Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Teaser Trailer

Screenshot 2017-04-14 12.35.54.pngRian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released a few hours ago, and looks… like a Star Wars movie.

Which is stating the obvious, though it also reveals a problem.  The last Star Wars movie, Rogue One, was what you get when you take Star Wars and remove the wonder, heart and engaging characters that made that made the series so well-loved by so many (even George Lucas’ much maligned–and deservedly so–prequel trilogy).

And sure, Rogue One made a gazillion dollars but it could easily be a case of diminishing returns, like in the case of Sony’s Spider-Man franchise.

Though to be fair it appears that The Last Jedi looks like it’s at least attempting to bring some of the aforementioned wonder and mystery central to prior entries, and that’s a good thing.

Will it work?  I have no idea, but it’s worth trying.

 

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS Story – Review


“What’s surprising is not that ROGUE ON: A STAR WARS Story has earned almost $850 million worldwide, but how astoundingly mediocre the movie actually is.”

The biggest problem with Gareth EdwardsROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS Story is that it’s two movies.

For the bulk of it’s time it’s a war movie, and a not very good one. The characters are characters–for the most part–only in the sense that they have names and are played by actors.

It never once invests in the development necessary to make make our heroes anything approaching  empathetic, never mind sympathetic–it goes without having saying that the villains, particularly Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) fare significantly better though I suspect few people go to a Star Wars movie exclusively for the villains.

And that’s to be expected, though more is required of the heroes; we need to not only sympathize with their plight, but have to actively want them to achieve their goal.

And that doesn’t happen in Rogue One and seeing that it’s a prequel of sorts to Star Wars: A New Hope, you know that they succeed in stealing the plans for the Death Star.

It’s only how that manages to come about that matters.

And the how is what the brunt of what the movie gets wrong.

Which reminds me, why was Gareth Edwards hired to direct? As you could probably tell from Monsters, as well as Godzilla, he doesn’t exactly excel in developing human relationships on screen, which is what Rogue One needed. I don’t care about virtually everyone dying at the end, though what I do care about is not caring about everyone dying at the end.

And the movie also–in a very curious fashion–undermines a small but important sequence from The Empire Strikes Back (which I go more in detail about in my video review).

As much criticism as the three George Lucas-directed sequels received–deservedly so for the most part–at least they felt like Star Wars movies (not very good Star Wars movies, but Star Wars movies nonetheless).

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?  Not so much.

Somehow Star Wars: The Force Awakens Hasn’t Made As Much As Avatar

Star Wars: The Force Awakens–I’m starting to warm up to that subtitle, at last–is approaching the box office of Avatar and I don’t understand it.

What’s confused me is that I don’t understand how it is that Avatar was able to reach such box office heights in the first place.

Let’s be honest, it’s not a particularly innovative movie–besides how it was made, that is–and the story is essentially cowboys and indians (Cowboys & Aliens?) with an environmental twist.

(Though if I were honest, it lost me when they had an AMP–Amplified Mobility Platform–grab a knife).

It’s a battle suit.  Make the weapon part of it.  That way, it can’t drop it.

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Anyway, that’s not to say that the latest Star Wars movie is innovative either–it’s essentially Star Wars: A New Hope, which was mildly disappointing,  with some shiny new effects.

That being said, after Lucas’ machine-tooled prequels (which were as innovative as Avatar in their own way) Star Wars fans would have paid virtually anything to see a movie evocative of the original trilogy.

And if LucasFilm under Disney is capable of nothing else it’s creating audience-pleasing entertainment (if their Pixar, Marvel Studios and Disney Animation divisions are any indicator) for the greatest possible amount of people.

 

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Vs. The Dark Side (Of The Internet)

It goes without saying that the internet has been beneficial to humanity.  It possesses a democratizing effect in that no matter or how little money or resources at your command, you potentially have the same access to information that a person with significantly greater resources has.

But like any benison, there’s a dark side.  The Internet also, by its very nature, facilitates the rapid spread of information, be it helpful or just rumor and innuendo, with the capability to damage lives and careers.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be the latest entries to one of the most successful movie franchises in history–despite Lucas’ for the most part mediocre and machine-tooled prequels–and there’s a lot of good will that accompanies it.

The Internet being the Internet, not all the news that accompanied the upcoming movie has been positive.  Some people have felt the need to dwell in details that are either minor, or decidedly insignificant, such as the skin color of a Stormtrooper.

Sure, Stormtroopers aren’t real (though the idea was apparently inspired by Hitler’s elite shocktroops) but people take such things seriously enough–and the Internet isn’t exactly a medium that encourages thoughtful, considered discussion–that a brouhaha resulted.

The thing is, in a roundabout way I think that George Lucas himself unknowingly contributed to the problem by deciding that the Stormtroopers were clones, despite the fact that in the movies leading up to his prequels the Stormtroopers were obviously different sizes and heights (which wouldn’t be the case if they were all physically identical).

When all is said and done, the complaint is a silly one–the Internet not only makes some pretty stupid ideas almost instantly available to potentially millions of people but amplifies them seemingly a hundred-fold–and will do little to deter the movie from grossing millions of dollars, but it can’t be anything but disappointing that we can never seem to get beyond ideas that only bring out the worse in us.

That being said, the same thing happened when the Internet learned that Heimdall from the Thor movies would be played by Idris Elba (it’s worth mentioning that he’s a significantly less important character that the Stormtroopers), so it’s hardly a new thing.

Though that doesn’t make it any less interesting, though.

The (Un)necessary Remake Dept – Wing Commander (1999)

Gerry Anderson, it could be argued, was one of the first producers of science fiction to see what a tremendous role hardware design, such as spaceships, could play.  In virtually all his television series and movies, design has been crucial (more often than not, to the detriment of character development).  In fact, the Eagle from Space: 1999, arguably a space craft as iconic as Star Trek’s Enterprise, lead directly to designs like the Millennium Falcon, from Star Wars (George Lucas was known to have been directly inspired, in a visual sense, by Space: 1999).

In fact, Brian Johnson, who handled special effects on movies like The Empire Strikes Back (among many others) cut his teeth on Anderson productions.

I bring up spaceship design because Chris Roberts‘ 1999 movie Wing Commander is a movie that, on the whole, had designs that appeared more functional than iconic, a fact that wouldn’t endear the movie to tech-heads.  In fact, the design of the spaceships are remarkably similar to those of Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon, that came two years earlier (I assume that the same FX houses worked on both features).

Despite being, in terms of spaceship design being somewhat uninspired, it had actors like David Sushet (Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Tchéky Kayro, Jurgen Prochnow, David Warner, Freddie Prince, Jr. and Matthew Lillard, which is why its box office failure is so perplexing to me.

In fact, despite the aforementioned failure, the movie is unintentionally prophetic in that it plays like a young adult novel (by no means an insult.  Some of the best books I have ever read, such as John Christopher’s The White Mountains trilogy, were young adult novels) instead of being based on a video game.

That being the case, for a reboot I would commission more iconic spaceship designs, but that’s about it.  The movie does so much right that I can only think that its problem during its original release was one of timing.

What Separates A Successful Movie From One That Isn’t

Honestly, I have no clue.  Sure, I have ideas (and who doesn’t?) though you have to keep in mind that when I wrote that I thought that Robert Stromberg’s Maleficent was doomed to failure a few months ago that my reasoning was, for the most part, based on logic.  The “for the most part” is that I don’t think Angelina Jolie is a particularly good role model for young women.  Sure, she’s involved with all the right charities, but she also appears almost skeletal in pictures.

That’s not a good thing when, I assume, many of her fans are women of various ages, some of which happen to suffer from body-image issues.

And back on the logic side, there’s the fact that the production was troubled to such a degree that another director was brought in to help with reshoots.  And while that’s not necessarily a guarantee that a production is doomed, it’s not a good sign.  For example, the last time I recall it happening was when Oliver Hirshbiegel‘s 2007 movie The Invasion had reshoots done by the Wachowski’s.

And we all know how well that turned out.

More often than not, I don’t think much of movie studio executives.  From what I know of them, they appear to be a somewhat pampered, self-important lot that more often than not interfere more than they help any particular project.

In fact, if I were a studio executive and someone had brought me the screenplay–Hell, if Jolie handed it to me herself–I would have respected her enough to listen (though I don’t know how attentively) to the pitch before I wished her ‘Good day.’

And that’s even before a $180 million price tag would even had been mentioned.

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Lucasfilm Become Part Of The Disney Family

In case you haven’t yet heard, Disney now owns Lucasfilm, as well as the rights to make future Star Wars and Indiana Jones films.  As I posted elsewhere, how Twentieth-Century Fox let this one go (could this have something to do with Tom Rothman leaving) is almost beyond comprehension, though their loss is Disney’s gain.

This makes me wonder…with Pixar, Marvel and now Lucasfilm under their aegis, is feels to me that Disney could potentially be less successful than their subsidiaries, that is, till you figure that Disney would be getting the profits from Star Wars toys, as well as Star Wars-themed attractions in their parks.

Here’s George Lucas himself, speaking about what motivated him to sell to Disney.

Thanks again, Deadline.