6 Classic Sci-Fi Movies You Can’t Afford to Miss

The medium of film is a Holy Grail for science fiction fans: you can simply point to Avengers: Endgame and Arrival for some of its more recent eventful samplings. But the triumphs go much further back. Indeed, from I am Legend to Blade Runner, the silver screen’s preserved some of the greatest sci-fi stories ever told.

Yet this presents a problem of its own: when the oeuvre of masterworks runs so deep, just where should you start if you’re craving some science fiction fare? This post will travel back in time to take you through 6 timeless science fiction movies that deserve a viewing right now.

1.       2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey was the momentous result of a collaboration between two great minds: director Stanley Kubrick and famed sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke. The film was first and foremost Kubrick’s brainchild — one that was sparked by the director’s fascination with Japanese tonkatsu films such as Warning from Space (one more must-see sci-fi film). He sought outside input for it, and eventually went to Clarke, who was already building a reputation as the “Prophet of the Space Age.” Thus was 2001: A Space Odyssey born.

Today, 2001: A Space Odyssey is upheld as a masterpiece — one that deals with evolution, AI, the power of technology, and existentialism on top of an epic journey in space. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, a feat for a movie in a genre that was extremely niche at the time. But most important of all is the indelible impact that it would make on future filmmakers: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Ridley Scott, and many more directors all credited it as an enduring source of inspiration for them.

2.       A Clockwork Orange (1971)

You could do worse than A Clockwork Orange, which ranks among the best in film — period. Adapted from a classic science fiction book, A Clockwork Orange is the dystopian story of a teenage delinquent who embarks on a crime spree with a small gang of thugs — and what ensues thereafter. Bloody, violent, and thoroughly thought-provoking when it comes to defining evil, it’s not for anyone who can’t stomach blood. But for everyone else? It’s well worth a watch.

3.       Logan’s Run (1976)

Another cornerstone of the genre that every fan of the genre must watch, Logan’s Run is set in a truly disturbing dystopian world where people are killed when they turn 30 years old. Logan 5, played by Michael York, is one of those “Sandmen” who terminate others. That is, until Logan 5 becomes one of the people who are supposed to be terminated. First released in 1976 and part of the decade that changed cinema, Logan’s Run is so visually dynamic and original that it stands up to the test of time today.

4.       Star Wars (1977)

Surely you knew that this one would make an appearance! If you still don’t know Star Wars by now, you must reside in a galaxy far, far away from ours. This monstrous franchise got off to a flying start (pun unintended) in more ways than one when its first installment, A New Hope, was first released in theatres in 1977.

With nine films — not to mention countless spin-offs and books — to its name, it’s one of the sci-fi juggernauts that truly brought science fiction into the mainstream. Though the franchise is rather sprawling, Star Wars film series focuses purely on the pivotal Skywalker family. The conclusion to the Skywalker saga is coming to theatres in December. If you’re keen on understanding the cultural zeitgeist that is Star Wars, you’ll want to watch its conclusion in December but may the Force be with you as you try to avoid spoilers.

5.       E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Steven Spielberg’s 1982 tour de force is difficult not to fall for. About a young boy who meets and makes friends with an extraterrestrial, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial may seem simple on its surface. But this isn’t your standard film about aliens, as the rest of the film quickly establishes. Instead, it’s a moving story of friendship, wonder, and growing up — all of the elements that make up the best children’s books. What’s not up for debate is that it takes a special kind of movie to stand the test of time. E.T, which is today considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time, certainly passed that exam with flying colors.

6.       Back to the Future (1985)

Set in both 1985 and 1955, Back to the Future is the simple story of a boy and a girl — except the girl is the boy’s mom. Not quite the story that you expected? That’s part of the charm of Back to the Future, Robert Zemeckis’ rollicking science fiction movie about a teenager named Marty McFly who accidentally is sent back in time by mad scientist “Doc” Brown.

On paper, it might sound akin to a story that’s just been churned out by a plot generator. But it works. At once comic and serious, especially when it deals with themes of fate and free will, Back to the Future is simply a fully rewarding ride at the end of the day — one that’s made even more colorful by the oddball pairing of Marty and “Doc” Brown.

7.       Ex Machina (2015)

Ex Machina is Alex Garland’s emphatic directorial debut, one that cemented Garland as one to watch in the exciting future. Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander star in this science fiction thriller, in which a reclusive CEO invites a regular employee to a vast private estate in order to test out a brand-new invention — a robotic woman. But neither can expect the aftermath of the experiment, or what ramifications it might contain for them. Flashy but thoughtful, Ex Machina is a classic in the making.

Who appears in every Star Wars movie?

anthony-daniels-star-wars
The chances of him being in a Star Wars movie is 100%.

Do you know who appears in every Star Wars film?

It used to be easy to answer this: until Solo, R2-D2 and C-3PO were in every film, even if just a short cameo, as in Rogue One. But squeezing them into Solo would have been pure fan-service and narratively unnecessary. We did get a new droid who became part of the navigational unit in the Millennium Falcon. That was cool. But no beloved robotic friends from the past.

So? Want to guess? It’s not Chewbacca, Han, or Lando (in fact, only Chewbacca shows up in  the prequel trilogy — he is around 200, after all). And it’s not Yoda (who is around 900 years old!), although, like Chewie, he manages to hit all three of the trilogy series as a character, albeit a Force Ghost in the latter. I don’t know if we should count Luke and Leia in hitting all  trilogies: they only appear in the conclusion of the prequels as newborns. But while the twins didn’t appear in Solo, Leia has a final moment in Rogue One.

Anyway, none of these characters make an appearance in every Star Wars movie. But someone does.

Then who is it?

This is actually a trick question. No character shows up in every Star Wars movie, but one actor does: Anthony Daniels. Normally he plays our old lovable Goldenrod…but in Solo, Daniels gets to show his face briefly as a human named Tak — a friend of the Wookiee Chewbacca meets on the spice mining planet of Kessel.

Anthony Daniels also plays C-3PO in Ralph Breaks the Internet, which is just awesome, and he gets to interact with more Disney Princesses than just Leia. He’s a protocol droid, after all.

If we’re going to get picky, Daniels plays Threepio everywhere Star Wars abounds: in video games, radio shows, television episodes, and several rides at Disneyland. Daniels even wrote I Am C-3PO: The Inside Story (<-Amazon), an autobiography released on November 5, 2019. (He previously considered using the title Telling the Odds, which I kind of prefer.)

Here’s a last bit of cool trivia: Daniels was the voice of Legolas in the Ralph Bakshi animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (1978).

For an actor without a recognizable face, Anthony Daniels gets around! Will Daniels appear in Rise of Skywalker, the finale to the Star Wars saga? The odds are indeed looking good!

I have a bad feeling about this…

https://runpee.com/obi-wan-kenobi-is-a-lying-liar-who-lies/

 

Shallow – A Star Wars Parody

I never get tired of Star Wars parodies. Do you? I am mean, really, Star Wars is beyond iconic.

Here’s a good one for you. Lots of cool little nods to the movies. Notice the green milk. Luke sure loves his colorful lactose. Green, blue…all good.

Seriously, this song is just fabulous. I think I like it better than the original in A Star is Born.  Enjoy!

TROOPS – A Star Wars Parody Does COPS

Undercover Boss – A Star Wars Parody on SNL

I have a bad feeling about this…

Why Fantastic Beasts 2 is not so Fantastic

poster for Fantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald
Who are all of these PEOPLE?

I feel like a guilty Gryffindor, A Harry Potter heel, and a bad geek, because I have such confused thoughts about Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald. I’m supposed to love it: I’m a crazy fan for everything Harry Potter. I even came around on the first Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them — which I had mixed feelings about originally . So, surely it will be the same for me on Crimes of Grindelwald, right? Right??

Truth be told, while my immediate review/reaction was less than stellar, I liked it a WHOLE lot more on my 2nd and 3rd viewings. I considered changing my review, and even bumped it up a few grades. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling there was a lot inherently wrong with CoG. It reminded me, unfortunately, of my experience viewing  Star Wars: The Last Jedi, another very pretty but deeply flawed movie. Yikes.

So I sat on it and let things digest in my brain, avoiding other people’s reviews. Until last night. That’s when I took to You Tube to see if my perspective was just dead wrong. WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Turns out: no. I mean, I’m right. The other Potterheads are just as confused and butt-hurt too. Attached are some of the best video breakdowns of why CoG failed, based on impossible inconsistencies within JK Rowling’s OWN canon, in small part — and in just weird cinematic storytelling, in large part.

large cast in fantastic beasts 2
This isn’t even everyone.

To wit: who ARE all these characters? Why should we care about the endless in-depth backstories and reveals of folks we’ve never met, some of which die right there in the same film? In Avengers: Infinity War, by comparison, it took 18 films to earn their immense casting roundup. In-Universe, The climactic Battle of Hogwarts was full of characters we knew and loved — absolutely LOVED, and died, and #YesDamnYouJK for breaking my heart there.

It doesn’t help that CoG undid the main emotional beats of the previous film in the second (also recalling The Last Jedi. #WTG).

As for the eponymous Grindelwald, we don’t get to see a lot of actual crimes. He orders the killing of one family (and their toddler child, which, yes, bad)…and, um, boots his faithful lizard to its death out the prison carriage for the ‘crime’ of being affectionate…and, hmm. Escapes from  prison, sort of, though it seems he maybe wasn’t in it…? The whole breakout scene was unclear. He bothers to save the life of one of his jailers, which I found a nice enough gesture.  He also holds a rally protesting the Holocaust. This is the most evil wizard of his generation, the Big Bad before Voldemort?

man with the eye parasite in Crimes of Grindelwald
“Tentacles”: I don’t remember his deal, either.

While Johnny Depp was never my first choice to play Grindelwald, he wasn’t awful in the part. I think the main flaws in CoG, which are legion, is that half the film was devoted to useless flashbacks and — let’s face it — underwhelming and/or incredibly contrived reveals. Who is Corvus?  (I’ll do you one better: WHY is Corvus?) What is the incredibly tangled Lestrange family tree about and why should we care? Who is Tentacle Guy  — do you remember he was in this film and what his purpose was?

Then there’s this: Credence is a Dumbledore? How does this in any way make sense? It’s like everyone is a Skywalker, all over again.

Even Queenie and Jacob, so reliable in the first Fantastic Beasts, were poorly used here. I see what Rowling was after with Queenie’s arc, but the logic doesn’t stick. You’ll see what I mean in the videos.

Where the film DID shine was three-fold: I continue to love and admire Newt, the fantastic beasts themselves were still a joyous addition to the lore, and Jude Law’s Dumbledore was note-perfect. And I love being among wizards again, especially at Hogwarts, albeit briefly. (Also, Tina’s eyes are like a salamander’s, which is a little bit true, and very cute, and if you think about Newt Scamander’s whole name, it’s essentially “Salamander Salamander”, so Awwwww.)

a cute salamander
How Newt Sees Tina

With no further opinionated grumblings from me, here are the best five reviewer videos breaking down and backing up my fretful thoughts on Fantastic Beasts 2:  (PS: start with the excellent SuperCarlin Brothers, and work your way down. All these videos will take a while to view, and I put them in order of insightfulness in my ranking scale. Your mileage may vary.)

What did you think of this second-of-five installment of Fantastic Beasts? We’ve got a comments section below: please use it.

Lastly, if you’re still reading, here are our RunPee reviews on the two films thus far:

Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts 2 Review from a Harry Potter Novice

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

 

Why The Last Jedi Sucked

star wars the last jedi
Stop screwing around. I want my Star Wars back.

Did you like Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Are you still on the fence? I don’t think anyone would say it doesn’t look pretty. It looks expensive, and on the surface seems like it belongs in the Star Wars galaxy (the one that is long ago and far away).

It’s got a few great set-pieces (Porg Island, Salt Planet, Rey and Ren tag-teaming it).

And it has a whole lot of sound and fury, signifying a whole lot of nothing. (Rey is who? Snoke is who? Why do we spend so much time on the casino planet? Admiral Holdo and hotshot pilot Poe: Mutiny? What? Why? …And, of course, we have the Deconstruction of Luke Skywalker — [shakes head, sadly].)

Here’s a detailed analysis of why The Last Jedi failed. (“You have failed me for the last time, Admiral.”) Take a look and tell me what you think:

An interesting video. However, I still love The Force Awakens, and think The Last Jedi is better than any of the prequels.

(Man, those prequels suck.)

But yeah, you could fly a Corellian Cruiser through the plot holes of TLJ. I blame Rian Johnson. JJ Abrams handed him a good set-up, but Rian blew it, on so so soooo many levels. I can only “hope” (get it, haha?) that the last movie will course correct these failures. Do it, JJ. Give us what we want.

Let’s wrap up this Skywalker Saga. I’ll be waiting right here.

Movie Rewatch Review – Solo (A Star Wars Story)

Han shot first.
He’s got a really good feeling about this.

I don’t know why so many Star Wars fans have a problem with Solo. All I can think of is that it was released too close to The Last Jedi, which really incited the fan base. Otherwise, [pullquote]I can’t imagine why this excellent film was panned. I loved it, and I’m not sure yet where I’d rank Solo, but in the top four or five of the Star Wars films, at least.[/pullquote] (Okay, I added my ranking on the link above. Feel free to disagree and tell me why I’m wrong, in the comments below.)

I recently re-watched Solo on the seat back of my cross country Delta flight, and I was delighted. It’s definitely better the second (or third, or fourth) time around, and what’s nice about the seat-back thing is that I could pause it and rewatch the little random and funny moments to my heart’s content. I paused it a lot: watching joyful references to previous Star Wars movies, and I laughed out loud several times (probably annoying my seatmates).

What was so great about Solo? It was a rousing adventure with several great villains, lovely set pieces, and a likable cast. We’re introduced to a young, wet-behind-the-ears Han, who’s still idealistic and dreams big. [pullquote position=”right”]Over the course of the film we start to see his trademark cynicism kick in, culminating with Han definitively shooting first. But he’s so sweet and baby-faced here, and so willing to be a hero. [/pullquote]It’s a nice contrast, and I can see why he both felt frustrated by and protective of the young Luke Skywalker — it reminded him of himself, back in the day.

The new Han actor is a special find, and I’m thrilled with his performance. Harrison Ford gushed over him (and Ford is a normally taciturn man), and told him — when Alden Ehrenreich was cast — to make Han his own. I think Ehrenreich walked a good line between an homage to “old Han” and a gentler, fresher version. It worked for me. Plus, he had great chemistry with the new Chewie, and most of the laughs came from their early friendship (the rest of the laughs came from Lando, but I’ll get to that in a moment). The scene where Han and Chewie shower together, especially, is really cute. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) Chewbacca has always been a grounding force for Han, operating as a sort of conscience for the experienced smuggler he becomes.

The ensemble sparkled, unlike the problems inherent in the characters of Rogue One (come on, admit it). Q’ira is a complex love interest, and adorable to boot. Her story arc is sensible, sad, and intriguing. Woody Harrelson’s Becket made for a great conflicted mentor, kind of like a less reliable version of his Hunger Games Heymitch character, if that’s even possible. [pullquote]Paul Bettany’s villain is outstanding, period — he’s amusing, personable, complicated, and very, very frightening.[/pullquote]

Which brings me to Donald Glover’s Lando. Dear God, the perfection. He effortlessly stole every scene he was in. I[pullquote position=”right”] could view an entire movie of Lando playing Sabaac, or trying on just capes, and be entertained. [/pullquote]Can our next Star Wars Story feature him? Please?

Lastly, the Millennium Falcon was a big character in Solo. She’s always been a fast ship — when she worked — but that’s because of Han’s special modifications over the years. Here we see the Falcon as a brand-new, squeaky clean ship, with all the bells and whistles and wet bars and cape closets. It’s amazing to be presented with a white-walled interior after all the grungy years.

The ensemble absolutely clicked, and I’m left wondering, again, why people didn’t like this movie. Maybe it was the coaxial heist plot, which wasn’t all that exciting. Coaxium, hyperfuel, whatever: it’s just a MacGuffin to hang the narrative on. [pullquote]Solo is a small-stakes story, which is just fine after so many retread Death Star plots. It doesn’t always have to be about saving the universe to be a great movie.[/pullquote]

Lastly, I wanted to make a note about the muchly-heralded escape from the Maw in 12 parsecs (nice correlation to the old Extended Universe novels, BTW). It’s not the most exciting element of the film, and doesn’t feature Han doing anything particularly skilled. As RunPee Dan said in his review, “It’s a group effort.” I have no issues with that, since Han said “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.” The ship. Not that he’s the big bad pilot that did it. His off hand comment allows for what actually happened, instead of being a misleading boast. Han has many flaws, but he’s never one to mislead others.

It also puts to bed the problem with parsecs being a measurement of space and not time. It worked for me, mostly…but [pullquote position=”right”]I won’t lie and say the Kessel Run sequence doesn’t make for a great Peetime. [/pullquote]The Maw’s effects weren’t up to the standards of Star Wars, and the space dwelling monster was just plain atrocious. I prefer the asteroid-based space slug from Empire, if we have to have an impossible creature feature. 😉

While there were a lot of super fun nods to the original trilogy, I have to say my favorite was Han saying, “I have a good feeling about this.” I found it cute, and it made me smile. I think I need to make a list of every character in the rest of the series intoning, “I have a bad feeling about this.” (UPDATE: I DID IT HERE.) Which, yeah, bad things happened indeed, but it was a pleasure to see a Star Wars film where people were kind of having fun, for once.

Movie Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story

I have a bad feeling about this…

Ranking The Star Wars Films

Star Wars Last Shot – A Han and Lando Novel

13 Scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had RunPee

Movie Review – The Last Jedi

Best Movie MacGuffins Explained

Star Wars is loaded with MacGuffins. Can you name them all?

A MacGuffin is any object that drives the plot and motivates the characters in a movie. You might have seen the name “MacGuffins” over bar bistros in the lobbies of many AMC theaters. That’s an industry in-joke.[pullquote] It sounds like the name of an Irish pub, but it’s really a nod to a long standing film tradition, coined by Alfred Hitchcock himself, for an object that’s an excuse to make characters do things, have a quest for, and usually fight over.[/pullquote]

MacGuffins can be almost anything, but the point is, it is a “thing.” Sometimes a MacGuffin can be a person-as-thing, but that’s a bit more rare. Another crucial point about MacGuffins — they’re usually quite fungible. [pullquote position=”right”]It really doesn’t matter what the thing is, so long as the characters spend their narrative trying to get it (or, in some cases, lose it). [/pullquote]

Here are some well-known movie MacGuffins that you probably never thought about: 

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark — this whole flick is about finding the Ark, protecting the Ark, using the Ark, and finding a safe place to store it. I’m not sure an FBI warehouse is the safest place, but it’s probably as good as keeping it under the sands of Tanis. Note that for all Indy’s efforts,  nothing he does actually helps the cause in the end. He’s just lucky he knew enough not to die from it. And as we saw in the subsequent Indiana Jones films, there’s always some kind of MacGuffin driving the plot, including the Holy Grail. This is a case-book example of MacGuffins in action. (And yes, the holy grail in Monty Python’s Holy Grail counts too.)
  • Titanic – The Heart of the Ocean. Awwww.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl – the last coin of the cursed gold qualifies, and so does Will Turner himself. I think each film in this increasingly bizarre series centers in a MacGuffin of some sort.
  • Most of the Mission Impossible series has a MacGuffin driving the plot, which really is just an excuse to see Tom Cruise pulling off his own wild stunts.
  • The Necronomicon in Army of Darkness qualifies in a super fun way. Have you seen this movie? (Go find it. Bruce Campbell is the best B actor in the business.)
  • A Fish Called Wanda has the bag of money, and a whole lot of tomfoolery involved in getting it, including an actual fish named Wanda. (Haven’t seen this? It’s one of the world’s funniest movies and stands up to the test of time.)
  • The Project Genesis in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. But you knew this, right? Even the whales in The Voyage Home count.
  • Unobtainium is kind of a jokey name, but certainly qualifies as a MacGuffin in Avatar. The natives of Pandora need it to survive, and the invading humans want it. They also kind of get it. Bummer.  It all works out in the end, mostly.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe is all about MacGuffins. You could make a case for each of the current 20 films having some kind of MacGuffin. Most of them have to do with Infinity Stones, and who has them, and who tries to protect them from Thanos (or Ronan, or Loki, or the bad guy in Dr. Strange, or that dark Elf in Thor 2). Remember the stones go by all kinds of names, like the Orb, the Aether, the Tesseract, and so on. But it’s not always about the stones: Vulture just wanted alien technology. The Iron Man trilogy was about arc reactor tech. Killmonger wanted the power of Vibranium. Thor sought a replacement for his hammer, so Stormbreaker was the latest MacGuffin. Ant Man is about Quantum Tech and Pym Particles. Name me one MCU movie NOT about a MacGuffin, and you’ll win ten points to your Hogwarts House.
  • Speaking of Harry Potter, I don’t think a single entry in the 8 movie pantheon is MacGuffin-free. Look at the Sorcerer/Philosopher’s stone, the Tri-Wizard cup, the orb of prophecy, the Horcrux search, the quest for the Sword of Gryffindor, and the Deathly Hallows. Since Harry turned out to be a horcrux himself, he qualifies as a personified MacGuffin.
  • Like with the Sword of Gryffindor, swords are common themes to base a quest around. Look at the King Arthur movies: we even have two swords! The sword in the stone is one, and the one the Lady of the Lake tossed at Arthur. (“You can’t expect to wield supreme power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!” <— recognize this quote? If you’re a true cinephile, you should.)
  • The Lord of Rings is a great exception to the ideal of questing FOR an object. In this case, the fellowship is about destroying something: the One Ring of Power. It’s a self-proclaimed fool’s quest, but somehow, the good guys win. (Although not without great cost along the way.)
  • The Lord of the Rings does the sword thing too, with the shards of Narsil being forged as a great flaming weapon, to be reforged and wielded only by a descendant of Isildur. So we can check that box too.
  • In the Hobbit, it’s the Arkenstone.
  • The Wizard of Oz has the Ruby Slippers.
  • In the various incarnations of Dune, the Sandworms are an unusual MacGuffin, which, like Harry Potter, are also in the form of a living being. The spice itself is a HUGE MacGuffin — without it, space travel would simply cease. And this relates right back to the Sandworms. Lost yet? Ignore David Lunch and the SciFi versions; re-read the novel. I hear there will be yet another filmatic attempt at Dune soon…so we can hope it’s the definitive version.
  • In a less fantasy mode, we’ve got Pulp Fiction. What exactly was in the magically glowing briefcase? Was it Marcellus Wallus’ soul, as many fans speculated? We never find out, although it actually doesn’t matter in the end.
  • Fantastic Beasts also featured a magical suitcase that all characters sought. In this film, however, we definitely saw what was in there.
  • Star Wars is usually about MacGuffins, which are often force-users (ie – people). In Solo, look at how Coaxium drives the plot. The Millennium Falcon  qualifies too. In The Force Awakens, Luke himself is the MacGuffin (and so is his lightsaber). A New Hope and Rogue One have the stolen Death Star data tapes. Star Wars is loaded with MacGuffins, including R2D2 himself. Once you start noticing these, you can’t stop. (Kind of like eating Pringles.)
  • The Maltese Falcon – an obvious one, from a classic-era film. Hmmm, also Rosebud in Citizen Cane.
  • All heist, thriller, and caper movies are about finding a thing. Often a tech thing, and sometimes just money — as in Die Hard. I dare you to name a caper that isn’t about acquiring something. Look at the Ocean’s films for a start. Everyone’s after something, and the whole plot hinges around that thing.
  • Apollo 13 and even First Man are about similar MacGuffins, be they the moon itself, or just finding a way to get home from said moon.
  • Are you a Buffy fan? Remember her Axe of Power? MacGuffin. The entire series is loaded with MacGuffins, including Buffy herself.
  • In the X-Files, aliens from space qualify as MacGuffins. And I’m not sure this was ever resolved. At least Scully learned to believe. 😉

Clearly, this is an ongoing list. I can’t sit here all day naming every flick with a MacGuffin. But feel free, absolutely, to name your favorites in the comments. It’s good geeky fun!

MacGuffins Bars at AMC Theaters

Movie Theater Review – AMC Fashion Valley in San Diego

Undercover Boss – A Star Wars Parody on SNL

Matt, the Radar Tech. Any resemblance to Kylo Ren is absolutely intentional.

Saturday Night Live has a lot of misses in these latter years of heyday’s past, but when they hit a home run, there’s still good to be found. One of my favorite SNL sketches has Adam Driver reprising his Star Wars role of Kylo Ren, the commander of Starkiller Base (from Star Wars: The Force Awakens), going undercover with the impressive title of  Matt, the technician.

Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base takes only a few moments to watch, but it’s got some great laughs. Driver really pokes fun at tantrum throwing force user Ben Solo/Kylo Ren.

I never get tired of Star Wars parodies, and usually their production values and humor are high on the watchable scale. It’s amusing to see Kylo Ren taking abuse from no-nonsense tech superiors (“I need my muffin, MATT!”), and trying to bond with the officers in the mess hall (“I’m sorry I killed your son”). Did he succeed in fooling anyone? Did he learn anything at all?

In a word, no. But Driver is a great sport, and gleefully throws the less attractive qualities of Ren into the part. Ren’s clearly got some self-esteem issues yet to work out. I’m going to say this sketch is now part of my head-canon.

You like it? What do you think of the character of Kylo Ren? Big Bad? Or Big Baby?


More, on RunPee.com:

TROOPS – A Star Wars Parody Does COPS

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

Remember in A New Hope when Obi Wan said to Vader, “Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”? As it turned out, Obi Wan didn’t become all powerful. He didn’t do much more than become the Jedi Whisperer. (Let go, Luke. Trust your feelings.)

Now that Luke has faded to the Force (after the events at the end of The Last Jedi) it appears he might be the all-powerful one. Or maybe he was the all powerful one. It’s all conjecture at this point, but here’s what we know think we know.

The Express reported that leaks for the upcoming Episode IX (December 20, 2019) indicate that Luke has the power to force choke a Star Destroyer. The question is, does this happen in the past, and we see it as a flashback (The only thing JJ Abrams loves more than lens flare is flashbacks)? Or does it happen in the timeline of Episode IX now that Luke is truly with the Force?

What is it with the Star Wars universe and sand?

There is evidence that this is a flashback  based on the book Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Legends of Luke Skywalker, which is part of the official Star Wars canon. One of the stories takes place shortly after the end of Return of the Jedi on Jakku — Rey’s old stomping grounds. A crew member aboard a Star Destroyer recalls seeing a hologram of Luke reach out. Shortly afterward, the ship crashed into Jakku. It’s implied the abandoned Star Destroyer we saw in The Force Awakens, the one that Rey frequently scavenged, was brought down by Luke nearly three decades earlier.

What’s clear: Disney and Abrams need to unite the fractured fanbase that’s disappointed with how impotent Luke has been portrayed thus far. Right now we’re left sifting through the sands, like an archaeologist looking for clues from the bones of long dead animals, trying to figure out where the story is going, and where it came from.

Concert Review – The Movie Music of John Williams

I’m not a huge fan of live music, but I AM a movie lover. The best, most iconic movies are usually supported by an amazing soundtrack. Think of some of the top films of our time…now imagine them without a stirring score. Imagine the 1977 Star Wars without The Imperial March, or Luke Skywalker’s Theme.  Would it even be Star Wars? A great composition carries the viewer into new worlds, offering rousing emotional cues and magical movie moments.

[pullquote]It shouldn’t be a surprise that many of our A+ film lists are heavily weighted by one beloved composer: John Williams.[/pullquote]

So when I heard San Diego would host a special summer concert of the music of John Williams, I was all over it, and off I went to the Jacobs Music Center in downtown San Diego. Was it great? Well…it should have been. Part of it was wonderful. The program was in two halves, starting with a sampler variety of films. And the second part? It was all Star Wars. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  😉

[pullquote position=”right”]I think was did surprise me was the first half:  for some reason, the chosen themes weren’t the most well-known in their franchises.[/pullquote] Yes, absolutely play the music from Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Superman, and Harry Potter! But how about the songs we best recognize and love? I don’t think The Last Crusade contains the most memorable Indiana score, nor the Lost World from the Jurassic Park series. I find those choices a little mystifying. Why not use the beloved Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter? And I don’t even recognize the movie title “BFG”…surely something from ET might have been a better choice from the child-oriented end of John Williams’ oeuvre.

At least the concert opened with a bang, using the Superman March from the original 1978 Superman. And the entire Star Wars second half of the program was as nostalgically transporting as any geek could hope.

Here’s the performance list from my July 18, 2018 concert (as worded from my program):

  • “Superman March” from Superman
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “Harry’s Wondrous World”
  • Suite from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “Bridge to the Past”
  • “A Child’s Tale” suite from The BFG
  • “Scherzo for Motorcycle” from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • “The Adventures of Indiana Jones” I.Swashbuckler (The Adventures of Mutt)
  • “Theme” from The Lost World

Intermission

  • Selection from Star Wars

The program info could have been written better. For example, I’d like to remember which songs from which Star Wars films were used, although I did recognize them all. A list might have been nice. 🙂

Overall, this was a fine experience, but not a great one. The musicians can’t be faulted — everything sounded like it was performed in the movies themselves. Conductor Sameer Patel was lively and probably superb, although I wouldn’t recognize one conductor’s work from another, to be honest. But from the selections chosen, I don’t think I’d pay $30 to see this again.

What I would do again, in a heartbeat, are those outdoor symphony performances of music played TO THE MOVIES. I’ve now seen several of the Harry Potter films performed that way, and most recently, Star Wars: A New Hope (<—–concert/movie review). If I’m lucky, that will become a habit.