Category Archives: movies

Ranking the Star Wars movies

Star Wars logo

I had the extreme pleasure of watching Solo: A Star Wars Story on Friday with my boys. I avoided all spoilers and did not read any articles ahead of time, and I was floored by the movie. I thought Alden Ehrenreich played the lead role brilliantly, and Donald Glover was everything I expected Lando to be. I realize there are others who were not as impressed, even in my own house. But this is my blog, so only my opinion counts here.

Solo

Now that we have ten full-length theater-released Star Wars films, why don’t we rank them? I’m omitting the < ahref=”https://amzn.to/2kvlh5l&#8221; target=”resource window”>Clone Wars cartoon movie because it has been quite a while since I have seen it, and I have not watched any of the Clone Wars or series (though I really want to watch Rebels soon). I’m also ignoring the old Droids and Ewoks cartoons, and the Ewok television movies and infamous Holiday Special. We’re sticking to the trilogies and the two theatrical spin-offs.

This is my ranking as I sit here; tomorrow I might shift some things around if you were to ask me again. (I know, you didn’t ask to begin with. Don’t get technical with me, you scruffy-looking nerf herder!)

1. Empire Strikes Back
2. Star Wars
3. Return of the Jedi
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story
5. Rogue One
6. Revenge of the Sith
7. The Force Awakens
8. The Phantom Menace
9. The Last Jedi
10. Attack of the Clones

That’s right, Solo slides in right below the original trilogy in my present state of mind. Maybe tomorrow it would switch places with Rogue One. The top three will probably always remain the same, because how can you top the best trilogy ever made? Revenge and TFA may occasionally flip-flop (I loved them both), and the bottom three may struggle for the cellar (they are so difficult to watch sometimes, despite having some epic moments).

Darth Maul

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Fun Cards: 1978 Topps Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence

Danny Daniel Larusso Cobra Kai Karate Kid Netflix 1978 Topps

If you are a Karate Kid fan and haven’t had a chance to catch the new YouTube series Cobra Kai yet, make plans to do it this weekend. Set thirty-four years after the first movie ended, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprise their roles as Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence, and their chemistry on the small screen is just as strong as it was in the theaters.

Johnny Lawrence Cobra Kai Karate Kid Netflix 1978 Topps

No spoilers here, as there were some pleasant surprises throughout the ten-episode series that will thrill fans of the franchise. Do yourself a favor and watch the entire series before reading any reviews. The only thing that disappointed me personally was the foul language throughout the series. Other than that, it was perfectly executed, and I am looking forward to season two.

The Catcher was a Spy

Do you know the story of Moe Berg? This summer, Paul Rudd will teach you in the movie The Catcher was a Spy from IFC Films. Here’s the info from the YouTube video description:

Opening in theaters and VOD June 22nd

Directed by: Ben Lewin
Starring: Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Jeff Daniels, Paul Giamatti, Sienna Miller, and Guy Pearce

This gripping, stranger-than-fiction espionage thriller brings to life the incredible true story of Moe Berg, the professional baseball player who became a World War II spy. A Jewish, Princeton-educated, multilingual catcher for the Boston Red Sox with a closely-guarded private life, the enigmatic Berg (Paul Rudd) was already a man of mystery when, in 1944, the US government’s wartime intelligence agency enlisted his services. His mission: go behind enemy lines in Europe to assassinate the Nazi’s chief nuclear scientist before the Germans develop an atomic bomb. Trading in his catcher’s mitt for a trench coat, Berg must rely on his formidable, steel-trap intellect in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse—with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

While the film will focus more on the spying aspect of Berg’s career rather than baseball, several legends will make some sort of appearance, including Babe Ruth (Jordan Long), Joe Cronin (Shea Whigham), Lou Gehrig (James McVan), and Lefty Grove (John Schwab).

I’m looking forward to this one!

May The Fourth Be With You!

In 2016, Punk Rock Paint released one of the most epic custom trading card sets ever…the “Galactic Greats Set.” I was fortunate to pick up one of the 66 sets made before they sold out.

Travis took inspiration from Fleer team stickers and “Baseball’s Famous Feats” cartoons to make these parodies. Here are a few of my favorite logos…

Star Wars baseball

Ewoks Endor

Astromechs

…and some of the best “Galactic Greats”…

Han Solo

Stormtrooper

Ackbar

I really hope Travis returns to making custom cards soon. I have purchased three of his creations. In addition to the Star Wars set, I have also picked up his Stranger Things box set and Stars of The Negro Leagues. He has also created a ton of digital-only cards, including a some fantastic Star Wars customs that take their inspiration from other sets. Check out Punk Rock Paint for a ton of stuff that will bring a smile to your face!

May The Fourth Be With You!

Christmas gift ideas for Force-sensitive beings

I am so pumped about Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. I’m doing my best to steer clear of spoilers, and I plan to go “radio silence” mode next Thursday night since I can’t see the movie until Friday morning. But there is so much awesome Star Wars Christmas GiftsStar Wars-related merchandise out, from the classic trilogy to the awful prequels to the exciting new releases. Here are a few ideas for those Force-sensitive beings you love…

The Shakespeare books are perhaps the most unique items on this list. I have the books for Episodes I-VI and absolutely love them. The only reason I don’t already have “Part the Seventh” is because I didn’t realize it was out! It has been added to my Christmas list, and if I don’t get it from someone else, I’ll buy it myself!

Goodbye, Tobe Hooper

(January 25, 1943 – August 26, 2017)

Iconic horror film director Tobe Hooper

Iconic horror film director Tobe Hooper passed away yesterday at the age of 74 from natural causes. He is best known for the classics Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist and the television adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. A highly respected director, Hooper also worked in television, directing episodes of Freddy’s Nightmares, Tales from the Crypt, and Masters of Horror, as well as the music video for Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.”

The horror community took to Twitter to remember the genius that was Tobe Hooper…

By the Power of Grayskull! He-Man is coming in 2019!

MOTU He-Man and the Masters of the Universe new film coming December 18 2019 from Sony

Both ComingSoon.net and EW reported yesterday that Sony has set an official release date for a new live-action He-Man and the Masters of the Universe film: DECEMBER 18, 2019. The movie has been in development for quite some time, and is currently without a director since McG exited stage left (despite ComingSoon.net’s outdated information). The screenplay is in the hands of David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel) and “many actors, including A-list talent, are vying for key roles,” according to EW.

What would really make a new He-Man movie phenomenal? Here are some thoughts:

  • Build a universe for the Masters. There are so many awesome characters that if the studio and screenwriters handle them correctly, Masters of the Universe could become a franchise as big as Marvel and DC.
  • No new characters. To me, one of the biggest flubs of the 1987 film was the addition of Gwildor, Julie, and Kevin. Where was Orko? Randor? They had so much to work with, but using these new characters just caused unnecessary confusion.
  • Keep the action on Eternia. There is no need to visit earth, unless in a brief flashback sequence with Queen Marlena. Eternia is a perfect setting; don’t waste it.
  • Cameos are great. Who doesn’t love Stan Lee‘s cameos in all the Marvel movies? I think it would be wonderful to see Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella again, perhaps not in major roles, but cameos would be fantastic. In fact, Lundgren mentioned several years ago that he might be interested in portraying He-Man’s dad.

My oldest son Josh also came up with some great points:

  • Avoid the dark Batman-esque atmosphere that everyone tries to replicate.
  • If the origin is addressed, it needs to be consice, clear and to the point.
  • He-Man should be someone kids look up to. Kids should wish they could be He-Man when they grow up…like I did.
  • The villain needs to be Skeletor, and he needs to be scary and well written. One of Marvel fans’ biggest complaints is that the villains are weak or underdeveloped.
  • Don’t kill Skeletor or any of the Masters without a compelling reason.
  • Set up a universe, but don’t make world-building the point of the movie. Calling out Batman v. Superman here, look at how unsuccessful they were at cramming all of the setup for their universe into one movie, as opposed to Marvel’s much more successful slow build.
  • Make sure the story is strong, and faithful to the source material. There is so much rich background and engaging stories to pull from. It should be something longtime fans are happy with. Satisfy the people who will see the movie because they love the character, not the people who watch it for the studio or the actor or the director.
  • Make people like us, the fans, happy. That’s more important than anything else. That’s what will keep the movie alive and open up the possibility of everything that could come after.

The first season of the original He-Man series, as well as all 65 episodes of She-Ra, are currently streaming on Netflix.

How He-Man Mastered the Universe by Brian C. Baer (2017)

HeMan Masters of the Universe

How He-Man Mastered the Universe
by Brian C. Baer
McFarland, 2017

The story of He-Man is well-known to children of the eighties, but author Brian C. Baer is able to dig even deeper into the beloved franchise in his recent book, How He-Man Mastered the Universe. Baer examines every aspect of the Masters of the Universe, from the toys to the cartoon to the movie to the reboots and more recent collectible action figure releases. The author looks at the groundwork laid for the success of He-Man by the marketing behind Star Wars, and the influence He-Man had on many subsequent pop culture franchises such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, and the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What impressed me most about Baer’s book is the attention paid to the big screen adaption of the Eternian hero in 1987. The toys and original cartoon have been widely covered over the years, with little more than a passing mention to the live-action film. A good bulk of Baer’s book, however, is devoted to how He-Man was brought to life by Dolph Lundgren. He breaks down the movie with an in-depth review, discusses the financial woes that hamstrung the ending, and even includes conceptual drawings for He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Skeletor, and She-Ra, who unfortunately was written out of the script.

Baer also discusses the New Adventures of He-Man cartoon that aired in the early 1990s, the 21st century reboot by Mike Young Productions, and the new line of toys that came with that. Baer wraps up How He-Man Mastered the Universe with a look at what many of the film’s actors are doing today, as well as others who were involved with He-Man through the years.

How He-Man Mastered the Universe is a highly enjoyable book; children of the eighties and He-Fans in particular will love it.

Learn more about McFarland.

Purchase How He-Man Mastered the Universe by Brian C. Baer on Amazon or directly from the publisher at www.mcfarlandpub.com or via the order line at 800-253-2187.

Star Wars: Topps Classic Sticker Book (2017)

Star Wars Sticker Book

Star Wars: Topps Classic Sticker Book
Abrams, 2017

After reviewing the series of Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Cards, it seems only natural to move on to the Star Wars: Topps Classic Sticker Book, also published by Abrams. While the Original series displayed all of the cards and stickers from the trading card sets for the original trilogy, Star Wars: Topps Classic Sticker Book is more than a display. These are actually stickers.

More than 250 stickers spanning the original trilogy and a handful from The Force Awakens, the book also contains five pull-out posters that can be used as backgrounds for the stickers. But on the flip-side of each poster is a reproduction of some of the original puzzles that could be created using the original sticker card backs.

Several of the stickers retain their original size, though some are shrunk down. In addition to several character stickers, featuring the main stars as well as fan favorites like Max Rebo, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Nein Nunb, the alphabet stickers from the 1980 Empire Strikes Back series are included.

Star Wars: Topps Classic Sticker Book is a blast from the past, and any Star Wars fan will get a kick out of seeing (and sticking) these stickers again.

Learn more about Abrams.

Purchase Star Wars: Topps Classic Sticker Book.

Return of the Jedi: The Original Topps Trading Card Series (Volume Three) edited by Gary Gerani (2016)

ROTJ

Return of the Jedi: The Original Topps Trading Card Series (Volume Three)
edited by Gary Gerani
Abrams, 2016

The third installment of Abrams’ Star Wars trading card books focuses on the third (now sixth) movie in the franchise, Return of the Jedi. As with the first two books, product designer Gary Gerani recounts the process of reading the screenplay and selecting photos from LucasFilm’s library for use on the cards. It is clear from his writing that by the time they were readying this product for release, he had become quite a fan of George Lucas’ space opera.

Each Return of the Jedi Topps card is reproduced in this volume, with the front and back of each receiving its own page. This is a change from the Empire Strikes Back book, in which the horizontal cards were shown with the front and back on a single page. Gerani occasionally writes a sentence or two about specific cards, but for the most part they are allowed to stand on their own. As with the previous two volumes, bonus cards are again included with this third volume.

Return of the Jedi

I was not even ten years old when Return of the Jedi was originally released, and while I have a handful of the vintage cards from this series, I never came close to completing the entire set. To have all of the cards presented here in one volume, in a much more affordable format than tracking down the originals, is a fantastic way to relive my formative collecting years without breaking the bank.

Star Wars fans young and old will love all three Original Topps Trading Card Series books.

Learn more about Abrams.

Purchase Return of the Jedi: The Original Topps Trading Card Series (Volume Three) edited by Gary Gerani.

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