Yesterday I saw Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and I enjoyed it. In case you have not been so privileged as yet, rest assured that that is the most you will hear about this film from me for a long time. That being said, I would advise anyone who has not seen the movie yet who wants to to keep their eyeballs off the Internet (beyond of course this site) until they have versed themselves in the first Star Wars movie whose serial number actually matches up with its chronological release.
Nonetheless, I am exceptionally pleased that most people posting comments related to the new film on various sites have not given away anything beyond their almost unanimous approval of it. There have been a few who have not honored the code of major new releases that should be extended to all films great and small, but they have been kept in check by the more honest aforementioned company. To those who shared spoiling moments online, I know who is delivering your Christmas presents this year.
Today, in honor of those who have refrained from spilling the secrets of the latest Star Wars, I am going to point out some revealing details about movies that have been out long enough and garnered sufficient acclaim over the years that you hopefully have seen them already. These are interesting details to be sure, yet they also give away some critical information regarding the films they are found in, so if you do not want to even risk spoilers of any sort then perhaps you should read elsewhere until you’ve seen any of the following films that you wish to. The movies I’ll be looking at today are:
The Empire Strikes Back
The Sixth Sense
If you haven’t seen one of these and are interested in it without any prior knowledge of what may go down, beat it. Everyone else good? Okay, then we’ll get started.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Still the best of the Star Wars franchise, and for good reason. It’s dark and deeply layered. It adds onto the original film in every positive way and stands as the best sequel ever made and a model that every other sequel in every other genre is wise to follow. The signature moment of Empire is the reveal that Darth Vader gives to Luke, but in that famous scene there is more going on… and not all of it is good.
I always loved how Vader – who’s hiding position was compromised by his breathing earlier in the fight – holds his breath to get the jump on Luke. I’m not sure exactly how he does this, especially since his automatic breathing occurs over all his dialogue. But let’s get to my point. This scene does not have as much revealing anything beyond the most well known twist in movie history, but it does contain something that once seen is hard to miss in future viewings. The great chasm amidst the Bespin mining city in the clouds that serves as the final location of the great battle between Luke and Vader is incredibly windy. So much so that Vader’s cape and Luke’s tattered clothing blow in the breeze. Unfortunately so does the top of Vader’s helmet. That dome rocks back and forth just enough to be annoying. You’ve probably noticed it before, but I figured I should start off with a scene that wasn’t too much of a “I’ll never look at that the same!” kind of thing in case anyone seeking to avoid spoilers trailed their curious eyes down too far. Now that we’ve got enough distance and the rest of you have committed to it, let’s move on.
Released the previous year in the wake of the Star Wars sci-fi craze, this film was a game-changer for being a perfect blend of science fiction and horror, as well as for launching the careers of Sigourney Weaver and Ridley Scott. It’s still the scariest film I’ve seen, but repeated viewings are a little easier to manage because I can better prepare myself for the truly tense moments just before the alien (later called the Xenomorph in the sequel Aliens) appears to kill someone. This is not simply because I’ve already seen the movie and know what is going to happen, but because I can consciously pick out the heartbeat sound. The first time you see the film you are probably too caught up in the suspense to notice the ever-increasing heartbeat that precedes every death dished out by the full sized monster. In case you catch on before the end of the film, they mess with you a little and play it while they focus on Ripley as she readies the shuttle but she can hear Parker and Lambert over the ships communication speaker as they are killed, so it still counts.
The movie that made it mandatory for all self-respecting action and crime films to have a car chase, Bullitt is my favorite police movie and Steve McQueen performance. The car chase is the highlight of the film and still stands today as one of the best, if not the best, ever filmed. It was made with some great stunt work and clever editing that utilized the same shot from three different angles to make the chase through the streets of San Francisco appear longer than it really was. The only problem is that the green Volkswagen Beetle sticks out like a sore thumb in each of these recycled scenes, and once you notice it you can both appreciate and hate how Frank Keller won an Oscar for Film Editing.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
M. Night Shyamalan’s first and best film without much competition, this original ghost story is an extremely tense thriller that showed far more promise in its young director than has been delivered. However, we cannot forget how good this debut was. Culminating in one of the great cinematic twists, The Sixth Sense helped propel Haley Joel Osment to young stardom more than any prior project, and it brought back Bruce Willis big time. But that big shock doesn’t have to be so big if you’ve got an eye for the color red. As it happens, before Cole or the audience sees a ghost there is always a noticeably red item that shows up in the frame. Screen Muse highlights this out in this post.
The Departed (2006)
Martin Scorsese finally got his Oscar for this crime tale based off of Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs). Leonardo DiCaprio did not. Maybe for The Revenant buddy. Either way, in traditional Scorsese fashion, there are some shots fired over the course of the film and many major characters die as a result. You can tell when this will happen though by adhering to the philosophy that X marks the spot. Every time a character is about to get whacked in one way or another the letter “X” appears in some form. It’s a technique used in previous films as pointed out in this Cracked article that also includes some Easter Eggs from other films.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy Star Wars whenever you see it and that everything is fresh and new as it possibly can be for you. Be sure to make your way back to this site next week for more fun with less spoilers.
GRRRRRRAUGHGHAHGAHGURRRUGHRRRR! [Wookie growl],