We review The CW’s four part documentary series Greatest Geek Year Ever: 1982, revisiting classic genre films from that year.
PLOT: A deep dive into all the great movies that came out in 1982.
REVIEW: Everyone has their own take on the greatest year ever for cinema. Scholars tend to cite 1939, as that’s the year Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Gunga Din, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and several other seminal classics came out. Modern film fans tend to cite 1999, thanks to The Matrix, Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, Magnolia and many more. I’d make a strong case for 2007 myself, with Into the Wild, The Assassination of Jesse James, Gone Baby Gone, Zodiac, There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, and others. But, if you’re a movie geek, one year stands above them all, and it’s 1982.
Think about it. E.T., The Thing, Star Trek II, Rocky III, Poltergeist, Blade Runner, the list goes on and on. And now, 1982 is getting a documentary series of its own from Mark A. Altman (Free Enterprise), Roger Lay Jr and more. Now, one name you’ll see in the credits is JoBlo Founder Berge Garabedian, who’s the executive producer. The fact that JoBlo had a hand in the documentary is why we didn’t initially review it, but I must admit that I pushed for a review just because I finally sat down and watched all four episodes and loved it. I have no involvement in the film whatsoever and wasn’t asked to tackle it, but I like what I like, and to me, this was so much fun that it’s worth shining a light on it.
Each episode focuses on a few movies, with many of the folks involved with the films giving interviews. While you may not see Spielberg talking about E.T. or Stallone going on about First Blood or Rocky III, you do get William Shatner discussing both Star Trek II and Airplane 2: The Sequel and Ron Howard discussing Night Shift as well as revealing that he was initially up for the job to direct Star Trek II. The best interview of all is Barry Bostwick, who lets it all hang out and comes across as super charming as he remembers making MegaForce, a movie he says he was terrible in (I disagree). Bostwick is great here, with him saying the schedule was a mess and that one day he went out, got super stoned by the pool, but then discovered to his dismay, that he had to film that day.
The documentary is packed with gems like this from all the talking heads, with a favourite story of mine coming from Menace II Society producer Darin Scott, who remembers being the one black guy in the theatre-going nuts when Mr. T’s Clubber Lang defeats Rocky Balboa early in Rocky III and also notes that The Road Warrior was the movie that first made him aware of surround sound. Everyone involved clearly loves the stuff being discussed, and the doc makes it a point to not only focus on genre, with movies like Missing and The Verdict also getting a spotlight.
If I have any issues with the documentary, it’s that some of the stories have been told before. I’m not sure they needed to go into the sucky video game E.T. spawned, as that already got a cool documentary of its own (Atari: Game Over), and the “who directed Poltergeist” debate has been done to death. Then again, I wonder if a documentary about those movies is complete without those older stories, so I can’t judge them too harshly. As a seasoned fan, I couldn’t get enough of the stories I didn’t know, such as Orson Wells being drunk and surly when they recorded the trailer for Conan the Barbarian (they even have the outtakes).
Overall, Greatest Geek Year Ever: 1982 is a nostalgic blast. The third of four episodes airs tonight on the C.W., but if you missed the last two episodes, you can download the C.W.’s app and watch them there. If you’re an eighties movie enthusiast, you’ll love it.