Friday One Sheet: Alien Covenant

One simply cannot argue with the simplicity of the teaser poster for the latest (8th?) entry in the Alien franchise.

Lots of negative space, the Alien hiding so close in the dark, this could be an image taken directly from the first, and still classic, film. When Ridley Scott went the prequel route with Prometheus, the marketing was very coy about whether or not the film was connected to the franchise, and in this prequel-sequel (second prequel?) they are being as clear as possible. The Xenomorph outside of perhaps Frankenstein, Dracula, and Godzilla, is the one of the most iconic creatures in popular culture, and it certainly makes a lot of sense to maximize its use at this point.

Also, most succinct tagline ever: “Run.”

Friday One Sheet: Rogue One (Japanese Character Posters)

A handsome set of blue-white character posters for Star Wars: Rogue One has been put out for the Japanese market. And while the design is somewhat ‘floaty heads’ (or at least floaty torso and up), one cannot help be consider just how damn good Ben Mendelsohn looks as an Imperial Director. Also, the Star Wars marketing team has gone ‘all in’ on the tropical beach imagery for this advertising campaign, both in Japan and in the USA.

You can find the rest of the posters over at ImpAwards.

Trailer: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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We just live in this world now. A world in which we’ll be getting a new Star Wars trailer about every four months or so. And I think most of us are fine with that. Perhaps the most exciting thing for fans with this awakening of The Force (that is capitalized is it not?), is the names of the directors being asked to help guide the projects. We’re finally going into some (hopefully) new directions, creatively speaking, with the series in names like Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) and Phil Lord & Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) taking the helm.

Also for the first time, we’re getting major studio versions of what we might call “spin-offs” from the series. It’s the same universe and larger over-arcing story, but new characters and personal stories that fit into the battle of dark vs. light that don’t necessarily revolve around the Skywalker lineage. Case in point, 2016’s Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla); cashing in on his ability to work with Kaiju in favor of All-Terrain Armored Transports.

Rogue One casts a whole slew of recognizable names including Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna and more! This international cast brings more than just interesting faces, it brings some newer ideas to the table as well such as old school martial arts.

As glossy as portions of this trailer are, it hints at a darker look at Star Wars as well; a grittiness if you will. I hope to see that sort of creative look and feel to the Star Wars universe over the next few years. When churning out a new Star Wars film every year for the foreseeable future, there is certainly a risk of going into the Marvel (i.e. “vanilla”) territory. Hopefully, these names will be allowed to be a little bit more creative as time goes on. I think this trailer does flirt with that notion just a bit.

Ladies and Gentlemen… Rogue One: A Star Wars Story…

Super Ticket Episode 7 – The Death Gantry

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The dream has become a reality. We now live in a world in which the sequel to Return of the Jedi is actually in existence. New heroes, old Jedi. Wookies, story board decisions, gender politics. Poor casting, use of CGI vs practical, box offfice numbers. Prognostication, the generational differences, the marketing. And it’s cold outside, so put on your coat!

Yes, there’s so much to get into with the latest installment of the Star Wars saga from director J.J. Abrams so we cover as much as we can in 75 minutes. The majority of the Super Ticket cast was completely enamored and in true wonder with the spectacle; but there is a vocal minority in here and he will not be silenced. Come forth young Padawans and receive your lesson for the day from Mamo! and The Cinecast. This is The Super Ticket: Episode VII.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and may the force be with you!

 

 
 

Would you like to know more…?

Eat Your Warmed Over Sugar Porridge That Came In The Fancy Box: Musings on Star Wars 7

Kurt killjoys the Star Wars euphoria of the masses. And, yea *SPOILERS* are ahead.

The movie-magic for me, was not in any way ‘awakened’ by this ‘new’ story in the most popular corner of fandom. I believe the title, The Force Awakens is meant to indicate a return to (original trilogy) form to a certain type of Star Wars geek. I am older, and if not particularly wiser, my tastes have, over time, simply evolved out of this universe. One which boils down the massive diversity of species and life of and massive galactic empire where everyone of any importance is directly related to everyone else of importance a single bloodline dynasty rife with convenient coincidences. In the vast reaches of space, millions of worlds (sadly, each one consisting of only a single climate) with trillions of sentient folks struggling about their lives, the Skywalker brood (and ancestors) are the only damn thing that enacts change. The ‘Balancing Of The Force’ is a convenient reason, but ask yourself, doesn’t it feel a bit small when everyone of importance is related to everyone else of importance in this galaxy far, far, away?

The endless merchandising, from bedsheets and lunch boxes to laptops and cellphones, and fumbled prequel trilogy, which at the turn of the century put perhaps too much emphasis on technology patents and too little on delivering fun. I am old enough to have seen all the original films in the theatre and this 2015 chapter is looking a lot like a glossy, lazy re-do of Star Wars (or for younglings, Episode IV: A New Hope.) I cannot think of a smaller, more timid way to ‘win back the four quadrants of movie-goer’ after the prequels. This is not visual myth-making, this is a 10 year corporate business plan, and the only way in which the new film is at odds with Lucas’ originals, which were in the sprit of classic movie serials and the samurai films of Kurosawa, but also, very much an original vision with surprising twists and turns along the way.

In the fuzzy 21st century fashion of reboots, remakes, and re-envisioning, we get J.J. Abrams, a fan-first, filmmaker-second who does renovated homage with a high sheen on it, rather than pushing out new ideas, concepts. The story line is so utterly familiar, the beats so well known that the ‘surprises’ it attempts fall flat, not to mention obligatory. This all seems so familiar: A droid carrying plans hooks up with a spunky orphan (now a girl instead of a boy) on a desert planet, to be whisked away on the Millennium Falcon, a stop-over in a kooky smuggler bar, Hitler inspired baddies blowing up planets (here 5 instead of one), the marshaling of a rag-tag rebel army on a planet targeted for destruction by (bigger) Death Star. Apparently the force is the all powerful force that surrounds us, and keeps the powers that be doing the same goddamn thing, with only the slightest cosmetic changes and updated special effects. A lightsaber with electric cross-guards, a new decree-by-hologram Emperor, A conflicted black-caped wearing villain, Domhnall Gleeson poorly imitating Peter Cushing, a lady-Yoda, Tunisian sunsets, and the death of a mentor as witnessed by wide-eyed young things. The destruction of Coruscant, or whatever anonymous city planet here also feels like the lazy destruction of Spock’s home-world in the Star Trek reboots (also courtesy by Mr. Abrams, how favours ‘cool and fast’ over ‘smart and considered’ every time).

I paid to see the most expensive fan film that money can buy. Slavery to ‘the rules’ is no way to make a movie, no matter how good the characters are. In this chapter’s defence, Poe, Rey, Ren, BB8 and Fin are all wonderful new faces and their short three-letter handles, memorable and instantly iconic; they go a long way to making the universe a little more inclusive of race and gender. No matter how sharp the one liners, nor how beautiful the cinematography, this is fan service on the $250 million dollar scale, to be lapped up by an undemanding audience. Who ever made the They Live mashup of the poster for this film was a genius.

Would you like to know more…?

Review (kinda): Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens

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NOTE: This is hardly what I wold consider a “proper” review. These are words that came pouring out in a semi-state of euphoria at about 2am following my screening. This is merely a place to get the conversation going before all of the podcasts are released in the days to come.

Also, if you want to know absolutely nothing, then do not read ahead. For the rest of you, this is a relatively SPOILER-FREE stream of un-consciousness.

2D version

It’s tough to put thoughts to paper right at the moment. The entire experience was kind of a mind trip. There were nostalgic tears of joy (and maybe partly of relief) on at least three occasions and I have no idea what the opening crawl said. Something about Luke Skywalker I think.

I’m sure every review out there will call this essentially a remake of “A New Hope” or (at best) a greatest hits of the original trilogy. And they wouldn’t totally be wrong. But I don’t care. Some may call it lazy, other may call it playing it safe, others may call it pandering. I say all the better for it. Grow balls when and where needed, keep everything else just how we like our Star Wars universe: fun, exciting and familiar. Keep it simple, keep it fun and keep it real. Abrams excelled at this on almost every front.

That isn’t to say there’s nothing new. The three (four?) new leads/heroes are fantastic. Poe and Finn are great new characters that have their own swagger, but with flaws they must conquer. Kylo Ren is a fascinating villain and Adam Driver brings it home. Though the clear front-runner here is absolutely Daisy Ridley as Rey, in a career making role and performance.

Han is back in a big way thanks to the return of Harrison Ford finding his inner movie star again (it’s only been 20 years, Ford. Where ya been?). Even Carrie Fisher, who is clearly the weakest link, works out alright for what she’s been given to do. The short of it is, all characters hit their mark and make us care and believe and grow with anticipation on where they journey will lead next. Hashtag Chewbacca!

Outside of the opening battle (which does feel a lot like your typical JJ Abrams joint), the set design, locales and side characters all feel remarkably old-school; in the best possible way. In other words, this is the Star Wars Universe I remember really growing attached to throughout my younger days and adolescence (and beyond!).

There are moments here and there that don’t work perfectly and there are minor quibbles; but that’s just what they are: minor. They don’t come anywhere close to casting any sort of dark shadow over the enjoyment I got from the rest of this film. This is pure, simple entertainment with strong characters, wonderful performances, charismatic and beautiful action sequences, perfect pacing (seriously, I have no idea when the best time to go pee is during this movie – I don’t think there really is one) gorgeous effects, sound design and that John Williams score coming home at just the right (yes, pandering but I love being pandered to) all with a nice setup for a much deeper and meaningful story to carry the fans into a whole new adventure with all new heroes, but with a familiar face. I liked the end of one review which simply said, “your move Rian Johnson.”

I am very very pleased.

 

A Tribute to Star Wars: Dark Forces

Sure, nerds around the world may be united in their excitement for Star Wars Battlefront–but for me, it has been a time of longing for simpler times: 1995. In 1995, Han still shot first. Heir to the Empire was still canon. And Star Wars: Dark Forces was about to blow the mind of my 10 year old self.

While LucasArts had created a brand new engine for Dark Forces, it was essentially Bungie’s Marathon… except you killed Stormtroopers. Plus, it introduced the world to Kyle Kataran (who may or may not be a canon character now?). In other words, Dark Forces was awesome, with cool characters, slick level design, and enough nostalgia to fuel numerous sequels…including one of the best Star Wars games ever, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. It was no Knights of the Old Republic, but it was damn good.

Enjoy this playthrough of the very first level:

What’s your favorite Star Wars game?

The Star Wars Interviews Episode II

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Since today is unofficially Star Wars week around here – and let’s be honest, pretty much the entire world wide web – we’re kicking it off with a podcast from one of our sister sites, Where the Long Tail Ends. Jimmy “The Shark” Gillham is conducting a series of interviews on Star Wars fandom. Sort of a “This is Your Life” show revolving around all things Star Wars (the movies, the books, the toys, the make-believe, the video games, the merchandise and everything else in between).

Last week, in Episode I, James interviewed Cinecast co-host Matt Gamble about his life experiences with Star Wars. This week, for Episode II, you can find yours truly talking about my life with Star Wars, which reveals a secret about Empire Strikes Back I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone about before. If your life isn’t already over-saturated with Star Wars and your brain isn’t in overload, stick this in your ear and have a listen. Both episodes are available at the links below and you can stream my interview with the player below.

Have a listen and feel free to share your experiences and ideas about Star Wars in the comments section below. Thanks for listening and thanks to Matt Gamble for hosting the interview session with his sound equipment. Happy Star Wars week everyone. Cheers!

EPISODE I (Matt Gamble)
EPISODE II (Andrew James)