Films featuring
Billy Dee Williams

The Return of the Jedi

The wrap-up to the first trilogy (chronologically, not narratively) should have served as a warning of the pain we were to endure upon the release of the prequels twenty years later. All of the flaws that dogged episodes I through III were visible in Episode VI for anyone who cared to look.

Of course, back then we simply assumed that it was George Lucas unable to top the success of The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe he hired the wrong director in Richard Marquand or, as we have often seen in the case of movie trilogies, the filmmakers can’t always write an ending that lives up to the promise of what’s gone before.

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The Empire Strikes Back

Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder.

While the 1977 original may have launched the Star Wars phenomenon, I would make the case that this film was responsible for creating the enduring franchise. Had The Empire Strikes Back fallen flat on its face, had it not been, in many eyes, a superior film to the original (or equal in quality at the very worst), there would have been no special editions, no prequels, no Disney sale, and no one would be talking about whether J. J. Abrams wants to direct a seventh film.

I think the strength of this film lies in one simple fact. This is Darth Vader’s movie, more than any other in the franchise. Continue reading

Batman

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In the late 1980s, Batman was enjoying quite a renaissance, mostly on the strength of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, along with Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke which rescued the character from the campy 1960s television show and returned him to the dark, gritty streets from which he came. When it was announced that Warner Brothers was producing a motion picture version, the comic’s legions of fans could scarcely contain themselves. The film attracted A-List talent, most notably Jack Nicholson as the Joker and was Warner’s big film of 1989.

What the fans got, however, was a bit of a mixed bag. Continue reading