Something a bit different today as we talk about something beyond our normal Theme Parks and Halloween stuff. Something that's been hyped up a lot this week ...
Unless you've been living under a rock you'll know that there is a new Star Wars movie coming out this December, and that this week a new trailer was released and that online tickets went on sale and broke all kinds of records and the internet (sorry Kim Kardashian).
And along with all the posts that are excited about the movie you will inevitably see some post from somebody asking the very legitimate question "but what if it sucks".
And this is a very fair question. Afterall, in six Star Wars films there are pretty much 3 good movies. Episode IV - Great. Episode V - The best. Episode VI - Great moments, a few missed opportunities (especially in the "Special Editions").
And then there are those other 3 movies we don't like to talk about. But let's face it, they are part of the Canon, they are part of the history of the franchise and they aren't going anywhere ... although from what we've seen on The Force Awakens they aren't really referring to those movies at all. But we won't know for sure until December 18 (17 for us hard core nerds).
But there's one huge reason why Episode VII isn't going to suck. And that's the fact that George Lucas isn't involved. AT ALL.
Let's run down the career of one Mr. George Lucas so I can make my point.
THX 1138 - This is pretty much a student film, has some interesting moments, more a must-watch for the future references made to this movie in Star Wars.
American Graffiti - A fun movie, easily his best non Star Wars movie, but if this was all he'd ever done we wouldn't be talking about George Lucas today.
More American Graffiti - Full disclosure, I didn't even know about this movie until I Googled it.
Red Tails - We're going to skip ahead a bit and just look at the movies he directed, and this was the next non Star Wars one. I tried watching this once, it looked like a video game. Sad because the story is a good one.
Indiana Jones Series:
Raiders of the Lost Ark - My favorite movie all all time. Hands down, no question, end of story. Speaking of the Story, it was George Lucas' idea, but the Screenplay is all Lawrence Kasdan. And of course directed by Stephen Spielberg. He would continue to be credited as "Story by" for The Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade and that other one we don't talk about Nuke The Fridge, er, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Obviously we aren't sure what happened there, but I'm guessing Spielberg gave him a bit more control than he had on the previous 3. Just speculation on my part though.
Episode IV: A New Hope - The one movie that George Lucas both wrote and directed that is a masterpiece. It introduced us to the Star Wars universe, to these characters we've loved for almost 40 years and pretty much changed cinema forever. So a billion kudos to Lucas on this one. He deserves the praise he gets.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back - Widely accepted as the best of the original Star Wars Trilogy and by default the best Star Wars movie. Why? The darker story? Sure. The characters growing a bit? Absolutely. A director that wasn't a George Lucas "yes man" and was willing to push back and make the movie he wanted to make, undoubtedly. So really, we have Irvin Kirshner as well as writers Lawrance Kasdan and Leigh Brackett to thank for that one as they made an absolute masterpiece.
Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi - The last of the original trilogy, not directed by George Lucas but by Richard Marquand who really didn't have the balls to push back to Lucas and make his movie. Coincidence that Lucas was back as the primary screenwriter on this one? So the Ewoks, the yub-nub song, etc ... all Lucas.
And of course, this doesn't even take into consideration the "Special Editions" that Lucas took control of. But if you look back on the original trilogy which film has the least bit of additions? That's right, it's Empire Strikes Back. Which is also the one Lucas was presumably the least involved in. Hmmm ...
Which brings us to the Prequels. All 3 George Lucas directed, executive produced and was the head writer on.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace - This is where people start bringing in their comparisons of the hype for Episode VII because, really, the only thing that can match the hype that we are experiencing right now is the hype we experienced in the months leading up to May of 1999. It was huge. Which meant the let-down was also huge. I remember seeing this movie 4 or 5 times in the theater, hoping each time it would get better. Even going to the "all new digital projection" showings they added a few months later. It didn't help.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones - Finally, after all this time we were finally going to see the Clone Wars Obi Wan referred to back in 1977. Oh wait, flat acting, more CGI than any other movie ever and a love story that, well, makes most Jennifer Lopez romantic comedies look good.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Finally, clone wars, a fantastic battle sequence, clones and ships and heads chopping off. Sure, a lot of CGI, but whatever. And then, wait, Darth Vader became Darth Vader because he had a bad dream? And he's the one that killed his wife? And he never put two and two together that the Emperor was manipulating him? I will give this movie one thing, the fight between Obi Wan and Vader is amazing, it's just too bad that wasn't the end of the movie.
Where George Lucas' true genius lies is in innovation. Yes, he went overboard with the prequels, but the creation of Industrial Light and Magic, the things they have been able to do since it's inception, without ILM and Lucas, movies today wouldn't be like the movies of today. And nobody should ever try and take that away from him. The sheer amount of films he's had a hand in from a technical standpoint is simply staggering, far too many to get into here.
Which brings us to Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Now, on Wikipedia it lists George Lucas as a writer, he's not. I'm guessing that was something with the Disney purchase of LucasFilm that any future releases have to have him credited that way due the the "Characters created by George Lucas". And that's fine. But he's not involved at all. And this is a VERY good thing.
Look at JJ Abrams track record. Alias (one of the best TV shows ever). Lost (amazing until it was ruined not by JJ Abrams but by Damon Lindelof). Seriously, look at Lindelof's track record ... Tomorrowland anybody? Star Trek, yes, Star Trek. The first one is amazing, the second one, well, it's not as good, but it's still a really good movie. I don't know how you ruin the character of Khan, but they did manage to pull it off. Super 8, fun and exciting. Give this one a re-watch if you haven't seen it lately.
And the last reason this is going to be great, the cast. No, not Luke, Han and Leia, although having them back is going to be amazing. The panels for Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher at Star Wars Celebration were amazing, and they seem genuinely excited to be back.
No, I'm talking about the new cast. Their reactions to the trailer that came out the other day, priceless. They are as excited to see this movie as all of us are. Sure it's going to be life changing, their lives will NEVER be the same. But they are fully embracing this.
We haven't seen some of the other cast members out in the public eye as much as we're seeing Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaacs, something tells me that's being carefully managed due to their roles in the movie. And the fact that there is still so much mystery surrounding the plot of the movie is amazing.
I can't wait for the lights to go down on the evening of December 17, seeing that "LucasFilm" logo, the theme, the scroll and then being fully immersed in the Star Wars universe I grew up with.
And when that's done, I'll get right back in line and watch it again. I won't be alone ...
So what do you think? Are you approaching Episode VII with caution or are you fully on the hype train?
During Star Wars Celebration there were a few things that were pretty major announcements. One was obviously the new trailer, the Star Wars Rebels premiere would be another one.
But right up there was the panel and trailer for the all new Star Wars Battlefront game coming in November from EA/Dice.
Written by Joshua Condon
The panel on Friday morning was probably the 3rd most sought after panel of the weekend after the JJ Abrams panel on Thursday morning and Mark Hamill on Saturday night. The fact that this was in a smaller room didn't help matters and it would have been better had this been in the large arena.
That issue aside, what we saw was the amazing trailer (below) as well as some of the talented people who worked on the game, and it's quite clear that their passion for the franchise is up there with most of us crazy fans, so Battlefront is in good hands.
I was a huge fan of the games on the PS2 so I'm really looking forward to this new game ... so much so that I'm finally going to have to bite the bullet and buy a PS4. So Sony can thank EA/Dice for that. =)
So before we get to the panel, let's check out the amazing trailer. This is in-game footage, not a trailer created just to show stuff off.
Looks pretty amazing right?
So lets get to the panel itself.
We were one of the lucky ones and got our spot at the front of the second section for the presentation.
Once the panel began it was revealed that not only did the game designers get some amazing access to the Lucas Archives to scan all of the props from the movies themselves, but they actually visited the locations where the movies were filmed.
Checking out the AT-ST
In addition to the amazing panel, on the show floor they also had another game demo that was in Dolby Atmos as well as some additional information about the game. We were unfortunately not allowed to get pictures/video of the second trailer, but as you can see below, they went all out for the demo. The line for this was one of the longest over the entire weekend.
They really went all out for this presentation.
And this was the last picture we could take.
The second trailer was even more amazing gameplay footage that showed how the game can be played in the first and third person, and even more awesome Darth Vader footage.
Star Wars Battlefront will be released on November 17.
There is also DLC of the new planet, "Battle of Jakku" that is released on December 8, ten full days before the new movie comes out. BUT ... if you pre-order the game, you will be able to download Battle of Jakku on December 1.
We're really looking forward to seeing what other information comes out about this amazing game at E3 this year.
Hope you enjoyed this quick look at what could possibly be game of the year. What do you think about the trailer and the care they are putting into this game? Are you excited for November?
Over the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you updates from our epic 4 days at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. To say that the 4 days was an epic celebration of all things Star Wars would be an extreme understatement. For a Star Wars nerd it was just simply amazing.
In addition to this update about the Panels, we'll have additional updates from the show floor, Cosplay, a specific update about the new Battlefront game and something we are pretty excited about.
Our final update will be a multi-generational look at Star Wars and Star Wars Celebration. Since we had Generation X (me) and Generation Y (my children) there we're going to be working on bringing you something we hope is pretty unique. But that ones still a few weeks out, so we'll get to that. In the meantime, let's get to the amazing panels.
Written by Gregg Condon (Click on any pictures below to see a larger version)
Thursday Morning - The Force Awakens with JJ Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and guests ...
And by guests, some people you may have heard of like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and the ghost of Harrison Ford. Plus the new cast of John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac.
But before we get to the panel, just in case you haven't seen it (and if you haven't, what's wrong with you) ... If you have the ability to watch this on TV with a great sound-system, please, do so. =)
So our Star Wars Celebration began in the early morning hours of Thursday. After leaving our house around 3:30am we arrived in Anaheim just before 5:00am and walked from our hotel to the Convention Center.
Unfortunately Will Call wasn't due to open until 8:00am so our hopes of possibly getting into the live panel was somewhat in question. Thankfully due to some great on-site staff we were able to get in the line around 6:30am and into the arena presentation. If you've been to the OC Convention Center you'll remember the arena isn't too big, so even though we were on the upper level, we had a great view.
Prior to the start of every panel they had a great DJ and hype man, who would give away stuff and have some fun with the audience.
The panel finally begins. Many people had been waiting more than 24 hours for this in line.
JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy come to the stage.
And introduce the new cast, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac.
And of course, welcome some old friends.
The droids, the amazing BB8 and R2D2.
The panel itself was amazing. There was a lot of talk about how people came into the project, the energy in the room was insane and they gladly played the trailer twice for all of us. Lots of cheering, tears and emotion as I'm sure you all had. It's so awesome to have the franchise in the hands of "one of us", the fans of Star Wars.
I know that people are skeptical, and with good reason. The last good Star Wars movie is 32 years ago at this point. Sure, the prequels have their place, and some people like them, and yes, Episode III isn't "terrible", but the feeling of these movies reminds so many of us of the original trilogy. The fact remains, if you combined the 3 prequels, you'd probably have one good movie. This one is really going to blow them all away.
But of course, that was only the beginning of an epic 4 days of Star Wars.
Thursday Evening - The Feud of the Force
Thursday Night had an interesting sounding panel on the schedule, but really, nobody was quite sure what it was going to be. It sounded like a game show, but nobody really knew. This was the first time they'd done this at Celebration and it was SO much fun, I have a feeling it will be at all future celebrations and it will be MUCH more popular, not that it wasn't on Thursday.
This was also my first panel with the main stage host James Arnold Taylor. If you don't know who he is, be sure to google him. You may not recognize the name, but you'll surely recognize the voice. He was a perfect host for all of the panels and made them so fun. He's definitely got a fan in us.
Before every panel James Arnold Taylor had a great intro video, hoping that he'll eventually upload them to YouTube or something because they were fantastic.
The Two teams that were playing.
Anthony Forrest on the Dark Side ... you may not recognize him, but you recognize some very famous lines he said:
Obi Wan Kenobi: You don't need to see his identification
Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification
Obi Wan Kenobi: These aren't the droids your looking for
Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for
Obi Wan Kenobi: He can go about his business
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business
Obi Wan Kenobi: Move Along
Stormtrooper: Move Along ... Move Along
And yes, he said the lines. =)
The Light Side Team. Mostly voice actors from The Clone Wars, Rebels and Beru from Episodes II and III.
Some of the fun categories and all of the answers. Click to see a larger view.
The Dark Side totally kicked butt, but it was fun event all around and everybody really seemed to enjoy it.
That's going to wrap it up for Day One Panels. We'll be back in a couple of days with Day Two, including some video to go along with them of the Anthony Daniels Panel that you won't want to miss.