Star-Lord and Rocket

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday Lynda Carter (1951 - present)

A belated birthday to TV icon Lynda Carter, who is forever endeared to viewers as Wonder Woman during the 1970's TV series. Lynda turned 59 on Sunday, July 24th.
Youngest of 3 siblings.
Does motivational/professional speaking engagements.
Performed in a band during high school called 'Just Us', which consisted of a marimba, a congo drum, an acoustic guitar, and a stand-up bass played by another girl. When she was 17 she joined another band for more exposure called 'The Relatives' (because two members were cousins) which opened at the Sahara Hotel casino lounge in Las Vegas for three months. Because Lynda was under 21 she had to enter the casino through the kitchen. Gary Burghoff (who played Radar O'Reilly in "M*A*S*H" (1972) ) was the drummer. In 1970 she joined the last band she sang with, called 'The Garfin Gathering with Lynda Carter', and their first performance was in a brand new San Francisco hotel that had no sidewalk entrance built yet, so they played to mostly the janitors and whatever hotel guests parked their cars in the underground garage. But she performed so well under such intimidating circumstances that Howard "Speedy" Garfin nicknamed Lynda "Wonder Woman"!
Released a solo album entitled 'Portrait' in May 1978.
Won the title of Miss World USA representing her home state of Arizona in 1972.
Performed many of her own stunts on "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman" (1975) including hanging from a helicopter, to the nervousness of CBS, during the second season episode "Anschluss '77".
Half Irish, half Mexican.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fun Summer Movies: STAR WARS - A NEW HOPE (1977)


Summer Release Date: 25 May 1977. Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guiness, Peter Cushing, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, James Earl Jones. Written and Directed by George Lucas.


The summertime blockbuster which, along with Jaws (1975) set the standard for all blockbusters that would follow. I did not see Star Wars upon it's initial release, but thanks to it's popularity I was able to see a few years later when it was released. And it was an awesome movie going experience. I had never seen anything like it before and was totally blown away. George Lucas crafted his best film ever and the entire cast was terrific. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker was terrific and it was great seeing him progress from rebellious teen to full Jedi knight by the time Return of the Jedi came along 6 years later. Harrison Ford was iconic as Han Solo, kind of stole the movie from Hamill in this one. And just a few years later Ford would create another classic movie character, Indiana Jones. Carrie Fisher was spunky as Princess Leia, and she too would evolve as the series progressed. It was cool seeing screen legend Alec Guiness in a film like this and he was perfect. Also nice seeing horror/sci-fi legend Peter Cushing as well. Rounding out the cast was Mayhew as Chewbacca, Daniels as C3PO and Prowse as the imposing Darth Vader, with that cool deep voice of James Earl Jones supplying the vocals.

Star Wars was a phenomenon that set box office records and made science fiction films cool again. The lines at theaters for this film and all the other films in the Star Wars series were massive. Soon people would be showing up in Jedi robes and Stormtroopers outfits. Star Wars just became an out of this world thing. I know I have seen A New Hope at least 50 times and it never gets old. Actually the second film, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite of the series, but Hope is the most fun. Escapes, laser shoot-outs, space battles, humor, cool visual effects, great heroes and villains all combine to make this a winning fun summer movie. The original trilogy is way better than the newer sequels because of the fun factor. The new ones, while awesome to look at can't recapture that same magic. A New Hope is the definitive summer extravaganza.



Notes:

Was originally scheduled for a Christmas 1976 release, but was pushed back five months as post-production (especially special effects) took longer than expected. Studio executives were concerned that the new 25th May 1977 release date would put the film's box office chances at risk as Smokey and the Bandit (1977) would come out that same week. However, by the end of its initial theatrical run in the U.S., Star Wars (1977) had grossed over twice as much as Smokey and the Bandit (1977).

The movie opened in May 1977 and by November had dethroned Jaws (1975) as the all-time box-office champ. It then was beaten by E.T. (1982), but was back on top when it was re-released in 1997. It held that position until Titanic (1997).

The first film to make over $300,000,000 million.

The lightsaber sound effect is a combination of the hum of an idling 35mm movie projector and the feedback generated by passing a stripped microphone cable by a television.

Mark Hamill held his breath for so long during the trash compactor scene that he broke a blood vessel in his face. Subsequent shots are from one side only.



Chewbacca's "voice" is a combination of several animals including bears, badgers, walrus and camels.

Stunt doubles were not used for the scene in which Luke and Leia swing to safety. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill performed that stunt themselves, shooting it in just one take.

Harrison Ford deliberately didn't learn his lines for the intercom conversation in the cell block, so it would sound spontaneous.

Most of the crowd watching the heroes receive their medallions are cardboard cutouts.

Friday, July 16, 2010

INCEPTION is Amazing....

The new movie Inception from director Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento) opened today in theaters and I just saw it with some friends and it was amazing. It's the type of film where a review won't do it any justice. The story deals with dreams and the people that specialize in stealing information from people while they are dreaming. Leonardo DiCaprio is Dom Cobb, an extractor who is the best there is and has a team that takes on these high risk jobs. He is also a very conflicted man with a haunted past that eventually catches up to him. And the whole film has him trying to complete this one last job so he can get back to his old life. I think it's best if you go in cold to watch Inception. You don't want to know too much about it and then once it unfolds you will be just glued to your seat. The complex nature of the story really can't be described in words. So I will just use some adjectives to describe what I'm feeling after watching this movie. Like they do in the commercials. Brilliant! Mind-bending! Terrific performances! Best Film Of The Summer! Leo deserves an Oscar after this! Marion Cotillard is unbelievable! Sensational visual effects! Jaw dropping action sequences! A blast of pure genius from Nolan! I will say that the chase sequence involving a train through a downtown city is just awesome. There are several more engaging scenes that will remind you that there are some creative people still lurking in Hollywood. Inception is a major accomplishment and I truly believe that I won't see a better film for the rest of the year. That's not hyperbole, just a fact. It's already running through my head all the twists and turns and conundrums. I can't wait to see it again. As great as Nolan's Dark Knight was, I enjoyed Inception even more. That's saying a lot coming from a die hard comic and Batman fan.So after one viewing I give Inception an....
A

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Summer Release Date: 11 June 1993. Starring Sam O'Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, B.D. Wong. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Michael Crichton (based on his book).


The summer movie season got a big jolt of excitement in 1993 when Steven Spielberg delivered one of his biggest films ever. Jurassic Park showcased truly amazing visual effects than no one had seen up to that point. The too real looking dinosaurs left movie goers in utter disbelief. I remember seeing Jurassic Park when it first came out and everyone in the theater was screaming and cheering and having a great time. I won't go into details of the movie's plot because it has been done enough. But I will say that this is one of the best fun summer movies ever. With relentless action, well timed humor, narrow escapes, chases and just pure excitement, nobody does it better than Spielberg. Case in the point, the scene where the power to the park is disabled and the T-Rex gets loose and attacks the kids in the jeep. Spielberg ratches up the tension to an unbelievable pitch and you don't know if the kids are going to make it or not. That scene shows the T-Rex creation in all it's glory and it's a sight to behold.

Other notable scenes include the attack by the velociraptors and the grand appearance of the gentle Brachiosaurus. The entire cast is solid including Sam O'Neill as the paleontologist Alan Grant who becomes the hero because nobody else knows more about dinosaurs than him. Jeff Goldblum supplies most of the humor as theorist Ian Malcolm, who is just aching to tell everyone "I told ya so". Laura Dern is very good too as Ellie Sattler, a colleague of Grant's. And legendary director Richard Attenborough is on hand as the park's creator John Hammond. Also look for brief appearances by Samuel L. Jackson as a lab tech and Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld) as an unscrupulous technician.

Jurassic Park was followed by two more sequels which were ok, but it's this one by far is the best.

Notable facts:

Harrison Ford turned down the lead role.

The first film to use DTS digital surround sound.

The raptors in the kitchen scene was filmed on Joseph Mazzello's birthday. Due to a misunderstanding, Joseph ran into one of the raptors on one of the takes and was injured.

Briefly held the box office record until it was beaten by Titanic four years later. JP is currently ranked 15th on the all time box office chart with $357 million dollars in North America.

Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) dresses entirely in black in both this film and its sequel. In the book, he tells Ellie Sattler that he only ever dresses in black and gray, so that he never has to waste time thinking about what to wear. Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) gives the same reason for his monotonous fashion sense in The Fly (1986).

It was while supervising post-production on this film that George Lucas decided that technology was good enough to begin work on the Star Wars prequels. Appropriately, Samuel L. Jackson was able to appear in those films as well.

Steven Spielberg was in the very early stages of pre-production for the film "ER" (based on a Michael Crichton novel), when he heard about the "Jurassic Park" book. He subsequently dumped what he was doing to make the film. Afterwards, he returned to "ER" and helped develop it into a hit TV series ("ER" (1994)).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Predators delivers on everything promised

Forget those crap Alien vs Predator movies. Predators gets back on track of the first two Predator movies. Now while nothing will ever touch Schwarzenegger's epic flick from 1987, Predators is easily the second best film in the series. It expands on the original storyline and has the Predators hunting humans on the alien's world, which makes for a nice change of pace. Because if the creators decided to do another single Predator hunting a group of soldiers on Earth, then this would have been nothing more than a remake of Arnie's film. So it makes a lot of sense to do the film this way, even if some fans don't particularly care for this set-up. I do and it works. It wastes little time too as it opens with lead Adrian Brody who plays mercenary Royce waking up in free-fall trying to open up his parachute. He lands on the alien planet along with 7 other humans including Alice Braga as a Special OPS sharpshooter who holds her own with the guys as she is the only female present. The other participants include a convicted killer, a Yakuza member, a Mexican drug cartel enforcer, a tribal warlord, a Russian soldier, and a seemingly out of place doctor (played by Topher Grace). After the initial mistrust issues between everyone, they figure out they are on an alien planet and are being hunted. The first major action scene has the Predators (there are three of them) unleashing their hounds to flush out our heroes who unload everything they got with their specialised weapons. It was sporting of the Predators to snatch up these guys and bring them here with their weapons in tow. Anyway, it's an awesome scene as they take down several of the hounds. Later on they finally meet their first Predator and it's another kick ass scene that lets loose with some major onscreen firepower. After that scene, things settle down for a bit and Laurence Fishburne pops up as a soldier who has survived being hunted for 7 to 10 years. Even his character doesn't know how long he has been here as he is prone to talking to himself and creeping everyone out. More action follows as our heroes are now running low on ammo and being picked off one by one. Which sets the stage for an exciting finale that pays homage to the original Predator film's climax. I enjoyed this film quite a bit and I was impressed with Adrian Brody's performance as Royce. While he may be quite slender, he handles the action scenes very well. And played the tough guy role perfectly. But I was even more impressed with Alice Braga's character as she provided the trait of compassion for her fallen comrades as well as kicking some ass. Also the Yakuza guy was bad ass. He has a memorable sword fight scene with one of the predators which was just cool as hell. It was also a plus to have the original music score being played once again to provide even more familiarity. Predators is the action film that will please most fans and have you anxiously awaiting the next film.
B

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Radha Mitchell - Star Of The Month

For the month of July, the featured star will be Australian actress Radha Mitchell. I just recently saw her newest movie, The Crazies and it was pretty cool. I will be posting reviews of Radha's movies and postings pics and other things as well. She is one of my favorite actresses and she has made quite the impact in the sci-fi and horror genres with films like Pitch Black, Silent Hill, Surrogates, Rogue, and The Crazies.

Monday, July 5, 2010

She Blogged By Night: Shatnerthon: The William Shatner Blogathon

She Blogged By Night: Shatnerthon: The William Shatner Blogathon

I recently made my contribution to Stacia's wonderful blog site and her recent Shatner Blogathon. Here is the link to her very cool page.

Free Enterprise (1998) - A modern cult sci-fi classic

I love Free Enterprise and have ever since I first saw it years ago. It tells of two friends Mark (Eric McCormack from Will & Grace) and Robert (newcomer Rafer Weigel) who are die hard Trek fans. They have been since childhood and would meet up later on as they grew older. They are aspiring film makers who live in LA and are trying to get this film idea called Bradykiller made. It's plot has a deranged serial killer targeting the Brady girls of the classic sitcom The Brady Bunch. That pretty much sets the tone for this wild and funny movie. They have idolized William Shatner ever since watching Star Trek the Motion Picture in 1979. In fact Robert's flashback of him in grade school is a riot. He is getting pummeled by the class bully and while semi-unconscious dreams of meeting Shatner. Robert asks him "does he know why he's getting beat up?" And Shat responds probably because you're wearing a yellow Trek tunic to school, which he is. Robert tells him no and that the bully says Han Solo is way cooler than Captain Kirk. Shat flips out and responds "Kick the fucker's ass!" Which leads to a funny fight scene that recalls Shatner's glory days on the Star Trek series, complete with soaring music in the background. And even a flying leg kick. Cool. Cut to years later, these two meet their idol William Shatner by chance at a bookstore and immediately strike up a conversation. Shatner kind of blows away their perception of what the guys thought he would be like in real life. They were hoping he would be like the heroic Captain Kirk, but he's not. He drinks a lot, has trouble making conversation with women, likes reading porn poetry and is a little off. He's trying to get his version of Julius Caesar made into a 5 hour film, in which the good captain would play all the parts. Kooky right? While Shatner's storyline makes up a significant part of this film, Mark and Robert also have problems of their own. Mark is freaking out that he is approaching 30 and hasn't made the impact in film that he thought he would have by now. His recurring nightmare of him being placed in Logan's Run world as he hits 30 is a surreal joke that is funny and unnerving. Meanwhile Robert is dealing with yet another break-up with his umpteenth girlfriend because he forgot to pay the light bill. But as she yells how can you remember every title of every episode of the effing show but can't remember to pay your light bill. Things look dour for Mark until he meets the carefree Claire (Audie England) at the comic bookstore and he definitely feels an attraction. While our boys are dealing with grand drama, the action shifts back to The Shat, who agrees to help the guys with their problems if they help him with his. What follows is a a good natured romantic type movie filled with tons of sci-fi references and lots of satire. It all ends with a double celebration of a private birthday screening of the classic Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan for Mark and a reunion for Robert and Claire. Shatner takes center stage for an impromptu rapping session of his Julius Caesar with some rappers backing him up. That scene has to be watched to truly appreciate it in all it's campy glory. It was cool to see William Shatner not take himself seriously and cut loose to remind you how talented this guy really is. If you have never seen Free Enterprise, now would be a good time to check it out. I hear they are close to getting ready to make the long awaited sequel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fun Summer Movies: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)

Summer Release Date: 12 June 1981. Stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Denholm Elliott, John-Rhys Davies, Paul Freeman, Alfred Molina. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Produced by George Lucas. Written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas. Released by Paramount Pictures.

Film makers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas teamed up for the very first time to create movie magic. A wonderful throwback to the Saturday afternoon cliff-hanger serials of the 30's and 40's. Harrison Ford is perfect as archaeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones, who also is a teacher. He travels the world seeking out grand artifacts. The film opens with a sensational sequence in the jungles of South America as Indiana is searching for this gold statue. He has to avoid countless booby traps and nearly gets crushed by a gigantic boulder, which is an iconic scene. Look for Alfred Molina in an early role as Indy's helper. Molina couldn't have been more than 20 years old. After that thrilling opening which features an escape by Indy from angry natives via an airplane, things settle down for a bit. He is back in the classroom, teaching about archaeology when he is recruited by the U.S government to track down the Lost Ark of the Covenant, before the Nazis find it. He takes the assignment and first has to deal with an old flame who may have information he needs about possible locations for the ark. Her name is Marion Ravenwood (played with gusto by Karen Allen), whose father and Indy had several adventures back in the day. Marion fell in love with Indy but he left and she holds resentment toward him to this day. There is a rousing fight scene in the bar she owns between Indy and the bad guys before the whole building comes down. So Marion decides to tag along with Indy to find the ark. They end up traveling to Egypt and hook up with Indy's old friend Sallah (Davies) who learns where the ark is located. Indy not only has to deal with the Nazis but also a rival French archaeologist named Belloq. The action in Egypt features the best scenes in the movie: Indy and Marion trapped in the Well of Souls with tons of snakes (which our hero is deathly afraid of); an intense slug fest between Indy and a hulk of a Nazi; and the thrilling chase by Indy on horseback after the Nazis who have procured the Ark. All this leads to a rousing finale that breathed new life into the action genre and brought a new hero into the 20th century. Ford is awesome as Indiana Jones, as he brings his considerable acting talent along with a lot of heroic derring. Karen Allen is positively engaging as Marion, a truly memorable female character that hold her own with the men amid all the action and what not.  Spielberg once again shows why he is one of the best directors of all time. Also the thrilling music score by John Williams is awesome. I was twelve when I first saw Raiders and it blew me and everyone else away. A truly iconic and fun summer movie. Just a good old fashioned thrill ride. I ended up seeing it 2 more times at the theater and looked forward every few years for the next grand adventure of Indiana Jones. Followed by three sequels: The Temple Of Doom (1984), The Last Crusade (1989) and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skulls (2008).


Notes:

1981's biggest grossing film with $230 million in North America alone.

The original name of the lead character in the script was Indiana Smith. His name was changed to Jones on the first day of production.

Tom Selleck was Steven Spielberg's second choice for the role of Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford was his first, but George Lucas objected, since Ford had been in both American Graffiti (1973) and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Selleck was not able to take the role because he was committed to "Magnum, P.I." (1980). However, that series did not go into production until Raiders' filming had already wrapped. Selleck was in fact in Hawaii waiting for the series to start as the final scenes to be filmed (the opening sequence) were being shot in Hawaii. "Magnum" did an episode called "Legend of the Lost Art" that parodied "Raiders", complete with hat, whip, booby traps, etc.

The out-of-control airplane actually ran over Harrison Ford's knee, tearing his ligaments. Rather than submit to Tunisian health care, Ford had his knee wrapped in ice and carried on.


During filming in Tunisia, nearly everyone in the cast and crew got sick, except director Steven Spielberg. It is thought that he avoided illness by eating only the food he'd brought with him: cans and cans of Spaghetti-O's.

I met Karen Allen at the Dragon Convention in Atlanta in 2009 and she was awesome. Funny and so nice in person and looked great.  Check out the pic below of me and her.