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Carrie Fisher Was So Much More Than Movies And A Gold Bikini

01-carrie-fisher-w529-h529When Carrie Fisher passed away on December, 27th the talk immediately turned to her career and memorable roles and the great kind of person and spirit she was, and rightfully so. As a massive Star Wars fan, I felt the enormity of the loss, but her acting career has not been what I admired most about this child of Hollywood royalty. What I think will be the most missed aspect of this woman was her ability to speak out about her faults and struggles in a way that erased any stigma associated with her addiction struggles and her constant battle with mental health. Carrie Fisher spoke fearlessly about issues that most people go to great lengths to avoid talking about, and she never needed to wait for a tragic incident to happen for her to unleash her thoughts on those matters.

Fisher never shied away from speaking about her intense battles with drug and alcohol addiction as well as her struggles with depression and bipolar disorder and was extremely open about her use of electroconvulsive therapy. As someone who is very familiar with both of these struggles both personally and with those close to me, I found this to be somewhat of a comfort in difficult times. She was never short of words on any subject, and her incredible wit and ability to put things in perspective were a comfort to those that had a hard time talking about their struggles.

For her great perspectives on her life, family and struggles one only needs to watch her one-woman show that aired on HBO, Wishful Drinking back in 2010. So while the whole galaxy continues to mourn its princess some of us will miss the things that made her an excellent and gorgeously flawed person. That is what makes her loss all the sadder and while the images of her cinnamon roll hairdo and sprawled out in the infamous gold bikini are what will always be remembered visually that’s only because what was in her mind, heart and strength could never be done justice visually.

Rogue One Is The New Addition To The Star Wars Galaxy

rogueonestandeebar640In October of 2012, Walt Disney shocked everyone when they bought Lucasfilm for a whopping $4.06 BILLION. Disney now had complete control of the Star Wars universe and everything that happened with it from there forward. They immediately satisfied the Star Wars faithful by announcing the release of a new trilogy to conclude the saga that would take place some time after the events of Return Of The Jedi. Just over three years after the buyout, we were treated to the release of Episode VII The Force Awakens and the foul taste in our mouths that remained from the prequel films, was quickly washed away. Episode VII had everything fans had wanted from the look to the characters, and it appeared this was a good move for everyone involved, including and especially the fans.

Along with the release of three new films in the classic saga, it has been made known that there would also be independent anthology films that took place in the same universe. One of the big movies is going to be a Han Solo origin story which is set to begin filming in February 2017 and has a release set for sometime late 2018. Disney has plans to unveil a new Star Wars movie every year for the foreseeable future.

That brings us up to date, and it brings us to the first independent rogue-one-cast-photo-d23-1536x864-521514304075-1anthology story from Disney Studios, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. We found out that Rogue One would be the story of the team that stole the plans of the Death Star for the rebel alliance that is used as the first big blow against the empire in the original 1977 masterpiece. Speculation was flying around from day one as to what characters would appear, how would they connect, etc. we will speculate no more because Rogue One has landed.

The basis of this story could not have been much better for a first time venture in this direction with the Star Wars movies. Rogue One had all the pieces to be able to draw everyone in, the timing in the universe is the most familiar to fans, it had the ability to have the style that made everyone fall in love with the original films in the first place. This movie also didn’t have to create something that wasn’t there and make a world and story around it. The very basic plot was something all fans knew about, but the details were all that were needed. This left much room for new creations while grounded in enough established characters to not lose anyone right off the bat.

rogue-oneThe first most noticeable difference in Rogue One, as opposed to the seven films in the original saga, is that it does not adhere to the mold that has formed all the others. There is no scrolling prolog setting up the story; it jumps right in. You will also notice markers that label the planets and systems that are visited much like when different cities are identified on screen in spy films. The overall tone of Rogue One is heavier and darker than any previous Star Wars movie; this film does not cater to the children of today. This story is for all the children that have grown up Star Wars fans and are well into adulthood. That is not to say that it will not be enjoyed by all, but this is the movie for the longtime fans of the original trilogy.

Rogue One begins in the early years of the development of the 371780_042Empire’s greatest weapon, the Death Star. The Empires lead scientist and designer; Galen Erso has fled the project because of his disbelief in the Empire and his love of the rebellion. Now on a remote planet living the life of a farmer, Galen, and his family are soon discovered. Erso is soon taken back to finish his work by Orson Krennic, his former friend. Galen’s wife and daughter flee until his wife returns only to be killed by Krennic. Their daughter is soon rescued by Saw Gerrera who is an extreme believer of the rebellion.

Many years pass and Galen’s daughter, Jyn is grown and is imprisoned but is soon rescued by the Alliance. Jyn is now reluctantly joined with the rebellion and soon finds out that they need her help to find her father so they can obtain the data plans of the newly finished Death Star. While Jyn is skeptical about helping them and her ability to do so, she quickly realizes she can do something significant and meaningful. After an initial rejection from the Alliance Council, Jyn and everyone she has met on her journey, decide to forge ahead with the mission to stealing the plans.

mon-mothma-star-wars-rogue-one-disneyThe legendary quest that was only briefly spoken about and never detailed comes to life in a way that I did not think would be as captivating. The mixture of original aspects and the new elements brought to the film is exactly what Star Wars fans have been hoping to see. Where The Force Awakens had everything the fans wanted from the prequels, Rogue One is everything we could have asked for in an entirely new story…and more.

My expectations were high going into Rogue One (as they are with all new Star Wars films) but I can honestly say I did not expect what I saw. It was the first time I did not feel they pandered to me. Rogue One is raw and gritty and doesn’t try to please every demographic. Some will love it like me; some will hate because someone always has to hate it. However, this film is ideal for the entire franchise and has me extremely excited for what more Disney has in the works for this beloved galaxy we love.

Just Another Top 10 Of 2015 For You To Read

Award season always invites every movie fan to produce their top movies of the year. When compiling one of these lists, the outcome of the fan is about as unique as a fingerprint. It is extremely rare that a top ten list is the exact same as another fan’s as well as a top five. All of that aside, I have compiled my top ten best/favorite movies of 2015.
image10. Star Wars The Force Awakens

Quite possibly the most anticipated movie ever, SWTFA has become a record breaking juggernaut. JJ Abrams has managed to restore fans’ faith in the franchise after much disappointment with the George Lucas’ prequel trilogy. With a mixture of new characters and original ones, the story, although not anything groundbreaking, has set up a nice segue into the next films in the series. Read the full review here

image9. Amy

The highly anticipated and critically acclaimed documentary about the late singer Amy Winehouse, takes a very unique and personal look into her rise to fame and eventual downfall leading to her death. The film shows the devastating effects of fame and how she was a reluctant star who really just wanted nothing more than to sing and create music. It is very hard to not have a broken heart for her after watching.

image8. The Martian

Ridley Scott’s space exploration film is the story of a manned mission to space that goes terribly wrong, leaving one of the crew stranded on the distant planet of Mars. Matt Damon plays astronaut and botanist, Mark Watney, who has to find a way to stay alive for several months in the hopes that NASA can find a way to bring him home. Mixed with humor and some very tense moments, The Martian keeps you engaged for all 2 hours and 44 minutes.

image7. Mad Max: Fury Road

One of the most visually stunning movies in recent memory, George Miller resurrects the world and character he unleashed over 35 years that made Mel Gibson an international star. Tom Hardy taking over the role of the post apocalyptic drifter, and Charlize Theron as the woman rebelling against a psychotic and the vicious gang leader in the desert of Australia, Mad Max is truly non stop action with jet fuel. Read my full review here

image6. Inside Out

Pixar is without a doubt, the rare movie studio that has really never made a bad film. This year they made what is probably their most important movie. Inside Out is the story of a young girl named Riley who moves to a strange new city and all the feelings she goes through and all emotions inside her and what roles they play. Not only was it immensely entertaining for everyone, but it was a perfect way for children to understand the feelings they will go through as they get older.

image5. The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino returned this year with his eighth film and as always it was vintage Tarantino. The story of eight strangers stuck in a remote cabin and some of them have some secrets that are about to come out. Once again, he perfectly cast every role, making it as entertaining as ever. Filled with the style of dialogue accustomed of a Tarantino movie and with a bit of a “who done it?” story line it keeps you engaged the whole time. Read my full review here

image4. Creed

Young filmmaker Ryan Coogler made a bold attempt to make yet another Rocky movie and he has made the best one since the first one. Bravely making Rocky the secondary character and instead, focusing on Apollo Creed’s son that was born after his death. Stallone gave up all control for the first time in a Rocky movie and it has brought him his first acting Oscar nomination. Coogler brought fresh eyes to the series and made a serious name for himself. Read my full review here

image3. The Big Short

The crash of the housing market in 2008 was one of the biggest economic disasters in US history. Nobody saw it coming, except a handful of people and no one would listen to their warnings. This is the story of how they tried to alert people as the economy began to collapse and how it would forever change their lives. A terrific cast is just one of the many reasons to see this movie. Read my full review here

image2. The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances of his career as frontier man Hugh
Glass who horrifically mauled by a grizzly bear and eventually left ford. Glass would nurse himself healthy enough to track down those who left him and exact revenge. DiCaprio immersed himself so deeply in this role that you honestly believe he is Hugh Glass. Tom Hardy is
John Fitzgerald, who left Glass for dead and falsely reported that he had died, to the group that commissioned him to stay with him until he passed.

image1. Spotlight

The story of the Boston Globe, team of journalists who uncovered one of the most disturbing cover up conspiracies and the effects it had, is without a doubt the most powerful movie you will see this year. The entire city of Boston is rocked to its core when it is revealed the amount of priests that were habitually molesting children and being protected by the Catholic Church. With a stellar ensemble cast and perfect performances by every single cast member it is without a doubt my favorite movie of the year. Read my full review here

The Anticipation Is Over For Star Wars Fans. The Force Awakens Is Here

imageNot since the release of the first of the 3 prequels has there been a more anticipated movie release in history. I think it would be safe to say that the release of The Force Awakens is more anticipated than any other Star Wars film yet. Fans are eager to wash the bad taste out of their mouth that the prequels unfortunately left. When the news broke that George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm Ltd to Walt Disney Studios the first question everyone wanted answered was, “would this bring any new Star Wars films”? It didn’t take long at all for them to get their answer. Yes, they would. It was quickly announced that there would be a concluding trilogy to take place after Return Of The Jedi. JJ Abrams was given the keys to the kingdom when he was asked to write and direct Episode VII. He promised a return to what everyone loved about the originals and to make the movie the fans deserved. Without any George Lucas involvement and a true fan at the helm, fans had a lot of reasons to be optimistic.

It didn’t take long for the story to come together as well as the cast. Despite constant media attention from the original announcement things were kept relatively secret. Pictures slowly leaked and characters’ names but not much else would be known. The more footage and photos made their way online the more the anticipation built. For the last couple months eagerness was palpable. This is the most exciting weekend in any Star Wars fan’s lifetime. So many questions bubble forth. Would Abrams deliver? Would it be what we hoped for from the prequels? Would it have the authentic feel we missed? To all these questions the answer is a resounding YES!!

I should clarify, this is not the greatest movie in the series. There is NO DOUBT that they are headed in the right direction. It is clearly washing away any uneasy feelings that the prequels left lingering. There is no sign of ego in this film as there were when Lucas made the last 3. Lucas wanted to experiment and lost his drive and vision when he created the earliest Anakin years. He slightly redeemed himself with Revenge Of The Sith, but that shouldn’t give him a pass on almost destroying the entire franchise, including his terrible reproductions of the original three.

The Force Awakens picks up some 30 years after the end of Jedi. The imagerebellion had lost its power and the empire has reemerged and are now known as the first order. The rebellion is now known as the resistance. The stories of Luke and Han and Leia are legendary and at the same time believed to be myths. When a storm trooper begins to have an attack of conscience and helps a resistance pilot escape from captivity it sends him on a journey he was hoping to separate himself from. When Finn and the rescued pilot Poe crash on the planet of Jakuu they are soon separated and Finn is unexpectedly teamed up with an orphan scavenger named Rey. When Rey discovers a droid named BB-8 who is carrying vital information as to the location of Luke Skywalker, who has long since gone into hiding after his attempt to train a new breed of Jedi goes terribly wrong when a student quickly is drawn to the dark side.

The journey to bring the map of Luke’s location into the hands of the resistance has many familiar faces when Han Solo is reunited with his ship, the legendary Millennium Falcon and a young crew of Rey and Finn, who soon learn that the stories of the rebellion are not just stories but that they are truth.

imageThe first order is in pursuit of the same map for fear that if it falls into the hands of the resistance they may find the power they need to once again take down the evil overlooking government. Kylo Ren is the pupil of Supreme Leader Snoke and hopes to walk in the footsteps of Darth Vader and to succeed. Where he could not. Kylo Ren has the inexperience of youth and an almost uncontrollable temper standing in his way.

The Force Awakens follows very closely the blueprint that A New Hope laid out 38 years ago. This is not due to a lack of originality, but because this is the best way to set up the films that will follow. This allows you to get to form an attachment to the newest characters.

New comers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega clearly steal the film with their performances which is not easy when sharing the screen with the iconic Han and Leia and Chewy. Seeing as how it’s been 32 years since Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were in character form there is some definite rust in their performances. Ford brings his classic dry humor and nerd herder presence, while Fisher shows it has been some time since she had to do any acting more than guest appearances or cameos as she is clearly the most out of sync actor on the screen.

When all is said and done, fans of Star Wars can rest easy that the franchise is back in capable hands. Don’t expect this film to be the greatest movie you have seen, but that it is the first step in what will be a great new path laid in the name of Star Wars.

Hollywood’s Creativity Is Dead….But It Doesn’t Have To Be

It’s been 438 days since my last article. Lately I’ve been mulling over in my mind why it has been so long. Life has taken many turns and Hollywood has also. Two years to the day that I started this blog, we lost quite possibly, my favorite working actor in Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Not long after that, on August 11 another favorite in Robin Williams was gone. This was only less than 3 months after my last post. I considered writing posts for Williams and others who have passed in between then and now. I think the reason the motivation has left me is sad, because my belief that Hollywood could produce the imagination, it had and the ability to captivate its audiences with originality and grace, was gone. Two of the most ambitious and daring actors of our time were gone. With releases shortly after, that were not totally grounded in movie originality, the business of movies just continued on.  Things have not changed in all this time. The anticipation in films are not original. Not to say that I’m not looking forward to the new James Bond film or the new Star Wars film, but where has the imagination gone? Have we become content with mediocre novels and any comic book ever written?

I’m not trying to shoot down the comic book or super hero genre. And I’m all for finding books that translate well to film, but is that the only source left? That isn’t to say that the original films aren’t being made, they are. The fame and recognition have just been small. The depth of characters and franchises is also dissipating.

Where are the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back To The Future and Terminator type stories and depth? Granted 2 of those involved George Lucas, who is highly regarded. But that’s not to say he was the only one. And I certainly don’t want to say creativity has disappeared. But where is it to be found?

I have one major selective group of imaginative people that could be suggested. Video game creators could be hugely responsible for the next franchise of domination in film. I’m not talking Resident Evil or even making Halo or Call of Duty into major motion pictures. I’m suggesting that before the stories are created and before the games are submitted to the gaming companies, they are considered by studios.

Since the dawn of film, writers have been the underpaid group. This has been proven by multiple strikes and outcry from the writing community. A little coin and recognition could really change the game. Hollywood claims to be losing billions in the theater market to pirating. There is no debating this topic. But the question is why?

The biggest franchises, action and fun films, in the last 10 years have shattered box office records. People and fans are willing to go and pay for the experience. Star Wars and Bond will once again prove this, come winter time.

It’s not impossible to bring these magical, wondrous times back to reality. Fans are not above accepting re-vamped stories, but we also want originality that we can get behind and embrace. It’s out there it just needs to be given the right voice!

A Look Back At The All Time Greatest Summer Blockbusters

As we all know it’s summer blockbuster season and we have already looked at what may be the big movies of the summer and we know that The Avengers has already set the opening weekend box office record but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best summer blockbuster of all time. Let’s take a look back and see what has been the best summer blockbuster which doesn’t exactly mean the biggest either.

We will examine the top 5 all-time best summer blockbusters ever. These are movies that have transcended generations of viewers and have stood the test of time not just what was a big money maker when it arrived. Here is the list 10-1 let the debating begin.

 

10. Alien

Ridley Scott’s epic sci-fi tale proved to be his breakout film even though he had a well received debut feature film with The Duelist. It was a terrifying adventure unlike anything that had been seen before. With a great cast, Alien made a star out of it’s director an lead, Sigourney Weaver. The futuristic tale of blue collar workers in space who come across a breading ground for the most violent and scary aliens seen on screen to that point instantly became a phenomenon. Alien had made an impact with memorable scenes like the birth of the alien through the stomach of John Hurt and left fans clamoring for more which they most definitely would get.

 9. Terminator 2

James Cameron’s follow up to his breakout feature, The Terminator, 7 years after it’s initial release. Fan’s had been waiting all 7 years for a follow up to what, at that time, was the greatest action movie ever. Turning things around and introducing an enemy whom seemed to be invincible and making the former villain the now hero was a great move. The further development of the story and more details made it a much more engaging story to go along with it’s great action and groundbreaking effects.

 8. Braveheart

Mel Gibson’s second directing effort has gone down in film history and continues to be as powerful as it was on May 24, 1995. It is considered by many to be the greatest “Guy Movie” of all time, yet the love William Wallace had for his wife and what it drove him to do is also considered by many women to be the greatest love shown on screen. Bringing back the epic film is something that is not overlooked on Gibson’s greatest cinematic achievement and the epic film shows no signs of going away. the same cannot be said for Gibson’s career and credibility.

 7. The Dark Knight

Without a doubt the most recent film on our list but that does not take away from how great this movie was. Anchored unquestionably by Heath Ledger’s performance, which may be in a top 5 list of greatest performances ever, it was a truly engaging and compelling movie. The Dark Knight is quite possibly the greatest superhero/comic book movie ever and continues to be as the genre grows and gets more popular. It’s action and terrific character development, combined with having scenes shot with an IMAX camera and making the most of it. While it was a crying shame that Ledger wasn’t able to enjoy his and it’s success, there is no better film for him to be fondly remembered for.

6. Jurassic Park

The movie that wowed movie goers all summer long with it’s outstanding special effects the brought the term CGI into the national vocabulary. With a great adaptation to Michael Crichton’s best selling novel, Jurassic Park thrilled audiences and kept everyone coming back for more all summer long.

 5. Batman (1989)

Tim Burton brought to life his favorite comic book hero reviving the comic book genre in grand fashion. Staring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker now ranks second to Ledger’s but was still as haunting. With screen shots almost directly out of the comic book, Burton’s Batman is still among one of the best of the genre and proved to not only be a high grossing, great film but a marketing masterpiece.

4. Back To The Future

Michael J. Fox was already a household name with his daytime job on TV’s Family Ties but Back To The Future catapulted him into super stardom. A movie that has become a staple of the decade of the 80’s despite taking place almost entirely in the 50’s. With a memorable and greatly original script and a theme song to go along with it, Back To The Future quickly became one of the most beloved films of all time.

 3. Raiders Of The Lost Ark

We declared this movie the greatest adventure film of all time. A great story, exotic locations and a leading man that is loved equally by men and women. No boy went and saw this movie and didn’t come out cracking a whip and wanting a fedora hat. Indiana Jones went down as one of the greatest heroes in cinema and it all started with Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

 2. Star Wars (1977)

The greatest sci-fi movie ever and the ultimate space adventure took a nation by storm not only on the screen but in toy boxes, on t-shirts and on lunch boxes in every school in America. George Lucas cemented his legacy while taking the country by storm with some of the greatest character and alien creations ever and costumes that everyone wanted a piece of. Anyone could make a very strong and legitimate claim to make this number one but we have reasons that make this number 2.

 1. Jaws

Jaws, plain and simple, created what is now summer blockbuster season. It made everyone afraid to go into the water the whole summer it was out and for many more years to come. Jaws is the original summer blockbuster. It made Steven Spielberg’s career and proved to all future films that even a special effects movie can be a GREAT movie. It is a film that has been thrust into the annals of box office legends setting records never before thought of, let alone seen. Jaws also gave the disaster movie a new enemy to fight, mother nature’s beast of the ocean. Perfectly cast and with as great a background story as is on the screen, it will terrify new viewers for generations to come.

We understand we couldn’t include more and that many of you will have your own choices so we decided to create and honorable mention list for some that weren’t quite top 10 quality but still were worthy.

Spiderman

Toy Story

Independence Day

Men In Black

Top Gun

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