The Phantom Menace Ben-Hur - Chariot Race vs Podrace

George Lucas has been known to take inspiration for his movies from classic films, TV shows, comics and more. The original Star Wars in 1977 took cues from sci-fi serials like Flash Gordon and masterpieces such as Metropolis. Other influences include the films of Akira Kurosawa and much more, and this is a practice that George Lucas brought with him when he made the Star Wars prequels.

Many cinephiles know that the podracing sequence from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was inspired by the famous chariot race in Ben-Hur. Just to be clear, we’re talking about the classic 1959 film not the remake that just bombed at the box office this past weekend. There’s even one sequence that is mimicked almost shot-for-shot in The Phantom Menace. Now you can see how these sequences compare thanks to a video comparison showing all the similarities.

See The Phantom Menace vs Ben-Hur comparison video after the jump. Read More »

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The Making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

One of the most anticipated books in pop culture right now has to be J.W. Rinzler‘s The Making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Star Wars fans are looking forward to getting a real deep dive into the making of the new Star Wars movie, since so much of the content released so far (including the Blu-ray special features) has been shallow and unrewarding. And Rinzler’s Making Of books for the original Star Wars trilogy are the closest thing to the bible for most film geeks.

The book was originally scheduled to hit store shelves in March 2016, a few months after the release of the film. But the release date vanished from the publisher’s website. In May, Abrams Books told me, “Officially, the statement from Lucasfilm and [JJAbrams is that The Making of the Force Awakens has not been canceled. More details to come!” Sounded hopeful, and then a few months back an October 25th 2016 release date appeared on Amazon’s website. But the author of the book isn’t sure we’ll see the book later this year, or if we’ll ever see the book at all.

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The Phantom Simon Wincer interview

On February 17, 1936, Lee Falk’s comic strip hero The Phantom was introduced to the world. Over the following years—as the character reached millions of fans through an unparalleled-for-that-era level of worldwide syndication—The Phantom became an international sensation. The comic strip (clearly) excelled in many countries around the world, but perhaps none more so than Australia. So it seems fitting that, six decades later, the man who would finally bring this hero to the big screen would be an Australian himself: Simon Wincer.

To learn about how The Phantom was made, I spoke at length with Simon Wincer. But it took a little while before we even got to talking about the masked crusader. Because, frankly, there was just too much to talk about. Like how Wincer swooped into to replace the original director of Free Willy (and ended up helping to save that film). Or how he helmed an Emmy-dominant, prestige miniseries (years before such things were du jour). We spoke about all those things and much more (like the cinematic value of manure).  Below is a copy of our conversation…

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Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Trailer

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve really been enjoying Star Wars Rebels. Between the Season 2 finale and the Season 3 premiere (which I saw early at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016), it seems like things are getting a lot more intense. Season 2’s climactic finale “Twilight of the Apprentice” ended with Clone Wars favorite Ashoka Tano coming face to face with her former master Darth Vader and becoming trapped and possibly killed in the Sith Temple, while Ezra is left with a Sith Holocron and is feeling the pull to the dark side.

That’s some pretty dark ground for a family television series. So when I talked to Star Wars Rebels creator/showrunner Dave Filoni at Celebration, I was curious just how dark Star Wars Rebels could get. Could Filoni kill off a beloved fan-favorite character like Ashoka? Could the main character of this kid’s animated series actually be turned to the dark side? Find out what Filoni says, after the jump.

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Mace Windu Alive

One of the better characters created in the Star Wars prequels was Mace Windu, the Jedi master played by Samuel L. Jackson. If you forgive him for that awful “This party’s over” line from Attack of the Clones, he’s actually a pretty bad ass Jedi. But unfortunately, Mace Windu died at the hands of the Dark Side.

In a battle with Darth Sidious after Anakin Skywalker had turned to the dark side, not only did Skywalker cut off Windu’s arm, but Sidious struck him with Force lightning and then Force pushed him out the window. So we all know that Mace Windu died in Revenge of the Sith. But what Samuel L. Jackson presupposes is, maybe he didn’t? And it sounds like George Lucas was just fine with that. However, at this point, it probably doesn’t matter. Get the details on the possibilities of Mace Windu alive after the jump. Read More »

return of the jedi han solo

Star Wars: The Force Awakens concept artist Iain McCaig spoke earlier this month at the Art and Industry of Imagination conference in New Zealand, and apparently dropped some huge bits of information that had not shown up online until a report posted earlier today. Among them is a claim that after selling Lucasfilm to Disney, George Lucas decided he wanted to be involved and wrote a script for Episode VII which was rejected by the Mouse House. He also has a glowing review of Lawrence Kasdan‘s Han Solo movie script and much more.

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James Cameron Force Awakens

What did Aliens/Avatar director James Cameron think of J.J. AbramsStar Wars: The Force Awakens? While he won’t come right out and say it, it doesn’t sound like he liked the new Star Wars film very much. Watch a clip from a new interview with the Titanic/Terminator filmmaker trying artfully to dodge the question of whether he liked Disney’s new Star Wars film. Hit the jump to hear the James Cameron Force Awakens comments.
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George Lucas Museum

For a couple years, George Lucas has been hoping to build the Lucas Museum, a facility that would celebrate filmmmaking through the lens of the creator of Star Wars in Chicago, Illinois. However, the museum has faced a battle from Friends of the Parks who filed a federal lawsuit to block construction of the museum because it would “violate the public trust doctrine, benefit a private interest more than the state’s residents and tarnish the city’s lakefront.”

It appears this battle is now coming to a close, but not in favor of George Lucas. Reportedly, the ongoing debate and controversy has run its course, and Lucas is now looking at other possible locations for the museum back on the West Coast. Find out more about the George Lucas museum debacle after the jump. Read More »

Indiana Jones 5

In news that should surprise absolutely no one, Disney has no plans to end the Indiana Jones franchise after the upcoming fifth film. They may, however, have plans to reboot it. CEO Bob Iger says while we shouldn’t expect a Star Wars-style Indiana Jones universe, the series might head in a new “direction.”

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. At the moment, Disney is still developing Indiana Jones 5. The studio has already announced that Steven Spielberg will be back to direct, with Harrison Ford starring and John Williams scoring. Now we’ve learned that George Lucas will be back as well, serving as an executive producer.  Read More »