A SPOILERIFIC ROGUE ONE SPAGHETTI RECIPE

I kind of feel the same way about these new Marvel Star Wars films, as I do about J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek films.  Whatever keeps the idea alive can’t be so bad, can it?  And Rogue One wasn’t so bad.  But on closer analysis, it was bittersweet in a way that could only be properly digested and identified by a 70’s era child of the Original Trilogy.

r4It’s like this: while those films were made from a place of strong storytelling that recalled many well told cinematic stories of the past, this new film was designed to be a fresh take on the Star Wars universe, supercharged by modern cinematic techniques.  But because they ignored the original intent of the Original films, they wound up with a diesel engine, as opposed to a linear aerospike.   And it’s for this reason, that I think I had very little of an emotional response to this story.  Or its characters.  And that’s sad, given how good the acting is among the principal cast.  If anything the director did right it was work with the actors to build memorable characters.  Even if all they did was stand there most of the time.  I mean, at the very least, the director did a very fine job of directing these actors to give their lines the proper inflection.  Something Lucas never even gave a passing thought about doing with the Prequels.  But maybe this film, and its audience, would be better served by a plot that involved the Rebels rounding up a group of criminals, one by one, and somehow getting them all to cooperate with this mission.  Would’a, could’a, should’a.

r2To me, this film really felt like a long, twisted, confusing journey to find some sort of a weaving plot that justifies the happenings within it.  And the audience isn’t supposed to even be this aware of something like that while watching a movie on an initial viewing.  If your story is constructed correctly, the audience is completely preoccupied with the movie’s storyline, in the vault of their own imaginations.  But here, we don’t have a thrilling plot that unfolds, much less a mystery.  Heave ho, the art of distraction; all which is required is the overlong, episodic tale of how to get from point A to point B.  Fuck points C through Z, we don’t need those; we can feed ‘em 3D, hyperbolic videogame gobbledygook for the cerebral cortex, throughout the second half of the film, and they won’t know the difference.  This makes Rogue One a hollow meal that makes you wish for a better restaurant, or better yet, home cooking.  Unlike some movies where it seems like bits and pieces of junk-ideas and leftovers have been heaped into a single script and sloughed onto the audience’s plate, this movie seems more like a by-the-instructions, hard won recipe for nothing more than a lunch of the week special of very expensive and well-made pasta — covertly removed from the refrigerator, and microwaved to proper room temperature before serving to an unsuspecting patron, at the most expensive restaurant in town.

 

So it’s truly confusing how to feel about this movie.  While I cannot say I didn’t enjoy the movie Star Wars: Rogue One, I can definitely say that too many things about it seem all but completely distanced in my imagination from the universe of the Original Trilogy.  Much like the Prequels.  And that breaks my heart, in light of how much they got right with Rogue One.  Don’t misunderstand me, the film is a vast improvement over the Prequels.  As was Abrams’ own film, The Force Awakens.  However, while I have issues with Abrams’ film, I did feel it was connected to the essence of Star Wars.  It felt connected.  But with Rogue One ... there’s something missing.  Maybe it’s a simple spark of creativity.  Maybe it’s that the intended connection — the face of Princess Leia — is a dodgy effect at best; and the audience required better, in order to complete that illusion and generate the intended emotional response.  (Perhaps it would have been better if clearly CGI Leia didn’t fully face the camera.)  Or maybe it’s too gritty. Perhaps the filmmakers didn’t realize that a little grit goes a long way with this type of film.  Or maybe the film’s simply not intended by the filmmakers to truly belong within that universe the Original Trilogy of films inhabit, in the first place.  And that’s an issue with me.  They make a shit-ton of money off of these things.  And they likely always will.  No matter what kind of films they make.  And they know that.  Which begs the question, do they even care about the longevity of these stories?  Or are they only playing pretend on behalf of the public.  Yes, in addition to wanting to separate you from your money, we also care about Star Wars.  But do they?

 

Since the filmmakers, and I’m sure numerous Executives, could not figure out how the magic of Star Wars worked, they merely reinvented it.  Makes sense, doesn’t it.  They simply went back to the drawing board.  Question is, is that a sufficient enough copout for not trying to genuinely achieve the grand illusion that audiences require?

 

I knew something was off with the opening titles.  Which were designed to place the film on another track.  An adjacent track to Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.  The film opened with simply a prologue.  A dark and gritty scene that portrays the abduction of the female protagonist’s father when she was a child.  A scene that any experienced screenwriter will tell you, is unnecessary.  In fact without it, her story would have unfolded much better in bits and pieces of information as the film went on.  And there would have been more of a mystery surrounding her, as well as her Father.  The entire sequence is not only unnecessary, but it plays much too long.  As does pretty much the entire first half of the movie.  In circumspect, the entire set-up of the film is handled the way today’s movies (many of them not theatrically released) are routinely tasked by today’s filmmakers and their crews.  Lots of ‘you really need to take this seriously’ bullshit cinematography, complete with the customary shaky cam, and unending exposition.  It’s a general tone we’ve all come to accept, and a modus operandi now seen repeated in film after film, since Casino Royale introduced it in 2007.  And to some extent the filmmakers miraculously manage to make this work.  But once you get beyond that, there are issues with this film that could never have been resolved, due to the way the story is constructed.  And it all points to a singular idea, intended for a single sequence in a larger story, being padded out to fill the entire runtime of this one movie.  Almost as if they looked at the original script’s structure and decided, ‘well we could make FIVE movies out of this,’ and earmarked the other five parts of the story, for five more movies.  And personally, I dread the recognition of familiar material in subsequent films.  I’ve seen this before, and it genuinely gives me a headache.  I was the one who thought it was too easy and obvious that Lucas reused the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.  Now we have a total of 4 films, count ‘em, FOUR, featuring the freakin’ Death Star.  (I’m including the planet killer in The Force Awakens; which was essentially the same plot device.)  And while this one film does have a good excuse for that, given the conceit of the story, it manages to make the Death Star far less interesting, this time around.  How the hell do you make a planet killing moon-sized space station, blasé and disinteresting?

 

And here’s a few more little touches of insanity that fell upon my head while ingesting this film:

 

  1. When Diego Luna’s character (the Clandestine Rebel Agent) killed a trusted informer in one of the very first scenes … I knew the movie was in trouble. Because that could only mean certain doom for any protagonist character in any kind of Star Wars film.  This was something that nagged at me for the entire first half of the movie.  And to be fair, it is possible that his character, being who he is, was ordered to kill that individual by his Rebel Commander.  But A) that was not conveyed, and B) that makes the Rebellion no better than the Empire.

  1. Did they expect that the film would only be seen by audiences in 3D, is that the reasoning behind the slightly dodgy Liea and Grand Moff Tarkin effects. I mean, I appreciate the effort, I really do, but come on, man.  They can do better than that on TV Commercials.  You expect me to believe …

  1. It was nice to have the cameos from the original film. Certainly in light of this film’s place in the timeline.  But am I the only one who noticed a few issues with that?  Where the hell are the characters from the wonderful, animated Disney show Star Wars: Rebels?  When the impromptu Rebel Council – or whatever they called that inept roundtable debate – made a decision to surrender to the evil empire, and the female protagonist decides to go it alone, and suddenly Diego Luna’s character approaches her with volunteers … would this not have been a perrrrrfect opportunity to introduce the Star Wars: Rebels characters into the live action arena?  In my opinion, that would have elevated the film to a B+, as opposed to a C-.  And by the way, why is Walrus Man’s head so much larger in this film that it was in the original Star Wars?  Did he get bit by a giant Fucking mosquito shortly before the events of this film, or something?

  1. The score was ho-hum. Michael Giacchino is clearly no John Williams.  To be fair, Giacchino was not the original composer, of record.  Pun intended.  The original composer was replaced, and Giacchino had to do a rush job on this one.  But he ain’t no J.W.  ‘Nuff said.

    r3

  1. Why did the Game of Thrones mentality of ‘everybody dies,’ have to influence this film? I mean even the Robot dies.  That’s overkill.  Another pun intended.  And placed within context – it sends a not so nice message to children that a bunch of ragtag, dirty, homeless, rogue rebels went through hell and died acquiring the plans to the most destructive weapon in the galaxy, so that pretty little rich kid Princess Leia Organa didn’t get her white robes messy.

  1. Too much contrivance. I loved the small Rebel ship crashing into a Star Destroyer, causing it to collide with another Star Destroyer, and have both fall and crash into a shield generating spaceship, thereby destroying all ships involved, and deactivating the shield.  Really made me laugh.  There’s just one problem.  Well, two if you want to get anal about it.  There’s not enough gravity that far up in orbit to cause those ships to fall downward.  Duh.  2. It’s too much of a stretch to believe that the Rebels didn’t know that shield ship was going to be there, and work out a method of dealing with it, beforehand.  Maybe this would have worked in a more playful film, but positioned as a plot contrivance within a story told with the gritty tone this one is told with, it just stands out like a sore thumb.

  1. There is really no main character, functioning within this plot. They’re ALL supporting characters, and only one of them even has an arc.  Am I honestly the only one who noticed this?  I was very excited to see this film.  The premise seemed to be withholding much in the way of imaginative storytelling.  And some of the critics who saw early screenings touted that the film did in fact hold surprises.  But this was merely the Wizard behind the curtain.  This new kind of movie seems to be the norm these days.  Please don’t look to close, just enjoy the pretty pictures.  It wasn’t dumb, by any definition.  But it was an expert example of how to skip over the hard parts of telling a story.

  1. They still haven’t fixed the issue of how easy it is to kill a storm trooper, even though they are supposedly wearing armor.

In summary, I did enjoy the film, Star Wars: Rogue One.  Just not as a Star Wars film.  I had trouble accepting that.  And in the end, there were a few little things I did like.  And Diego Luna’s character arc was one of them.  At the beginning of the film, he kills indiscriminately.  Possibly because he’s been ordered to.  After all, he is a clandestine operative.  But when faced with a moral dilemma, he chooses not to kill; which rings true with the morality that Star Wars was originally designed to impart to children.  And while that doesn’t correct the problem of his character’s initial introduction, it does give his character a proper arc; whilst none of the other characters even have an arc.  The female protagonist walks through the film and dies a martyr, whose name is only spoken of in hushed whisper, off camera for the remainder of the serial.  The Blind Guy (really the best character) who really believes he’s one with the force, walks through gunfire, flips a switch then dies walking back — guess an actual Jedi would’ve seen that coming.  The stoic rifle toting broad shouldered long haired guy … charges the enemy, gets shot, has a grenade roll his way, then just stares at it go off and dies, needlessly.  The Clandestine operative is content with having accomplished his mission and dies.  The former Empire pilot who just wants to make things right, has a grenade thrown at him, then just stares at it and gets blown to bits, too.  And the Robot is given a blaster (apparently his life’s ambition is to hold one) moments before he gets to use it, then gets himself shot.  Gets shot a lot, actually.  Matter of fact, I think the last one went right through the center of his head.  Guess those toys won’t be flying off the shelves.   Oh well, everybody else dies, why not the stepin fetchit, right.

 

**Actually, I liked the Robot.  Didn’t like that he was given artificial intelligence that practically acquaints to human intelligence, and then treated like a ‘sophisticated spanner,’ as writer Harlan Ellison once termed R2-D2.  That dehumanizes the character.  Another negative aspect of the storyline.

 

Log Entries: 07/14/2015

IN STAR WARS NEWS … The Force Awakens I guess we should all just learn to swallow that title — had it’s Comic-Con panel in San Diego on Friday, and in addition to a surprise appearance by a slightly limping Harrison Ford, they brought along an all-too-brief collection of behind the scenes footage for the audience.  The next trailer isn’t due until Fall, Star Wars fanatics, so enjoy this in the meanwhile:

STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE will be the next film to be released under the “Star Wars” banner, following Episode VII.  In fact, according to Lucasfilm’s own Kathleen Kennedy, the film begins production approximately three weeks from July 10th.  Gareth (Godzilla) Edwards will helm the film, which involves the elite unit that stole the plans of the first Deathstar; the very plans, in fact, that set the plot of 1977’s Star Wars, in motion.  Reportedly, Darth Vader will have a role in this stand alone prequel film, as well.  And there are also rumors that Boba Fett, and the other bounty hunters featured in The Empire Strikes Back, will play a role in the story THE DIRECTORS OF 21 JUMP STREET AND THE LEGO MOVIE, will helm a stand alone Star Wars film, centering on Han Solo.  Phil Lord and Chris Miller are set to begin production on their film immediately.  Josh Trank was previously slated to direct a Han Solo movie for Lucasfilm and Disney, but bowed out due to creative differences.  This project is said to have no relation to any material developed by Josh (Fantastic Four) Trank.  The film is tentatively scheduled for a May 25th, 2018 release date … IN DC NEWS … a new trailer for Batman V. Superman was unveiled during the recent, annual San Diego Comic-Con.  A trailer which gives much more depth to the plot and plight of Bruce Wayne.  As well as featuring other characters and hints, we finally get our first look at Wonder Woman.  And although brief, she’s worth the watch.

AND IT APPEARS BEN AFFLECK himself will co-write and direct a new stand alone Batman film for Warner Bros. and DC Comics.  He has already reportedly filmed a cameo in David Ayer’s upcoming Suicide Squad, but if negotiations work out, Affleck will co-script with comic writer Geoff Johns his first solo effort, as the brooding caped crusader.  The film would potentially have a release date of 2018 … THERE’S A SUPERGIRL TV Series coming to CBS, this Fall.  Here’s a recent, short teaser they hope will wet your appetite.

WARNER BROS. Studios have announced the title of the Green Lantern reboot, which apparently will NOT involve Ryan Reynolds.  (Reynolds has stated firmly that Deadpool will be his last superhero film.  But based upon a very successful obscenity laden, hard R trailer for Deadpool, played at San Diego Comic Con — Reynolds is going out in style.)  Warner Bros. & DC Comics’ The Green Lantern Corps. has no production date or release date, at this time GUILLERMO DEL TORO has unfortunately dropped out of Justice League Dark.  The film that partnered Sandman with Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, and Jason Blood.  It isn’t clear if Del Toro passed on directing this project due to scheduling conflicts, or changes within Warner Bros. handling of DC’s Vertigo titles and characters H. JackmanIN MARVEL NEWS … ALTHOUGH ACTOR HUGH JACKMAN had recently stated that he would be willing to play Wolverine, ‘forever,’ he later changed his mind and stated that the next Wolverine film (to be directed by James Mangold [3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine,]) will in fact be his last full performance of the character.  Said Jackman, “One – last – time.”  Clearly, he feels it’s time to move on, and he’s getting a bit too old for the physical regiment required to continue playing the character.  The only hint that has thus far been given as to the last Wolverine film’s intended storyline was another cryptic comment made by Jackman: “Old man Logan.”   However, there are more than substantial rumors that Jackman will cameo in at least two other films before he turns in his claws.  And while director Bryan Singer confirmed at Comic-Con that X-Men: Apocalypse will be one of them, the other has been the source of much debate.  Until recently, it was thought to be Marvel’s upcoming Deadpool film.  However, that has since been debunked.  More on this as further information becomes availableSpidey's jammy'sAS FOR “SPIDER-MAN” CAMEOS … well, due mainly to a deal struck between Marvel/Disney and Sony Pictures, Spidey will indeed cameo in Captain America: Civil War.  He, along with Black Panther, and reportedly many other Marvel characters, will cameo in that film.  And he will additionally make appearances in The Avengers: Infinity War Parts I and II — and according to Marvel, the wall crawler will soon have his own reboot film; which is part of the deal with Sony, as well.  Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) has been cast as Aunt May.  Anyone else feel old now ?  Nineteen year-old actor Tom (The Impossible, Wolf Hall ) Holland will play Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man in the film that will reportedly have, “a John Hughes vibe.” … AND AS FOR X-MEN: APOCALYPSEnew details have come forth since the X-Men: Apocalypse panel at the recent San Diego Comic Con, revealing that the film takes place in 1983, and indeed focuses on the character first established in the book, “X-Factor,” in the late 1980’s.  An immortal born 5,000 years ago in Aqaba, with what may be the very first mutant gene.  ApocA man, creature, or entity that also may be part extraterrestrial, whom secretly harbors no sympathy for either normal humans, or mutants.  But rather, strives for perfection in his quest to refine the evolutionary process into the anachronism of, ‘survival of the fittest.’  Thus making him the literal manifestation of everything humans secretly fear about mutants.  A superhuman antagonist with the clear potential to mercilessly abuse his powers, who may also very well be the devil himself.  Footage shown at Comic-Con reportedly reveals him to be the “literal” Apocalypse, with Magneto, Storm, Angel, and Psylocke, as his corrupted four horsemen.  His scheme and ploy, seems to be made obvious by his initial appearance and dialogue contained in the footage shown: “I’ve been called many things over many lifetimes.  Ra, Krishna, Yaweh …  You are all my children.  And you’re lost.  Because you follow the wrong leader.  Everything they’ve built will fall, and from the ashes of their world we’ll build a better one.” … JOSH TRANK recently announced that he was cancelling the conversion and release of the “3D” version only, of his Fantastic Four reboot.  He cited concerns with quality as the principal reason, but rumors have swirled that a proper conversion would not be possible, given the limited space of time between completion of the film, and it’s release date.  Mainly due to reshoots enforced by 20th Century Fox, who are reportedly, very unhappy with the film … AND FANTASTIC FOUR has a new poster …. which suspiciously markets the film in a similar fashion/color pallet to 2005’s Fantastic Four. 

Fantastic FourNew FF PosterThe earlier version(s) notably starred Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, and Jessica Alba as his sister Sue Storm.  Neither of the previous two films (including 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) were very popular with fans, or as profitable as Marvel or 20th Century Fox had hoped.  Probably not a good idea to use a poster that brings back that memory … BUT FANTASTIC FOUR does have a nifty new trailer, so maybe that will ofset the negative responses to the poster.  See here:

WESLEY SNIPES has stated for the record that another Blade film might actually happen.  The original 1998 Blade film was really the first of the Marvel films, to actually turn a profit.  Marvel Studios have regained rights to the character and are looking to bring Snipes in to cameo in certain projects, and possibly star in yet another solo film.  “The project is controlled by Marvel and we did have a really productive and wonderful meeting, and we discussed a number of things.  I don’t know where it’s on their schedule at this point; that hasn’t been decided.  I guess it’s still up in the air.”   Snipes went on to hint that he might be chosen to return to the Marvel Universe as another character … MARVEL’S DR. STRANGE MOVIE is coming into focus.  Benedict (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness) Cumberbatch will play the title role of Dr. Stephen Strange.  A neurosurgeon that looses his career due to damage done to his hands in a car accident.  After much soul searching, Strange treks to the Himalayas, in search of a cure — and finds himself the keeper of an ancient magic, bestowed upon he who protects this world from evils from alternate dimensions.  Including one we call ‘Hell.’  Dr. Stephen StrangeTilda Swinton has been cast as ‘The Ancient One.’  Chiwetel (Serenity) Ejiofor has been cast as Baron Mordo.  And actress Rachel McAdams is rumored to play a role in the film, directed by Scott (The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2008) Derrickson.  The script is by Jon (Prometheus, Passengers) Sphaits.  Filming begins in London in the Fall, and is do for release in November of 2016 … AND THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY SEQUEL will be called Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it … AND IF YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR A SWANK SUICIDE SQUAD TRAILER, step right up.  Ladies and gentlemen: ‘Rick Flag,’ ‘Captain Boomerang,’ ‘Deadshot,’ ‘King Shark,’ ‘Enchantress,’ ‘Katana,’ ‘Slipknot,’ ‘El Diablo,’ ‘The Joker’ … and the the lady herself, ‘Harley Quinn,’ cordially invite you to an evening of destruction and insanity.

IF YOU HADN’T HEARD (DUH!) THE NEW GHOSTBUSTERS have been chosen.  And while Dan Aykroyd has confirmed that he is filming a cameo in the new film, rumors point to him playing a role other than that of original Ghostbuster, ‘Ray Stance.’  Anywho, debate on Sony’s decision to take Bill Murray’s advice and remake the original film with an all female cast, rages on.  Here’s a pic from the set of the film, currently in production for a July 22nd, 2016 release.  Decide for yourself.  Was this a wise decision ? GhostbustingTHE FIFTH ELEMENT DIRECTOR, LUC BESSON has decided on his next film.  He’s returning to the science-fiction arena with, Valerian.  A massive $180 Million space opera, which adapts a famous European comic, “Valerian and Laureline;” which ran from 1967 to 2010.  Valerian and LaurelineThe story follows Valerian, a man from 28th Century Earth, and his beautiful, intelligent companion Laureline, a peasant girl from 11th Century France. Both are temporal agents based in a distant future, working for the Spatio-Temporal Service, which  protects Earth-like planets and guards against temporal paradoxes caused by rogue time-travellers.  Their adventures take them through space and time, aboard their astroship, XB982; which reportedly resembles the millennium falcon.  In fact, numerous similarities have been pointed out between the “Star Wars” films, and the “Valerian and Laureline” comics.   The film is currently scheduled to begin shooting this December, for a July 21st, 2017 release … Amazing Stories 1928AND BUCK ROGERS is scheduled to return to the screen.  A company called, AngryFilms, is adapting the original story that the comic and serial character, is based upon, with the intention of bringing that story to the screen.  The 1928 science fiction story, “Armageddon 2419 A.D.” was originally published in Amazing Stories magazine.  In the story, the character was originally named, ‘Anthony’ Rogers.  But the film will apparently use the well known and later altered name, instead.  Originally, Rogers was held in suspended animation for almost five Centuries, before awaking to an Earth caught in Civil War between the United States and Russians and Mongolians.  Ed (RoboCop, Starship Troopers) Neumeier, is co-writing BTTF 1BACK TO THE FUTURE is getting an interesting comic book companion, by way of original BTTF screenwriter Bob Gale, and IDW.  Set to hit shelves this October, the initial issue of the forthcoming anthology book, is said to show how Doc and Marty met in 1982.  The second will deal with Doc’s involvement in The Manhattan Project during the Second World War.  Said Gale of the series: “Much the way Part II showed different, unseen aspects of the original movie, the comic will do the same.  And then there were the fan questions.  Bob Zemeckis and I had been asked many times, ‘How did Marty and Doc meet?’ and ‘How did Doc’s house actually burn down?’  So I thought that a series focused on tales in these areas, dealing with the characters as we know them from the movies, answering some of these questions, would be worthwhile.  Maybe these stories could enhance or fill in things from the trilogy.” … SPEAKING OF STEPHEN SPIELBERG, DREAMWORKS has acquired the film rights to Michael Crichton’s “Micro” (2011).  If you’re a Crichton fan, you may remember that “Micro” is one of the books stolen off Crichton’s computer hard drive by an assistant, on behalf of Crichton’s Publisher, “after” his death.  The other was “Pirate Latitudes,” which was published without several intended illustrations, and a bibliography.  Micro’s story centers on a group of college students studying the microscopic landscape, in pursuit of pharmaceutical discoveries.  MicroAla Timeline, they are lured by a biotech company, and ala Dr. Cyclops, they get miniaturized and thrown into a common Hawaiian rain forest.  “Micro” was an unfinished manuscript, completed by author Richard (“Crisis in the Hot Zone,” “First Light”) Preston.  Problem is, Preston turned out to be not so good at mirroring Michael Crichton’s talent.  And the book quickly developed a really bad reputation upon publication.  Hopefully, Producer Frank Marshall can do something better with the material than Preston did.  This is one book-to-movie adaptation that can only get better.  Be on the lookout for MICROAND SPEAKING OF CRICHTON-ESQUE SCIENCE-FICTION, Ridley Scott’s film of author Andy Weir’s bestselling science-fiction novel, The Martian, has a strong trailer circulating in release, that really speaks volumes for the film’s intention of being a “science fiction” film, as opposed to “sci-fi.”  It’s about a man trapped on Mars, who in order to survive, will have to “science the shit outta this.”  Give it a watch.  The film hits theaters in October.

IN TV NEWS … IT APPEARS THE LAST STARFIGHTER is finally being brought back to life.  Over the years, many people, from Steven Spielberg to Seth Rogan have tried to acquire the remake / sequel rights to the 1984 sci-fi cult classic.  LSFBut none have ever been successful.  At least until now.  Original screenwriter Jonathan Betuel is teaming with Surreal.tv to work on something called, The Last Starfighter Chronicles.  The new production is billed as “the first TV show to embrace virtual reality.”  While the core TV series will air on standard television, viewers owning Virtual Reality headsets designed for cell phones, will get a better look inside the world of the TV show, simultaneous to the show’s airing.  The project is currently at the beginning of its development phase, but all involved are confident that they are generating something ground-breaking … TERRY BROOKS’ “THE CHRONICLES OF SHANNARA” has become more than just a project in development at MTV.  In fact, the network recently released a trailer for the upcoming television series, now retitled The Shannara Chonicles, which should have wide appeal for fantasy fans.

25 yearsDAVID LYNCH & MARK FROST are hard at work on bringing a 25 year Twin Peaks reunion to Showtime.  First it was on, then it was off.  Due mainly to disagreements between Lynch and Showtime over scheduling and budget.  But now, there’s this from Frost: “We had 32 hours back in 1991 and ’92, and with my partner David Lynch, we kind of blew open that genre of the nighttime soap and took it in a whole other direction.  A lot of people always look back at Twin Peaks and say that was the start of this explosion we’ve had in good TV drama, but we did it in a time when there were still only three networks.  The challenge for us is to try and come back and raise the bar above what we did the last time.  We’re coming back with season three of Twin Peaks after a 25-year absence.  We’ve finished the scripts, we start production in September, and that will be coming out on Showtime sometime in 2017.”   Hallelujah ! … AND SPEAKING OF HALLELUJAH … THE X-FILES is returning to Fox for a 9-episode “short season” run (said to be a mini-series designed to get their feet wet,) and is set to begin airing this January.  And Fox have given up a very brief, initial look at the show.  It’s only a few seconds long, and you have to watch closely, but at the tail end of this video, you will see Mulder and Scully, in action.  And both are clearly wearing suits; betraying the fact that they are back working for the FBI, again.  Take a look:

SADLY, THERE WILL NOT BE A NEW STAR TREK show on TV for some time.  Due mainly to issues over a divorce between CBS and Paramount.  This is somewhat of a blow to Star Trek fans; specifically in the wake of a new series being recently pitched to Paramount by Star Trek fan, Michael Gummelt.  Star Trek: Uncharted, an idea Gummelt had been working on for 20 years, is set aboard a new Starship Enterprise, sent to the Andromeda Galaxy, two Centuries after the era of Captain Kirk.  One Century after the era of Captain Picard.  Some years before, a war between the Romulans and the Federation resulted in a collapse of the Romulan Empire, leaving the Federation in charge of the the Milky Way.  And as a result, the Federation has changed quite a bit.  From an exploratory force, to a police force.  Star Trek - UnchartedBut something is brewing within Starfleet.  A signal is being received from the Andromeda Galaxy.  From someone claiming to be the creators of life in our Galaxy.  The signal is inviting us to pay them a visit.  And it’s being broadcast across the entire, vast expanse of the Milky Way Galaxy.  So, after much brouhaha, the first exploratory mission in decades is authorized, and utilizing a new ‘space folding’ technology, the new Enterprise is sent to investigate.  Sounds spiffy, huh ?  Given the ship’s technology, this new Enterprise could clearly travel back and forth between Andromeda and the Milky Way.  Removing the Voyager crux.  Also, a new Starbase was to be under construction in Andromeda, and two additional Starfleet ships would have made their way around Andromeda, during the course of the show.  You can see the entire pitch at StarTrekUncharted.com.  But unfortunately, that is as much as you’re going to see of Star Trek: Uncharted.  In fact, it will reportedly be some time before Star Trek will be on Television again.  The only related good news is that Zackary Quinto and Chris Pine have both signed on for a fourth Star Trek film, intended to follow the forthcoming, Star Trek Beyond.  That film, directed by Justin (Fast and Furious) Linn, is now shooting, and already getting good word of mouth HEROES FANS REJOICE !  Heroes: Reborn begins airing as a limited series, September 24th

AND NOW FOR SOME ASSORTED TIDBITS: The title of the Independence Day Sequel will be Independence Day: Resurgence  Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall recently reiterated, and stated for the record (as of June 11th, 2015) that there are no current, immediate plans for a new Indiana Jones film.  They don’t even have a story yet.  It was all just gossip …  WestworldWestworld, Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams’ retooling of Michael Crichton’s classic theme park gone awry thriller, will not be airing on HBO this year.  Although they just exhibited Westworld at Comic-Con, it nonetheless seems the cable network don’t see how the shows creators can live up to the pilot, so they are recasting certain roles, and tinkering with “other ideas.” Skydance Productions and Universal Pictures are developing a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ film, written by the guys who wrote “Ouija.”  A separate, competing Bermuda Triangle film is in development at Warner Bros, which producer Charles (Rollerball, Batman V. Superman) Roven, is producing Eli (Hostel) Roth is in talk to direct Meg, based on the Steve Alten novel about a giant prehistoric shark, sixty feet long, swimming along the California coast.  btw Warner Bros. are said to be fast-tracking this project, due to the enormous success of Jurassic World 20th Century Fox are developing a remake of John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson playing the role of Jack Burton (don’t shoot the messenger; I don’t make this stuff up) … Stephen King’s The Stand will be both a miniseries AND a movie.  The Fault in Our Stars writer/director Josh Boone is currently typing up a three hour version of King’s novel for a major feature.  And Warner Bros. and CBS Films are developing an eight part TV mini-series based upon earlier segments of King’s novel — that will lead up to the release of the film.  So, much of the book will air on Showtime, whereas the remainder of the book will have to be seen on the big screen.  Interesting.  Novel approach. Get it ? Novel ? …  A third TRON movie is not happening, so brush it aside in your mind … League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is getting rebooted, though.  20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment are planning a new film of Alan Moore’s graphic novel series.  The initial film in 2003, was somewhat loosely adapted from its source material, and resulted in a shaky film, at best.  One that sadly proved to be the last performance of esteemed actor Sean Connery’s career.  Producer John (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Blacklist, Predator) Davis will oversee production on this new version Alas !  Jonny Quest might finally make it to the silver screen.  Robert (Sin City, Spy Kids, El Mariachi) Rodriquez has been signed to direct a live action adaptation of the 60’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  Rodriquez and Terry (Pirates of the Caribbean) Rossio are currently working out their script … Cinematographer Roger (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) Deakins has been signed to photograph the Blade Runner sequel for Alcon Entertainment, and the film’s director Denis (Prisoners) Villeneuve.  Filming is scheduled to begin next summer, with Ford returning to the role of Rick Dekard.  The screenplay was written by Hampton (Blade Runner) Fancher, and Michael (Smallville, Heroes, Green Lantern) Green Kate Beckinsale will again star as “Selene” in a fifth Underworld movie And a trailer for the long-awaited Warcraft movie, will premier in November … Director Joss Whedon will not offer up a director’s cut of Avengers: Age of Ultron, on blu-ray, contrary to previous reports AND NOW FOR THE SAD, BAD, AND ALL AROUND DEPRESSING NEWS …Amand Exp AMANDA PETERSON, the young ingenue well-known by many of a certain age from Joe Dante’s film, Explorers, as well as Can’t Buy Me Love, recently died from a possible lung infection.  Known by family and friends as, ‘Mandy,’ Phyllis Amanda Peterson was a native of Greeley, Colorado.  At the age of 7, she got a part in a stage production of “The Sound of Music,” at the University of Northern Colorado.  A year later, she appeared as a dancing extra in “Annie.”  Can't Buy Me LoveEventually, she would book guest spots on a handful of 1980’s television shows, before landing her first big role in Explorers.  She was nominated for the ‘Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Drama Series’ several times, and won in 1987.  But it was the romantic teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love that cemented her posterity and teen idol status.  Do to it’s unexpected tug on the heart, and some tricky licensing of the classic Beatles tune, the run-of-the-mill teen comedy was uncharacteristically popular with critics and audiences alike, quickly becoming a sleeper hit, and eventually, a cult classic.  In the mid 1990’s, Peterson left the entertainment industry, returning to Colorado.  On July 3rd, she passed away in her sleep, at the age of 43.  Director Joe Dante said of her: “A very sweet girl, fun to work with.  River (Phoenix) had a HUGE crush on Amanda during the making of Explorers, but was very upset when he found out she preferred Ethan (Hawk.)”  Friend, and co-star Meredith (The Journey of Natty Gann, Lake Placid) Salenger tweeted photos of herself and Peterson from their childhood, and stated simply, “Rest in Peace my dear old friend. Amanda Peterson. I loved you.” Amanda flyingOMAR SHARIF was born in April of 1932, in Alexandria, Egypt.  He studied at Victoria College, later graduating from Cairo University, garnering a degree in mathematics and physics.  He later studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.  OmarIn 1955, he changed his name from Michel Demitri Chalhoub, to Omar Sharif, converting to Islam, as part of the matrimonial process to an Egyptian actress.  He performed nobly in a handful of Egyptian films in the late 50’s and early 60’s, before being cast by David Lean, in a role many have called the greatest screen entrance of all time.  A scene David Lean confessed was very much inspired by John Ford’s film, The Searchers.  Sharif had been originally cast in a separate supporting role in the film, but when the character of ‘Sherif Ali’ proved difficult to cast, Lean placed Sharif in the role.  And the director was pleased with the results.  Omar Sharif spoke several languages, was very sophisticated, and had an ambiguous ethnicity that greatly enhanced the realism associated with his character.  Based upon T.E. Lawrence’s autobiographical book, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” Lean’s film was a grueling shoot, filmed on location the deserts of Egypt and Spain.  'AwrenceBut Sherif reportedly dealt with it like a pro, lifting his reputation and bringing him not only a flood of offers over the ensuing years for even more strong roles, but also an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.  But Sharif was best known for his role in Lean’s next film, Dr. Zhivago.  A film set during World War I and the Russian Revolution, which showcased Sharif as a poet and physician.  Dr. ZhivagoFor this role, Sharif won another Golden Globe.  This time for best actor.  He starred alongside Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl, Gregory Peck in Mackenna’s Gold, Richard Harris in Juggernaut, and with Peter Sellers in, The Pink Panther Strikes Again.  This was probably the first film he made which could be considered close to fantasy.  Oh Heavenly Dog (1980) came next.  Oh Heavenly DogA Benji / Chevy Chase comedy that had little impact on anyone over the age of eight.  It received sour criticism as both a “family” Benji film, and as a film in general.  But, either because of its flaws, or in spite of them, Oh Heavenly Dog maintains a cult 80’s B-Movie status among a certain generation, that has ensured its strange posterity.  In 1984 Sharif starred in David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker’s theatrical follow-up to Airplane!, Top Secret!  A unique parody of both spy films and Elvis Presley films, that was considered a disappointment at the box office, but played well on cable.  In 1999, Sharif would be cast in a small, but pivotal role in John McTiernan’s film of Michael Crichton’s novel, “Eaters of the Dead.”  And while The 13th Warrior didn’t set the box office on fire, it has grown to become a very popular historical action film.  Sharif in 13th Warrior The great Omar Sharif was also well known for being one of the world’s foremost “contract bridge” players.  He played professionally, wrote a syndicated newspaper column for the Chicago Tribune on the subject, authored several books on the subject, and even licensed his name to a video game, “Omar Sharif on Bridge.”  In 2005, Sherif was awarded the Sergei Eisenstein Medal by the “United Nations  Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizaion” (UNESCO.)  An award recognizing the significant contributions made by Omar Sharif to the world of film, and cultural diversity.  The infrequently awarded medal was one of only 25 ever struck.  Omar Sharif died from the effects of a heart attack on July 10th, only months after the death of his ex-wife, and companion of sixty years.  But his numerous great accomplishments as an artist will be viewed long after we are all gone.  OMAR S.AND JOHN STEED A.K.A. PATRICK MACNEE has died.  Daniel Patrick Macnee was born in Paddington, London, England in 1922.  As a young man, Macnee attended Eton Private College, and was a member of the Officer Training Corps., before being expelled from the school for selling pornography and for being a dog track bookie.  He went on to study acting at ‘Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.’  But in 1942, he was called up for duty in the United Kingdom Armed Forces, and thus, joined the Royal Navy.  And he quickly achieved the rank of first lieutenant, becoming a navigator of Motor Torpedo Boats.  In fact, only days before the D-Day invasion, Macnee was diagnosed with bronchitis, and remained on bed rest in a hospital while his boat and crew were lost in action.  He later left the Royal Navy in ’46, with the rank of lieutenant.  Soon after, Macnee began winning small roles in films and TV shows, and thus climbed the ladder of notoriety within the entertainment industry, acting alongside celebrities like Gene Kelly.  Taking a short break from acting in the early 1960’s, he served as a producer of a British documentary on WWII … but soon after, he returned to acting, and was cast in the role that would make Patrick Macnee a household name.  The AvengersThe character of John Steed in the BBC production of The Avengers, was mysterious and suave, and always left audiences wanting more.  Macnee fought his character’s use of a gun in many instances, and won.  HowlingForcing the shows writers to invent new ways for his character to gain the upper hand on any opponent.  Among his many additional roles in the world of science-fiction and fantasy entertainment, included the role of a Doctor with a nasty secret in Joe Dante’s The Howling, a minor, but pivotal role in Waxwork (1988,) a bastardized version of John Steed named Sir Godfrey Tibbett in the last Roger Moore James Bond outing, A View to a Kill — a role which even fellow actor Moore agreed was “a slight, distasteful disrespect” to Macnee.  And the voice of the Cylon’s Imperious Leader in the original Battlestar Galactica; which can be heard here:

Macnee as WatsonYes, Patrick Macnee was known for being an Englishman, and a fine actor.  Among his many other accomplishments — in life and careeer — Patrick Macnee is credited with being one of the only actors to ever play both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, on screen.  When he passed away in June of this year, Macnee, that quintessential Englishman, had become a United States citizen, and a nudist, who simply referred to himself as, “A retired actor.”  He was 93.
Jamie HornerJAMES HORNER’S DEATH HIT A LOT OF MUSIC SCORE LOVERS HARD.  It’s difficult to know what to say to memorialize such beautiful music.  I mean people were speechless, slack-jawed, and caught off guard.  Said James Cameron, “I think he’s up there with John Williams and Hans Zimmer; firmly implanted at the top of the firmament of the current great masters.”

James Roy Honer was born in Los Angeles, in 1953.  He was playing piano at the age of five, and as a child attended the London Royal College of Music, before relocating to first Arizona, and then finally, back to Los Angeles.  He studied music at UCLA, earning first a bachelor’s, then a masters, and finally a doctorate, in music.  Horner 3After scoring projects for the American Film Institute, he taught a course in music theory at UCLA, before turning to film scoring, professionally.  His first major film scores were The Lady in Red, Humanoids From the Deep, and Battle Beyond the Stars.  Decidedly low budget fair, which shined in part due to Horner’s participation.  A round of scores followed for various, inconspicuous films.  But then there was an explosion of creativity in his work.  Heralded by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which launched Horner’s career, right into the mainstream.

That same year, he also scored Walter Hill’s 48hrs.  A Nick Nolte / Eddie Murphy comedy / thriller that showed Horner’s true versatility as a composer.  He followed this with a whole host of film scores that will resonate in the hearts and ears of film score lovers, forever.  Something Wicked This Way Comes, Krull, Brainstorm, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Cocoon, The Journey of Natty Gann, Commando, and episode of Stephen Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, Aliens, The Name of the Rose, An American Tail, Project X, *Batteries Not Included, Willow, Red Heat, The Land Before Time, Field of Dreams, Glory, The Rocketeer, Patriot Games, Sneakers, Searching for Bobby Fischer, The Pelican Brief, Clear and Present Danger, Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, Casper, Apollo 13, Jumanji, Courage Under Fire, Titanic, Deep Impact, Bicentennial Man, The Perfect Storm, A Beautiful Mind, Avatar — and many, many more.

In 1987, he was nominated for two Academy Awards.  One for James Cameron’s Aliens, and one for the theme song to the animated film, An American Tail; which he composed and co-wrote, and which was sung by James Ingram and Linda Ronstadt.  But he finally won two Oscars for both the score and theme song to James Cameron’s Titanic.

The score for Titanic remains the best-selling score in history, having sold over 27 Million copies around the world.  Horner and his co-writer on the theme song, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ also won three Grammy’s and two Golden Globes.  In 2006, Horner composed the theme for the CBS Evening News, following in the footsteps of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, both of whom had scored themes to popular prime time nightly newscasts.  Horner Titanic winHe spent part of 2007, and much of 2008 and 2009 working on the score for a single film: James Cameron’s Avatar.  And he was yet again nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes, and so much more.  To date, James Horner’s music has become some of the most recognizable in movie history.  Many of us have grown up with it.  And some of his music has become some of the most sampled music in movie trailer history, as well.  And it’s even been reused.  Roger Corman notoriously reused Horner’s score for Battle Beyond the Stars, on a small number of other low budget productions.

The theme to Ron Howard’s Cocoon, ‘Through the Window,’ was famously used in the Superbowl trailer for J.J. Abrams film, Super8.  And one particular piece of Aliens music was even reused during the climax of John McTiernan’s Die Hard.  And while Horner himself was often criticized for borrowing passages from either classical compositions, or even contemporary scores by other composers, the argument can be made that he was advancing the medium by incorporating said passages, and utilizing them in another fashion.  James Horner was an avid pilot, and died on June 22nd, when his turboprop aircraft crashed in a California Forest.  The 61 year old composer was scheduled to score James Cameron’s forthcoming Avatar sequels.  No word on who, if anyone, will ever be available to truly fill his shoes.

AND SADLY, MARY ELLEN TRAINOR HAS DIED.  You may not know her name, but you certainly know her face.  She was the Mom in both The Goonies and The Monster Squad, the police psychiatrist in the Lethal Weapon films, a TV anchorperson in Die Hard, a TV reporter in Ricochet, a cop in Back to the Future Part II, Joan Wilder’s kidnapped sister ‘Elaine’ in Romancing the Stone, a television development executive in Scrooged, a flight attendant in Executive Decision, a mother throwing a birthday party for a group of children in Ghostbusters II … the list just goes on.  Trust me, you know her face.  Trainor also worked in television, and had a recurring role on Roswell.  She died of complications of pancreatic cancer, back in May.  She will be remembered
Mary Ellen TrainorTHAT’S IT FOR THIS POST.  With exception to Leonard Nimoy’s death (which I reported in my last post,) I have neglected to update this blog since … about this time last year, actually.  And as one would expect, I got precisely what I deserved: a list of 34 talented professionals — all having made an impact in the world of science-fiction and fantasy; and all having passed away over the course of the past year.  And while I am currently generating a follow-up post that specifically and only reports on the passing of those remaining 29 individuals not mentioned here, I now find that I just cannot keep going at the moment.  It’s far too depressing.  And I also cannot expect readers to read through my memorializing all 34 artists at the tail end of a single typical post.  So that’s it for now.  Please check back on July 28th for the remaining 29.  In the meantime: life is short, go out and have some fun.
Ocean Ln Dr.