JJ Abrams

Star Wars 7 Alien Video

If you’re a fan of Labyrinth, you’ll be happy to see the cousin of the old goblin junk lady strolling into the background as J.J. Abrams explains how fans can be included in the filming of Star Wars: Episode VII. The production is teaming with Omaze in order to raise money for UNICEF. This is the same charity portal that’s scored big by offering BBQ-eating sessions with Kevin Spacey on the set of House of Cards, and now they’re attempting to raise cash for kids by sending you to Tatooine. There are also other rewards you can get simply for donating — limited edition lightsaber hilts, signed scripts, a bust of Chewbacca — but the big prize is shooting a scene on set in London and palling around with Darth Abrams. And hopefully goblin junk lady’s cousin. He seems cool. Watch the announcement video for yourself:

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When Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof finalized the script for Star Trek Into Darkness, they made a bold decision (presumably under the guiding hand of J.J. Abrams) to include a twist not based on information delivered in the movie itself, but based on real-world knowledge of the series’ history. When the destructive John Harrison reveals himself, in fact, to be Khan midway through the story, it’s an unnecessary twist designed specifically and solely for fans who knew who the hell Khan was to begin with. In an alternative universe where the simple act of making a Star Trek sequel didn’t bring Khan to every film journalist’s mind immediately, it could have been a magic moment, but it was also always destined (in every universe) to be a head-scratcher for those outside the know. They didn’t spend the movie building up the mythos of Khan — they spent the movie displaying how vicious “John Harrison” could be and then revealed, gasp, that he had another name! It was a reverse Keyser Soze. Just like that — poof — John Harrison was gone. Which is what makes Abrams’ room temperature regret about lying to the press about Benedict Cumberbatch playing Khan leading up to the film’s release all the more bizarre.

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news kasdan writing episode vii

Remember how excited you were when Disney and Lucasfilm announced their merger and the scheduled arrival of Star Wars Episode VII for 2015? That seems like so long ago that you’d be forgiven for having expected some sort of casting announcement by now beyond the usual rumors (Benedict Cumberbatch!) and threats (Justin Bieber!). Well there’s finally been an official (and rather pompously titled) announcement, and while it has nothing to do with casting it explains why it has nothing to do with casting. Michael Arndt‘s script is off the table, and Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams are drafting a new one. The news has had the expected results online with seemingly the majority of people piling on the negative comments regarding both Abrams and Kasdan. Abrams never stood a chance in the public eye, but Kasdan? A common rejoinder has been the terribly witty rhetorical question, “What has Kasdan done for us lately? That’s right, Dreamcatcher.” This is followed by loud laughter and much sobbing. These people are idiots.

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flare

By now everyone who’s a fan of film and who frequents the Internet has to have noticed that director JJ Abrams’ films have their own unique aesthetic that heavily involves the overuse of extraneous lens flares. It’s almost impossible to watch one of his movies and not become aware of the blinding lights, and it’s almost equally impossible to talk movies on the Internet without seeing all of the memes that have been created to make fun of him for them. Don’t believe it? Just look at the image that’s been floating around the Internet above, or watch this supercut that College Humor did of every lens flare that appears in Abrams’ first Star Trek movie. The phenomenon is undeniable. One thing we’ve never really known is why Abrams overuses the effect so much, or how he feels about all of the flack that his films have gotten because of it. Or, we haven’t known until now, because Crave Online recently caught up with the director and, like a bunch of heroes, flat out asked him what the lens flare thing is all about. Think that’s a little brazen? Even more shocking than someone asking a celebrity a straightforward question in this day and age was Abrams’ response—not only did he own up to overusing lens flares, he flat out apologized to fans for it.

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Iron Man Han Solo

When Disney announced that their future, non-trilogy Star Wars movies would be origin stories, two things struck me as funny. One, we already got an origin story of one of the universe’s most iconic characters (he was supposed to be the chosen one!), and pretty much everyone hated it. Maybe the problem was that it took three movies instead of one? Two, Disney wants Han Solo to be their Iron Man. They haven’t concretely confirmed that they’ll be focusing one of their stand-alone movies on Solo, but he seems like an obvious choice alongside Yoda and/or Leia, and regardless of which character they feature, the studio will have pulled a kind of Reverse Marvel by taking a sprawling, established film universe and re-introducing its players as monolithic superheroes.

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star-trek-cast

There’s a lot to like about the Star Trek franchise ever since it got its JJ Abrams-led reboot. Visually, the property has never looked better, the current cast may be the most talented that’s ever been assembled for a Star Trek crew, and there’s certainly now more sex-appeal and action thrills popping up in this universe than there ever has been before. That doesn’t mean that new Star Trek is a total improvement over the old Star Trek though. Fans new and old have had a handful of complaints about the last two Trek films, and a lot of them have revolved around their scripts, which were largely credited to Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci. Sure, they made for exciting stories, but they were also the sloppy sorts of narratives that didn’t pay much attention to plugging plot holes, and they were kind of lacking in that specific Trek-ness in an undefinable way. A report coming out of Badass Digest is suggesting that the third Star Trek film in this rebooted universe may either benefit or suffer from being handled by someone else’s pens though. According to their sources, for whatever reason, Kurtzman and Orci have been instrumental in bringing two new writers on to the project, and two writers who have both genre film experience as well as experience working with Bad Robot to boot.

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Star Wars 7 Script

Bad Robot recently tweeted this picture, asking fans to guess what was behind the cover. Sporting red pages to make it harder to copy (unless you diabolically own a color printer and an entire barrel of red ink), the even money is on this being Michael Arndt‘s script for Star Wars: Episode VII. It could also be a special 12th anniversary edition of the Joy Ride screenplay, or they might be trying to hype up their Micronauts project right before Comic-Con, or they might have bound together the production team’s lunch orders from this year in brass tabs. But, yeah, even money is still on Star Wars.

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What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate movie fans who think there’s a conspiracy behind the superhero trend. For your consideration, Episode #31:

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Star Trek Lens Flare

Rumor has it that J.J. Abrams is known to approach strangers, hold his finger beneath their nose while stifling a laugh and then ask them if they can tell which box it smells like. That probably isn’t true, but the man most definitely loves a good mystery. As writer, director and/or producer he’s been attached to dozens of films and TV shows featuring mysteries both big and small. The secret to Lost‘s island, the reveal of the monster in Cloverfield and the alien in Super 8, the explanation as to why Felicity cut her hair… all mysteries we eventually saw answered after a glorious period of intense curiosity. Hell, we’re still eagerly awaiting an answer to what exactly he was thinking while writing Gone Fishin’. Abrams famously explained his attraction to the idea of a “mystery box” during his 2007 TED Talk, and it basically boils down his belief that “mystery is more important than knowledge.” There’s a semantics argument to be had there, but the core point is a sound one that more often than not gets lost in an online world used to having all of the answers and information available 24/7. People who read books don’t (usually) read the ending first, so why do so may of us want to know as much as possible about the plot points, casting and cameos in the movies we’ve yet to watch? Abrams simply prefers as little as possible be revealed in advance of our eyeballs actually seeing his work […]

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stid 05

Please note, this piece is to be read by those who have either seen Star Trek Into Darkness or who don’t mind having its various plot points spoiled for them. It is a frank discussion of what works and what doesn’t work in the film and will include descriptions of all the major beats, including the ending. Let me start by saying that I quite like Star Trek Into Darkness. I have now seen the film three times and while I don’t quite love it like I love the 2009 Star Trek – director J.J. Abrams‘ first attempt at boldly going and so on — I did enjoy it. The first film certainly has problems of its own, but several things keep you from stopping to think about the film’s issues, mainly the breakneck pace, the incredibly charismatic cast, Michael Giacchino’s fantastic score and, yes, even Abrams’ direction. In fact, it’s most of those same things that help keep Star Trek In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida afloat. But the cracks in the hull are far more apparent this time around, and the whole thing could have easily been a disaster. After the jump I review the downsides and then move past them to highlight the upsides.

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review star trek into darkness

2009′s big screen Star Trek reboot was a success on just about all fronts thanks to director J.J. Abrams and friends’ delivery of an exciting and entertaining adventure that managed to overcome large script flaws with personality, fun and a real sense of energy. It was a hit with audiences and critics alike and left many people genuinely interested in a follow-up. Four years later and Star Trek Into Darkness is finally here, but instead of taking that time to strengthen the area of their first film’s biggest weakness (the script) they’ve actually made things worse. Fresh faces, dazzling lens flares and witty one-liners were enough to distract before, but this time the script’s egregious efforts to pillage the past for story ideas and even lift whole scenes has resulted in a hollow shell of a film that thinks ticking recognizable boxes is a valid substitute for earned emotion and engaging narrative. After a brief pre-title card scene on a primitive alien planet where the Prime Directive is seemingly redefined, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his pointy-eared second in command Spock (Zachary Quinto) are called before Admiral Pike for punishment. Kirk is demoted, but when a terrorist attack in London leads to a deadly assault on Starfleet headquarters he’s quickly de-demoted and sent after the suspect, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Himself a member of Starfleet, Harrison has gone rogue for reasons unknown, but when the Enterprise follows him to a Klingon planet the truth is revealed and endangers everyone aboard.

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FILM JOCKEYS HEADER

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate fans who want to support movies and cinema. For your consideration, Episode #22:

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Star Trek Into Darkness

If you’ve been bummed about getting shut out of next week’s Friday screenings and sold out Wednesday night IMAX sneak peeks of Star Trek Into Darkness, worry no more (or, at least, worry a bit less), as Paramount Pictures has now officially moved the release date of the J.J. Abrams sequel to Thursday, May 16th. So, yes, you can now see the film on Wednesday at an IMAX preview. Or on Thursday at a regular theater near you. Or even on Thursday at an IMAX theater. Or, well, on Friday or the rest of the weekend and onward wherever the heck you want. The possibilities are just endless on this one. Will you be catching STiD this week, or are you holding out on this one? [Press Release]  

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Breaking bad

Tonight on Movie News After Dark, it’s time to talk about Breaking Bad (YES!), dig a little deeper into the world of Iron Man, examine spoilers in trailers and get excited for summer movie season. Pretty much the same stuff we do every day, but better.

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sw7_header

During the production of 2008′s Star Trek, director J.J. Abrams was quite determined to keep as much information about the film from the public as possible. This included tactics on set such as putting actors under blankets to hide their costumes, additional security on set and limiting (until the last moment) how much information was distributed to the press. He loves this game, as evidence by the even more secretive Cloverfield project and his extensive talk about his mystery box. He enjoys the fun of not knowing everything that’s going to happen next. As a longtime Star Trek fan, I found myself alright with his stance. Even though knowing a great deal about the film would fulfill some part of my devilish curiosity, the moments of discovery that occurred during that fateful first screening of Star Trek in 2008 were more than worth the wait. In that case — as it has many times — J.J. Abrams’ mystery machine worked. So now that he’s signed on to bring Star Wars back to life for new owner Disney, will Abrams toy with Wars fans as he did his Trekker brethren? And would you want him to play things close to the chest? This is the subject of this weekend’s big discussion.

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Jane Got a Gun from Malick

The Jane Got a Gun production has been a wild ride. After losing director Lynne Ramsay just before shooting started they pulled in Gavin O’Connor with the quickness, but the Natalie Portman-starring film was in limbo for at least a weekend. So, our old friend Sleepy Skunk put together a mashup of what the movie might look like if Terrence Malick, Wes Anderson or J.J. Abrams replaced Ramsay — but not before the production managed to lose Jude Law, throwing even this video into question. It’s really hard to keep up with this one. Nevertheless, sit back and enjoy playing What If with us, will you?

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Empire Strikes Back

There is a lot of Star Wars material to work with. George Lucas originally had a few thoughts on where Episodes VII – IX should go, there are countless novel adaptations and comic books, and if you culled the collective amount of fan advice, there would be enough storylines for a thousand more movies. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan probably knows that better than most, but as the scribe has signed on to write one of the new sequel entries, he told the LA Times that his plan was to start from scratch. “I’m trying to start fresh,” he said. “There are certain pleasures that we think the saga can bring to people that they’ve been missing, and we’re hoping to bring them that, and at the same time, have them feel that it’s all new.”

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FILM JOCKEYS HEADER

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate film fans who also desperately want to see a Portal movie. For your consideration, Episode #9:

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J.J. Abrams

Some pretty big movie news came out of the 2013 DICE Summit today. Why did talk suddenly turned to film during an event that’s generally thought of as a summit for video game companies? Because Bad Robot head J.J. Abrams took the stage with game developer Valve’s co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell in order to lead a discussion about storytelling. This wasn’t just some casual discussion of video games and movies and how they sort of intersect because they both tell narratives though. Oh no, Abrams and Newell had announcements to make. Not content just to revamp Star Trek and Star Wars for entirely new generations, Abrams and his Bad Robot company are now preparing to tackle the age-old question, “Why has nobody been able to pull off making a half-way decent video game movie?” The film discussion first started when Abrams announced that, “there’s an idea for a game that we’d really like to work with Valve on,” a remark to which Newell then added, “we’re super excited about that and we also want to talk about making movies, either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie.” So, that’s it in a nutshell. Not only is Bad Robot talking with Valve about making some sort of video game in the future, but they’re also talking about developing movie versions of two of their biggest game franchises. Getting a big name, quality director who runs a production company with a good track record interested in a popular video game […]

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JJ Abrams with George Lucas

J.J. Abrams is a no-brainer for Star Wars: Episode VII. He’s proven himself as a popular storyteller of science fiction by working with, among others, a giant international franchise that takes place in space. He’s also a self-diagnosed fan of George Lucas‘ grand creation — a factor that went into his feigned earlier denial of the directing gig when speculation was at its peak. From a business angle, from a fan angle, from every angle, he’s the ideal filmmaker to take over for the franchise. Which is why his hiring is potentially terrible. It all boils down to two key problems. One, the consolidation of creative visions under too few roofs, and two, the potential for a generic future of a revolutionary franchise.

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