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

If you’re reading this, chances are pretty high that you’ve got some vested interest in Star Wars. And if that’s the case, than you must have seen the same thing I did this weekend: Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s face plastered across every film news site in the known universe, with the words Star Wars: Episode VII following shortly after. The anticipation swells as you think of Ejiofor and Star Wars as a perfect match; he’s got talent and charisma galore, and Serenity proves he’s no stranger to the space opera action adventure. His name even sounds a little like “Chewie.” That’s got to mean something. And then you actually read beyond the words “Chiwetel Ejiofor” and “Star Wars” and that giddy excitement transforms back into the same dull Star Wars-less banality of everyday life. Here’s the connection The Times discovered between Ejiofor and Episode VII director J. J. Abrams. “The British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, front-runner in this year’s Oscar race, is sitting in the lobby of J. J. Abrams’ office.” Then, when prodded about Ejiofor’s office-lobby involvement, Abrams drops this juicy morsel: “I can’t discuss casting. But he’s a very talented gentleman.”

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By the time I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I had already read a few Harry Potter books and I couldn’t help but think of the earlier sci-fi work initially as “Harry Potter in space.” It’s a comparison that continues for many now that the movie is out. “Harry Potter meets Star Wars,” claims a blurb used in UK ads credited to Sky Movies host Craig Stevens. And if you search Twitter for “Ender’s Game and Harry Potter” the results of both titles mentioned together is aplenty. All this is natural for the lazy way we relate movies to each other. The sad thing is some kids might think of the new movie as a derivative piece of YA fiction modeled after J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard. I don’t know if Potter was at all influenced by Ender’s Game. It’s not like Card’s book was the first messianic tale. The website TV Tropes even labels the relevant trope as “A Child Shall Lead Them,” a Biblical quote that also appears at the top of the New York Times review of the movie, in which critic Manohla Dargis breaks out the ol’ “Christ figure” descriptor for the main character. Still, I wish that I’d both read and seen the Harry Potters after reading/seeing Ender’s Game. If you’ve somehow avoided all the Hogwarts adventures before going to Battle School with the new Ender’s adaptation, consider yourself lucky. Watch the entire series now to see what I’m talking about. And right there I’ve got […]

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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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Danny Trejo Sherrybaby

Our official review of Machete Kills is pretty negative. Rightfully so, it’s a major disappointment following the purposefully cheesy yet still politically relevant first film. This time it’s all just silly, kind of like an Austin Powers movie for the Latino audience instead of 13-year-old boys — though the 13-year-old boys may still be the best audience for this. I want to recommend it solely for Demian Bichir, though, because he is a pleasure to watch every second he’s on screen. Maybe it’s just how great he is relative to the rest of the cast and movie, but I’d give him another Oscar nomination for this. If you think that’s ridiculous, you haven’t seen the movie (because that is ridiculous). If you don’t see Machete Kills, no big deal, even if you won’t know what’s going on when Machete Kills Again… In Space arrives. This week’s gateway recommendations have nothing related to any spoilers in the movie. Most are just better films starring parts of the sequel’s ensemble. I also almost thought about including Star Wars, not because I think any of you haven’t seen it but because I think you’d want to clean yourself in the form of a re-watch after seeing all the bad references here. Seriously, even if we’d never had 35 years of parodies, copycats, fan films and other works derived from and informed by Star Wars, the allusions here would still feel stale. The following ten selections are worth checking out whether you bother with Machete […]

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Letting go of a loved one is tough, but it’s something we all must do at some point. And George Lucas is no different. He and his son, the twenty year-old Jett Lucas, recently went through a similar experience, of a father releasing his child into the world to grow and develop on its own, without that constant parental influence. The child in question, of course, isn’t Jett Lucas. It’s Star Wars: Episode VII. The younger Lucas described his father as keeping a close eye on his beloved franchise, “as any parent watching their kid going to college would.” But the Star Wars creator seems to have had a tough time staying away, and has, as it turns out, been exerting far more influence over Episode VII than previously thought. Jett Lucas (in an interview with Flicks and the City) had this to say: “He’s constantly talking to J.J. [Abrams]. Obviously J.J. was handpicked. He [Lucas] is there to guide, whenever, he’ll help where he can.” As well, the elder Lucas had actually begun work on Episode VII a year before the franchise was sold to Disney, and has created a set of “guidelines” that Abrams and the rest of the new blood will be following. With luck, it’s the Lucas responsible for the original Star Wars (and not the one responsible for the prequel trilogy) that’s currently helicopter-parenting a few feet above Episode VII.

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Mars Attacks Congress

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are turning burnt orange, horror movies are confusingly not being released, and the GOP has threatened to shut down the government because they failed for the 54th time to stop a law that was passed three years ago. Only this time they actually followed through with the threat (go figure), and now none of us can enjoy the leaves at National Parks or watch NASA launch stuff into orbit. Unsurprisingly, the concept of the government shutting down (or at least this version of a shut down) isn’t well represented in movies because of how breathtakingly uncinematic it is. When we want to see a political crisis on screen, we demand that Harrison Ford punch a terrorist off of Air Force One or Denzel Washington get brainwashed. That doesn’t stop films from tiptoeing around the periphery or taking a central role in this current freeze. Whether directly referenced by politicians or symbolically evoked by our collective subconscious, movies are here to help us make sense of it all and/or confuse us even further.

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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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IntroWorstPlacesToWork

Forget Weyland-Yutani or Initech; statistically speaking they are fine places to work. Hell, you think Cyberdyne didn’t have a stellar employee benefits package, or at least decent break rooms? Sure – everyone dies, but day-to-day it’s not that terrible. In the movie world, there are far worse jobs out there. These are places that – from one day to the next – level out as the worst possible places to be employed.

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silent running drones

If you’re going to see Despicable Me 2 this weekend, there’s a good chance it’s because either you or your children mostly want to see the Minions. Who cares about Gru and the human children let alone whatever the plot is this time around when those little yellow blobs are running around causing trouble? This is just a hurdle until the spin-off movie that’s centered just on the Minions comes out next year. Why do we love them so much? Movies.com writer Perri Nemiroff gave a few likeminded reasons earlier this week, comparing them to pets and plush toys come to life. She also notes that their gibberish is always “immensely more entertaining than any line of human dialogue.” The lack of intelligible dialogue is the reason I believe they’re so popular, combined with their slapstick antics. They’re Keystone henchmen, basically, characters that continue the tradition of silent comedy well into the era of sound cinema. In fact, they are cinema, almost purely visual treats (without their gibberish and occasional English word they would still be as funny). They’re reportedly modeled after the Jawas from Star Wars and the Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, while Steve Carrell (the voice of Gru) believes the Minions “are as close to a modern day version of the Marx Brothers as I’ve seen.” One of the Marx Brothers in particular, for me. Harpo was one of the earliest figures in film to maintain the tradition of the dumbshow pantomime once […]

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kings of summer malicky

Last weekend I posted a Short Starts column in celebration of the early work of Jordan Vogt-Roberts, a filmmaker who has done a lot of comedy sketches and short films in the past (including the popular award-winning Successful Alcoholics) and now has his debut feature, The Kings of Summer, opening in theaters. One of the pieces that I shared is a video consisting of well-known coming-of-age movie clips with the title “Toy’s House Rip-O-Matic Tone Reel” (The Kings of Summer was formerly titled Toy’s House), and I explained that I was pretty curious about its purpose in the development of the new film. Vogt-Roberts emailed me in response, and later we had a chat on the phone about that, his other works and a lot more. It was a long phone call. We discussed improv, which is something he’s clearly passionate about (see the youth organization Detroit Creativity Project, which he mentions) and the desire for more movies, particularly comedies, to better utilize the visual medium — he’s very passionate about this also. And he expressed his interest in directing a Star Wars movie. We also, of course, talked about The Kings of Summer and how it fits in with those topics. Well, maybe not with Star Wars. But I’ll say this: he’d probably deliver a decent installment of the franchise, especially one with humor and kids and woodsy locations. Are they looking to redo The Battle for Endor? Just kidding. Seriously, he’s one to really watch. And a lot of […]

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This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. In a few days, The Kings of Summer opens in theaters. One of our favorites out of Sundance this year (where it was titled Toy’s House), the coming-of-age dramedy is filled with big laughs, a huge amount of heart and great performances from a handful of young actors who are all sure to go places. Also on the rise now is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, a veteran of web and TV work who now enters the big time with this feature directorial debut. In an interview with AFI this year, he declared that this is only the beginning for him with feature filmmaking: “That’s why i’m here. I grew up falling in love with movies and the worlds they created. That’s my priority and that’s where I want to be.” Fortunately for us short subject lovers, he’s not against continuing non-feature stuff on the side. He admits to enjoying all mediums, including commercials, and wants to do a second season of his Comedy Central show with T.J. Miller, Mash Up. Hopefully he also makes more legitimate short films, because he’s shown a terrific grasp for not just concise storytelling but also an awareness for what sort of running time suits a particular story. Thanks to Vogt-Roberts having a well-stocked Vimeo page, we’re able to see a lot of his prior short and sketch work, and this week I’d […]

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Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-trio

It’s hard to watch Star Trek Into Darkness and not think about Star Wars. Yes, J.J. Abrams is directing Episode VII and so we have that knowledge on the brain going into this. Maybe we’re even on the lookout for clues hinting at what we should expect from his take on that galaxy. This isn’t the first time the Trek franchise has had to try and prove itself in the shadow of George Lucas’s own series. Even though it originated with a TV show in the 1960s, Trek‘s cinematic resurrection a decade later was in part allowed by and somewhat influenced by the success and quality of the first Star Wars. But even regardless of the fact that Abrams is following the latest Trek with the next Wars, I often otherwise felt like I was watching one of the latter while sitting through Into Darkness. Before getting into the evidence that Abrams is a clear fan of Lucasfilm works (and not just Star Wars) and likes to sample from them, let’s take a moment to think about what all his call back references and allusions to both Wars and Trek might mean for Episode VII. Will there be too much winking and fan-service, unhidden Easter eggs and inside jokes and maybe even outright recycling the way Into Darkness is with certain prior Trek installments? Could Episode VII have a number of allusions to Trek the way Into Darkness pays obvious homage to Wars? Rather than creating new worlds of his […]

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© Lucasfilm Ltd.

Happy Star Wars Day. To celebrate this year’s May the 4th, we want to drown you in imagery from the whole first trilogy. And not just screen shots from the movie but behind the scenes production photos and concept art. Someone chose and compiled 1,138 pictures (you ought to know the significance of that number) for a gallery at IMGUR specifically for today’s occasion, and yes the usual fanboy favorites involve Princess Leia. In addition to the one above, there’s plenty of the slave outfit and, as pointed out on Reddit, apparently a formal moment (the premiere?) where you can see Carrie Fisher‘s nipple. Yeah, there’s truth to the idea that fanboys are 13 years old forever. Personally, I mostly cherish the pics that expose some of the magic of the costume and special effects but which highlight the craft and mastery of these practical elements of the making of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It’s the stuff that makes the joke about this being a behind the scenes photo from the production of The Phantom Menace all the more hilarious (and sad). I’ve posted a few of my favorites after the jump — and sure, I’ll include a sunbathing slave Leia in there. I never said I wasn’t among those young-at-heart (and hormone) fans.

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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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Star Wars

Did you think that the summer blockbuster movie season was full enough already? Not sure you could handle another major release? Had your fill of superheroes and sci-fi and comic books? Too bad. While we’ve long known that the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII installment would likely hit in the summer of 2015, news at Cinema Con reveals that Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm are just going whole hog on the entire thing and taking over summers with new Star Wars for the foreseeable future. Both ComingSoon and FirstShowing report that Episode VII will indeed hit theaters sometime in the summer of 2015, and that it will be followed every summer thereafter by a new Star Wars film, with the new traditional Star Wars eps alternating with those standalone character-centric films we’ve all been chattering about. While we know that we’re getting a new trilogy, we’re still not sure of how many standalone films we’re going to be getting, so it’s probably best just to block off your summers for the next decade or so. You weren’t busy, right?

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fantastic four bill murray

Welcome to another edition of the Reject Recap, where we highlight the past week’s best news and original features from this very movie site and others around the web. It really wasn’t a huge week for stories out of Hollywood and the rest of the industry. Some of the biggest things involved sci-fi movie casting and trailers and the reminder of a remake nobody sees as necessary. In addition to the ten posts curated for your attention, we also share two goofy mash-up videos for your enjoyment this weekend. Start your weekend right after the jump.

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Oblivion Bubble Ship

On this evening’s edition of Movie News After Dark, we take a closer look at Tom Cruise’s ride in Oblivion, get up close and personal with Silent Ben Affleck, see what Russ Meyer’s Star Wars universe might look like and get down and dirty with the Internet’s finest movie-related accomplishment: the Supercut.

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guide2wdw

Not a whole lot happened this week of monumental notice. Though some specific careers may have been seriously altered and some new film trends could be in the making, there was nothing that aims to revolutionize the whole industry as we saw last week. That’s why this week’s Reject Recap is a bit more populated with lists than usual (there are also more videos, but they’re not among the ten). But they’re mighty fine lists that will have you thinking and discussing and debating. And not just our own, of course. As usual, we also looked outside the FSR borders for great film-related (and sometimes TV-related) pieces elsewhere. If you see something you think should be included in the Recap, please email me.  In addition to catching up with us and the other movie blogs here, be sure to check out the continued outpouring of great SXSW coverage we’ve been posting even as the film fest itself is over. Oh, and I highly recommend this week’s brilliantly spot-on Film Jockeys strip on “The Life Cycle of a Film Fan,” which should hit close to home for many of you. Now without further ado… Start your weekend right after the jump.

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Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine

Tonight in the wide world of entertainment news, we’ve gone down the rabbit hole of nerd pleasures. From a wedding officiated by Patrick Stewart to Hugh Jackman’s hands to Brad Bird inserting curse words into Star Wars to our undisputed queen of nerdom, Anna Kendrick, it’s all about the love in Movie News After Dark.

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ark-melt

Anything happen this week to revolutionize the film industry? What, you don’t know? You must need the Reject Recap, our weekly rundown of the best and most important news and features any movie fan must read. Yeah, most of it is our own content, but we also look outside the FSR borders for great film-related (and sometimes TV-related) pieces elsewhere. If you see something you think should be included in the Recap, please email me.  Over the past seven days, in spite of a major film festival going on (well, maybe because of this), a lot of very interesting things happened or came out. The Internet continued to alter the business of cinema and we heard about long-awaited sequels to ’90s movies. Obligatorily, we also thought more about the next Star Wars movie. And once again we include a few must-watch videos. So, in honor of what’s gone on this week, put on David Bowie’s “Changes,” sit back and play catch up with us. (Kick)Start your weekend right after the jump.

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