Tag Archives: movies

Flash Gordon (1980) breakdown

American football player Flash Gordon and travel agent Dale Arden are captured by Ming the Merciless, who decides to marry Dale. Flash escapes, gets captured again numerous times, makes friends, and crashes the wedding.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.

Act 1

Ming attacks Earth. Flash and Dale board a small airplane. 5

Flash and Dale’s plane suffer turbulence from Ming’s attack. 10

Flash and Dale crash. Zarkov gets them to help launch his rocket to stop Ming from destroying Earth (introducing the conflict). 15

Zarkov, Flash, and Dale are captured by Ming. 20

Ming holds an audience for tribute featuring Aura, Vultan, Barin, and others. 25

The heroes meet Ming. He tries to take Dale (introducing a second conflict). Flash fights the guards but loses. 30

Act 2

Flash’s execution is prepared. Flash and Dale confess their attraction. 35

Flash is “executed” but later revived, thanks to Aura. 40

Zarkov is brainwashed into being an agent of Ming. Flash and Aura fly to Arboria. 45

Dale is readied for Ming but tricks a servant into trading places. 50

Flash and Aura reach Arboria. Zarkov is sent to recapture Dale. Klytus is given carte blanche. 55

Midpoint Crisis

(There’s a lot going on in a few minutes, and it all serves to feel like a crisis, but Flash being betrayed and captured by Barin is probably the main plot point.)

Flash meets Barin and is taken captive. Zarkov, who was faking, escapes with Dale. Aura is captured and tortured by Klytus. 60

Barin decides to use Flash. Aura is promised to Klytus. Dale and Zarkov are captured by hawkmen. 65

Flash fakes the Arborian rite of passage. Barin saves him from quicksand but they are captured by hawkmen. 70

Barin and Flash are brought to Vultan. Barin demands trial by combat against Flash. Zarkov tells Dale the Earth will be destroyed in 14 hours (introducing a ticking clock). 75

Flash fights but saves Barin; they ally and kill Klytus when he arrives. Vultan flees before Ming arrives. 80

Ming captures the heroes and offers Flash rulership of a ruined Earth while he marries Dale (reinforcing the dual conflict)….

Act 3

Flash escapes and allies with Vultan. 85

Dale is readied to marry Ming. Flash acts as a decoy. War Rocket Ajax is dispatched. 90

The hawkmen attack Ajax. Ming prepares to kill Zarkov and Barin and marry Dale. 95

Aura escapes and frees Barin and Zarkov. Flash crashes Ajax into the palace. 100

Barin and Zarkov stop the weapons. Flash crashes the wedding and impales Ming (resolving the secondary conflict). Earth is saved (resolving the central conflict). 105

Barin heralds a new era. 110

Epilog

Ming laughs and retrieves his ring.

Star Wars 4: A New Hope breakdown

A desert farm boy, an old hermit, and two space pilots get entangled in a princess’s rebellion against a galactic empire.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie, both the theatrical version and the special edition.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.

Prolog

Legend: It is a period of civil war. 2

Act 1

Darth Vader boards Princess Leia’s ship (introducing the villain). 5

Leia hides the Death Star plans in R2-D2. R2 and 3-P0 flee in an escape pod. 10

R2 and 3-P0 are captured separately by Jawas. 15

R2 and 3-P0 are sold to the Skywalkers. 20

Luke activates Leia’s message to Obi-Wan Kenobi in R2 (introducing the central conflict). 25

Luke pursues the missing R2 and is rescued from Sand People by Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi. 30

Act 2

Ben explains Luke’s father was a Force-using Jedi knight killed by Darth Vader. 35

R2 shows Ben the message from Leia. 40

Luke finds his aunt and uncle murdered. Luke and Ben go to Mos Eisley. 45

Ben and Luke make a deal with Han Solo and Chewbacca to take them to the Alderaan. 50

Han kills bounty hunter Greedo. Ben and Luke board Han’s ship. 55

The heroes flee Mos Eisley….

Midpoint Crisis

…The Death Star destroys Alderaan. 60

Ben teaches Luke about the Force. The heroes discover Alderaan is destroyed and get captured. 65

The heroes hide and sneak out of their ship in stormtrooper uniforms. 70
Luke and Han take Chewbacca to the detention unit so they can rescue Leia. 75

Han, Luke, & Chewie rescue Leia and end up in a trash compactor. 80

R2 and 3-P0 rescue the heroes from the trash compactor. 85

Ben shuts down the tractor beam. The heroes race to the ship under fire. 90

Vader finds and kills Ben. (All is lost!) The heroes escape in Han’s ship. 95

Act 3

The heroes go to the rebel base. The rebels prepare for battle. They must hit a small port in the central trench of the Death Star. 100

Han leaves with his payment. Luke meets old friends and preps for battle in a fighter. 105

The rebels attack and fare poorly against the Death Star’s defenses. 110

Vader enters the fight personally. Luke goes in for his run using the Force to do his targeting. 115

Han and Chewie return to keep Vader off Luke. Luke destroys the Death Star… (resolving the central conflict)

…Han and Luke are awarded medals by Princess Leia. 120

Back to the Future (1985) breakdown

Teenager Marty McFly goes back in time and accidentally keeps his parents from making a love connection. With help from friend and time machine inventor Doc Brown, Marty has to get them to fall for each other before time itself “corrects” him out of existence.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.

Prolog

Marty goes by Doc’s. He’s been away but now needs Marty’s help. 5

Act 1

Marty is berated by Strickland. Marty fails an audition. 10

Jennifer consoles Marty. A woman gives Marty a clock tower flyer. 15

The McFlys are losers. Biff has wrecked the McFly car, ruining Marty’s big plans to take Jennifer to the lake (introducing the central conflict with the villain). Lorraine lectures on proper behavior in her day. 20

Marty video records Doc’s time travel experiment. 25

Doc preps to go into the future. Libyans shoot Doc (creating a second conflict!). Marty escapes to the past. 30

Act 2

Marty crashes, drives to his non-existent house, and runs out of fuel. 35

Marty can’t believe he’s in 1955. He discovers his father was a square. 40

Marty is injured saving George. Lorraine becomes attracted to him. 45

Marty goes to 1995 Doc’s and convinces him to help. 50

Doc and Marty retrieve the DeLorean and examine the video and Marty’s photo. They can get Marty back to 1985 if they can charge the time machine with the lightning bolt that will strike the clock tower in one week (introducing a ticking clock)….

Midpoint Crisis

However, because Marty interfered with the moment his parents fell in love, time is correcting Marty out of existence. 55

Marty and Doc decide Marty must get George to take Lorraine to the dance so they can fall in love (introducing a catch). 60

Biff ruins Marty’s effort to get George to ask Lorraine to the dance. Marty tricks George into asking her. 65

When Biff bullies George again, Marty humiliates him, gaining more of Lorraine’s admiration. 70

Doc explains his plan. Lorraine asks Marty to the dance, but Marty plans for George to stop him from getting fresh. 75

At the dance, Marty is shocked by Lorraine’s behavior. 80

Biff bullies Marty. George decks Biff to save Lorraine. Marty is desperate to get George & Lorraine to kiss (all seems lost!). 85

Act 3

Marty plays guitar at the dance (callback to his failed audition!). After a final scare, Lorraine and George kiss (resolving the catch, and creating a turn that is distinct from the bottom earlier). Marty’s playing overwhelms everyone. 90

Marty goes to the town square and tries to warn Doc about the Libyans (the secondary villains). 95

Marty gets the DeLorean set. Doc struggles to reconnect the cables. The ticking clock is literally the ticking clock. 100

Marty hits the wire at the right moment and returns in 1985. He can’t stop the Libyans! But Doc lives! (resolving the secondary conflict) 105

Marty discovers his life, family, and even Biff are much better. He even has a truck now, so he can take Jennifer to the lake (resolving the central conflict). 110

Epilog

Doc arrives from the future, requesting Marty and Jennifer come to the future with him. 115

No Time to Die

No Time to Die

Join me and my long-lost guest and Bond aficionado Martin (AKA Faldor) as we look deep into Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond.

We compare the film to other spy films, the Fleming books, Knives Out, the work of Vladimir Putin, and other Bond films, which I struggle to remember, especially SPECTRE, despite doing TWO commentaries for it. We praise its action set pieces and its treatment of Bond’s psyche, especially Craig’s Bond, which really does feel like a whole character, albeit a somewhat dull one.

We try to figure out what motivates Lucifer Satan–I mean Lyutsifer Safin. We talk about how we ignore Q being gay and Moneypenny being ignored and the troubling character of Nomi. I gush over Ana de Armas as Paloma. Martin gushes over M and the three–count ’em: THREE–Aston Martins (but not really).

We’re watching the Blu-ray. Start right after the MGM logo, on the countdown.

Friday the 13th (1980)

IMDb

Friday the 13th

And we’re back! Barely ten months after our last commentary, Jimmy B and I dive right back in with another horror classic. This time, we examine the slasher flick that started it all (by ripping off Halloween). We get to the bottom of my distaste for horror movies (it’s really just a distaste for slasher movies where the kills are the point) and the point of this movie (the kills).

We compare this to all the other films in the series, other slasher films, other horror films, Bugs Bunny cartoons, Meatballs, and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

We’re watching the Blu-ray, and we keep in sync. Cue up the first frame of black after the Paramount logo.

An American Werewolf in London

IMDb

American Werewolf in London

Just in time to be a month late for Halloween, Jimmy B joins me to revisit the 1980s John Landis classic. It stars the Rick Baker & His Amazing Physical Effects, the Dr Pepper guy, and That Guy From The Madonna Movie Your Sister liked, plus Jenny Agutter.

We compare this to An American Werewolf in Paris, other werewolf movies, other Rick Baker movies, other Universal horror movies, Warren Zevon, and the Muppets (of course). Jimmy schools me on British bathrooms, kitchens. and TV.

We’re watching the Blu-ray, and we keep in synch. Cue up the first frame of black after the dedication.

Star Wars 9: The Rise of Skywalker

IMDb

Rise of SkywalkerJoin Drew and me for yet another rollicking adventure with all your favorite characters from all the Star Wars movies–because THEY ARE ALL HERE. How? Visions, dreams, memories, ancient magic, cloning, holograms, borrowed footage, deleted scenes, computer trickery, or some combination of the above.

We praise… well… some things. C3P0 jokes? Daisy Ridley? I like it better than Drew–mainly because I don’t remember a lot of what happened in the previous movies that is being contradicted here, so I praise JJ Abrams, which–surprisingly even to me–is not sarcasm. We compare it to Force Awakens and Last Jedi and Harry Potter, and Marvel movies. And we write an ending that would allow for a kick-ass animated series.

Note: The effect I was trying to think of was the Kuleshov effect.

We’re watching on Blu-ray. Start right after the Lucasfilm logo on the countdown.