Holonet Blast #5

Only a few items of note this week, so let’s get to them!


Michael Kenneth Williams, perhaps best known as Omar on The Wire, has joined the as-yet-untitled Han Solo spinoff film! That’s literally all we know; no character hints whatsoever. Seems like LFL is at least starting to get the “wow, that’s a lot of white folks” memo, though. Faster than Marvel is, at any rate. (Source)

via StarWars.com

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Holonet Blast #2

Lots of news this week! New books! New The Last Jedi details! New hair! Let’s dive right in, shall we?


Though rumored as early as December 2015, it’s now official; following the death of original Star Wars actor Kenny Baker, going forward (beginning with this December’s The Last Jedi) the adorable astromech will be portrayed by Doctor Who veteran Jimmy Vee. I guess this makes him R2-D2-2. (source)

via OhSoSmall.com

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Review: Star Wars: Rogue One

There’s a hell of a lot riding on Rogue One just like there was for The Force Awakens. The good news? Rogue One soars and sets a high (but not perfect) standard for any following Star Wars Stories.

The story is fairly straightforward especially if you’re even vaguely familiar with A New Hope. Galen Erso has been forced to work on the Death Star by his old friend Orson Krennic. Whispers of this weapon convince the Rebel Alliance to pull his unwilling daughter Jyn Erso into their fight. She finds herself on a mission to rescue the father she hasn’t seen in over a decade and suddenly a part of something far bigger. Oh. And they’re going to have to steal the Death Star plans.  Continue reading

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray

Finally, after an interminable wait of three and a half months (anyone remember when films took a year or longer to come to video? No? Just me?), we have the home video release, on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD, of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Is it the home video release we’ve all been hoping for, or a bare-bones offering designed to tide us over until a sequel trilogy boxed set is released with the real goods? A little from column A, a little from column B, it turns out. Read on to see what I mean.

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Our 2015 Superlatives – Movies Edition

It’s the end of 2015, which means it’s time for Best of Lists! Here at Tosche Station, we thought we’d break up our lists into categories, and post a different topic per day.

In this installment, we discuss our favorite movies of 2015.

Nanci – I went back and forth on my favorite movie of the year (other than The Force Awakens, of course), but in the end I had to choose Mad Max: Fury Road. (My other option was The Martian.) What can I say? This movie is so shiny and chrome. I didn’t catch this in the theatre (along with being lax in reading books, I was very lax in going to the movies this year), but I really wish I had. I was glued to this story from the first scene, and couldn’t take my eyes off it while watching it at home. Usually I’ll be watching a movie or TV show while surfing the internet, but Fury Road captured my entire attention. Imperator Furiosa is such an amazing character, and I was not expecting Nicholas Hoult to make my cry.

Saf – This is hard, because though I adored Mad Max: Fury Road and think it’s a cinematic masterpiece, Mockingjay Part 2 is the film I’ve gone to see the most (other than TFA, obviously) and will continue to watch a lot once it’s out on Blu-ray. The Hunger Games basically owns what life I have outside of Star Wars already, so I think Mockingjay wins out for me.

Bria – By far and away, my favorites this year were Ex Machina for completely blowing my mind and Man from UNCLE for being so gosh darn delightful.  I can’t pick between them because I loved them both for completely different reasons.

Brian – Easy choice for me, The Martian. In what was a thoroughly amazing year for science fiction in the cinema, this one stood out. The hopeful tones, the brilliant one liners, the funny to balance the dread. Wonderful return to form for Ridley Scott.

Star Wars: Industry Prophet

My hopes for The Force Awakens are somewhat broader than simply hoping the film is entertaining, or that it ushers in a new era of quality Star Wars live-action content the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1980. Each Star Wars film, good or bad, has had a considerable impact on not only the pop culture conversation, but on the disposition and direction of the film industry itself. The idea that The Force Awakens will be no different seems a foregone conclusion. My hope, then, is that the resulting shift is a positive one.

Look out New Hollywood, the Stormtroopers are coming!

New Hollywood was NOT trampled under the jackboots of the Stormtroopers, despite what some critics and historians claim.

Even claiming the Star Wars films were responsible for those shifts in the industry is an oversimplification. The first Star Wars film, in 1977, is often cited as the death knell of the “New Hollywood” era, a period auterists tend to look on as a golden age of cinema, when filmmakers were given the creative freedom to realize their artistic visions without much, if any, studio oversight. Easy Rider, The French Connection, Taxi Driver — even films such as The Exorcist and The Godfather are considered part of this wave of unbridled creativity and artistic freedom. And then, if you believe certain critics, Star Wars came along — a big-budget, crowd-pleasing “popcorn” film of dubious artistic merit — made a ton of money, and ruined everything for the “serious” filmmakers.

Films like William Friedkin's The French Connection were an example of studios' "hands off" policy during the '70s. [20th Century Fox]

Films like William Friedkin’s The French Connection were an example of studios’ “hands off” policy during the ’70s. [20th Century Fox]

This is, of course, not precisely fair. The shift away from “New Hollywood” and complete creative control from filmmakers was already well under way by the time Star Wars came along. Disastrous productions like Apocalypse Now, and self-indulgent bloated flops like Heaven’s Gate were the primary catalysts for a re-establishment of studio control. Huge moneymakers like Jaws, Grease, even Rocky, helped pave the way for the era of the “blockbuster”. And the then-unheard of practice of wide-release — that is, releasing a film simultaneously in theatres across the county — standard practice today, of course, was not pioneered by Star Wars or even Jaws, but by The Godfather.

Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather pioneered the now-standard practice of wide release. [Paramount]

Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather pioneered the now-standard practice of wide release. [Paramount]

It may be more fair, then, to look at a new Star Wars film (or, perhaps more practically, a new Star Wars trilogy) as less the direct catalyst for a shift in the industry, but more as a signpost, an indication of which way the wind is blowing. Computer-generated special effects were not exactly new when The Phantom Menace came along; morphing effects had long been used in films like Terminator 2 and Star Trek VI; Jurassic Park, Jumanji, and Dragonheart all featured computer-generated creatures; and even Independence Day, praised for it’s realistic practical effects, utilized computers to generate the F-18 Hornets, missiles, debris, and other elements. Indeed, digital effects had already been introduced into the Star Wars universe by way of the Special Editions. The CGI effects in The Phantom Menace were undoubtedly more numerous (and more noticeable) than in any film that had come before, but films like Titanic, The Matrix, and The Mummy were already proving that more complicated effects could be created using computers. If The Phantom Menace hadn’t pushed the proliferation of CGI forward, something else would have.


We have Jar-Jar to thank for The Lord of the Rings. Kinda.

So, what are my hopes for The Force Awakens? My hope for The Force Awakens is that it gives me hope for the industry as a whole. Studio films are becoming larger and more unwieldy as time goes on. Blockbusters are all the studios are producing nowadays, at the expense of low or even medium-budget films. Most key, quality has been replaced by spectacle, nuance by noise, character by destruction. Now, a shift away from this is an unrealistic expectation to place on a well-known, highly-anticipated franchise film with a huge special effects budget and owned by one of the largest companies on the planet.

Films like Man of Steel and Star Trek Into Darkness (pictured) proved that bigger isn't always better. [Paramount]

Films like Man of Steel and Star Trek Into Darkness (pictured) proved that bigger isn’t always better. [Paramount]

But what if Kasdan and Abrams bring nuance and character back to the blockbuster? What if the change in the air predicted by and reflected in this film is of a smaller and more manageable scale for big-budget studio extravaganzas? I’m not expecting Star Wars to make studio heads suddenly start pouring their resources into smaller films — how could I, since Star Wars is, at this point, as big as it gets (and is primed to make truckloads of money)? If anything, The Force Awakens would seem primed to reinforce what studio heads already believe — that bigger is better, and original scripts are a loser’s game.

IS an awakening coming?

IS an awakening coming?

But what if there’s a sign, a hint woven into the fabric of the film, a quality to the movie’s texture — something, anything that might indicate this industry is stepping back from the abyss it finds itself teetering at the edge of? I’m grasping at straws, I’m well aware. But the industry can’t sustain this “bigger is better” business model for much longer. The bubble is going to pop. I’m not claiming the “death of cinema” is on it’s way, but a change is coming. Realistically, it has to be. And what if The Force Awakens is, in some small way, a harbinger of that change?

Star Wars has always been a signpost of things to come. My hope for this film, in a nutshell, is that the signs are good ones.

Rian Johnson officially confirmed for Episode VIII, first standalone to be Rogue One

Star_Wars_logoPretty much the whole world has known for a while that Episode VIII’s director would be Rian Johnson, but Bob Iger and Disney made it official today.

Iger confirmed that Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII. The film, which continues the saga after the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is set for release on May 26, 2017 — forty years and a day after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.

Of note is Star Wars returning to a traditional May release window. Looks like we’ll only be doing one holiday Star Wars episodic release. Believe it or not, though, this wasn’t the biggest announcement in this press release. We finally have the name of the first standalone film: Rogue One.

Rogue One is the title for the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga. Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) and written by Oscar nominee Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy, Antz). The first actress cast is Felicity Jones, who garnered an Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim for her performance in The Theory of Everything.

Be still my heart! I mean, we don’t really know what the film is about, but it’s hard to see that title and not think Rogue Squadron and military science fiction. And, hey, there’s a lot of great written material to draw inspiration from.

Go/No-Go: Jupiter Ascending


Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment. Today on the launch pad: Jupiter Ascending. It’s a film that cost a lot of money to make but has been struggling in the box office.  How does our launch crew feel despite the critics’ thoughts?  To mission control for the verdict!

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Spider-Man to Appear in Marvel Cinematic Universe While 4 Marvel Release Dates are Pushed Back

spider-man newspaperSony and Marvel Studios have formed a Spidey-based partnership, according to Marvel’s official site:

Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.

Notably, the release refers to the character as “Spider-Man” rather than “Peter Parker,” with one exception:

“Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future,” added Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group.

While Belgrad doesn’t explicitly state that Peter and Spidey are one-and-the-same in this case, it is implied. If they are indeed the same, it will be the second film reboot of Peter Parker as Spider-Man in less than five years and the third film version of the character in less than fifteen. I’d find a film starring Mile Morales, the current Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate comics universe, to be a breath of fresh air, but if don’t get to have that, perhaps they’ll at least get more creative with Spidey’s casting this time and choose an actor who isn’t white.

In addition to the news that they and Sony will be working together on Spider-Man, Marvel has pushed back the release dates of four previously announced films, possibly to give the new Spider-Man film some space. Thor: Ragnarok, previously scheduled for July 2017, will now be released on what had previously been Black Panther‘s release date of November 3, 2017, Black Panther will now come out on Captain Marvel‘s old release date of July 6, 2018, Captain Marvel is getting Inhumans‘ previous date of November 2, 2018, and Inhumans will now be released on July 12, 2019. You can read Marvel’s full announcement on the moved release dates here.

All Three Prequels to be Shown in 3D at Celebration–Including Revenge of the Sith

RotS 3D logoThe latest issue of Star Wars Insider reveals that there will be 3D screenings of the entire Prequel Trilogy, as well as standard screenings of the Original Trilogy, at Celebration Anaheim. These screenings will include the long-delayed 3D premiere of Revenge of the Sith, so if you’ve been waiting to see it you will now have a chance.

(via Yakface)