Category Archives: Disney

Captain America: Civil War – Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War manages to do everything Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice failed to do. That tells a fantastic story involving way too many superheroes and introduce new characters in a meaningful and exciting way.

Release Date: May 6, 2016
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Director: Joe & Anthony Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson

Similar to the Marvel Comics event that pitted hero against hero, Captain America: Civil War pits Captain America (Chris Evans) against Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in a physical and moral battle. After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the United Nations demand that all powered humans register with their governments and submit to its authority as well.

Iron Man is for hero registration because even the most powerful hero needed to be kept in check and held responsible for collateral damage when acting alone. Captain America is for civil liberties and can not submit to a government agency, especially when lives are at stake.

A crisis occurs when the debate over the matter is interrupted when a bomb is set off next to the U.N. Headquarters. The explosion kills many including the leader of Wakanda, King T’Chaka (John Kani). Video footage shows that the bomb was set by the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). The U.S. decides to engage supporting heroes to capture and even kill the Winter Soldier. This includes the new hero, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who decides to avenge the death of his father.

Captain America knows that if the Winter Soldier did set the bomb, he did not do it of his own free will. In fact, a new villain reveals himself in the shadows, Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). Zemo was the one who reactivated the Winter Soldier and turned him once again into a killing machine. Zemo is intent on bringing down an empire and his plan involves finding the secret lab that created ten other Winter Soldiers.

Teams have been formed. Team Iron Man consists of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Panther, War Machine (Don Cheadle) and amazingly Spider-Man (Tom Holland) (pun intended). Team Captain America is Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

Captain America: Civil War features three amazing chase/battle scenes. The ultimate battle between the heroes at an airport feel like it leaps directly from a comic book. It’s fun and incredible. The final battle between Captain America and Iron Man is both sad and satisfying.

The tight story from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely makes this long movie feel like you want more. It succeeds in so many ways. First, Let’s face it, this movie has a lot of heroes and it’s easy to be lost in the sauce, but every character has a moment to shine, not only in battle but as individual characters.

Second, the story introduces two characters: Black Panther and Spider-Man. Both characters make a bold statement in the movie. Black Panther is a prince avenging the death of his father as well as donning the new responsibility as the leader of a nation. His motivations of anger are justified and his character arc leaves you excited for the upcoming Black Panther movie.

Spider-man is also interesting in the sense that he really isn’t needed in the movie. Clearly, he was added because Marvel wanted to show off that they have Spider-Man back in the Marvel fold. The movie could have done without Spider-Man. Give credit to Markus and McFeely, they tell the Spider-Man story in a way that is fun and exciting. Tom Holland brings an element of Spider-Man that we haven’t seen in the other films and that’s Peter Parker’s need to constantly comment and make smart remarks throughout an entire fight. His moments with Tony Stark are hilarious, especially the moment that Stark makes Peter admit the kid is “Spider-Man.”

Zemo, played by Daniel Bruhl, is one of the most understated villains so far. Without throwing a punch or threatening to destroy the world, his actions are slowly revealed and the impact of his plan is everything you expect from a villain. He is the reason Captain America and Iron Man fight to the death, making him one of the best villains in the MCU, even though you’ll forget Zemo when you walk out of the movie.

Making a movie like Captain America: Civil War has challenges that need to be faced or the movie will fail. Under the direction of Anthony and Joe Russo, those challenges are met from beginning to end. These challenges include the problem of too many heroes. Everyone has a moment to shine. The reason for the heroes to battle one another are solid and make sense. There is no clear hero. Both Iron Man and Captain America is morally right to do what they are doing and you find yourself shifting back-and-forth regarding who is right. Also a story that has as many holes plugged up as possible.

Captain America: Civil War is the best Marvel movie to date, but it clearly could not have been great without the films before it. Solid story and stunning action pieces with an ambiguous sense of right and wrong make this film the one you see over and over again.

Jungle Book – Movie Review

In the 2016 Disney adaptation of Jungle Book, director Jon Favreau brings stunning beauty and realism to the 1967 classic.

Release Date: April 15, 2016
Writer: Justin Marks
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken

Jungle Book is more a remake of the classic animated feature rather than the writings of Rudyard Kipling. What a writer, like Justin Marks, does is take the animated feature and fill in the missing gaps of story logic and adds more meat to the story.

For example, in the animated feature Shir Khan is a villain from a far off place. He comes to the jungle to kill Mowgli. In this film, the jungle is experiencing an extreme drought and the only source of water is the peace rock. As long as the peace rock exists and the water is scare, no animal will kill another around the watering hole. Shir Khan (Idris Elba) uses this location to demonstrate his fierceness and threaten all the animal kingdom not to allow a human to live amongst them.

As the story of the Jungle Book unfolds, you can’t help but think, that make sense and so does that. Why do the wolves take in Mowgli (Neel Sethi) as their cub? Why are they so willing to defend him? How did Mowgli come to the jungle in the first place? It is clear that story and story logic are important to the overall story.

Where to movie falls short of perfection is the moment it becomes a musical. I loved the original songs from the Sherman Brothers, but half way through the film, no one sings and as viewers we’re immersed in the world and story of the Jungle Book. The first song, Bare Necessities, I can forgive. Baloo (Bill Murray) and Mowgli recreated the iconic lazy river journey and in a moment of peace, Baloo hums Bare Necessities. This is a nice homage to the original. But when Mowgli is face-to-face with King Louie (Christopher Walken), the encounter becomes an elaborate musical number. It literally takes you out of the movie and feels out of place. They should have kept the story dramatic.

The Jungle Book is also a visually-stunning movie. The sets feel real as if they leap off the animation cells of the original. There have been numerous talking animal movies in the past, and Jungle Book feels the most real. Animal mouth movements are real for that specific species as well as emotions from facial expressions.

The Jungle Book is also available in 3-D and I have talked a lot about how 3-D is a waste of money and should be avoided. The Jungle Book is that rare exception. Objects are crisp and clean. This is especially true for the ending credits. Individual scenes from the movie are presented as a pop-up book. Movies watched in 3-D should have added value, because you pay extra for it. Only in The Jungle Book does the 3-D truly immerse you in the landscape of the story.

The real star of the movie is Neel Sethi as Mowgli. The way a film is made should have nothing to do with how a movie is reviewed critically, but this kid is literally the entire movie. Sethi is perfect in the role and comes across as a real boy, who is a child of the Jungle. I can not think of many children who can pull off not only being in every scene of the film but also act entirely on a sound stage with green screen and also have to act with imaginary actors. Sethi was the solid choice of the film and he along made it work.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Movie Review

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, everyone wants to know what happened to Luke Skywalker. 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the Force has gone into hidden and these are the events that trigger its awakening.

Release Date: December 18, 2015
Writer: Lawrence Kasden, JJ Abrams
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega

In the seventh episode, the Empire has been replaced by the New Order. A weakened version of the Empire but ready to return to the Galactic stage with its new Starkiller Planet. It’s thousands of times more powerful than the Death Star. In charge is Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), his padawan Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), his base commander General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and leader of the troops, Captain Plasma (Gwendoline Christie).

Meanwhile on Jakku, the planet where the Empire lost the war is a girl, Rey (Daisy Ridley) abandoned as a child, who survives by scavenging old parts from downed Star Destroyers, TIE fighters and X-Wings.

Up against the First Order is the Resistance led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). They are on the search for Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker who went into seclusion after failing to train Han and Leia’s Son, Kylo Ren. The movie now becomes the search for Luke Skywalker. The First Order wants him found and executed. The Resistance wants his found to help restore balance to the universe.

Paths cross as Rey, former Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), pilot Poe (Oscar Isaacs) and the cutest robot since R2-D2, BB-8 join forces with Han Solo and Chewbacca to find the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker and destroy the Starkiller base.

I came into Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a great deal of excitement. The level of hype was high and could have potentially ruined the movie. Instead, I walked away from the movie feeling like Star Wars was back in my life, but a very different Star Wars.

The first thing I noticed was the look and feel of The Force Awakens was very different from George’s original design. Different is not always bad. Director J.J. Abrams relied heavily on practical sets and practical effects. Very little of the movie was shot in front of a blue screen and more detail was added to set design compared to the lower budget Star Wars: A New Hope. The set of The Force Awakens felt real to me, which was almost a distraction to the fantasy feel of the prequels. As with anything different, I got used to it after about 20 minutes.

It soon became clear to me that Star Wars: The Force Awakens may not have been the best Star Wars movie, which still goes to Empire Strikes Back, but The Force Awakens needed to accomplish a few things before a new story could be told which will be whatever episode eight will be.

Their first accomplishment was to connect the Star Wars of the past to the Star Wars now. It was important to bring back Han, Leia and Luke. They serve as an important bridge to the future and now new stories can be told in their eventually fade away into oblivion.

The second accomplishment was to tell a new story that still feels like a Star Wars movie. In the Force Awakens, J.J. tells a familiar story in a new way. This movie is essentially the introduction of a different Death Star with the Starkiller planet and also the tale of the Resistance destroying said planet.

Finally, the new Star Wars introduced new characters. Daisy Ridley literally came out of nowhere and made the single most exciting impact on the Star Wars universe that could have possibly been made. As Rey, she’s a girl that was abandoned on the desert planet of Jakku and learned to survive on her own and slowly comes to the realization that she may be a Jedi.

As Finn, John Boyega plays a former First Order Stormtrooper that questions the very role he was bred to fulfill. This is new storytelling by focusing on an actual Stormtrooper. Finn soon realizes that even a Stormtrooper has more to offer the universe than being a mere foot soldier to the New Order.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren plays probably the most complex villain in Star Wars history. The others simply followed the orders of his/her master, but Ren is conflicted about his role. This is the first time we see a Sith Lord, who has not been fully realized and the next movie will spotlight Adam Driver’s character in an amazing way.

Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher return as former lovers, Han Solo and Princess Leia. I don’t think it’s any secret that Kylo Ren is their son. In fact, there are a lot of secrets that were called early into the movie, but still dramatically revealed for full, heart-pounding effect.

The Force Awakens spins a wonderful and familiar tale of the force and the destruction of the Starkiller Planet. It also leaves a laundry list of questions to be answered in the next film. Always leave them wanting a lot more.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens send the Star Wars franchise clearly in the right direction. The film feels like it belongs in the Star Wars universe and tells a masterful story. You’ll leave pining for the next episode, which you won’t have to wait three years, but only two. My childhood has returned.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Panel Transcript – Star Wars Celebration – JJ Abrams Kathleen Kennedy

Star Wars Celebration got off to an exciting start with The Force Awakens panel and its special guests J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy. On April 16, 2015, Star Wars fans from around the world gathered together to get the first word on this exciting panel. Joining The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and LucasFilm President Kathleen Kennedy were droid creators Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples; new cast members Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega; classic series cast Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew; and moderator Anthony Breznican from Entertainment Weekly. The following is a transcript of the panel:

Anthony Breznican:     Let’s bring out two people, let’s bring out two people who are opening that window again for us. Please welcome the director of The Force Awakens, also the co-writer and the producer JJ Abrams. As well as the producer of The Force Awakens and the president of Lucas Film, the person’s who’s creating a whole new series of films. Kathy Kennedy.

JJ Abrams:                   This is amazing.

Anthony Breznican:     That’s a nice reception.

JJ Abrams:                   Unbelievable. You’re welcome.

Kathleen Kennedy:      You’re welcome

JJ Abrams:                   Thank you for waiting.

Kathleen Kennedy:      How many out there waited all night long? Okay we’re going to try it very hard not to put you to sleep.

JJ Abrams:                   And it went crazy.

Kathleen Kennedy:      Wait, I just have to say last night. I was so excited as we’re walking through that I ran in before anybody got inside and I bought this T-shirt.

Anthony Breznican:     It’s too bad you don’t don’t know anyone who could send you at Star Wars.

Kathleen Kennedy:      I know, it’s so much more important to pick things up here at celebration. It isn’t anywhere else. I had to have it first.

Anthony Breznican:     Let’s start talking about this movie. I bet that’s everybody wants to hear. JJ you’re directing this film, you co-wrote it, you produced it. Like me, like a lot of people in this room, you grew up with Star Wars. It was part of your childhood. How important was it in shaping your life as a kid.

JJ Abrams:                   First of all, I just like to say thank you to all of you who are here this is overwhelming and incredibly excited. I’m sure like many of you the experience I had seeing Star Wars for the first time was mind blowing. I was 11 years old when it came out. 11 was a great age to have my mind blown.

I’ll never forget that feeling of seeing “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Fade out and those words hit the screen with that incredible music, and it was that moment on that just transported me. It was a firs time a movie made me laugh that way and made me believe in another world that way and it was really George Lucas’ brilliance not only creating these incredible characters and this amazing universe.

Also that it had such heart and the biggest thing for me is it had such hope and that to me it was incredibly powerful even 11 years old.

Anthony Breznican:     Were you a collector, did you have the toys, did you ever dressed up for Halloween?

JJ Abrams:                   It sounds like someone must have told you something. I did won a Halloween one year dressed up as a Jawa. I don’t want to tell you what year it was. I did.

Anthony Breznican:     Kathy … People have been waiting for this moment for a few years now. Ever since Disney picked up, merged with Lucas Film. They announced it there would be a new series of films. Can you tell us about your transition about from producer to the president of Lucas Film launching this whole new series of films.

Kathleen Kennedy:      I have to say that when George asked me to have lunch with him. It was almost 3 years to the day that I sat down with George in a small little restaurant, in New York. He said I’m retiring and I am thinking about moving on and I’d like somebody to come in and carry on this legacy. I thought he was going to asked me recommendations on who might do that.

I said, “Who are you thinking about?” He said, “Well I was thinking about you.” Needless to say … Thank you, thank you. As any of you can imagine, it is an incredibly daunting task and I’ve been unbelievably fortunate obviously the background I had in working with Steven Spielberg for many years, and working with George Lucas on all the Indiana Jones movies.

I think it did prepare me, but I must say that when I turn to the guy on my right and said, “Will you help me do this? I can’t do it alone.” Thank God, although you didn’t say right away.

Anthony Breznican:     Yeah, JJ what was your initial reaction when she said, “Join me and together we’ll rule the galaxy.”

JJ Abrams:                   No. But I said no partly because it was incredibly daunting thing, partly because my family and I … We had this plan what are we going to be doing that next year, partly because it felt like I’ve been doing sequels and things in the past. I just wanted to sort of break away from that. When I sat down with you, to have this conversation and we actually were sitting there talking about what could come next and what it would be.

I mean you could imagine it’s a very different thing very much like this moment. You can anticipate it, and expect what it’s like to come out and see a room full of fans. To actually be here with you is a very different and wonderful experience. This was an unexpected reaction because I really thought I would just say no and I found myself, having this conversation with you it was impossible to say no.

Anthony Breznican:     He said yes.

Kathleen Kennedy:      Thank you JJ.

JJ Abrams:                   Thank you Kathy.

Anthony Breznican:     One of the things that’s been noted about this film is Star Wars has always pushed the boundaries of visual effects but you’re kind of taking a retro approach this time around. You build a lot of practical sets. I hear people like that.

JJ Abrams:                   That’s an awesome reaction. I will say that when we started talking about actually what the story would be, and how to make it happen. The thing that struck me. Look at that. There we are …

Kathleen Kennedy:      It’s really fun place. [crosstalk 00:06:20] we’re flying.

JJ Abrams:                   Well, the … When we were working on pre-production of the movie. The thing that struck me and it wouldn’t get out of my head, is just how real you knew and felt Star Wars was when you first saw, A New Hope. That feeling of actually being in whether they were shooting in Tunisia or on various physical tangible sets. You couldn’t deny it.

I knew it’s Star Wars. There are going to be an endless number of effects that will be done, CG and otherwise of course. We needed a standard, and we needed to set a standard that was real, that felt like you knew the people were in those places. The way the light interacts with the set, you want it to be legitimate. You want it to be authentic.

Building as much as we possibly could, was really the mandate and I will tell you the amazing thing is as we’re working now, of course finishing up the edit of the film. Even before Ireland get started doing their spectacular work. It’s an amazing thing to actually be able to watch the movie, and you can see what it is. You don’t need to use your imagination because we actually have those sets there and it was great for the actress too.

Anthony Breznican:     Giving the Stormtroopers some direction. Now …

Kathleen Kennedy:      I just want to say, right now everybody … Everybody in this amazing creature shop that we work with that made every single thing you’re looking at in the movie are all gathered together right now in London and they’re watching it, live-streaming right now.

Anthony Breznican:     Indulge me a minute. For the folks in the creature shop, not just applause and cheering. Could everybody make their best Wookiee Roar for those guys right now? I want to hear thousands … that’s cool, thank you.

Kathleen Kennedy:      Close to a Bruce Springsteen concert.

JJ Abrams:                   There they are, that’s them.

Anthony Breznican:     They’re watching. That’s them now right? Watching from London. You began filming the first 10 days of this movie were on location, Abu Dhabi a desert landscape. People have seen desert landscapes before in Star Wars. What are we seeing and what was it like to start shooting in such an inhospitable environment.

JJ Abrams:                   It was an incredible thing to shoot there. It was a 128 degrees. The amazing thing about … There it is, that’s a picture. Kathy Kennedy took that photograph.

Kathleen Kennedy:      On my iPhone.

JJ Abrams:                   Shot from an iPhone. There we go. Shooting in Abu Dhabi was an incredible thing. Star Wars is as much a Western and a fairy tale as it is anything else. One of the things that you expect and want to see are real tangible John Ford beautiful landscapes and shooting in Abu Dhabi provided just that.

It was an incredible thing to be there. The location is a desert planet called Jacu. People have thought it’s Tatooine. It’s a planet called Jacu and you’ll learn a lot more about Jacu maybe even today.

Anthony Breznican:     It’s a hot place is it? Is there anything else you can say of course with Tatooine it has the 2 suns. Is there anything about the place of this planet and the universe that you can tell us about?

JJ Abrams:                   No.

Anthony Breznican:     Okay.

JJ Abrams:                   But you … I promise you, you’ll see more today.

Anthony Breznican:     One of the first opportunities that everyone got to see the sets that you’ve been talking about were the Force for Change videos that you made and you showed off some creatures, you showed off the new X-Wing. Tell us about the first wave for Force for Change program? What were the effects of that?

JJ Abrams:                   Here’s the thing. I don’t need to tell any of you here or most of you watching. There’s a great tradition in the Star Wars community of giving back. When Kathy and I first started working on this. We realized that this was an amazing opportunity to engage with the fans for at least a decade, if not more.

We were inspired by the fans themselves, and we went to Disney to Bob Iger, and Alan Horn, Alan Bergman, and convince them they completely got the opportunity and saw it and really demonstrated incredible leadership in doing so. We’re so grateful to them and we started Force for Change. The first day of shooting we engaged the fans, we offered an opportunity to be in the movie, donating $10 to UNICEF which is one of the great organizations doing an amazing work with children around the world.

For $10 donations, you have a chance to be in the film, and I will say that thanks to you, to this day, we’ve raised over $6,000,000 for UNICEF which is amazing. In the name of Force for Change and that’s money that is doing real work right now with UNICEF Innovation Lab for children, thousands of children throughout the world and then that’s really an amazing thing and thank you for that.

Anthony Breznican:     That’s not the end of it now. Force for Change is kicking up again as you go toward the December release of the movie. Kathy what’s next for the Force for Change.

Kathleen Kennedy:      We’re really excited about this continued relationship with UNICEF. We’re going to join forces with a program called Kid Power in fact I’m wearing one of the bands right now. What happens in the classrooms is that kids wear these bands, and in fact I was walking to the hall testing this, and after you take so many steps.

It actually triggers a therapeutic packet of food for children who are malnourished all over the world. This is a program that we’re hoping will become a movement. Disney will become a movement, Disney has stepped up and they’re spending $1,000,000 on the programs. Fans have contributed through Humble Bundle another million and we’re hoping that Star Wars will ignite this and really turn it into a worldwide movement.

We’re very excited by our relationship with them.

Anthony Breznican:     Since we’re here at celebration, let’s talk about your history both of you with this. This event JJ you’ve gone as a fan before right?

JJ Abrams:                   I’ve been before and it was great to come here this morning, and get to walk through some of the stalls and meet some of you. It was just an incredible thing to see that the time and the effort and the passion that goes into so many of the booth. It’s amazing.

Anthony Breznican:     Kathy you’re in Germany at the last celebration 2 years ago. This was … Was it your first time there?

Kathleen Kennedy:      It was my first time at celebration. George had actually been telling me over and over again how amazing it was. I just missed Orlando. When I got to Esin, I have to say I was wildly unprepared for what I was walking into, and just astounded as JJ saying about the quality of the work and the level of creativity.

One of the areas I walked by were the R2-D2s that have been built. This guy right down here.

20150416_180100231_iOSAnthony Breznican:     Fan built R2-D2.

Kathleen Kennedy:      Right, right fan built. Everything that is actually we didn’t get to run up to the second floor today. I understand there’s over a hundred R2-D2 so I can’t wait to see that. The incredible thing was, when I was literally leaving Esin and going back to London where, we’re prepping the movie. I turned to our creature shop and I said, “You know I think we’ve got to hire those guys out of celebration. Let’s track down who they were.” We hired Oliver and Lee.

Anthony Breznican:     Would you like to meet the droid mechanics? Let’s bring out Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples and friends. Welcome to Celebration you guys. Welcome R2. Let’s hear it for R2-D2 this is actual R2-D2 from the movie. Lee and Oliver you were once guys out there in audience now you’re up here on the stage. You are fans who have now contributed through the Star Wars universe. Give people a little sense of what that feels like.

Oliver Steeples:           There’s absolutely nothing that prepares like to sit here. Several years ago I was out where watching the stage, and here I am. Just like how to put in to words.

Lee Towersey:             It was awesome, it was great. Everyday we’re going to work with the smile on our face. It’s brilliant.

Anthony Breznican:     You got the job because of your fidelity to recreating the original R2-D2 tell us about your own contribution, like what is your own little artistic spin on the Force Awakens version of R2-D2?

Lee Towersey:             We’ve pictured here now this is a new design done JJ gave the request for some dome. We currently left to create a new dome which JJ was happy with. This is an R0 dome and the white one is RO-LO, ROLO and the LO stands for Lee and Oliver. Hopefully that would be used.

Anthony Breznican:     There you go, you named it after yourself.

Oliver Steeples:           These R4 are for domes for X-Wings basically bringing the R5 and R6 into the Star Wars universe, you’ll see them on a back of various X-Wings.

Anthony Breznican:     This is interesting because you’re not building the full droid on these, these are just the domes right? To attached to the practical X-Wing fighters that you built for that sense, right?

Oliver Steeples:           Yeah, every specific pilots has their own droids in the back. You will see, I can’t give it away. Which droid goes each, which pilot?

JJ Abrams:                   I just got to say that you guys did an amazing job, and it was … It’s a very stressfull thing every day, you’re working half, these things have to work well whenever there is a malfunction you guys were on it, and repair it almost immediately there was never a costly droid delay so we are very grateful.

Anthony Breznican:     Droids always work. Let’s hear it for the thinkers of the Force Awakens the human Jawa’s. Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples. Thank you very much guys. Let’s hear it again for R2-D2. Let’s move now from robot … We do we have to bring out one more. One more robot. I’m sorry I almost wrap you too soon. Giving short trip to one of the new droids of the Star Wars universe.

20150416_173130584_iOS                                    Please welcome BB-8. Just say a couple of words about BB-8. This could get ugly. Is there a little rivalry between them? BB-8 was a creature that was performed. We talked originally … Could you guys keep it down? We talked originally about how to do this, how to best have BB-8 in the film. There were a lot of discussions about how having a CG BB-8 would be so much easier for shooting.

We also knew it would be better for the film for the actors, for the sets, for the look of it. If it were performed. Neil Scanlan and his unbelievable team you saw earlier in a picture built and puppeteer BB-8 in the movie did an extraordinary job and it was better for the actors, it was better for the film itself. You’ll see their work. It’s amazing.

Kathleen Kennedy:      I also want to say that Bob Iger who’s the chairman of the Walt Disney Company sitting out in the audience and he’s the one that found the company that helped us discovered the technology of what you’re seeing right now. Because we now have BB-8 operating on his own thanks to Bob.

Anthony Breznican:     Well give R2, and BB-8, and Oliver, and Lee a round of applause. Thank you guys so much for coming out. Thank you for bringing out the droids. I want to start off with one in particular. He’s definitely not here today. He’s in everyone’s thought. Harrison Ford recently he had a very serious accident, but he’s a total bad ass who crash landed that plane and made it out okay.

Kathleen Kennedy:      Yes, I got to say the amazing thing about Harrison, and I don’t think everybody out there will be surprised is that he’s the only person that can make an emergency landing on a golf course, in front of 2 doctors. He’s home and resting and getting well as fast as he can. I can’t even begin to tell you how much he wanted to be here but maybe next year. But at least by the time we open this movie. I know that Han Solo will be very actively involved in what we’re doing.

Anthony Breznican:     JJ have you talked to him recently?

JJ Abrams:                   I was going to say I was texting with him yesterday and I was going to go over him and see him but he didn’t have time for me, because his friend was coming over for lunch, and he was like, “Not today Mike.” All right whatever. He sends his best, and he’s doing great and working hard, and that guy is … I’ve never … I had respect for him all my life.

I have never more respect for a guy until I saw that he, how he landed that plane I mean that was an amazing that he did. He’s more of a hero in that move than I think he’s been in other movies he’d been. It was an incredible thing he did.

Anthony Breznican:     Everybody give a shout out to Harrison Ford. I don’t know if he’s watching the live screen at home. Send him some love. Let’s talk about some of the other new faces that are going to be in this film. There are 3 lead characters that you want to talk about.

Star Wars - The Force AwakensJJ Abrams:                   Yeah, we have … We were very lucky, we obviously went through the process that you go through in searching for actors, it’s the typical long tedious audition process. I will tell you that we could not have ended up with 3 more talented and wonderful actors and people. We have Oscar Isaac, we have Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega.

Anthony Breznican:     What can you tell us about the characters they play? Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron.

JJ Abrams:                   I’ll tell you … I think rather than me tell anything about them, I think they should. We should bring them out.

Anthony Breznican:     Let’s bring them out. Please welcome Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac. Whenever you guys have appeared in public. Did people ever asked you about Star Wars before? A little bit?

Oscar Isaac:                Just a little bit.

Anthony Breznican:     Sometimes.

Daisy Ridley:               I’d never been anywhere like this. This is like crazy.

Anthony Breznican:     There’s still a lot, 7 months out that you can’t talk about with regards to your character. Maybe you could give us a little tease of who they are we’ve seen them in the teaser trailer, we saw that image up on the screen. Let’s just go one by one and tell us where do we discover Rey in this movie, Daisy?

Daisy Ridley:               Hey yo all, again. We’ve discover Rey on the desert planet, Jacu. She is a scavenger in like a ship graveyard and she is like completely self-sufficient, she does everything for herself, and very solitary until she meets another character and the adventure begins.

Anthony Breznican:     That leads us to John Boyega. Finn. Finn is the first character we see in The Force Awakens. He was the first face that appeared in that teaser trailer last November. John … He’s in a Stormtrooper uniform, but people are wondering is he in disguise? Is he an actual Stormtrooper? Tell us how do we meet Finn in this movie?

John Boyega:               First of all, Star Wars Celebration, what’s up. What? Insane. How to do that, we find Finn he’s in incredible danger and the way in which he decides to react to this danger, changes his life, number one, and launches him into the Star Wars universe in a very unique way. I can’t wait for you guys to see it.

Anthony Breznican:     He is a Stormtrooper right? You can confirm that? He is, he’s a Stormtrooper. But, John everbody knows Stormtroopers are bad guys. Are you a bad guy, or a good guy in this movie?

John Boyega:               My memory just gone.

Anthony Breznican:     No recall? All right, we’ll come back to it some other time. Oscar Isaac.

Oscar Isaac:                What’s up everybody.

Anthony Breznican:     The only character on stage who has 2 names, Poe Dameron we see him piloting an X-Wing fighter. We saw you in the uniform there. Tell us about … Tell us about playing this guy. Who is he?

Oscar Isaac:                He’s the best freaking pilot in the galaxy. That’s who he is. He’s been sent on a mission by a certain princess. He ends up coming across Mr. John Boyega’s character, and their fates are forever intertwined.

Anthony Breznican:     The 3 leads, I find it fascinating that you have a Stormtrooper, and an X-wing pilot, I don’t know potentially working together with a scavenger sort of takes all the boxes. There are a number of actors that everybody knows are in the movie but are not able to join us yet. We’ve got time to reveal them.

JJ Abrams:                   We have this incredible cast. Some of them you see here, including Adam Driver, and Andy Serkis, we have Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie. It’s an incredible group. We have many, many months before the movie comes out and I promise you that we’re going to have a lot of fun revealing between now and then the other actors.

How lucky are we to have these 3 today. Come on.

Anthony Breznican:     Now what we have here are some questions from the audience, people who, fans have been sending them in all week, and we have a few that were gathered just last night from the folks we’re camping out. This question it comes from the Star Wars fan in Italy. “As a fan, how does it feel to grow up with Star Wars and now be a part of Star Wars?” John I’m going to throw this to you.

John Boyega:               Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paid the games of Star Wars on my PS3 honestly. Guys, Force Unleashed 1, Force Unleashed 2? Come on. Obviously as a fan coming on set, I obviously freaked out a bit seeing Harrison Ford stood right in front of you. At the same time, you do get cast members to sign your merchandise after a wrap which is …

Daisy Ridley:               John signed his own figurine everyone.

John Boyega:               The whole cast, the whole cast.

Anthony Breznican:     Was there a particular favorite piece of merchandise that you were like, “I got to get this if nothing else signed.”

John Boyega:               I had a Han Solo and Stormtrooper gear and it was like this big. I went over to Harrison and said, “Can you sign my doll?” He was like, “This is weird. But, I’ll sign it for you.” I got it signed on set.

Anthony Breznican:     That’s how you do it. Here’s another question from a fan in Japan. “If you were to put yourself in the world of Star Wars. What type of character would you be? Because they’re in Star Wars. I’m going to asked you Kathy. What type of character would you be?

Kathleen Kennedy:      As I said, I think the interesting thing about that question is I don’t think I have a lot of choices.

Anthony Breznican:     At least originally.

Kathleen Kennedy:      Originally.

Anthony Breznican:     Princess Leia was kind of the only gamut.

Kathleen Kennedy:      I’m going to say that, that’s going to change as you can …

Anthony Breznican:     Well, this is something that’s important to a lot of fans when you made that, when you release that photo the cast photo and release the initial cast list. Some people noted that it was only Daisy who is new to the cast representing the females of the galaxy. You know and I know a lot, there are tons of female fans of Star Wars and I’m raising one. I’ve got a little girl, she’s 5 years old, her name is Audrey and she loved Star Wars and I’m kind of excited that there are going to be other characters for her to identify. Tell us about that, tell me about expanding that.

Kathleen Kennedy:      … Characters, and really strong women, and not only in Episode 7, but the conversations we were having moving forward there are going to be a lot of wonderful new characters. I have 2 girls too, so I’m under a lot of pressure.

Anthony Breznican:     Here’s a question from the UK. “How hard is it to find the right balance between new, and old technology.” Not in terms of making the film JJ. “But just the sort of battered world that we saw in the original Star Wars saga, versus the kind of shiny new one in the prequels. How do you decide which balance to present 30 some years after the events of the Return of the Jedi?”

JJ Abrams:                   I think the … Again I sort of said this before. One of the things that I love so much about the original trilogy was that sense of everything being real, and weathered and lived in, and used. It was a world of underdogs, and you just felt you’re fighting against an enemy that was bigger and larger and for me the look and the feel of that technology it being and anything but pristine, anything but brand new.

It was really important. I think there needs to be a contrast. The amazing aesthetic again. The brilliance of what George did the contrast between the gleaming empire and the dusty cantina streets of Tatooine …

Kathleen Kennedy:      Amazing Ralph Mcquarrie.

JJ Abrams:                   Ralph Mcquarrie.

Anthony Breznican:     Concept artist who designed a lot of the look of Star Wars.

JJ Abrams:                   We’re very much following that feeling. Again this feeling takes place decades after Jedi. This film needs to follow suit, in that regard I think that’s what you’ll see.

Anthony Breznican:     Here’s another one, this one comes from the US. It’s a tough one. “With millions of fans all around the world. Are you afraid to disappoint with this movie, and how can you guarantee you’ll please every single ass one of them.”

JJ Abrams:                   Well we just will. Here’s the thing, obviously as they say, “You can’t please everybody.” Though we are trying very hard to do just that. I will say this, that there are moments where the pressure of what we’re doing, the responsibility of what we’re doing. Honoring the legacy, but using the legacy to tell a brand new story that moves forward that makes the fans proud it’s the most important thing that we’re all working on.

I will say that though there are moments of, I don’t know I’d say sheer horror at what that is. The reality is, I’ve never had more fun in my life working on anything. The opportunity far outweighs the risk of this, and I can’t wait for you to see them.

Anthony Breznican:     Kathy here’s a question, James who came here. He’s here from London. This is one of the questions we got out in the line. “It is hard to please everybody.” he says. “How much do you take into consideration the fan perspective when you’re devising these new stories?”

Kathleen Kennedy:      I don’t think there’s anything more important in the Star Wars universe than the fans. You guys talked to us all the time about everything and we take that really seriously and we talked about it. It doesn’t mean for obvious reasons we can do every single thing that is dictated by the fans.

We’re fans too, and everybody inside the Lucas Film Organizations are fans. Many, many fans are inside the Walt Disney Company. I’ve been amazed since we’ve been a partner of the Walt Disney company now that everybody is a fan. Everybody has a Star Wars story. That generational experience is something that is really important and it’s everything in terms of the future of Star Wars. You guys you energized us. Thank you.

Anthony Breznican:     Here’s one for JJ. This one comes from Ben. He came here to Anaheim from Ontario Canada. It’s a pretty basic question. He wants to know, “JJ what advice would you give to a young aspiring filmmaker?” Get started.

JJ Abrams:                   Well, first of all I think the reality is that everyone has a camera in their pocket now. When I was a kid it wasn’t this ubiquitous thing that everyone just carried a camera around. The ability to just make stories, make films, tell story is real, and is incredible. When I look at my kids who make a video, and they’re doing dissolves, they’re doing titles, they’re doing visual effects and things that you only dream of when I was a kid.

To me it’s just as that the technology has been democratized everyone has accessed to the ability to be a filmmaker. If you want to do it, the only thing stopping you is you and so do it and put it out there and let people see them. I can’t wait to see your movies, Ben.

Kathleen Kennedy:      I got to say the fan films that we see all the time, unbelievable. I am continually amazed that the fan films that are created for Star Wars.

Anthony Breznican:     They’re awesome. This one goes out to Oscar, Daisy, and John. It’s from Sarah who didn’t travel far. She’s from Sta. Ana, she came here. She walked here. The question is, you start shooting this movie. Who is more excited the new comers like yourselves? Or the veteran actors from the original trilogy.”

Daisy Ridley:               The original actors were coming back to universe they absolutely loved, and we were a joining a universe we will yet to love as much as we do now. We were all excited, and then coming here today has made it so much more exciting. All of us is so … cannot wait to show you guys what we’ve done.

Oscar Isaac:                It was interesting because I was in my hotel room waiting to find out if I had been cast, and if I needed to stay for that reading that picture that you guys saw that iconic one. When I finally got the call that I was indeed officially going to play, put Dameron I was so excited/nervous to try to tap back into that, “Because I don’t even know if I can do it, I don’t know, man.”

I blasted the Star Wars theme as loud as I could and I grabbed my shampoo bottle, and I just sort of going [sound effects 35:02] I was like, “No I can do this.” I remember that feeling. That’s how I dealt with it.

John Boyega:               I mean with me the excitement just turns into absolute nerve, and I was scared to tell my parents that I got the part of Finn in Star Wars in case they didn’t believe me. I waited until that cast photo was released before I told my parents. All that time my dad saw me leaving go into this place, and I was reading all these red sides, and he’s like, “What is going on.”

I just told him I was filming 24.

Anthony Breznican:     I want to thank you guys who submitted their questions on line, and who waited in line to offer their question to the cast and the filmmakers. It’s so wonderful to see the new faces of Star Wars. How about if we bring out, you want to bring up somebody else, some other … These are sort of.

I would say these are new faces but also familiar so please welcome, from the cast of Star Wars The Force Awakens, the new Stormtroopers. They look great right? 30 years changes the outfit a little bit. There are some other folks who are here, people you know, people you love. We’re going to bring them out too. Please welcome you know him as C-3PO Anthony Daniels.

Now welcome princess diplomat, freedom fighter, Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher. Why don’t you break out … Why don’t you break out your Wookiee Roar again for the man who co-pilot the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca himself Peter Mayhew, and Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill. That’s a lot of love for the veterans of Star Wars. Anthony. Anthony I want to start with you. You are the only actor to appear in all 6, now 7 Star Wars films as C-3PO the only one.

Anthony Daniels:         It is quite amazing because it’s 40 years now, 40 years since I first met George Lucas. Very quickly became part of a team, that got involved in making this crazy little film that none of us, none of us thought that any of you people would ever come to see.

Anthony Daniels:         How wrong were we?

Carrie Fisher:              I knew, you guys were coming.

Anthony Daniels:         No you didn’t. We were … apart from Carrie, we were totally wrong because you did come and you kept coming and from the beginning you stayed with us all the way and it is quite extraordinary. Now there’s even more of you joined in the fun because it’s 3 generation who loved this story.

Of course as Anthony suggest 3PO and indeed myself, we’ve actually survived 6 films think about that one. Of course the future who know, but I do think that maybe in the future you will be there? Okay as for the past I got to say thank you for your kindness, your support, your affection for the whole project and especially in my case for the character that I am very, very fond of, a character who has just become a hashtag “C3PO human cyborg relations.”

Anthony Breznican:     Peter Mayhew the man who brings such soulfulness to Chewbacca. You … How does it feel to return to that fury suit?

Peter Mayhew:           It’s kind of nice to get back into fury suit, because I can go anywhere in the world, and so it be comfortable. Also the mere fact that I wouldn’t have been associated with these guys if I didn’t have the walking carpet as the saying the young lady calls me. It’s been great are what this is all about and we are there. We’re going to enjoy it and I hope everybody else does. It should be great, enjoy it.

Mark Hamill:               I hope you notice he’s taller than I am sitting down. I’ve always ranted them with that.

Carrie Fisher:              I’m shorter than everyone standing up.

Anthony Daniels:         And cuter.

Mark Hamill:               Thank goodness we’re all proportionately cast.

Anthony Breznican:     Carrie, he puts on the fur. I’m wondering Princess Leia was always very fashion forward. Are we going to see any return to those classic hair buns from the original movie this time around?

Carrie Fisher:              The buns are … They’re tired now. We’re probably not going to have the futuristic buns. I think we have an alternate thing that you’ll be very into which is not the metal bikini. I promise, I promise.

Anthony Breznican:     How do you feel about expanding the world to include more girl power? You were the only women in this original Star Wars films and now there are so many others joining the cast. Sisterhood of Star Wars?

Carrie Fisher:              Well It’s good to have a little help, but I like being the only one when I was 19 and that was possible. Now I need some backup.

Male:                           We love you Carrie.

Carrie Fisher:              I love you.

Anthony Breznican:     Now Mark Hamill.

Carrie Fisher:              See you later.

Anthony Breznican:     Mark Hamill you’ve lived with Luke Skywalker for a long time. What do you want to say to the fans? What can you tell us about returning as Luke Skywalker.

Mark Hamill:               I remember George call the original film the most expensive low budget movie ever made. I remember saying to him, “I know I think this is a winner. I think we’re going to out-gross Planet of the Apes.” That’s the Charlton Heston Planet of the Apes by the way. No, I really just have a simple message not just to all of you in this room, but to people watching us around the globe and that’s a simple thank you.

Because if it weren’t for the UPFs, Ultra Passionate Fans. We wouldn’t be here. It never ceases to amaze me and I’m so grateful for your support, your enthusiasm and yes your passion. Because over the years my entire adult life, I felt such loved from you and you’re more than just fans. You’re family.

Male:                           We love you Mark.

Carrie Fisher:              You grew up with us. I mean we’re still not … We’re still growing up too. You guys grew up with us. It’s an amazing thing to be part of so many people’s childhood and to be a toy at the same time. Thank you for playing with me, when I’m plastic.

Anthony Breznican:     All right. Even though the whole cast is in here. We’ve got a lot of people in one place, and all we have right now is that one CP atoned imaged of everybody doing the first reading. Why don’t we get the cast, the Stormtroopers …

Mark Hamill:               Put on your wide angle lens.

Anthony Breznican:     Get everybody together for a photo. It’s too bigger group for a selfie but you guys can take the photos. Let’s bring out R2-D2 and BB-8. Here they are, get out your cameras, hit record, capture the moment. These guys have to say goodbye now. Thank you guys everyone so much for coming out. Thank you for joining us at celebration for kicking it off right.

Kathleen Kennedy:      Don’t worry we have one more thing. Don’t leave the hall. JJ is going to take a little time now, and he’s going to tell you about his childhood memories of Star Wars. Do you want to tell them why we’re really standing here?

JJ Abrams:                   Who wants to see a new teaser? Honestly and I know that we’ve said thank you a lot to you guys. I need to see it one more time on behalf of Kathy and myself and to everyone who’s watching, who’s not here. We cannot thank you enough the energy that you guys throwing our way is evidence of the Force and we couldn’t be more grateful. We want to show you this is our second teaser and we’re very excited for you to see it. We hope you like it, but mostly thank you so much, for all of your support. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

McFarland USA – Movie Review

Every year, Walt Disney Studios presents a sport-related movie loaded with hope and inspiration. This year’s sports entry is McFarland U.S.A. and the sport is cross-country. The criteria of a Disney sports-related movies is it has to be loosely based on a true story. It must feature an underdog or a team of underdogs, who overcome personal obstacles to come out on top. We are then treated to a series of sports-related montages leading to a moment of unbearable schmaltz, which ends with victory or something real close to victory.

McFarland U.S.A. fits the mold of Disney sports movie. The film follows the last leg of football coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), who accepts a job at the last school in California willing to hire him. McFarland High School, located in the middle of Central California, is as stated in the film, the poorest city in the state. White moves into the city with this wife, Cheryl (Mario Bello) and two young daughters, Julie (Morgan Saylor) and Jamie (Elsie Fisher). Already he fears for their safety. It is clear that the White family are the fish out of water in the predominately Mexican-American community.

McFarland03Just as soon as White’s football career starts in McFarland, it quickly ends with White’s demotion to a life science and physical education teacher. The majority of his students are children of farm pickers. The pay of the parents is so low that most children are needed to work as pickers themselves in the mornings before school and on weekends. White soon discovers that this hard work and a carbo diet of rice and beans, not only makes the student good endurance runners, but instills a work ethic that makes them perfect for cross country.

The events of the movie take place in 1987, and the state of California has just made cross-country and state supported sport. The newly sanctioned program means that the California will subsidize cross-country expenses including coaches.

Now the story takes off. White has to recruit a team, get the team to trust him and turn them into winners. Recruiting means that White has to visit the families and understand their culture. Not just the Mexican culture, but the culture of the poor in Central California. This fulfills the cultural lesson we expect from Disney movies.

White’s team may come from the same town, but they have different stories. Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts) is McFarland’s best runner. His father is always looking for work and rarely home. He does not believe anyone will leave McFarland. The Diaz brothers, Danny (Ramiro Rodriguez), David (Rafael Martinez) and Damacio (Michael Aguero) must quit the team in order to work on the farm and support their family. White tries in vain to win the parents over.

The movie pulls out all the stops to tug at your heart strings. Coach White’s goal is to get his family out of McFarland as soon as he can. In order to build a strong team, White has to understand the culture of McFarland. The White Family has to accept their surroundings and the people around them. The students have to work hard to realize their dreams including being the first of their family to receive a college education.

These themes are not that different from other sports-related movies and especially from Disney movies, in general. What makes McFarland worth watching is the acting and writing. Kevin Costner is at his best as the everyday guy with a little bit of authority. He is as believable as he gets in playing a normal person with dreams and struggles. At no point does his performance feel forced nor the emotional moments feel false. The story also manages to make real the schmaltzy moments like forgetting his daughter’s birthday and whether to take the job in the big city.

There are not a lot of surprises in McFarland USA. The ending where-are-they-now is inspiring and real at the same time. The real question is can Disney produce a sports movie next year that pushes the boundaries of storytelling and drama.

Disney’s Into the Woods – Movie Review

Based on the 1987 critically acclaimed Broadway musical, Into The Woods is a mashup story of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. The movie, though, focuses on the story of the Baker and his Wife. The couple has no children. Thanks to the neighboring Witch (Meryl Streep), the Baker learns he cannot have children because of a curse placed on his father for stealing from the Witch’s garden.

Like the stage play, Into The Woods is about wishes. All of the characters have a wish and must complete a mission of sorts in order to receive his wish. But as with life, once we attain our wish, it’s not really what we hoped for. There are also consequences to the choices we make in attaining those dishes too.

Into the Woods 02The Baker and his Wife wish to have the curse reversed and must bring to the witch, Red Riding Hood’s cape, Rapunzel’s hair, Cinderella’s shoe and Jack’s cow. They are not the only ones with wishes. Red Riding Hood wishes to stray from the path and explore the world, but the Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp) stands in her way. Jack wishes to get this cow back and steals from the Giants in the sky to earn money to get him/her back. Cinderella wishes to escape the torture of her Stepmother (Christine Baranski) and Stepsisters (Lucy Punch and Tammy Blanchard) and sees marrying the Prince (Chris Pine) as her escape.

As mentioned below, the movie is based on the musical by American composer Stephen Sondheim and playwright James Lapine. Both played pivotal roles in adapting the play to film. It helps that Rob Marshall is directing the movie. In his Oscar-award winning film, Chicago, Marshall proved that he can perfectly adapt a complicated musical to film and he does an admirable job with Into The Woods.

Into The Woods has all the necessary elements for a musical. The opening number, “Act One Prologue,” has a catchy melody, introduces all the characters and sets the movie in the right directions. As the story progresses, each member of the cast has their own song or monolog. As with any Sondheim musical, the songs are poignant, but at times feel like word puzzles. You really have to pay attention to every word in order to appreciate the brilliance of the song.

Which brings us to the cast, the best musical cast to come along to a movie in a long time. Every role was cast perfectly…almost.  James Corden and Emily Blunt is perfect at the Baker and his Wife. They feel like a real couple and they sing well. James Corden comes across likable and shows his dramatic chops when faced with the reality of parenthood. Into The Woods is a great introduction for him to American audiences when he takes over the Late Late Show.

It’s easy to see Anna Kendrick as Cinderella. She’s beautiful, alluring and a fantastic singer. She kills the song “On the Steps of the Palace.” Chris Pine knows how to play and sing smug. Tracy Ullman is a delight as Jack’s mother.

Unlike the Broadway musical, the roles of Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) and Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) were played by age-appropriate actors. On Broadway, it’s actors in their twenties and in the movie they choose actors in their early teens. They had great voices and act well, they just could not bring the required acting necessary for their individual soliloquy songs.

As a movie, Into The Woods is a good movie but many of the long monologgy songs can be lost in translations. It’s hard to have a clear perspective on the movie itself if you are a big fan of the play. Hard core fans will like the movie but feel that some the brilliant is lost. The devices employed in the stage production don’t often translate well one stage. When the witch belts out the song, “Last Midnight.” It leaves a powerful impact because it’s sung on a stage and the audience sits hundreds of feet from the actress. In the movie, the shots are tight on Meryl Streep, who sings it and she is not required to sing it with the power needed and therefore loses its intensity.

Very few musicals have been effectively translated to the big screen. West Side Story and Chicago are the only two to come to mind. Into The Woods had everything it needs to succeed on the screen including heavy involvement from the original creators, the high budgets and production values of the Walt Disney Company, a cast that can actually sing and do justice to the songs and a director who knows the differences between movie and stage. Unfortunately, maybe Into The Woods is just not meant for the big screen.

The ‘Star Wars’ Fan Film Awards Return to Star Wars Celebration 2015

Lucasfilm announced that the Star Wars Fan Film Awards is back — and shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

Celebrating fan-made short films inspired by a galaxy far, far away, the Star Wars Fan Film Awards will return for the first time in three years, welcoming different genres and styles. The best short films will be screened at Star Wars Celebration 2015 in Anaheim, California. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

With Star Wars entering an unprecedented new era of creativity, Lucasfilm is thrilled to bring back the Star Wars Fan Film Awards.

J.J. Abrams Announces Content to Appear in Star Wars: Episode VII

J.J. Abrams wants you to be in the next Star Wars movie. As a part of Star Wars: Force for Change, every $10 you donate to the cause, you will receive a chance to win a trip for 2 to England, be J.J.’s VIP Guest and appear in a scene for Star Wars: Episode VII. Click here for more details and to enter.

Star Wars: Force for Change wants to create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of kids and families around the world. With your help and creativity we can develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. By acting as a Force for Change, your donation to support UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and other innovative work for children will fund dozens of life-changing projects like these in communities across the globe: • Portable, solar-powered learning kits being built in China, Uganda, and Burundi to ensure every child in the world has access to relevant, quality learning. • Mobile phone application developed in South Sudan and Uganda, and used in the Philippines, that helps reunite children with their families after an emergency. • A text messaging solution in Zambia that helps families receive infant medical test results from clinics, in half the time, through mobile phones. Join us! Help create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of kids and families. Be a force for change.

Iron Man 3 – Movie Review

Iron Man 3 is just short of being the best Marvel Comics Movie, just behind Marvel’s the Avengers. That said, it’s one of the best movies produced by Marvel Studios and you should go out and see it now.

Review by: Alan Ng
Release Date: May 3, 2013
Official Website: marvel.com/ironman3
Director: Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Writer; Iron Man 2, Writer)

Cast:
Robert Downey Jr – Tony Stark
Gwyneth Paltrow – Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Don Cheadle – James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Guy Pearce – Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall – Dr. Maya Hansen
Jon Favreau – Happy Hogan
Ben Kingsley – Mandarin

Iron Man 3 takes place after the events of Marvel’s the Avengers. Tony Stark finds himself suffering from panic attacks after saving the earth from alien takeover. He is unable to sleep and is constantly working to improve his Iron Man armor. In the Avengers, we saw the 7th version of the armor. At the beginning of Iron Man 3, it’s the 42nd, which shows how obsessive he’s become about never being able to protect the one person he loves, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Also Tony has to live with the damage his playboy lifestyle and the people he’s used and ignored in the past. The villain is Iron Man 3 is a terrorist named the Mandarin. He’s created human bombs and is hitting targets in the United States. When Happy Hogan is his latest victim, Tony dedicates himself to avenging the attack on his friends. The threat is met with force when Tony’s Malibu Mansion is attacked.

Robert Downey Jr. is the best thing about Iron Man 3. Only an actor of his caliber could literally carry this movie. He can drop his playful one-liners, pull off panic attacks and keep us interested in the development of his character. Ben Kingsley made the perfect Mandarin. He really pulled off the terror aspect of a terrorist.

Ty Simpkins

Special attention to the kid who played Harley (Ty Simpkins). He had some unbelievable banter with Tony Stark.

I also like the tone that Shane Black brought to this movie. It was all about Tony and everything on screen touched on his weaknesses. The action scenes were amazing and the famous Air Force One rescue had my heart racing.

Iron Man 3 is a triology. Is this the end for Iron Man? Ending of Iron Man 3 is the same as other 3 movies, i.e. Dark Knight and Toy Story. The ending is something I didn’t see coming and not in a way of cliffhanger surprises, but with the emotions that you feel for Tony Stark. This third movie ties things up in the end and makes you wonder how will Tony be brought back to the Avengers.

There were a few things that stuck out at me such as the inconsistent way the bio-enhanced soldiers. I never had the sense of this is how you kill them, this is how you destroy them. They just kept coming back.

The Dr. Maya Hansen character was not well developed and I didn’t know how I should feel about her safety.

There were also points that things bordered on the extreme to extreme silliness. The fate of Pepper is what I’m thinking about here.

Overall, I loved the story. I liked the reality of Tony Stark as a person and not as an alien superhero. You will have fun and finally the ending credits are awesome. Not so much the scene at the end of the movie.