Category Archives: Star Wars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Behind-the-Scenes Reel from D23!!!

Much as they did last year with Rogue One, Disney has released a behind-the-scenes reel for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi at its annual D23 expo.  It’s the kind of reel where you’re going to have to imagine the possibilities, because-just as they have all along-the reel gives nothing away plotwise….except to warn us again that Rian Johnson’s story is going to turn everything we know about Star Wars on its head.  If it were pretty much anyone but Rian Johnson writing this, that constant message would have me a little worried.  It’s a very cool look at a film we still know next to nothing about with a touching finish from the late Carrie Fisher.  No news yet on Han Solo, other than that Ron Howard has taken over and things are apparently still proceeding toward the planned May 2018 release.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson (BrickLooper) and continues the storylines introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, welcoming back cast members Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Domhnall Gleeson as Hux, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, and Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke. New cast members will include Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award nominee Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran as Rose.

The sequel is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in regular and IMAX theaters on December 15, 2017.Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Poster

10 Sequels Better Than the Original

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight
We live in the Age of the Sequel. Studios want franchises with multiple sequels, and increasingly, shared movie universes copied on the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While sequel fatigue may be creeping into many movie goers minds, the fact is that sequels are here to stay. Sequels do have advantages over original films. They have a built-in audience connection, the opportunity for deep character exploration and the chance to build large and challenging plot lines that wouldn’t be possible in a single installment. When filmmakers take advantage of these unique tools, the sequel can even eclipse the film that inspired it. The best sequels build on and expand great films. Here are 10 films where the sequel managed to top (even by the slimmest of margins) the original.

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Disney Fires Han Solo Directors With 3 Weeks Left in Filming. What Now?

Han Solo Star Wars Spin-off

UPDATE 6/22/2017: RON HOWARD HAS OFFICIALLY SIGNED ON TO TAKE OVER DIRECTING THE FILM AND IT LOOKS LIKE SIGNIFICANT RESHOOTS ARE COMING.

Recently, I wrote an article urging Disney to keep Star Wars at Christmas release dates.  The changeover was to begin with next year’s Han Solo spin-off being released in May 2018 (click here to read that article).  It looks like that’s a given, at least for Han Solo as the entire project has been thrown into upheaval following the announcement that Disney had fired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie) from the project just three weeks before the completion of principal photography.  Directors leaving a project before a film begins isn’t uncommon.  Directors leaving during a project is a huge deal.  Directors, who seemed absolutely perfect for this sort of film, being fired three weeks before they finished their cut is astounding.  I have never seen directors removed this late in the process.  While Disney scrambles to find a replacement, fans are freaking out on Twitter, and the entire future of the project seems in doubt. Continue reading Disney Fires Han Solo Directors With 3 Weeks Left in Filming. What Now?

Why Disney Needs to Keep Star Wars at Christmas

Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Happy Holidays! Your reward for making it through another year is a trip to a galaxy far, far away from your friends at Disney. That’s been the case with The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and the upcoming The Last Jedi. However, in 2018, Star Wars films will move to the summer. Not only is this a grinchly move by Disney, it’s bad business. Disney already produces so many blockbusters per year that they’re beginning to crash into each other’s earning potential. Both Disney Star Wars films made over a billion dollars. That’s largely because they were revisited during the cinematic doldrums of January and February. Moving Star Wars to summer will pit the films not only against blockbuster competition from other studios, it will stunt the box office potential for Disney franchises typically used to summer dominance (The Marvel Cinematic Universe and Pixar Animation, for example). There are three reasons behind moving Star Wars to summer, and in each reason is a counter-argument for why Disney shouldn’t.
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Top 5: Crap Films with Amazing Trailers

Movie crowd

Trailers are an art form unto themselves.  They sell the film more than any other form of marketing.  Sometimes a trailer is so good that it’s a mini-film of its own.  The very best leave you completely assured that when you walk into the movie it’s advertising, you’re going to walk out a fist-pumping veteran of a crucial, life-altering movie experience.  However, sometimes that awesome trailer that you watched 100 times to amp up for the movie, turns out to be much better than the actual final product.  Here are five, in order of release, which wrote a check they couldn’t cash (though that doesn’t mean the trailers still aren’t fantastic if you can erase the memory of the actual film).

 1. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) dir. by George Lucas

Before we knew what midichlorians, pod racing or Gungans were, we got our first peek at new Star Wars footage for the first time in 16 years and every person in that theater was completely quiet, studying every frame.  UNTIL Darth Maul ignited the second blade on his saber, and then you could have scraped the lot of us off of the ceiling.  It’s easy in retrospect to see red flags, but not many of us walked in expecting anything less than awesomeness.

 2. Where the Wild Things Are (2009) dir. by Spike Jonze

This is still one of the best trailers I’ve ever seen.  The song, by the way, is “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire, which needs to be compulsory listening for all people all the time.  Where the Wild Things Are was one of my favorite books as a child.  Maurice Sendak got the misfit, bestial energy of little boys, and this two-minute trailer is a much better adaptation than the full go.  A book with 37 sentences in it needs a whole lot of padding to reach a two-hour film.  This book didn’t need it.  The trailer did the job and still does; capturing the iconic imagery and themes of the book with the perfect marriage of Arcade Fire’s best song.

 3. Sucker Punch (2011) dir. by Zack Snyder

In 2011, Zack Snyder was coming off 300 and Watchmen and was one of the hottest directors in Hollywood.  Sucker Punch was a mystery film, but though it was completely confusing as a trailer, there were giant samurai fights, steampunk Nazi battles, science fiction cities, and an amazing dragon.  Check, check, check and check.  What I should have paid closer attention to was the trailer’s own warning “You will be unprepared”….for how deeply creepy (not in a good way) this film is.  The fantasy vignettes in the film are visually stunning action pieces.  It’s what connects them that is super, super…..no, “creepy” is the precise word.

 4. Prometheus (2012) dir. by Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott returning to the Alien franchise after what it had endured since 1986 seemed to be perfect, and this trailer cemented it.  This was a sure thing.  It looked gorgeous, had a great cast, and it looked like we were in for a terrifying introduction to where the xenomorphs originated.  What we got was a ponderous, question filled, few answers given, cryptic mess.  The aliens are tadpoles?  Does that make them amphibians?  Why is that a thing that even popped into my head?  Probably because I spaced out while someone trudged down a corridor for another 10 minutes.  And it’s STILL better than Alien: Covenant.

 5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) dir. by Ben Stiller

Much like the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are, this works almost as a music video, this time to “Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men.  If you’ve never read the short story, it’ll take you 15 minutes and it’s brilliant, and the same problems that sunk Wild Things did so in Mitty.  This two-minute short film tells you the story of a repressed, bored, lonely man who dreams of doing great things and then one day sets off and does them.  It accomplishes it with almost no dialogue.  It remains a fantastic trailer and all of the movie you ever need to see.

Revisiting all of these has my emotions in this place:
Disney Pixar's Inside Out