Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

HAWK TALK – Video Renaissance

This would usually be a skip week, but the world is still being a jerk, so we made you a bonus, entirely unedited, and almost entirely off-topic episode. This time, we talked about the movies we grew up on!

Topics, roughly:

  • The glories of VHS
  • Flight of Dragons
  • Fantastic Planet
  • Star(s), both Wars and Trek
  • The Princess Bride, which is objectively perfect
  • The Dark Crystal
  • My Dinner With Andre (again)
  • The Crow
  • Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy
  • Help
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Wayne & Garth & Bill & Ted
  • Defending Your Life
  • Ghostbusters
  • Various musicals


  1. “Stars both wars and trek”… thank you for the Jack Donaghy quote in the email. It brightened my evening.

  2. Oh man…Flight of Dragons definitely had a lasting impact on me as a child.

    The whole magic versus science theme had obviously been done before and numerous works around the world have addressed it in all sorts of ways (I’ll always be a sucker for the ways Japanese creators handle that combination), but there’s something very distinct about the movie’s overall look, the music/voice acting and its dragon designs.

    Btw, this reminds me there was also another dragon-related film (or TV movie?) from back in the day that I’ve had a lot less luck identifying and probably only saw just once.

  3. “The Princess Bride” screenplay was written by the author of the book, so it’s no wonder that it’s still good. 😉

  4. The Star Wars OT was 77, 80, and 83. I have this tendancy with SW. I strongly suspect that when I talk about it, I make a face like Jonathan Groff in Hamilton. So I try to keep it under control. Yeah, I love the OT, and quite like the ST.

    Of the rest, some I love, some I like, some has great ideas but sloppy execution, and some has great art. In that last category, I’d say the Tales of the Jedi and Jedi vs Sith comics.

    Slightly controversial opinion about Labyrinth. Yes, David Bowie is great in that movie. But his crotch has never done anything for me. Y’see, there’s this bloody great maze. And Jennifer Connelly. And everything else. It’s still a great movie even if you don’t care about Bowie’s pants.

    Really controversial: I’d always heard Princess Bride was good. When I read the book the first chance I got, I really didn’t like it. Didn’t even finish it. Made my way through the movie, because that was shorter. Didn’t do anything for me either. Sometimes I consider going back and trying again, but I’ve never actually felt the urge.

    One obscure movie I love is Salute of the Jugger/Blood of Heroes. Rutger Hauer and Vincent D’onofrio. Written and directed by David Webb Peoples. It’s a post-apocalyptic sports movie. Probably helped that I was young and impressionable when I saw it, and living somewhere with similar landscape. It’s a movie that I see a lot of things in, and want to know if I’m imagining it or I’m right. There’s probably a fan community out there somewhere, but I don’t know how to find it.

    1. I first got really into X-Men while I was in a high school production of The Pirates of Penzance, and as a result my mental image of Corsair has always been Kevin Kline as the Pirate King. Thanks for talking about My Dinner With Andre—I’ve never seen it, and now I’m going to.

  5. Diana Wynne-Jones for the win! (As the youngsters say, I believe) You are in for SO much great reading Jay, I genuinely envy you for the experience you’re about to have.

    I’d been a Henson fan since The Muppet Show in the mid 70’s, and so I was predisposed to love both Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, and I did. 🙂 See also, the entire run of Muppet Movies probably up until “Muppets from Space” (Explaining who and what Gonzo is? WHY would ANYONE do that?) or “The Muppets Wizard of Oz” (Anyone who thinks the way to make the Muppets interesting is a Quentin Tarantino cameo, has seriously lost the plot IMHO)

    I love “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance”, because of the look of the whole thing, Aughra being Aughra and the wonderful expansion of the Gelfling tribes. (And if you get the chance to see the “Into Thra” “Making of” Exhibition, then GO, it’s fabulous!)

    The “Into the Woods” movie has a very impressive cast all told, but does not double-cast the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince. Chris Pine plays the Prince and Johnny Depp plays the Wolf.

    I was never able to get into “Wayne’s World”. SNL had no context in the UK, and my tolerance for Mike Myers remains variable at best.

    Bill and Ted, on the other hand, I absoluted adored, as these were two completely guile-less, good natured idiots in a way I never quite got from Wayne and garth (And their sequel has one of my favourite incarnations of Death… who isn’t a Goth girl, or voiced by Christopher Lee)

    I have a slightly different approach to childhood movies, because, well, I predate the concept of home video by something like twenty years. We didn’t HAVE the ability to re-watch movies in my childhood, never mind buy them for keeps or record them off air. So I can recall a lot of movies from TV when I was little, but not having had any ability to re-watch favourites until I was in my 20’s, it has much less “object permanence”. TV shows at least tended to be serialised, or repeated, but movies… they came on TV after one broadcast that was it for maybe another couple of years at least.

  6. Flight of Dragons was based on *two* books — visually it was Dickenson’s original Flight, but the story was derived from Gordon Dickson’s _The Dragon and the George_. In that book the dragons fly in the traditional way, rather than floating, and the story is a lot more violent. The hero discovers first-hand why a lance is such an effective weapon in the hands of an experienced knight, and is horribly injured in the process.

    That turned out to be the first book in a series of about half a dozen, with the hero (James in the book) remaining in a fantasy-tinted version of dark ages Europe. I loved those books as a young adult; high adventure and humor, with “realistic” bits about Medieval history and life to add a bit more flavor.

    (After James learns magic, one of his most common uses of it is to drive all of the fleas and bedbugs out of wherever it is that he’s sleeping.)

    I don’t know how well they hold up now, several decades later, but I think that I’m going to have to find out.

    1. Yes! I loved these books too. I saw the movie first, but got even more into the Dragon Knight novels thanks to the historical elements, the great supporting cast, and some really clever magic.

  7. Ooh, ooh, I get to do my Count Zero Contextualizes Stuff through Anime Thing for a Hawk Talk.

    So, a lot of these Ranken-Bass cell animated projects – Flight of Dragons, The Hobbit & Return of the King, and The Last Unicorn were all animated by Studio Topcraft. If that name sounds familiar, they also animated Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind. When Topcraft went bankrupt, the staff basically either went with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki to Studio Ghibli, with Hideaki Anno to help Daicon Film on their project Royal Space Force: Wings of Honnêamise (and some later going on to GAINAX).

    The rest went on to a new company called Pacific Animation Corporation, which got bought by Disney, dissolved in the early 2000s, with everyone then starting a third company called The Answer Studio where they’ve been working on DC Animated projects.

    1. Oh, and one other thing – the character designer for the Ranken Bass Hobbit movies (and IIRC Flight of Dragons), would go on to do character design work for Record of Lodoss War, and is basically responsible for Anime Elves having such super long and pointy ears.

      1. One other thing – talking about films based on Saturday Night Live sketches and Dan Ackroyd – The Blues Brothers was a formulative movie for me (mainly the TV edit of the film), for helping to form my taste in music.

        Additionally, I think the first film (less so the second) is a good example of Ackroyd and Belushi doing homage to a musical genre from a minority group without being appropriative (Blues, R&B, and Soul) – because the movie took deliberate efforts to surface Black performers, both men and women, at center stage in the film – they’re clearly shown performing their own music, the fact that the songs are from black artists is not concealed, and whenever the characters of Jake & Elwood are involved, they are in a background role, often as backup dancers or backup vocalists.

        Blues Brother 2000 has a killer soundtrack, but the presentation of the artists is lacking. Taj Mahal’s duet with Elwood for “Cheaper to Keep Her” is in the background of that scene, and while Dr. John owns that version of “Season of the Witch”, he’s not on camera, and no member of The Lousiana Gator Boys ever truly gets to the fore, aside from B.B. King. The closest we get to Black artists getting the same presentation that they received in the first film is Wilson Pickett with “864-5789” and Aretha Franklin with “Respect”.

        1. And quick correction looking at my copy of the Blues Brother 2000 Soundtrack – Cheaper to Keep Her was Ackroyd, Junior Welles, and Lonnie Brooks. Taj Mahal was part of the Louisana Gator Boys.

    2. This is some great info, I really really love all their art. Quoting you on my blog (it’s just so I don’t personally lose this great info), thanks.

  8. Miles’s aversion to the Princess Bride based on its name seems thematically appropriate with Fred Savage’s character’s aversion to reading “A Kissing Book” with his grandfather.

    And, of course, after allowing themselves to get in to the story, in the end both loved the story.

  9. I loved the Princess Bride when it came out — saw it multiple times at the cinema, GMed a Fantasy Hero campaign that was heavily influenced by it. At that moment, young me was 100% convinced that it was his famous film ever.

    I revisited it a few years ago as an adult, and I have to say that I was a bit critical of my younger self for liking it so much, because Buttercup is a problem. She’s probably better than the book (I read that, of course, but I didn’t care for it as much as the film, and I don’t remember it very clearly). But she’s still not great as the film’s only prominent female character, with the exception of one admittedly excellent scene. Robin Wright does a lot with what she has, but still — it reminded me that there was a reason why Strong Female Characters in the ‘90s, even if we see their limitations now, did feel like an advance at the time.

    But the rest of the film remains excellent.

    The Dark Crystal was an enormous deal for me, although I only saw it once. As Icon _UK observes above, before VCRs we couldn’t rewatch easily (and when The Dark Crystal came out I was too young to go to the cinema by myself). But we could buy the novelizations, and I read and reread the novelization.

    Other weirdly formative films: on Saturday mornings when I was very young, there were children’s events at the local cinema, which consisted of cartoons and films that were not new. The films were mostly godawful Disney live-action films from that not very good Disney live-action period, which I suppose I could revisit if I were to get Disney+. Also Children’s Film Foundation things. These have not left much impact on my memory.

    But there was a time when they showed Son of Godzilla and Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. Which are not considered highlights of the franchise, and that is probably a fair judgment. But I *adored* them, and would chase up whatever little scraps of Godzilla I could find, which wasn’t much.

    When I was *somewhat* older (as you may imagine), I saw The Seventh Seal on television and came into school the next day raving about it. Unfortunately, this was at the same time as legendarily crap ‘80s horror film The Seventh Sign was out in cinemas, and everyone concluded that I was not right in the head. (It was a fee-paying school — no-one was going to think I was doing drugs.)

    1. Who could forget such seminal Children’s Film Foundation efforts as



      or “Sammy’s Super T-Shirt”


      🙂 (Actually I could, as I never saw them at the time, though they currently show up on random Freeview channels these days)

      Again, I wasn’t helped by my home town not having a cinema until I was well into my teens, and even then it was on timeshare with a bingo-hall, so releases tended to be a little lackluster.

      I remember going to see Tron at the nearby big town which had the added draw of a specially installed laserium show beforehand and how they ahem “augmented” seminal moments in the movie like Flynn entering the computer with random laser effects.

      1. Writing the comment prodded me to look up the Children’s Film Foundation Wikipedia page to see if any of the titles could spark a memory of having seen any specific film.

        No luck, but One Hour to Zero is a great title that someone should reuse.

        1. Looking those up on youtube actually made me recall something even MORE weirdly British… our absolutely terrifying PSA’s for children

          NO ONE in my generation will ever forget “Lonely Water”


          Or “Charley and the Stranger”


          But the one that lingers with me is the oddly specific one about the dangers of… putting a rug on a polished floor


          That mantrap bloody well haunted my nightmares!!

          1. Lonely Water — that bit at the end in which the children are about to wrap their friend in Death’s discarded robe, That’s a superhero origin story waiting to happen.

            1. IIRC The current Ragman uses something similar as an origin. His costume is made up of scraps of cloth, which are each the soul of an evildoer (The costume exusts thanks to the magic of a group of Jewish mystic IIRC), and he can channel the strength and skills of any of them in return for them working off the debt they owe the world before going on to their judgement.

  10. I grew up largely in the ’80’s and very near a video store at the age when movies began to impact me. Star Wars, and it’s subsequent sequels, were definitely formative. Alongside Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal I also frequently watched such films as Conan, The Lost Boys, Monster Squad and The Goonies. I had also seen Romero’s Dead trilogy be the time I was 12. There are, however, two films I would point to as to actually have impact on me as a person. The first was Batman in 1989. It lead me to a lifetime of collecting comics and truly birthed my geek hood. The second was The Crow which strongly influenced my aesthetic and musical leanings.

    There is one more film which has an impact (the nature of which I will not be sharing) and that’s Steve Martin’s L.A. Story.

    1. As a further thought, it actually seems to me that, in as far as the ’80’s were concerned, there is a list of essential viewing for kids. In no particular order,

      The Neverending Story
      The Dark Crystal
      The Goonies
      The Star Wars Trilogy
      Ghost Busters
      The Princess Bride
      Star Trek trilogy (2,3,4)
      and any of the early Muppet movies.

  11. Hi folks,

    Really enjoyed that once again. Just wanted to note that my reason for not watching the Disney version of Into the Woods was exactly Jay’s reason for not doing so! I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to remove that song, given that it’s essentially the emotional climax of the entire story.

    Take care,


  12. I was going to stop posting about Wolverine in your comment section, but clearly, I have no will power.

    1. Miles – that’s cool that you’re reading all of Wolverine (I’m assuming the solo series, and not all Wolverine appearances), I prefer to read Wolverine in emotionally crushing chunks. This weekend I was re-reading The Punisher, got to the issue where Frank runs Wolverine over with a steamroller. Then, started thinking about how that’s nowhere close to the worst thing that ever happened to Wolverine. Which lead to me making a mental list of all of the horrible things that have happened to Wolverine, and deciding to re-read Jason Aaron’s Wolverine’s Revenge & Wolverine No More.

    2. Hugh Jackman has an excellent singing voice, however he decided to dehydrate himself for Les Mis to give himself the correct look for the part, and since all of the audio was shot on set, the results weren’t great.

    3. I don’t remember when watching the 1982 Sweeney Todd w/ Angela Lansbury became a Thanksgiving family tradition at my house, but it might have had something to do with the last recession putting everyone into a bad mood and being unable to find the Tim Burton version.

  13. Hi, I discovered your podcast February this year and have been binging it on and off since. When you guys talked about your childhood books I wanted to ask if Jay’s read Diana Wynne Jones so the mention of DWJ in this ep just made me so happy.

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