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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George Lucaschanges to the Star Wars Blu-ray set have drawn some ire as of late, but let’s be real — these things are still gonna sell like hotcakes. While Lucas’ alterations really will turn off some of his fans, it’s probably a safe bet that many more will shell out for them anyway, even if they’re grumbling as they do so. With that in mind, here are six ads for the Blu-ray that try to put you in a more positive state of mind about the updated releases.

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Movie Trailer #2: ‘Vanishing on 7th Street’

Director Brad Anderson is responsible for some of the best low budget thrillers of the past few years. Films like The Machinist and Session 9 have set a pretty high standard and now he’s back with his most ambitious film to date. Vanishing on 7th Street played at the Toronto Film Festival this year and was picked up by Magnet. It stars Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo in a world where almost everyone has disappeared into thin air and the survivors begin to fear the shadows. Reviews out of Toronto were mixed (check out Peter’s video review here) but this latest trailer is definitely more effective than a similar one that was released before the festival. The film will be On Demand January 7th and hit theaters on February 18. Check out the trailer after the jump. Read More »

Jumper

Doug Liman’s Jumper debuted in 2008 to a tepid critical response and didn’t exactly do gangbusters at the box office either, taking in only $80 million on an $85 million budget (although its worldwide total did reach $222 million). Nonetheless, the film did well enough that several of the people involved with it, including Liman himself, have speculated about a possible sequel.

Recently, Hayden Christensen (star of Jumper) hinted that the possibility of a sequel was still being discussed, and threw out some clues as to where the plot might go. Hit the jump for the details. Note that the following includes spoilers for the threadbare plot of the original Jumpers.

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Movie Trailer: Vanishing on 7th Street

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Brad Anderson‘s new film Vanishing on 7th Street was just added to the Midnight Madness program at the Toronto International Film Festival, and now we’ve got a trailer for the horror / suspense film that stars Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo and Jacob Latimore. Read More »

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We’ve seen images from Brad Anderson‘s new film Vanishing on 7th Street, and knew that it stars Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo. But we haven’t known much about the film. Now there’s a little set of behind the scenes interviews that give a few tiny details away, as well as a new poster and some other materials, including clips of much of the film’s score, by Lucas Vidal. Read More »

Movie Trailer #2: Takers

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Before this trailer, the most memorable thing about Takers was the photoshop abortion that passed for the film’s first one-sheet. After this new trailer, that poster remains the most memorable thing about Takers, which still looks like an abandoned MTV Movie Awards tribute to Heat. Read More »

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Brad Anderson is a filmmaker I keep expecting to break out at any time. He’s made some great smaller thrillers with cultish appeal (Session 9, The Machinist) and built a good parallel career directing episodes of well-loved television shows: The Shield, The Wire, Treme and Fringe. But he hasn’t had the crossover movie yet.

Now Anderson is finishing up Vanishing on 7th Street, a thriller that stars Thandie Newton, Hayden Christensen and John Leguizamo. The full official synopsis and some first images are after the break. Read More »

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