Coming ‘Home’ – three movies that made me love movies are coming around again.

| April 19, 2015


Thomas Wolfe famously told us that “You can’t go home again.” By that, he meant that one cannot revisit the past. Apparently nobody laid that news on Hollywood because they seem to be trying with all their might to return us to old familiar places whether they need revisiting or not. This is something that I’ve gotten use to. Studios have been bankrupt of ideas lately and have taken to shelling out any old property that has a familiar face on it. Yet, in doing so, they have finally come around to touching the very center of my movie-centric heart. Within the calendar year of 2015, three movies will resuscitate three properties that, back when I was just a wee lad, made me fall in love with the movies – one a sequel, one a remake, and the third a spin-off.

First, is the return of Star Wars. Star Wars was a movie that made a particular 6 year-old fall in love with the movies – a love affair that would remain forever after. This week bits of the new chapter were revealed as the new trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, finally gives us some meat about a movie that director J.J. Abrams has thus far been keeping under wraps. The trailer gives us everything and nothing at the same time – a volley of images that assure us that he’s excavating the past while also moving the saga into the future, and reveals much more substance then he did with that half-assed 30 second teaser that bowed in December in which the only point of interest was “Hey look, a black guy!”

What becomes clear right away is that Abrams and his crew know this world, and know it well. He taps into the past with images of a downed X-Wing in the shadow of a wrecked Star Destroyer on what we can only assume is Tatooine. The old familiar voice of Luke Skywalker laments his lineage, bound by blood, bound by The Force, but shrouded in tragedy – the sad remains of Vader’s helmet move quietly into view.

This trailer accomplishes a lot, and if you haven’t spent 90% of your life with Star Wars in your head you might miss it. It affirms that the story is at the forefront, but doesn’t forget that this is a rollicking action movie – the rest of the trailer is all full of action scenes loaded with images both old and new. It tells us everything and nothing at the same time. We get fragments of what the story might be about, while at the same time we are still in the dark. Who are these new people? Is the Empire back? Does Luke have a son? Who is Luke talking to? Who is he giving Anakin’s lightsaber to? Why is someone holding on to Vader’s melted helmet? What exactly does Han mean by “We’re Home”?

The trailer is also the culmination of two things that we have been told for 25 years would never happen. First is George Lucas’ long-held assertion that there would never be anything called “Star Wars Episode VII” (debunked now since Lucas no longer controls the property) and the second is the return of grizzled old Harrison Ford to the role that made him a star – a role that he burned many interviews over the years insisting would never happen.

The trailer, let’s be honest, is a great one, not merely a good one, a great one. It does exactly what a trailer is suppose to do. It wets our appetites, gives us a bit of fan boy gratification, and most importantly asks many questions. Then that ending! That ending! THAT ENDING! And Finally! We get our first glimpse of Harrison Ford back in the role that made him a star – not just appearing in it, but seemingly enjoying it! Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens debuts December 15th.


The second property on the block that taps my childhood debuts just one month from today, but the joy is not quite as high.  Mining the chock of properties that are popular is the remake of Poltergeist, a modern take on a movie that I have long-held as my favorite horror movie in a genre that I have traditionally avoided.

The 1982 production of Poltergeist was something special, born oat a moment when young and fresh-minded Steven Spielberg was the cinema’s great magician who had just given us Raiders of the Lost Ark and was about to give us E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.  These were the days when Spielberg was young and playful and his films came from his heart.  With Poltergeist he accomplished a lot including scaring the pee-jiggers out of a certain 10 year-old who lost sleep over a movie that remains with me to this day, even after I’ve screened the movie over 50 times.

The remake is a bit of a heartbreaker.  I have every hope that director Gil Keanan (who directed the wonderful Monster House) knows what he’s doing.  I have to attend this movie out of blind curiosity, but to be perfectly honest, the trailer doesn’t offer the promise of anything new.  We see a series of fast cuts and jump scares that suggest that the director is attempting to recreate the original, if not shot-for-shot then at least as closely as he can.  But . . . why?  Why make the same movie?  Why add the same elements (the clown, the tree, the rope).  Why not try  something new?  Why not follow the little girl (named Mattie, not Carol Anne) to the other side and see the story from her perspective?  Does he know what scares you?  I seriously doubt it.  Poltergeist (the remake) debuts May 22nd.


The last property on the block that taps my childhood is something that should reasonably be met with trepidation.  After the public was blindsided by Rocky Balboa back in 2006 – the sixth movie in the Rocky series – it seems reasonable that a seventh installment might be eyed with a bit of “Seriously!?”

But Creed is not a sequel, it’s a spin-off to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies.  Directed by Ryan Cooglar – who made the beautiful Fruitvale Station two years ago – this one tells the story of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of the late Apollo Creed who travels to Rocky’s old North Philly neighborhood to ask The Italian Stallion to be his trainer.

At this moment, the movie is still in production.  Yet, I have to wonder what exactly this entry can offer that is new.  We were told in the last Rocky movie that the sport of boxing was in decline, so what is there to offer here?  What is to be proved?  What more does this series have to say that hasn’t already been said?  Only time will tell.

Rocky has been a part of my life even since before Star Wars.  There was always something wonderful about this series even though the movies wavered in quality (which some have said mirrored Stallone’s career).  Creed debuts this fall.

Rocky was part of the great tapestry of the movies, just like Star Wars and just like Poltergeist.  Hollywood is bound and determined to offer these cupcakes again in new wrappers – and we the audience are eager to feast on them again.  We can only hope they’re worth it.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
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