The Top 10 Geek Movies from the 80s

We're still getting ready for Ready Player One! Daryl and Jay share their Top 10 Geek Movies from the 1980s. And, on the blog (below), check out what Ashley has to say about her own Top 10 Geeks Movies from the 1980s! Who do you agree with?

Also, if you want to hear Jay and Daryl give their WORST geek movies from the 1980s, check out our Patreon content here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/worst-80s-geek-17801634

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ASHLEY'S TOP 10 Geek Movies from the 1980s:

It’s amazing how many iconic geek movies, moments, and characters come from the 1980s — Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and too many more to name. As we eagerly wait for Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” — which will undoubtedly include plenty of 1980s pop culture references and maybe even create some iconic pop culture moments of its own — the Story Geeks list their favorite ’80s flicks. Here are my top 10!

10 - Back to the Future (1985)

In “Back to the Future,” everybody’s *other* favorite time-traveling Doctor, Emmett “Doc” Brown, and sidekick Marty McFly have to fix the past to save their future — and, just like any time you mess with the time stream, things don’t go smoothly. Although the sequel, “Back to the Future Part II” (1989) feels the slightest bit dated now, the first “Back to the Future” is still a fun adventure, and the famous DeLorean is one of my favorite time machines in pop culture (after the TARDIS, of course!).

9 - Ghostbusters (1984)

“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?” Why, the Ghostbusters, of course! This classic sci-fi comedy is one of my favorites, even if some of the special effects haven’t aged flawlessly. With a great cast and a creative premise (a supernatural “pest” control business!), the film is just as entertaining 30+ years later.

8 - National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

I have to watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” every holiday season, and I think it’s even funnier than the original “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), about a family road trip gone horribly wrong. It’s always entertaining to watch Clark Griswold’s inevitably ill-fated attempts to plan the perfect family Christmas, whether it’s searching for a (ridiculously giant) Christmas tree, putting way too many lights on the house, or surviving an onslaught of wacky relatives. However, the Griswold family learns that even if Christmas is a disaster, they still have each other — and that’s what matters most.

7 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

I noticed that there is quite a bit of overlap between this list and my list of favorite Steven Spielberg films that I did for the Story Geeks last week. ;) Spielberg did a lot of great work in the 1980s, and some of his most iconic characters come from this era. Indiana Jones arguably IS Spielberg’s most iconic character, and though the first film (which shows up later on this list) is my favorite Indy film, “The Last Crusade” is almost as good.

6 - E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is a simple story — just a curious little alien who’s trying to find his way home — but perhaps that’s what makes it so timeless and magical. It’s one of the movies that best captures Steven Spielberg’s trademark sense of wonder, and that scene of the bicycle flying across the moon is one of cinema’s best moments.

5 - The Princess Bride (1987)

“The Princess Bride” may not have been a record-breaking blockbuster when it was first released, but you wouldn’t guess that now based on its treasured place in pop culture. This cult classic is endlessly quotable, with such gems as “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!” and “Inconceivable!” It’s the perfect movie to watch with friends — who have, preferably, also seen it a bazillion times, so you can all join in and shout out the best lines along with the characters.

4 - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the crew of Star Trek’s Original Series, and “The Wrath of Khan” presents them at their finest. The film reflects on themes like legacy and past demons returning to haunt you — both metaphorically and literally, as warlord Khan returns to seek revenge against Kirk and his crew. And though we know from later films that Spock doesn’t stay dead for long, his sacrifice for Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew remains a touching moment in the franchise. My other favorite Original Series Trek film is “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986); it didn’t *quite* make this top 10 list, but it’s a fun (and funny) film, letting the crew show off their more comedic side.

3 - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Is there a more perfect action/adventure film than “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? Director Steven Spielberg introduces us to daring archaeologist/professor Indiana Jones, who helps protect the Ark of the Covenant from Nazis plotting to exploit its power. With plenty of action, stunts, and a dash of the supernatural, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is a fun classic that remains one of Spielberg’s best.

2 - Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

“Return of the Jedi” has actually moved up my list of favorite Star Wars films over the years. Overall, it doesn’t pack *quite* the same narrative punch as a certain other Star Wars film that shows up later in this list. ;) Yet “Return of the Jedi” has one of the most powerful endings of any movie I’ve ever seen. Luke Skywalker rejects the dark side and ends up redeeming Darth Vader, a man everyone else in the galaxy assumed was beyond redemption. It’s a poignant way to close out the original Star Wars trilogy.

1 - Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

“The Empire Strikes Back” isn’t just my favorite Star Wars film, it’s my favorite film of all time. It’s hard to narrow down the reasons I love this film to just a few sentences, because there are too many wonderful things in this movie. The iconic characters. The music from John Williams. The lightsaber fights. The shocking twist about Darth Vader’s identity. “A New Hope” is a lot of fun, but “The Empire Strikes Back” is even richer, deeper, and darker. To me, it’s the pinnacle of the Star Wars franchise and captures everything that has made this series such a beloved part of pop culture for so many years.

 

Steven Spielberg's Most ICONIC Geek Film...

 

Ready Player One is almost out in theaters (as of the date this was written). Inspired by that film (and book), Daryl, Jay, and Sandra Dimas (from the 28:19 Show) are joined by The Story Geeks Community on YouTube LIVE to rank order the most ICONIC geek films directed by Steven Spielberg. What film gets the top spot so far? And will Ready Player One be able to make it into the Top 5? Listen in to hear what The Story Geeks have to think about it!

Also, this (listen to the VERY end of the podcast): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itzaF8ctR2M

To find out what Jay, Daryl, and Sandra's FAVORITE geek films from Steven Spielberg are, check out our Patreon content here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/top-5-steven-17039393

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ASHLEY'S TOP GEEK STEVEN SPIELBERG FILMS:

Steven Spielberg is my all-time favorite film director. When I think of Spielberg movies, I immediately think of fun, adventure, nostalgia, and childhood memories (though he has made many notable films with a more somber/serious tone as well). I feel like most of the movies in my Spielberg Top 5 are the same ones that show up in many lists of favorite Spielberg films, so there probably won’t be anything too shocking here. Still, here’s why these movies are special to me!

5 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

I almost picked “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” for this slot (just kidding, I promise!). The Indiana Jones films are (with a few exceptions) the perfect adventure films. You have action, thrills, humor, and, of course, a touch of the supernatural. They feel like old-fashioned action films, but not in a way that’s dated or cheesy. I think these movies will always be classics and reliably fun to watch. “The Last Crusade” is a great ending to the original trilogy, and it’s *almost* as good as “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I love the way Arthurian legend is worked into the story and the use of the Holy Grail as the central artifact. Sean Connery is a fantastic casting choice as Indy’s father, and his interactions with Harrison Ford are a definite highlight of the film (how cool is it to see James Bond and Han Solo going on an adventure together?).

4 - E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

It’s been a while since I’ve seen “E.T.,” but I must confess — every time I watch it, I do cry. There’s something timeless and moving about this story featuring a curious alien who’s simply trying to find his way home. I remember watching this movie for the first time as a kid on a warm summer night — which is the perfect way to watch a Spielberg movie, isn’t it? Though the film is now almost 40 years old, it’s still just as magical, especially that iconic shot of the bicycle flying across the moon. And I haven’t mentioned it yet, but “E.T.” — and the other movies on this list — are made even more wonderful by their scores from John Williams. It’s hard to imagine these classic Spielberg movies without Williams; his Spielberg scores are second only to his work on the Star Wars saga and rank as some of the best movie soundtracks of all time.

3 - Jurassic Park

A few of the special effects shots are just the *tiniest* bit dated now, but all the magic in “Jurassic Park” is still there — particularly those closing raptor and T-rex scenes, which are still super intense, even if you already know how the movie ends. Although it’s based on the novel by Michael Crichton, the film has a different feel than the book. I’m okay with that, actually, even though I really enjoyed the book. Spielberg’s trademark sense of childlike wonder adds a nice spin to the story. I didn’t get a chance to see “Jurassic Park” back when it was in theaters (maybe my parents thought it would be too scary for me), ;) so when it was re-released on IMAX several years ago, a friend and I jumped at the chance to see it on the big screen. And it certainly didn’t disappoint. Some of the “Jurassic Park” sequels are a bit hit-or-miss, but the original is such a fun (and suspenseful) adventure.  

2 - Schindler’s List

“Schindler’s List” is one of the most difficult films I have ever watched. It’s a challenging, gut-wrenching movie that presents one of the worst chapters in human history — the Holocaust. It seems impossible that humans could be capable of such cruelty and unspeakable acts of genocide, and yet the events depicted in this film are true. But through the horror and tragedy, Spielberg also shows how powerful goodness and bravery can be. In a career-best performance, Liam Neeson plays Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saves the lives of over a thousand predominantly Polish-Jewish refugees during the war by bringing them to work in his factories. The film shows us both Schindler’s strengths and flaws, and his anguished “I could have done more” speech at the end of the film is an incredibly poignant moment. Although “Schindler’s List” is not an easy film to sit through, it is an incredibly important one, and should make all of us think about how we can prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. It’s one of Spielberg’s most powerful and personal films, and most definitely a masterpiece.

1 - Raiders of the Lost Ark

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” is not only my favorite Steven Spielberg film, it’s one of my all-time favorite films, period. This movie just hits all the right notes for me. I love this movie’s setting — an archeology adventure in the 1930s — and the use of a mysterious artifact of religious significance, the Ark of the Covenant. The film has great action sequences and stunt work, and another iconic score from John Williams (the opening bars of the famous “Raiders March” make me instantly smile whenever the song starts playing). But of course this film wouldn’t be as memorable without the characters. Not all actors get to play a role so iconic that they’re immortalized in film history as that character, but Harrison Ford gets two — Han Solo AND Indiana Jones. Although Han Solo is the role I feel fits Ford the best, Indiana Jones is a close second. I love the idea of a professor who moonlights as a daring archeologist, a sort of “James Bond of history.” And Indiana Jones’ look is as iconic as the character itself, with the hat, the leather jacket, and trusty bullwhip at his side.

“Raiders” was one of the first movies I remember really “wow-ing” me as a kid and kicking off my love for film. Spielberg approaches his movies with this endearing sense of excitement and wonder, and those are the exact same things I feel whenever I watch one of his films. I’m looking forward to his next film, “Ready Player One,” and based on his past work, I think he’s the perfect fit to adapt that novel.

 

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Luke Skywalker's Journey - The Story Geeks Dig Deeper

Paul Verhoeven (author, comedian, podcaster - check out his gaming show: 28 Plays Later) and Dale Wentland (from Network 1901) join Daryl and Jay to dig deeper into Luke Skywalker's character journey! From Tatooine to Ahch-To, we take a look at all the things that make Luke who he is. Does his character journey work? Is this the Luke Skywalker we need to see in The Last Jedi? We take a closer look!

Check out Paul's article on IGN on this same topic (which actually quotes our Hamill-approved Tweet): Opinion: In Defense of Luke Skywalker

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ASHLEY'S TAKE: LUKE'S JOURNEY

Whether you loved “The Last Jedi” or hated it (or landed somewhere in between), I think there’s something about this movie we can all agree on: “The Last Jedi” provided plenty of fascinating material for discussion. One of the most controversial — and most debated — aspects of this film was its portrayal of legendary Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker. Luke’s story took a somewhat unexpected turn in “The Last Jedi,” showing us a more broken and conflicted man than the wizened hero/mentor we may have expected. Let’s dig deeper into Luke’s somewhat surprising journey in “The Last Jedi,” and what it means for the Star Wars franchise as a whole.

Let’s start with the big picture...From Tatooine to Ahch-To: How do you feel about Luke Skywalker’s character journey throughout the Star Wars saga?

I feel that Luke Skywalker’s character arc, encompassing both the original and sequel films, is quite possibly the most powerful character arc in the whole Star Wars saga. Luke is one of my all-time favorite characters in the Star Wars saga, and the character has actually grown on me even more as I’ve gotten older. Luke starts the saga as a gung-ho, slightly impulsive, naive idealist, bored of living on a backwater planet and hungry for adventure. Then, he learns that everything he thought he knew about his life is wrong, and that one of the most evil and dangerous men in the galaxy — Darth Vader — is his father. Although Luke is tempted by the darkness, he doesn’t give in. He fights bravely for the light and believes that his father is capable — and worthy — of redemption, even when everyone else gives up hope.

Yet in “The Last Jedi,” we see that Luke has maybe lost his way. He made a mistake, and he’s retreated from the galaxy in self-imposed exile, feeling that is his only way to atone for his sins. However, that old idealism and belief in the power of the Force isn’t completely gone, and he finds his way back to the light again, displaying a jaw-dropping new Force power, helping to save the crumbling Resistance, and finally finding peace and becoming one with the Force.

Luke’s story teaches us that all of us make mistakes — sometimes terrible ones with far-reaching consequences — but we can still come back to the light. We should also never give up hope that others are capable of redemption.


Is Luke the best of the Jedi? Why or why not? If not, who is?

Even after all those things I just said about Luke Skywalker, I feel he is not necessarily the “best of the Jedi.” I believe that title belongs to Obi-Wan Kenobi (more on that in a minute). Luke actually didn’t have that much training or experience as a Jedi, compared to what Jedi back in the days of the old Jedi Order under the guidance of Yoda would have received. Even though the old Jedi Order had more than its fair share of problems, it’s interesting to ponder what Luke could have accomplished in the Force if he had received more formal training at the Jedi Temple. Luke does have some weaknesses that hold him back, though he rises above the Skywalker pull to the dark side that his nephew (so far) has not managed to overcome.

I believe Obi-Wan is the greatest Jedi not just because he’s a master of lightsaber combat and other Force skills (though he certainly is a great warrior). To me, he is the best of the Jedi because he manages to rise above the corruption of the old Jedi Order and repeatedly and self-sacrificially serves the light side of the Force. He sets his own wants and needs aside to help others. He doesn’t feel that he has to be the main hero in the story; he’s willing to give his own life so that Luke can survive and eventually redeem his father and save the Rebellion.


In Paul’s article, “In Defense of Luke Skywalker,” he says, “Luke is like all good people. He assumes the blame.” Let’s talk about that a bit. How does being good relate to assuming blame? Is that a trait of a hero?

Luke Skywalker blames himself for Kylo’s fall to the dark side. In a small way, I believe he is partially to blame — his moment of weakness IS the tipping point that pushes Kylo away from the light. However, Kylo is ultimately responsible for his own actions, and Luke is carrying too large a portion of the blame for what Kylo has become.

“Good” characters are ones who take responsibility for their actions, and Luke doesn’t try to hide the fact that he made a mistake with Kylo. He’s willing to admit that he probably could have — and should have — done things a little differently. However, Luke’s guilt ends up crippling him and isolating him from the galaxy. Taking on blame is only healthy if it causes us to evaluate our mistakes and seek to right the wrongs we have committed. Luke is only able to heal when he accepts the past and tries to make things right, by opening himself up to the Force once again and confronting his nephew.


How does Luke’s view of Darth Vader differ from his view of Kylo Ren?

It’s interesting that Luke seemed to have an easier time believing Darth Vader was capable of redemption than Kylo Ren, since both Vader and Kylo have achieved pretty much an equal level of “bad.” Maybe it’s because Luke didn’t know Darth Vader as well; he didn’t witness his father’s fall to the darkness, whereas he did watch Ben Solo grow up and then slowly slip further and further away from the light. Younger Luke that tried to redeem Darth Vader was probably also more idealistic. Older Luke that trained Kylo was probably a little more cynical and world-weary.

And again, going back to assuming blame, Luke knew that he was in no way responsible for Darth Vader going to the dark side; that all happened back before he was born. With Ben, Luke was a much more integral part of his life and a big player in Kylo Ren’s origin story (though again, Luke takes too much of the blame on himself). Luke’s involvement in Ben’s fall probably colors how he views his nephew’s chances of redemption.


Do you think Luke truly believes Kylo is beyond redemption, or does he just believe he’s not the one to inspire it?

At the beginning of “The Last Jedi,” I believe Luke definitely feels Kylo is beyond redemption. By the end of the film, I think he’s changed his mind — though I do agree he feels he’s not the one to inspire it. By this point, he and Kylo’s history is too complicated and emotionally-charged for him to be able to make an effective appeal to Kylo to turn back to the light. This isn’t necessarily Luke’s fault, but I think he knows he cannot redeem Kylo on his own. In some ways, this mirrors Obi-Wan’s own decision; he knows he cannot redeem Anakin, but he believes Luke can, and so he steps aside to let Luke carry on the story. In “The Last Jedi,” we see Luke do the same thing for Rey, who I feel actually does have a shot at redeeming Kylo.


What do you think Luke sees in Rey that he doesn’t see in himself?

Initially, Luke is afraid of Rey because he senses the same raw power in her that he senses in his nephew, and he envisions what would happen if she took the same dark path. He has lost his confidence as a teacher, and he refuses to train her because he does not want to be responsible for pushing another young Jedi to the dark side. Rey also doesn’t fear the dark side as much as Luke does, probably because of her limited experience with the Force. He fears she’ll dabble with the darkness and then be ensnared by it.

I think Luke does see some of himself in Rey, though, at least the younger version of himself. She is confident and a bit impulsive, and doesn’t realize she’s in over her head until it’s too late. But Luke changes his mind about her in the end, and he decides she is worthy to carry on the Jedi Order. Unlike him, she doesn’t have a complicated family legacy in the Force. She is a fresh start, and she can forge a new path for the Jedi that draws on tradition but also explores the Force in a new way, avoiding some of the pitfalls of the old Jedi Order.


Apparently “The Last Jedi” DVD includes a deleted scene where Luke mourns Han. How do you think the news of Han’s death informed Luke’s choices in “The Last Jedi”?

At first, I think the news of Han’s death just deepens Luke’s feelings of guilt about what happened with Kylo. Luke probably feels at least partially responsible for Han’s death now too, even though it isn’t his fault. This initially causes him to pull further away from Rey and feel even more justified in his self-imposed exile. However, in the end, I feel that maybe Han’s death also pushes him to take action. He couldn’t save Han, but he is given a chance to save his sister Leia, and he feels compelled to answer the Resistance’s cry for help.


How do you feel about Yoda’s appearance in “The Last Jedi” and his role in the final leg of Luke’s journey?

I LOVED Yoda’s appearance in “The Last Jedi” (especially since it was the wacky old puppet version of Yoda). Since Yoda was such a key part of the beginning of Luke’s journey as a Jedi, I feel it’s very appropriate he returns for the end of it. Yoda helps Luke gain a broader perspective of the situation and learn to believe in himself again.

I think after the fall of the Empire, Luke felt personally responsible for saving and rebuilding the Jedi Order, which is an incredible burden to carry and one which Luke wasn’t fully prepared for (though again, that wasn’t his fault). Yoda’s reappearance reminds Luke that the Force stretches beyond just the Jedi Order, and any mistakes he may or may not have made. As the leader of the old Jedi Order, Yoda made plenty of mistakes himself, and actually also went into exile. He too had to learn to make peace with the past and find a new way forward. He shows Luke that he is still important to this story and that he is still worthy as a Jedi.


This is gonna seem like a strange question, but let’s go for it...On two different occasions in “The Last Jedi,” Luke says something to the effect of “Impressive. Every word in that sentence was wrong.” It could be just a throwaway line, but it’s used twice so maybe there’s something more to it. Do you think it says anything about Luke?

This is one of my favorite lines from “The Last Jedi,” actually. Not only is it fun to quote (and create memes out of!), I think it also says something important about how our own biases sometimes cloud the way we see the truth. It’s interesting that Luke uses this same sentence on both Kylo and Rey, two characters that have some very determined opinions/beliefs that turn out to be wrong. Luke has already learned about the dangers of pride, and he has come to terms with how he may have been wrong.

Since we haven’t seen Episode IX yet, we don’t fully know how Luke’s interactions with Kylo and Rey will impact these two characters. My guess is that Kylo will double down on his skewed perspective of the Force, though doubt about his path will continue to haunt him. I think he knows he’s wrong; the question is whether he’ll be able to admit it and do something about it. Rey will hopefully use her experiences with Luke as an opportunity to learn about the dangers of trusting your own understanding without ever questioning it.


Let’s talk about the meaning behind a couple more of Luke’s dialogue gems. What do you think is the significance of these lines?

“No one’s ever really gone.”

This is another favorite Luke quote of mine from “The Last Jedi.” I think it speaks to his rediscovered faith in the power of the Force and his renewed hope for the future. He believes no one — not even his nephew — is too lost to be redeemed. In a broader sense, Luke is also saying that people’s actions and sacrifices continue to have meaning and significance even after they’re gone. Luke is a character who’s experienced a lot of loss and pain in his life, but he knows that through the Force, old friends and mentors like Obi-Wan and Yoda are still with him. The good they did continues to have a positive impact on the galaxy.  

“See you around, kid.”

What I REALLY hope this means is that we’ll see Luke return as a Force ghost in Episode IX, though I don’t want him to come back just to train Rey. We’ve already seen that type of story arc from Obi-Wan, and I think Luke knows that Rey needs to take a new and different path. However, I totally want Luke to come back as a Force ghost and haunt his nephew, pushing Kylo to keep examining and doubting his choices.

 

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Best Geek Films Giveaway!

SGA Giveaway.jpg

You could win ALL 5 of the BEST GEEK MOVIES of 2017!

The Story Geeks reveal the best geek (science fiction, fantasy, and comic books) movies of 2017 based on YOUR votes!

ONE LUCKY VIEWER will win Blu-Rays of ALL 5 of our nominees for Best Geek Film! Stick around to see who wins in all our major categories, and if you will be the one to win big!

For an event reminder, click through to YouTube above and click "Set Reminder."

On Sunday, ONE LUCKY WINNER will win Blu-Ray copies of ALL 5 of our nominees for 2017's Best Geek Movie! The winner will be picked by random drawing during our live Story Geek Awards show.

For your chance to win:

  • Come join the 2017 Story Geek Award Show this Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. (PT).
  • Announce yourself with a comment in the YouTube chat at the time of the giveaway.

The winner will be chosen and announced during the show!

 

The Story Geek Awards – Best Geek Films Giveaway Terms & Conditions

There is no cost to enter.

Winner must be viewing the March 11th live show on YouTube during the exact time of the giveaway, and must comment in the live chat to indicate their presence to be eligible to win.

Winner will be randomly selected from every eligible viewer at the time of the giveaway.

Reclamation Society personnel, volunteers, their families, as well as anyone appearing on the live show and their families are not eligible to win.

Prizes will be delivered/shipped to the winner the week following the awards show, except for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which will be delivered after it’s release date of March 27th. Actual prizes may not be the exact versions pictured.

Winner must provide a valid shipping address.

 

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Logan - Make It Better

Logan was nominated for an Oscar, but... it could have been better! On this week's podcast, Daryl, Jay, and Justin each offer 3 changes that they believe would make Logan better. And below, Ashley Pauls offers a fourth perspective (one that's far less complain-y that the guys)! What do you think?

Daryl, Jay, and Justin ALSO have a 4th change they'd make to make to Logan better. It's available on Patreon for our supporters: https://www.patreon.com/posts/logan-make-it-17282282

Support our show for only $3 a month and you'll get access to ALL our additional content!

Also... here's the video Jay did about his issues with the storytelling aspects of Logan:

 

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HOW ASHLEY WOULD MAKE LOGAN BETTER

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two decades now since Hugh Jackman first appeared as Wolverine in the original X-Men film. Although Jackman might have originally seemed like an unusual casting choice, few actors in superhero films have approached their roles with as much passion and dedication as he has over the years. Sure, the X-Men films have had their ups and downs, but Jackman as Wolverine always stands out. I’m sure filming the character’s swan song — the Oscar-nominated “Logan” — was an emotional experience for him; it’s certainly an emotional experience for the viewers.

I really loved “Logan” — so much so that I actually had some trouble with this topic “Logan – The Story Geeks Make It Better.” ;) So for my take, I’m going to mix things up, and instead, here are three reasons why I think “Logan” is actually just about perfect. While there are a few small tweaks I still might have made to the final film, overall it hits all the right notes, at least for me. So, let’s dive on in and discuss why I think “Logan” works so well!

#1: The gritty tone

Even though I really love “Logan,” it’s a movie I’ve actually only watched twice, just because it’s so darn depressing. Set in a bleak future, “Logan” is a dark, gritty, violent and sometimes difficult-to-watch film, one that fully earns its R rating. It’s definitely not a fun popcorn flick, like some of the other X-Men movies. In fact, at times “Logan” feels more like a western than a superhero film. Yet even though “Logan” is a dark movie, it’s also an incredibly rewarding viewing experience. In this instance, if the film was more fun and “rewatchable,” it wouldn’t be as powerful.

As a character, Logan/Wolverine has always been rough around the edges, and this movie really lets Jackman cut loose with the character and embrace his tendencies as an angry loner. You get to see how the years of isolation and violence have taken a toll on him, and you can *feel* the weariness that hangs on him heavily as his healing powers fail him. He’s ready to give up, but he keeps going because that’s simply what he’s always done.

I love special effects in superhero films, but I also love that “Logan” was willing to strip those away and just let this film breathe, focusing more on the characters and the performances. The grittier tone allows Logan — and Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier — to shine in a new and unexpected way. All characters don’t necessarily get fully satisfying endings to their story arcs, and it hurts that Professor X is just *gone,* without the epic death scene he probably deserved. There are also fewer ties to the overall X-Men film universe than one might expect. Yet this is all part of the film’s overall message, that sometimes life doesn’t end neatly and happily...though tragic endings can still have meaning.

And even though the tone of “Logan” is bleak, I don’t see it as a hopeless film, because there are genuine moments of light and hope — moments that shine more brightly due to the grim circumstances surrounding them.

#2: Logan’s greatest villain...himself

I’ll fully admit that the film’s lead villain, the cyborg tracker Donald Pierce, isn’t the strongest superhero villain, and an argument could be made that a more dynamic villain would have made “Logan” even better. But thankfully, Pierce isn’t the only villain in the film. Logan also has to fight...himself.

In the film’s middle and final acts, Logan must face a younger, stronger clone of himself (a.k.a. X-24). It’s a bit weird and unsettling seeing two Wolverines fighting each other, but I really liked this concept because one of Logan’s greatest enemies has always been himself. His pain and anger have made him hurt people and push them away for many years, and it’s definitely symbolic to see him fighting a younger version of himself (i.e. his past coming back to haunt him). When he faces the clone and sacrifices himself, he’s finally overcoming the ghosts from his past and finding peace.

Watching Logan achieve victory in this way provides a poignant bit of closure for his character, which brings us to point #3...

#3: A satisfying final arc for Wolverine’s character

Wolverine has never been an “upstanding” sort of character with a strong moral center like, say, Professor X or Captain America. However, deep down he’s a better man than he cares to admit. So it’s fitting that his end is as a reluctant but ultimately self-sacrificial hero. It takes him a while to do the right thing, but he does show up to do the right thing when it matters most.

We see hints of Logan’s better side throughout the movie, such as the way he continues caring for the ailing Professor X, even at great risk to himself. He takes in the lonely young mutant Laura, even though sheltering her is dangerous. Although he doesn’t always treat Laura and Professor X nicely, you can tell that he does care about what happens to them.

Logan was never going to be a perfect father figure for Laura, and at this point in his life, it may well be impossible for him to change into the person she really needs him to be. Yet when he sacrifices his own life trying to save Laura at the end of the film, it’s an incredibly moving moment, one in which he finally finds peace from his pain and clears a path for her to carry on his legacy but also be a better person than he was.

I feel Logan pretty much had to die at the end of this film in order for him to have the most meaningful character arc. He is a violent, flawed character, and a fully redemptive arc with a happier ending would have been difficult to pull off. Instead, he leaves this earth as a broken man who still finds a light of hope in the end. I particularly like the closing shot of Laura taking the cross standing over Logan’s grave and turning it sideways, displaying an “X” instead, bringing to a close his journey as a member of the X-Men. If even Logan, with all his mistakes, isn’t beyond redemption, we know none of us are too far from the light to be truly lost.

 

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Is Killmonger REALLY a Villain?

In this video, Jay breaks down Killmonger's character from Black Panther to determine why we consider him a villain. Is he REALLY a villain? See how Jay breaks it all down.

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Man of Steel - Make It Better

Man of Steel was great, but it could also be better! On this week's podcast, Daryl and Jay each offer 3 changes that would make Man of Steel better. And below, Ashley Pauls offers a third perspective! What do you think?

Daryl and Jay ALSO have a 4th change they'd make to make to Man of Steel better. It's available on Patreon for our supporters: https://www.patreon.com/posts/man-of-steel-it-17282167

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HOW ASHLEY WOULD MAKE MAN OF STEEL BETTER

For better or worse, “Man of Steel” set the stage and defined the tone and style of Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ cinematic universe (a project that, so far, has experienced somewhat inconsistent levels of success). Although “Man of Steel” received a mixed reaction from fans and critics, I happen to feel it’s a better film than people sometimes give it credit for. The movie has some powerful themes about fatherhood and legacy, and of course the classic “with great power comes great responsibility” superhero dilemma. Still, the film does have a few flaws — the same type of flaws that unfortunately have continued to plague DC films.

Here are the three things I would change to make “Man of Steel” an even stronger film and perhaps have set the DC cinematic universe on a steadier course.

#1: Lighten the tone (but not too much)

There have already been plenty of debates about the overall tone of the DC cinematic universe, with some fans arguing that the initial movies (aside from “Wonder Woman”) were too dark and grim. Warner Bros. obviously tried to “fix” this in “Justice League,” though the end result was a disjointed, Frankenstein mashup of the styles of two very different directors.

I don’t mind the DC cinematic universe taking on a darker tone, especially since it’s one way to differentiate it from the more “quippy” Marvel Cinematic Universe. The DC cinematic universe needs to feel like its own, unique world that isn’t just a slightly altered copy of certain other big-budget franchises. There’s definitely nothing wrong with a bit of grit and grime in superhero films; some of our generation’s most respected superhero movies — Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, for example — went to some very dark places (and were better for it). In our postmodern world, a squeaky-clean hero with a too-overpowering sense of optimism would feel too trite.

However, a tad more “lightness” might have made Superman’s character just a *little* more relatable. I think that’s one of the things “Justice League” did well, in that it let Superman smile and show a little warmth. I liked that “Man of Steel” depicted Superman struggling with whether or not he wanted to embrace his destiny as a superhero, and it’s always good to see a superhero film that dares to reflect on the moral implications of having superpowers (a discussion that was continued in the underrated “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”).

Still, Superman needed to feel just a tad more human, and I think either the director or the script was holding Henry Cavill back (he got to show off his more fun, charismatic side in the also underrated “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” — seriously, if you haven’t seen Cavill in “Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” go watch it now). Clark Kent spent all those years growing up with down-to-earth, human parents, and I think his upbringing should have influenced his character depiction more. Overall, the film could have done more to emphasize Superman’s legacy as a symbol of light and hope.

#2: Tone down the CGI

I love big-budget special effects. There’s something truly special about sitting in a darkened theater and watching amazing things happen on the big screen that could never occur in real life. Our modern superhero films wouldn’t be possible without CGI, and when done well, these visual effects can transport us to exciting new worlds and present us with jaw-dropping action sequences that stretch the imagination.

But there needs to be a balance, I think, between practical effects/sets and the CGI, and overall the DC cinematic universe has swung too far towards the CGI end of the spectrum. If you fill the screen with too much CGI, no matter how realistic or expensive these visual effects are, the story can start to feel a little “fake.” I apologize for jumping franchises here, but as an example, I think the Star Wars sequel films have done a great job using practical effects and real locations and then “seasoning” them with CGI. It makes the whole film — story, characters, etc. — feel more grounded and realistic.

If “Man of Steel” had toned down the CGI just a bit, the story and characters might have come across as a little more warm and real. The film’s themes also might not have gotten lost in the bombastic final fight sequence, either. I love lots of action in superhero films, but there comes a point when all the punches, CGI, and blur of motion become too much, and “Man of Steel” definitely suffers from this a bit, especially in the final act.

#3: Superman vs. General Zod... how should this fight have ended?

One of the biggest points of contention with “Man of Steel” is the ending, where Superman is fighting famed nemesis General Zod and decides to kill him by snapping his neck. Some fans did not like this portrayal of Superman as a seemingly cold-blooded killer and felt it was not true to the character.

I actually go back and forth on this one. On the one hand, General Zod is definitely a bad guy who has a lot of power to do some really destructive things, endangering the future of the human race. He had to be stopped, and so Superman stopped him — permanently. However, I can also sympathize with fans who thought the ending to this fight was too dark and violent for Superman’s character.

After seeing both “Batman v. Superman” and “Justice League,” I do wish the final fight in “Man of Steel” had ended differently, without Superman killing Zod so violently (and without so much death and destruction in general — seriously, that fight had A LOT of collateral damage). Batman is the character in these films that is supposed to operate in more of a moral gray area. He skirts closer to the darkness and is overall a more brooding and violent character. I think it’s better to have Superman as a contrast to that, to be more of a symbol of light and hope, as referenced earlier.

Perhaps in “Man of Steel,” Superman could have found a way to take Zod captive instead, and this could have set a slightly different tone for Superman’s character in the later movies. Or, maybe they’re fighting and Zod ends up making a mistake that results in him being partially responsible for his own death. Anyway, it is interesting to ponder how “Batman v. Superman” (and even “Justice League”) might have gone differently, if “Man of Steel” had ended in an alternate way.

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The Cloverfield Paradox - Make It Better

The Cloverfield Paradox wasn't great, but it had potential! Daryl and Jay each offer 3 changes that would make The Cloverfield Paradox better. See what you think of what we have to say. Do you agree?

Daryl and Jay ALSO have a 4th change they'd make to make The Cloverfield Paradox better. It's available on Patreon for our supporters: https://www.patreon.com/posts/cloverfield-make-17100916

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Sorry, But Logan Does NOT Deserve an Oscar!

2 Reasons Logan Does NOT Deserve Its Oscar Nomination... Logan was nominated for an Oscar (adapted screenplay)! But does it deserve it? Jay points out the difficulties he sees with the film and its screenplay. He doesn't think it deserves an Oscar. Do you? What are your thoughts on Logan?

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The Force Awakens (Part 1 & 2)- The Story Geeks Dig Deeper

The first Star Wars film in 10 years! THE FORCE AWAKENS! 
Is it "derivative?" Is derivative a bad thing? Can you really be "seduced by the light?" And what's with Kylo asking Darth Vader to "show me again...the power of the darkness?" Daryl and Jay are joined by Shannon McCarter from Network 1901! Hear The Story Geeks dig deeper into THE FORCE AWAKENS!

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