Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Reel Preview: Everything You Need To Know About STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS

This weekend, arguably the most anticipated film in the past several decades finally arrives in theatres in a major worldwide event; the 7th episode in the STAR WARS trilogy, entitled THE FORCE AWAKENS. If you’re been a fan of the franchise through all of the ups and downs, most of this blog-entry will probably be nothing new, so let it be a refresher…and for the new generation, everything that needs to be known.

What is this about? – THE FORCE AWAKENS takes place 30 years after the events of RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983); the film which wrapped up the Original Trilogy of films which started in 1977 with A NEW HOPE, and the first sequel, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980). Unlike the Prequel Trilogy, which told of the events prior to A NEW HOPE, THE FORCE AWAKENS has the advantage of bringing back the original cast which started it all.

Who is in this? – As stated, the original cast of A NEW HOPE is back, which includes Harrison Ford (as Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (as Leia Organa), and Mark Hamill (as Luke Skywalker). They are joined by other STAR WARS veterans such as Anthony Daniels, (C-3P0), Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). Rounding out the cast are a strong group of newcomers such as Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac (INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS), John Boyega (ATTACK THE BLOCK), Adam Driver (LINCOLN), Andy Serkis (THE LORD OF THE RINGS), Domhnall Gleeson (EX MACHINA), Lupita Nyong’o (12 YEARS A SLAVE), and Max von Sydow (THE EXORCIST). You can read more about the cast (here) from last year’s casting announcement.

Who is making this? – This is the first STAR WARS film to be made without the total involvement of series creator George Lucas. Taking over the directing duties is J.J. Abrams, whose directing credits include STAR TREK (2009), SUPER 8 (2011), and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III (2006). The script is written by Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), and what is currently considered to be the best of the STAR WARS movies, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Also contributing to the screenplay, in the early stages of production, was Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006).

Fun Facts – The STAR WARS franchise was sold over to Disney by George Lucas in 2012. Part of the deal was Lucas’ written treatments for three new STAR WARS movies * During the course of production, Disney, along with executive producer and head of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, veered away from Lucas’ original vision for the new trilogy * Lucasfilm is now run by Kennedy, who has produced nearly all of Steven Spielberg’s films, including JURASSIC PARK (1993), E.T. (1982), and LINCOLN (2012) * John Williams is back to compose the score * Mark Hamill was the same age (63) as Sir Alec Guinness was when he filmed A NEW HOPE in 1976-7 * This is the first STAR WARS movie to be released in December. The previous six were all released in May * This is the second film Harrison Ford and J.J. Abrams have worked on together. Ford appeared in REGARDING HENRY (1991), which was co-written by Abrams *

What to expect? – The first frame of reference to look at is J.J. Abrams’ work in that other big sci-fi franchise, STAR TREK. His films in that universe where slick and clean and loads of fun, and his touch for big adventure and high thrills was on full display. Those films stumbled from clumsy scripting, which is why having Lawrence Kasdan back in the cockpit is a major win. The old cast is sure to bring up loads of nostalgic feelings, as every fan of STAR WARS has long been in love with Han, Leia, and Luke…the true principal characters in perhaps the entire franchise. We can expect a high-thrill adventure, which is something the Prequels lacked, and a strong sense of the good old days being back.


STAR WARS EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS opens in full December 18th, with limited showings on the 17th.

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