A note: This is the fourteenth in the Cinépathétic series, an interview-style back and forth between me and the interesting people in my life, jabbering about movies and why we love them so damned much. This week, I’m interviewing Jim Lynch, a former fellow employee of the now-defunct (but still legendary) Front Row Video of Saline, MI, a web developer and family man with a stout cinematic heart, and a willingness to placate me when necessary.   We go on at length about the looming threat of a Ghostbusters 3, forgettable Star Trek villains, and the unforgettable siege at Helm’s Deep. As usual, be wary for spoilers throughout, and please, enjoy.

DR: Jim. JIM! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I know you’re busy.

JIM: Of course! I don’t see you much anymore since we live in different states.  It’s my pleasure to talk movies with you.

DR: We have a pretty awesome history, you and me, talking shit about movies. Mostly quoting back and forth, right?

JIM: Yeah, we used to for sure. I mean, it’s been like seven or eight years since we worked at an indie video store right? That was a blast. I remember a pair of teenage customers referencing Clerks to us since our back-and-forth was sometimes that ridiculous.

DR: I look upon those memories fondly. I secretly wish we were still there. Simpler times.

JIM: I remember at the video store, you being the manager, asking the employees to pick our top 5 movies to display for customers to rent. All I know is that I picked something from the Left Behind series and you were none to pleased. I promise that these top films are my actual favorites and not sarcastic.

DR: You’re lucky I didn’t fire you.

JIM: Nah, that was some trash that our district manager hired to replace you who did my firing.

DR: (laughs) Ah, yes. Right. Well, let’s get to it. Where do we begin. What movie starts us off, JIM?

JIM: One of the most important films of all time: Ghostbusters.

DR: Well, duh. I might have known. Ivan Reitman corralling SNL stars Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd into an instant classic. I love this movie so much I almost hate it anymore. Why did you want to start here?

JIM: Why not start there?  It walks such a fine line in regards to being funny, but not over the top. The humor is grounded and the scares legit. I’m thinking Sigourney Weaver, “there is no Dana, only Zuul” in that “lovely singing voice.”  I mean, I can just watch that movie over and over and over.  And I do.

DR: I have. I must have seen this movie at least three dozen times in my life. I think I can quote it almost verbatim.

JIM: Me too. It’s one of those films whose quotes are always cropping up in my brain and I have to often stop myself from quoting it in everyday interactions because I know that most people wouldn’t get it.  I know what it was to roast in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you.

DR: (laughs) It’s such an easy film to watch, mostly because the cast that was assembled – either through friendship or by chance – hit all the marks that Aykroyd and Ramis’ script demanded. It’s broad humor, put through the prism of Aykroyd’s analytically scientific mind. I mean, THESE MEN CAUSED AN EXPLOSION.

JIM: Bill Murray. I mean, that guy kills it – Stripes, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, What About a Bob, and everything with Wes Anderson. I really can’t think of a better comedic character than Peter Venkman. Murray’s at his prime when he’s playing Venkman.  Which is why he got typecast as that character in other films like Scrooged and Groundhog Day. But yeah, everyone in it is perfect. Rick Moranis as Vinz Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer… Genius. I heard that originally John Candy was supposed to play Louis Tully, but he wanted to much money so they got Moranis. And Akroyd talking about the paranormal is, I would argue, better than Morgan Freeman reading the phonebook. Aykroyd has a magnificent gift for the gab.

DR: Dan Aykroyd is my childhood hero. I’ve spoken about his infinite cool in earlier installments. As Ray Stanz, Aykroyd embodied the man I would hope to one day embody: the immensely knowledgeable nerd that may never get the girl, but would ultimately save the world.  Excuse me, Dr. Ray Stanz.

JIM: I was just listening to a Neil deGrasse Tyson podcast this afternoon where he interviewed Dan Aykroyd… Pure gold. By the end of it, I was convinced that the scientific community needs to pay more attention to ghostly sightings, and that his crystal skull vodka is the best in the world.  Although I am scared to death of a Ghostbusters 3.

DR: Let’s talk about that for a moment. You said John Candy was going to be Louis at one point, and that’s true, and what a different dichotomy he would have brought to Ghostbusters… I love John Candy, but Ghostbusters without Rick Moranis? Hard to conceive. And so it is with the worry I think we both share over a potential Ghostbusters 3. Aykroyd wants it. But he wanted Blues Brothers 2000. No good can come from this, can there?

JIM: No good, indeed. I enjoyed Ghostbusters 2, though I know that’s taboo to admit. Peter MacNicol was amazing in it. But there’s a reason they didn’t do a third a couple years after that one. And the idea of casting some yougsters to pass the torch on to is just so freaking sacrilegious… I just… I just can’t… Next question.

DR: You seem distraught.

JIM: How dare you drag me back into this question?  Yeah, I’m fucking distraught.  I’ve heard rumors that include Jonah Hill and Emma Stone – and I adore them both – but if I was some big time actor and they approached me, “Um, hey. So do you want to play Peter Venkman’s son in a 3rd Ghostbusters?” I’d spit in their face.

DR: (laughs) I have seen shit that would turn you WHITE.

JIM: There is only one scenario where I’d be okay with this: If everyone came back for it, they were all the main characters, and they didn’t do some “coming out of retirement” storyline, but rather like they never left.

DR: I like that scenario. Ghostbusters riding off into the sunset.

JIM: But I’m pretty sure that Murray refuses to do it, so…

DR: That’s the real gift of Bill Murray. Saving us from Ghostbusters 3. What do you have next for us?

lord_of_the_rings_the_two_towers_ver3_xlgJIM: I think for number two we will go with The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers.

DR: MMF. I’m still very much a Tolkien devotee, I should warn you.

JIM: I’m very much aware of your passion for Tolkien. I have not read the books, although I shall before I die. But those films are just the absolute perfect representation of fantasy on the big screen. When I was a kid I used to read the Forgotten Realms books. I remember the first time I saw a trailer for Fellowship and I got so freaking giddy in the theater. It just looked perfect. And they were all perfect. But Two Towers is definitely my favorite.

DR: It’s the most intense chapter of the film trilogy, as far as I’m concerned. I know that Return Of The King has the most action sequences, but Two Towers ratcheted the momentum left from Fellowship and took it to a new level. As good as Return was, it was nowhere near as good as it was in my brain after I walked out of Two Towers. That’s how intensely I love this film.

JIM: Definitely. I often hear people talk about these Tolkien adaptations being “boring” or “slow.” That’s a load. Everything about them is beautiful; but elf-on-orc action is much appreciated. I think that Two Towers had some of the most memorable moments for me as well. Gandalf coming back as the White Wizard. And then at the end with him returning for the Battle of Helms Deep. I get chills just thinking about those scenes.

DR: Helms Deep, as a set piece, is the golden standard that all high fantasy – at least in cinema – should set itself towards. There’s nothing like it. I mean, I had never – EVER – seen anything like that moment, where Gandalf looks down on the skirmish and says, “Theoden King stands alone,” and Eomer is all, “not alone” – unsheathes his sword and calls out to his Rohirrim, “TO THE KING!” and hundreds of horses fall down the hillside as the sun rises over the hilltop to blind the orc hordes. I’ll probably never feel like that ever again.

JIM: That’s what I’m talking about! I mean, there are epic movie moments and there is Lord of the Rings. I mean, I can’t even top that now. The bar for thinking about film has been set to high…

DR: And yet there is so much more to marvel at with the Two Towers. Andy Serkis’ performance as Gollum/Smeagol comes to mind.

JIM: Good God. Serkis was incredible. Really, I think everyone was, right? Heavy metalhead Christopher Lee is always good. Brad Dourif as Wormtongue was such a joy. I remember seeing in Dourif in an X-Files episode, Cuckoo’s Nest, and then Two Towers all within the same couple months and being like, “this guy’s sooo good.” Even Sean Astin. I didn’t realize it was the guy from Encino Man until someone told me. Jackson spared no expense and paid attention to every tiny detail to make this one of the greatest epics of all time.

DR: It’s one thing to bring on the spectacle, but it’s quite another to sneak in the quiet, intimate moments among the brouhaha. Theoden’s wake for his fallen son is one such moment. I nearly lost it when that single flower was flung into the camera and held there for five impossibly beautiful seconds. I didn’t expect that in a franchise picture, that level of natural beauty. Peter Jackson balanced his epic with a naturalism, a beating heart.

JIM: And not only intimate, but the humor. The back-and-forth between Gimli and Legolas was hysterical. Such a nice addition to the already brilliant action sequences. But in terms of the intimate, what about when Frodo says the name, “Sam”. Am I wrong? I know that it’s hacky to poke fun at Sam and Frodo’s relationship, but when you read the books is there anything else going on there?

DR: It’s love. Not of the homosexual nature, which is the typical bullshit joke that goes around, but of the purely natural sort. Every time Frodo looks on Sam with worry, the audience is invested – WE’RE invested – because Elijah Wood and Sean Astin gave themselves wholly to their roles. And those two are the literal linchpin of the series.

JIM: Why would it be a typical bullshit joke? I know that people poke fun in a negative sort of way. I was just curious if Tolkien was sneaking in some progressive themes.

DR: I sincerely doubt it, considering he was Catholic.  What puts this film over the other two for you, Jim?

JIM: Well, I loved the first one for setting up the story. Fellowship was the kind of film I could just be in awe of. The simplicity of the Shire and the innocence of all the Hobbits being thrown into this adventure. And I loved Return of the King, but felt the end dragged on for a bit long. Two Towers was when the drama really escalated and characters’ lives were being torn apart. It was everything I ever wanted to see in a fantasy epic of that scale.

DR: I couldn’t have said it better myself. What’s next?

JIM: So, I’m a big Star Trek fan. Who isn’t, right? And I love a lot of Star Trek movies, but the one I get a real big kick out of is Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home.

DR: Oh, no. This is the whale one, isn’t it?

JIM: (laughs) Yes, the whale one. It’s the one where the original cast is stranded with a Klingon Bird of Prey and they’re on their way back to Earth when a mysterious alien vessel is destroying the planet. So Kirk and his crew slingshot around the sun and go back in time to Earth in the 1980s to find a humpback whale and take it back to their own time. Pretty standard stuff.

DR: Obviously. This one pretty much finished up the episodic nature of the original Star Trek movie series, where the crew of the Enterprise had suffered the wrath of Khan, searched for Spock, and here they were going home… I seem to remember them going home to stand trial. Am I close?

JIM: Yessir. And it ends with Admiral Kirk being demoted to Captain and he and his crew get to run the new Enterprise NCC-1701-A. Everyday knowledge. But yeah, it’s kind of the end of a sub-trilogy? 2, 3, and 4 all come right after each other.

DR: Right. After that, The Final Frontier.

JIM: We do not speak of it.

DR: (laughs) Why is this on the list, Jim?

JIM: I love Star Trek for a whole myriad of reasons. And this one reminds me of the 1960s series a lot; it’s more like a one-off episode than a movie. Mostly, because it’s so goofy. You’ve got Spock trying to rediscover his identity while trying to fit in with 1980s USA by cursing and just looking ridiculous in his big, white, ballin’ Vulcan robes. The humor is pretty endless. Chekov, “the nuclear wessels.” Um, but I also like that they made such an obviously bold statement with the extinction of killer whales. I know some folks will think it lame of them for promoting an agenda. But Star Trek has always had an agenda… Just not so in your face.

DR: It really wasn’t. Gene Roddenberry always crafted his early tales of Star Trek with a civic-minded purpose, but issues were always presented as allegory, instead of an ever present, nail-driving liberal nightmare. I mean, my God. This movie. Leonard Nimoy’s second as director, I believe.

JIM: Oh, Lord. Yeah, it could be Nimoy’s second as director. I don’t pay attention to who directs Star Trek as much as being up to date on what P.T. Anderson or David Fincher is doing, but you’re probably right. And yeah, it is a liberal nightmare in Reagan’s America. I’m all for it. Fun fact: Gene Roddenberry was 100% against Patrick Stewart playing Jean-Luc Picard.

DR: Thank God no one listened to him.

JIM: He did not live long enough to witness, “Jean-Luc, blow up the damn ship!”  “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

DR: Ah-hah. There are so many reasons to like this movie less than every other that came before it. I mean, Search For Spock had more than its share of issues, but Wrath Of Khan. I know it’s the safe one of all the Star Trek films to choose from, but I always thought you might pick First Contact, the first stand-alone Star Trek: The Next Generation  flick.

JIM: You’re absolutely right. Part of me likes this movie because it’s bad. Part of my logic behind these top 5 movies was “movies I’ve always had a fun time watching”. So yes, Wrath of Khan, Undiscovered Country, and First Contact are superior in quality, but Voyage Home, for me, is a riot to watch. But man, Chris Plummer in Undiscovered Country might be my favorite Star Trek villain ever.

DR: Star Trek villains have traditionally sucked.

JIM: Here we go…

DR: I mean it! If you weren’t such a fan, you’d understand that – Khan aside – there have been zero memorable Trek villains that have been more than simple foils for the crew of the Enterprise, but real, viable threats. That’s why the Borg remain the most recognizable Trek nemeses, and it’s because they have to be an entire swarm of almost unkillable cyborgs to make anyone care about them at all.

JIM: I guess… Christopher Lloyd and Christopher Plummer were both amazing Klingon villains. Of course Khan was the best. But again, the show’s bigger than the idea of a villain.  It’s about the ideals that the United Federation of Planets maintain and the outside forces trying to ruin them. I say, “Villains, Schmillains.” Which is why I love Star Trek IV.

DR: You see, I agree with that. It’s only when the series or films attempt to highlight a singular big bad does the whole production threaten to run off the rails. Give me inter-Federation intrigue over Nero, any day.

JIM:  (laughs) Nero. I love the Abrams adaptations, but they’re just action. Not a lot of heart.

DR: What do you have next for us, JIM?

army-of-darkness-poster1JIM: Let’s go with every middle school boy’s favorite horror-comedy… Army of Darkness.

DR: Try “every thirty year-old’s favorite horror-comedy”. Meaning, mine. Fucking Sam Raimi. What happened to him? In the immortal words of Sam Jackson, “your ass used to be beautiful.”

JIM: Those Spider-Man movies he did were shit. Other than the Doctor Octopus scene on the operating table. Anyway… Yeah, I’ve just been in love with Army of Darkness since, I think, 1994. My mom let me rent it from the video store and my dad came home while I was watching it and he exclaims, “This is Evil Dead 3!” I had no idea what he was talking about, so he rented Evil Dead and let me watch it. Now, I was 12 years old at the time and they never let me watch shit like that. But man, Bruce Campbell was – and still is – just the coolest.

DR: I used to want Bruce Campbell to be in a Green Lantern movie, back in the ’90s. Simpler times.

JIM: Ooh, good call. Quick side story. Bruce Campbell actually hung out at the “senior all-night party” for the high school that rivaled my own growing up. I was like, “why couldn’t have we lived one mile south of here!”

DR: School district zoning always eluded me. Getting back on track, this was pretty ambitious stuff, coming off of Evil Dead 2. Sticking Ash in the Middle Ages was pretty fucking inspired thinking.

JIM: Seriously. How crazy was that? And to even reboot Evil Dead with Evil Dead 2 was odd enough – but a great move.  Army of Darkness was like Bruce Campbell And The Holy Grail. And I don’t know the guys name, but I loved that Mr. Pitt from Seinfeld was in it too.

DR: Ian Abercrombie. Fantastic actor.  What puts this film at number four for you, Jim?

JIM: Again, it goes back to this being one that withstands the test of time. I loved it as a 12 year old and I love it as a 31 year old. The whole premise is just absolutely absurd: guy with chainsaw for a hand travels back in time to the Middle Ages, battles an army of the dead, all while making brilliant one-liners. I think as a kid, we all love fantasy and horror, but to throw in some wise-crackin’ man who blows demons away with a sawed-off shotgun is about as far as you can take it.

DR: It kind of makes you wish for another installment, another series of days in the life of Ash, the irredeemable buffoon with a heart of gold.

JIM: Well, that’s the rumor, right? An Army of Darkness 2? As opposed to Ghostbusters 3, I’m all for Army of Darkness 2. Bruce Campbell isn’t doing much these days excpept for that Burn Notice show I think. And I even enjoyed the reboot of Evil Dead. Personally, Cabin in the Woods came as close to that ’80s Evil Dead-type feeling as anyone’s done lately.

DR: The remake of Evil Dead wasn’t a terribly bad piece of work. Its cast was the real liability, none of those kids were up to the sob work that the story set up for them – the heroin subplot, and the subsequent friend/family drama… Actually, I think sticking Bruce Campbell into the proceedings might have livened the film up considerably. But making an Army Of Darkness 2 that ties in the deathly serious Evil Dead remake is a mistake. Or rather, it will be a mistake.

JIM: Oh, I don’t think they would tie it together. Evil Dead reboot is a stand-alone. But I agree that the heroin sub-plot was ridiculous, but it’s supposed to be cliche, that’s the inside-joke.

DR: It certainly didn’t feel like an inside joke. But let’s get back to Army Of Darkness. It’s this comedy of errors with a leading man that blusters his way through life, but when that bluster leads to countless fallen skeletal cadavers, who could resist it, right?

JIM: “Shop S-Mart.” He definitely benefited greatly from losing a hand and conveniently carrying around Chemistry textbooks in his trunk, didn’t he?  But I also can’t get over how Sam Raimi shot those movies. The quick cuts and the wildly spastic zoom. What was that movie he did with Justin Long?

DR: Drag Me To Hell.

JIM: I liked that one too. It was a relief to see Raimi do something like that.

DR: Raimi has always had a rambunctious approach to his camera work. It has this insane quality, but a fluidity as well. It makes havoc look almost graceful.

JIM: I’m sorry. I’m just laughing to myself thinking of different scenes for it. When that lady exclaims, “into the pit with those blood thirsty sons of whores…” and she takes big honking bite of that moldy old bread…

DR: (laughs) Yeah. This movie is great.  What’s last for us, Jim?

indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusade-1989-movie-posterJIM: Lastly, one of my favorite movies of all time is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Let my armies be the rocks and the trees… And the birds in the sky.

DR: Nice one. I just covered Raiders with Jason Gibner not two weeks ago. Indiana Jones is still very much on my mind. Justify your love.

JIM: I love Temple and I love Raiders, but growing up, we watched Last Crusade. Again, it comes back to my theme: I have a great time watching it. Harrison Ford has played some of the best characters of all time: Han Solo, Rick Deckard, Kimble, etc… And of course Indiana Jones. But goddamn, throwing Sean Connery into the mix, another guy that’s played some of the greatest roles of all time. It’s almost too much. Like in any other movie they would cancel each other out. But in Last Crusade it is one of the most entertaining duos.

DR: Completely agree. Having Connery on board in a knowing co-starring role that damn near eclipses Harrison Ford at his peak is such a captivating prospect. I remember this movie being huge. Like, Batman huge.

JIM: And Connery was so cool at the time they made it too. So when he’s finally introduced to the audience, he’s a quirky old dad, and we all buy it hook, line, and sinker. That’s how good he was. It wasn’t awkward like Tom Cruise trying to be funny, it was brilliant. But it’s not just Jones/Connery that makes this great. It’s the adventure overall as well. Spielberg and Lucas are still able to squeeze out even more WWII-era content and mash it with biblical legend to create an adventure that could have flopped had they gone too heavy on the religion or the Nazi shit.

DR: The Holy Grail, much like the Ark of the Covenant, are more McGuffins than anything else, a narrative device with which to drive these rich characters well into the end credits. Most of the fun of these films is had along the way of the journey, rather than when they acquire their sought-out relic. Having Dr. Jones humble himself for his father makes Last Crusade feel more than a simple sequel to an already successful franchise. It makes it feel more important, doesn’t it?

JIM: That’s a good call. The first film melts faces. The second rips out still beating hearts. But the third brings a tear to our eye. I’ve seen plenty of films about father/son redemption, but this one takes the cake. It just occurred to me that John Rhys-Davies is in this one too – he was Gimli in Two Towers. Although my favorite quote of his is from Raiders: “bad dates.”

DR: I always liked, “you’re named after the dog?”

JIM: (laughs)

DR: Everything gets answered in this film, everything you might ever want to know about Indiana Jones as a man, his iconic visage, his fedora, even Harrison Ford’s actual chin scar is explained away in the opening sequence with the late River Phoenix. Though the feeling of oversharing never occurs to you , does it? The film is that entertaining.

JIM: Oh god, you’re right. I forgot to mention the opening scene with River Phoenix. And then unfortunately, more unnecessary questions were answered in the 4th installment: “does Indiana have a kid?” “Why, yes. And he’ll be played by some hack actor who just won’t disappear forever.”  I don’t want to see Nymphomaniac because of him… But I digress…

DR: Well, we never really have to discuss Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Not if you don’t want to.

JIM: Okay… Crystal Skull. I saw it twice. Once because it’s Indiana Jones. Twice because I visited Jacob Ames at boot camp – or whatever the Hell those seamen call it – and he dragged me to it. Anyway, Harrison Ford is great in it. And I love, always love, Cate Blanchett and John Hurt. But aliens? Really? Did Giorgio Tsoukalos from Ancient Aliens consult on the script?  It was just too much. There were too many compromising situations and as mentioned earlier, anything with Shia LeDouche is automatically going to not sit well with me.

DR: I refuse to ever see it again, even though Cate Blanchett in a black bob is almost too much for me to deny.  Do you feel that franchises ought to have a sell-by date? A ceiling that it cannot surpass?

JIM: Hmm. To an extent, yes. It’s like I said with Ghostbusters, if you’re going to proceed with a sequel without any gimmick, then it’s fine. Crystal Skull had to throw in the son.  But for example, I’m so psyched about Star Wars. But that could be because Lucas butchered the last three and I have complete faith in Abrams to do the next installment. I’m trying to think of a long delay between good sequels. Yeah, it should be bang bang bang. At the most three years apart. Otherwise it’s usually desperate.

DR: A cash grab.

JIM: Yes. Like Terminator 3.

DR: Or Basic Instinct 2.

JIM: Or Superman Vs. Batman

DR: Don’t get me started.

JIM: I know better.

DR: (laughs)  JIM! Thank you again. This was great.

JIM: It was a lot of fun! I love the DoomRocket reviews. Keep up the good work!

Jim Lynch lives in Milford, Michigan with his amazing wife and two kids. He’s a web developer by trade, specializing in SEO and eCommerce. After high school he went semi-nomadic for a few years before gaining political awareness, going back to school, and ultimately graduating from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor in Political Science. In his spare time (after both kids are in bed) he watches the Detroit Red Wings and a lot of AMC and HBO series. And Star Trek.