Advertisements

Tag Archive: John Boyega


Review by C.J. Bunce

Director Guillermo del Toro’s ode to Godzilla and the mecha genre in 2013’s Pacific Rim continues with del Toro producing the sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, directed by Steven S. DeKnight.  As you’d expect, that means bigger and better Jaegers–those enormous fighting, armored machines initially only manned and newly created as flying drones to defend Earth–and some bigger and more terrifying Kaiju–humanity’s nemeses in the form of terrifying, alien, Godzilla-inspired monsters.  Fans of the franchise can see the development of the next generation of both creations, and how their development relied upon getting the right look and sound effects together, in the new book The Art and Making of Pacific Rim: Uprising.

Director DeKnight, showrunner of Marvel’s Daredevil, and producer of genre favorites Smallville, Angel, and Dollhouse, provides a foreword to the book and takes readers through each step of the development of the film from idea to fleshing out the look of the film’s giant-sized spectacles and its several new human characters.  Screenwriters T.S. Nowlin and Travis Beacham provide insight into the direction of the story, and DeKnight and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang (Star Trek Beyond, Godzilla, Total Recall, John Carter, The Chronicles of Riddick, Labyrinth, Highlander, Krull) explain the look and rationale for each element of the film.  Author Daniel Wallace incorporates interviews with cast members John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Charlie Day, and others, plus costume designer Lizz Wolf describes her concepts behind the signature look of each character.  We also meet the next generation of cadets, with a young slate of international performers: Wesley Wong, Rahart Adams, Karan Brar, Lily Ji, Shyrley Rodriquez, Ivanna Sakhno, and Levi Meaden–a group of up-and-coming actors that will be fun to watch emerge in films in the next few years.

But for most fans it will be the concept art for the Jaegers that are of key importance for a book like this, and they should be happy as most of the content is devoted to these designs, including discarded concepts and rejected variants.  Production designer Stefan Dechant (Kong: Skull Island, Alice in Wonderland, Minority Report) talks about his influences for design elements of each Jaeger (like F-16 Fighters for Guardian Bravo, the Millennium Falcon for Bracer Phoenix) and how the massive weaponry was developed.  Color was a key design factor for the Jaegers and the Kaiju, and the large icons were also defined by their sounds.  More so than most behind-the-scenes looks into films, The Art and Making of Pacific Rim: Uprising may provide the most attention to the incorporation of sound effects.  Supervising sound designer and editor Erik Aadahl (Transformers, Godzilla, Terminator Genisys, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) shares many of his secrets to help create the foreboding presence of the monsters and machines.

Key for fans of the franchise will be the book’s incorporation of tipped-in scrapbook materials, reproductions of original artwork like unused Jaeger concept art, storyboards, a monster/machine size comparison chart, a glossy, full-color pull-out blueprint of Romeo Blue, and several other reproductions of the designers’ concept art.

Check out these images from The Art and Making of Pacific Rim: Uprising:

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review by C.J. Bunce

As you will no doubt hear as moviegoers walk out of theaters this holiday season, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a very “different” Star Wars movie.  That said, despite writer/director Rian Johnson’s assertions to the contrary, it is very much an echo of the second film of the original trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, with several parallel elements you’ll encounter along the way.  Picking up where director J.J. Abrams left off two years ago in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Johnson seems to take the bits and pieces of questions raised in Abrams’ film, answers a few, dismisses a few, and ignores the rest, perhaps for Abrams to pick them up again as he re-takes the reins in two years for the final film in the Skywalker family saga.  So many questions seem to have been definitively tied up by the end of The Last Jedi, moviegoers are now left to ponder for the next two years, “What could Episode IX possibly be about?”

The Last Jedi is most intriguing when it emulates some of the surprises and emotional impact of last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–a bold, unique film that falls outside the three trilogies of franchise films, but provided a fantastically gritty, nostalgic, and heart-pounding story that put the “war” back in Star Wars.  An opening scene in The Last Jedi featuring the heroic death of a new character made me sit up thinking another gritty war movie was coming (only swap a guerilla land war for World War II-inspired bombing runs).  Heroism is the theme of The Last Jedi, and every character gets a chance to be a hero, but the damage is not as gut-wrenching as Rogue One.  Yet, depending on who your favorite character was in The Force Awakens, every fan should find something in The Last Jedi to be happy about.  Even if it might not offer up the excitement of the original trilogy, the third of the new annual holiday Star Wars adventures will be a great excuse to get together with family and friends for the event itself–annual Star Wars movies are becoming what the annual Christmas Special has become for Doctor Who fans, an event that for many will be bigger than whatever you think of the film.

The actors are top-notch in The Last Jedi, including Carrie Fisher in her final performance as General Leia Organa, although Hamill’s work stands out and could easily merit an Oscar nomination.  Alec Guinness’s genius as the similar Jedi wizard Obi-Wan Kenobi of the original Star Wars was in his reserved performance and iconic utterances of wisdom.  Here Hamill shows that Hollywood has missed the boat for 40 years by not featuring him regularly in mainstream films, bringing a powerful and emotional performance from beginning to end.  And gone are the days of Star Wars’ clunky dialogue–Johnson’s success is pulling out the stilted exchanges Star Wars had began to become known for.

Continue reading

Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost is gone, but in the sequel to the 2013 surprise hit sci-fi-monster flick Pacific Rim, titled Pacific Rim: Uprising, the latest Star Wars trilogy star John Boyega takes on the role of his son.  Boyega teams up and reunites with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) from the original film and is joined by The Great Wall star Tian Jing, leading a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert (Scott Eastwood) and 15-year-old hacker Amara (Cailee Spaeny), against a new Kaiju threat.

In what looks like it could also be a sequel to Boyega’s Attack the Block, Boyega faces off against monsters again, just bigger ones, and he keeps his British accent.  And Tian Jing faces monsters again, too–she was the general that bested the ancient monsters at the great Wall of China earlier this year in The Great Wall.  Torchwood star and fan favorite Burn Gorman (Forever, Crimson Peak, The Dark Knight Rises) is back again as Dr. Herman Gottlieb along with Charlie Day (The LEGO Movie, Monsters University) as Dr. Newton Geiszler.

Starship Troopers meets The Transformers and Godzilla yet again in a second giant-scale Rock ’em Sock ‘Em Robots for the next generation.

Here’s the first full trailer for Pacific Rim: Uprising:

Continue reading

We’re running down several trailers released to start off San Diego Comic-Con this week.  One trailer defines what Comic-Con is all about, as Stan Lee looks at the Netflix series based on his creations.  The best trailer is Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, the fantasy director’s next monster movie, this time featuring his own take on the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Another good trailer is what plays out as a commercial for the giant robot “Jaegers” in a first look at the sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, including star John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Attack the Block).  Below you’ll also find trailers for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Natalie Portman in Planetarium, and the fantasy world version of the AlienNation buddy cop trope, Netflix’s Bright, starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton.

We’re also including several trailers from the past week to get you caught up.  These include A Wrinkle in Time, Mary Poppins Returns, Blade Runner 2049, a teaser for The Incredibles 2 (sort of), and a Blu-ray preview for Gifted starring Chris Evans.

So let’s get started with The Shape of Water:

Continue reading

the-circle-gillan-watson

The Circle is no doubt another in a long line of topical dramas starring the great Tom Hanks.  Everyone loves Tom Hanks, the actor, yet his roles have become predictable.  If you’re making a movie and you want to bring instant sympathy, respectability, or authority–especially if the source material doesn’t have much of its own character development–Hanks is your guy.  He reportedly brings in $10 million to $20 million per film, and double or triple that if he negotiates profit sharing deals, which may explain why he’s not in many special effects-heavy films.  Where his performance is always reliable, it’s the films themselves–the stories and settings–that have often let us down once we crossed into the 21st century.  What will be his next Philadelphia or Forrest Gump?  His next Splash or Big?  These days he’s the go-to guy for biopics (Charlie Wilson’s War, Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, Sully), historical teleplays and documentaries (Band of Brothers, The Pacific), and novel adaptations, especially the never-ending Robert Langdon series (The DaVinci Code, etc.).  The Circle fits in as a novel adaptation, this time an adaptation of a novel about the horrors of our modern technological age written by Dave Eggers and directed and co-scripted by James Ponsoldt.

circle-movie-poster

But Hanks isn’t the real draw for this film, it’s the mega-sized co-lead actors who all hail from the biggest genre franchises that really make this a movie we might want to check out in the theater this April and not wait for the home release.  The star is Emma Watson, Hermione of the Harry Potter franchise whose other big 2017 film–Beauty and the Beast–with Watson in the lead role as Belle, will be released only six weeks prior to The Circle.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens and this year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi star John Boyega (ex-Stormtrooper Finn) has next billing.  Oddly enough someone just as popular in the U.S., the U.K., and Asia should have next billing in the trailers, yet she’s seen but not listed in the title credits.  That’s the popular Doctor Who companion Amy Pond and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy, Karen Gillan.  That’s some pretty popular acting names and pop culture street cred for a flick outside the sci-fi and fantasy realm.  But that’s not all.  The Circle also features beloved comedian and nerd crusader Patton Oswalt, fan fave Bill Paxton (Aliens, Apollo 13, Edge of Tomorrow, Training Day), and familiar face Glenne Headly (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Monk). 

the-circle

The plot follows a new worker (Watson) at a trendy tech company (think Google), where this fictional company and its outlandish benefits encompass and suffocate the workers’ private lives.  Here’s a new trailer for The Circle, followed by an earlier version of the trailer:

Continue reading

race-poster

Stephen Hopkins, director of The Ghost in the Darkness, Predator 2, and the reboot of Lost in Space, and TV series House of Lies and 24, is bringing to the big screen the momentous race of Jesse Owens, the black track and field gold medalist who showed-up Adolf Hitler’s racist regime by winning in the 1936 Olympics.  The cleverly titled Race stars Stephan James (Selma) as Owens, the role previously given to John Boyega, who instead left the production to take on the role of Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Race co-stars Saturday Night Live alumnus Jason Sudeikis as Coach Larry Snyder, as well as Academy Award winners William Hurt and Jeremy Irons.  Race is the kind of serious topic biopic the Academy traditionally looks for at Oscar time.  If the film is the great drama that the story deserves, this could be a breakout role for both James and Sudeikis.

Jesse Owens biopic

But can Sudeikis overcome his comedy acting past to drive this drama home?  Many ex-SNL regulars have tried to break the SNL curse and jump into drama, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, and Eddie Murphy, along with other comedy talents like Michael Keaton, Eddie Izzard, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Robin Williams, and Jonah Hill.  Will the Academy recognize Race a year from now?  Murray, Aykroyd, Martin, Brooks, Hill, Smith, Williams, and Keaton have all been nominated for acting Oscars, but no ex-SNL actor has won an acting Oscar, and only comedic actors Foxx and Williams were able to make the switch from comedy to drama and take home the big prize.

Check out this trailer for Race:

Continue reading

han-solo-passes-the-torch-in-new-star-wars-the-force-awakens

Review by C.J. Bunce

Did J.J. Abrams earn or reject his Jar Jar badge?  Did we drown in re-hashed lines from the original trilogy?  Did Disney make the same mistakes as George Lucas made with his prequels?

When you get right down to it, we all had a pretty low threshold by which we were going to judge the success of the highly anticipated, overly over-marketed Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  We knew it couldn’t match the original Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back, but it was Abrams’s challenge to see how high he could position the result of his efforts among the other four films.

So how did he fare?

Is the movie better than the prequels?

Is the dialogue better than George Lucas’s in the past films?

Did he hand off the story from the old guard to the new guard successfully?

Is The Force Awakens a modern sci-fi fantasy classic, or among the best films ever made?

Boyega and Isaac

After the jump, I’ll walk though my spoiler-light reaction to what is going to go down as the biggest money-making film of all time.

Continue reading

Princess Leia poster Han Solo poster

So what is the message with this week’s release of the five individual character posters for Star Wars: The Force Awakens?  Or is there one?

The big question everyone is asking:  Where is Luke Skywalker?

Finn poster Rey poster

Is Mark Hamill even in much of the first of the new trilogy movies?  And up close doesn’t that staff held by Rey, the young female lead character in the movie, look like it has some components from a lightsaber?

And hey, Han Solo, ever think of upgrading your sidearm?

There is so much speculation this is another big family affair–what if we’re all wrong?  What if Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma are Han and Leia’s long lost twins?

Continue reading

Episode VII Snowtroopers 2015

You probably heard it all day yesterday: May the Fourth be with you.

But this year’s annual Star Wars observance meant a whole lot more in light of the next Star Wars installment coming our way in December.  We saw some new images of several new characters, some with actors we’d heard of, others as strange as those from the original Mos Eisley cantina.  All thanks to Vanity Fair magazine.

The biggest news was that the slick new chrome-armored stormtrooper from the second Star Wars VII trailer (seen here) is played by Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie–yes, women can serve the Empire–and she’s apparently hunting down a certain AWOL trooper played by Attack the Block’s John Boyega.  We’re predicting that even with a very 1930s action serial/”something George Lucas would come up with” name, this new villain, called “Captain Phasma,” could be getting primed by toymakers to be one of the highest-selling action figures of 2016.

Vanity Fair Star Wars Episode 1 Vanity Fair Episode III Star Wars Vanity Fair Star Wars

If this seems a bit familiar it may be because Vanity Fair has previously featured fans’ first looks at the last entries in the Star Wars saga, also with Annie Leibovitz photo shoots.  For those new to Annie Leibovitz, she’s one of the best known photographers of the past 40 years, with many famous shots of rock stars.

Continue reading

StarWarsEpisodeVII copyright lucasfilm 2014

Does a picture tell a thousand words?

Lucasfilm released today the slate of the main cast for Star Wars: Episode VII and the above photo.  Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and writer Lawrence Kasdan.  Defying the convention of not wearing the band shirt to the concert is our favorite gentle giant Peter Mayhew sporting a rebel-logo golf shirt.

The studio previously revealed the new film would take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, but considering nearly the entire main cast for the original trilogy is in England’s Pinewood Studios for this cast read-through, the idea that they will be trivial to the story seems to be out the window.  And after a lot of eyeball-rolling from fans across the globe, this is starting to get a bit exciting.

Maybe we were looking at this wrong.  Disney let Marvel Studios make some good movies with The Avengers, Iron Man, and Captain America, right?  And J.J. Abrams made two Star Trek movies that could easily fit in the Star Wars universe.  Heck–they could have served as auditions for getting this directorial gig.  Lawrence Kasdan is one of the best moviemakers ever, with Silverado and The Empire Strikes Back in his portfolio.  You cannot say enough about John Williams, back yet again for another score.  And George Lucas was solely responsible for the prequel trilogy. ‘Nuff said there.  But we won’t let Disney off the hook until they prove that they won’t ruin the greatest franchise of all time.

Ming the Merciless Von Sydow

But more details were released.  Max Von Sydow, Emperor Ming from the 1980s Flash Gordon, will have a key role in the film.  Recall the original Flash Gordon serials inspired Lucas’s original vision.  Von Sydow is perfect for a role here–right up there with classic Star Wars veterans Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, and Christopher Lee.  The original R2-D2 actor will be back, too: Kenny Baker will return as the guy in the droid suit, joining Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.

It’s fanboy speculation time…

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: