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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

'Han Solo' Loses Its Directors

The untitled Han Solo Star Wars Story has lost its directors. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who directed The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street in recent years, have parted ways with Lucasfilm due to creative differences.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced this in a public statement. "Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon," she said.

Meanwhile, Lord and Miller's response similarly assured fans and investors to remain calm: “Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew."
By no means does this bombshell mean that Han Solo will be a mess when it hits theaters. Whoever Lucasfilm picks as Lord and Miller's replacement will undoubtedly be talented and capable of the job. No, the most jarring part of this announcement is that the movie has already been filming for five months.

That's right, somehow they had been in full production for almost half a year before they noticed the differences in their "creative visions." Shouldn't this have happened while they were still writing the script? Or did some Disney/Lucasfilm executive finally visit the set, take a look at some rough footage, and realize this wasn't the movie they were expecting?

It's easy to compare this to the reports about Rogue One's infamous reshoots last year and assert that once again, there's no reason to panic and the final cut will be fine. However, whatever happened with Rogue One wasn't nearly as momentous as this very public break-up between the directors and the studio, well into the process of principal photography. And despite proving to be a largely satisfactory installment in the saga, Rogue One's behind-the-scenes troubles were felt when the film hit theaters, with a noticeable disconnect between the final cut and the first teaser trailer.

Again, we shouldn't be too worried about the finished product. Han Solo's amazing cast is still very much attached (even if some of their scenes have to be reshot) and it still clearly has the dedication of the studio. The main concern is that it might have to wave goodbye to its May 2018 release as the studio takes the time to find a new director and rework the film.

Variety is reporting that Lord and Miller were not-so-amicably fired because of conflict with Kennedy and longtime Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan; Lord and Miller were used to a certain freedom as directors, while Kennedy and Kasdan preferred the stricter Lucasfilm filmmaking process that dates back to the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies. 

What do you think of this news? Are you worried about the untitled Han Solo movie? Tell me in the comments, and may the Force be with you all.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How 'The Last Jedi' Can Distance Itself from 'The Empire Strikes Back'

It's incredibly common for big-budget movie sequels to be compared to The Empire Strikes Back; just ask Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, or the untitled Jurassic World sequel. It's the perfect model for a sequel that's bigger, darker, and widely considered to be better than its predecessor. But for The Last Jedi, this comparison isn't a compliment.
Since the greatest complaint about The Force Awakens is its similarity to A New Hope, pessimistic fans are quick to accuse The Last Jedi of doing the same thing with The Empire Strikes Back. And the glimpses of the film we've seen so far have done little to doubt this. Like Empire, The Last Jedi will be a darker film that splits up our heroes as one of them trains with an old Jedi master while the others visit a fancy city with a sinister underbelly. 

Everything we've heard about the movie has also indicated that the First Order will indeed be striking back. Despite their crushing defeat at Starkiller Base, they'll be coming at the Resistance with an enormous Star Destroyer, Executioner stormtroopers, Heavy Assault Walkers, elite Praetorian Guards, and the Knights of Ren. Heck, even Captain Phasma is getting a new weapon (seen below). 
No matter what, The Last Jedi will have some parallels to Empire, and the truth about Rey's family promises to be as shocking and dramatic a twist as "I am your father." But what sets the two films apart is in their titles; Empire's puts the focus on the villains avenging their previous defeat, while The Last Jedi's is about Luke and the (overdue) expiration of the Jedi Order. 

The greatest thing that Episode VIII has to accomplish to distance itself from Episode V is deliver on its title and give Luke a key role that can't be easily compared to Yoda's. And that really shouldn't be hard to do; unlike Yoda, Luke will be an integral part of the film from its opening moments, and it's pretty unlikely that he'll just stay behind on Ahch-To while Rey leaves to save her friends. We also know there's a conflict within him and a reluctance to train Rey that Yoda never had.
This one's a little less likely, but what if the end of The Last Jedi was also drastically different from Empire's? Instead of a bittersweet conclusion with one of the heroes in peril and the others determined to save him, the film's ending could be a complete game changer. Luke's paternal revelation was an incredibly emotional moment for him, but what if Rey's had such an impact on her that she actually fell to the Dark Side?
Both she and Kylo Ren are tempted by both sides of the Force, so they could even end up switching sides during or after their climactic rematch. An ending with Rey now aligned with Snoke and Kylo happily reunited with his mother and uncle would certainly set the stage for an explosive Episode IX and subvert most fan expectations.

How do you think The Last Jedi can distance itself from The Empires Strikes Back? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.