Irvin Kershner

Robocop 2: Just a brutal sequel that I don’t think any director could have saved.The last movie Kershner directed, and I may have given up too after this trash. Awkward, poor dialogue, confusing character motivations. Most sequels don’t need to be made but few are as miserable as this.

Grade: F

The Flim-Flam Man: A fun con-artist movie starring George C. Scott. Nowhere near The Sting in terms of plot or acting, but charming and funny through and through.

Grade: C+

Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back: Right before he wrote the script for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lawrence Kasdan wrote the script for Empire. It was his first script and a pretty good debut. Lucas gave the reins to Kershner and he directed the best movie in the series. The love triangle between Han, Leia, and Luke is a bit uncomfortable, but the action is one creative scene after another. From the imperial walkers to the asteroid belt to Cloud City to Luke’s showdown with Vader, there is little time to relax. Yoda makes his first appearance; he could have been a complete disaster but the puppeteer does an excellent job of giving the Jedi master pathos and an aura of wisdom. The end of the movie is a series of powerful cliffhangers. By the time I was old enough to watch this, the sequel had already been made. I couldn’t have imagined waiting three years to see how this wrapped up.

Grade: A+

Other Movies by Irvin Kershner You May Have Seen

Never Say Never Again
Eye of Laura Mars
Raid on Entebbe
The Return of a Man Called Horse
Up the Sandbox
A Fine Madness

3 thoughts on “Irvin Kershner”

  1. Just a brutal sequel that I don’t think any director could have saved.

    That undercuts the entire job of the director. A director can get ice cream from horse manure, and vice versa. If he’d set out to make a good movie, he would have made one. You can’t blame the script, because the script, once in the director’s hands, is subject to the same influence a director has over actors. Most big-budget film directors get on a movie before ever seeing the script, and they have a lot to say about the script’s contents. It’s rare that a script sells them on an idea. This is especially true of sequels; more than likely, the production company decided to do a sequel, and then set out for a director. Kirshner must have had the idea for the film they liked most, so they hired him, and he found a screenwriter.

    That’s not necessarily the way it happened, but that’s usually the order of things for a sequel. I think it’s why so many sequels fall flat. Pieces are put together (and paid for) before the studio even knows if they have a movie worth shooting, so a lack of effort on the part of the team is almost inevitable. On top of that, they know they have a built-in audience that will show up no matter how many people tell them it sucked, which sort of goes for the majority of the Star Wars movies, too.

    I liked Empire just fine when I saw it. I doubt it would sniff an A from me today, but I don’t own it so I have no idea. I’m actually fairly sure I haven’t seen it since high school.

    1. Aren’t there times, though, where the studio forces a director’s hand to do certain things with a script or casting, or whatever? I know that directors can always bow out if they feel like they’re control is being limited (or change their name to Alan Smithee), but perhaps some just are in too deep and want to get it over with and get the paycheck? Marlon Brando is generally considered to have mailed it in quite a bit in his later years; I wonder if directors ever do the same.

      1. The thing with directing is that it requires so much vision and control that I can’t imagine phoning it in (on purpose, that is), but that said, it does happen when a production company gets in the way of their vision and ruins the experience for them. Some of them – the ones with artistic integrity – bolt rather than put their name on an inferior product. Others will collect the check and make a movie they don’t believe in. When that happens, you can usually tell that at the very least, there are some issues.

        I highly, highly recommend the DVD extras for Alien3. It’s an advanced course on the things that go wrong when the studio wields too much of its power. If you’re going to hire David Fincher, just get the fuck out of his way!

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