There are just way too many inappropriate comebacks I could use with that title... Anyhew! I just got to see a special theater viewing event of Long Way Down; Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor's 2007 motorcycle tour from John O'Groats, the northern-most tip of Scotland, all the way down to Cape Town, South Africa.
Aside from the shoddy theater treatment (the theater pretty much ignored us in the cramped, tiniest theater in the corner of the mega-plex) where the house lights stayed on more than 10 minutes into the show, then stayed off well after the credits finished, and the also shoddy satellite feed that kept breaking up the footage - to follow the journey with the two-wheeling dynamic duo was inspiring and just plain exciting to watch. Seeing as we had the highlights of the 88 day trip edited down to just under 2 hours, one would not expect a dull moment, and there wasn't.
Some of the highlights include one of the first stops in Africa at the Lars homestead site in Tunisia. It didn't even occur to me that this stop might be a possibility until I started watching them progress down Italy, and knew they would be crossing to Tunisia before Libya. Duh! I got a little overly excited at the prospect and was pleasantly surprised to see them make the stop. Ewan admittedly wasn't so pleasantly surprised to find himself not hoarded by fans, even as they visited the "Star Wars Bar" at the site with several images of himself as Obi-Wan pinned to the walls. There were even a good amount of visitors there, and nobody seemed to recognize him! I had intermittently followed the live blog they kept through the BBC while on this trip, and totally missed the Tunisia section.
Otherwise, watching the tour through wild country was just as spectacular as it was with the first trip "Long Way Round". There's a certain quality about the way they documented both expeditions through helmet cams and from support crew riding along with them, as well as witty commentary from the boys, that captures the feeling of being on the trip with them (or at least really, really wanting to be there with them) better than any National Geographic special.
"Down" was a somewhat shorter trip than "Round" which circumnavigated the northern hemisphere (save for the trip across the Atlantic back home). This trip was aired as 6 episodes as opposed to the 10 episodes of "Round", and the general feel was that it was much more condensed as a trip and in it's media release as well. Granted, we saw them get all the research done and the preparation process kinked out for the first trip. Ewan had been shown more than once saying that he and the rest of the crew didn't want to spend that much time away from home and family again (after the first trip), so it's no big surprise they would have trimmed it down this time. Also, they were certainly more efficient this time 'round given the experience they had with the first trip. Ewan's wife Evelyn came down to south-central Africa for a leg of the trip lasting several days. She certainly seemed the timid rider for the most part, and even though she dumped every 20 kilometers or so, she toughed it out and survived. I'm a little jealous (okay, a lot). Somehow I always get distracted from those little disappointments by seeing Ewan covered with road dirt.
Both trips are now available on DVD and book form which are largely collections of journal entries from Charley and Ewan. Fun stuff if you like motorcycles, adventure, world travel, four (and two) wheeling, and Ewan and Charley. Hey, I do!
Also avaialble on DVD, which I have yet to see, is Charley Boorman's "Race to Dakar" in which Charley participates in the African endurance motorcycle race (with a bike much better equipped for that kind of terrain I might add!).
Long Way Down offficial site
Excited about Dollhouse? I am, and not only out of curiosity as to what Joss Whedon's mind will spew forth upon us, but also to see Tahmoh Penikett get a reboot as an actor. io9 chatted with him at SDCC and it looks like he'll be playing a stark contrast to the do-gooder that was Karl "Helo" Agathon. Read the article here - with video clips!
Edit: I mistakenly posted this here instead of the Battlestar Galactica blog FRAK, but since this represents an almost perfect convergence of the fandoms by just being here, I am leaving it up here.
Wired blogger Chris Kohler visited Lucasarts HQ last week and got what would be the experience of a lifetime for Star Wars fan-gamers; a hands-on sampling of The Force Unleashed on almost all the platforms. He is admittedly not a Star Wars fan which would explain the mediocre level of excitement present in the article. The "clear winner" seems to be the next-gen platform versions (if you couldn't have guessed that already) and the Wii version sounds less than impressive. Maybe they'll make up for it in The Clone Wars. Some game story spoilers present, if you haven't heard them already. Click here to read.
If you want a secret apprentice name spoiler and more, check out the Xbox 360 run through of the first few TRU levels over at Game Daily.
Every once in a while I like to browse Metacritic. Not because I give a hoot about what the critics say, but because as much as I hate statistics, I live for collective feedback and averages. Or something like that. There's just something about Metacritic that gives me hope, or perhaps an excuse. Can't quite put my finger on it.
I recently checked out how Wall.E was averaging, and was surprised (well, not really) at the amazingly high ratings it has received so far. I think we would be hard pressed to find too many more major theatrical releases that made it into the 90 percentile in the past decade, and Wall.E hit a whopping 93.
Of course, one thing led to another and I couldn't help but see how our beloved saga fared... and I couldn't believe I hadn't done this before. What I found most interesting was digging up reviews for the original trilogy. The original 1977 Star Wars received a 91, which puts it in an elite class of percentages in the 90s, but amazingly is lower than Wall.E. Perhaps more critics had more to say about Star Wars than Wall. E.
The only 100% I happened upon was for The Godfather, which also had a small amount of submissions to average out.
In the case of the Star Wars films, particularly the original trilogy, Metacritic has an average of mostly reviews from the original release dates, but there are a few mixed in that discuss the Special Editions. Namely, those by the pimp-daddy-tastic love monster that is Chris Gore. *ahem* *gathers self together*
While I'm not sure how variables like that factor in, and don't really care, what was most interesting to me was the progression of ratings, or lack thereof, that each consecutive film received. I have an unsettled arguement with a screenwriting mentor of mine who declared that The Empire Strikes Back is unanimously considered the worst of the Star Wars original trilogy. That being my all time favorite movie of the saga, of course I had bones to pick. While he mainly meant considered the worst of the OT at the time, I had no idea what a critic even was at the time TESB entered my life. All I knew then was that when winter hit, I was well prepared for any Wampa attacks.
I digress. While the ratings for The Empire Strike Back take a step down from Star Wars to a still respectible 78%, it's worth noting the declining mood of one particular NYT critic from the late 70s and 80s. Look for the reviews by Vincent Canby in each of the OT sections. Here's his 1980 review of TESB.
"Ordinarily when one reviews a movie one attempts to tell a little something about the story. It's a measure of my mixed feelings about "The Empire Strikes Back" that I'm not at all sure that I understand the plot. That was actually one of the more charming conceits of "Star Wars," which began with a long, intensely complicated message about who was doing what to whom in the galactic confrontations we were about to witness and which, when we did see them, looked sort of like a game of neighborhood hide-and-seek at the Hayden Planetarium. One didn't worry about its politics. One only had to distinguish the good persons from the bad. This is pretty much the way one is supposed to feel about "The Empire Strikes Back," but one's impulse to know, to understand, cannot be arrested indefinitely without doing psychic damage or, worse, without risking boredom. "
- It's hard to believe how someone can be so totally 180 degrees off the mark you are on about something. I think Mr. Canby was 50 years old when he was born? It's obvious I disagree here but I still have to say... Everything happens in TESB!
I won't even get into what the above critic had to say about the final chapter in the saga Return of the Jedi, and my squeamishness may have something to do with the fact that something deep down inside never really clicked with me and the Ewoks. So therefore, do I agree with the 52% that Jedi earned? Heck no! To me, it's still one of the better movies ever made. I can easily look past fake fur and zippers to embrace the glory of a pack of rabid mutant bears taking down the high-tech Empire. Speeder bikes trump everything anyway.