Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reel Facts & Opinions - STAR WARS: The Saga Continues

Fact: Today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger made a few inter-stellar announcements concerning the first STAR WARS stand-alone film as well as STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII. 

The first stand-alone film, which will be the first in a series of adventures exploring the characters and events beyond the central saga of STAR WARS, will be entitled ROGUE ONE…and will be directed by Gareth Edwards (MONSTERS, GODZILLA). The first actress cast is Felicity Jones, who earned an Oscar nomination last year for her acclaimed performance in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. The film begins shooting this summer and is set for a release date of December 16, 2016. 

In addition, Iger confirmed the long-gestating rumors that Rian Johnson (LOOPER, BROTHERS BLOOM), will write and direct STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII. The film, which continues the central saga after the events of this year’s EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS, is set for release on May 26th, 2017…forty years and a day after the release of the first STAR WARS film. 

Opinion: Lots to digest and (over) analyze here, so let’s break it down: 

THE DIRECTORS – Rian Johnson is a great choice for a STAR WARS movie. His acclaimed LOOPER was a great blast of energetic sci-fi fun and was technically proficient. Gareth Edwards is also a technically proficient director; his films always look and sound great and are fundamentally flawless. However, Edwards’ most recent work, last year’s GODZILLA, was not well-received and was basically a disappointment. This time around, Edwards will be surrounded by better company (Disney and their legion of experienced producers) and a better script-writer (Oscar nominee Chris Weitz), so the pieces are in place for a better Edwards production. 

THE TITLES – The title for EPISODE VIII has yet to be revealed, so all we can do is get excited over ROGUE ONE. In the original films, Rogue was the call-sign for Luke Skywalker’s squadron of galactic fighter-pilots. The ROGUE ONE title points towards a storyline engaged with aerial dogfighting in space and the men and women who do the flying and fighting. If that be true, and we are getting a full blown dogfighting film in space, then there is a lot to look forward to. The space-battles in all six STAR WARS movies were always the best scenes; they were most memorable and the inspiration for countless kids reliving those battles in their backyards and playrooms. This is a sign that the filmmakers are embracing what made STAR WARS so good, and so much fun. 

THE RELEASE DATES – ROGUE ONE’s release date of December 2016 means we will get a STAR WARS movie only one year after THE FORCE AWAKENS, which is the shortest wait between STAR WARS movies ever, and then EPISODE VIII arrives only five month later…an even shorter wait! And the hidden story is Disney/Marvel’s other galactic adventure film, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 is also slated for a May 2017 release, which means geeks and sci-fi lovers will get two space operas in the span of three weeks. 

THE CASTING – Felicity Jones is a very welcome addition to the STAR WARS universe; she is a solid actress with great depth and stunning looks to make any scoundrel melt. Just speculating here; but since Jones is the first and only cast-member announced, could it be that Disney is priming us for the first female-hero led STAR WARS film? Such a move would be the first in the STAR WARS universe, not to mention another brave step in this larger world. 



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