With all the movie and TV news coming out, it’s easy to get caught up in the future. Because the future, as a wise man once said, is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. But if you’ve got an even passing interest in the past, you should definitely check out Kitbashed.
Writer and designer Michael Heilemann has been on our radar for years, but with Kitbashed he’s delving deep into the origins of Star Wars – not the saga, not the franchise, but the movie. Heilemann connects Star Wars to everything from famous documentaries to Star Trek to a baffling magazine ad. He’s also especially good at analyzing George Lucas’ student films and early works.
Even when his observations are relatively familiar, Heilemann presents them in a novel way. For example, don’t miss his spellbinding video on the war movies which influenced the Death Star trench run. Citations are included for further reading, and the site itself is gloriously easy on the eyes, clean and straightforward and uncluttered. Kitbashed is an absolute joy.
The events of the past month have made it clear that Star Wars is undergoing a major shift, and it’s made a lot of fans question the Disney sale. And those words – the “Disney sale” – are part of the problem. The sale is over and done with. What we’re going through now is more jarring, and a lot more ambitious. We’re going through a Star Wars reboot.
Hey, some actual sorta kinda casting news! Entertainment Tonight spoke to Mark Hamill who revealed that he was approached — by George Lucas himself — about appearing in Episode VII. And he indicates that he wasn’t the only one who may be coming back:
“He did say that if we didn’t want to do it, they wouldn’t cast another actor in our parts – they would write us out… we’re in the stage where they want us to go in and meet with Michael Arndt, who is the writer, and Kathleen Kennedy, who is going to run Lucasfilm. Both have had meetings set that were postponed — on their end, not mine. They’re more busy than I am.”
Still, he stresses that no contracts have been signed — which perhaps blows a hole in the Harrison Ford rumor — and that he hopes everyone is on board (Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels included), “rather than just one.” He also weighs in on what he’d like to see in the sequels, as well as the standalone movies. Worth checking out the whole interview.
Since we’ve had every other sort of announcement lately, I suppose some toy news was inevitable. USA Today got the scoop on Hasbro’s new Black Series, so named because the color somehow inspired their designers. (It reminds me of Jim Beam bourbon, but to each his own.) The big change here is that the line will contain a few 6-inch figures, in addition to the traditional 3¾-inchers. Never before has six inches been considered such an enormous upgrade.
Hasbro hopes the new line will appeal to both new buyers and adult collectors, which makes sense since the larger figs are priced significantly higher than the regular ones. They’re supposedly quite detailed and articulated, but I remember reading that the original Clone Wars line (based on the Tartakovsky series) didn’t sell because they weren’t the same size as the normal figures. Have times changed? Or are the clearance racks about to get a whole lot more crowded?
The recent recap of last year’s biggest events reminded me of something that has been largely overlooked: George Lucas is retiring. Granted, he’s tried to retire before – a couple of times, if memory serves – with limited success. And the news was understandably overshadowed by the double-whammy of the Sequel Trilogy and the sale to Disney. But still. The Flannelled One is stepping down, off to work on experimental films or build a working X-wing or become a lumberjack or whatever retired billionaires do. Yes, there were the starwars.com videos, where he talked a bit about his future plans, but in general, this story has been ignored. Heck, I saw more chatter about Rick McCallum’s retirement. Rick McCallum is a wonderful guy, but there’s only one George Lucas. He deserves a little more attention.
Not a whole lot of love for genre pictures at the Oscars this year. The Avengers got just one nomination, for Visual Effects, where it was joined by online punching-bag Prometheus. Both of them will probably lose to Life of Pi.
The good news is that some fan-favorite actors scored big. Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for Best Actress — not for The Hunger Games, but rather for her work in Silver Linings Playbook. She plays a woman suffering from a variety of mental illnesses so who knows, maybe she’ll even win. And though The Dark Knight Rises was shut out, Anne Hathaway got a Supporting Actress nod for playing Fantine in Les Misérables, and she’s pretty much a lock. Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, was also nominated for Les Misérables, but let’s face it, he has no chance.
The Hobbit got three nominations, for Visual Effects, Makeup, and Production Design. Not bad until you remember that the last Middle-earth epic nabbed eleven nominations, and won all of ’em.
Plus we have to mention: John Williams picked up his 48th nomination for Lincoln. Pretty sure that’s a record. And weirdly enough, the Simpsons are now Oscar nominees. Something called Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” is up for Best Animated Short.
At least we can always look forward to making fun of the fashions. This year the Academy Awards air on February 24th.
Edit: Thanks to Pablo for pointing out that new Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy (along with Steven Spielberg) was nominated for producing Lincoln! It’s the front-runner for Best Picture, too.
I’ve been struggling with how to approach this arc, and I guess I wasn’t the only one. When these four episodes premiered at Celebration VI, it looked as if Lucasfilm wasn’t sure what to do with them. Maybe the Powers That Be™ thought the story skewed a bit too young, maybe they were considering it for a possible spin-off series, maybe they just didn’t know if it was any good. Those are all guesses, I honestly have no idea. All I know for sure is this: I won’t review this arc. I can’t.
Here’s why. If you haven’t seen this arc, it’d be a crime to ruin any of it for you. This is the flat-out best work this show has ever done. The characterizations are smart and layered, the action is breathtaking, the emotions are earned, the gags are funny, the pacing is superb, the casting is brilliant and the voicework in general is a joy to hear. In short, each and every creative decision is terrific. Even characters who should be tired by now feel fresh and surprising. So instead of a review, consider this a challenge: if you don’t watch The Clone Wars, take my word for it and check out these four episodes. I’ll burn you a DVD if you can’t find them on your own! This show keeps managing to top its own high-standards, and this storyline really illustrates just how far the series has come.
One of the weird realizations about The Big Announcement is that if they’re going to make Episodes VII through IX, there’s no reason they won’t make Episodes X through XII as well. And if you find the idea of endless Star Wars movies a bit jarring, well, you’re not alone. But the truth is, we’ve already seen new Star Wars movies, because that’s what The Clone Wars has become: a series of longer-form stories, told over several installments. Yes, there are some standalone episodes throw in (and they’re almost always terrific), but it seems like these mini-movies are now the dominant mode. And that can be good. And that can be bad.
Editor’s note: This review covers the whole Onderon arc, episodes 5.02 – 5.05: ‘A War on Two Fronts,’ ‘Front Runners,’ ‘The Soft War,’ and ‘Tipping Points.’
Everyone’s mouthing off about Adi Gallia in this episode, so allow me to join in the chorus. Though my complaint isn’t quite the same as everyone else’s. I mean, c’mon folks, it’s Adi Gallia. Maybe she’s someone’s favorite character in the history of ever, but to me, she’s always been a big pile of whoop-dee-doo. True, I once wrote a limerick in which I charmingly rhymed her name with diarrhea, but her appearances in this show and elsewhere in the EU have left me with exactly zero impression of her. So it’s hard to get emotional about a dullard, even a dullard who just happens to be a famous prequel Jedi. (Is that redundant? I kid, I kid.)
To mark the end of the fourth season of TCW, we organized a little email discussion to talk about what went right, what went wrong, and the unsinkable Darth Maul. Here is an abridged version of our discussion (edited for clarity and length):