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Like most kids my son enjoys the Star Wars movies, so tonight we’re watching the one with the Teddy Bears, Return of the Jedi. My son has a guest over and they wanted a movie to fall asleep to in the living room. I hadn’t really sat down to watch it in years, and I quickly had to survey the boundaries of my memories to remember the plot, such as it is, leading up to the movie I was watching.
I thought about the first movie. There’s a scene where the heroes have escaped the Deathstar and Princess Laia says “that was too easy” and concludes that they’d let them go. Okay, so she’s smart in that scene. But then do they call someone up to meet them on a desert planet to ditch the Millennium Falcon? Do they take it somewhere so someone they trust with the knowhow can search the ship for bugs and homing devices? Nope. They went straight to the central nervous system of the rebellion (the very existence of which was kind of silly anyway when they were fighting a guerrilla war against an empire). And sure enough the Deathstar was right behind them. Duh.
Now, did anyone also notice the incongruity of scale in the final battle? Basically it only took the rebel ships a few minutes to get from their base planet to the Death Star, but when they enter that valley thing around the Death Star’s equator, it takes them forever to get to the spot they have to shoot at. Plus, what was the point of going down in threes bunched together to be targets from behind? Why weren’t they spread out? Why didn’t a few of them hover above outside the valley thing to intercept the bad guys?
And what was the purpose of the Stormtrooper armor? It didn’t protect them from anything.
Speaking of movies I just watched a more recent film, about 10 years old. It was a made-for-TV movie with a decent cast entitled Purgatory. So these bad guys led by Blackjack, a bad-ass with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, rob a bank. When Blackjack’s brother is mortally wounded, his brother asks him to put him out of his misery as the posse isn’t far behind. Blackjack replies, “I can’t spare the bullet.” Bad. Bad. Bad.
So they escape through some caves and come out into a lush valley. They see a town. On the way to town is this old Indian guy with a big black horse sitting outside a black gate obscured by smoke. They enter town and the inhabitants are unarmed and generous. The bad guys start to tear up the town, but what they don’t realize is that among these peaceful town folk are some dead anti-heroes of the west, among them Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickock, Doc Holiday, and Billy the Kidd. Unfortunately the movie slaps you in the face with all the answers before you have time to discover them, not that the title of the movie doesn’t give it all away anyway.
It was a dorky movie mostly with some decent performances and a nice gun fight finale. Even more fun was a minor irony I noticed in that Randy Quaid played the part of the dead Doc Holiday. A few years before his brother Randy had played the live Doc Holiday in Tombstone, about the 412th movie take on the OK Corral fight which in real history was much less climactic as the Clanton gang was not expecting a fight and half of them were unarmed. The movies all pretty much glorify an ambush.
Anyway, the one real interesting moment of the movie was the theological question at the end. Basically, if you believe in God, and inherent non-relative justice, where there is a right and wrong – should you be willing to accept eternal suffering in Hell if it means making the right moral choice? I mean, sure, by a modern ethos theology God wouldn’t set you up that way. The right moral choice is what God tells you to do, and these heroes supplanted their own view of what was right and wrong for God’s. Except that they were in a catch 22. I’ve already pretty much spoiled the plot anyway, so I’ll reveal that if you’re killed in this town, or you kill, you’re on your way to Hell either way. So the heroes decided to bite the bullet for their fellow townsfolk.
But don’t worry. The movie was made for TV. I’d have been much more impressed though if the heroes proudly marched off into Hell. That’s even a line in Man of La Mancha: “….to be willing to march into Hell for a Heavenly cause….”
It’s no Deadman, but it’s, well, what it is.
Oh, but there is incongruity. Earlier in the movie Sam Shepard’s character (I think it was Wild Bill Hickock) faced down the baddies when they were throwing knives at the church. When they persisted and threatened to kill Hickock, God sent a lightening bolt. Why didn’t God do the same thing later?
Stormtrooper comes from photobucket.
Heraldo has some details.