This is kind of old new, of course, but this week’s been busy. Why? Just moved into a new home I just bought this week, closed on it Thursday, and didn’t want to miss a week for both people who aren’t related to me that read this regularly. I haven’t missed a column since I started ‘Monday Morning Critic’ in January 2009, crazy as it seems. For some reason it’s one of the few things that keep me sane in an otherwise crazy world. And with the thrill of moving all of my worldly possessions into a townhome (immediately after signing a check for most of my life’s savings for the privilege of 30 years of monthly payments among other things) there are some things that have to be done. A lot of them I wish I could put off but unfortunately you can’t just live out of boxes, you know?
Most of them are time sucks and as such I opted to write this column out well in advance.
That and it was fairly interesting news from a short while ago that got confirmed … then unconfirmed … and now is just a really good rumor as far as I’m concerned. Harrison Ford returning to Star Wars sounded like an interesting idea … 20 years ago. Ford’s in the old, grizzled phase of his career and I can’t imagine he’ll have a substantive part of Episode VII other than as a way to connect the films. Episodes 7-9 are about the future, not the past, and as such we’ll probably be given a new universe post Jedi.
There’s no other room to explore.
I get why J.J Abrams would want Ford in the film; he’s a genuine movie star in a cast probably filled with veritable unknowns and a connection to the Holy Trilogy. I like the idea of Disney doing stand alone films, as a sort of way to broaden the universe with minor characters good enough for their own films. And I’ve always thought Han Solo after Jedi, having essentially gone from being a criminal opportunist to a genuine good guy, would make for an interesting solo film. I mean it’s not like Han’s going to go back to smuggling space stuff once the Empire is officially dismantled. He’s a hero of the Resistance, for the love of Pete.
It’d be like John Paul Jones, Captain in the Navy during the American Revolution, decided to become a low level mobster after the war, you know?
But if there’s a director I’ll trust with being able to craft minor characters worthy of their own film it’s Abrams. He’s got the Mouse House behind him, as well, which means that notoriously bad ideas like Jar-Jar Binks won’t be repeated with nearly the tenacity that George Lucas put into them. If Lucas would’ve had an editor Binks is an interesting side character. Without an editor Binks nearly sinks an entire film on his own and without any help from the film’s awful script, poor acting and a heaping dose of “Old Stone Face” Natalie Portman. It’s why I have some confidence in the Alias guy being behind this.
That and he proved with Star Trek that he can breathe new life into a franchise. With Abrams focusing on the main franchise it’ll also be a cool way for other directors to step in and do a Star Wars without toying with current canon or messing up Abrams and his sequels. So far we can expect to trust in Abrams, if only because he hasn’t made a completely awful film. I’m talking Battleship level bad … and the guy does a mean keyboard solo, right?
So thus I’ve decided to come up with 10 stand-alone Star Wars films on my own. Only criteria I’m using are that there has to be an established character in the Star Wars universe, a director who could be good with working it and a general plot.
10. Star Wars: YT-1300 492727ZED
Director: Clint Eastwood
Plot: Han Solo (Harrison Ford) has long since been retired. After leading the Rebellion to victory over the Evil Empire he’s experienced a lot of change. Leia died a long time ago of cancer and his kids have left him in their childhood home, retired on a government pension after a non descript job after the war. And then Bothans move into his neighborhood and one (Bee Vang) tries to steal the Millennium Falcon, parked in his backyard, at the behest of a local gang. From there it’s a meditative journey for both as he teaches the Bothan about the ways of manliness and smuggling.
9. Star Wars: 48 Parsecs
Director: Walter Hill
Plot: Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) are on the tale of wanted criminal Ganz (James Remar) who keeps eluding them and has already killed a couple of Jedi. They go to the local Jedi jail to pull out Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), a fast-talking criminal with ties to Ganz. There’s only catch: they’ve only got 48 Parsecs to do it.
8. Star Wars: Jar-Jar Binks Goes To a Hostel
Director: Eli Roth
Plot: Jar-Jar Binks is in hiding after the events of the Clone Wars. On the run he opts to spend the night in a youth hostel on the other side of Tattoine. Unfortunately for him the Empire has been monitoring him and Darth Vader, looking to extract some information, has personally set a trap for him. Yeah … Jar-Jar Binks is going to get a Tor-Tortured by Vader with a chainsaw.
7. Star Wars: Eat, Pray, Force
Director: Ryan Murphy
Plot: Princess Leia (Carrier Fisher) has the perfect life. She has a loving husband (Harrison Ford as Han Solo), a good government job (after the fall of the Empire) and the seemingly perfect life. But then she decides she’s miserable and needs to spend some time traveling the universe as a single woman, screwing foreign dudes and eating bad food. First world problems … YAY!
6. Star Wars: The Jedi Knight
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Plot: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) was once the baddest man in the universe, the guy who took down not only the Empire but the Emperor himself. But that was a long time ago. Now he’s a master without a home, a warrior without a battle to fight. Staying in a trailer park, doing security jobs by day and going to strip clubs by night, we follows Luke as he tries to get his life back together.
5. Star Wars: The Tattoine Job
Director: F. Gary Gray
Plot: Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) are part of a crew to smuggle out some gold from a bank in Tattoine for Jabba the Hut when things go south. Now he’s in a race against time to salvage the job so he can repay Jabba.
4. Star Wars: R2D2 and C3PO’s Excellent Adventure
Director: Kevin Smith
Plot: After the end of the Clone Wars saga R2 and C3PO are stuck in front of a Quick Stop, chilling while R2 deals space weed to teenagers. What they don’t know is that events are going to conspire to take them on an adventure across the galaxy.
3. Star Wars: Boba Fett in Paradise
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Plot: After watching his father die at the hands of Mace Windu, Boba would become a notorious bounty despite his young age. After seemingly falling to his death during the Battle of the Great Pit of Carkoon, he would escape and settle for working as a mercenary out of his tropical resort headquarters in Tattoine’s Gulf Coast with his buddy (and noted bounty hunter) Rozatta. Using their high-tech space ship affectionately nicknamed “Thunder,” they travel the galaxy capturing bounties for the highest bidder among other mercenary work and such. Throw in Fett’s daughter Ailyn as a nuisance and the two have wacky adventures.
2. Star Wars: I Am Yoda
Director: Francis Lawrence
Plot: After the Jedi have been wiped nearly from existence, and scattered to the four corners of the universe, Yoda winds up on Dagobah all alone. Or is he? As he lives in a makeshift hut, trying to stay under the radar, he can’t help feel that there’s something out on the planet watching him. Is he truly alone … or is something out there, in the shadows waiting for him?
1. Star Wars: Seven Jedi
Director: Zach Snyder
Plot: In between the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Rebellion a wayward Jedi finds his way onto a planet, looking to hide out and blend in. But he can’t as a local town hires him to handle some Tusken Raiders who constantly attack them. Joined by six other Jedi in hiding they come together one last time to help the villagers defend themselves.
This Week’s DVD – Rabbit Hole
How do you cope with the death of a child? Not very well, I imagine, and too often films tend to play it so dramatic that it almost becomes farce. Drawing that line is a delicate one; it’s why I can admire a film like Ordinary People because of its line-play. Another one that does it really masterful is Rabbit Hole, a film that got a lot of critical love but is such a touchy subject that I can imagine why it didn’t find an audience in theatres.
Aaron Eckhardt and Nicole Kidman play a couple whose young son died in a tragic accident. She seems cold hearted and wants to move on, wanting to sell the house and get rid of all his belongings. He can’t let go, watching old videos and keeping memories on his cell phone. The film explores their differing paths of mourning as life moves forward. And it’s one of those that is hard to watch despite being absolutely masterful as a story and despite having brilliant performances from Nicole Kidman & Aaron Eckhardt. Why?
It’s about the death of a child, which is never an easy proposition for a film to tackle.
Kidman may have gotten the Oscar nomination but Eckhardt should’ve been on that stand as well; it’s a pair of brilliant performances as Harvey Dent holds his own with one of the most talented actresses of her generation. The film is just difficult at times because of the subject matter; no one wants to outlive their children and seeing a couple dealing with the finality of it all is difficult.
Recommended … but not for the faint of heart
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club
Dead Man Down – Colin Farrell kills people at the behest of Noomi Rapace
See It – It is Noomi Rapace, the first director from the Millennium trilogy and a combination of Terrance Howard and Colin Farrell. Even the WWE Films logo can’t screw this up, right?
Oz: The Great and Powerful – Dickface McFranco ventures to Oz.
Skip It – It has James Franco in it. ‘Nuff said.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .