Star Wars: Episode VII (2015)

Star Wars 7 PosterRelease Date: December 18, 2015

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Written by: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas (characters)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Synopsis:

A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas

Rancor from Return of the Jedi

First he made Monsters, then he made Godzilla, so the next logical step is for Gareth Edwards to make a movie about the Rancor creature from Return of the Jedi. Or should he instead give us the origin story of the Sarlacc or maybe the Space Slug from The Empire Strikes Back? The news that Edwards will direct a stand-alone Star Wars spin-off movie has to be about him tackling one of those. The guy doesn’t do movies that don’t involve monsters. Okay, so his venture into a galaxy far, far away will likely involve a more popular character than any of those giants, but I bet we will at least see some kind of monsters in the movie, whether this will be the young Han Solo adventures or a Boba Fett movie or something that more directly spins off from next year’s Star Wars sequel. According to Lucasfilm, the installment from Edwards already has a release date of December 16, 2016. That’s almost exactly twelve months to the day after the release of Episode VII. Joining Edwards is screenwriter Gary Whitta, who last gave us the disappointing outer space adventure After Earth, which was directed by M. Night Shyamalan. You may remember that that movie also was based around a giant monster. Are we sure this new Star Wars movie won’t be a monster movie? The origin story of the Acklay from Attack of the Clones, maybe? No, let’s say that Edwards is set on delivering his biggest creature yet. That means […]

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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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Flash Gordon

On this week’s episode, in honor of the upcoming X-Men flick, Cargill and I mount our own exploration into alternate timelines as part of a new recurring series we’ve dubbed Movies of Future Past. For the inaugural foray, we imagine a universe in which George Lucas had actually acquired the rights to Flash Gordon and made that his 1977 sci-fi opus instead of Star Wars. It’s one of cinema’s most intriguing What If’s. Heck, as it stands, Lucas’ fascination with the Flash Gordon serials of the ’30s actually ended up informing so much of what Star Wars became. But that’s in this dimension, where history books have facts and whatnot. It’s far more entertaining to travel to other timelines where we’re confined only to the limits of our wild speculations!!! You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #12 Directly

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Blade Runner sequel

This was sort of inevitable. Once Harrison Ford signed on to star in the next entry into the Star Wars franchise, we should have expected that it would open the floodgates for other productions to beg for their star to return for more ill-advised sequels (though we’re still not opposed to another Indiana Jones feature, so long as it ditches the aliens and bars the gates against Bradley Cooper). First up — Blade Runner.  We’ve known that Alcon Entertainment was hellbent on launching a sequel to the seminal 1982 feature since way back in 2011, when the production company announced its plans to make both prequels and sequels to the Ridley Scott-directed sci-fi classic, but this first film has been through so many fits and starts, we’d sort of hoped it would never happen. Despite having some elements to recommend it — like the return of original screenwriter Hampton Fancher – not much else of sounds that good. Even Scott, who is back to direct the new installment, isn’t exactly a selling point, as his output in the past few years (cough, Prometheus, cough) has been on the decline. But you know what could really make this thing sing? If we could get Ford to come back! But, you guys, what if Harrison Ford is tired?

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Don Peyote

As it turns out, it’s completely possible to spend the warmest months without seeing a single superhero or explosion, and on this week’s show, Geoff and I proclaim our excitement for the indie/non-blockbuster pics that might provide greatness this season. We’ll also talk about our all-time favorite screenplays to read. Plus, Paracinema writer Matthew Monagle is our first participant in a segment called You Have a Year and a Half to Make Us Excited About Star Wars: Episode VII. Let’s see if he persuades you. Double plus, we’ll chat with Dan Fogler about 2012 conspiracies and getting beaten up by Anne Hathaway for the trippy Don Peyote. You should follow Matthew (@labsplice), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #57 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Elstree 1976 Rebel

I think it was Andy Warhol who said that everyone associated with Star Wars will be world-famous for 15 trillion minutes. Maybe I made that up, and maybe I have a personal reason for knowing it’s not necessarily true of everyone associated with George Lucas’s game-changing movie, but it does at least seem that Star Wars mania allows for anyone involved in the first or any subsequent installment to be an icon of sorts for the millions of fans out there. Even Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best are embraced by many at conventions. And according to a new documentary in the works, plenty of extras can show up to events and have a line of people waiting to get their autograph. Of course, almost every extra appearing on screen in the original Star Wars movie plays a character with a name and maybe even an action figure. Very few are recognizable by name and most aren’t recognizable by face given that they wore masks. Plenty played roles as distinct as Greedo and Biggs and Boba Fett, while others played stormtroopers. Jon Spira‘s Elstreet 1976 will spotlight ten of these minor yet significant players, including David Prowse, whose role as Darth Vader in every way except for voice and final reveal barely counts as being labeled “extra.” There’s also John Chapman, who played a Rebel pilot in the Battle of Yavin. We can thank him for inspiring Spira (Anyone Can Play Guitar) after enrolling in the filmmaker’s screenwriting class.

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Home Alone Talkboy

Defictionalization is when something that previously only existed in a movie universe comes to life. Films and TV shows are now taking advantage of this more than ever before. In the world of TV, Castle has spawned a series of books by Nathan Fillion’s crime novelist character; Parks and Rec has spawned a guide to Pawnee written by the characters themselves; and Archer is now releasing an album recorded by Judy Greer’s character Charlene (and not, apparently, by Judy Greer). Here are ten great examples of fictional products from movies that became defictionalized in interesting ways:

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Casablanca Movie

Sometimes, the urge to crack open a cold one when you’re stuck in the middle of a Netflix binge can get overwhelming. And it’s understandable; so many of our favorite films feature incredible bars and pubs that put our local haunts and dives to shame, intergalactic gathering spots that bring together alien races, chic international watering holes and rough roadsides that may necessitate a bodyguard or two. While we can’t frequent these cinematic watering holes, it’s okay to daydream and sip a martini or two while doing so. Here are the movie bars at which we’d love to pull up a stool.

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The Signal Movie

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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The Warriors Baseball Furies

We all feared that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was going to have too many villains. But the number of bad guys in the new sequel isn’t really a problem. You’ve mostly just got Electro (Jamie Foxx), who is the most powerful and most prevalent, and then there’s Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) who joins him in the third act. Rhino (Paul Giamatti) is basically only in this movie for isolated scenes, and I’ll just keep the mention of him to that, so nobody thinks I’m spoiling too much (he’s in the ads, so his very appearance shouldn’t be a surprise). Oh, and there’s also that mysterious man seen at the end of the first movie doing whatever he’s doing somewhere in the background. It’s not that there are too many of these guys so much that they’re handled rather sloppily, though that’s par for the course of most elements of the movie. When fans worry about the multiple villain issue, what they’re really worried about is yet another movie that handles the idea badly. We’ve seen this before, in Spider-Man 3, Batman and Robin, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: The Last Stand, Iron Man 2 and The Dark Knight Rises. The last one is an interesting criticism from people because the entire Christopher Nolan series has multiple villains for each film, with The Dark Knight championed (by us, six years ago) for being one the rare great movies to do it right with the balance of The Joker and eventually Two-Face. 

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Princess Leia in Star Wars - Troopers

Diversity is of vital importance to filmmaking, not only because of how powerful movies can be as a social tool, but because variety is what makes the engine of storytelling run. In an industry built on sharing experiences — one that’s notoriously slow to innovate on certain fronts — finding The New is the only way to ensure survival. Sometimes that comes in the guise of technology, sometimes in structure, and sometimes in the people whose stories are being shared. The Star Wars: Episode VII casting announcement yesterday was, as you may have noticed, swift in causing some to reach for pitchforks over a lack of diversity. Several voices let their outrage be known, even without a full public actor roster or a detailed description of the roles. I personally find that kind of kneejerk reaction less than useful because at best it’s well-intentioned but meaningless and at worst it serves as ego-tripping, more for the pundit’s own notoriety than a genuine concern for equality. Naturally, a healthy portion of outrage was fomented by assumptions about J.J. Abrams‘ and the production’s intent, which drew their PR machine to announce that another prominent female role had yet to be announced. I’m impressed that they had the restraint to avoid saying, “Maybe wait until we reveal everything before you slam us?” in their release. Particularly because representation is important, but it cannot be the only rubric for judgement or quality would always be in question. Also because it’s possible for creatives in Hollywood to consider […]

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the Empire Strikes Back

The story typically goes something like this. In the 1960s, Hollywood had weathered an economic crisis but was losing an ongoing battle with television, so it turned to youth-oriented, smaller projects and gave unprecedented freedom to envelope-pushing directors who worshipped in the churches of Bergman, Kurosawa, Hawkes. Then Jaws (huge) and Star Wars (way huge) came along in the mid-late 70s, imbuing Hollywood with a renewed focus on entertainment spectacle that has, for the most part, dominated its practice since. George Lucas’s original Star Wars without doubt had a significant role in shifting the industrial history of Hollywood toward what we recognize today. It illustrated the lucrative possibilities of mass merchandising, helped elevate B-movie genre fare to A-movie status, and contributed to the now-entrenched thinking that informs our annual movie calendars: the notion that big, expensive fun belongs on our summer movie screens. Yet despite its arguably peerless impact on popular culture in 1977, Star Wars alone resides far more comfortably alongside the film school generation of New Hollywood than the blockbuster mentality it allegedly produced. Rather, it was the film’s 1980 sequel The Empire Strikes Back that made good the changes that have since come to dominate the logic of today’s Hollywood.

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Princess Leia in Star Wars

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. This special edition features, naturally, a lot of Star Wars: Episode VII reactions tucked prominently into other non-Star Wars editorials. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Oscar Isaac in The Nativity Story

If you saw today’s Star Wars: Episode VII casting news and said “who?” more than once, this guide is for you. But even if you saw the names and were mostly familiar with them, this guide is also for you. Sure, everyone knows Andy Serkis, but has everyone seen the movie that makes him best suited to work with director J.J. Abrams on a Star Wars movie? Especially if, as I would wish, he isn’t just doing another motion-capture character? And yeah, yeah, there’s the whole Inside Llewyn Davis reunion going on with Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac, but there are other more appropriate, if not better, movies to see in anticipation of the big one. For each of the newcomers, I’ve selected one movie that you can watch right now and one movie that will (hopefully) be out between now and the December 2015 release date for Episode VII. That gives you plenty of time and a fairly small pile of titles to get through. Of course, if you have some extra room for more, you can always add at least 20 more necessities for Max von Sydow. That guy has been in a lot of great stuff. And a lot of bad stuff that’s at least pretty cool.

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Star Wars Episode 7 Cast

Alright everybody, you can breath a deep sigh of relief — the official Star Wars: Episode VII cast list has just been announced after months — no, years — of speculation and rumor patrol. The roster for the franchise’s newest incarnation is intriguing, if not downright spectacular. The press release  confirmed what so many already knew (especially after they were spotted cavorting around London together this week), that the saga’s original stars, the holy trilogy of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher will be back in action, as will their old pals Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2). 

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Star Wars Expanded Universe

People really seem to like this Star Wars thing. But originally, there wasn’t that much Star Wars to go around. You saw the movies, you bought a small, cheaply-made Han Solo action figure to play with in the tub, and you called it a day. But for those people who truly loved Star Wars – who loved it like their own mothers, only with robot alien laser swords — plain ol’ Star Wars wasn’t enough. And so, in January of 1978, a mere eight months after the original film was released, the first piece of extraneous Star Wars canon was born: Marvel Comics’ Star Wars #7 (issues one through six, of course, were just the movie in comic book form). And then a hundred billion novels, role-playing games, comics, television shows and radio dramas. Radio dramas. Because once you give Star Wars fans carte blanche to make their own Star Wars, they will never, ever ever stop for any reason. Except that now they have to.

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Chewbacca in Star Wars

Just imagine any of the original Star Wars ensemble not making at least a cameo appearance in Star Wars: Episode VII. There’d at least have to be an explanation for why, maybe for what happened to that character. Like if Harrison Ford was on board and reprised his role as Han Solo but there was no Chewbacca, we’d want to know how the Wookie died. And he would have had to have died, because we wouldn’t accept that he and Han went separate ways, for any reason given. After all, Chewie has a sworn debt to protect Han for the rest of his life. Of course, there’d never be such a case with Chewbacca, anyway, because technically anyone (with a height of 7’3″) could play the part underneath the hairy costume. Fortunately, though, that also isn’t necessary because, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Peter Mayhew is returning to play the big furry oaf for the fifth time (excluding the Holiday Special and other non-movie appearances), and thanks to recent surgeries to help the actor with his physical health issues (see details via the upcoming Kickstarter-funded documentary Standing in the Stars), the Wookie won’t be needing either a wheelchair or cane. 

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Listen, I know that there’s been a lot of Star Wars apathy lately. J.J. Abrams has kept that damn mystery box shut for close to a year and a half now, and in that year and a half we haven’t gotten a single solid name to attach to Episode VII (at least as far as actors are concerned). It’s put a bit of a damper on the rumor mill, recently. Gary Oldman gets a Star Wars phone call from J.J. Abrams? Shrug. Benedict Cumberbatch rumored for Oldman’s part, with both actors somehow playing the same character? Yawn. Well, allow this sentence to (hopefully) clear away some cobwebs: “Driver, 30, is the first cast member to be revealed for Walt Disney Studios and LucasFilm’s highly-anticipated “Star Wars” installment.”

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HER-FP-0870

Spike Jonze‘s Her hasn’t even hit wide release yet, but everyone has been talking about its futurist concepts for months. And not only talking about them, but desiring them. It used to be that we had to dream about flying cars and hoverboards as being decades away, but in the past ten years smart science fiction has given us more plausible tech and production design. Minority Report‘s promise of touch screens and personalized ads came rather quickly, and now our impatient culture will demand the stuff seen in Her immediately. We’ve already got some fashions inspired by the film, but how about the artificial intelligence? And more importantly, the artificial intelligence boyfriends and girlfriends? Well, that may not be right around the corner. It might not even be possible at all, at least not to the degree it’s seen in Her (I’m skeptical about full AI ever existing). But this generation tends to be satisfied with replicas if not the real thing. We’re not only fine with fake self-lacing Nikes like those seen in Back to the Future Part II, but we’ll even pay thousands of dollars for them. Same goes for light-up flux capacitor models that don’t really transport us back in time. So why not a special smartphone that features Scarlett Johansson‘s voice to make us feel like the “Samantha” OS from Her is real? After all, there’s been a HAL 9000 theme available for the iPhone, although it doesn’t really replace the Siri voice or alter the […]

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jeditruth-1

One of my favorite movie series of all time is the Star Wars films. Yes, even the prequels. I’m sure whatever happens with the upcoming sequels, they will make the list, too. I’m an shameless fanboy when it comes to this series, and I can forgive a lot – from Greedo shooting first to Jar Jar Binks. Since I was a child, seeing the original Star Wars at the tender age of five, I have loved the series. My youthful mind always wished I could be a Jedi Knight myself. Now, I know that’s impossible because I certainly don’t have nearly enough midi-chlorians in my blood for that. In fact, it was a relief for me to learn this plot patch when I saw The Phantom Menace because by watching the original trilogy as a child, it seemed so easy to train to be a Jedi Knight. Going back and watching that original trilogy again, it got me thinking: Just how long does it take to complete Jedi Knight training?

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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