fillion, Gregg Henry (the filthy mayor from Slither), Lloyd Kaufman (Troma), even his brother Sean get cameos to pop in on the periphery to the main action. Even Kevin Bacon, who worked with Gunn as fried-eggs-loviing villain in Super, is here in spirit, mildly begging the question of whether or not he gets paid for his presence. Michael Rooker, in blue face paint right over top of his beard, enjoys a pretty significant opportunity to that thing he does. That is to look distinctly uncomfortable for our amusement, like he is having an unexpected orgasm in his pants while trying to make polite conversation at a party. This is the spirit of Guardians, in a way. Rooker is indeed excellent and off kilter as Starlord’s passive-agressive father-figure, and lover of troll dolls and kitchy knick-knacks.

Christ Pratt, as Peter Quill, aka Starlord, sports the tone, all-america surfer body of Caspar Van Dien in Starship Troopers, but is anything but vacant. He is self-away, sharp, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker all-in-one. Pratt nails timing of the screenplay and the sight gags. The tone of his salvage-man loner, happily adrift in the junkyard of space oddities feels not one bit realistic in someone surviving as the last man in space, but nevertheless very right. When he gathers all of these oddballs in the opening act of the film, 100% at odds with one another (one character even phones the villains their location to come and fight) he charmingly negotiates their foibles with wit and grace, but mainly invites everyone (audience included) to dance this little dance with him and enjoy the beauty and the fury of this wide universe.

The movie effortlessly cribs from Star Wars, The Heavy Metal Movie (particularly the John Candy driven Loknar segment), Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond The Stars and even the pilot for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Forgive my need to catalogue this kind of minutiae. All of this Mega-franchise connectedness of the Marvel-verse seems to invite this sort of thing, even when it isn’t important or necessary.

More than all of this, Guardians feels like an Edgar Wright movie (note the Peter Ser. All the best jokes in Guardians involve either character driven humour or visual gags involving framing and film grammar; the way stuff happens in the background, or looking away from a dense action set-piece to a nonchalant bit of calm negotiation happening just off to the side of all furious noise. The wicked soundtrack of precisely calibrated and implanted pop songs is perfection, even if many of the cassette tape moments were omnipresent in the marketing. Seeing how well Guardians works outside of the usual tone of the studio makes Wrights firing from Marvel’s Ant Man utterly baffling.

Like many a Marvel movie, the villains, look great in leather costumes and fantastic body tattoos. Apparently, everyone in this film goes to the same tattoo and accessory shop. Ronan, Korath and Nebula (more consonant-vowel-consonant, generic-ridiculous naming, in a movie with oh so plenty to spare) are completely uninteresting and self-serious-silly. Shades of Colm Feore, Karl Urban and Thandie Newton in similar, if not as good The Chronicles of Riddick, which, now that I think about it, also echoes a Heavy Metal Comic-vibe. The reavers, er whatever they are, baddies exist to merely to endanger the universe for no real compelling reasons other than to give the heroes fodder to mock in the middle of familiar CGI space battles and fist fights.

I was very happy to see, in the current ADHD blockbuster landscape, for Guardians to often slow down and spend time hanging out with Quill, Rocket, Gamora, Drax and Chewbacca…er…Groot for long stretches such that one could easily be convinced that this is a re-imaginging of Firefly/Serenity under the watch of Joss Whedon. I was surprised by how effective they get the CGI right. Rocket’s racoon bed heat, Groot’s charming presence and facial tics, the beautifully bright planet (where we encounter Glenn Close as the cheery governor and John C. Reilly as the guard-slash family man) has open vistas and bright clouds highly reminiscent of Farpoint (The Star Trek Next Generation pilot, as does a certain safety-barrier). The planet offers something to save, but also suitably serves up a complex introduce the characters chase with winning choreography, worthy of Buster Keaton. Furthermore, there are moments when the film stops to smell the CGI-roses in slow motion, engaging camera work that does what Brad Bird suggest these types of movies should always do: offer audience a little joy and wonder.

If I never bothered with story details in this review, please forgive me, but you’ve seen Star Wars and its plethora of derivates over the past 35 years, so don’t sweat the generic ‘subway-stop’ plotting (a Marvel-Disney speciality, but in all fairness, Spielberg and all those beloved ’80s fantasy films do it as well) and logistics and enjoy how much Guardians get to take the piss out of it all, with just more than a pinch of sweetness, and an Awesome Mix Tape #1 to make care just enough to not nitpick.