Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
I waited all day this past Friday for my review copy of Star Wars: the Complete Saga on Blu-Ray. It never came, but this kid-friendly spin-off, based on the popular video games, did. Am I disappointed? Sure. But it could be worse. I actually enjoyed this uber-silly non-canon Star Wars tale that is reminiscent of a more family-friendly Robot Chicken spoof more than anything else. Jedi Master Yoda takes a group of younglings on a field trip to the Senate chambers when they run into a trouble-making young orphan named Han. They discover a nefarious plot by Emperor Palpatine to steal secret rebel plans, with comical results. At only 22 minutes long, it manages to be more fun and fast-paced than the entire whole of The Phantom Menace. You know… thinking about having to sit through that again, I’m almost glad I didn’t get those original saga Blu-Rays. Almost.
One of the fondest memories I have of my dad is, when I was a young un’, on Saturday afternoons, watching the western movies that ran like clockwork on the local UHF station. There’d be standbys like Shane or The Alamo, easily mingling with cultish flicks like They Call Me Trinity or A Fistful of Dynamite. One of my favorites was the action-packed The Magnificent Seven and its sequel, The Return of the Magnificent Seven. Based on Akira Kurasawa’s The Seven Samurai and featuring an all-star cast led by Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen, these are real testosterone-driven actioners, with the titular heroic gunslingers defending the poor and downtrodden from gangs of blood-thirsty bandits and the like. There’s no black or white here, no moral ambiguity; good’s good, bad’s bad. That’s why I loved these movies so much: They were heroes to look up to and admire. In retrospect, exactly like my dad.
It must have sucked to have lived in a major metropolitan area in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Look at movies like Death Wish, Vigilante or Defiance, which show that living in the ghetto war zones of New York City or L.A. was a veritable death sentence, one doled out with no remorse by only the most comically neon-painted of multi-racial punks and thugs. It was kill-or-be-killed, and when the dirty cops weren’t doing their job, you picked up a blowtorch and did it yourself! One of the best revenge flicks was 1980’s The Exterminator, finally released on Blu-Ray by Synapse. Robert Ginty is a Vietnam vet, minding his own business, working a job down at the loading docks, when his Army buddy is ruthlessly cut down by a local gang. Using all his hand-to-hand skills, he wages a bloody one-man war on crime that is even more delirious thanks to this thrilling new director’s cut.