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Tag Archive: Garrick Hagon


Troopers in the hall

Review by C.J. Bunce

Written and directed by Jon Spira and funded via Kickstarter, a documentary about the making of the original Star Wars is now available in the U.S. via Netflix after a release last year in the UK and limited-city U.S. theatrical release this summer.  Elstree 1976 is a time travel trip to visit some of the more obscure actors who portrayed characters and, except for Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse, would not make either the poster credits or, for some, even the movie’s end credits.

Yet each of the characters they portrayed became known by diehard Star Wars fans because of its historic success.  Spira’s documentary asserts 2 billion people on Earth have seen Star Wars–something like 25% of the planet’s population.  Perhaps even a fleeting image of an actor in such a universally acknowledged work justifies our fascination with even the most obscure bit player (see George Lucas’s Frames, reviewed here and here at borg.com, for instance).  Remember the Stormtrooper who uttered the line “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for… move along”?  What about Luke’s friends from the deleted Tatooine scenes?  Or one of the actors who claims to be the Stormtrooper who cracked his head on the door aboard the Death Star?

Elstree 1976 poster

Spira selected ten actors to be featured in his film.   Hundreds more could be seen in a similar documentary or documentaries made tomorrow.  But what fascinates is that just as Star Trek actors will tell you about how you never leave Star Trek once you play any part in the franchise, the same holds true for Star Wars.  The convention circuit has breathed new life into careers and new opportunities to make money.  Unlike many films about fans of big franchises, this documentary is quite respectful of the fans, not showing them as oddities.  Most of the actors interviewed are respectful and grateful to the fanbase, too.  The only downside is the uncomfortable politics of the convention circuit among these actors–a few see themselves as a higher status of guest and believe others should not be going to conventions, which sort of misses the point of conventions altogether.

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Troopers in the hall

Written and directed by Jon Spira and funded via Kickstarter, a new documentary about the making of the original Star Wars is coming your way, and it’s not anything you will find in the special features of your twelve editions of the original trilogy in your home video collection.  Elstree 1976 is a time travel trip to visit some of the more obscure actors who portrayed characters who, except for one, would not make either the poster credits or, for some, even the movie’s end credits.

Yet each of the characters they portrayed became famous because of the historic success of Star Wars, and the fact that so many have seen the film so many times that every frame of the film has taken on its own life in the annals of sci-fi/fantasy cinema history.  Remember the stormtrooper who uttered the line “these aren’t the droids we’re looking for… move along”?  What about Luke’s friends from the deleted Tatooine scenes?

Elstree 1976 poster

Spira selected ten actors to be featured in his film.  The documentary includes interviews with actors who filmed scenes at Elstree Studios in England in 1976.  The most well-known are David Prowse (Darth Vader), Jeremy Bulloch (The Empire Strikes Back’s Boba Fett), and Garrick Hagon (Biggs Darklighter), whose scenes were cut by director George Lucas, only to be re-inserted into the Special Edition in the 1990s.

Comic Con with Boba Fett Jeremy Bulloch Bunce

Your Editor with Jeremy Bulloch and the character he made famous a long, long, time ago.

Other actors included are Paul Blake (Greedo), Anthony Forrest (Luke’s friend Fixer and the Jedi-tricked Sandtrooper), Laurie Goode (Stormtrooper and cantina patron Saurin), Derek Lyons (temple guard/medal bearer), Angus MacInnes (Gold Leader), Pam Rose (cantina patron Leesub Sirln) and John Chapman (X-Wing pilot Red 12).

Here’s the trailer for the documentary Elstree 1976:

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Erased movie poster

The movie trailer.  It’s the video “cover” you’re not supposed to judge a movie by.  But sometimes a movie trailer gets it all exactly right–setting the correct expectation with viewers without over-hyping or over-emphasizing only the best parts of the film it is promoting.  Take the trailer for Aaron Eckhart’s Erased as an example.

From the beginning, Erased (originally titled The Expatriate, but renamed for the U.S. release) appeared to be a blend of a summer action flick like The Bourne Identity (with Eckhart playing an ex-CIA agent on the run), the Robert Redford espionage thriller Three Days of the Condor (where one day all his co-workers turn up dead and his world upside down), and Liam Neeson’s Taken, since he has to protect his little girl along the way.  Eckhart’s role also seemed to echo that of Ben Affleck’s role in Eckhart’s prior film Paycheck, since he appeared to create some future technology that leaves him to unravel what happened to his stolen life.   Well, what you see is what you get.  And it’s all very satisfying.

Erased

Aaron Eckhart is an under-rated lead.  If you put aside the dud that was I, Frankenstein, Eckhart delivers an emotional performance every time.  As adman Nick Naylor trying to save big tobacco in the brilliant Thank You for Smoking, as the guy that had us all wearing “I Believe in Harvey Dent” badges after his performance as Two-Face in The Dark Knight, after his almost unrecognizable performance opposite Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich.  And as the vile mastermind opposite Ben Affleck in the superb Philip K. Dick adaptation Paycheck.  With Erased, a flick with a botched release schedule back in 2012 and 2013, he could have had his break-out role.

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Red 2 long banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s interesting that the publicity folks for RED 2 have stressed in their latest movie trailer no Robots, Monsters, or Superheroes.  Although we’re not so sure RED 2 isn’t chock full of its own breed of superhero, it’s true you’ll find no monsters or robots here.  RED 2, previewed at borg.com here, is definitely not like any other film creating waves this summer.  But it is the most fun you’ll have at any movie this year.

You don’t need to ask, for example: Were too many people killed in the movie’s finale (as with Man of Steel)?  Or lower your normal standards a bit to allow yourself to just plain have fun watching a giant robot take on a giant monster from the ocean’s depths (as with Pacific Rim).  Or struggle with friends over whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch was cast appropriately as a sci-fi villain (as with Star Trek Into Darkness).  With RED 2, you don’t have to think about all those things that distract you from just having a good time.  Do the heroes kill a lot of people in RED 2?  You bet, and we like it that way.

Red 2 clip A

What RED 2 will make you do is think about where it stands in the line-up of the best of Bruce Willis’s movies.  When was the last time you saw such a good Bruce Willis film that made you work through that analysis?  The reality is that Bruce Willis’s performance as retired spy Frank Moses in RED 2 is up there with his first run as John McClane in the original Die Hard, and we haven’t seen him play a character this cool since Pulp Fiction.  Pull up your Netflix queue and take a second look at him in Striking Distance, Twelve Monkeys, and The Fifth Element and you might just add RED 2 to your list of Best of Bruce keepers.

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Red 2 banner

Not a lot of sequels featuring action heroes over 50 look as good as the new trailer for RED 2, the sequel to the 2010 action movie RED, about Bruce Willis’s Frank Moses bringing his band of retired assassins back together.  Bruce Willis?  Again?  You’ve got to hand it to Bruce–he is making more movies than anyone half his age and he’s just not letting up.  Since the first movie RED in 2010 he has starred or was featured in twelve movies, including The Expendables and The Expendables 2, Looper, Moonrise Kingdom, A Good Day to Die Hard, G.I. Joe: Retribution, and coming soon, the adaptation of Frank Miller’s Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For.

Just look at the great cast in RED 2 and decide for yourself who to be more excited about.  Returning with Willis from the last film is John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Mary-Louise Parker.  This time around they’ve brought in Anthony Hopkins playing against type as a wacky jailed friend from the past.

Catherine-Zeta-Jones-in-Red-2-

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