Tag Archives: Attack of the Clones

Actor’s Spotlight: Nate’s Top Ten Christopher Lee Performances

Christopher Lee was the kind of guy that came to mind whenever you heard the term ‘commanding presence.’ He had a legendary career that bridged the gap from 70’s Hammer horror fare all the way to being a regular in Tim Burton films as well as memorable voiceover work and a handful of instantly recognizable roles in iconic Sci-Fi/fantasy franchises. The one aspect to this wonderful actor was his strikingly deep voice, like molasses poured over mahogany and put to use in countless treasured performances. These are my personal ten favourite!

10. Victor in Disney’s Return From Witch Mountain

This is an admittedly lacklustre sequel to a magical Disney classic but it’s on here for a reason. I grew up with Escape To Witch Mountain, I’ve seen it a trillion times and I waited forever for Disney to release this one from the vault. It’s enjoyable if not as amazing as the first but I really loved seeing Lee as the darkly charismatic mad scientist who wants to harvest the hero’s supernatural powers, stepping in for Ray Milland’s maniacal billionaire antagonist from the first film.

9. Rochefort in The Three Musketeers

This is a totemic role for me because many actors I adore have played it including Michael Wincott in the 90’s as well as Tim Roth and Mads Mikkelsen more recently. This 1973 musketeers film is admittedly a silly version but Lee makes an imposing incarnation of the one eyed anti-musketeer.

8. Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Jinnah

I’ve admittedly only seen part of this on TV in Europe but it’s one of Lee’s personal favourite roles that he himself cherishes and an important piece of acting/filmmaking. Jinnah was the political founder of Pakistan and a man who believed that all human beings everywhere have the right to worship whichever god they choose and can coexist and be free. It’s a stunning performance from the man and if you YouTube any interviews where he is asked what roles he cherishes most in his career he always brings it up and you can feel how important it is and how much it meant to him playing that historical figure.

7. Dr. Catheter in Joe Dante’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch

If there’s one thing Lee was great at it was keeping a straight face in the midst of sheer lunacy. He’s a maniacal scientist hellbent on weird experiments here as the huge high rise building he works in becomes infested with nasty Mogwai, and he plays it pricelessly deadpan.

6. Burgomaster in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow

He’s only in this for like two minutes right at the beginning but he basically singlehandedly sets the mood with a couple lines. I’m not sure what a ‘burgomaster’ is but he appears to be some kind of austere judge who dispatches Johnny Depp’s Ichabod Crane to Sleepy Hollow and is the first character in the film to actually say the town’s name in that iconic voice.

5. Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man

The legacy of this awesome British cult horror film is obviously now scarred by the obnoxious Nic Cage remake but seek it out anyways, Lee plays the deeply philosophical and extremely unnerving head of a pagan cult with supernatural proclivities and a hostile attitude towards puritans. He embodies this charismatic fiend with affability that swiftly turns into menace, a very fascinating antagonist.

4. Dracula in a bunch of Dracula films

Lee in the Vampire getup is such totemic symbol of 60’s/70’s horror, what can I say. I haven’t seen all the Dracula stuff he did but the image of him as the character is imprinted in my pop culture subconscious as I imagine it is for many.

3. Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun

One of the classiest, most dangerous and cool Bond villains, an assassin for hire with a literal golden gun and a… uh… third nipple. Lee is calm, sociopathic and deadly as the guy, who enjoys killing people a lot and is good at it too.

2. Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus in George Lucas’s Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones

My second favourite Star Wars antagonist after Darth Maul, Dooku is a no good scheming arch-baddie who incites a war, pits intergalactic factions against each other and masterminds one of the most memorable gladiator arena matches in cinema history. He gives the guy an ever so slight air of aristocracy and swings around a cool curve handled lightsaber like nobody’s business.

1. Saruman The White in Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings

This was the first film I ever saw him in and will always be the character I remember him for. He’s unbelievably intense, measured in line delivery and incredibly malevolent in an implosive portrait of power hungry mania. Saruman is the wizard gone bad, and Christopher takes full advantage of that arc, not to mention nailing the stark look of the character wonderfully.

-Nate Hill

Paul Hirsch is here, the Force is with him by Kent Hill

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It is impossible to convey to those who weren’t there when STAR WARS was new – what it used to be like. For the third time since my existence began, I find myself faced with the end of yet another trilogy – the end of the Skywalker saga . . . ?

So it was with incredible nerves thundering tremulous throughout my body, that I sat down to talk with the man, and I want you to really think about this, who cut the scene in which Luke and Ben Kenobi discover the message hidden in R2. He cut Luke’s run, part of the final assault on the Death Star. He is even the man who suggested to George Lucas that Vader’s lightsaber be red and Obi-Wan’s be blue. As a STAR WARS fan . . . think about that. Think about the contributions of Paul Hirsch on the images that permeated our dreams and in some cases . . . shaped our destinies.

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On the eve of the Rise of Skywalker, it was a trip indeed to speak to and the read of the cinematic legacy of Mr. Hirsch. With his book A LONG TIME AGO IN A CUTTING ROOM FAR, FAR AWAY, Paul takes you back in time to a place when editors held the iconic images that flash before us on the silver screen…between their fingers.

My beloved Empire Strikes Back. Yes Paul came back for the sequel, but this is not merely an ode to the realm of Jedi’s and Rebels – it is a look inside the mind of a skilled craftsman of his art, and the journey which saw him mingle among the mighty company of the heavyweights of that last glorious era of Hollywood . . . the 70’s.

In a time when the men we would come to define as masters began their adventures in the screen trade: George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma (with whom Paul cut frequently), Francis Coppola – oh, what a time. And it is not only the holy trilogy that has passed beneath the keen eyes of Hirsch – the work of other magnificent filmmakers like John Hughes, Joel Schumacher, George Romero,Herbert Ross, and Charles Shyer have all benefited from Paul’s expert touch.

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It took George’s clout to get him into Kubrick’s editing room. James Cameron boasted to him (referring to Titanic) that he made more money than the ‘WARS’ and didn’t have to make a sequel. He cringed at the idea of editing the helicopter sequence in Apocalypse Now for six months when Francis suggested it . . . yes folks . . . the cinema that has moved us to tears and had us on our feet cheering, has been before the eyes of my guest. And may the force be with him . . . always.

Ladies and Gentleman, please seek out the book, but until you do join me and Academy Award Winner . . . Paul Hirsch.

Genre-Defining: An Interview with Shane Abbess by Kent Hill

Continue reading Genre-Defining: An Interview with Shane Abbess by Kent Hill

STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

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The galaxy has begun to divide amongst the Republic and the newly formed Separatist Movement, led by former Jedi Master who was trained by Yoda and mentored Qui Gon Jinn, Count Dooku (perfectly played by Christopher Lee). ATTACK OF THE CLONES follows in line with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK as the transgressive center of the trilogy.

Like the rest of the prequels, the film has its recurring base of people who champion to dismiss the film at all costs. Yes, some of their points are valid, but some of them are ridiculous just to be ridiculous. We know people hate the prequels, but that will never stop the ones who love the films from continuing to do so.

The darkness of Episode II is very subtle, and upon first glance, it’s hard to pick up on due to the films cinematic glossiness. The first being the forbidden love between Padme and Anakin Skywalker. We know how this is going to end, and watching the beginnings of their courtship is the equivalent to looking for a gas leak with a match.

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For me, the most fascinating aspect in which Lucas included in the film is Anakin’s motivation for accepting the dark tendencies he feels. Anakin’s mother gets kidnapped by Tusken Raiders, and he returns back to Tatooine to save her. He approaches the camp, and finds his Mother, who has been gone for months, beaten, bloodied, and chained up face first on a rack.

Anakin’s mother dies in his arms, and then he proceeds to kills every single Tusken Raider in the village. Including the women and children in a fury of anger. Yoda and Qui Gon call out to him, but that can’t stop him form seeking vengeance.

Anakin’s mother was being raped. Repeadly. There is not another sound explanation as to why she was still alive, or why she would be chained up face first against a rack. This was the spark that lit the dark fire inside of Anakin.

While, at times, the second act featuring the overly romantic love story between Padme and Anakin can drag it’s feet, it is all worth it for the final act that a lot of us have waited our entire lives to see: an all out Jedi battle.

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At least thirty Jedi, led by Yoda and Mace Windu, backed by the Republic’s new Clone Army descend upon the Separatist hub planet of Geonosis and wage war against the Geonosians and the Separatist’s droid army.

The film includes my favorite (yet widely unpopular) light saber duel featuring Yoda facing off against his former Padawan turned Sith Lord, Count Dooku. This is the moment when we are shown exactly why he is the head of the Jedi Council, General of the Republic’s Army, and how powerful he is with the Force.

ATTACK OF THE CLONES remains an imperfect film, aside from some clunky dialogue and misguided casting, I’ve come to wholeheartedly accept the film, and still marvel at George Lucas’ unbelievable command and vision behind the camera.

PTS Presents ARTISAN WORKBENCH with ED KRAMER

ED KRAMER POWERCAST

16935753-11da-4961-8f84-99b927f247b0Podcasting Them Softly is honored to be joined by visual effects master, ED KRAMER.  Ed spent twelve years working for INDUSTRIAL LIGHT AND MAGIC, and is now currently an instructor at THE ART INSTITUTE OF COLORADO.   Ed was the Senior Technical Director and Sequence Supervisor on TWISTER, THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY RETURNS, THE PERFECT STORM, GALAXY QUEST, THE ISLAND, HARRY POTTER: THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, and was a part of the Academy Award winning team on PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST.  Ed was apart of the team that created the Columbia Pictures “Lady with a Torch” logo.  Ed worked with the groundbreaking visual effects team that changed cinema forever with the use of digital effects and filming digitally with the three STAR WARS prequels, EPISODE 1 THE PHANTOM MENACE, EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES and EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH.

Check out Ed’s AMAZING highlight reel here!

In Defense of the STAR WARS Prequels

Dear Simon Pegg, The Hollywood Reporter and everyone else who goes out of their way to degrade and dismiss the STAR WARS prequels.

You’re not a real STAR WARS fan.

If you can’t accept the STAR WARS prequels for what they are, flaws and all, STAR WARS does not mean nearly as much to you as you pretend it does.

If you love the original trilogy, that’s great. But don’t act like STAR WARS is important to you. And if that’s you, please do us all a favor and own it. The constant shaming of George Lucas, and the STAR WARS prequels has become this relentless and bandwagon circle jerk that those of us who love, embrace, and accept all of the STAR WARS cinematic universe have to endure and hits us in a very deep and personal place.

I, as anyone who loves the prequels can fully admit, they have flaws, some of the films have deeper flaws than others, and they are not as good as the original trilogy, but the bottom line is, they are STAR WARS films and they are fantastic. There are a couple of fallback arguments any prequel shamer will telegraphically always pivot to. Jar Jar Binks, the “overuse” of CGI, Hayden Christensen, Jake Lloyd, and poor dialogue.

All of those pivot points have their merits, I can fully admit it. Look, I used to be somewhat dismissive of the prequels too, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my appreciation and love of the prequels grew from the Cartoon Network/Netflix show STAR WARS THE CLONE WARS, and from different video games, novels, comic books and merchandising that flushed out more of the rich story that lies within the prequels.

The “overuse” of CGI in the prequels is the one pivot point that drives me absolutely crazy.

First of all, the CGI in the prequels is absolutely pristine and looks better, to this day, than most CGI induced films that have come out since. The use of CGI and moving to the digital format completely changed the film industry, for better or worse. The “overuse” of CGI is a poor pivot point for prequel bashers, due to the fact of not nearly as much CGI was used as they think. George Lucas used a lot of practical effects and built a lot of sets for the prequels. You know how I know that? Because I educated myself by watching the supplements on the STAR WARS blu ray suite, read articles with Lucas, Rick McCallum (the producer of the prequels), and others from Industrial Light and Magic.

Look, the prequels needed CGI. General Grievous, Yoda, the Senate Chamber, all the Clones needed Temuera Morrison’s face, the MagnaGuards, the epic space battle above Coruscant in EPISODE III, an 80 year old Christopher Lee fighting, and the plethora of exotic planets HAD to use CGI.

What, are all of those going to be miniatures? Or puppets? Puppet Yoda in the original trilogy is amazing. Love it. I don’t even think he’s a puppet. Remember puppet Yoda in EPISODE 1? It was AWFUL. Because in the prequels, Yoda servers a far different and bigger purpose, he’s a warrior, a general in the Clone army. He has to actually fight, and we get to see why Yoda is the most powerful Jedi.

General Grievous, the general of the Separatist army, the cyborg Jedi killer who fights with four lightsabers. Would it have been better if there was a man in a ridiculous suit with arms controlled by puppeteers?

Should there have been a massive scouting effort for people who looked identical and have the same physique of Temuera Morrison? Or prosthetic face molds?

If you’re so hung up on the “overuse” of CGI, you surely must RAGE when you watch a Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, Michael Bay, or a Steven Spielberg film, and surely you must HATE any and all of the Marvel/DC films, right?  Oh, and those LORD OF THE RINGS films, Peter Jackson is an idiot, he should have made those films without CGI.  Same goes for GAME OF THRONES.  Man, WATCHMEN should have used nothing but practical effects. INTERSTELLAR?  Don’t even get me started.

Yeah, do ANY of that without an abundance of CGI.

Hayden Christensen. Yes he’s miscast, but stop acting like he’s the first actor to miscast in a film ever.

Poor dialogue? Valid point. Lawrence Kasdan must have been busy.

Jake Lloyd? Anakin Skywalker wasn’t born as Darth Vader. He wasn’t born evil. He’s a kid playing a kid.

Jar Jar Binks? Jesus Christ. Get over it. The best part about Jar Jar is that Lucas owns the hatred of that character, and uses Jar Jar to make the move in the Republic Senate to give Supreme Chancellor Palpatine complete and total control at the height of the Galactic Civil War.

There are so many shining moments in the prequels.

We get to see the beautiful and vibrant universe pre Empire, before the dilapidation and worn universe we’re used to seeing in the original trilogy.

Liam Neeson.

Liam Neeson.

Liam Neeson.

Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine/Sidious. Easily one of the best acted roles in the entire saga.

Ewan McGregor is absolutely terrific as the younger Obi-Wan.

The Duel of the Fates battle between Qui Gon, Obi and Maul is one of the best lightsaber battles in the entire saga, if not the best. And it is accompanied by a magnificent John Williams track.

The Republic Senate scenes are masterfully created and designed, and perfectly sets up a principle understanding of how and why Palpatine becomes the Emperor of the Empire.

Christopher Lee is incredible. One of my favorite characters in the entire universe.  The dissention of Yoda training Dooku, Dooku training Qui Gon, Qui Gon training Obi and Obi training Anakin makes so much sense, how and why Anakin is who he is.

The full-out Jedi and Clones vs Geonosians and Battle Droids in the climax of EPISODE 2 is terrific. That’s a moment a lot of us have been waiting for, a full out Jedi battle.

We get to see the Jedi Council in action, see the plethora of Jedi, as opposed to the three we see in the original trilogy.

EPIC saber battles, as I mentioned before with the Duel of the Fates, but we also watch Yoda battle his former student, Dooku – watch him go toe to toe with Palpatine himself, watch Palpatine take down four Jedi, and see the brutal and heartbreaking final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan.

I could continue, but I won’t. I’m sure a lot of the points I’ve made will go over a lot of the prequel basher’s heads because they don’t catch the references. Because they’re not STAR WARS fans. Bottom line, get off your high horse and shut the fuck up about “George Lucas ruined my childhood” or that the “prequels don’t matter”. The worst part about all of this, is that George Lucas has admittedly been shamed for making any more films. This guy is bigger than STAR WARS, he’s responsible for AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THX 1138 which is one of the best science fiction films ever made.

To quote William Friedken, “STAR WARS is a religious experience.” STAR WARS means so much, to millions and millions of people globally. There are very few things that can match that kind of passion. Without George Lucas, you’d have absolutely nothing to bitch about in the first place.