Irvin Kershner's ten best films: RoboCop2 and Star Wars among them
Rest in peace, Irvin Kershner, you director of RoboCop 2 and some film called The Empire Strikes Back.
Image via towerofyouth.org Irv Kershner
Born in 1923, he died over the weekend at the age of 87 and left behind an oeuvre of great filmmaking -- including no small number of sequels. So it makes sense that this list begins, ends, and is populated heavily by, second chapters of some of filmdom's favorite properties.
10. RoboCop 2
Okay, so this 1990 sequel to the small-budget smash wasn't the best movie in the world... but it wasn't the worst, either. It had its moments, courtesy of not only Kershner, but famed comic book writer Frank Miller (Sin City, Dark Knight Returns, 300), who co-wrote the script. The film's plot isn't memorable (or even completely coherent), but its blend of humor and violence is actually years ahead of its time.
9. Last Temptation of Christ
This one is something of an exception on this list, since Kershner wasn't in a directing role in this controversial 1988 film, but rather made his acting debut here. In the role of Zebedee, the father of apostles John and James, Kershner made his small and rather unremarkable debut (though it did lead to another acting gig -- this time playing a film director in a Steven Seagal flick). Still, it was important to Kershner, who had long been devoted to the study of world religions.
8 Eyes of Laura Mars
This 1978 thriller starring Faye Dunaway and Tommy Lee Jones did decent box office numbers, but wasn't a critical darling at all, being dismissed by Roger Ebert as a typical "women in trouble" movie. Still, this was the movie that impressed George Lucas so much that he hired Kershner to direct his Star Wars sequel.
A small and intimate film about small suburbanites with intimacy issues, this 1970 film went largely unnoticed by the American audience, though critics found it intelligent and intense. It served as an obvious inspiration for the 1997 film The Ice Storm, which mimics not only its time period and its cultural significance, but also its emotional nature. (No word on whether The Ice Storm also borrowed elements from the frozen planet Hoth.)
6. Never Say Never Again
This 1983 James Bond film (which he apparently did instead of Return of the Jedi, more's the pity) was an unofficial part of the Bond canon -- this was the Roger Moore era of Bond, and Sean Connery's return to the role was received graciously, if not enthusiastically. Still, it was enough for some audiences to just see Connery in the tux, sipping a shaken martini again, genially slurring his Scottish brogue.