star wars: the force awakens

J.J. Abrams and Disney (smartly) pitched Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a throwback to the original trilogy (the movies that most fans of the franchise loved) and a lot of the behind-the-scenes footage focused on the return to practical effects. But anyone who has seen the movie knows The Force Awakens also has its share of CG visual effects. And this morning, Force Awakens was nominated for Best Visual Effects for this year’s Academy Awards.

What might surprise you is that The Force Awakens actually has more visual effects shots than Star Wars: the Phantom Menace. Not only that, while The Phantom Menace had more miniature work than all of the original trilogy films combined, The Force Awakens features not one miniature. But unlike Phantom Menace, a lot of the CG work is invisible. Learn more after the jump.

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jj abrams

Since it was announced that J.J. Abrams was going to direct Episode 7 of the Star Wars saga, he hasn’t talked too deeply about the process of developing the new film. So when I had the opportunity to talk to Abrams at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens press junket, I was filled with questions about how his vision of the next episode of Star Wars came about.

After the jump you can read my full J.J. Abrams interview. Some of the quotes have been previously features on the site (for instance, the stuff on working with Rian Johnson and The Raid guys and also his belief on the Force being more inclusive than midi-chlorians and bloodlines). But the interview packs a lot more: I ask Abrams about how his vision of the future of the Skywalker saga differed from the treatments that George Lucas turned in for the upcoming sequel trilogy, the lessons he took away from the Star Wars prequels, and more.

And you’ll notice that Abrams uses his Jedi mind tricks to not directly answer some of these questions, but his answers (for instance, his response about what he loved about the original trilogy) are actually very calculated and telling responses.

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Fans Reacting to The Phantom Menace

While we’re obviously more than a little excited for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens next week, it’s important to remember that this movie could be a disappointment. Obviously we are all about Star Wars here at /Film, but we really are trying to keep our expectations in check. Even if The Force Awakens turns out to be good, it’s probably not the best idea to start spouting off about how incredible it is until you’ve had some time to absorb it.

Sadly, fans who saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace right away back in 1999 didn’t wait before proclaiming the movie was the best thing since blue milk. While many Star Wars fans don’t like the prequels much, you’d be hard pressed to find many who didn’t like the first one in this old news footage of fans reacting to The Phantom Menace. Read More »

Star Wars Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple Show

Star Wars Season of the Force opened at Disneyland and Disney World’s Hollywood Studios over the past few weeks, but one key addition has had a late start: an updated version of the popular Jedi Training Academy. While the show is primarily for children, Adult Star Wars fans have always gotten a kick out of seeing their children go facer to face with some of the biggest Star Wars villains in a test of the Force and lightsaber battles. The revamped show is now called Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple and features characters from the popular Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple has opened this week in Hollywood Studios (but won’t begin in Walt’s original west coast theme park until January 2016) and you can watch the first video of the show now embedded after the jump.

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George Lucas Force Awakens

George Lucas has been very quite for the past couple years, but over the past few weeks the Star Wars creator has made comments in a variety of publications about the future of the franchise he created. First George Lucas revealed that Disney was not interested in his involvement in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and didn’t like the stories he outlined for the sequel trilogy. Force Awakens filmmaker JJ Abrams was quick to respond, claiming that Disney made the decision before he came on board: the studio “had decided they wanted to go a different way” with the story. Well now Lucas has given a new interview, where he talks more about not being involved in the new film, and reveals that Disney has yet to screen the film for him. He also talks about the long-running Special Edition controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han.

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Transformers - The Island

Did you know that not every single shot in a movie is overseen by any given film’s primary director? There’s an entire crew of people called the second unit whose responsibility it is to shoot supplementary footage such as establishing shots, stunts, inserts and cutaways. The director still has to approve that footage, but he’s not on set to actually shoot it. It’s not exactly a secret in Hollywood, even if most people outside of Hollywood don’t know it.

However, what you may not be aware of is that there are instances when recycled movie footage is used to complete a movie. We’re not just talking about a shot of a cityscape or mountainside, but very specific shots and scenes that were reused between two different movies. For example, did you know War and Peace footage can be seen in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure? Read More »

Jedi in The Force Awakens

When it comes to Star Wars, audiences are extremely familiar with the Jedi. They can use The Force. They have lightsabers. They have an affinity for beige and brown cloaks and clothes. However, as we’ve seen in the most recent trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Jedi have become a myth, regarded as legends.

With the revelation of this detail of the Star Wars universe, there have been some who are having a hard time accepting that Jedi in The Force Awakens are treated as a myth. How are the famous battles of the Jedi fighting alongside the Rebels against the Empire so easily forgotten? When we look at the history of the Jedi, not to mention consider certain practical elements of the Star Wars universe, it shouldn’t be too hard to understand why. Read More »

Star Wars AMC Theatres

With the arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens just a few months away, there will be plenty more Star Wars hype coming down the road. One thing that fans have been hoping for more than anything is the return of the original Star Wars trilogy to theaters to lead up to the release of The Force Awakens, and it looks like their wish may come true.

The movie theater chain AMC Theatres recently posted a Twitter update saying that fans would have the opportunity to see all six Star Wars movies in theaters again before The Force Awakens arrives, complete with a link that presumably went to a page where you could learn more about the marathon.

Update: Netflix and AMC have both responded to refute this rumor. More info below.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens mural

There was a ton of Star Wars news coming out of D23 Expo 2015, and if you missed any of that from the Star Wars Anthology films getting new branding, to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster by artist Drew Struzen, to the first photo and cast from Star Wars: Rogue One, to the director of Star Wars Episode 9, to Star Wars Lands announced for Disney theme parks, head over to our D23 2015 news roundup. But there is a lot of Star Wars tidbits we missed over the last few days, so lets dive in. Here is what to expect in today’s Star Wars Bits:

  • Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor Who, has been cast in a Star Wars project, but which one?
  • George Lucas blames a Walt Disney creation for Jar Jar Binks.
  • According to JJ Abrams, who is the Ralph McQuarrie of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
  • Which monumental Star Wars set has been recreated for Star Wars: Rogue One? (actually, not much of a spoiler)
  • Ralph McQuarrie‘s Influence on Star Wars Land 
  • Why Star Wars: Battlefront won’t have a single player campaign mode.
  • Is Drew Struzan‘s Force Awakens D23 Expo poster the film’s official poster? Will there be another?

All that and more in today’s edition of Star Wars Bits. Hit the jump now.

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Star Wars Steelbooks

Okay, so I think we’ve probably all owned the Star Wars movies (or at very least, the original Star Wars trilogy) a handful of times on different platforms and formats. George Lucas was always good about adding something new that we had to have, “forcing” us to rebut the series again. And now that the films are out of Lucas’ hands, the cycle is still happening. In April, Disney released the Star Wars films on digital platforms in HD with new special features (and yes, I bought the collection yet again on Apple TV).

Today, Walt Disney Studios, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox announced that they will release the six films as commemorative Blu-ray steelbooks on November 10th 2015. Previously the series was only available on Blu-ray in trilogy or series collections, and not individually. Also they will also be rereleasing Star Wars: The Complete Saga in newly repackaged artwork on October 13th. Hit the jump to check out all of the new Star Wars steelbooks covers and learn more.
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