Restoring religion to the ‘Star Wars’ movies

23 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

10 Things We Learned From Colbert-Abrams ‘Star Wars’ Talk.

In the relentless push to ensure that you don’t go five minutes without seeing something Star Wars-related before The Force Awakens is released worldwide in December, Disney has teamed up with Google to allow users to infuse a Star Wars theme into Google’s apps. They came via hyperdrive and warp speed, and even by New Jersey Transit, these devotees of Stars both Trek and Wars to mix with the high-rolling, arts-underwriting swells at a benefit performance for the Montclair Film Festival.

The franchise’s creator wrote story treatments for a new trilogy of Star Wars films before he sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, but the Mouse House ultimately decided to take the franchise in a different direction, and Lucas stepped away. “They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were gonna go do their own thing,” Lucas explained during an appearance on CBS News. “They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway,” he continued. “But at the same time, I said, ‘If I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble.’ Because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. But, like all Jedi before them, users must choose whether they want to join the light or dark sides of the Force—the hokey religion that comes with ancient weapons that are no match for a good blaster. But mostly, these disciples of sci-fi’s top-shelf franchises made a pilgrimage to the Garden State to watch Stephen Colbert host a two-hour “celebrity nerd-off” with director J.J. It may only be a very short 15-seconds but starring Rey, Finn and BB8, it gives some much needed context for a scene that’s been peppered throughout the previous trailers. Google announced in a blog post today (Nov. 23) that a group of engineers, suffering from a severe case of arrested development, had used their technical prowess to refit a range of apps, including Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Search and even Android Wear, with Star Wars details.

The changes, once they take place, will appear across your devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows and Chromebook, expect for Chrome, Gmail and YouTube which will only work on the desktop, says Google. Opening with the threesome running from some TIE fighter fire, or in BB8’s case, rolling, John Boyega’s Finn looks to have crash-landed on Jakku and Daisy Ridley’s Rey is helping him escape.

Effectively a brand advertisement of sorts for the highly anticipated new film, Google says that the idea came about from a number of Stars Wars fans at the company who wanted to work on a Google tribute to “Episode VII” as soon as they heard about the movie. The clips adds further fuel to the fiery rumours that Finn is the damsel-in-distress character with Rey saving the day, and the two will inevitably soon cross paths with Han Solo and the adventure will begin.

If you choose the light side, the progress bar on YouTube becomes a lightsaber; the pegman in Google Maps becomes a little Rebel pilot, and the location marker is now an X-Wing. The two-hour chat took place in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark which, as anyone who took the walk from the nearby train station could tell you, has more than a bit of a Mos Eisely Spaceport. Even if you’re not a huge Star Wars fan (the horror!), playing around with the new tool is still fun, as this is the first time that you’ve been able to theme all of Google’s apps with just a click. The second rule, you don’t go over to their house and drive by to see what they’re doing,” Lucas explained. “The third one is you don’t show up at their coffee shop and say, ‘You are going to burn it…’ You just say ‘Nope, gone, history, I’m moving forward.'” Lucas has also discussed his decision to move on from Star Wars in another recent interview, blaming the fact that “all you do is get criticised”.

Google didn’t list out every little change that it’s made to its services, so it’s likely that more will pop up as more people try out the Star Wars-branded web. In the past, themes have been more limited – Gmail has its own themes, for example, as does Chrome (by way of the Chrome Web Store), but these things were never tied together in any way. But now, after you choose your side, you’ll soon see a new look-and-feel for a wide range of Google products including Android Wear, which gets a new watch face; Google Chrome, where movie scenes appear when you open new tabs; Chromecast, which gets new backgrounds; plus themed version of Gmail and Inbox’s email apps, and more. Google wasn’t immediately available to comment on how many Star Wars events it’s added, or when the promotion will end, but it’s possible that you’ll be receiving event alerts for movies that come out long after you’re dead.

Colbert queried Abrams about his career in mostly chronological order, starting with the director’s quick transition from undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College to becoming a working Hollywood screenwriter. If the annoying lightsaber noises as you change the volume on YouTube or the pictures of Jakku on each new Chrome tab prove too much to handle, you can turn the Star Wars bonanza back off in the same place you turned it on—just choose neither the light nor the dark side.

Abrams, who got a bug for fiction after he “B.S.-ed his way through a non-fiction writing course, faking everything,” hitched his wagon to another student, Jill (daughter of Paul) Mazursky, who had already set up some scripts. Fans are encouraged on the site to post their choice of sides to social media using the hashtag, #ChooseYourSide, which will help to power the indicator on the homepage that shows the balance of the forces.

While Google wasn’t available to confirm that this chart was live-tracking signups, it does seem that the general internet population worryingly favors the dark over the light. Colbert was quite familiar with the film; when he was a struggling comedian living in Chicago, he auditioned for a part. “Probably for the best,” Abrams demurred when Colbert recalled that he didn’t receive a callback. The first movie Abrams ever saw was Mary Poppins — but the first adult film (no, not that kind of adult film, though Colbert admitted that could make for good conversation, too) was The Exorcist. But the potentially scarring event merely further instilled a love of filmmaking in the 10-year-old Jeffrey Jacob, who was already tooling around with Super-8 cameras.

The delivery prompted this response from his mother: “Who is this ‘Dick’ sending you a tongue?” Abrams later received an admonishment from Smith by mail after he wrote that he liked Rick Baker’s transformation effects in An American Werewolf in London’s over Rob Bottin’s in The Howling; the makeup artist called to apologize for being so abrupt. (Let’s blame it on latex inhalation.) There was surprisingly little “nerding off” during the event, but at one point a member of the audience (who didn’t seem like a plant) asked Colbert what remaining Tolkien story would he like to see a filmmaker like Abrams adapt into a movie. Without missing a beat, Colbert offered up Akallabêth, a 30-page summary of events from the Island of Númenor found in the posthumously published Silmarillion — which, Colbert brightly and enthusiastically explained, works as a “greatest hits of Middle Earth.” He proceeded to spew a host of ridiculously sounding names without taking a breath, even quoting a passage (“And Sauron came”) which clearly has resonated with him lo these many decades since he first read this weighty tome, most likely alone, in the cafeteria of Middle School. Another audience member asked Abrams who his favorite Star Wars alien was “other than a major character like Chewbacca.” The director’s answer was solid, even if he didn’t know the guy’s name.

His striking look, Abrams said, suggests the life and drama beyond what you saw in the center of the story. (Oh, and so you don’t have to look him up yourself: He’s called Kardue’sai’Malloc, a Devaronian captain notoriously nicknamed “The Butcher of Montellian Serat,” whose post-army career involves working as a tour manager for Figrin D’an and the Model Nodes, the “Jizz” musicians with the large bald heads that play the catchy Cantina tune. Many already knew that you can hit pause on Abrams’ first Star Trek film to find a tiny, floating R2-D2 amid the debris of the destroyed Federation fleet, but he added that the lovable droid is also hidden in Mission: Impossible III and Super 8. There’s a directorial flourish and then there’s self-parody — and Abrams promises he’s easing up on his signature stylistic tic of shining lights directly into anamorphic lenses to create flares.

Very sorry, J.J.) Whether a proposed third Trek film from the Bad Robot crew will serve as a corrective or not remains to be seen, but he acknowledges that the nerds were indeed heard. Abrams was forced to come back to producer Jerry Bruckheimer and let him know “nothing works.” The producer’s response was simple: “Leave it!” Without getting “too metaphysical,” Abrams did he best to express just how much the Force has meant to him over the years. “A religion with no God? Everything on TV last week retroactively fell under the shadow of what happened in Paris on Friday, which made the weekend shows feel like either a welcome escape or an act of mass commiseration. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver kicked off with the host addressing the terrorists with, “Fuck these assholes.” Saturday Night Live — coming back strong from last week’s Trump debacle — served up both remembrance and relief, with a touching bilingual nod to France.

Oddly — or appropriately — this was actually a good week for small-screen escapism, thanks to kick-ass action from a pair of effects-heavy adventure shows, some long overdue comedy from a beloved duo, and a strange trip into the thoughts of an eccentric movie star. Show creators’ return to sketch comedy. (Seriously, thank you, Netflix.) Comedians don’t get participation medals, however, and the duo’s new show, W/Bob and David, wouldn’t have been so welcome if the old gang weren’t still funny. Yes, not every single gag lands in the series’ too-brief four-episode run, but when the troupe hits on a good idea — a “no-nonsense” TV judge replaced by one who tolerates some nonsense; an anti-police harassment activist encountering a friendly cop — they perform the bit with the precision timing of an atomic clock. Show career serves him well here, with his richer acting experience bringing more depth to sketches like the one where his “bad cop” is sensitive over what his “good cop” partner says about him to crooks.

Set in 1979, at a time when the Gipper was on the campaign trail, this week’s episode — “The Gift of the Magi” — brought him to southwest Minnesota, where he delivered a stump speech so heartfelt that it choked up the local anti-government cynic Karl Weathers (played by Nick Offerman). On some other shows, Campbell might’ve been asked to do a broad, cartoonish Ronnie; here, he’s so convincingly sincere that even lifelong Democrats may wish they could go back in time and vote for him.

Fargo’s second season has been telling an intricate story about the waning days of the 1970s, musing about how hippies and down-home crime families alike were steamrolled by the promises of big-time capitalism. The show’s also been exploring the freaky side of this particular time in American history, evoking the prog-rock, UFOs, and macrame fringes of the Me Decade — all by way of explaining how a former Hollywood actor became a viable presidential candidate. Who better then than the physically sturdy, unnervingly square Campbell to play a man who pledged to lead the country into a future meant to reflect our imaginary past? TV fight sequences have become more kinetic and visceral over the past few years — we’re looking at you, Daredevil and Strike Back — but rarely have top-quality punch-outs and slice-ups been as much of a selling-point as they are in AMC’s new postapocalyptic martial arts extravaganza. The show has a capable lead in American-born Chinese movie star Daniel Wu, and features a suitably out-there premise, about a not-so-distant future controlled by ruthless “barons” and their sword-wielding “clippers.” But while there’s not much here that should disappoint (or, frankly, surprise) genre fans, there’s a reason why each commercial break during the series premiere was preceded by a teaser for the next round of bloodletting.

That’s because the most important name in the Into the Badlands credits doesn’t belong to Wu, or even creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, but to fight choreographer Ku Huen Chiu, who’s previously worked on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Kill Bill films. The pilot’s plot was really just a way to get to the scene where a fighter shoves his opponent into a mirror, catches one of the flying shards of glass, and then flings it back into the man’s eye.

HBO gave us Going Clear, Tales of the Grim Sleeper, How to Dance in Ohio, and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, while Showtime has come through with Mormon bigamist exposé Prophet’s Prey, and now this peek inside the Method actor’s mind. The latter actually has a lot in common with the Cobain film, in that it too taps the private archives of a pop-culture icon to let him tell his story in his own words. In the case of Marlon Brando, director Stevan Riley had access to caches of audio-tapes of the eloquent, thoughtful actor, who later in his career became more reclusive and more inscrutable. The doc spans the star’s career, giving as much space to his string of 1960s flops and his enthusiasm for Tahiti as he does to On the Waterfront or The Godfather. Pretty much the only voice here is the big guy’s, which makes the movie feel like a frank, personal behind-the-scenes look at what drove an oft-mercurial man.

From the scenes of a handsome-as-hell young Brando hitting on lady reporters to the tapes of him talking about civil rights and showbiz phoniness, Listen to Me Marlon captures what made this actor so difficult to those who knew him intimately, and so beloved to those who watched him raptly from afar. Season Two has required a lot more set-up, with episode after episode of new characters popping by hype up the Machiavellian alternate-Earth speedster known as “Zoom.” All of that finally paid off last week in a long visit from the ultimate rogue and some peak Flash action. Even before the Big Bad zipped over from Earth-2 to pummel our hero into near-paralysis, this was a packed episode: a jailbreak by tragic antagonist Dr. Light; a hilariously awkward Zoom-baiting ruse involving Light’s Earth-1 doppelgänger; and multiple attempts by the newly psychic Cisco to pick up “vibes” from the morally questionable scientist Harrison Wells. “Enter Zoom” sported the brightness, humor, and camaraderie that’s been setting this show apart from its much grimmer DC-derived brethren Gotham and Arrow (not to mention Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D). But the episode also gave us a lingering look at a seemingly unbeatable foe, which could lead to some nerve-wracking but entertaining complications for Barry Allen and company in the months to come.

Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Restoring religion to the ‘Star Wars’ movies".

* Required fields
All the reviews are moderated.
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site