Monday, May 4, 2015

May the Fourth Be With You Day Character News

For Star Wars fans today was May the Fourth (as in Force) Be With You Day. Fans use it to let their fan flag fly while Disney and various news outlets used it to reveal new character info from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. None of it is really major or plot related but you finally get some confirmation on what a few characters names and who is playing them along with a few behind the scenes pics thanks to Vanity Fair.

Adam Driver has been confirmed to be playing sith Kylo Ren (the three pronged light saber wielder), Gwendoline Christie's character is Captain Phasma, an officer in the First Order of Stormtroopers and Lupita Nyong'o is playing Maz Kanata which is a pure CGI pirate. The full gallery of pictures can be found here or here. Below is a behind the scenes look at Vanity Fair's photoshoot for the film.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Director Fired from Star Wars Anthology II Film

Josh Trank is no longer the director of the second Star Wars Anthology film that is set for release in 2018. This isn't to be confused with Gareth Edwards helmed Star Wars Anthology - Rogue One film. Trank, most known for directing Chronicle and upcoming Fantastic Four, was given a chance to give the appearance that it was a mutual decision between the Disney, the film producers, and himself.
"After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I'm making a personal decision to move forward on a different path. I've put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities. That said, the Star Wars universe has always been one of my biggest influences, and I couldn't be more excited to witness its future alongside my millions of fellow Star Wars fans."
In other words it reads as "creative differences." Which while common for Hollywood, is not common for a director trying to build his career and credentials. Nor is it common to turn down one of the largest franchises in history that would not only have netted him a ton of money over the course of his life and benefited his director career to the point he probably get to choose whatever project he wanted. Basically for him to "voluntarily" give up this job would be like you getting the winning multi-million dollar lottery ticket and choosing to tear it up instead of cashing it. That just isn't how human nature works.

Before I could post this, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed my doubts by reporting he was flat out fired by Kathleen Kennedy based on problems from the set of the Fantastic Four as reported to her by Star Wars and Fantastic Four producer Simon Kinberg. It seems that the director was often unavailable (which would grind much of production to a halt) and indecisive (a no-no for any director considering the volume of work that needs their approval). To be blunt it comes across like the director was high as a kite most of the time. This resulted in producers having to step into director-type roles, expensive re-shoots including filming in late April and replacing the film's editor. Considering that Star Wars is one of Disney's crown jewels, they wouldn't want to risk damaging the franchise on a director that doesn't seem up to a task will be several orders of magnitude more difficult with a level of required decision making and pressure that would make doing the Fantastic Four seem like a walk in the park. Even if the stories are not true, its still too much of a risk for Disney to make and so Trank is no longer in a position to make a career defining film. Trank better hope Fantastic Four doesn't bomb because there is no way his directing career could recover from that one-two punch.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One Is A Prequel

This weekend during Star Wars Celebration, a panel was held to discuss Rogue One. It is still in the movie's development cycle but Gareth Edwards (director) did drop a few tidbits of information. To start the new official title is "Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One" with Anthology added to differentiate the movies from the upcoming trilogy of films.

One of the most important bits finally provides a little insight on what the movie is about. The official synopsis "A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans in Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One.” This places the movie just before the beginning of the very first Star Wars film. The one known cast member, Felicity Jones, will play one of the rebels that steals the plans. Because of when it is set that means all the Jedi are considered extinct (except for the random few that will probably pop up as various movies, cartoons, and books need them too) so it will focus on characters without any power sets.

The last bit is the genre of the film. On the surface it sounds like a heist movie but apparently Edwards inspirations for the film are military in nature such as Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty where its a few against many and the potentially amoral decisions that must be made to survive and complete the mission. The image to the right is test concept footage that was shown during the panel.

Star Wars Celebration Live Stream Recordings

Below are days 2-4 of Star Wars Celebration that ran this weekend in Anaheim, CA. News wise the only main revelation was about Rogue One (next post) but still below is lots to see from the floor and the various panels that ran throughout the weekend. To bad SDCC doesn't do something like this with their panels.





Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer #2

Today kicked off Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, CA. JJ Abrams and producer essentially kicked the whole thing off by appearing at a panel to talk about the movie and reveal the second teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Per Abrams SOP the secrets remains tightly locked down but you do see enough to get that the movie is attempting to re-capture the look and feel of the the very first Star Wars movie including analogs of almost all of the same elements (for good or bad is too soon to say). Below is the teaser and then links to more info.


Now that you have seen the teaser, what does it all mean? Beats me as the Abrams cone of silence remains in full effect but the speculation remains. i09.com has an excellent breakdown with screenshots that at least lets you figure how who is who in some of the scenes since there are a lot of new characters. Probably like most fans the best part of Vader's destroyed helmet which somehow survived going down the chute of the Death Star along with Vader's saber being handed off to another (even though that saber was lost with Luke's hand in The Empire Strikes Back). Hopefully all these returned tidbits pay off and not in the "Superman Returns" homage overkill manner.

A few behind the scenes shots have also been released including the new trio of heroes which you can find here. More screenshots from the teaser is here.