Appealing both to a new generation of viewers and fans of the series since the beginning, this 30-years-later sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi is a thrilling adventure. Filmmaker J.J. Abrams has managed to capture the tone of the original trilogy while telling a story about young, vibrant new characters whose connection to the overall saga deepens intriguingly as events unfurl.
Over the past three decades, the Empire has regrouped, forming the First Order to crush the Old Republic for good. And the plucky Rebellion hasn't offered much resistance since leader Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) disappeared. The Empire's top henchman Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is searching for him just as diligently as the rebel leader General Leia (Carrie Fisher). But the real action is happening out of their grasp, as disaffected storm trooper Finn (John Boyega) teams up with rebel pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) and then feisty scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and expressive droid BB-8. Along the way, Han Solo and Chewbacca (Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew) find themselves back in the fray. And everyone is startled when there's a strong stirring in the force.
Abrams beautifully recreates the scruffy, clanky mechanical atmosphere of the original trilogy, infusing scenes with witty banter and John William's soaring score to throw us right back into that familiar galaxy. This includes the saga's main themes: the temptation of power, how true heroism is often accidental, and the tension between parents and children. Combine this with a plot that propels itself with a series of unexpected adventures and battles, all centred on the characters, and the film taps strongly into the teen in all of us.
Continue reading: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Review
Secret Cinema's Star Wars event is a mind-blowing experience of a lifetime for any Star Wars fan. Running in London over 100 nights from June 4th to September 27th, it's more than twice as big as last summer's gigantic Back to the Future project. The epic installation lets visitors live events from Episode IV: A New Hope before an interactive screening of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the best of the six films to date. And with a cast of 400 performers merging seamlessly into the costumed audience, it's an unforgettable evening.
It begins with an evacuation, as earth-based rebels are called to a secret London location. Before arriving, we are given an identity and wardrobe advice (I was Niles Torwyn, galactic explorer) and told to stay low and keep our faces covered. At Earth Cargo Airlines, we are herded into a loading bay and transported through space to Mos Eisley spaceport on the desert planet Tatooine, where we have several hours to walk around the bustling market town, paying for food and drink with galactic credits while engaging with the people around us. Speaking to strangers or walking into doorways will result in quests and training exercises. And among the crowd, there's a chance to interact with characters like Old Ben Kenobi, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and a gang of fast-talking Jawas, but avoid eye contact with the Storm Troopers. There are also special cocktails and music in the busy Cantina Bar before another transport whisks us off to a Rebel Base and the Death Star itself.
Along the way, virtually the entire final act of A New Hope is taking place around us, often in ways that send chills down the spine. It's a thrilling re-creation of a film that transformed our childhood, and there are at least two "wow" moments that are almost overwhelming. This is followed by the next chapter in the story, a bright digital screening of The Empire Strikes Back accompanied by some very cool live action. Originally released in 1980, the film stands up remarkably well with its sarcastic humour, brittle emotions and some very dark drama, leading to a wonderfully maddening cliffhanger ending. Best of all is the way the script remains centred on the characters, twisting and deepening them while allowing Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to further develop their most iconic roles.
Continue reading: Secret Cinema Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Review
The movie's release will not be delayed due to Arndt's departure.
There is definitely a disturbance in the Force, but Episode VII director J J Abrams and writer Lawrence Kardan are on the case. Michael Arndt, who previously won Oscars for his work on Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, has pulled out of the project. However, a Lucasfilm announcement, via Entertainment Weekly.
Abrams has taken over co-writing duties after Arndt's departure.
The change isn’t expected to delay the start of shooting in the spring of 2014. The movie itself is slated for a 2015 release, although no specific date has been announced yet. While Abrams is new to the Star Wars universe and, coincidentally, the first director to have worked on both Star Trek and Star Wars films, Kasdan has a lot of experience with the franchise. He co-wrote both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. That’s not all, since the writer is also currently consulting on the development of the entire new trilogy. Outside of his Star Wars writing, Kasdan has also worked on dramas such as Body Heat, The Big Chill and The Accidental Tourist.
The big movie news this week was that Disney has signed Lawrence Kasdan to return to the franchise to write Star Wars Episode VIII. He cowrote both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi some 30 years ago. Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) is writing Episode VII, and Simon Kinberg (X-men: First Class) is working on Episode XIX.
While rumour has it that Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill will all be back for the new Star Wars movies, it's unlikely that Ewan McGregor will appear in them. But he was on hand this week for the London premiere of The Impossible, a true drama about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami by Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage). Bayona and McGregor were joined on the red carpet and a screening Q&A by costar Naomi Watts.
Two big British films open in the UK this weekend. The remake of the con-artist comedy Gambit sees Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz take on roles originally played by Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine in 1966. And David Tennant joins Marc Wootton for Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger, the sequel to 2009's hit comedy Nativity! Yes, it's just as stupid as the first film, but it's also a holiday guilty pleasure.
As the maniacal excitement dies down after the initial news that the Star Wars franchise had been bought by Disney for an enormous sum of over four billion dollars, and the revelation that there would be at least two more movies in the pipeline, it is now time for a few details to begin getting settled.
A couple of weeks ago we reported that Michael Arndt had been picked to pen the first of the two movies on the way. Now, the Hollywood Reporter has been told that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have signed contracts to write episodes 8 and/or 9. Lawrence Kasdan is something of a Star Wars legend, as he wrote the scripts for The Empire Strikes Back (largely lauded as the best Star Wars movie to date), as well as Return of the Jedi.
Since 1983, when The Return of the Jedi was released, Kasdan has also written The Bodyguard, which Whitney Houston starred in, as well as the award winning The Accidental Tourist, which was a very different kind of writing and film making than either Star Wars or The Bodyguard, and showed his great range and depth. Simon Kinberg has an equally impressive career history. He's written two X-Men movies, the Brad Pitt and Anjelina Joli movie Mr and Mrs Smith, plus the Robert Downey Junior version of Sherlock Holmes.
Continue reading: Iconic Star Wars Writer To Return For New Films
Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have closed deals to write instalments of the new Star Wars trilogy, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The pair will pen either Episode VIII or Episode IX though the exact division of their responsibilities is yet to be determined.
As was previously reported, Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) is writing the script for Episode VII, the first movie in the new trilogy. Kasdan is a Lucasfilm and Star Wars veteran having co-wrote 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and the 1983 movie Return of the Jedi. He recently co-wrote the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark, considered the finest movie from Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies. However, his latest feature film writing credit is the poorly received Stephen King adaptation Dreamcatcher, starring Morgan Freeman. Kinberg on the other hand has more contemporary material on his CV, co-writing the new X-Men movie Days of the Future Past and producing X-Men: First Class. He is also on the team for the forthcoming Cinderella film for Disney.
With the writers now locked down for the new movies, we should hear something about directors pretty soon. Matthew Vaughn is rumored to be in talks for the first movie in the new triology.
Continue reading: 'Empire Strikes Back' Scribe Signs On To Write New Star Wars Movies
The setup is classic noir that follows the rigid three-act screenplay structure that only a Hollywood newcomer could stringently abide by, and here it works. Body Heat is a reference thriller because it sticks so perfectly in the genre, dutifully throwing in the three twists we require to keep us on our toes, no more and no less.
Continue reading: Body Heat Review
Loren Dean (Enemy of the State, Apollo 13) does a decent job as Dr. Mumford, the most popular psychologist in the small town to which he just moved. Listening attentively to the tormented visitors of the treatment couch, his apparent peace of mind and even temper become infectious. Ubiquitously available and sounding less like a shrink than a wise uncle who gives just enough advice at just the right time, it's no wonder Dr. Mumford is everyone's favorite confidant. But will those he's helped to see through their own faults be just as understanding if they find out the truth of his past?
Continue reading: Mumford Review
Houston doesn't have to stretch too far to play Rachel Marron, a bitchy diva surrounded by luxury and sycophants who finds her path to the pinnacle of musical and cinematic stardom blocked by a particularly nasty anonymous stalker who has made an increasingly scary series of threats. Enter Kevin Costner as Frank Farmer, an ex-Secret Service agent haunted by his failure to protect Ronald Reagan from John Hinckley's bullet. Frank signs on as a security consultant and immediately battens down the hatches, much to the displeasure of the uptight Rachel, who's used to getting things her way.
Continue reading: The Bodyguard Review
This documentary is precisely what it's title purports to be, an in-depth and instructive look at movie editing that literally spans 100 years of film history, from The Great Train Robbery to Cold Mountain. Through interviews with a copious number of directors and editors, The Cutting Edge covers everything from basic editing techniques like the matching of cuts to modern editing theory as inspired by MTV and The Matrix. The film goes into extreme detail in parts, like when we get to see James Cameron's trick of removing one frame per second out of Terminator 2 to give it more momentum and realism. It's all a little bit insidery and self-congratulatory, but the movie works far more often than not. Any film buff will find it hard not to like.
Continue reading: The Cutting Edge: The Magic Of Movie Editing Review
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