Category: Movies (Page 23 of 38)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

8 Insights into the New ‘Star Wars’ Trailer

First off, it should be noted that I am a huge Star Wars fan. I have seen the first and second movies countless times, cry whenever someone mentions what happened to Boba Fett at the Sarlak pit, compare all great loves to Han and Leia, and my Reddit handle is SexyIG88. My point is that I’m kind of an easy mark for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer and, more generally, for a new Star Wars movie starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and the Lord All-Father Harrison Ford. So how was it really?

Though I admit I’m a cheap cantina date, I don’t think that Star Wars is infallible. By the time we got to the prequel trilogy, I suffered from the affliction that a lot of people had trouble diagnosing during The Phantom Menace. I’m was in my 30s and all the joy and magic from my childhood had disintegrated into the hard realities of being a boring old guy. George Lucas didn’t steal your childhood, fanboys! Time did. On my inevitable re-watches of the prequels, I mostly focused on the parts I liked, Liam Neeson, light sabers, Ewan McGregor, Yoda, Palpatine, Sir Christopher Lee. But that is not to say that the horrible parts of the movie for me weren’t the favorite parts of the movies for a whole generation of young people. I know lots of people who were kids in the early 2000s who think that Jar-Jar Binks is as hilarious as I think he is not. Maybe there’s a kid out there who is a huge Dexter Jettster fan. It’s difficult to imagine. But I loved Twiki on Buck Rogers, which older Buck Rogers fans probably hated.

And in a very real way, I haven’t seen my Star Wars in years. Fool that I am, I was excited for the special editions. The effects of Star Wars needed an upgrade and I was all for it. If you remember the first theatrical release of the film in 1977, the X-Wings had a gray blob around them in flight against the black of space. I thought that they were going to fix up stuff like that — and they did. But the special editions also added very dated looking ’90s CGI, as if the goal was to jam as much crap as possible into any shot. And of course, it went farther than that and Lucas changed a lot of content that had nothing to do with effects. So I probably haven’t seen my Star Wars since the heyday of video tapes. Much has already been made of Han shooting first, so let’s talk about the biggest problem with the DVD release of The Empire Strikes Back.

The Empire Strikes Back was the moment when Star Wars went from the beautiful to the sublime. Every idiot in the world can misquote it, “Luke, I am your father!” It’s part of our shared Earth heritage. And on a personal note, it was a stunning moment for 10-years-old me. Darth Vader! Luke’s father! Ben! Aunt Beru! Why didn’t you tell him? I don’t think I could have articulated this at the time, but it was the moment that made the idea that Luke could actually join the Dark Side of the Force real. Well, in the DVD release of Empire, they blow the “No, I am your father” moment during an earlier exchange between Darth Vader and Palpatine, when Palpatine basically asks Darth Vader how his son, Luke Skywalker, is doing since blowing up the Death Star. I think Lucas was thinking, well, people would already know that Anakin is Luke’s father from watching the prequels. So Lucas took one of the greatest moments in cinema history and punted it for, as far as I can tell, no sound reason, ruining the movie for the entire DVD generation. For me, that’s worse than Greedo getting a shot off.

From that, I think we can safely conclude that the management of the Star Wars franchise hasn’t been very good recently. For those of you that don’t know, Disney bought the Star Wars franchise a few years ago for a few billion dollars and immediately ramped up production on six (six!) new movies, four in a new trilogy and three stand alones that — I don’t think we know who’ll they’ll feature yet, although money is on a young Han Solo, Boba Fett, and I keep hearing maybe a Yoda movie, which would be weird. And I think it’s great. We’re getting creative people who loved Star Wars all their lives to make Star Wars movies. I look at them akin to Bond movies, meaning that just because a lot of the people involved with the original Casino Royale are dead, and Bond creator Ian Fleming has been dead since 1964, doesn’t mean that we haven’t gotten some great Bond movies since then.

So what are my thoughts about the trailer?

1. My favorite part is that it starts with a visual joke, which shows a sense of fun in the Star Wars universe. “There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?” And then John Boyega’s head pops up like he’s the thing that just woke up. I keep hearing that you hear an Imperial probe droid when he sticks his head up, but what I hear are Jawas. I was really scared of the Jawas when I was a kid and maybe they are finally going to live up to their sinister appearance. Hell, I don’t think we’ve ever seen what one looks like under that hood. I might like that!

2. They got the Star Wars look right. It’s obviously a new director. For how great Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back are, they are very, very classic films modeled after 1950’s Air Force movies with a lot of steady David Lean long shots. Whoever edited Empire was a young Turk who did a lot of crazy Batman ’66 style spinning edits, but otherwise the film is very timeless in the shot style. I’m not complaining. The shots in the trailer are very kinetic and different, but somehow still the same. When John Boyega’s head pops up into the desert, it reminded me of Kurosawa, interesting static background, frantic motion. And of course, the original trilogy has a lot of Kurosawa going on.

By the way, there’s been a little bit of static report on CNN about how there weren’t black Storm Troopers? I honestly can’t think of anything stupider than that. Hell, they could all be black for all we know. They are garbed from head-to-toe!

3. Also, it’s an old saw, but the idea of Star Wars has always been that the technology are things that are used. So the space ships are scuffed, the blasters worn, the clothes not new. I was a little bit afraid that the new movie might go crazy with this and I was very pleased to see that the X-Wings, Stormtroopers, and especially the Millennium Falcon don’t look like they’ve been sitting in George Lucas’s attic since 1983.

4. I don’t love the soccer ball R2-head droid, but I love everything he is motoring past. The world is stylish and very Star Wars-y. So I’m willing to give the goofy droid a pass. And it does seem like an effective way for a droid to get around on a desert planet. I actually thought R2-D2 would have a lot more trouble getting around just about anywhere there wasn’t some kind of walkway. It doesn’t look like the droid is on a 300-style green screen landscape, but rather on a set, which is what I want from my Star Wars.

5. I keep hearing that the desert planet is probably Tatooine, and it would be weird if it wasn’t, but doesn’t the planet that the X-Wings are on look like the moon of Endor or Yavin? Perhaps the Force resonates on these places and so that they must be revisited because of this “awakening?”

6. I am not bothered by the broadsword light saber at all. There are very few swords that don’t have some kind of guard for your hand to not get cut off. And we know nothing about it at all. I saw on Colbert Report where some Internet trolls were showing how it would just get your hand cut off more quickly. But there’s all sorts of ways where that could not be true, so maybe let’s wait until after the movie to criticize that. I’m pretty sure that guy with the light saber is a Sith, so he’s probably been trained how to use his sword correctly. Does anyone remember that Count Dooku was supposed to be an expert fencer in the prequels? I think that they finally decided that it just didn’t look right and made him fight like everyone else. But there’s still a few fencing moments in there if you watch him. I remember a similar idiotic controversy when the trailer for the first X-Men movie came out and people were questioning with math the radius of Wolverine’s claws and if they could clear a guy’s neck. He does it in the comics constantly!

7. And dammit, my heart soared when the Millennium Falcon flashed on the screen. Frankly, if the movie turned out to be a bunch of crap and five minutes of good Falcon fighting, I’d probably call that a win. But it feels like it’s going to be better than that.

Once again, we should all temper our expectations. We aren’t kids. At least, if you’re reading this article, I’m assuming you’re not a kid. So this movie will never have the ability to move us the way something we saw when we were kids can move us. But there is a deep connection between me, R2-D2 and the rest of this crazy world, so they’d have to go pretty far afield to make me hate it.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, trailers mean next to nothing. I hope the movie is good. But we’ll only know that when we see it.

8. I waited until the end of this post to go to crazy conspiracy theory land, but I do have one. What do Endor, Yavin, and Tatooine all have in common? I’m going with Darth Vader. There could be some residue of Darth Vader using the Force there. And we’ve established that cloning happens in the Star Wars universe. I’m guessing that we’re going to see some form of Darth Vader. I love Han, Leia, Luke, Lando, Chewie and the whole gang. But Darth Vader is one of the most popular creations ever. I wonder if more kids would recognize him than Donald Duck. When Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, I’m betting that the first question was, “How do we bring back Darth Vader?” Remember when Spock died in Wrath of Kahn? And the next movie was called The Search for Spock, as in, “Don’t worry, Spock is in this one! Please come and see!” Or hell, they could just throw someone else in the outfit. Wouldn’t it be a gas to see Luke become Vader?

I hope to like this movie. The trailer certainly gets a lot right. What is Star Wars? It’s TIE fighters and the f**king Millennium Falcon shooting them down. It’s Storm Troopers and light sabers. I’m in.


Iron Man and Green Arrow / Marvel and DC

10 Thoughts On Marvel and DC Movie News

I recently wrote up some thoughts on DC’s recent movie announcements. But I thought it might be worth a minute to call out the main differences between DC and Marvel’s announcements, which my esteemed colleague the Media Medusa herself wrote about.

This is probably an obvious point to start with, but I hope all the DC and Marvel movies are great because I’m looking forward to seeing most of them (Sorry, Aquaman and Cyborg!). Really, the trick is finding that alchemy between writer, director, and actors that makes a movie about the fantastic work. If you watch Avengers, the look of the movie isn’t always “cinematic” or beautiful, but the movie just clicks because Joss Whedon is a genius and gets how to work with an ensemble cast. By contrast, Man of Steel was beautifully directed, but sometimes just doesn’t make sense except visually. And did anyone else think that Amy Adams had more of a spark with Russell Crowe than Henry Cavill?

DC is Banking on Everything with No Course Correction

I feel like DC is trying to out Marvel’s “We have a plan” strategy. Part of the genius of Marvel’s plans is that they can change things if something fails. One of their first movies, The Incredible Hulk, didn’t do as well as they had hoped, so out goes Ed Norton and in comes Mark Ruffalo in the Avengers to try out a new kind of Hulk. I think that the part of Marvel that really works is that they course correct and find things that people like and run with them.

By contrast, DC is banking it all on this plan with no room for failure. Let’s say that the 2017 Wonder Woman movie is über successful and everyone is clamoring for a sequel. (Hell, a lot of web sites are claiming that the Wonder Woman movie is a trilogy). DC is booked up until 2020, which would put a sequel on the radar in 2021, four years after the original and so long from now that it is kind of weird to think about. Sure, she’ll show up in 2017 and 2019 in the Justice League movies. But if the rumors are true and the Wonder Woman solo movie takes place in the past, then we’ll be left with more questions about her past than answers. And the Justice League movies are going to be setting up new heroes people all over the place! 2017 has our first Justice League movie and I bet we have to meet and explain Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg, and a Green Lantern.


At Marvel, Iron Man came out in 2008, Iron Man 2 in 2010, Iron Man 3 in 2013, with Avengers sneaking in there in 2012. So that’s an Iron Man film (or a film with a lot of Iron Man in an ensemble) every two years. And now, the character is taking a rest and only showing up in ensemble movies. I would argue that they handled the introduction of Iron Man to the general public very well. So sure, Marvel has a plan, but it’s probably more of an outline. And it’s not perfect. People love Ant-Man? Expect to see him show up in some other movies and become an Avenger. Even though Marvel doesn’t leave room for an Ant-Man sequel until 2019. Marvel Started Slow with the Crossovers From the very beginning, Marvel had a shared universe. But they didn’t really hit you over the head with it at first. Nick Fury was actually introduced in the Iron Man post-credits scene and just said a few things that let us know that there were other super heroes. We saw a glimpse of the Hulk on the news in Iron Man 2 (which put the Hulk post-credits scene, oddly, after Iron Man 2). DC is jumping in with both feet having their Superman sequel have, like, ten super heroes in it (including, possibly, Cyborg!). I’m hoping it’s great. But many a super hero movie has been brought down by having too many villains. Too many heroes could present the same problems. And the crossover portions of the movies are often kind of irritating. Thanos showing up in the Guardians of the Galaxy was interesting, but he didn’t really do anything except fail. Marvel might have inadvertently made Thanos the least interesting part of the movie. You have to really watch it to make sure that some mention or plot point from a different movie doesn’t screw up your story. I think, actually, until the Avengers, all of the parts where different characters ran into each other were during post-credits scenes. Marvel Movie Years Follow a Pattern: Sequel, New Thing. So we get a pretty sure thing, once a year. A Captain America sequel (said to be heavy on the Iron Man, so it looks like more of a team-up movie) and a roll of the dice on Doctor Strange. 2017 brings us Guardians of the Galaxy 2, a new Thor, and a roll of the dice on Black Panther. So let’s say that Black Panther fails. The studio will still have made a lot of money that year. And if it’s successful? they have another franchise. Black Panther and Dr. Strange not familiar to you? From the perspective of a fan, they are a lot more well-known than the fricking Guardians of the Galaxy, who have made Marvel a lot of money this year. So Dr. Strange and Black Panther could be great. Now, I don’t really care if Warner Bros. is successful with their business model or anything. But I love the idea of seeing these movies and want the DC Universe to transfer to film! So I notice things like the possibility that DC could have two failures in 2018, Aquaman and The Flash. What would that do to their plan?
Marvel Finds Directors With Unique Voices I didn’t think that Guardians of the Galaxy would be as good as it was. And most of why it was good is that they let director James Gunn do his thing and make his movie. That has been Marvel’s way. They have input, sure, but at the end of the day, if they like the direction of a movie, they go with it. DC on the other hand has a terrible track record of messing with movies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more “written by a committee” movie than the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern. The tone of that movie was all over the map. On the other hand, they were smart enough to step back and let Christopher Nolan go on the Dark Knight trilogy. I’m hoping that they learned to let that happen. Interstingly, although I like Zack Snyder, I don’t think that he has an authorial voice except when a movie is almost all animation, like George Lucas. 300 and Watchmen were interesting in that they completely adapted visual styles. Batman Probably my biggest problem with the DC announcement is that there isn’t a Batman solo film. You know who is one of the top three coolest super heroes? Batman. I want a Batman movie! Batman! As things stand, I’m not getting one until at least 2021! BATMAN!!! Guillermo Del Toro And where the hell was the Guillermo Del Toro Justice League Dark movie with all the magic people from the DC Universe? I think I’ve mentioned before that my first girlfriend was Swamp Thing. Del Toro’s supposed to put Swamp Thing in a movie. I want that fricking movie! And Del Toro is an excellent filmmaker, sure to bring an interesting vibe to the very Zak Snyder-y DC Universe films. Rolling the Dice, Doctor Strange Now personally, I think the Dr. Strange movie will be great because Marvel has gotten the right director, a guy who loves horror. On the other hand, Dr. Strange fights are weird in that he doesn’t really punch people, but casts spells. I always thought the weakest part of the Harry Potter movies was that a lot of the action centered on wand waggling. But the Harry Potter movies were NOT action movies, but adventure movies. Dr. Strange can definitely work, but they have to find the right tone. Also, I’m a little worried that the movie is going to have the same plot as the Avengers, weird guy wants to rule the Earth. Ant-Man and The Avengers I have no doubt that this new Avengers movie will out-perform the first movie, which is among the top money-making movies ever. But why Ant-Man? I think that Robert Downey Jr.’s contract with Marvel was expiring and they needed a new smart ass scientist in a crazy suit to drop into the Iron Man slot. So I don’t think the bet is on Ant-Man, the bet is on Paul Rudd, who is a sarcastic, likable, funny guy in his ’40s who can carry a movie. I don’t know that Paul Rudd is as good an actor as Downey, but I like Rudd a lot more. Also, my wife and her friends like Rudd and might not mind going to see a movie about a guy called Ant-Man if he’s in it. Anyway, I wonder if Downey signing up for more movies changed any of Marvel’s Rudd plans? Where is the Punisher?!??!!?? I think that the Punisher is going to show up on the Netflix shows. Now, I love the Punisher and think he’s one of the best characters that Marvel has who hasn’t quite worked in the two movies they tried. In the first movie, they watered down the harshness of the character and gave John Travolta way too much screen time as the bad guy. The second movie, well, it just didn’t quite work. I wanted it to. But as a supporting character, the Punisher could have the same kind of renaissance as the Hulk in Avengers. Spider-Man Without a doubt, Spider-Man is Marvel’s flagship character and he’s contracted for movies over at Sony. A lot of people are saying that Sony and Marvel have made some kind of deal to bring Spider-Man into the shared universe. Personally, I would be very surprised if that was true. But could Spider-Man show up in a Marvel movie? It doesn’t quite sound right to me.

Thor: The Dark World / Walt Disney Studios / Marvel / Jay Maidment

Infographic: Marvel Movie Release Dates

Use this visual guide to follow the timeline of the upcoming Marvel movie release dates. I’ll be using it to mark up my calendar.

Marvel Movies Timeline

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