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J.J. Abrams

Ewan McGregor Star Wars photo
Ewan McGregor Star Wars

Ewan McGregor discusses his Star Wars: The Force Awakens cameo


Obi-Wan Kenobi speaks
Feb 01
// Hubert Vigilla
Several months ago we reported that Ewan McGregor might have a cameo in the new Star Wars films. Turns out the rumors were true. While promoting Jane Got a Gun (a western starring Natalie Portman) on Jimmy Kimmel Live, McGreg...
Cloverfield Lane photo
Well, this came out of nowhere
While we were all focused on Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, Bad Robot was quietly putting together the next film in the Cloverfield series. Somewhat related to 2008's Cloverfield, this project (which was most likely ...

Force Awakens/New Hope photo
Force Awakens/New Hope

J.J. Abrams talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens and similarities to A New Hope


In short: I meant to do that!
Jan 11
// Hubert Vigilla
Whether you liked The Force Awakens or not, there's one thing everyone can agree on: Episode VII is very similar to A New Hope and The Original Trilogy. As director J.J. Abrams recently explained, that was by design. "It was ...
 photo

J.J. Abrams explains why [SPOILER] had to [SPOILER] in Star Wars: The Force Awakens


[SPOILER]
Dec 22
// Matt Liparota
Note: If it's not clear already, this post is going to have some heavy-duty SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven't seen it yet and want to go in clean, read ahead at your own risk. Seriously, though, we're ...

Is Star Wars: The Force Awakens Too Much Like A New Hope? (SPOILERS)

Dec 21 // Hubert Vigilla
We've seen a few soft reboots and sequels this year that take familiar elements from earlier entries in a series to move in their own directions. The better models of this are Creed, which builds off the Rocky movies to tell its own story, and Mad Max: Fury Road, which uses recurring elements like the other sequels in the franchise. Jurassic World was a middling model of this, albeit a highly lucrative one. The nadir might be 2006's Superman Returns, a sequel that was basically a joyless rehash of Richard Donner's 1978 film. The similarities between A New Hope and The Force Awakens are plentiful. Important information is stashed inside of a beep-booping droid (a distress message to Obi-Wan Kenobi in R2-D2, a map to find Luke Skywalker in BB-8). The droid wanders a desert planet (Tatooine, Jakku) and is eventually found by an unassuming person (Uncle Owen and Luke, Rey). They leave the desert planet in The Millennium Falcon. Both movies have their own cantina scene (Mos Eisley Spaceport, Moz Kanata's bar). Both movies have a weaponized planet (The Death Star, The Starkiller Base) that blows stuff up real good before getting blowed up real good. Both movies feature the lightsaber death of a fatherly figure (Obi-Wan, Han Solo) at the hands of a bad guy in black (Darth Vader, Kylo Ren). There are fan service-y moments throughout as well, from the hologram chess board to the remote training ball to mentions of a trash compactor. And yes, there is a Wilhelm scream, and someone has a bad feeling about something. I missed some, and there are loads of allusions to Empire and Jedi as well, but you get the picture. The Force Awakens follows a lot of A New Hope, which in some ways confirms many of the biggest fears fans had about Abrams being on board. His two Star Trek films were full of fan service and repeats of familiar ideas, and Super 8 was a riff on Steven Spielberg's early output and the misfit kid movies of the 80s. All creators are swayed by their influences, but the work usually suffers when slavish devotion to influences becomes more important than using those influences to create something new. It's why The Wrath of Khan (inspired in part by A Tale of Two Cities and Moby-Dick, among other works) will always be better than Star Trek Into Darkness (a joyless rehash of The Wrath of Khan)--Wrath of Khan gives itself room to play with its pastiche, which yields something new. There's always an underlying question of "How much is too much?" when it comes to homages, and with The Force Awakens it seems like the "too much" threshold is crossed in the second half once we see The Starkiller Base. As The Resistance plots how to blow it up (a rehash of the Death Star plan of attack in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi), one of the fighter pilots shouts out almost mockingly, "It's another Death Star!" Either Han or Leia then quips, "Where's the weak point?" Even the characters in the film seem to be saying, "Christ, a third time? Wasn't this freakin' silly enough when we re-used this plot device in Jedi?" Death Star 3.0 is lazy, sure, and it makes all the other original trilogy references seem glaring (it's a fish head in your soup--suddenly all the other ingredients taste like fish head), but maybe there's some meta-commentary on Star Wars here. The film seems to be aware of its role as a reintroduction to Star Wars for a new generation of viewers and a show of good faith to an older generation of viewers who suffered through the prequels. The Star Wars Trilogy became one of the primary models for rollicking cinematic adventure. It's an international cultural phenomenon, it's a point of comparison for other major films, it's an inescapable force in its own right. And here are some characters of a new generation who get to experience that moment for themselves. Lucas invented a model from previous models, while Abrams inherits and riffs on the ubiquitous influential model that Lucas invented and failed to improve upon in the prequels. (They seem to blow up Coruscant or an analog for Coruscant in The Force Awakens, as if to say, "Yeah, we're getting rid of that prequel stuff, guys.") Over at the AV Club, A.A. Dowd and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky had a brief discussion about The Force Awakens. Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and Poe are new Star Wars characters who are aware of the legacy of Star Wars characters of the past. They know the stories, the players in the fictional history of the world they inhabit. These are Star Wars movie characters in a post-Star Wars cinematic world. Rey speeds by the husk of a Super Star Destroyer, and she eats lunch in the shadow of a collapsed AT-AT. It's like kids playing Star Wars in a Star Wars movie, or as Dowd put it: "We're essentially watching a bunch of Star Wars nerds in a Star Wars movie." Even when the fan service and repetition gets overbearing, there's at least something good to be found, and most of it involves the new characters. That may be a testament to how compelling and likable they are. Even though Poe Dameron is a supporting character who's only around for a couple of minutes, he makes such a great impression as the cocksure flying ace of The Resistance. His appearance in the mid-film cavalry scene is a fresh bit of derring-do--Finn looks on from the ground like an audience surrogate as Poe loops and dives and swoops to bring down TIE fighter after TIE fighter. It's a shame that the Starkiller Base sequence at the end doesn't offer any unique challenges for Poe and his fellow X-wing pilots. All they do is pew-pew-pew the hell out of a target and that's it. Finn offers loads of story potential as a First Order turncoat. He's raised from birth to be a fascist soldier (This. Is. Nazi-Sparta!), and not even given a name. He's a pawn and cannon fodder and an extension of another party's will. But despite that, he has a moment of conscience in which he breaks his programming to make a moral choice. He gets to be his own man and define his own identity rather than accept the one that's been forced upon him since birth. Maybe it's the sign of a mass defection of Stormtroopers in the next two films, but Finn's story is about being able to define who you want to be. It's free will as a part of asserting personhood. Rey might be the best of the batch, and she's a compelling anchor for this new trilogy. She's a hero with limitless potential--she's compassionate and strong, a force-savvy gearhead, a capable pilot and problem solver--but she's never had role models to show her the way or any reason to believe in herself. Think about it. Luke Skywalker wanted to leave home and be a great pilot like his father. Rey's never believed that she could be great at anything. She led a life of limited possibility, one without aspirations. She believes she's a nobody that no one wanted or cared about, and at various points of her adventure, even though she's in awe of what she's seeing, she keeps talking about going home. Yet there's nothing for her back on Jakku--no future, no hope. She so used to solitude and banality. Rey's story is about what happens when you're finally given an opportunity to dream and show your true worth as a person, and more importantly, she finds out what happens when someone says that they believe in you. Kylo Ren is a counterpoint to Rey and Finn. His parents are Han and Leia, the heroic couple of The Rebel Alliance; his uncle and trainer is Luke Skywalker, a Jedi trained by Ben Kenobi (Kylo's real name is Ben Solo) and Yoda; his grandfather is Anakin Skywalker, the Space Jesus. Kylo's got the genes and he's got the advantages of the family lineage, but he just can't live up to the legacy he's part of. I picture him as the child of two great musicians who gets weighed down by the pressure of being as good as, if not better than, mom and dad. He's a spoiled brat obsessed with outward shows of power, which seems like a mulligan for the botched characterization of Anakin Skywalker in the prequels. Like his grandfather, there's an expectation of greatness. I sense a kind of Salieri/Mozart rivalry emerging between Kylo Ren and Rey (i.e., the fictional trope of Salieri's resentful jealousy of Mozart's talent). In their force mind battle, Rey bests Kylo even though she hasn't had the same kind of training; she even identifies his fears of inadequacy. She beats him in a lightsaber duel, scarring his face in a manner not unlike Supreme Leader Snoke's. It's Space Daniel crane kicking Space Johnny, but she didn't even have a Miyagi-figure to show her how to wax-on and wax-off. (There's already been a backlash against Rey in some corners of the internet calling her a Mary Sue, but like Tasha Robinson wrote at The Verge: "She's a fantasy wish-fulfillment character with outsized skills, an inhuman reaction time, and a clever answer to every question--but so are the other major Star Wars heroes. Are they all getting the same level of suspicion and dismissal?") These three primary characters--Rey, Finn, and Kylo--are legacy-conscious individuals who are trying to assert their own identities and make their own futures. It's ironic (or maybe fitting?) that they're all held back to varying degrees by a plot with too many callbacks to the past. J.J. Abrams might have been given the least interesting Star Wars sequel to direct and co-write. (Actually, the young Han Solo spin-off movie is probably the least interesting.) It's a set-up movie for a new story that has to revisit an old set of stories and characters. At least the 2009 Star Trek film wasn't necessarily tied to a pre-existing film and could use existing characters to go on its own semi-original fan-service adventure. It was a reboot rather than a sequel, and the latter can be much tougher, especially when you're dealing with something as big as Star Wars. Rian Johnson's Star Wars Episode VIII will probably be a much more interesting and original movie. He's got a new set of characters established, a whole lot of relationships and dangling threads to play with, and lots of ability to tell the kind of story he wants to tell. I assume he'll do his damndest to avoid rehashing The Empire Strikes Back and instead bring something new to Star Wars. Johnson's got a great knack for mimicking, paying homage to, and reinterpreting different films and film genres to do his own thing, which will be great to see after a very insular Star Wars entry. Even Gareth Edwards' Star Wars: Rogue One seems like it'll be more interesting than Episode VII. It's a prequel about the mission to get the plans for the original Death Star, and yet this could be a different kind of story that doesn't have to rely on the pre-existing beats of another Star Wars movie. This might be a full-on WWII mission flick, i.e., The Space Guns of Navarone, Where Space Eagles Dare, The Dirty Space Dozen, Inglorious Space Basterds. So yes, The Force Awakens is too much like A New Hope, but it's also got enough fresh stuff in there to make it watchable and even enjoyable. It's nerdy comfort food with a twist, and it's also nerdy comfort food about the comforts of nerdy comfort foods. (But it tastes like fish heads.) The big takeaway is that the movie gets back to basics, namely that it's always been the characters that make Star Wars worth watching, not the spectacle. A fresh plot wouldn't hurt, though. I can't wait to see what happens when these characters mold their own stories and destinies in plots befitting their potential.
Force Awakens/New Hope photo
A Star Wars movie about Star Wars movies
Like Flixist EIC Matthew Razak said in his review, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the Star Wars sequel you're looking for. It's not flawless, obviously, but it does what it has to do. (It's a little unfair that every movie i...

Phantasm 4k restoration photo
Phantasm 4k restoration

In addition to Star Wars, J.J. Abrams is doing a Phantasm 4k restoration


Boooooooooy!
Dec 14
// Hubert Vigilla
J.J. Abrams and Disney have been really good at keeping most of Star Wars: The Force Awakens a secret. That'll change tonight after the film premieres, and on December 16th when official reviews go online. Abrams and his comp...
Star Trek Beyond photo
Guess what got leaked early
The Star Trek Beyond trailer was supposed to debut with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Well, it leaked early, which means that Paramount pushed the release of the trailer to today. Here is your first look of Justin Lin's Star ...

The Force Awakens photo
The Force Awakens

PSA - Star Wars: The Force Awakens reviews start hitting the internet December 16th


In case you want to stay spoiler-free
Dec 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Hey, guys. This is the week that Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out. I know a lot of you have avoided trailers and are trying to go into the movie blind. Even though we've been reporting on Force Awakens stuff, I've simil...

We get it, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you exist

Dec 11 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220201:42731:0[/embed] I was talking to my mom a few days ago, and she couldn't stop talking about how much she wanted to see The Force Awakens. She's a fan of the series, sure, but I never really heard her talk about it much. We didn't own the films growing up, and there wasn't a big hooplah when the prequels launched (or enough to make young me take notice, at least) so it seemed odd that she suddenly started bringing up the latest film in the series. On top of that, she was telling me that my dad wanted to see it ever since he caught one of the many, many TV spots. But what's going on? This latest sequel has done everything right so far. It's shown as little as it can to pique our interests enough, it's bringing back old stars in order to draw in an older demographic (like my mother and father, and full of marginalized sexes and races in order to better represent the rest of the world. So why is there still a need to get people to see it? It might be that Star Wars is still trapped within the stigma it always was.  When the Golden Globes were announced the other day, I noticed a weird subset of fans complaining that Star Wars was getting ignored. Unfortunately for that mass, the complaint had no legs since the film wasn't screened for critics and award consideration anyway. But even if it had, there's a good chance it would've been ignored in favor of other films that are more in line with the award selections anyway. Regardless of the film's actual quality, there's no real chance it would've gotten any of the major awards. Maybe some stuff for visuals, sound design, or score, but the bigger stuff definitely would've gone to other things. Besides, there's good chance it'll still get recognized next year. This year's big nerd film is Mad Max: Fury Road and that's going to need all the support we can give. My point beyond the tangent being, is that Star Wars is a big science fiction film and those never get recognized. Despite what the producers are saying about not caring for recognition (as they chose to withhold the film for fear of spoilers), it's like they needed to be noticed everywhere else. Like a child refusing to get the attention of their parent, Star Wars is yelling constantly and just won't sit back and just ride the already titanic wave of anticipation.  The "Hey, look at me!" mentality is rubbing me the wrong way. I get that every company wants a small part of the Star Wars money, but it's just so so much. I hate that the advertising campaign is turning me into the kind of ranting old nerd that I despise, but it rings desperate at one point. It's this unneeded desperation (it's already broken presale ticket records) that's pushing me away. For a time I entertained the thought of going to see the film opening weekend just to be part of the conversation, but now I don't really care. Remember the second full trailer? I wrote the post on it claiming I'd avoid it for fear of spoilers, but literally two second after the trailer premiered, the internet was littered with images. While I still am worried about having the film spoiled, I feel like I've been so entrenched in this film I honestly don't give a damn anymore.  [embed]220201:42732:0[/embed] But who cares what I have to say. I'm a single, nerdy voice in a mass of loud yelling. They're not going to need my ticket money. No one will care what I have to say or what I do as they drink from their Star Wars cups and eat their Star Wars shaped macaroni and cheese. And hell, even as I write this, I'm ironically bringing attention to the film yet again. There's just no way to stop the behemoth. It's a beast that's bringing about the end.  It's, well, awakened. 
The Force Awakens photo
"For behold, the Lord will come in fire"
It's everywhere. Trailers before each YouTube video, spots during each TV commercial, phone screens, videogames, books, toys, our food, our cars, our appliances, our public transit, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, our c...

Chinese Star Wars trailer photo
Chinese Star Wars trailer

Chinese Force Awakens trailer has new footage (to make up for possibly racist movie poster)


Is this trailer giving too much away?
Dec 10
// Hubert Vigilla
In case you haven't realized it, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS COMES OUT NEXT WEEK! At least in most of the world. China has to wait until January 9th. To hype things up in China, they released a trailer for the film featuring...
George Lucas Episode VII photo
George Lucas Episode VII

George Lucas has seen The Force Awakens and offers his thoughts


He likes it from a certain point of view
Dec 08
// Hubert Vigilla
Steven Spielberg has supposedly seen The Force Awakens three times now, which means he'd probably do well in the #AlamoJedi contest. I'm sure J.J. Abrams has watched through it more, but many people wonder what George Lucas t...
Star Wars marathon photo
Star Wars marathon

#AlamoJedi: Alamo Drafthouse is having a bonkers Star Wars marathon with prizes


The sarlacc of movie marathons
Dec 07
// Hubert Vigilla
The Force Awakens is just 10 days away, nerds--10 days! You got your tix? You feel the hype flowing through you? Okay, how about a Star Wars marathon? That sound good? Maybe a marathon that includes a chance to win great priz...
Force Awakens clip photo
16 seconds of Star Wars 7
Here is 16 whole seconds of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for your viewing pleasure. It features Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and BB-8 (himself) running away, and there's also explosions and some repartee. Eat thes...

Lucas done with Star Wars photo
Lucas done with Star Wars

George Lucas had no input on The Force Awakens, is done with Star Wars


Disney decided to go another direction
Nov 23
// Hubert Vigilla
When people think of Star Wars, they think of George Lucas. He brought the film series to life in the late 70s and, for better and for worse, he was the driving force behind the prequel trilogy. But these new Star Wars movies...
Force Awakens TV spot 7 photo
Force Awakens TV spot 7

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV spot has the return of a certain character


A familiar face returns among the pilots
Nov 23
// Hubert Vigilla
Darth Feelgood back again, and I know you're looking for another fix of the force. You're shaking, but I have something for that, buddy. Here. Here's another taste of The Force Awakens in the most recent TV spot, and you migh...
Finn: The Force Awakens photo
Finn: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV spot focuses on John Boyega's Finn


Allow it
Nov 19
// Hubert Vigilla
Psst. Buddy. It's Darth Feelgood again. Yeah. I'm here with you're latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens fix. Got a taste for Star Wars, don't you? Yeah, well here's some more. In this new Force Awakens TV spot, the ad focuses ...
Force Awakens TV spot photo
Force Awakens TV spot

One-minute TV spot for The Force Awakens has some new footage


Here's your fix, Star Wars junkie
Nov 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Psst. Hey, mack. Yeah. I see your shakes, buddy. I know what you want. Here. Here's a new TV spot for The Force Awakens. It's a whole minute of satisfaction, brother. Take it, man, just take it. I know, I know--the shakes are...
Star Wars images photo
Star Wars images

New Star Wars: The Force Awakens images and character details, let the hype flow through you


Five weeks, everyone
Nov 11
// Hubert Vigilla
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out next month, which means the relentless hype isn't stopping until we hit December 17/18th. There's a whole slew of new images from the film posted by Entertainment Weekly, including an old H...
Star Wars TV spot photo
Star Wars TV spot

First TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has lots of new footage


Let the hype flow through you
Nov 09
// Hubert Vigilla
It's five weeks until The Force Awakens, folks. (I know!) The third and final trailer and the Japanese/international trailer offered some new stuff to look at and enjoy, and the same goes for this first TV spot for Episode VI...
Star Wars Japanese photo
Star Wars Japanese

Japanese trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens features new footage


Get your fix, Star Wars junkies
Nov 06
// Hubert Vigilla
The final domestic trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn't the last trailer for the movie. A Japanese trailer for the film has popped up online, and it's got all-new footage for you Star Wars junkies to enjoy. Check it...
Star Wars posters photo
Star Wars posters

New character posters for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (still no Luke)


You'll lightsaber your eye out!
Nov 04
// Hubert Vigilla
Another day, a little more news on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We got the official movie poster and the final trailer for the film not too long ago, and now we have a couple character posters for the primary characters of t...
Star Wars: Episode VII photo
CAN'T WAKE UP
I've made the decision to avoid other trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so not only does that make my job much harder here, it also means I'll have to avoid all media for the next few months to keep from spoiling mys...

Star Wars 7 Runtime photo
Star Wars 7 Runtime

The D23 poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and news on runtime


Official one sheet this poster is not
Aug 17
// Hubert Vigilla
There were plenty of major Star Wars announcements at D23 over the weekend. We got a glimpse of the Star Wars: Rogue One cast, for instance, which will star Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Forrest Whittaker, Donni...

New photos from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and plot/character details emerge

Aug 12 // Hubert Vigilla
Abrams also revealed/confirmed a few things about villain Kylo Ren, the fella with the lightsaber that has the crossbar on it (causing many geeks consternation regarding its dangerously impractical design). Not only is his lightsaber homemade, but he's also part of a mysterious group known as the Knights of Ren, a new addition to the Jedi/Sith mythos. From the article: Abrams can confirm what many suspected: it’s a tool he crafted all by his lonesome. “The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character,” Abrams says. ... But there’s another wrinkle to Kylo Ren. In typical Abrams fashion, the more the filmmaker reveals… the more questions arise. It turns out — Kylo Ren isn’t the character’s real name. Or, at least, not the name he was born with. Remember how we eventually learned that “Darth” is not a first name, but a kind of title? It appears the surname “Ren” is something similar. “He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren,” Abrams says. But that’s as far as the writer-director will go. Check out the image gallery, comment on Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren, and just hold onto your butts until December. [via EW, EW, and EW]
Star Wars 7 Photos photo
Begun the hype machine has
As its December 18th release date inches closer, we're starting to get more and more stuff to whet people's appetites for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There was the Korean TV spot for The Force Awakens the other day (with ma...

Star Wars TV spot photo
Star Wars TV spot

See new Star Wars: The Force Awakens footage in this Korean TV spot


Reminds me: I ❤ Korean food, movies too
Aug 10
// Hubert Vigilla
It's been a while since we've seen some new stuff from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Leave it to an international TV spot from Korea to give us something new and pretty darn striking as well. A Millennium Falcon ...
Star Wars Comic-Con reel photo
The force is strong with this one
While there was no new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, there was a special behind-the-scenes reel that was screened for the packed crowd at Hall H. The behind-the-scenes footage em...

Force Awakens Set Photos photo
... and he sure looks stunning in black
May the fourth be... NO! I will not do it, I will not say those words. Luckily, Vanity Fair will, and with them, they posted a handful of new set photos from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, revealing a few juicy details.  ...

Star Trek Into Greatness photo
Star Trek Into Greatness

The Star Trek films have a lot of lens flares


Yet not enough
Jan 23
// Nick Valdez
According to these videos from editor Dylan Browne, there are quite a few lens flares in the first two Star Trek films. Around 1500 of them apparently. In other Star Trek news, Simon Pegg is co-writing the third film with Doug Jung (Dark Blue) with Justin Lin still signed on to direct. Only good can come of this, right?  Or at the very least, more lens flares!  [via /Film]
Star Wars: Episode VII photo
Star Wars: Episode VII

Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally names its characters


Dec 12
// Nick Valdez
Although the first teaser trailer for The Force Awakens was the very definition of tease, people have been scrounging and speculating left and right over the ten shots featured. Well, now we're one step closer to figuring out...
Star Wars Trailer photo
In a galaxy not so far away anymore
It's been a long time coming. When Disney bought out Lucasfilm two years ago and announced their plans for another Star Wars trilogy, we all went into some sort of nerd shock. Whether or not you're a fan of the films, you un...


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