Star Wars Episode VII Contest JJ Abrams

When the first photo posted of the initial grouping of cast members for Star Wars: Episode VII, some critics quickly jumped on the film for only adding one new female role. Those who were paying any attention, however, saw that the leaked Star Wars casting breakdowns featured multiple roles for women. The trade papers did their homework, and hours later reported that two more female roles were yet to be cast. Today those actresses were announced. (You can read about that here.)

With so much negative second-guessing and uninformed ranting about a story and characters we don’t even know anything about yet, I thought I’d point out something positive.

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Star Wars Weekends 2014 kicked off this past weekend and we have a bunch of videos for you Star Wars fans. On Friday we posted a full video of the Star Wars Weekends 2014 Parade and earlier this morning we included JJ Abrams’ surprise video message to Star Wars Weekends in a post about his note to Episode 7 cast and crew.

After the jump we have a bunch of new videos for you including the Star Wars Weekends on stage interviews with Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew and Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best. Mayhew talks about his efforts to walk again, how the first time he read the Star Wars: Episode VII was during that cast script reading and how JJ Abrams wants to make a film closer to the original trilogy, and more. Inside The Magic also caught on video the special Symphony in the Stars fireworks show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, which is a whole firework show set to the music of Star Wars.

Another video captures one of the skits performed before the Stars of the Saga talk show, featuring a troop of Stormtroopers danced to their favorite playlists from Earth including a bunch of popular songs from today like Let It Go from Frozen and Everything is Awesome from the LEGO Movie. Watch all of that and more, after the jump.

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Star Wars Weekends 2014 Parade

Walt Disney World’s Star Wars Weekends 2014 has officially kicked off at Disney’s Hollywood Studios today. Attraction Magazine was on hand to catch the opening day festivities, which includes the Star Wars Weekends 2014 Parade. The parade includes Star Wars special guest celebrities Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) Vanessa Marshall (Hera Syndulla — Star Wars Rebels), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi – Clone Wars) and a ton of Star Wars costumed characters. The parade also features the debut of three new costumed characters from the upcoming Star Wars Rebels animated series: Chopper the droid, Sabine Wren and Ezra Bridger. Members of the 501st Legion of costumed Star Wars fans helped make the parade possible. About 11 minutes into the video is the finale, which is a more theatrical production up on a stage. The full video is online, and you can watch it now after the jump.

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Last month I received a cryptic e-mail inviting me to a private screening of a new Star Wars film edited by Topher Grace — which is funny because I had no idea there was a new Star Wars film in the works, with or without Grace’s involvement. I was told the screening was a secret private event arranged only for friends only and was asked not to talk about it beforehand. The event was held somewhere in the Hollywood area in a a screening room filled with filmmakers, editors, actors, actresses and only a few press friends. I was told I could blog about it afterwards if I wanted, so here goes…

For those of you who don’t know, Topher Grace is a film geek. He loves the Star Wars films, the Back to the Future movies and all the same signature titles of any film geek who grew up in the 1980s. He recently became interested in the editing process and wanted to learn more about the art form. Instead of cutting a short film, he wanted to use something he was more familiar with.

His idea was to edit the Star Wars prequels into one movie, as they would provide him a lot of footage to work with. He used footage from all three prequels, a couple cuts from the original trilogy, some music from The Clone Wars television series, and even a dialogue bit from Anthony Daniels’ (C-3PO) audio book recordings. He even created a new opening text crawl to set up his version of the story.

The result is an 85-minute movie titled Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. It should be noted that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process. And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.

Whats most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. Whats better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.
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There’s only so much that we can get out of seeing a 3D trailer in 2D, especially when the film in question is something as well-known as The Phantom Menace. But on the off chance you didn’t see the trailer for Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace 3D on screens this weekend in front of The Three Musketeers, you can now check it out below. Read More »

zac-efron-1

Forget that Taylor Lautner kid; the real teen heartthrob acting breakout may well be Zac Efron, who has lined up a raft of possible projects along several different subject lines. The latest is an untitled workplace comedy set up at Warner Bros.

But first, Efron will play…Anakin Skywalker? Read More »

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