George Lucas

Timothy Zahn

Old school Star Wars fanatics had a long wait between George Lucas’ original trilogy and the launch of his prequel trilogy in 1999. So, to get their Star Wars fix, many turned to the expanded universe of Star Wars-themed comic books, novels, toys, video games, and what have you. At this point there’s a wealth of Star Wars stories and Star Wars characters who have never actually appeared in one of George Lucas’ Star Wars films; stories and characters that have legions of fans in their own right. The materials that get most often referenced by Star Wars geeks trying to educate newbies about the expanded universe are probably Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy” of novels, which take place five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, are already widely embraced by Star Wars fans, and have generally been thought of as the logical starting point if anyone were going to make Star Wars: Episode VII and beyond.

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Star Wars

You know the story. At this point it’s basically the new shot heard ‘round the world: Disney has bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion, George Lucas is retiring from the Star Wars game, and three more Star Wars films are planned for production starting in 2015. Lucas and the new Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy, have stated that they have archives of story treatments for more books, TV shows, and films… but with Lucas stepping back from the property, who are they going to get to direct these next three episodes in the ongoing Star Wars adventure? Let’s take a look at some candidates, whether they be likely, unlikely, or long shots.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX

The adventures of Indiana Jones as we know them first kicked off (whipped into?) in theaters in June of 1981 with the release of Steven Spielberg‘s Raiders of the Lost Ark, but before those of us not around for the big screen experience back then, Spielberg and George Lucas have a big (no, really, giant) treat to make up for it. The film will have an exclusive one-week engagement in select IMAX® theatres starting on September 7th. The IMAX release comes to us as part of the release of an all-new Blu-ray release of all four Indiana Jones films (yes, four) later in September, and has “undergone a complete restoration for the IMAX exclusive one-week release and subsequent debut on Blu-ray.” The film has been digitally re-mastered for IMAX using the proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology. Raiders has also been restored by sound designer Ben Burtt, “with careful attention to preserving the original look, sound and feel of the iconic film.” The all-new Blu-ray set, billed as INDIANA JONES: The Complete Adventures, hits Blu-ray on September 18th. After the break, check out an all-new trailer for Raiders of the Lost Ark in support of the IMAX release. It’s big!

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Just a few months after the glory of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws finally made its Blu-ray debut the world’s most popular director is readying another hi-def premiere. Paramount has just announced the fall arrival of Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures on Blu-ray. The set includes all four three goddammit four films with remastered video and audio. Extras have yet to be detailed, but they’re reported to include special features both old and new. The best news though is evident in the care given to the series’ first and best film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The 1981 classic has been “meticulously restored with careful attention to preserving the original look, sound and feel of the iconic film.  The original negative was first scanned at 4K and then examined frame-by-frame so that any damage could be repaired. The sound design was similarly preserved using [Ben] Burtt’s original master mix, which had been archived and unused since 1981.” Check out the press release and full front-cover art below.

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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Tron Uprising

What is Movie News After Dark? It doesn’t matter. Just go with it… We begin tonight with a very cool bit of concept art from Tron: Uprising, the new animated show that has spun off from the Tron: Legacy film and the rebirth of the Tron franchise in general. This feels like a much better idea than a sequel to Legacy, as this universe has always seemed built for animation anyway. To add to the buzz around the show, Gamma Squad has Six Reasons Why You Should Watch Tron: Uprising.

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Culture Warrior

“If Michael Bay directed Raiders, the Ark would be opened in the first act, and people’s heads would explode through the rest of the film.” I don’t typically seek out wisdom from Twitter, but this below-140-character observation (made by @krishnasjenoi and retweeted by @ebertchicago) struck very close to something that’s been occupying my mind as we enter the fifth week of the summer movie season. Though the statement works better as a fun hypothetical critique than a contestable thesis (in other words, there’s no way we’ll ever really know, thank goodness), the sentiment feels relevant. Though the modern Hollywood blockbuster has been a staple of studios’ summer scheduling for almost forty years, the films that become blockbusters don’t look or feel very similar to the films of the 70s and 80s that somehow paradoxically led to today’s cavalcade of sequels, franchises, adaptations and remakes. Criticizing Hollywood’s creative crisis is nothing new. But with the mega-success of The Avengers and the continuing narrative of failure and disappointment that has thus far characterizes every major release since, it seems that this crisis has been put under a microscope. The moment where unprecedented success is the only kind of achievement Hollywood can afford and the well of decade-old franchises and toy companies become desperately mined for material is something we were warned about. But Hollywood’s creativity-crippling reliance on existing properties is not the only, or even the primary, problem faced by mass market filmmaking’s present moment. The bloated numbers sought after each and […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? This week, it is like the idiotic parents’ suburban Pasadena home in Project X. The responsible party is taking some time off, so he has handed the keys to some of us on staff, and we are having the Movie News After Dark House Party of the century. We’re doing our best to remain somewhat respectable and deliver some entertainment news you may have missed this week, but at some point we all know we’ll put a dwarf in the oven. On with the show. The first story is one you’ve likely seen already this weekend, but it’s worth repeating for the sheer joy it brings. This weekend, Movies.com published the story of George Lucas doing something we can all get behind. After decades of trying to develop land in Marin County to make the biggest movie studio in the galaxy, and with his snooty neighbors blocking the $300m a year initiative for fear of causing problems, he has decided to develop low-income housing. Finally, people can pat him on the back and forget about Jar Jar, Han shooting first and a certain crystal skull.

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This post is probably not what you think. There are no LOLCats, no Rage Comic stick men bellowing about the superiority of The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s not really a love letter to modernity. But it’s also not Sight & Sound‘s decennial Top Ten List. That prestigious publication has done great work since even before polling critics in 1952 to name the best movies of all time. They’ve recreated the experiment every ten years since (with filmmakers included in 1992), and their 2012 list is due out soon. However, there is certainly overlap. The FSR poll includes only 37 critics (and 4 filmmakers), but we’re young and have moxy, and none of us were even asked by Sight & Sound for our considerable opinion. That’s what’s fascinating here. The films nominated by those invited by S&S have the air of critical and social importance to them. They are, almost all, serious works done by serious filmmakers attempting to make serious statements. This list, by contrast, is the temperature of the online movie community in regards to what movies are the “greatest.” The results might be what you expect. But probably not.

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If you’re “too old” to skulk around all hunch-backed in your own yard looking for the painted eggs your little cousin hid for you, why are you holding that remote with the Pause Button at the ready? We all love hunting. It’s in our nature. Just like we love discounted Criterion titles, free scotch and foot massages that don’t mean anything sexual. So here are some Movie Easter Eggs to hunt down. Bonus one? They involve movies, so you have a solid excuse to just watch movies all week. Bonus two? If you can’t find them, they won’t smell rotten after a few days. And be sure to add your favorite in the comments section for fellow hunter/gatherers:

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Frank Darabont

Building on the success of his previous book The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made, author David Hughes continues his quest to tell the stories behind cinema’s most famous, infamous and interesting projects that never were. It just so happens that many of these projects have a geeky slant. And his newest venture, Tales from Development Hell is no different. The other day our friends at /Film debuted an excerpt from Hughes’ chapter on Darren Aronofsky’s Year One with Clint Eastwood. Today, we’ve got ourselves a neat exclusive, debuting an excerpt from the chapter on Frank Darabont’s Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods. Remember that Shia LaBeouf-led storyline about Indy’s grease-ball accomplice slash (spoiler) offspring? All those flying monkeys? That wasn’t in the one written by the guy who would later bring The Walking Dead to the small screen. What was in Darabont’s Indy IV? Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out…

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People say there’s nothing new under the sun. While I don’t completely buy into that (mainly because I don’t like the idea that original thought has been totally extinguished) there are thousands of years of recorded history from before I was even born, and the idea that someone else might have thought of something before my lifetime isn’t too far-fetched. Either way, it’s just plain fact that our creative output comes complete with telling signs that we were influenced by the creative output of others that came before us. While we all might not end up as blatant as de Palma “borrowing” (quite liberally) from Hitchcock, our work still serves as a showcase for the works we idolize. It’s widely acknowledged that George Lucas found inspiration for parts of Star Wars in Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, but it’s perhaps gone unnoticed that a line can easily be drawn from Kurasawa and Star Wars straight through to Michael Roskam‘s Oscar nominated film, Bullhead.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in his Jedi robes and grabs his lightsaber, heading to the theater to see the 3D re-release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. While there, he faces a sea of estrogen as ladies of all type swarm into the multiplex to see Channing Tatum’s abs multiflex. After using his lightsaber to break through the wall of pre-Valentine’s Day ladies, he faces more obstacles with twentysomething dudes heading out to see Safe House and obnoxious families to see Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Fortunately for Kevin, he is able to dispatch everyone with his Rock-inspired “pec pop of love.” It was an early Valentine’s Day massacre.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of movie and television news that throws caution to the wind, but never ever pees into the wind. That’s just not smart, friends. We begin this evening and this week with artist Kinjamin’s depiction of the Community cast as the characters from Street Fighter. It was found via Twitter, as posted by the show’s executive producer Dan Harmon. Needless to say, it’s inspired. So inspired, perhaps, that it makes us hope that Harmon is writing this one down. How about a Street Fighter episode in season four? Hey NBC, how about a season four?

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Culture Warrior

A week and a half ago, Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails was released. On the surface, the film breathes Hollywood oxygen through-and-through. It’s a WWII era action film that uses its setting for broad family-friendly cheese-banter and CGI-heavy eye candy rather than an opportunity for a sober interrogation of history. Red Tails looks and feels like any Hollywood film geared toward as mass an audience as possible. But the studio that’s distributing it – 20th Century Fox – didn’t pay a dime to produce it. The reported $58 million cost to make Red Tails came solely out of the pocket of producer George Lucas, who had been attempting to get a film about the Tuskegee Airmen made since the early 1990s. He was continually met with resistance from a studio system that saw anything less than the biggest guaranteed appeal to the largest possible audience as a “risk,” including a heroic true story about African-American airmen. The ideology that closed the doors on George Lucas of all people reflects the same business mentality that inspired Jeffrey Katzenberg’s lengthy warning to other studios in a memo written during the same years that Lucas was first trying to get Red Tails financed.  In the memo, Katzenberg warned studios regarding their practice of exponentially centralizing all their resources in a few very expensive projects, resulting in high risk, little room for experimentation, and an increasing reliance on that coveted monolith known as the “mass audience” (which, to make things even more complicated, now includes […]

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) The Plot: When the Nazis threaten to find and unleash the power within the Ark of the Covenant, the US Government turns to the only place that can save them: Academia. Back in the 1930s, Professors and Archaeologists were made of a lot tougher stuff, and were far more attractive to co-eds than they are today. The manliest among them, Indiana Jones, fresh off a disastrous trip to a South American jungle, embarks on a global quest to find the Ark first.

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Culture Warrior

As much as I admire the incomparable films made during the era, New Hollywood (the term referring to innovative, risk-taking films made funded by studios from the mid-60s to the mid-70s) is a title that I find a bit problematic. The words “New Hollywood” better characterize the era that came after what the moniker traditionally refers to. Think about it: if “Old” or “Classical” Hollywood refers to the time period that stretches roughly from 1930 to 1960 when the studios as an industry maintained such an organized and regimented domination over and erasure of any other potential conception over what a film playing in any normal movie theater could be, then if we refer to the time period from roughly 1977 to now “New Hollywood,” the term then appropriately signifies a new manifestation of the old: regimentation, predictability, and limitation of expression. Where Old Hollywood studios would produce dozens of films of the same genre, New Hollywood (as I’m appropriating the term) could acutely describe the studios’ comparably stratified output of sequels, remakes, etc. What we traditionally understand to be New Hollywood was not so much its own monolithic era in Hollywood’s legacy, but a brief, strange, and wonderful lapse between two modes of Hollywood filmmaking that have dominated the industry’s history.

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Who is the Nielson Family?

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that is celebrating Monday Funday with what amounts to a bunch of shenanigans. Don’t worry though, we’ve slipped in at least one legitimate piece of news. We’ll get to that shortly. We begin tonight with something found a few weeks ago via Warming Glow, where an image from the Twitter account of Charley Koontz, best known as Fat Neil on Community, shows that Executive Producer Dan Harmon is just as bitter about Community‘s ratings as the rest of us. Seriously, who is the Nielsen Family? In other news, I hope Dan Harmon never changes.

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Star Wars Uncut

For a project that’s been over two years in the making, the ambition of those who created this sweded Star Wars seems to have paid off. I’ve yet to watch the whole thing, but I’m already struck by the fact someone, that someone being Casey Pugh and many contributors, spent so much time sweding every single scene from Star Wars. Talk about dedication, right?

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In 1995, HBO produced a film called The Tuskegee Airmen chronicling the heroic story of the first squadron of African-American fighter pilots during WWII. The HBO version stars Laurence Fishburne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, John Lithgow, and Cuba Gooding Jr. I don’t mention this film because of its obscurity, or to thereby prove my film knowledge by pointing it out. I offer this film as favorable alternative to wasting two hours of time on the irrecoverable nosedive that is Red Tails. I’ll say it again, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is beyond heroic and deserves multiple competent cinematic revisits. These were men who fervently, and with their very lives, defended a country that made policy of oppressing and mistreating them. Not only that, but they also proved to be one of the most effective and successful fighter battalions of the entire war. The larger themes of honor, duty, and sacrifice so inherent and alive in their story are reduced to After School Special platitudes in the George Lucas-produced and Anthony Hemingway-directed Red Tails. Instead of genuine traits, all of the characters occupy loosely-fitting archetypes mined from the most trite of “guys on a mission” tropes. That guy is the hot-headed glory hound, that guy is the goofy one, that guy has a drinking problem, that guy is in love, that guy looks like Denzel Washington. Okay, that last one is actually specific to Red Tails but it no less proves to be that actor’s only marketable skill.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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