I’ve debated whether or not to write about “Captain EO” since I revisited it last Sunday while at Disneyland. However, I enjoyed the hell out of it and it features some pretty prominent figures in film history, so why not?
“Captain EO” is a 3D short film at Disneyland theme parks. It was produced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and stars the late Michael Jackson, as well as Anjelica Huston. After running at the park for about ten years, it was taken out and replaced by “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.” Since the death of Jackson, fans have been clamoring for its return and Disney finally rereleased it in February of this year.
The movie is pure spectacle entertainment, I mean, it’s a theme park ride. But it’s 70mm, 3D projection, and sensory special effects are pretty damn cool looking even today. I also have an affectionate for Muppet looking alien creatures.
I think what I enjoyed the most about the movie was the way it showcased several big names when they were at, or around the peak of their careers. This was a few years after “Return of the Jedi” for Lucas, between the albums “Thriller” and “Bad” for Jackson and the same year Coppola released “Peggy Sue Got Married.” “Captain EO” is a time capsule for the few things I actually enjoyed about 80s pop culture.
It’s also just an absurd amount of fun. Did I mention that the voice of Snowmiser is credited in the film? Awesome.
Last Friday was the thirtieth anniversary of one of my favorite films of all time, “The Empire Strikes Back.” I really can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this movie. It’s been with me since childhood and I am fairly certain this was the first “Star Wars” film I ever saw. However, it had been at least a couple years since I actually sat down and watched it. I indulged my inner fanboy and did just that this past weekend.
I grew up loving “Star Wars,” and while my love for certain entries in the franchise has definitely waned, my love of “Empire” stays strong.
“The Empire Strikes Back” features some of my favorite movie moments. I love the design of the film (as a kid I wanted to live on Hoth and in Cloud City), it features some hilariously clever banter (“I’d just as soon kiss a wookie,” and “Never tell me the odds,”) not to mention a collection of visually stunning set pieces that hold the test of the time. The battle of Hoth and the asteroid field chase are my two favorites and I still can’t believe how great they look considering they were all created with models, miniatures and green screens.
If George Lucas had managed to create six films that were equal to the caliber of “Empire,” he would probably go down as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. His strengths obviously lie in world building, not character, story and dialogue. It makes perfect sense then why Lucas did not direct this emotionally heavy and plot driven installment to his “Star Wars” saga.
Revisit this class and remember why “Star Wars” is a staple of American cinema.
Fan boys argue if George Lucas is ruining the legacy of his industry-changing space opera, but ultimately cannot remove themselves from the filmmaker’s indelible influence on their childhoods. What results is an interesting hodgepodge of nostalgic memories and bitter justifications, but the film fails to fully examine the most fascinating topic of all: the life of Lucas up until, and during the production of “Star Wars.”