For those die hard fans of the Star Wars film series, May 4th is always a special occasion. It was on May 25th, 1977 that A New Hope, the first ever Star Wars film from writer/director George Lucas made its theatrical debut. The event marked the beginning of a new phenomenon in modern cinema, and changed the way movies were made and even thought of from then on. Drawing from inspiration from early space adventure serials, George Lucas envisioned a modern space epic using classic themes and archetypes that would forever change the movie-going experience. His company, Industrial Lights and Magic, which would go on to create Pixar Animation in the 1990s, created new methods for special effects that gave movie-goers an experience never before seen on film. To celebrate this special fan day, here is the latest trailer for the next installation in the film series, The Last Jedi, which will feature original actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher as Luke and Leia Skywalker, along with new vets Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Adam Driver, and Domhnall Gleeson. Enjoy, and May the Fourth Be With You!
*Update – this article originally stated that A New Hope was released on May 4th, 1977, hence part of the reasoning behind “May-the-Fourth Day.” A New Hope actually hit theaters on May 25th of that year, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. My apologies for the inaccuracy!
Last year’s Annual Academy Awards ceremony was less than glamorous. In fact, it was downright uncomfortable. You might remember Chris Rock being asked to host the #OscarsSoWhite last January, and although he made some good points and was able to put a good spin on it, the show was ultimately kind of a bust. The final announcement of Leonardo DiCaprio winning the Best Actor Oscar was just one more punch to the face of film-lovers before the ceremony was ended. Don’t get me wrong, Leonardo DiCaprio is definitely worthy of an Oscar, but like Denzel Washington and Al Pacino before him, he was given the award for the wrong role, and at a point way too far into his career. But hey, that’s Hollywood for you. Continue reading →
In light of the untimely death of Carrie Fisher, movie-makers at Disney and Lucasfilm are beginning to look to Princess Leia’s future. Although Fisher has reportedly finished filming all of her scenes for the upcoming Episode VIII release this December, Leia was expected to play a much more significant part in Episode IX, which is slated for a December 2019 release. The over-arching storyline for the upcoming films included a reunion between Leia and Luke Skywalker, as well as a confrontation between Leia and Kylo Ren, who killed his father, Harrison Ford‘s Han Solo, in Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Now with Fisher gone, the fate of the character has yet to be fully realized. Continue reading →
According to Deadline, actor Alden Ehrenreich (Blue Jasmine, Hail Caesar!) has officially signed on to star as young Captain Han Solo in the upcoming Star Wars spin-off from Walt Disney Pictures. Ehrenreich beat out a number of A-list names for the role, including Miles Teller, Dave Franco, Jack Reynor, Scott Eastwood, and Emory Cohen. As with all upcoming releases from Disney/Lucasfilm, no actual details have been released on the plot, and no news about supporting cast members is yet available. The script will be written by Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon Kasdan (In the Land of Women, The First Time). Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) are expected to direct the feature. We’ll be bringing you further news as it emerges. If you can’t wait for a new space movie to see, check out the third installment in the new Star Trek series, Beyond, starring Chris Pine (Unstoppable, Into the Woods) and Zachary Quinto (Tallulah, Snowden). Enjoy the weekend!
Today in movie history, revered editor and sound engineer Walter Murch was born in New York City in 1943. Murch first gained momentum in the film industry working with Oscar-winner Francis Ford Coppola on his film The Rain People (1969) before going on to work with George Lucas on THX1138 (1971) and American Graffiti (1973). He then furthered his professional relationship with Coppola working on films like The Godfather Part II (1974) and The Conversation (1974), the latter which earned him his first Academy Award nomination. His first major contribution to film came on Coppola’s iconic Vietnam drama, Apocalypse Now (1979), for which he won his first Oscar. Murch used a multi-track recording system to create new sounds that invoked both physical tension and psychological drama against the back-drop of Coppola’s war epic. Murch went on to serve as both sound and picture editor for numerous films, winning double Oscars for The English Patient in 1996 for Best Editor and Best Sound Editor. His work with Coppola continued throughout his career, working on films like The Godfather Part III (1990) and Tetro (2009); he also received a double Oscar-nomination in 1990 for The Godfather Part III and Ghost with Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. Continue reading →
The final trailer has arrived for director Bryan Singer‘s upcoming X-Men feature, Apocalypse. If you haven’t been following, the last X-Men movie was Days of Future Past, which found Wolverine going back in time to alter the timeline of the X-Men movies to prevent the end of the world. This new timeline picks up in what I’m guessing would be at least the the late 1980s, and finds Mystique responsible for training the new generation of X-Men to fight Apocalypse, the world’s first and most powerful mutant, who happens to be immortal. Apocalypse awakes after thousands of years and begins amassing power; having seen what humanity has become, he recruits a team of powerful mutants (including Magneto) to cleanse mankind and create a new world order. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes, Fantastic Four) wrote the script from a story written by himself and director Bryan Singer (X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past), as well as writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris (Superman Returns, Krampus). Continue reading →
Last week Disney/Lucasfilm announced that the release of Star Wars Episode 8 would be pushed back from May to December 2017, owing to delayed production and script re-writes by director Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom, Looper). Filming on the new movie is expected to begin soon, but in the meantime, some rival production companies have had to rearrange their plans for some of their upcoming big releases. Director James Cameron (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Titanic) is still currently set to begin filming all three of his upcoming Avatar sequels simultaneously at the end of this year, but Avatar 2, having already been moved back from release in December 2016 to December 2017, is now being pushed back again, with no release yet in sight. The official reason why has not been elaborated upon by the studios or filmmakers, but the news of Star Wars 8 and Avatar 2 being released in the same month could very well have something to do with it. Considering the scale of the original Avatar, it could be just as likely that Cameron has been hindered by production issues and script re-writes, but regardless of the reason, Avatar 2 might not be hitting theaters until some time in 2018 or even 2019. Star Wars 8 will, however, still have to compete with Warner Bros.’ upcoming sci-fi adventure Ready Player One from director Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lincoln). Disney/Lucasfilm’s first Star Wars spinoff sequel, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is still scheduled for release in December 2016. Stay tuned for more news.
We wanted to give it a little time so that nothing would be spoiled for anybody, but if anyone is reading this that hasn’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, I suggest you either stop reading or be prepared for plot spoilers! To begin with, this was easily the best Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi was released in 1983. Director J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek: Into Darkness) brought legitimate filmmaking back to the series with this film, which looks more like old-fashioned Star Wars than anything we saw come from George Lucas in the early 2000s. His stylistic approach to filmmaking was the perfect merging of special effects and on-set principle photography, made better with the appearance of props and effects that appeared in the original film, such as the targeting view attached to the gun in the Millennium Falcon. The screenplay, written by Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi writer Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Arc, The Bodyguard), was also much better in terms of actual dialogue on the part of the actors, but the overall story imitated that of Jurassic World earlier this year, in the sense that it read almost as a mirror image of the original Star Wars in 1977, with the updated story-line in play, of course. Abrams also did a great job of resurrecting the original Star Wars universe by bringing back a lot of the old designs and symbols representing the Rebel Alliance and the Imperial Star Fleet. I also have no complaints regarding the new lineup of actors. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega had a perfect chemistry between them, and Oscar Isaac did great as the Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. Adam Driver, however, as both the bad guy AND Han Solo and Leia’s son, was not necessarily bad, he was simply miscast, and Abrams didn’t do him any favors by taking off his helmet and showing his face. And if you are wondering about Luke Skywalker, he was pretty much absent the entire movie. He literally showed up for a few seconds at the very end, having evidently pulled a “Yoda” and gone into hiding after Han’s son decided to pull an “Anakin” and join the Dark Side. Needless to say we won’t really know what Luke’s deal is until the next movie in 2017, which will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the original release in 1977. All in all, it was a great movie and gave us some glimpses into the upcoming films and how the characters will continue to develop. Some stories were closed, but many more were opened, and now we have to wait another two years to find out what happens next. Stay tuned.
The chances of somebody never having seen Christopher Lee in a movie may be virtually impossible. The 93 year-old-actor, who died Sunday in London, was a veteran of the big screen, whose life achievements can easily be seen in his long repertoire of films. Lee covered all of the basics during his career. He appeared in classic stories like Dracula (1970) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), and he would carry his villainous streak over to such roles as James Bond‘s nemesis in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) to Count Dooku in George Lucas’s latest Star Wars trilogy, to the dark-wizard Saruman in director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series. Some music fans may even recognize him on the cover of Paul McCartney’s most popular post-Beatles ablum Band on the Run alongside McCartney and Wings and actors James Coburn (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven), and Kenny Lynch, among others. In later years Lee would also collaborate regularly with director Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns) on such films as Sleepy Hollow and Alice in Wonderland, and he was knighted in his home country of England in 2009. He leaves behind his wife of 50 years Birgit Kroencke and their daughter Christina. May he rest in peace.