Posts Tagged 'george lucas'

Review: STAR WARS: EPISODE VII- THE FORCE AWAKENS

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Vader helmet

Welcome back, friends. Please forgive my lack of productivity in this space through pretty much all of 2015, but I’ve had quite a bit going on out in the real world. On top of that, I’m much more interested in creating my own work than I am reacting to the work of others, which is what I do most of the time on this blog. That’s a result of simply wanting to get things off my chest, and over the past year I’ve become pretty good about being able to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts contained inside my head. This is my first full review since I analyzed Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April of 2014. Fuck, it has been awhile, hasn’t it?

Reviewing Star Wars movies has always been tough for me. And by “tough”, I mean “nearly impossible”. The original trilogy, collectively, occupies the #1 slot on my list of favorite movies of all time. When I watch those movies, I don’t see actors and cinematography and writing, I am watching a story unfold, nothing more. I’m not thinking at all about how it was made. That’s because I became passionate about Star Wars before I knew I was passionate about filmmaking. When it comes to the prequels, I don’t like talking about them because of how disappointing they are. I’ve never gone as far as most in saying they outright suck, but I freely admit they are a mess. I can still watch them and enjoy doing so, but they don’t feel like the original movies at all, and I’d have a very tough time watching all 6 in order, because the gap in style, both visually and in storytelling, between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope would be too big a jump to make in my mind. I’m also bitter that the way Anakin Skywalker was handled in the prequels makes original trilogy Darth Vader much less badass, which is a cinematic felony.

On to current events! Back when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and sent George Lucas packing, I posted my reaction to the news [HERE] and then did another piece reacting to the announcement of J.J. Abrams as Episode VII’s director [HERE]. I originally pegged Abrams’ selection at only a 2% chance of happening. In hindsight, that was foolish, but I based that doubt on the fact that I refused to believe that they’d hire the same guy who rebooted Star Trek to also revive Star Wars. I viewed that as some sort of celestial paradox. Minus the Star Trek factor, I approved of Abrams doing this, and I still approve now after we’ve all seen the finished product. Episode VII needed to be directed by a Star Wars fan, and Abrams has proven his worthiness in that regard. In many people’s views, his love for the original films is too evident in Force Awakens, but we’ll get to that.

Without further ado, let’s get straight into it. Needless to say, SPOILERS APLENTY AHEAD!

Continue reading ‘Review: STAR WARS: EPISODE VII- THE FORCE AWAKENS’

Reaction: J.J. Abrams as STAR WARS director

“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”

I anticipated that it wouldn’t take long after the announcement of Michael Arndt as Episode VII‘s screenwriter that we’d have a decision on the director. Well, now we know. None other than J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII. In doing so, he will face the unenviable task of bringing the Star Wars franchise back to respectability after George Lucas‘ “disappointing” (I’ll be nice) prequels, and on top of that, he has to follow Return of the Jedi. Thanks to the internet, this will probably be the most scrutinized movie project of all time. That’s Death Star-sized pressure, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. That said, any director who took this job must have understood what he was getting into.

Continue reading ‘Reaction: J.J. Abrams as STAR WARS director’

A New Hope: George Lucas gives up control over STAR WARS

October 30, 2012: a date that will live in infamy. I keep re-reading the title to this post. I had to double check the calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. I can’t believe this has actually happened. I never thought I’d live to see the day where George Lucas willingly relinquished control over Star Wars.

In a deal that has reportedly been in the works since last summer, Disney will buy Lucasfilm and its valuable San Francisco-based subsidiaries (including the best visual effects company on Earth, Industrial Light & Magic, and the best post-production audio facility in the industry, Skywalker Sound) for a reported $4.05 billion, all of it going to Lucas, who owned 100% of the company. You know, because George Lucas didn’t have enough money already. Actually, to be fair, Lucas is apparently pledging most of this windfall to various education initiatives he’s backing, which is pretty cool.

Continue reading ‘A New Hope: George Lucas gives up control over STAR WARS’

STOP SPLITTING UP THE FINAL MOVIES OF EVERY FRANCHISE, YOU GREEDY WHORES!!!

When I saw this news story, I wanted to smash my laptop over a newborn child’s head. This has been a growing trend in Hollywood, and it’s becoming increasingly irritating because it’s so blatantly a greedy money grab, giving audiences little choice but to pay to see the split version of one movie to get the whole experience. I fucking hate it. It’s greedy. It’s arrogant. It’s disrespectful. It’s in bad faith. Most importantly, it turns the experience of the all-important final chapter of a series into a disjointed, ultimately dissatisfying one.

Unless I’m mistaken, this all started just two years ago with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being split into two films by Warner Bros., when in hindsight it really should’ve been just one 3 hour, 15 minute film. They could do the split because they knew audiences would show up for the finale of the Potter franchise. As a result, instead of one Deathly Hallows movie grossing $1.5 billion worldwide, they got Part I ($956.4M) and Part II ($1.328B, with 3D surcharges) grossing a combined $2.3 billion worldwide. That’s a lot more than one Deathly Hallows movie would gross. It makes financial sense, and I understand that. It’s an easy decision for a soulless corporate boardroom to make. However, because money is the ONLY logical reason to do it is precisely why it’s such a slap in the face to the paying customer. There isn’t a single reason you can give me from a creative or story standpoint that these movies should be split up. Audiences have proven they’ll show up to really long movies (Titanic, Avatar, all 3 Lord of the Rings, the middle two Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, etc. etc.), so that can’t be an issue. Instead, the movies are forced to suffer creatively as the writers stretch out one movie into two, inserting scenes that would normally be left to the deleted scenes section of the DVD release (for good reason). No, this is only done for money, because they know we’ll show up regardless. This is unprecedented. Imagine if a popular company like Apple deliberately overpriced their products because they knew their slavishly loyal customers would gladly pay up no matter what. Oh, yeah. Shit.

So, because of how successful the Harry Potter model was, now we have Twilight: Breaking Dawn being split into two atrocious movies instead of one to drag out the end of that tedious franchise. And now, Lionsgate just announces that the final book in its mega-grossing Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, will be released as two movies, one in November 2014, with the finale coming in November 2015. Because that’s fucking fair. People should have to wait a fucking year to see the second half of the ending of the series. What’s gonna be the tagline for Part 1, “The final chapter begins…”? Fuck you! Just show us the whole fucking finale, you pricks.

To further illustrate my point regarding the lack of creative reasoning to split this movie up, according to Amazon (shocker, I haven’t read the books, so I had to check), Mockingjay is 9 pages longer than Catching Fire, which will merely be one movie in 2013. 9 pages?! So Catching Fire can be condensed into one 120-140 minute film, but there’s SO MUCH STUFF to cover in Mockingjay that it should be 2 movies at a combined 4-4½ hours? That’s 13.3 extra minutes per page if both Mockingjay movies average 2 hours. We’ve already seen how stretching out one bad movie (Breaking Dawn) into two only resulted in making the first part worse (i.e. Part I of the Twilight finale is essentially an elongated, 2-hour episode of Vampire Teen Mom that could’ve easily been cut in half).

What’s next? Should we make trilogies out of each individual book in a series? Turn 3 books into 9 movies? With as much money as The Avengers has made, why not make The Avengers 2 its own trilogy? The Avengers 2: Part 1- Loki Again, The Avengers 2: Episode II- Coulson’s Revenge, and The Avengers 2-C: Once More into Your Wallet.

Imagine if George Lucas had thought of this concept 20 years ago. Jesus Christ. Try this title on for size: Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi; Part I. You run out of separating punctuation marks. And don’t for a second think he wouldn’t have done this if it had been in vogue back then. Ya know who wouldn’t fuck over his audience like this? Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight Rises is one 2 hour, 45 minute movie. It isn’t two 2-hour movies released a year apart. Nolan wouldn’t dare cheat us like that. We’ve already waited 4 long years between The Dark Knight and TDKR. We shouldn’t have to wait an additional year between The Dark Knight Rises: Part I and The Dark Knight Rises: Part II. Cuz that’d be fucking dumb, and Nolan understands that.

Can we establish a President of Hollywood? I think this is a fantastic idea. If we could do this, I’d probably vote for Nolan as the inaugural President. In this role, not only would he continue making his own awesome movies, but he would also have broad decision-making powers over the entire movie industry, so he could end moronic trends like this. There would be a cinematic Bill of Rights, and The First Amendment is the studios don’t get to treat their paying customers with blatant disrespect. The Second Amendment would be no charging extra for 3D on live action movies that were converted to 3D in post. (Second Amendment sub-amendment: no charging extra for 3D re-releases of movies we’ve already seen, i.e. you don’t get to charge extra for Titanic 3D. Ticket prices are already double what they were in 1997. We’re paying extra enough by way of inflation, Mr. Cameron.) The Third Amendment would forbid remaking a popular movie less than 50 years after the original came out (i.e. one generation should not have two Total Recalls). The Fourth Amendment: at least 10 years between reboots of existing franchises. The Fifth Amendment: Michael Bay is barred from making additional Transformers movies. And we could go on and on (actually this is now a fantastic idea for a separate blog post…).

It was annoying enough in recent years that Hollywood wanted every movie to potentially be a franchise. Now, they want every existing franchise to be Movie 1, Movie 2, then Movie 3-A and Movie 3-B and having you believe you got 4 movies instead of 3. For shame.

Also…

Peter O’Toole announced his retirement from acting this week, after nearly 60 years as a professional actor. He won nearly every acting award there was to win, but never an Oscar. He was given an Honorary Oscar in 2003 for his body of work, but never won one for an individual performance. He was nominated 8 times (all for Best Actor in a Leading Role), most recently in 2007 for his amazing work in Venus, which you really should see. Of course, he is best known for his performance as T.E. Lawrence in David Lean‘s 1962 masterpiece, Lawrence of Arabia (currently #19 on my all-time favorite movies list). Actually, now that I look at his list of credits, I really need to see more of this man’s work.

I love his brief, yet eloquent statement:

Dear All,


It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back.

My professional acting life, stage and screen, has brought me public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. It has brought me together with fine people, good companions with whom I’ve shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits.

However, it’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay. So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell.

Ever,
Peter O’Toole

You will be missed like few others, sir. Thank you for your inspiring contributions to the world.

-I’m glad the New York Times did this piece on Matthew McConaughey‘s resurgence as a real actor. Very interesting stuff about the introspection that led him to make better career decisions (creatively, if not financially) over the last couple years. I’ve been hoping (and screaming publicly) for at least 5 years that this day would come, where he left behind the droning romantic comedies for more interesting projects and characters worthy of his talent. I can’t wait to see Killer Joe;


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