June 27, 2016

Tag Archives: Star Wars

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ drops a thrilling Teaser Trailer

Earlier today, the first Teaser Trailer was dropped for the initial foray into anthology stories for the Star Wars universe. Yes, we got a look at Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and it was quite compelling. Coming to us at the end of the year, sandwiched between Episode VII (The Force Awakens) and Episode VIII of the main saga, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will fill in some of the blanks in the franchise, which is a potentially really cool notion. I’ll have the Teaser Trailer for you at the end of this piece, so be sure to look for that below, but right now, let’s whet your appetite a bit!
The movie is the tale of how rebel spies stole the plans to the Death Star, set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is recruited to lead the mission, which will depict some of the skirmishes between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. Gareth Edwards directs here, from a screenplay by John Knoll, Chris Weitz, and Gary Whitta. The ensemble cast, in addition to Jones, includes Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Riz Ahmed, and Alan Tudyk, among others. On the technical side, cinematography is by under-appreciated DP Greig Fraser, while the score comes from the always busy Alexandre Desplat. That’s a ton of talent in front of and behind the camera, making this a project that would be intriguing even if it had nothing to do with Star Wars.

From the looks of it, this will really put the “war” in Star Wars. The Teaser Trailer showcases a number of large scale set pieces, which will certainly suggest a less than intimate affair. That’s actually a good thing, since it suggests that these side stories won’t be done with any less care than the main Episodes that capture our attention in such a profound way. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has the potential to be a really big hit, especially if it winds up being anywhere near the quality that Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought to the table. Wouldn’t that really be something?
Awards wise, I think that this one will be limited to the technical categories, though obviously that remains to be seen. Campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for Edwards), Best Actress (for Jones), Best Supporting Actor (for […]

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” continues its history making run at the box office

Over the holiday weekend, audiences once again set off in record numbers for a galaxy far far away as Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued to dominate at the box office. It’s going to be the same sort of thing in the weeks to come, but Christmas was certainly a wonderful period for Episode VII (far more so than the Star Wars Holiday Special was), easily taking the top slot, financially. The numbers are going to be huge, obviously, with the all time top spots definitely within reach. History could be made early on in 2016 folks, on top of what’s already happened this year.
For its second weekend in release, Star Wars: The Force Awakens made almost another $150 million at the domestic box office, taking in $149,202,860 as of Monday afternoon. That gives it a gross just domestically of $540,058,914 (astounding, right?), which is the fastest ever that a film has broken the $500 million mark. Factoring in an estimated international total of $546 million so far (which doesn’t even include the huge market of China), the sequel has crossed the $1 Billion mark, another time related record, I believe. The total gross stands right now at an estimated $1,086,058,914 (domestic isn’t estimated, just as an FYI), with another billion or so likely to come. Wow.
Here’s a few comparisons to give you an idea of just how well the movie is doing financially. Right now, this is what the top ten highest grossing films of 2015 are:
1. Jurassic World – $652,270,625
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $540,058,914 (and counting)
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron – $459,005,868
4. Inside Out – $356,461,711
5. Furious 7 – $353,007,020
6. Minions – $336,045,770 (and counting)
7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – $264,603,061 (and counting)
8. The Martian – $224,853,519 (and counting)
9. Cinderella (2015 live action remake) – $201,151,353
10. Spectre – $196,274,955 (and counting)
Obviously, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going to overtake Jurassic World in the weeks to come, with ease too. That’ll give it one honor, but it’s hardly the only financial one within its grasp…
This is what the all time domestic box office top ten looks like right now:
1. Avatar – $760,507,625
2. Titanic – $658,672,302
3. Jurassic World – $652,270,625
4. Marvel’s The Avengers – $623,357,910
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $540,058,914 (and counting)
6. The Dark Knight – $534,858,444
7. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – $474,544,677
8. Star Wars – $460,998,007
9. […]

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” sets box office records with a $529,000,000 worldwide opening

Well, this won’t really surprise anybody, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens did really well this weekend. Yes, with a domestic opening at the box office of $247,000,000 (not to mention an A Cinemascore), audiences throughout the United States joined critics in worshipping this return to the Star Wars saga. Director J.J. Abrams and company recaptured what was so special about this franchise, and in turn, folks willingly forked over their money for multiple viewings of the film. I’ll finally reveal my thoughts on the movie, as well as talk a bit about where it likely will appeal to Oscar voters. So, without further delay…let’s go ahead and do it!
First up, here’s just how good the film did. Right now, it’s expected to have made $247,000,000 domestically at the box office (just updated), which easily surpasses Jurassic World for the biggest opening weekend of all time stateside. A global opening of $529,000,000 also is a new record (just updated as well), surpassing the dinosaurs. For those wondering, the dinosaur flick is still tops in terms of foreign opening weekends, but not by that much, and only because China still hasn’t gotten Star Wars. It’s obviously the biggest December and Holiday Season opening as well, with the all time domestic and worldwide records definitely in jeopardy. Jurassic World will probably be beaten, with Titanic and perhaps even Avatar’s numbers set to fall as well. It won’t be easy, but if any juggernaut can do it, it’ll be Star Wars.
In case you’re somehow unaware, a bit quickly on The Force Awakens. Essentially, this is the latest sequel in the epic Star Wars franchise, marking the seventh installment overall. Once again, it’s good versus evil in space, with the Empire now the First Order and the Rebel Alliance now the Resistance in an adventure set after the events of Return of the Jedi, which was Episode VI in this saga. Here, we follow a scavenger without a family name Rey (Daisy Ridley), a stormtrooper abandoning his post named Finn (John Boyega), an X-Wing pilot named Poe (Oscar Isaac), and the evil Jedi Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance. The aforementioned Abrams co-writes with Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan, while the returning players here include the big three of Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill (yes, he’s in it), along with Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, […]

Ranking the films in the Star Wars franchise

In just a few short days, one of the biggest movie releases in literally years will occur when Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens. Yesterday was the World Premiere in Los Angeles, with later today being the day most critics and pundits lay eyes on it (in fact, as you’re reading this, some of us might be actually watching it). Thursday night is the moment of truth for audiences in general, with anticipation at a literal fever pitch. In honor of the impending release, I wanted to take a look at the franchise so far, giving it the same treatment that I’ve previously given to the Rocky series and others. There will be plenty more on Star Wars this/next week too, so sit tight…
Here now is how I would rank the films in the Star Wars saga so far, and keep in mind…this is just how I see things. Here we go:
6. Attack of the Clones (Episode II) – The only installment so far that I think can be safely dismissed, this is a very mediocre action flick that fills in backstory we didn’t need. The prequels all did that, but this one just seems the most empty and useless. None of the characters introduced do much, the romance between Anakin and Padme is laughable, and George Lucas almost seems disinterested. That’s the part that rubs you the wrong way too, as this is his vision. Not a bad movie, but the one that you can skip and not lose anything from doing so.
5. The Phantom Menace (Episode I) – What saves this one from being in the basement is the admittedly very cool pod racing sequence, along with Darth Maul. It’s the most overt installment aimed at kids, though the droning on about trade routes and such is a bore no matter who you are. This is a very flawed flick, but it’s not a complete waste of time, so that’s a plus.
4. Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) – This and the next one are basically tied for me, in that they’re a step down from the apex of the franchise, but still really solid and a lot better than what a lot of the competition puts up. There’s iconic stuff here, including Jabba the Hut and the Ewoks. It might not be perfect, but it wraps up wonderfully, bringing the story of Luke and (as we know […]

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” drops one final Trailer

After much hype, yesterday during Monday Night Football the last Trailer for Episode VII of the Star Wars saga was dropped on the masses. I’ll have it for you below, of course, but I’m going to use this occasion to talk a bit more and perhaps even repeat myself about what this massive film could be. We’re all very excited for it as a movie, but as an event, it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t come along too often, so it’s quite worthy of some discussion. As such, that’s what I’m going to get into now, with the Trailer at the end as a reward for your patience.
First of all, in case you’re living under a rock, this is the latest sequel in the epic Star Wars franchise. Once again, it’ll be good versus evil in space, with the Empire now the First Order and the Rebel Alliance now the Resistance in an adventure set after the events of Return of the Jedi, which was Episode VI in this saga. J.J. Abrams co-writes with Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan, while the returning players here include the big three of Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill, along with Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Warwick Davis, and Peter Mayhew. They’ll join newcomers like John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Simon Pegg, Daisy Ridley, Andy Serkis, and Max von Sydow in telling this new story. Behind the scenes, John Williams again provides the score.

Few movies have the sort of anticipation going for it that this one has in its favor. As a franchise, this is kind of the gold standard in terms of getting a fanbase, so you know audiences are coming out for it. Critically, it should do decently well, but in terms of financials, we could be looking at a bigger challenger to Avatar’s box office record than even this year’s Jurassic World. I wouldn’t be surprised if this Star Wars sequel was able to break the $700 million mark, which would pass both Jurassic World ($651,460,806 and counting so far) as well as former champion Titanic ($658,672,302). Avatar has the current mark of $760,507,625, so that’s what the goal for Abrams and company will be. That might be hard to come by, but it may very well compete to overtake Jurassic World for the opening weekend record, which was set this summer […]

Celebrating Star Wars The Force Awakens Photos

New images from today’s STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS panel and activities at Star Wars Celebration.
A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS will be in theaters December 18, 2015!

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” gets a New Trailer that will give you chills

A few minutes ago, Disney dropped a cinematic bomb on us by releasing the newest Trailer for the upcoming Episode VII of the Star Wars saga. This one, called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is the start of a new trilogy and a direct sequel to the main trilogy that ended with Return of the Jedi. Having seen the Trailer (which you can scope out below), I’m frankly stunned at how good it is, particularly in terms of one specific moment at the end. I can’t help but say it right at the forefront so we can discuss…seeing Harrison Ford back as Han Solo, standing next to Chewbacca, well, it gave me chills. Filmmaker J.J. Abrams might have gold here, if not better than that. I’ve already talked about how he seems to be the right man for the job, and he’s just proving it more and more.
Of course, it’s not just a quick look at Ford and Peter Mayhew that makes this Trailer work, but it’s what I want to focus on, because it highlights the success that I think Abrams and his crew have hit on here. They’re bringing just about everyone back, so we’ll see Kenny Baker, Warwick Davis, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill in Episode VII. The nostalgia and memories evoked by them are so strong, just the look of Ford here makes you believe that it’s like seeing Star Wars for the first time again. That’s the secret that the prequels never were able to capitalize on. When you can do that, everything else just falls into place. As a reminder, the film is co-written and directed by Abrams, with other cast members besides the aforementioned Baker, Davis, Fisher, Ford, Hamill, and Mayhew including John Boyega, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Daisy Ridley, Andy Serkis, and Max von Sydow. Lawrence Kasdan also returns to the universe to co-write with Abrams. There’s very little announced plot to go on, but we do know that it’s the sixth sequel and takes place decades after Return of the Jedi. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is looking much more like it fits in with A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in the Star Wars canon than with The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. As you all know, that’s the way to do it.

Time will tell, but I have […]

Oscar Isaac continues to show his range with “Ex Machina”

In a relatively brief period of time, Oscar Isaac has more or less shot to the top of the film industry. He’s a borderline A-list actor, someone about to take part in two huge franchise sequels, yet someone super comfortable in independent fare and always knocking on the door of the Oscar race, no pun intended. Isaac seems to always be in the conversation for awards, and even when he’s not, you still see him in interesting genre fare that shows off his impressive range. He’s quickly becoming a one of a kind actor and a huge star in the making, which he continues to hone this week with the science fiction film Ex Machina.
Ex Machina, in case you haven’t heard of it, is a sci-fi flick from Alex Garland that casts Isaac as an intense genius and owner of a powerful internet search engine. His character has created some advanced Artificial Intelligence and he recruits an employee to test it out, giving it a Turing Test of sorts. Suffice to say, things do not go as planned. Isaac is dangerous, funny, and just weird here, doing something that we’ve never seen him do before. It’s a smaller genre offering, but it does feature a unique performance from the actor, which we should take as standard operating procedure going forward.
Last year, he was in the running for an Academy Award nomination with A Most Violent Year. In fact, he received the Best Actor prize from the National Board of Review for his work in J.C. Chandor’s crime drama. There he played an immigrant businessman determined to climb the ladder of success and live the American Dream. He has a strict code and is relentless in his need to stick to that code, even while those around him stray from the path. It’s an often quiet performance from Isaac, but it’s an incredible one, nonetheless. It was perhaps a bit too subtle for the Academy, but that was a shame.
Two years ago, of course, he was robbed of a Best Actor nomination for Inside Llewyn Davis, his best performance to date in my eyes. Playing a folk artist in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1961 for the Coen Brothers, he blew me away with his talent. Singing a number of heartbreaking songs in addition to essaying a complicated character who’s on screen for basically every frame of the film, it […]

Could J.J. Abrams become the new godfather of the “Star Wars” universe?

After mentioning Star Wars yesterday when talking about the box office prospects for 2015 releases, I kind of had the franchise on the brain for the rest of the day. Go figure then that one of today’s bigger rumors out there is that the co-writer/director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens J.J. Abrams could be directing more than just that installment, which is Episode VII in the saga. We already know that Rian Johnson is writing and directing Episode VIII while also doing a treatment for Episode IX, so I suppose Abrams could be privy to what is going on and is interested in returning. Another time I’ll offer up some potential alternative filmmakers, especially if Abrams winds up not taking the gig, but for now I wanted to talk about if he does wind up doing it. Essentially, Abrams could be going from the godfather of the Star Trek franchise rebirth to the head of the Star Wars one.
First of all, I want to stress that I think this is a positive development on two fronts. One is that we already know Abrams can relaunch a dormant science fiction property with aplomb, considering what he did with Star Trek (and to a lesser extent, Star Trek into Darkness) a few years back. The other factor to consider is that this hints that the folks at Disney probably are really pleased with how Episode VII has turned out. I’m sure that if Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn’t looked at as excellent work by Abrams, the powers that be would either be trying to lock up Johnson to finish the sequels or looking elsewhere for a new creative voice. With that not the case, this at least feeds into the rumor that the new movie is strong stuff. Obviously, we don’t know for sure, but it’s good buzz for the film, that’s for certain.
Abrams clearly has experience executing long term visions, as he’s been involved with the television shows Alias and Lost, along with one of the Mission: Impossible installments. Yes, while he didn’t stay with the franchise after Mission: Impossible III in terms of directing, he did get that ship moving in the right way and has remained a producer. Throw in his continued producing capacities with Star Trek and he’s certainly got a veteran presence when it comes to this sort of thing. That seems to be serving […]

Year in advance Oscar Predictions

I know this seems nuts, but here I am with some Academy Award predictions for next season. We’re a long way out, yes…but for me, this is the absolute most fun time of the year, in terms of forming predictions. Why? Simply put, it’s because anything is possible. If you want to see how an odd nominee would look, you need only predict it. Right now, we’re just as likely to see Steven Spielberg’s latest St. James Place take Best Picture as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s kind of a brilliant thing, really. Even so, I’ve tried to be as logical as possible here, foregoing a number of quirkier picks in favor of the contenders I really feel good about, even if it really is only February still.
Which films are in contention? You’ll be able to see below, but the biggest contender right now seem to be the aforementioned St. James Place from Spielberg, David Gordon Green’s Our Brand is Crisis, David O. Russell’s Joy, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant, and Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Acting wise, all of those movies have contenders, while the big player right now seems to be Jake Gyllenhaal, who could score for either Demolition or Southpaw. An X factor to keep an eye on? Ridley Scott’s The Martian, which is based on an outstanding book and could either fall flat or be a huge player. Sit tight on that one…
Here now is my first set of Oscar predictions for awards season to come:
BEST PICTURE
1. St. James Place
2. Our Brand is Crisis
3. Joy
4. The Hateful Eight
5. The Revenant
6. Steve Jobs
7. Demolition
8. The Martian
9. The Sea of Trees
10. The End of the Tour
Next in line: 11. Carol 12. Irrational Man 13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 14. Black Mass 15. Snowden 16. Money Monster 17. The Walk 18. Freeheld 19. Southpaw 20. Brooklyn 21. By the Sea 22. MacBeth 23. Bleed for This 24. Aloha 25. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Steven Spielberg – St. James Place
2. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant
5. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Next in line: 6. Danny Boyle – Steve Jobs 7. Gus Van Sant – The Sea of Trees 8. Ridley Scott – The Martian 9. Woody Allen – Irrational Man 10. Jean Marc Vallee – Demolition
BEST […]

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