If Sunday’s record low ratings are any indication, we’re not the only TV addict who thinks ONCE UPON A TIME may have lost a little magic over the course of the first half of its seconcd season. And while we’re not prepared to jump off the bandwagon by any stretch just yet [Editor's Note: We're still watching HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER!], we did think now might be as good a time as any too offer up five suggestion that co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis might wish to consider moving forward.
1. Shrink Storybrooke
WIth serious apologies in advance to the hard-working and honest townspeople of Storybrooke, who let’s face it, haven’t had the greatest string of luck these past twenty-eight years being cursed and all, ONCE UPON A TIME’s most pressing problem is one of over-population. A problem that plagues many sophomore shows when showrunners inexplicably decide to introduce a slew of entirely new characters in an attempt to conjure up drama at the expense of some much-needed screen time for the original ones that fans have come to know and love.
2. Simplify the number of story lines
The second most pressing issue plaguing ONCE UPON AT IME this season are the sheer number of simultaneous story lines. Take Sunday’s episode for example. Between Red/Ruby’s two predicaments, David juggling his continued effort to rescue his wife and daughter while at the same time having to defend his position against an angry mob of townspeople riled up by Spencer (aka King George) and Henry/Princess Aurora’s concurrent nightmares, we counted no fewer than six plots being mixed into forty-four minutes of show. Which, in case you’re wondering, is a lot to keep track of while our brain attempts to reconcile the fact that Sunday marks the end of a wonderful weekend and the start of a very busy work week.
3. Tone down the special effects
Despite the fact that co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have gone on record in stating that they’ll never let a lack of visual effects budget or time temper their story-telling ambition, they should. Seriously. While we’re hesitant to be the type of TV Addict to quash any showrunners vision, there comes a point when a writer’s room has to get realistic. Unlike REVOLUTION, whose lack of visual effects as a result of the whole unexplained blackout phenomena continues to work in the show’s favor in terms of creator Eric Kripke’s promise of delivering a mini-movie every week [Editor's Note: Did you see Monday's epic episode?!], ONCE UPON A TIME’s often laughable effects do little more than completely remove us from what otherwise would be a very compelling story. Which is an absolute shame for a show that we’re sure has hundreds of people working around the clock to deliver the best possible product.
4. Remember the Format
Last season, one of the most appealing aspects to ONCE UPON A TIME was the slightly predictable nature of the show in that each episode generally shone the spotlight on a characters’ dual predicament in both the Storybook and Fairytale worlds. With one or two plot points, episodes were interesting enough to keep this generally anti-procedural type of TV Addict interested, yet simple enough to provide the hallmark of a good story that is a beginning middle and end. By contrast, this season has done a bang up job of introducing story, yet not so solid when it comes to finishing them.
5. Have Fun
Having learned under the tutelage of LOSTerminds Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, it’s understandable that the talented twosome that are Horowitz and Kitsis want to do nothing less than shoot for the stars by crafting and equally compelling world filled with good and evil character, not to mention life and death stakes. Unfortunately, the one thing that really seems to have gotten, well lost this season is the fun. In other words, when you’re responsible for writing a show about handsome princes, damsels in distress, witches, fairy-godmothers, etc… it would be nice if an episode could go by that doesn’t involve a grisly murder or loss of limbs. Translation: Where’s our happily ever afters?
The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.
Previous trailers for the Les Misérables musical – from Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) – featured Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dream a Dream,” but kept a lid on the rest of the cast’s singing performances (which were recorded live during filming).
The new international trailer for Les Miz also showcases the vocal capabilities of stars like Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks (covering songs such as “A Heart Full of Love,” “One Day More,” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?”). Moreover, we at last get footage of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (with a customary crazy hairdo) bringing the loathsome Thénardiers to life on the big screen.
For novices, the film (based on the award-winning Broadway musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel) tells the tale of unjustly-imprisoned Jean Valjean (Jackman), who seeks redemption once he is released. However, his decision to break parole incites the wrath of Inspector Javert (Crowe), an obsessive policeman determined to bring Valjean ‘to justice’ no matter what. Hathaway plays a struggling factory worker named Fantine, whose daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen as a child, Seyfried as an adult) eventually comes under the care of Valjean – having previously been forced to work as a servant by the Thénardiers, who were entrusted to care for her by Fantine and treat her like their own daughter Éponine (Barks).
Les Misérables certainly looks strikingly different than most of the other Broadway musical-turned films released in recent years, thanks to some picturesque visuals and unusual camera angles conjured up by director of photography Danny Cohen (who received an Oscar nod for his similar work on King’s Speech). The singing is raw and unrefined, but that absence of pitch-perfection seems in keeping with the overall gritty design of the film – not just in terms of cinematography, but also the costume and production design by Paco Delgado (The Skin I Live In) and Eve Stewart (another King’s Speech alum), respectively.
However, Hooper’s approach might divide the Les Miz fan base between those who approve of his attempt to give the show real cinematic flavor – while preserving the emotional impact of the music – and those who would’ve preferred there to be more emphasis on making the songs percussive and booming (like an excellent recorded version of the stage show). Of course, we will have to wait for the actual film to see if that’s indeed the case.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
Behind the Daleks, the Cybermen are easily Doctor Who‘s most iconic villains. For over fifty years – ever since their first appearance in the classic Who serial “The Tenth Planet” – the Cybermen have threatened death and assimilation to the Doctor and his many companions. Recently, the metal monsters have gotten short end of the stick, appearing rarely and often only to serve as punching bags for whatever larger threat the episode writer wants to puff up in the process.
Next year, we may see a reversal of this pattern. It looks, as previously reported, that noted genre author Neil Gaiman has scribed an upcoming episode of Doctor Who that will (hopefully) restore the Cybermen to their classic, creepy glory.
In a post featured on their Doctor Who blog, BBC announced that Neil Gaiman has penned an episode that will feature a new appearance by the Cybermen. This is the second script by Gaiman, who wrote the season 6 installment “The Doctor’s Wife” – an episode that netted Gaiman the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. The episode will be directed by Stephen Woolfenden, who makes his Doctor Who debut after a career as second-unit director on many feature films, including the last four installments of the Harry Potter series. The episode will also sport guest appearances by Warwick Davis (Harry Potter, Willow), Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders), and Jason Watkins (Being Human).
Since Russell T. Davies revived Doctor Who from its decade-long dormancy in 2005, Cyberman-centric episodes have been something of a mixed bag. They’ve ranged from the flawed-but-decent “The Age of Steel” to the eye-rolling filler of “Closing Time” (their most recent appearance). As noted earlier in this article, the writers of the past six seasons have had the habit of treating the cybernetic creatures as second-tier villains. In several episodes, the Cybermen have either been defeated by ridiculous plot developments or placed in the path of stronger enemies to be steamrolled in a naked attempt to oversell the new danger.
As such, one has to ask whether this new appearance by the robotic hordes will be able to sell them as a credible threat. Fortunately, I have faith that Neil Gaiman can pull this off. The author has created some rather iconic villains of his own during his long career. For example, during his run on the comic book The Sandman (one of the all-time great graphic novel experiences), he introduced readers to nightmare creatures such as The Corinthian – a serial killer with gnashing mouths for eyes. Despite being a novel for young readers, Coraline presented a rather grotesque antagonist in the False Mother/Beldam. And more germane to the subject at hand, Gaiman’s previous Who outing “The Doctor’s Wife” brought us House, an unsettling extra-universal horror whose sadism matched its immense power.
All this is to say that if anyone can take the time and care to craft an effective new interpretation of the Cybermen, there are few writers as qualified to do so as Neil Gaiman. It will be very interesting indeed to see how he goes about it.
Doctor Who will travel back to television on December 25, 2012 for its annual Christmas episode and appear again in Spring of 2013 for the remaining eight episodes of season 7.
Kyle Hembree blogs at Screen Rant.
Last week, there was a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of nerds cried out and were suddenly silenced. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but it was a pretty big deal when Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced plans for a new series of Star Wars sequels.
Since then, we’ve debated the pros and cons of the news, and have also reported on all of the speculation about Star Wars: Episode 7, including today’s rumor that X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn is in the running to direct the film.
Now, we’ve got another interesting piece of news to share. According to an exclusive report from Geoff Boucher (who has happily landed on his feet at Entertainment Weekly after leaving his gig at the L.A. Times), none other than Han Solo himself has allegedly expressed interest in returning to a galaxy far, far away.
The report quotes sources close to Harrison Ford who say that the iconic actor is “open to the idea of doing the movie” and, moreover, is “upbeat about it.” Obviously, being “open” to doing the movie is a long stretch from actually doing it, and it’s not like the 70-year-old actor is getting any younger. However, if he’s genuinely interested in returning to one of his most famous roles, it can only be a good thing for Star Wars fans.
After all, this is the same actor who told ABC News back in 2010 that he didn’t actually like playing the character of Han Solo that much and was actually hoping that Lucas would kill him off in Return of the Jedi, quipping that he didn’t because “George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”
Presumably, if Ford returned to the big screen for a Star Wars sequel, it would be alongside his two costars, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). In a recent interview, Hamill discussed plans for the sequels to focus on entirely new stories to satisfy fans’ desires for “more and more and more material.”
Nevertheless, it’s entirely possible that Lucas and company could throw in the original trio in expanded cameo roles, much in the same way that Leonard Nimoy played an important role in the new Star Trek film.
Whatever path they decide to take, it’s certainly an exciting development to learn that Ford is interested in returning to one of the film’s that catapulted him to worldwide fame. I was one of the few people that actually enjoyed Ford in Indiana Jones 4, so I would be more than happy to see him strap on the blaster one more time as Han Solo.
What do you think? Is Harrison Ford a must-have for Star Wars: Episode 7 and beyond, or should they start completely fresh with no original characters?
Rob Frappier blogs at Screen Rant.
In Wreck-It-Ralph, director Rich Moore depicts a world where video game villains aren’t inherently bad (in spite of their in-game evil hijinks), they’re just doing their job. Even though Pixar Studios enjoys a nearly unblemished spotlight at Disney, in-house Walt Disney Animation Studios, which has been churning out animated feature films since 1937 (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) continues to produce big screen hits for the Mouse House – including recent offerings Bolt, Tangled, and hand-drawn titles like The Princess and the Frog.
However, in an increasingly congested CGI-animation market, it’s more important than ever that animated films provide an enjoyable experience for both children and adults. Fortunately, Wreck-It-Ralph succeeds in its efforts with a solid mix of humorous adventuring, retro game nostalgia, and heartwarming story beats – one that gamers and non-gamers will easily relish.
Despite what the trailers might have indicated, knowledge of video games is not a prerequisite for appreciating Wreck-It-Ralph. Gamers will find plenty of tantalizing in-jokes (some subtle, some not-so-subtle) but, even though there are numerous easter eggs to relish, the core storyline centers around a straightforward character journey. For years, Wreck-It-Ralph (John C. Reilly) has diligently served as the antagonist to video game do-gooder, Fix-It-Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer). Although Ralph shares a healthy working relationship with Felix, he has grown tired of being treated like a villain after work hours and in an effort to win favor from the other characters in his game, Wreck-It-Ralph jumps into another title, Hero’s Duty, where he intends to win a medal that will prove bad guys can also be good guys.
In his attempt at heroism, Ralph inadvertently lands in Sugar Rush, a kid-friendly kart racing title, and falls victim to the wiles of Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), a 9-year-old racer outcast, and is forced to help the girl win an upcoming competition – in exchange for his precious medal. Although, as the pair prepare for the race, they stumble upon a mysterious plot that threatens the entire arcade, forcing Ralph to confront what it really means to be a good guy.
As mentioned, the core storyline is straightforward and, without the video game setup, Wreck-It-Ralph would tell a pretty traditional Disney tale about rejecting established identities and discovering true heroism through adversity. The central character journey follows a number of recognizable beats, and some viewers will find certain developments predictable, but familiarity doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment that the movie supplies moment to moment. Rich setpieces and a mix of intriguing game environments allow for a range of interesting visuals and, subsequently, varied action and comedy beats. Unfortunately, even though there are countless arcade cabinets shown in the film, Wreck-It-Ralph only explores a tiny fraction of the available game worlds – leaving plenty of room for further franchise misadventures. The plot permits a few entertaining insights into the interconnected arcade world (such as Ralph’s Bad-Anon support group) but gaming fans looking to be inundated with cameos and other iconic gaming culture hat tips may find that the larger Wreck-It-Ralph story doesn’t include quite as much fan service as they might expect. However, even though some viewers might have hoped for a game-hopping adventure, the limited scope ultimately keeps everything tight – in service of a sharp character-focused story.
Ralph and Vanellope, like any good animated buddy film stars, create a smart mix of tenderness and humor – with a fun chemistry that both adults and children will be able to appreciate (even if the characters are surrounded by tongue-in-cheek setups like Nestle Quik-sand and Laffy Taffy tree vines). Regardless of the self-centered motivations in their initial encounter, and plenty of campy lessons about friendship, the two main players contain a surprising amount of depth – imparting a worthwhile and fitting commentary about acceptance and personal identity. Even if the overarching narrative is cut from a familiar Disney fairytale cloth, the video game backdrop breathes a lot of life into what would otherwise be tired character tropes – presenting a surprisingly unique, and amusing to watch, pair of underdogs.
The rich cast of supporting players, riffing on a diverse set of notable game inspirations, provide clever interpersonal drama and fun juxtapositions that compliment the main storyline – best exemplified by the oddball pairing of 8-Bit Felix, Jr. and Hero’s Duty heroine, Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch). Not only do the characters allow for a humorous glimpse into the evolution of game design, their varied personalities supply an compelling range of conflicts and humorous interactions. As mentioned, even though there are plenty of smaller cameos, none of the iconic franchise faces distract from the primary story beats – serving to add additional humor and immersion without taking anything away from the main plot.
A lot of moviegoers still believe that low quality CGI toon projects should get a pass because they’re just “kid movies” but films like Wreck-It-Ralph remind us that superior animated pictures are more than just cheep gags and one-note cliches – considering the film puts a new spin on tried-and-true stories about friendship and heroism. Not every element of Wreck-It-Ralph is entirely fresh, and some audience members may see a few of the twists and turns coming, but the movie excels with charming characters and a unique setting – delivering thoughtful insights for both young and old viewers.
The movie only skims the surface of its rich video game universe, and future installments could provide a more expansive look at the interconnected arcade world (plus make room for new cameos) but Moore shows smart restraint. Wreck-It-Ralph enjoys a healthy ratio of accessible character drama and goofy gaming gags – resulting in an exceptionally entertaining, and heartfelt, animated adventure.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
As the producers of The Walking Dead established before season 3 hit the air, the living would begin to pose a more immediate threat to Rick and those following him than the walkers, and they’ve certainly proved that with ‘Killer Within.’ And that’s a good thing. As much as everyone seems to love the fictional landscape that zombies create, as far as actual characters go, they’re rather one-note. Human interaction beyond the bickering group dynamic – even if it’s as brief as the reappearance of the presumed-dead Andrew (Markice Moore) finding some way to use the undead as a weapon – is something of a welcome sight.
Given what happens as a result, it’s no wonder then that the distrust Rick feels toward those who walk with a spring in their step has been fairly well documented this season. Rick’s as quick to send a man down the road, as he is to bury a machete in his head. Each act having the same result: One less potential killer to worry about, and one more reason for Rick to convince himself the group is closer to securing a place where they can successfully start over. But as much as Rick is comfortable assuming the worst in others, he really mustn’t assume anything when it comes to the living. They’re just as ruthless as he is.
So, while the group takes a few minutes to celebrate Hershel (Scott Wilson) making his way around the yard, Rick has to make another decision regarding the fate of Axel (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent Ward). Turns out neither man is too keen on staying in their cell block with a bunch of dead bodies, and they’d like to join up with the fine folks who’ve taken over C Block. T-Dog (IronE Singleton) believes the men could be of some use and (finally) speaks his mind, which is too bad considering the fate that awaits him. But in what turns out to add insult to eventual life-ending injury, after all this time barely having any lines at all, T-Dog at long last shares something with the rest of the group and Rick blows him off. Perhaps that’s the new harbinger of doom for the series.
If that’s the case, then considering how taciturn and generally uncommunicative Michonne (Danai Gurira) is, it may be in her best interest never to cross paths with Rick and suddenly have an opinion on how things should go. At any rate, she’s still dealing with getting the newly smitten Andrea (Laurie Holden) away from Woodbury, but the Governor/Phillip (David Morrissey) is just so darned convincing and congenial (he has booze!) that Andrea just can’t seem to tear herself away from his quaint little township – even if Merle (Michael Rooker) is counted amongst its citizens. Besides, with a winning vote of confidence from Merle, the Governor is now A-OK in Andrea’s book. And before we question what madness this is that Andrea is seeking opinions on matters of another man’s character from a guy like Merle, let’s keep in mind her post-walker-slaying tryst with Shane last season. In any case, Andrea’s apparently harboring just the teensiest bit ill-will toward her former group for losing track of her during the fracas at Hershel’s farm, and likely figuring them for dead, offers up its location to the consistently ill-tempered redneck – because she know just how much Daryl (Norman Reedus) means to the guy.
Meanwhile, prior to finding out that Andrea would like to hang around Woodbury for a couple more days before heading off to the coast in search of a lifetime of uncertainty, Michonne pokes around the vehicles the Governor brought back from his little excursion during ‘Walk With Me,’ and comes to the conclusion that the time to get out of town has long since passed. But for whatever reason, Michonne’s not going anywhere without Andrea. For as little as we know about her at the moment, the one thing we can tell is that Michonne has a soft spot for people who monotonously dwell on the mysterious pasts of those who save them. Whatever her reason for sticking around is, it certainly isn’t going to end well.
And speaking of not ending well, what started off as a promising day quickly turns chaotic as Rick, Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Daryl prepare to shuttle Axel and Oscar out of the prison only to discover a substantial herd of the undead prowling around the formerly walker-free confines of the yard. While everyone scatters, the prison’s alarm system engages, telling them this isn’t some random occurrence, but the act of a duplicitous person with more on their mind than tasty, tasty flesh. As is nearly always the case when something dubbed a “walker,” or to use the parlance of those in Woodbury, a “biter,” manages to sink its teeth into a victim, said individual is typically preoccupied. In this case, T-Dog is working on getting a gate closed when a good chunk of his shoulder is taken off in one hungry chomp. Still, to his credit, T-Dog does what he can to save Carol (Melissa McBride) by running through the seemingly endless maze of non-descript hallways and just-in-the-nick-of-time rusty doors, to deliver the woman to safety before a pair of walkers snack on his delicious neck meat.
But the body count doesn’t end there – because why should T-Dog’s death be significant when it can be overshadowed by the apparent death of Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies)? (Apparent, because it happened off screen, but it was certainly convincing, otherwise.) Lori hadn’t had the best go of it since the end of the world, and childbirth certainly wasn’t going to make things any easier, so naturally, running from a group of walkers would have to induce labor. Despite a lack of training and supplies, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) manages to save the baby, but simply can’t keep Lori from slipping away. As if all the death weren’t depressing enough, it’s Carl (Chandler Riggs) who takes the unpleasant duty of ensuring Lori doesn’t come back.
If the Governor (deceptively) stands as proof civilization can be rebuilt, then Rick collapsing upon receiving the news of his wife’s passing, serves as the not-so-quiet reminder that death is quite literally at everyone’s door.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
Fans of The Office will either be devastated or stricken with great joy when you read this report. We’ve known that Rainn Wilson was starring in a potential new series tentatively titled The Farm featuring his peculiar Dwight Schrute character from The Office. The spin-off would follow his struggles running a bed and breakfast with his cooky family on his famous beet farm.
The cast also included Majandra Delfino, Tom Bower, Thomas Middleditch, Matt Jones, Blake Garrett, and Michael Schur (Dwight’s cousin Mose from The Office), but apparently this line-up of talent – which also included The Office showrunner Paul Lieberstein (Toby) as executive producer – wasn’t good enough for NBC.
Rainn Wilson updated fans on Twitter saying: “NBC has passed on moving forward with ‘The Farm’ TV show. Had a blast making the pilot – onwards [and] upwards!” That’s about as official of an announcement as we’ll get.
On the one hand, fans who have grown tired of The Office over the past couple seasons are probably glad that this ninth and final season is the last nail in a coffin that initially began construction when Steve Carell left the series. On the other hand, some fans were interesting in seeing how Dwight fared on his own, especially with his strange family under his command.
It remains to be seen if the presence of Dwight’s family – all of whom were going to be introduced throughout this ninth season of The Office – will be reduced, or if they will still show up. Thus far, there have been a few references to a couple family members (including Dwight’s Nazi uncle), but otherwise, it’s been fairly low-key. Perhaps this will allow for a much neater and more respectful wrap-up for all the characters and Dunder-Mifflin.
At least Rainn Wilson will be free to bolster his career on the big screen now.
Ethan Anderton blogs at Screen Rant.
Is it possible that we are only now understanding what "Star Wars" really is?
For the Gen Xer, this is an existential question. Wookies and tauntauns and Luke's lightsabers are strands in our social DNA. Boring parties spontaneously become enjoyable when we can find someone to join us in mocking Episode I (or II or III, for that matter).
We know "Star Wars" begins with the scroll and pumping brass of "A New Hope" and ends with those annoying Ewoks cheering the blasted filaments of the Death Star in the skies above Endor. Full stop. Other "Episodes," novels, comics, TV series, video games, etc. – at times enjoyable, at times tragic – are really only cultural womp rats – targets for the implacable purity of our derision. We, the real curators of the "Star Wars" legacy, know they are all just fuel for George Lucas's ever-expanding wallet.
But now, with Lucas selling his entire franchise to Disney with the open endorsement that the Big Mouse could make "Star Wars" movies for "another 100 years," that entire worldview is up for revision.
Yes, Lucas might be doing this solely for money. If so, he has become the Jabba the Hutt of his own universe.
Yet we must also consider another possibility. That maybe, Episodes IV, V, and VI were never meant to be a part of a sacred orthodoxy. That maybe Lucas is more J.R.R. Tolkien than Stanley Kubrick – that his vision for "Star Wars" is now and has always been an expansive one. Perhaps it is truly an entire universe in which Luke and Han and Leia occupy only a small but important part.
Are Frodo and Samwise and Aragorn diminished by "The Silmarillion," the Tolkien epic set thousands of years before the events of "The Lord of the Rings"? Or does that book merely give us the full scope of Tolkien's remarkable vision?
The difference, of course, is that Tolkien jealously guarded his own universe. He was the sole creator, and he did not trust it in the hands of others. Lucas, meanwhile, has farmed out the expansion of his universe to others, providing the core inspiration and structure, but allowing other writers to pen his "appendices."
This process can, of course, lead to a dilution of the purity and focus of the original vision. Then again, Episodes I, II, and III suggest that, perhaps, the sanctity of the "Star Wars" legacy might be safest in others' hands.
Indeed, imagine what a true "Star Wars" fan, weaned on the original films and now a filmmaker in his or her own right, might do with Episode VII, which is reportedly slated for release in 2015? A generation of Joss Whedons are salivating.
The inspiration for "Star Wars" came from serials like "Flash Gordon." Lucas, it seems, saw his own creation unfolding in a similar way – organically and without a defined endpoint or circumference.
In the right hands, that could be an exciting prospect.
Unless you’ve been living under a stack of rocks, you’ve spotted the news that Disney bought Lucasfilm Ltd., “Star Wars” creator George Lucas’s production company and is planning on releasing a new trilogy of “Star Wars” movies, if not more.
I am less than happy about this, and my devotion to the “Star Wars” film franchise may best be measured by the fact that I considered buying a “Greedo shot first” shirt to wear to bed. I may still ask for it for Christmas. (The line refers to a fan argument about a plot point in the updated version of the first "Star Wars" film.)
I don’t know when I first saw the original “Star Wars” trilogy, but I assume it was when I was very little. Whatever age we were when we first saw the movies, my sister and I were young enough that I distinctly remember my mother consoling my sister, who was aghast that one of the teddy bear-like Ewoks seemed to have bit the dust, and telling her that the Ewok was “only sleeping.” It wasn’t.
In any case, I went to go see “Phantom Menace” in theaters when it came out and wish I remembered the cultural phenomenon that must have surrounded it. It was a new “Star Wars” movie when fans still kind of trusted George Lucas. It was the origin story of Darth Vader, a premise that does sound fairly promising on paper. Obi-Wan was back – Liam Neeson, a respected actor, was on board as a new Jedi – and everything sounded great.
Well, one Jar Jar Binks later (an annoying aquatic creature with strange speech patterns, for the uninitiated) and the future-Darth Vader shouting “Yippee!” a few too many times, fans were distinctly unimpressed. But hey, a new actor was coming on board as Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. future-Vader, for the next movie, so maybe this thing could be saved.
Long story short: it couldn’t. Anakin was whiny in “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” the final two films in the prequel trilogy. While the trilogy had a couple of good points – Ewan McGregor, playing the younger version of Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, was uncannily good at imitating the older actor’s speech patterns and did as much as he could to save the movies – the three movies were, overall, a snooze.
Part of the problem with them, at least in my mind, was too many callbacks to the older films. Yes, we all love C-3PO and R2D2, protagonist Luke Skywalker’s robot sidekicks in the first three films. Did they need to be shoehorned into every important event in the prequel trilogy, though? No. Some are okay – seeing a younger version of the villain Jabba the Hutt before the “Phantom Menace” podrace isn’t terribly distracting. But throwing in old characters and references to the future films all over the place gets old and doesn’t let the new story you’re trying to build grow on its own.
(Also, George Lucas needs to reread his own scripts, because in “Return of the Jedi,” Leia says she remembers her mother, something that one would assume to be impossible if her mother died minutes after giving birth to her. But I digress.)
The extent to which the prequel trilogy relied on the beloved older films is precisely what gave me a spark of hope (a New Hope, if you will. Sorry.) when I heard the news about the upcoming movies.
While some fan sites speculated that the new movies would be based on stories already tackled in the novels written about the “Star Wars” universe after “Return of the Jedi,” E! News said a Lucasfilm source told them that the plotline of the new movies would be “original.” E! writer Leslie Gornstein writes that according to her source, the new films “will literally be nothing you've ever seen or read before from the Star Wars universe.”
So, one would assume, that means no Luke. No Han Solo. No Princess Leia. No Mara Jade (the assassin Luke falls in love with and marries in the novels, in case you were wondering). It sounds like it would be all-new characters, an all-new plotline.
Get a good director like Joss Whedon or J.J. Abrams behind the camera, take the time to work out a good, imaginative plot that isn’t retreading what you’ve done for the last six films, and this could be… not terrible.
My preference, of course, would be for everyone to drop the “Star Wars” property and back away slowly and leave fans, including me, with the memories of the fantastic first three films (and let them try to forget the last three). But if you have to make another three movies… there are worse ways to do it.
A new "Star Wars" film, so far titled only "Star Wars: Episode 7," is coming to theaters in 2015 now that Disney has bought Lucasfilm Ltd., the production company of "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, for $4.05 billion, according to reports.
And that's not all – at least two films will follow episode 7, according to chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Robert E. Iger.
"Our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years," Iger said in a statement.
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," George Lucas said in a statement. "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.
"I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come," Lucas continued. "Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment and consumer products."
There's no word yet on the plot of the films.
The last new "Star Wars" film was "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith" in 2005, which concluded the prequel trilogy that began in 1999 with "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace." It was a 16-year wait for "Star Wars" fans in between the original trilogy's conclusion, 1983's "Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi."
"Star Wars" will be seen outside theaters in the future as well, according to CFO and senior executive vice president of The Walt Disney Company Jay Rasulo.
"We also expect to utilize Star Wars in other businesses including Parks & Resorts, in games and in our television business," Rasulo said.
The Walt Disney theme parks already boast one Star Wars ride, "Star Tours," which was recently revamped to include more of the franchise's beloved characters like Darth Vader and more elements from the prequel films.
There had also been rumors of a "Star Wars" TV show, which, if it existed, would presumably now air on Disney-owned network ABC. In the past, Lucasfilm had stated that writers had begun work on scripts, and Lucas said that the show would be "soap opera" with a "film noir" atmosphere.
Reaction to the news by fans has been mixed.
"I'm quietly confident that the Disney buy out will be the best thing to happen to Star Wars in decades," Telegraph film critic Robbie Collins tweeted.
"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, who parodied the first three "Star Wars" films in three separate specials on "Family," brought up the animated film and box office disappointment released by Disney last year.
A user named Olan Rogers focused on the monetary aspect.
"I'm sad to see George Lucas, who had such great ideals about filmmaking when he started Star Wars, abandon them for money many years later," he tweeted.