Saturday, May 28, 2005

Diverse Diversons

Yeah, some might say my life is a diversion, but here's some fairly frivolous but fun non-events of the last week.

On Sunday, Amy and I put on our 1997 Star Wars Special Edition shirts (the black ones with the characters on the front and various sponsor logos on the back) and went to the former Cinerama Dome (now the Arclite At The Dome) to watch Revenge of the Sith. The only convenient non-sold-out performance was at 9:30 am on Sunday, so that's when we went -- and the theatre was still almost sold out.

How did we like it? Well, there were two problems with the film: First, I'm 40, not 12. There will always be an element of the Star Wars movies that appeals more to the young than to those who have watched films for decades. Second, all of the SW "prequels" have suffered from the absence of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Say what you will about their acting talents, they gave the first 3 movies a charm and warmth that the others have lacked. Reminds me of when Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in the 80's, and my younger brother, Steve, dismissed it as "scab football."

That said, we enjoyed the hell out of it. It was visually beautiful, and managed a drama, pathos and sense of fun the other films lacked. Ian McDermid as the emperor (an amazing carry-over from the first trilogy -- especially when you consider he's 60 now, and so was only 37 when Return of the Jedi was made) acts rings around everybody. He's simultaneously avuncular, paternal, and ruthlessly evil. His portrayal is in fact light years beyond his one-dimensional turn as the Emperor 22 years ago. His performance is strong enough to fill in some of the blanks left by Hayden Christensen occasionally unconvincing transformation into Darth Vader.

This is a nice kickoff to the summer movie season. We'll have to see if films like Batman Begins and Fantastic Four can run with the ball.

Speaking of the Fantastic Four, Marvel is apparently anticipating the upcoming film by putting one of its best writers, TV scripter J. Michael Straczynski, on the comic. Straczynski's forte is pulpish science fiction -- he created and produced Babylon 5 -- so he's a nice fit for the FF. Of the various comics Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created in the early '60's, the FF was always the one most redolent of '30's and '40's science fiction with a post-Sputnik twist. Straczynski is following up on an excellent three-year run by writer Mark Waid by taking the title in different directions. The art by Mike McKone isn't spectacular, but it tells the story and it's easy on the eyes. It's worth checking out.

Finally, today we started the Memorial Day Weekend off by honoring a great American Tradition: we bought a piece of recreational electronics. Specifically, we're bringing our TV viewing into the 21st Century by purchasing an HDTV. It gets delivered tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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