January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: Star Wars

LB Comic Con Draws Geeks, Freaks, Fans

Darth Vader mingled. Spider Man posed. Batman signed autographs.
Comic books came to life this weekend at the bi-annual Long BeachComic Con, located in the seaside Convention Center in the heart of the city.
A scaled down version of San Diego’s uber fest, it still drew crowds of geeks, freaks and fans looking to see stars, buy memorabilia, andogle some really crazy costumes.

When asked what the hot cosplay of today is, the answer people atthe convention was nearly unanimous: Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence;s blue alterego in ‘X-Men.’ But few in attendance were willing to pull off thenaked-looking outfit. One woman said, ‘I’m on a diet for San Diego’ (to wear that costume).
Richard Hatch of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ fame signed autographswhile the 501st (Vader’s Fist the world’s leading Star Wars organization) puton realistic battle scenes in full armor and artillery. When asked about thenew Star Wars, Storm Troopers were cautiously optimistic and hoped the heartand authenticity of what makes Star Wars special is kept in tact.
Cars from films like ‘Back to the Future,’ ‘The Blues Brothers’and Michael Keaton’s ‘Batman’ were on display, along with their costumedcharacters. Even in Long Beach it was all Hollywood as Doc Brown from ?Back tothe Future? was pitching a reality show.
The two-day conference ended Sunday.

“Batman”: The Top 25 (Best Production Design)

Here we go again folks with another Top 25. Today I’ll be knocking off another one of the technical categories, with this one being the always elaborate Best Production Design field. The category is usually a feast for the eyes, but there’s plenty more to it than that. The sets and the environment on the whole are put on display here in an often magical way. I have a few specific titles I’ll be citing below, but I know the game here. You all mostly just want to see the lists anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there in that particular regard. All you have to do is just be patient over the next few paragraphs once again…
This time around, I’m once again going the overview route, since as mentioned above the look of these winners is really what matters here. Also, it really just depends on what sort of winner you’re partial to here. There are all different sorts that have won the Academy Award here for this category, so it’s pretty much a matter of taste. Period, Sci-Fi, etc…all have their moment in the sun.
I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Tim Burton’s Batman, which isn’t the best movie in the world, but features some breathtaking Production Design by Anton Furst. It’s amazingly unique, you have to give the design that. Close behind I had Pan’s Labyrinth and Titanic, two other films I don’t love but think have amazing Production Design. On the next tier are two flicks I like a lot more in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Star Wars. Wrapping up the top ten you have the likes of Avatar, Barry Lyndon, Chicago, Dick Tracy, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, all very worthy winners. This is actually a pretty stacked category, so there were tons more than 25 winners that I could have chosen from in this field.
Here now is how I’d rank the 25 top winners of the Best Production Design Oscar:
25. The Aviator
24. The Great Gatsby (2013)
23. Memoirs of a Geisha
22. Amadeus
21. Cabaret
20. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
19. The Last Emperor
18. Moulin Rouge!
17. The Godfather: Part II
16. Doctor Zhivago
15. Schindler’s List
14. The Apartment
13. All That Jazz
12. Hugo
11. Lawrence of Arabia
10. Dick Tracy
9. Avatar
8. Raiders of the Lost Ark
7. Chicago
6. Barry […]

“Star Wars” : The Top 25 (Best Costume Design)

Continuing on with this weekly series of mine that I’m doing here at the site, we’re talking the top 25 Oscar winners in just about every single one of the Academy Award categories out there.
Aside from the shorts and something like Best Sound Editing or Best Sound Mixing like I mentioned previously, I’ll be hitting them all over the coming weeks and months, including of course the big eight categories. I’m also potentially going to do one that doesn’t exist (a fictitious Best Ensemble category), but that’s just an idea I currently am toying with. We’ll see about that one. I’m also deciding what to do with Best Animated Feature, but perhaps we’ll cross that bridge next week and deal with it then.
Today I’ll be knocking off another one of the technical categories, with this one being the fashionistas favorite…the Best Costume Design field. As you all know by now, depending on the category in question, I may wind up discussing the individual winners I’m citing pretty specifically or just giving more of a broad overview of the winners. For now though, I’m still keeping it fairly simple. Like I’ve said over the past month or so though, in all honesty, you all mostly just want to see the lists anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there in that particular regard. All you have to do is just be patient over the next few paragraphs once again…
This time around, I’m just going the overview route again, since the look of these costumes is really what matters for this category, sort of above anything else. Also it really just depends on what sort of costumes you’re partial to. There are really all sorts that have won the Academy Award here, so it’s a matter of taste. Do you respond more to overt costume dramas? Period pieces? Fantasy epics? Science fiction adventures? There’s something for everyone.
I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Star Wars, which perhaps will surprise some, but hear me out. What other Oscar winning costume design has been as engrained in our culture as in that one? We all know what every costume in that flick looks like. The other odd one in my top ten (and even my top five) is from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the […]

Star Wars casts some future Oscar nominees

One of the most interesting things that I took away from yesterday’s official casting news about Star Wars: Episode VII is just how great the cast will look a decade down the line (that and how much the powers that be must have enjoyed Inside Llewyn Davis when they saw it last year, but more on that in a moment). Yes, I have a suspicion that there will be a few Oscar nominations for the cast down the line, though most likely not for this film. It’s a cast that’s chock full of emerging talent, not to mention one acting legend who already has some big citations on his resume.
For those unaware, it was announced yesterday that John Boyega, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, Andy Serkis, and Max von Sydow would be joining original saga stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the upcoming sequel to be helmed by J.J. Abrams. Of that new group, only von Sydow is an Academy Award nominee, but Inside Llewyn Davis costars Driver and Isaac are well on their way to getting some nods before long. I could say the same for Gleeson too, considering his charm that I’ve seen to date for him. That could one day lead to a nom. There are also some still to be cast roles as well, so potential future nominees could still be in the mix, alongside actual winners like Lupita Nyong’o as well.
In my eyes, what this will do for the cast, especially someone like Isaac, is raise their profile perhaps tenfold, leading to a chance to really get some juicy parts. Some might caution that Star Wars defined the careers of Fisher and Hamill, but Ford certainly wasn’t boxed in. He had a whole other franchise he led (Indiana Jones) and managed to be Oscar nominated (for Witness), so it’s easy to see Isaac following Ford’s lead going forward.
At the same time, an unknown like Ridley can make a name for herself here. If she has a big role and nails it, there’s no telling how in demand she might become. The industry is always looking for a new young actress to fall in love with, so why not Ridley if she’s got the goods?
If nothing else, it was nice to see Abrams and the decision makers over at Disney and LucasFilm not just […]

Star Trek may bleed into Star Wars – J.J. Abrams

So, it’s officially official. Disney just put out a press release, which means I can write about it without fear of it being debunked moments after publication. J.J. Abrams is indeed directing Star Wars: Episode VII. And what do I have to say about that? Well… not much really.
There is indeed a part of me that feels that it is wholly inappropriate and/or unnatural that the same director will be behind new Star Trek *and* new Star Wars movies. Back in the old days, I believed in the perhaps simplistic idea that every franchise would get their own special director. Sam Raimi had Spider-Man, Bryan Singer had X-Men, and Chris Nolan had Batman. Obviously that idea no longer exists.
Bryan Singer can helm X-Men and then go on to attempt to reboot Superman with Superman Returns before taking back the X-Men franchise from Matthew Vaughn, who is now rumored to be among Warner’s top choices for a Justice League movie. Even with more and more franchises being rebooted and/or changing hands, it seems like an awfully incestuous little circle, with only a handful of directors seemingly ending up helming these major properties. Say what you will about Marvel, but they deserve kudos for thinking outside the box on pretty much every major film thus far when it comes to a director.
to read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Disney confirms J.J. Abrams to direct Star Wars: Episode VII

J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams will be directing and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.
“It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said Kennedy. “J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.”
George Lucas went on to say “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”
“To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor,” J.J. Abrams said. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”
J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.
Also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. Kasdan has a long history with Lucasfilm, as screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Kinberg was writer on Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm’s preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.
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George Lucas Talks About Star Wars

HollywoodNews.com: Sirius XM Radio today announced that it will broadcast an in-depth interview conducted by Senator Bill Bradley with award-winning filmmaker George Lucas—the legendary creator of the Star Wars Saga and Indiana Jones series and chairman of Lucasfilm, Ltd.—on a special edition of Senator Bradley’s SiriusXM show American Voices.
Lucas discusses a variety of topics throughout the interview, including: his evolution as a filmmaker and storyteller and the role technology played on this journey; his philosophy on education in America; what inspired him to make Red Tails and the importance of sharing the history of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen with the youngest generation of African-Americans in our country today; and the spiritual life lessons woven into the Star Wars Saga.

Senator Bradley’s interview with George Lucas will premiere Wednesday, March 7 at 11:00 am ET on SiriusXM Stars (channel 107). Encore presentations will air all week on SiriusXM Stars, including: March 7 at 11:30 am, 12:00 pm and 12:30 pm; Friday, March 9 at 7:00 pm, 7:30 pm, 8:00 pm and 8:30 pm; Saturday, March 10 at 12:00 pm, 12:30 pm, 5:00 pm and 5:30 pm and Sunday, March 11 at 6:00 am, 6:30 am, 1:00 pm, 1:30 pm, 11:00 pm and 11:30 pm (all times ET). The Bradley-Lucas interview will also air throughout the weekend on SiriusXM Stars Too (channel 104). The complete programming schedule is available www.siriusxm.com/siriusxmstars.
Video excerpts from Senator Bradley’s SiriusXM interview with George Lucas are available at www.youtube.com/siriusxm.com.
George Lucas is the critically acclaimed director of THX 1138, as well as the producer of a myriad of independent films. In 1973, he directed and co-wrote American Graffiti, which won the Golden Globe and garnered five Academy Award® nominations. Four years later, Lucas’ Star Wars broke all box-office records and set new standards for sophistication in film visuals and sound. Lucas continued the Star Wars Saga as storywriter and executive producer with The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, followed by Return of the Jedi in 1983. He returned to directing in 1999 with Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, the first major live-action film to be projected digitally. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones broke new ground as the first major movie shot using entirely digital media. Lucas is the creator of the classic Indiana Jones character, and co-wrote and executive-produced Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom […]

The Phantom Menace is about to out-gross The Dark Knight!

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: With just $1 million separating the two films, today or tomorrow is likely the day when one of the more reviled films in geek-ville, Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, will surpass one of the more openly worshipped geek film in recent years, The Dark Knight, at the global box office.
As of Wednesday, Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace crossed $1 billion, becoming the eleventh film to do so and the first Star Wars film to cross said benchmark. Obviously there is inflation and 3D price-bumps to figure, but just remember that The Phantom Menace’s adjusted-for-inflation grosses from 1999 would equal about $664 million in domestic grosses alone (it earned $431 million in the summer of 1999, the second-largest grossing first-run film behind Titanic at that point). And don’t forget that a number of major fantasy films, chiefly the first three Star Wars films, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, have had several theatrical releases since their initial respective debuts.
In the days before VHS became mainstream, it was not uncommon for popular films to show up repeatedly at a theater near you. With the apparent consumer appeal of 3D-converted re-releases, we are seeing a return to what may be a revolving door atop the list of all-time box office champions.
One immediate effect of these 3D-converted releases is the fact that a number of benchmarks will be arbitrarily altered as a result of these successful re-releases. If Titanic earns $161 million in the US during its 3D-release this April, it will swap places with Avatar (now at $760 million) at the top of the domestic box office chart. We all witnesses how The Lion King added $166 million to its international coffers to leapfrog several places up the domestic and worldwide list, ending as the biggest-grossing cartoon of all-time on both fronts. Should this September’s 3D release of Finding Nemo proved as popular (if not more-so), we could again see another rearranging of the list for top-grossing cartoons. Hell, if Warner Bros cares (they probably don’t), they may try to do some kind of Dark Knight re-release in early July to get fans pumped for the third installment, which may allow the film to make up whatever ground its lost to the Star Wars prequel.
What if Warner Bros. decides to invest in […]

‘The Vow’ breaks records, ‘Safe House’ opens huge

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Wow. Just wow. Four major releases debuted this weekend and every single one of them opened with superb numbers. On one hand, that means that every respective demographic was ably served this weekend. On the other hand, one can only wonder how much cash was sacrificed by opening these four movies on the same weekend. Anyway, the top film of the weekend was the Rachel McAdams/Channing Tatum romantic drama The Vow. The $30 million Screen Gems drama, which by the way is NOT based on a Nicholas Sparks novel (it’s a true story), debuted with an eye-popping $41 million, a record for the studio. That’s well-over $10 million more than the $30.4 million debut of Dear John, which was the previous record-holder for an opening weekend for a pure romantic drama. The film played 55% under-25 years old and 72% female. Obviously everything clicked on the marketing for this one, and Channing Tatum is now the official king of the romantic drama, having headlined the first one to open with more than $30 million and now the first one to open with over $40 million, while Rachel McAdams is the queen, now holding the first and fourth-biggest opening weekend for an unfiltered romantic drama ($18 million for The Time Traveler’s Wife). Where it goes from here is an open question, as Dear John did not have the strongest legs, topping out at $80 million (or just below the $81 million gross of Rachel McAdam’s The Notebook). On the plus side, The Vow doesn’t have the same-demo blockbuster Valentine’s Day nipping on its heals like Dear John did. Plus, even if The Vow has the same quick-kill performance (2.6x weekend-to-final multiplier), it will become the first pure romantic drama (no explosions, no action scenes, no mass-disaster in the third act) to cross $100 million since Jerry McGuire in 1996.
The second major opener was the Denzel Washington/Ryan Reynolds thriller Safe House. The R-rated film opened with $39 million, which is one of the biggest non-sequel/non-animated openings in Universal Studios history. This is Denzel Washington’s second-biggest opening, behind the $43 million debut of Universal’s American Gangster (which also starred Russell Crowe) while it’s Reynold’s third-biggest debut, behind Green Lantern ($52 million) and his glorified cameo as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($85 million). The ads […]

Defending Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Like so many who read and write about movies, I saw Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace on Wednesday, May 19th, at 12:01am. Like many who read and write about movies, I did not think it was the greatest film of all time. But like the majority of the movie-going public, I also did not think it was the worst film of all time, nor did I find it to be some kind of glorious affront to cinema as an art form. And 13 years later, it is what it always was: a Star Wars movie through-and-through. It has problems unique to itself, unique to the prequel trilogy, and even some problems that have existed in the series right at the start. Taking away the fact that one film was a cinematic breakthrough an launched the fandom of a hundred-million would-be movie lovers and the other was released under the crushing expectations of two generations of film fans, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is really no better or worse than Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
One is overly revered because it was the first film in the series and had the benefit that comes with discovery. The other was crushed by the weight of impossible expectations. Objectively speaking, they are both fine introductions to their respective trilogies which pave the way for arguably superior sequels (you may prefer Star Wars to Return of the Jedi, I happen to prefer The Phantom Menace to the somewhat pandering but admittedly more entertaining Attack of the Clones). They both suffer from campy acting, stilted dialogue and inconsistent pacing. The Phantom Menace lacks a rouge-ish Han Solo character, even if the film (by virtue of being the fourth entry in a long-running series) doesn’t need a cynical ‘audience surrogate’ this time around. Natalie Portman was always unfairly derided for not playing Queen Amadala as a clone of Carrie Fisher’s Princess Lea. Her somewhat cold, Elizabethan portrayal is both her best performance in the prequel trilogy and a prime example of fans objecting primarily because it wasn’t identical to the previous Star Wars universe (Lucas’s apparent cave in Attack of the Clones, making Padme ‘sexier’, is one reason Episode II is the weakest of the series). That The Phantom Menace (and by proxy the […]

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