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harrison ford


Movie review: Blade Runner 2049 happily does not suck

This past weekend, Dara, Paul, and I, along with our pal Jenny, saw Blade Runner 2049. As a household, the Murkworks had varying levels of consternation about this movie. Paul in fact told me that he couldn’t bear to go see it if it turned out to suck, while Dara and I were somewhat less nervous. Even though we both have healthy respect for the original Blade Runner, it’s never been a movie we frequently go back and rewatch.

Hell, I’m a Harrison Ford fangirl, and I’ve maybe seen the original Blade Runner at most four or five times. Compare and contrast this with how many times I’ve rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy. And especially how many times I’ve rewatched Raiders of the Lost Ark!

That said, I did always rather like this particular Harrison Ford pic:



And, well, the prospect of seeing Mr. Ford in a movie that didn’t suck was tempting indeed. Fortunately for me, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t suck!

We all agreed afterwards that while it was too long, it ultimately stood as a worthy successor to the original. I’m not sure I like it better than the original. But its story is definitely compelling, and I’ve kept thinking about it since seeing it.

Usually when I do a movie review post, I’ll talk about spoilers behind a cut tag. This time, not so much. After seeing good reviews on both (very mild spoilers) and The Mary Sue (specifically avoiding as many spoilers as possible), I’m rather inclined to the latter approach. This movie offers a lot to think about, both within its own context and in how it links back to the original. And I’m reluctant to interfere with a viewer’s ability to get at those things without any preconceived notions.

I agree with the Mary Sue that this movie is gorgeous. Likewise, with’s dissatisfaction that the women in the cast ultimately function as little more than plot propulsion for the male leads. And yeah, the movie is kind of too long. Yet on our way out of the theater, we couldn’t nail down where exactly there should have been less movie. It did indeed need to take its time and let everything build.

And while I’m a trifle cranky about how the movie treats its women, I can at least say that there are multiple interesting female characters. Seeing Robin Wright as a police chief is particularly satisfying, after her turn as General Antiope in Wonder Woman earlier this year. Plus, the movie passes the Bechdel with one of her scenes, so there’s that! Plus, I can say that multiple female characters inspired the pondering I’ve done about this movie since we saw it.

Worldbuilding-wise, the movie does an excellent job showing how the world has progressed since the first film. As of this writing, I haven’t watched the shorts that cover some of this backstory in more detail. But the movie didn’t make me feel like I need to.

Director Denis Villeneuve, it turns out, also directed Arrival–which I quite liked. And he’s from Quebec, which adds another thing to my list of Awesome Quebecois Things. He has certainly produced a gorgeous movie here, so he’s now two for two on films of his I’ve seen and liked. This bodes well for further encounters with his work.

And Harrison? Let’s just say that goddamn, it was satisfying to see him. Gruff, crufty old Harrison. I still love him to bits. And those of you who know me and my musical affections will know instantly which of his moments, once he finally shows up on camera, is my absolute favorite. (For that matter, those of you who know my history with CrystalMUSH also now have on-camera evidence of what exactly I had in mind when I was playing Tance Vokrim! Because old Harrison? Yep. That’s Tance.)

Old Deckard, Who Could Also Totally Be Tance

Old Deckard, Who Could Also Totally Be Tance

So yeah. Go see it, if you haven’t already. Maybe keep your expectations down a tad. I’m not a hundred percent sure Blade Runner 2049 achieves greatness, or brings anything truly new to the table that the first one didn’t already present for us. But it was still a fun viewing and I’m quite glad I saw it.

If you have seen it, drop me a comment or two about your thoughts! (Everybody else, beware of comment spoilers!)


Indiana Jones 5 is a thing that will happen, apparently

So the news is going around the net today that Indiana Jones 5 has been confirmed for a 2019 release, with both Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg being involved. And as I’m a documented Harrison Ford fangirl, whose favorite movie of all time is after all Raiders of the Lost Ark, you better believe I have opinions on this matter.

Most of these opinions are centered around a lot of jokes I’m seeing from fandom along the lines of “LOL Indy is old”. I’ve seen jokes about “Indiana Jones and the Lost Rocking Chair” or “Indiana Jones and the Search for the Walker” or whatever. All of which I find pretty irritating, to be honest.

Here’s why.

One: it’s ageist. It is part and parcel of the cultural assumption we have that old people can’t be heroic lead characters. We expect the old to be functioning as mentors while the young people get to be the ones who punch Nazis in the face, or who yank scimitars out of assassins’ hands with a trusty bullwhip, or who sneak into ancient ruins to recover idols, or whatever.

And that’s bullshit. Any fan of Doctor Who understands that “old” and “awesome and heroic” are not mutually exclusive concepts. Sure, the Doctor has been played by younger men through most of the New Who era–but I’ll point out that even our current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, is a dude with gray hair who has demonstrated splendidly that he is still perfectly capable of being a heroic central character.

Here’s another example: Gandalf in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. And before you protest “but Gandalf is a wizard and Indiana Jones is just a human archaeologist”, let me remind you that not all of Gandalf’s activity through those two stories was centered around his magic. Gandalf also whipped Glamdring the Foe-hammer around on more than one occasion. And he went at it hammer and tongs with the Balrog.

“Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside,” as he says in the movie edition of The Two Towers.

Gandalf’s battle with the Balrog was physical as well as mental. It broke his body. Gandalf does not survive the battle. The only reason he comes back into the plot at all is because Iluvatar resurrected him and sent him back to Middle-Earth, because his job wasn’t done yet.

And even aside from that, Gandalf spends a great deal of time running around in battle all throughout that story–at Helm’s Deep as well as in Gondor on the Pelennor Fields. We see Gandalf fighting with both sword and staff all over the place. Activity which is physically demanding, and yet, nobody was snickering and going “LOL Ian McKellen is old” or “LOL Gandalf is old”.

As near as I can tell, the only difference here between Gandalf and Indiana Jones is that Gandalf is portrayed on camera as old at all times, both in the movies and in the books. Whereas with Indy, we first meet him when he’s young.

Which brings me to why I mentioned Gandalf in the first place–because we also know, from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, that Indy has had his lifespan extended. He drank from the Holy Grail, f’r cryin’ out loud. And this is even hinted at in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as well. So in the scope of the Indiana Jones universe, with events that have already happened on camera, we have had it established that there is no particular reason to assume that Indy doesn’t remain physically active in his latter years. He’s no longer entirely pure vanilla human normal.

And that brings me to…

Two: If a character is aged yet has a physically demanding role in the story, what’s wrong with that? Yes, the sheer reality of aging does mean that an older character is going to have physical challenges that a younger character won’t. He’ll be more prone to aches and pains. His stamina might not be as good. But that shouldn’t mean that that older character is not ever allowed to swing a sword or a staff, to flick a bullwhip, or punch a Nazi in the face.

Good writing should be able to sell us on the idea that an aged character can still be heroic, while also acknowledging the burden that physical heroism may place upon him. Hell, the earlier Indy movies were excellent at this even while Ford was young.

Marion: You’re not the man I knew ten years ago.
Indy: It’s not the years–it’s the mileage.

Iconic lines, which, I might add, were in a scene that happened after Indy got beaten to hell and back in the truck chase, stealing the Ark from the Germans–including getting shot. Last Crusade did it too, when Indy painfully pulls himself back up from over the cliff while the others think he’s dead, and he keels over from exhaustion while his father is urging him to get up.

So there’s no reason that a well-written Indy movie can’t use the same style of humor to acknowledge the problems Indy might have when he’s 75 vs. when he was 35. It doesn’t even have to be a huge deal. I could easily see a wry little exchange, say, between Indy and his son in which Indy is having to steel himself to go into a fight. His son could be all “uh, Dad, maybe I better handle this”–and Indy has to gruffly step back and let his son get in the fight, while he does something else clever like, oh, say, setting explosives or deactivating a trap. And then his son can bitch at him later after he gets his ass handed to him, and Indy could be all “well you didn’t want ME in on the fight, what are you complaining about?”

Make it the same sort of chemistry Indy had with his own father. It could be awesome. It writes itself.

Three: Harrison Ford demonstrated in The Force Awakens that he is still perfectly capable of acting, and he brought some nuance and depth to Han that I for one was thrilled to see. Sure, that Han is old and isn’t the same character that I swooned over in the earlier movies. That’s okay. I’m older too. The character is still awesome.

Long story short: I’m way less concerned about Harrison Ford–and Indiana Jones–being old than I am about whether the story in Indiana Jones 5 will suck.

I’m not convinced that it won’t. And I say this as someone who really, really wanted to like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, too. I mean, not only did it bring back Marion and follow up on Indy and Marion’s relationship, it also had Cate Blanchett (one of my nominees for Queen of Everything) as the villain. It was setting itself up as Anna Catnip from start to finish. I did in fact enjoy it enough that I saw it twice in the theaters.

And yet, even I acknowledge that that movie was… not so good.

Here’s the thing, though: of the objections I had to that movie, none of them had a thing to do with Indy being old. And whatever else you might say about the movie, it already has given us the setup necessary for a younger character to have adventures right alongside Indy. One does presume that young Henry Jones III will be showing up alongside his father in Indy 5.

So yeah. As long as Ford’s physically up for the role, I say go for it, Harry. But I will be keeping an eye on further news of this movie, and I will be paying very close attention to what kind of a plot it’ll hand us before I’ll decide whether I’m firmly on board.

Because I’m very firmly of the belief that we do need more heroic older characters. Hollywood is very age-phobic, and it’s even worse for women than it is for men–just look at all the shit Carrie Fisher got for being old on camera in The Force Awakens, even worse than Harrison Ford did. This is a thing that needs to change, for men and women alike.

And a well-written Indiana Jones 5 would be a good start.


New trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

And in the middle of the ongoing Puppy wars, suddenly, with a stirring of the orchestra, we have a Christmas cease-fire gift showered down in glory upon our heads.

Because the new trailer for The Force Awakens has just dropped, and this? THIS IS WHY I GOT INTO SCIENCE FICTION, people. I think the same can be said for a lot of us.

I posted the other day about my dismay that the 20th Century Fox fanfare has been changed in the new digital releases. And one of the things I said in that post was how the music of the Star Wars movies can make me eight years old all over again.

And that just happened, watching this trailer. That opening theme, set off against that magnificent opening shot, just set my heart soaring.

And oh god. Luke’s voiceover. The wrecked Vader helmet. A stormtrooper who’s a character of color–joining hands with–who is this, then? Is she Luke’s daughter? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

And that final shot. Harrison. OH HARRISON. You’re an old dude now, but goddammit, it’s good to see you, sir.

And CHEWIE! A lot of people have been upset that the Expanded Universe novels have been relegated to non-canon status, but y’know what? When those novels killed off Chewbacca is the point at which I stopped reading. Because I couldn’t bear to read that. And now, here’s Chewie right there in the movie, right at Han’s side, where he belongs. :~)

Goddammit, my hopes are now not only up, they’re flying. I still very distinctly remember getting excited over the Phantom Menace trailer. Forty-six-year-old-me is too world-weary to commit completely to getting excited now.

But eight-year-old me, the me who stared in awe at the Star Destroyer that filled the screen when A New Hope came out… eight-year-old me is shrieking with joy. While forty-six-year-old me is smiling, with a shine of tears in her eyes.

“Chewie, we’re home,” indeed. <3 <3 <3

Bring on Christmas. And please oh please oh please oh please don’t let this movie suck.


15 Film Challenge meme, Part 2

The other day I did part one of a 15 film challenge meme, in which I listed out my top three of the 15 films–well, top five, really, because I was counting the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy as one story.

Here now are the films for positions 4 through 6, which I daresay will surprise none of you either.

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back

4) The Empire Strikes Back

This of course being the OTHER major Harrison Ford vehicle that fueled my years-long fangirling–the movie that, when it first came out, convinced Young Me that I did in fact like Han better than Luke, and got me ridiculously excited when I learned that the VERY SAME GUY was playing Indiana Jones.

Of course, my Star Wars fandom REALLY didn’t kick in until I grew up and discovered Star Wars MUSH, the place that gave me Shenneret Veery, a character who (once I suitably modify her) WILL be showing up in an original novel. But Star Wars MUSH is also the place where I got to be Han Solo for two and a half years. And this movie is the movie I looked to for the crowning glory of my character inspiration. Luke discovering Vader is his father? Pffft. I was there for “I’D JUST AS SOON KISS A WOOKIEE!” “I CAN ARRANGE THAT!” 😀

Note: I am NOT calling out the whole original Star Wars trilogy in one spot here like I did with Lord of the Rings, in no small part because while each movie is certainly interconnected, they’re all still standalone adventures.

Which of course leads me to my #5 movie, which is…

5) Star Wars: A New Hope

I rank Star Wars (which is how I still think of it, without the A New Hope bit, to this day) right behind Empire because at the end of the day, Han’s a flimsier character here. I am, of course, a member of the Church of Han Shot First. But he’s also a flimsier character here and Ford hadn’t quite grown into him like he had by the time Empire rolled around.

Musically speaking, we didn’t get the grand Imperial March until Empire, either. So although the music all throughout Star Wars tugs at my heartstrings, the really iconic themes for me show up in Empire.

But that said, I’ll happily rewatch Star Wars at the drop of a hat. It is one of my very earliest memories of seeing a film in the theater near my childhood house–and I still have a visceral memory of seeing that gigantic Star Destroyer on a theater screen for the first time.

Superman: The Movie

Superman: The Movie

6) Superman: The Movie

There were three movies that were pretty much the holy trinity of movies of my childhood–Star Wars, Raiders, and the third of these, Superman: The Movie. This right here is the reason I love Superman more than Batman, and why to this day, as much as I loved Dean Cain in Lois & Clark and the animated Supes as well, Christopher Reeve remains my prototypical Superman. I absolutely believed a man could fly.

We even periodically watched this at school during free time over the school’s closed-circuit TV system–this being the same middle school that actually took us on a field trip to see Raiders, BEST SCHOOL EVER. And oh, the title theme for this one. Another of John William’s master works, which just makes me happy in a way all its own. Because this is Superman’s music, and it set the template for what I’ve expected out of every Superman theme I’ve heard since. It needs to not only be uplifting, it needs to make my heart goddamn fly. Lois & Clark‘s theme came close, and so did the theme for the animated Superman cartoon on the WB.

And OH GOD Gene Hackman. Over the top? Absolutely. But I adored his Lex Luthor for the unremitting ego and how Hackman must surely have been picking scenery out of his teeth for months after filming wrapped, so much scenery did he chew in this flick. I love him and Otis and Miss Tessmacher and the March of the Villains theme, too, heavy on the bassoon!

Next post–positions 7-9, which will require some thought!


15 Film Challenge meme, Part 1

I got tagged on a 15 Film Challenge meme on Facebook, and since I don’t tag people on memes as a general rule, and since I have Opinions on this in general, I thought I’d make this a blog post. A few blog posts, in fact, since like I said, OPINIONS.

So here you go, my 15 all-time favorite films, Part 1! Here are the first three!

Best. Movie. EVER.

Best. Movie. EVER.

1) Raiders of the Lost Ark

(Because in my house, it’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, dammit, not Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don’t care what it says on the Blu-rays. Which I do own. Because yes, I have this movie in multiple formats. Laserdisc AND DVD AND Blu-ray. DON’T JUDGE!)

This should surprise exactly NONE of you, particularly those of you who spent any length of time roleplaying with me on any MUSHes, and were accordingly familiar with my longstanding fangirling of Harrison Ford. This was the movie that did it, with a strong helping hand from The Empire Strikes Back.

I love every frame of this movie, and every single character interaction. Especially the characters, and especially Marion. Marion was the template for how I played Shenner on Star Wars MUSH. It doesn’t suck either that this was Harrison Ford at the absolute apex of his swoonability. There were reasons I spent a long span of time on roleplaying MUSHes swooning hardcore over characters who were based on Ford, and the first and foremost of these reasons was Indiana Jones.

Musically, this movie also has a strong and special place in my heart. John Williams did a splendid job on the soundtrack for this one, and every time I listen to it, I can’t help smiling. Especially because I have fond memories of playing the Raiders March in middle school band, because there’s a particular sweet, prolonged note on the violins in the final track that is the very first time I remember swooning to the sound of violins, and because I happily match up every note of the soundtrack to the corresponding action in the movie.

2) The Lord of the Rings trilogy

This would be #1 on my list if Raiders of the Lost Ark didn’t exist, and it’s a HARD call to make, I assure you! But if you’ve followed my blog or its mirrors for more than five minutes, you know what a big raving Tolkien geek I am. I have to take the whole trilogy together, too, because it is after all one great big story.

Suffice to say, I’m entirely on board with Jackson’s realization of Middle-Earth. I could devote entire weeks of posts to all the various reasons I love these films so much, but I’ve already recently posted about all the bits in them that make me sob. That I regularly re-watch them AND keep crying over them is all by itself a huge indicator of how much these movies have meant to me every since they came out.

And as with Raiders, the music is critical here as well. Howard Shore did masterful work on this soundtrack and I would give much to be in an orchestra that performs works from it, just once.

3) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

O My Captain

O My Captain

Russell Crowe has been the only actor to date to ever surpass Mr. Ford for my fangirling affections, and while I’ve loved a great many films Crowe’s been in, Master and Commander is my hands-down, uncontested favorite. It beats out Gladiator, even though Gladiator was the first Crowe film I ever saw in a theater and what made me a Crowe fangirl to begin with, because I do rewatch this one semi-regularly.

Jack and Stephen are wonderful. The story is wonderful. And yet again, the music is critical. I always adored that Crowe made a point of learning how to make coherent noises on a violin to lend his portrayal of Jack additional weight, and I love the bits where he and Paul Bettany play their instruments. Mutual love of music is what made these characters become friends, and Crowe and Bettany do a splendid job of communicating their love of music throughout this movie.

The soundtrack’s a joy to listen to, too.

You may be seeing a common thread here to my top favorite films, and if you’re saying “music”, you would be correct. Just about all of my top favorites are important to me because of musical strength. But I’m also putting in a thought to how often I rewatch them, and whether they involve top favorite actors, and whether I’ve done any fan activity based on them (e.g., MUSHing).

Next post on this to come as I think about the next ones on the list! Expect more Harrison Ford, more Russell Crowe, Elvis, MST3K, and Superman!


Daniel Craig + Old West + aliens + Harrison Ford = AWESOME

I just saw this post go up on, and most of it I was all “yeah yeah yeah whatever” about, until I got to the trailer at the bottom.

The one that involves Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in a movie set in the Old West with ALIENS. Money quote:

If you need one guy to send those aliens running back to space with their tentacles between their tentacles, it’s Daniel Craig. Basically, if you are engaged in any sort of endeavor and wish to achieve victory, you call Daniel Craig. He’s the English Steve McQueen, it’s almost an unfair fight. But considering that in the Old West, without even the A-bomb to halt the aliens’ malevolence, you need a bit of an edge. So get Daniel Craig on alien-ass-kicking detail, STAT.

And here’s the trailer-y goodness:

Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in the same movie? SIGN ME UP!