Tag Archives: Indiana Jones

Around the Web, June 13, 2014

Bad news for Star Wars fans. Harrison Ford was recently injured on the set of Episode VII. Ford was apparently hurt by the door to the Millenium Falcon and was rushed to an emergency room with a broken ankle and a chest injury. Studio executives have been working to rearrange the shooting schedule to account for what could be a long recovery for the 71 year old. This is also not the first time Ford has been injured on set. During Temple of Doom he required back surgery and during filming of The Fugitive he tore a ligament in his knee.

Harrison Ford having some fun at a photo shoot for Star Wars.

Harrison Ford having some fun at a photo shoot for Star Wars.

Therefore I Geek wishes Ford a speedy recovery and we eagerly await the coming of Episode VII.

Rumors are quickly spreading that DC is planning a massive movie announcement for San Diego Comic-Con. The supposed plan calls for three movies a year in 2016 and 2017 and included in the mix are Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Sandman. Unfortunately, there are already some doubts about the legitimacy of this schedule given how ambitious it is.  Truthfully, the level of quality that DC can achieve in such a short time span is questionable.  Additionally, fans are wondering whether the films would use the actors from the DC television universe or if actors would be recast for the movies.


Personally, I’m game for both Sandman and Wonder Woman, but we’ll see what DC actually says at SDCC.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter has been nearly unstoppable. They reached their initial goal of one million dollars within the first 24 hours of the campaign and the total amount donated is now approaching the five million dollar mark. As a deal sweetener (like we really needed one at this point), if the campaign does reach five million, several live events will feature Star Trek alumni such as Brent Spiner, Johnathan Frakes, Kate Mulgrew, Gates McFadden, William Shatner and Patrick Stewart. A total of four events will be held, one featuring the men of Star Trek, one for the women and then Shatner and Stewart get their own events.


I remember watching this show as a kid, so I’m pretty excited to see this campaign doing so well.

Last but not least, fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones are getting a look at how the creative team managed to make Jaime Lannister’s severed stump look so real.  Prosthetics and makeup genius Sangeet Prabhaker instagrammed this photo of the process to make his stump look incredibly real.  Apparently there were multiple techniques used, depending on camera angles and activity.  This one was used, among other scenes, for the infamous bath scene with Brienne of Tarth.


I personally just figured they slapped a sock on the end and called it a day.


Filed under Around the Web, Weekly

Comfort Movies and Why We Love Them

This holiday weekend, like most holiday weekends, involves many traditions including beach trips, cook outs, and one of my personal favorites, TV movie marathons.  After a long day out in the hot sun BBQing or splashing in a pool, few things are quite as enjoyable as coming home, flopping down on the couch and turning on the TV to see that some cable network is running an all day long marathon of your favorite movie series.  It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I’ve seen Star Wars, I am always willing to spend a few hours sitting around watching Han, Luke, and Leia as they battle the evil Galactic Empire. As Mom’s mac & cheese or meatloaf is comfort food for the stomach, so favorite movies are a sort of comfort food for the brain, making us come back to them time after time.  A true “comfort movie” is well made, universally understood, and has been watched over and over.

These movies speak to us in ways that other movies don’t and take us to places we’ve only seen in our imaginations.  Although there are plenty of movies the tap into our imagination, these particular movies give birth to fully realized universes, completely self-contained and yet ever expanding, of such a sweeping scope that they blow us away.  They tell us stories of action and adventure on such an epic scale that even the most adventurous of us find it difficult to fathom.  For a few hours we can travel through the galaxy fighting evil aliens or go on missions as the most elite of secret agents only find ourselves still on the couch at the end of the escapade, satisfied, but no worse for wear.

Not only do comfort movies speak to our imagination, they also tap into something deeper. The use of mythological archetypes in Star Wars is well documented. George Lucas was a student of the late mythologist and author Joseph Campbell and Campbell’s influence can be seen throughout the original trilogy.  By using these archetypes, Lucas made Star Wars, both plot and characters, instantly recognizable and relatable. Although it was told in a new and different way, the story felt familiar, like ancient lore that just hadn’t quite been able to take form until this movie.  With Campbell’s help as a consultant, Lucas tapped into those shared cultural ideas that speak to us all, regardless of our personal backgrounds.  Many of the characters in the movie are mirror images of figures that can be found in myths from around the world.  It is amazing that Star Wars still resonates just as strongly with new viewers thirty six years after its release as it did when it first came to theaters. It inspires them, just as the myths that Star Wars was derived from inspired countless generations before.

It’s not just the cultural significance of these movies that make us love them. They also look fantastic. Who doesn’t remember watching Indy trying to swap an idol for a bag of sand or seeing Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s T-1000 walk right through the metal bars of the mental hospital’s security doors to get at John Connor.  These movies are made with love and care, and their creators obviously put more than a little bit of themselves into them.  It shows.  From casting to special effects, each element was carefully thought out and the best choices made.  Often, these choices pay great dividends as the film holds up long after other contemporary films look like complete garbage.  Twenty two years later the T-1000 still looks amazing, and yet similar effects, such as the Silver Surfer, don’t hold up even a few years after the movie’s release. It’s the high level of artistry and care, pushing the boundaries of available technology, and a bit of dumb luck that sets certain movies above the rest.  For Star Wars, George Lucas had to create a whole special effects studio and they in turn had to build all their equipment from scratch.  It was over a year before they were able to shoot any of the effects scenes, but despite Lucas’ continual updates, the original film still looks great.


This still looks so cool!

Even a film’s score makes a difference. Who doesn’t know the “Imperial March” from Star Wars and doesn’t understand its evil undertones?  More than once I’ve started humming the theme when a menacing someone walks past me at work.  Everyone around me understands what is going on and the significance of the melody without my having to say a word.

Comfort movies are also enjoyable because they are familiar.  Like a favorite pair of jeans, they are broken in to fit just right and feel great.  We’ve watched them dozens of times and can quote their entirety by heart.  Even though we know exactly what is going to happen we still watch eagerly.  We love these movies because we know them so well.  We can sit around with our friends and have an in depth conversation, packed full of minutia and quotable lines and not get bored.

Kevin Smith really hit on this familiarity in his movie Clerks, when Dante and Randall discuss the contractors who were working on the second Death Star when it was destroyed.  At face value, a conversation this serious about an invented scenario in a made up world is absolutely ridiculous and yet I know I’ve had more than my fair share of discussions just like this.  In fact, the ability to have this type of conversation with others who also know them by heart adds to our enjoyment of our favorite films. We know there are aspects that make no sense or have no bearing in reality and yet we choose to accept this as part of the movie’s charm and instead use it as fuel for these colorful exchanges that only enhance our enjoyment of and our connection to the universe in which they are set.

The right mixture of these elements gives these movies a certain “X” factor—something we can’t quite analyze quantitatively and yet we know exists.  Comfort movies fill an important spot in our lives that isn’t contented by anything else.  They are the reliable entertainment that we can turn to like an old friend to make us feel at ease.  This is why we love them so much.

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Movies

Being A Geek

This is an origin story.  I take quite a bit of pride in being a geek, though admittedly it hasn’t always been that way. When I was young, other kids mocked me for my love of science and my slow evolution into a geek.  As I got older, I started to realize what was cool to other kids and what wasn’t.  I would often make fun of things I loved to in order to try to fit in. Finally though, I came to understand that I needed to embrace who I was and just be myself. As I became more confident in my own identity, I lost any doubt that I was a geek, and I began to wonder what exactly that was, and by extension, what made me one. 

If Prof. Indy say it, it must be true.

If Prof. Indy says it, it must be true.

Indiana Jones himself said that 90% of archeology takes place in the library, so I figured I’d start where all great investigations start:  the dictionary. Sure enough, I found a pretty good definition of geek from Webster’s English Language Learner’s Dictionary:

1 : a person who is socially awkward and unpopular : a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people

2 : a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity

It is the second definition that I found the far more interesting, as it supports my own definition of geek, which is: “a person who exhibits a certain, highly elevated degree of passion for a particular topic, which is often outside the mainstream.” For me, being a geek is about learning about and doing the things that I love—regardless of what they are—and finding people that share those same interests with whom to exchange knowledge.

From either my personal definition, or Webster’s, one could infer that any person could be a geek about anything, but that isn’t entirely true. There aren’t exercise geeks or stock market geeks, but there are people who are very interested in and extremely knowledgeable about both (they are called something different).

So what then makes an activity geeky? What allows those that partake in it to proudly bear the title of geek correctly?

The first important characteristic is that it is outside the mainstream of popular culture. This doesn’t mean it has to be way outside the norm, but there does need to be some degree of separation; think the classic stereotype of jocks vs. geeks. For example, playing video games is a pretty common pastime for many people in their teens and twenties—and even some older ones as well. While gaming has become more popular, I would argue that only a limited number of games would be considered truly mainstream, such as Halo or Call of Duty. Though there are millions of casual gamers, Geeks play their games religiously for hours on end, until they know exactly which weapon to use under what circumstances and the exact terrain of every map.

This guy knows every map.

This guy knows every map.

Another great example, and a personal favorite of mine, is comic books. Thanks to movies such as Avengers, the Dark Knight trilogy, and Man of Steel, superheroes appear in our culture and our minds like no other time in their history. I can barely walk down the street or go out to dinner without seeing someone wearing a Batman t-shirt or an ad for Iron Man. But while our society is almost saturated with these characters, the comic books in which they all originate are still largely ignored and in some cases even looked down upon. On the silver screen, these characters are accepted and even adored, but the comic books have never become a social norm.

What separates the average person with perhaps a passing interest in a geeky subject and the true geek, is also the zeal with which they embrace their subject.  There are plenty of people who have read graphic novels such as Watchmen as part of a high school or college class, but unless they became instant fans, just reading doesn’t make them geeks. The geek who deserves the title is the World of Warcraft player who jumps online for a raid, sick as a dog, because there is a slight chance at picking up the rare item he’s coveted for months, or who drives to his local comic stores every week, regardless of the weather, to get his weekly books (I think hurricane conditions are the only ones that have kept me home—a badge of honor.).

I would even have to consider a small, select group of Twilight fans as geeks. This does not apply to most of them. But there are those select few who demonstrate the necessary ardor. Those who pick Team Edward or Team Jacob, talk about the books and movies non-stop, and even ruined comic con for more than a few people. These people are geeks too, albeit annoying ones (Lord, give me strength!). Geekhood is about the passion, and they have it in abundance.

Although the pursuit of knowledge in and of itself is not geeky, a thirst for geeky knowledge is another defining aspect of a geek.  I have seen comic geeks, driven by passion for a particular subject, dig through box after box of back issues just to find a random appearance of their favorite character. The drive needed to persist at this task is impressive (If you disagree, try it for a few hours.  It is way harder than you think. I know; I’ve done it several times). What impresses me even more is that they knew their favorite character could be found in these random and seemingly unrelated titles.  Any ordinary person can read the main comics that focus on their favorite person, but a true geek takes the time and spends the energy to research even non-speaking, background appearances.  To a geek, the acquisition of information is sometimes even more important than the information itself.

Not only do we gather vast storehouses of semi-useless trivia, we also love to share our knowledge, both among those who appreciate it and unsuspecting friends and relatives. There are countless fan sites and forums dedicated to nearly every type of fandom, no matter how seemingly insignificant.  For the consumer desperate to know what was different between the Megatron figure released in Japan and the one in the US, there is someone out there who knows that difference, and will enthusiastically share it.  I myself am quite proud to admit that I own not one, but two different Star Trek Encyclopedias.  My friends have even placed bets on me in a Star Wars trivia contest at New York Comic Con, though sadly I didn’t go nearly as far as they’d hoped.

I have also learned specialized skills, such as dice based probability, that almost completely lack practical application… Except, of course, figuring out the odds of making a successful roll in Warhammer 40K in seconds flat.

The downside of this quasi-savant status, is that geeks have a bit of a “tough love” stereotype when it comes to people who are new and don’t know everything yet.  Reality is that while there are a few jerks with a pathological need to feel superior by belittling people who know less than they, the overwhelming majority of geeks out there are more than happy to share their knowledge and experience, and educate those who are new to geekhood or expanding their existing geek horizons.

It’s the passion that drives geeks to do these things even though they are not something that the rest of society considers normal.  It is important, then, to realize that the same passion that makes a person identify with geeks everywhere should make him proud of his status.  I was once told by a coworker that I shouldn’t mention my love of comics to women because it is creepy. TO HELL WITH THAT! This who I am and I’m not going to hide it or apologize for it just because it’s something that someone doesn’t want to see. We live in a modern society on foundations built by famous geeks—Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for two—and it’s time we stand up and be proud of who we are.  My name is Andrew, I’m a geek, and I couldn’t be happier.


Filed under Andrew Hales, Geek Life