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ends and beginnings

January 1, 2017

Carrie Frances Fischer – 1956 – 2016

I mentioned the original Star Wars movie in the last post. What I didn’t mention is that I watched it a total of 24 times over a twelve month period. I did that because I was “starved” for entertaining science fiction that made an attempt to actually look like it had some chance of being real. The last decent contemporary science fiction file I’d watched was 2001, and that was nine years before in 1968. When Star Wars was released, it was like a oasis in a cultural desert.

The first I ever heard about Star Wars was right before it was released through critic Gene Shalit on the Today Show. Mr. Shalit was excited about Star Wars. Over about a week before it hit the theaters, he would do a number of stories and reviews of the movie. That got me motivated to see it the weekend of the release. I was immediately taken by the movie, so much that I took my dad and brother out the next weekend to see it. Folks now find much to criticize about the movie, but when it was first released, we all just accepted the entire movie and ignored whatever so-called flaws it might have (such as how a lone missile, with or without the Force, could blow up a major planet-sized weapon system called the Death Star). It was the idea of seeing all that tech flying around. Because movie tickets were only $2 back then and I wasn’t dating at the time, I watched the movie 24 times before it finally left the area.

And it was so much fun watching Carrie Fischer, as Princess Leia, the character with so much sass, who certainly wasn’t the screaming damsel in distress. If anything she was helping to save our ostensible heroes, such as when they were trying to get her out of the detention block on the Death Star and she shot their way out of it. She was a wonderfully fresh change to similar characters in other movies. I didn’t so much fall in love with Carrie Fischer the actress as Princess Leia the character.

To give you some idea what it was like to listen to Gene Shalit as well as the then-fresh faces from Star Wars, follow this link to the interview. It’s so much fun to watch it again.

I didn’t know Carrie, never met her, but I’m going to miss her none-the-less.


I saw the original “Alien” when it was released in 1979. Not knowing what to expect, I went in with an open mind and was greatly pleased with what I saw. I’d been prepped, as it were, by the original “Star Wars” of 1977, and I expected a good, if somewhat flawed, science fiction movie. I came away from “Alien” feeling in the same great mood I’d felt after watching “Star Wars.” It wasn’t until 1986, a good seven years later, before I got to watch “Aliens.” But it was very much worth the wait. If anything the second movie proved even better than the first. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1987, winning two. Sigourney Weaver (then, now, and forever so incredibly beautiful) was nominated for a Best Actress, although she didn’t win it (Marlene Matlin won for “Children of a Lesser God”). Such an incredibly good start to the Alien franchise.

That was the last Alien franchise movie I watched until “Prometheus.” I’d watch the trailers for the successive Alien movies after “Aliens”, finding little in them to convince me to spend my hard-earned cash to watch the complete film. All I ever saw in the trailers were variations on the first two films. Along the way I made the mistake of watching “Alien vs Predator.” After that cinematic debacle I made sure to stay away from all the other movies in that particular franchise mashup. Then “Prometheus” came along in 2012, far enough away in time from the “Alien vs Predator” release that I broke down and gave “Prometheus” a shot. That was a big mistake on my part I came to regret almost instantly.

“Prometheus” is a crude horror movie, steeped in pseudo-intellectualism about the creation of life on Earth, in which every character behaved in the most moronic and self-destructive way imaginable. They all deserved to die, in their own horrific manner. I felt absolutely no sympathy for any of the characters. The only emotion I felt was a deep disappointment in that the character Elizabeth Shaw survived, along with the android David’s head.

On Christmas Day they released the trailer to the second movie in this franchise reboot, “Alien: Covenant.” Everything a pre-pubescent male could ever want in a schlock-filled horror movie is there in this two-minute trailer: an alien bursting out of a human, a screaming blood covered female (with knife), two naked humans making love in a shower scene with an alien slashing them into a bloody mess (stealing death-because-of-sex from “Friday the 13th”), an exploding flaming spaceship, a face-hugger, mindless screaming while running through the dark, etc, etc, etc. It’s a rote movie, with minor variations from the many prior releases, which were themselves just as rote after the very first two in the original franchise series. There’s not a damn thing that’s truly new except for the planet. Who the hell cares about the Engineers? Who really cares who created the xenomorph/neomorph? Does that really add anything important to the overall story telling? Not really. It is, instead, an opportunity to churn out yet another tiresome Alien related movie, another cynical money-making exercise.

I watched the trailer because I had managed to nurture just a glimmer of hope that things might actually be better this time around. The trailer effectively slashed that hope into a bloody mess.