July 11, 2015

Tag Archives: Star Wars

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 […]

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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