IR Interview: Jake Gyllenhaal & The Real Life Jeff Bauman Talk About Narcissism of Trailer Reaction Videos, Angering Family & ‘Stronger’

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

On April 15, 2015 Jeff Bauman tragically lost his legs as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing and then fought all obstacles to get back on his own two feet to become an inspiration for not only the city of Boston, but the entire country. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers one of his most powerful performances to date playing Jeff in David Gordon Green’s masterpiece chronicling Jeff’s heroic struggle, Stronger.

What follows below is an interview with both the real Jeff Bauman and his on screen counterpart, Jake Gyllenhaal from 9/12/17, the afternoon before the Boston premiere of their film.

 

Please note that this interview may be edited slightly for content and clarity.

Q: How much of Jeff’s story did you know before going into the film?

Jake Gyllenhaal: I really had only seen the photograph of Jeff initially before I had read the screenplay. So it was sort of in reverse order in this case. So really, it was just that image, which was a really a generalized image that was sent around via the media. I never thought that in a million years that our lives would intersect in the way that they have. Now you could probably ask me anything about the idiosyncrasies of his family and I’d probably have an answer, but at the time I just saw that image.

 

Q: So you and Jeff are pretty tight now?

JG: Yup. Unfortunately for him. That is true.

Jeff Bauman: I’m just happy you have a close friend.

JG: (Laughing) Yeah, I know. Whenever asked about my work and then my life, he always says that I have no life. Which is really… great. And no friends.

JB: One.

JG: Yeah, you’re right, I have one.

 

Q: How much time did you guys spend together before filming?

JG: I mean, we spent-

JB:-A year and a half. Right? Off and on. You were busy doing stuff and you’d come back to Boston and we’d chill and do things, hit comedy shows, go out to eat.

JG: Yeah. Pretty much, yeah. As we got closer to production we sort of set up camp here and we were here for about six months prior to filming. Since I was producing the movie as well, I was driving back and forth from New York. I live in New York. So I was going from New York to (Boston) every few days for about five months. In that period of time, as we were location scouting and we were doing all this other stuff… Casting and stuff like that, we’d go out to dinner, or we would hang out, or go out to Jeff’s house or whatever it would be. It would either be me and (Director) David Gordon Green going over to Jeff or Jeff coming to us, or me going out and seeing Jeff alone. But throughout all of it we always would text. And then, not to say he disappeared, but he disappeared in person when we were shooting. It was just sort of something that happened, but we would text all the time and then we came back into seeing each other more often after that.

 

Q: Was there any hesitation into turning this into a movie? Were you concerned with how people would see you or your family after this?

JB: I’m not really worried about people… how they see me, I guess. My family is tough. I’m not them. It’s like, where do I draw the line with their privacy? Where do we draw the line to keep the story truthful? I guess that’s probably the biggest challenge going into it. It’s like… Then how far can we go with it? Right now my mom’s kind of sore at me. She is, Ma Dukes is sore.

JG: She was psyched after the reviews came out. Then she was like, “I’m not so sore.”

JB: No, she’s so happy. She’s my mother, she wants me to be successful. But then she’s like, “My apartment is not that dirty.”

(Laughter)

JB: “Can you tell Miranda… why is my place so… why is there stuff everywhere?” She’s like, kind of immaculate and very meticulous in what she has in her apartment. It’s like OCD-ish. So she was really upset about that.

JG: With all the mess of the movie and the complications of (Jeff’s) personality and his family, but the profound love of all of them was what we were trying to get at. We knew there was a love there. This guy wouldn’t be here right now without all that love… From the city, from his family, from his friends that they just unquestionably gave him. It was without question and without doubt. But they are not without their complications and neither is he and that was important for us to show. Along with all the complications that come as a result of his injuries.

 

Q: Have the rest of your family and friends seen the film yet?

JB: Yes, most of them. There’s a lot of people coming tonight that haven’t seen it, so I’m excited for that, but it’s a rough story. It hits home to everybody. During this whole process, I’m an isolated kind of person. That’s why it’s probably so hard for Jake to crack who I was. To figure it out took a long time, because I don’t really open up. I was going through a rough time inside my head as you guys saw in the film. I was in a rough spot.

 

Q: Has this process been therapeutic for you?

JB: Yeah, in a way. I do a lot of public speaking now and go around and tell my story. I’ve been fortunate to do that and that has been really therapeutic, getting my story out there to a group of people and talking about it. That’s pretty cool. Definitely the movie has been really interesting. Not everybody has a movie made about them and it’s super interesting to be a part of it and to see what goes into it. Then to see the finished product, it makes even me cry. It makes me think about what I went through and where I am now. It’s like, alright I’m here I’m right where I need to be, with my daughter. That’s amazing. The whole thing is pretty surreal for me.

 

Q: How do you even prepare, physically and mentally for something like this?

JG: (Deep breath) Well, I think there are a number of thi- In truth, I don’t think there’s any real preparation, because the experience Jeff had, (to Jeff) You often say it’s like being sucker punched in a way. There’s not preparation for that experience, you know? All I can say is that the process that Jeff went through, in rehabilitation and even recovery initially, I tried to learn as much as I could about it. I tried to understand exactly what it’s like, what the surgeries are like. I’m not one to just goes, OK, I learned that Dr. Kalish, his doctor, did his amputations and that was it. There were a lot of other surgeries and the details of that. And the painkillers and even that suture scene. That came from us saying that we need to show how painful this is. There’s a lot of that and I just think that where you get an understanding is not just with Jeff, but it’s from the periphery. It’s from everyone around him. It’s from the layers of people that helped. It’s from their experience with other people who have been through trauma. It kind of goes very deep. So there’s a lot of research. There are a lot of talks. Dr. Kalish is in the movie. Odessa, his nurse, is in the movie. Michelle, his Physical Therapist, is in the movie. All of these people are in the movie, not because we always thought that we’d put these people in the movie, but because David Gordon Green and I had a meeting with Dr. Kalish to understand all the stuff he had to do and what Jeff was going through, and in the middle of it David couldn’t cast an actor who could do the doctor part that well. They just kept acting like a doctor and he turned to me and was like, “Hey, what if Dr. Kalish played the doctor?” So we had Dr. Kalish audition for the doctor and he was HORRIBLE.

(Laughter)

JB: He’s a great Surgeon.

(Laughter)

JG: Yeah. He couldn’t say the lines, but then we were like what if he just talks to my character like he would to any patient, the way he talked to Jeff and the way he talked to Jeff’s parents when he had to talk to them and tell them the news. Sure enough we shot the scene and there’s Miranda (Richardson) and Clancy (Brown), playing Jeff’s parents and Dr. Kalish walks in the room, just as he would walk in the room to tell Jeff’s (real) parents the same thing. And they respond that way. It wasn’t written. And the same thing in that suture scene. He’s just telling me how it goes and the nurses are walking around and talking to me the way they would talk to me normally. All of those people ended up in the movie and it’s a result of trying to understand and prepare myself for the situation.

 

Q: How does the dynamic work for you with the director as an actor and as a producer?

JG: Like, how do I relate to the director as an actor or do you mean how do I participate? Are you asking what is it the fuck that I actually do? (Laughter) Is that what you’re asking me in a much more articulate way? Like, why are you here?

 

Q: We were all wondering. But there had to be additional responsibilities as a producer.

JB: I could see it. He was all over me like a fuckin boss.

(Laughter)

JG: I know, I know. I have a lot of experience, I’ve been doing this for a while now. I’ve been an actor for a while now and I grew up in a family who happened to make films, so it’s a family business. And I love the other aspects of making movies besides acting. I’ve produced a couple of films but this is the first film that my company has produced. So there’s a lot at stake for me and (it’s) a really important story already, as is. But there’s other things at stake for me, you know? As a result I put my heart and my soul into it because this story needs to be told and not a lot of people would have made it and it was hard to get made. In terms of involvement, it was a 24/7 job. I didn’t have a day off for… a good year. As soon as we knew this film was going to get made me and my producing partner we scoffed at anybody who got a day off, because we certainly didn’t. I think the same thing with Todd Lieberman. The three of us and David Gordon Green… it hasn’t stopped and it doesn’t stop until this movie comes out and even then it won’t stop, you know? I was involved in almost every discussion every step of the way. This isn’t a vanity project for me. This is a project that has unluckily gotten my blood and sweat and tears and I’m a smelly guy. That’s just part of it but I love it. I love making movies.

JB: This isn’t a vanity project?

(Laughter)

JG: No, but I think people think that with actors producing movies and stuff like that. I would say the person that sacrificed the most to get this movie made is Todd Lieberman, the man who bought the rights to the book and developed it and brought (screenwriter) John Pollono on and made those first early and very difficult choices when certain people didn’t believe in it. We joined up and when we joined up we realized that movies like this don’t get made that often because… it’s just a changing world. But we knew in our hearts that it was a move that people would see and it needed to be told.

 

Q: How do you take a local story that might have success here in Boston and turn that into global success?

JG: Every story is a local story. Do you know what I mean? I mean, I don’t think Thor is a local story.

(Laughter)

JG: Unless you’re from Rock-in-ock or whatever the hell land he’s from, you know?

JB: You know what hit me? I was thinking that, but then we go to Toronto and twenty-eight hundred people stand and they clap. And so many have liked it and took something from it. I was thinking the same thing. How do we get out of Boston? I was scared about Toronto.

JG: I don’t think you guys realize what an inspiration you are. Maybe that’s what it is. I think maybe that’s the feeling and that’s a wonderful thing. I think there’s that thing in Boston, there’s a humility, but there’s also a strength and this small town nature, but it is global. His story is about anybody that is struggling, anybody who is in a  space and doesn’t feel like they can get out of it, anybody who has lost anything, you know? We are all struggling or know somebody that is struggling and Jeff said it on his Facebook page, It doesn’t have to make headlines to be hard. I think that’s the reason why this story is for anyone. It’s the reason why, at a certain point, that we have to go door to door. because this is the type of movie that we don’t have a lot of opportunity or budget to get it out there like a lot of movies. So, we are, we’re going door to door. I’m convinced that if I have to go to people’s houses and take them off the couch and drive them to the theater to see this story, I will do it.

JB: I will, too.

JG: We’re walking there together. Every time I tell his story… When this trailer came out it was so crazy. The response to this trailer all over the world… I was in Spain and people knew about that trailer. I went down a rabbit hole of watching trailer reactions. I can’t believe people film themselves watching trailers. It’s like amazing narcissism, but it’s like really incredible because I went down that crazy rabbit hole for like three hours.

This (one) girl I saw had thirty-eight followers on her YouTube page and she was like, “I have those wrist things on my wrist every once in a while and it’s because I have arthritis in my wrists and maybe you guys see those sometimes. Sometimes I have pain so bad that I don’t want to got outside, but something like this makes me realize that I can go outside.” That’s what Jeff brings out. You can get through to a better place than you thought you could. Even when you’re in the darkest place. I don’t see how that’s not everyone’s story.

 

Q: What was the first thing you said to Jake after seeing the film?

JG: I can tell you that, it was a text.

JB: Good job.

(Laughter)

JG: Yeah you did, you wrote good job. I was like, “WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?!”

JB: Yeah, I said good job and went to sleep. For three days.

 

Q: Thanks guys, congrats on the film.

 

Stronger opens nationwide Friday, September 22.

Advertisements

Check Out the New CHEW Poyo Mini-bust From Skelton Crew Right Here, Motherclucker!

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief

If you’ve never checked out the great stuff that Skelton Crew Studio has released in the past I suggest you make haste and head on over to their site immediately HERE. They’ve quietly been creating some of the coolest merchandise for properties like Hellboy, Mouseguard, Locke and Key, Joe Hill and Chew (among many others).

Speak of Chew, The talented folks over at SCS have created a pretty amazing mini-bust for Poyo, everyone’s favorite doomsday device/chicken fighter capable of wiping out entire armies. The nearly five inch tall mini-bust is super detailed, featuring all the cybernetic components you love, the metal crate used to drop him in wherever his brand of destruction is needed AND a Poyo fight ticket signed by Chew creators John Layman and Rob Guillory

Make sure you act fast, as this Poyo mini-bust will only be available until October 16 and then it’s gone forever!

Official Release:

Skelton Crew Studio Unveils Secret Agent Poyo Statue

From the pages of “CHEW” to collectors’ shelves comes one bad motherclucker

 

Litchfield, ME — Skelton Crew Studio, a comic book replica studio based in the wilds of Maine, has collaborated with “CHEW” creators John Layman and Rob Guillory to create a brand new mini-bust of fan favorite Poyo.

This officially licensed bust stands 4.75-inches tall and has been long awaited by fans since the original Poyo mini-bust sold out in 2014. Secret Agent Poyo is a brand new sculpt by Jamie Macfarlane featuring the rooster’s cybernetic components, as well as the metal crate used to drop Poyo into hot zones.

Skelton Crew Studio has worked with the “CHEW” creators since 2012 when it released the original pink 6-inch vinyl Chog. Every piece of “CHEW” merchandise released by the studio has sold out, so fans are encouraged to order early.

“This bionic badass bird is beautiful,” said studio head Israel Skelton. “The original Poyo is without a doubt one of the most popular pieces we’ve ever produced judging by the number of can’t-you-please-release-him-again emails we get every month, so we’re stoked to be able to offer him to fans again in this gorgeous variant.”

As a sweet fan bonus, every mini-bust will come with a Poyo fight ticket signed by Layman and Guillory.

Secret Agent Poyo is only available for one month, until Oct. 16, before he’s sold out and flown the coop for keeps.

“Skelton Crew has always brought an incomparable attention to detail to every piece of ‘CHEW’ merch they’ve produced, and we couldn’t be happier with the addition of Secret Agent Poyo to their catalogue,” said Guillory. “As always, they nailed it.”

Added Layman: “Teaming up with Skelton Crew is one of the best things that ever happened to ‘CHEW.’ They are great people, and their commitment to quality is unparalleled. I love all the stuff they’ve done for ‘CHEW,’ but I love this new Poyo statue. It’s one of the best things yet!”

Fans can find the Secret Agent Poyo mini-bust and other limited edition replicas at www.skeltoncrewstudio.com

About Skelton Crew Studio: Israel Skelton founded the studio in 2008 and it was behind IDW’s San Diego Comic Con exclusive Ghost Key for “Locke & Key” in 2009. In the last eight years, it has created officially licensed merchandise for best-selling and award-winning comic book series that include “CHEW,” “Hellboy,” “B.P.R.D.,” “Locke & Key,” “Mouse Guard,” “Head Lopper,” “Revival” and many more. The studio’s been featured on the A.V. Club’s Pop Culture Gift Guide, G4’s “Attack of the Show!”, MTV, Nerdist and dozens of other news and pop culture sites. Skelton has been sculpting and creating for more than 30 years.

J.J. Abrams Directing ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ – Release Date Changes to 12/20/19

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

It’s far from the most exciting news, but J.J. Abrams, the man responsible for introducing us to us Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, Constable Zuvio, the lovable BB-8 and the dastardly Supreme Leader Snoke is stepping back behind the camera once again for Star Wars Episode IX. Abrams steps in for recently departed director Colin Trevorrow. While I think this is a good choice, (especially if this means Abrams has a little more time to work all of the story kinks out) it’s certainly not what many were hoping for, i.e. a woman or person of color (which is a valid criticism). Abrams will work with Oscar winning writer, Chris Terrio (Argo), on the script for Episode IX. Hopefully with Abrams collaborating the script ends up more like Argo and less like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Abrams coming back in to the fold to complete the trilogy is exactly what Lucasfilm needs right now, a safe and known commodity whom they seem to trust. After all, he did deliver them the highest grossing film NOT directed by someone with the last name Cameron. After parting ways with Chris Lord and Phil Miller and now Trevorrow a few short months later, Lucasfilm is quickly developing a reputation as an unfriendly place for creatives, especially when you pair the (seemingly justifiable) firing of Josh Trank and sidelining Gareth Edwards in favor of Tony Gilroy to direct the re-shoots for Rogue One. Between Rian Johnson quietly putting the finishing touches on The Last Jedi, Ron Howard completing work on the Untitled Han Solo Film and Abrams now at work on Episode IX, they buy themselves quite a bit of time for the director controversy fires to die down.

I certainly had issues with The Force Awakens, it wasn’t a perfect film, it had warts and certain parts could certainly have been executed better, but ultimately it FELT like Star Wars in a way that the Prequel Trilogy never did. I’m honestly excited to see what Abrams is able to accomplish with this final film now that he and Johnson have set these characters on their respective paths.

Official Release:
J.J. Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to complete the sequel trilogy as writer and director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.
“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release on December 20, 2019.

Check Out the Details for the Star Wars AR Experience Dropping on Force Friday!

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

 

Hey All, Jay here. We’ve been out of commission for a bit but Indie Revolver is still alive and we’ll be back and better than ever before you know it!

Until then, I wanted to post about the cool thing that Lucasfilm is doing as part of Force Friday II. The full release is below, but basically they’ve created a global augmented reality (AR) event where you will have the opportunity to activate a unique AR experience featuring Star Wars characters, including fan-favorites and new surprise additions from the upcoming film. You’ll need to locate the “Find the Force” graphic at participating locations to reveal a character through the Star Wars app. Return each day September 1-3 to reveal a different character (15 in total over the three days).

It actually sounds pretty fun. I know we’ll all be bum rushing the shelves for the newest figures and merchandise to satiate our needs, but this sounds like a pretty fun thing to do once we’re all done throwing elbows to get at those newest Hasbro Black Series figures.

Full Release:

 

Star Wars Fans Invited to “Find the Force” As Unprecedented Augmented Reality Event Sweeps the Globe for

Force Friday II

Fans to reveal a new The Last Jedi character via social media

New product line for Star Wars: The Last Jedi launches globally at            12:01 AM September 1

More than 20,000 retail locations worldwide will become home to

augmented reality Star Wars characters from September 1-3

 

GLENDALE, Calif. (August 24, 2017) –  Following the global phenomenon of Force Friday in 2015, Disney and Lucasfilm today announced Find the Force, a global augmented reality (AR) event rolling out on Force Friday II (September 1) to commemorate the worldwide launch of new products inspired by Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

 

The pop-up AR treasure hunt aims to unite fans around the world in the battle against the dark side in a unique three-day event at over 20,000 retail locations across 30 countries. As fans turn up to take home new The Last Jedi products, they will have the opportunity to activate a unique augmented reality experience featuring Star Wars characters, including fan-favorites and new surprise additions from the film.

 

“Force Friday II is a major milestone in the countdown to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars has always championed new technology, and we are excited that

augmented reality will allow fans to experience the universe in a whole new way,” says Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm.

 

From September 1-3, retailers around the world will invite fans to Find the Force by taking part in an AR treasure hunt. Here’s how it works: first, download the Star Wars App, which is your one-stop-shop for all things Star Wars (those who already have the app will need to download the latest version). Then, visit any one of 20,000 participating retail locations to find a graphic that contains the Find the Force logo. When you scan the graphic using the Star Wars App, you’ll reveal a character, who through augmented reality, will appear in the room with you. You can then take photos, record videos, and share the experience on social media. Come back each day to reveal new characters

(15 in total across the program’s three-day run). Click here for more information: www.starwars.com/findtheforce.

 

“Force Friday II puts fans right at the center of the action using augmented reality to bring our characters to life like never before. The technology theme continues in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi product line, which is our most innovative yet – we can’t wait for fans to see what’s in store.” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media.

 

Fans can download the latest version of the Star Wars App (v. 2.3 or higher) beginning Aug. 24 for an early look at the new Porg characters in AR before the AR treasure hunt goes live at retail.

 

By sharing photos or videos featuring the in-store AR characters on Twitter or Instagram using #FindtheForce and #Sweepstakes throughout Force Friday II weekend, fans in select global markets can participate in a sweepstakes for the chance to win the ultimate fan experience: tickets to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiere in December.

 

No Purchase Necessary. Enter sweepstakes between August 31, 2017 at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time (“PT”)/3:00 p.m. British Summer Time (“BST”) and September 4, 2017 at 2:59 a.m. PT/10:59 a.m. BST. Open to legal residents in 50 U.S. + D.C., Canada (excluding Quebec), Australia, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, France, South Korea and Chile who are 18+ or the age of majority in their place of residence, whichever is older. Limit 15 entries per person. There is 1 Grand Prize available to be won (ARV: US $4,500). Grand Prize winner must travel to Los Angeles, California USA on or about December 12, 2017. Visit starwars.com/findtheforce. for Official Rules including details on how to enter, additional eligibility requirements, prize descriptions and limitations. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty. Limited, Level 5, Chapel Street, South Yarra, Victoria 3141, Australia.

 

More information about Find the Force and a how-to video is available at www.starwars.com/findtheforce.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in U.S. theaters on December 15, 2017.

 

About Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media

Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI) is the business segment of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) that brings our Company’s stories and characters to life through innovative and engaging physical products and digital experiences across more than 100 categories, from toys and t-shirts, to apps, books and console games. DCPI comprises four main lines of business: Global Licensing, Disney Retail, Publishing and Digital Media, and Games, Apps, and Labs. The segment is home to world-class teams of app and game developers, licensing and retail experts, a leading retail business (Disney Store), artists and storytellers, and technologists who inspire imaginations and bring the magic of Disney into the daily lives of families and fans around the world.

 

About Lucasfilm Ltd.

Lucasfilm Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production. In addition to its motion-picture and television production, the company’s activities include visual effects and audio post-production, cutting-edge digital animation, interactive entertainment software, and the management of the global merchandising activities for its entertainment properties including the legendary STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES franchises. Lucasfilm Ltd. is headquartered in northern California.

 

Lucasfilm, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

Jay Talks to Writer/Director/Actor Zoe Lister-Jones About Her New Film Band Aid, All Female Crews and Why Comedic Actors Are Probably More Talented

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

In the new film Band Aid, writer/director/star Zoe Lister-Jones tackles the real-life issues that can plague even the best of relationships, from loss to dirty dishes being left in the sink and everything in between. When we’re first introduced to Anna (Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) it feels like we might have a front row seat to the end. They’re imploding quickly, with every little argument starting as a tributary connecting to a much bigger argument. The couple eventually embraces their shared love of playing music and rather than fight, they begin to take their peccadilloes and craft them into songs in order to heal their strained relationship. The result is a very funny and touching film, that gets everything right about the lows and highs of being in a real relationship.

I was able to sit down with Lister-Jones and her producer Natalia Anderson to discuss the film and we get into some fun areas, like the energy on an all-female set, why comedic actors tend to be the most versatile and my super neat handwriting. Band Aid expands to even more cities and theaters today!

The following interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Jay: What question are you already tired of answering? I probably have a page of them here.

Zoe Lister-Jones: (Looking at my notebook) Wow, you have such neat handwriting. Very impressive.

Jay: Don’t ask me to write anything in cursive. It’s all downhill from here.

Lister-Jones: I don’t want to make you take away questions. This is part of your job.

Jay: It’s fine. Which ones are you tired of?

Lister-Jones: I guess, probably, how did you come up with the story?

(At this point I took my pen and crossed off the first question on the page)

Lister-Jones: (Laughs)

Jay: Was the intention always that Band Aid would be your directorial debut?

Lister-Jones: When I first started writing it I did not know that I was going to direct it. The writing process was relatively quick; I wrote it in a few months. Then I started taking it to some producers and my (own) producer hat thought, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to get this made with me as the director,” because I was untested. I think as I went through that process I more and more understood that it was something that I really did want to direct and I didn’t really care if that meant that closed certain doors for me. I was willing to take the risk on myself (laughs).

Jay: Was there ever any concern balancing the tone of the film? There’s a lot of comedy along with a lot of drama AND the music aspect as well.

Lister-Jones: I wouldn’t say it was tough. It was intentional. I think the movies I respond to most are ones that can navigate both comedy and drama. I think that so much comedy is rooted in drama anyway. I think that there’s much more bleed over than people might expect. I think tonally I did have to ride that line as a director and make sure that we weren’t going too broad or too dark, but I also didn’t want to limit myself and be afraid to go too dark. I think I just wanted to portray Anna and Ben’s relationship authentically, which spans the gamut in terms of emotions.

Jay: I thought it struck a really nice balance between those heartfelt and the comedic. There were some moments that felt a broad but they felt earned.

Lister-Jones: Thanks.

Jay: It seems that comedic actors who take on dramatic roles tend to be much more successful at it than dramatic actors who take on comedic roles. What do you think the difference is?

Lister-Jones: I think comedy is really hard. I think that comedy requires timing, which I think is something that you born with. (laughs) Or at least something that you have to cultivate throughout a lifetime. It’s not something that you can turn on and off. I think that most comedians turned to comedy and cultivated a sense of timing in order to move through pain. I think that those two emotional subsets intersect much more often in comedians than necessarily a person who is a dramatic actor. Not to say that there aren’t dramatic actors who are good at comedy. I think it’s easier to… There’s like a school of acting in dramas where you can just kind of mumble and have a glazed over stare… (laughing) and people will buy it. In comedy you can’t, there’s no faking it. You’re either funny or you’re not. I think that comedies as a genre are much harder to make than dramas. Again, I think a drama has a lot more leeway to… I don’t know, live in non-spaces for huge swaths of time. I think comedy relies on story that’s much more muscular and performances that are much more muscular.

Jay: Did you approach Adam Pally and Fred Armisen because they had a musical background? I know Fred has one, I wasn’t sure about Adam. 

Lister-Jones: No. Adam, I went after him because I thought he was a really good actor and really funny. In the few times I met him we vibed and so I thought we would have good chemistry on screen. I foolishly, when I offered him the part I didn’t even know that he played guitar, which should have been a prerequisite. I just ended up lucking out that he could play guitar, and very well. Fred, I knew, played the drums. That was because Adam and I were not professional and legitimate musicians, although he’s very good. The drummer is obviously the backbone of a band. So, we really needed someone who knew what they were doing and Fred did.

Jay: How much did your own experience as an actor aid you as a director? As an actor were you observing and trying to pick things up from other directors while working on their sets?

Lister-Jones: Totally. I had written and produced and starred in three features before Band Aid and I think that was a great sort of boot camp, in terms of adding the director hat to the fray. I think that writing and producing have a lot of elements that intersect with the skillset required for a director. I think as an actor, yeah it’s an asset, because I was constantly interacting with directors and seeing what worked and what didn’t as an actor. That’s the key relationship, between director and an actor in order to shape a performance. So much of that is about the way that a director communicates to his or her actors. So I think that, yeah that definitely I was very much aware of in my career as an actor.

Jay: How tough is the transition moving from writing and acting to doing all of those other roles on a film set?

Lister-Jones: Surprisingly, it wasn’t that tough. I credit that to my producer (motioning to her left to the woman sitting next to her at the table) Natalia Anderson and my crew. I think the beauty of being a director is that, while you do need to have a singular vision, it is such a collaborative process. To me, that makes it all the more fulfilling. I felt so supported and encouraged and I just felt like the exact artistic community I had been seeking, where it didn’t feel like, “Oh no, I have all this weight on my shoulders.” I’ve got a little more weight on my shoulders, but it’s shared by so many people and all those people were sharing it with love. Not to get too woo woo, but there was a huge element of love on set.

Jay: How much of that was due to your all female crew?

Lister-Jones: I think a lot of it has to do with the female crew. I think that there was an electricity on set because we all knew we were doing something that hadn’t been done before and I think that that was exciting. I think that because so many of these female crew members are, for the most part, either the only woman on a set or one of a very few that there was something really exciting and inspiring about working in this specific community of women.

Jay: How did Adam and Fred react to being so vastly outnumbered for the first time?

Lister-Jones: They LOVED it. They loved it and both of them were like, “I want to do this on all of my future projects.” In fact, yesterday when I was with Adam he was like, “I don’t want to work with men ever again on crews.” Which I would never say and I do love working with many men. I think for Adam and Fred, Adam especially, he was the only man on set and that was like a dream come true to be surrounded by lovely, caring women. He, more than anybody… it was interesting to hear his reactions day by day. He was kind of like the experiment, he was the biggest experiment of all. He, as a producer, would go and visit his other sets on other productions and would come back and be like, “It’s so different on other sets, guys! I never realized it before but it’s such a different energy.” I think most actors when they’d come on set for the first time would immediately acknowledge the energetic shift that they were feeling. Then, when we wrapped it was really interesting because we had kind of been living in this utopia and our A.D. texted me and said, “I’m on my next project and we’re on a location scout and I’m the only woman.” It was kind of like, yeah I think there’s a lot of talk right now about how much is shifting. It’s pretty bleak still. I think that part of the energy of love and collaboration was fueled by the fact that we all really appreciated this opportunity.

Jay: How difficult is it to craft a performance when you’re the director and not getting someone else’s feedback?

Lister-Jones: I actually love it. (Laughing) Maybe that’s not a great thing to admit. My favorite directors are ones that generally leave me alone and then come in and shape things that are very specific and are generally after I’ve tried it a couple different ways. For me, a red flag when I’m working with a director is when they come in and give me direction before I’ve even spoken, or directors that micro manage. Especially in comedy, it’s the death of whatever comedic beat you’re trying to get. So, I loved being left alone and I think that as an actor, especially as a working actor, I’ve been auditioning for so long now that that process is so much about self-directing that you really do work that muscle of understanding how to break down a scene or an entire screenplay, in terms of your character’s emotional arcs. I did always have Natalia at monitor if I ever had a question, like, “Did that seem too big?” For the most part it really felt organic to the process. I know from my previous experiences as a producer and writer and being in the editing room a lot on my previous features to just give a lot of variations so that they have a lot to work with in post (production).  For me, I was just constantly doing that, just different shapes and sizes throughout, so that when I was finally able to watch my performance I wouldn’t be confident that I have a variety of things to pull from.

Jay: What was the toughest part of making this film that you didn’t see prior to starting?

Lister-Jones: Honestly, and I know this sounds like a lie, I never had a moment where I was like, “This is going to break me, this is really overwhelmingly tough.” I think that, again, is a credit to Natalia. I think that my crew was really protective of me because they knew how much I had on my shoulders as an actor. They were so kind to only come to me in a dire circumstance, but especially in scenes that were emotionally draining or challenging, they made me feel really protected. I’d say that’s a credit to my crew. I think that in choosing my crew, that was a really big part of my intention. What I had learned on other sets that had been really challenging in the past was when there was a clashing of egos and crew members getting aggressive or in the ways that crew members can react and conflict, especially as a child of divorce, that sends me into a tailspin. I just wanted to make sure the crew was always happy and that they were always getting along. I gave a sort of state of the union on the first day that was about what this project meant to me and what I wanted to impress upon the crew, not a mandate but energetically that this is a set that needs to be fueled by love and needs to be fueled by supporting everybody. If someone who is not in your department needs help, give them a hand. I think that made our days go quicker, but also that sense of support and comradery is worth its weight in gold.

Jay: Which do you find preferable, playing music live and getting an immediate reaction to your work or making a film that can take a very long time between the work on the day and people actually seeing and reacting?

Lister-Jones: Playing music in front of people is the scariest thing I’ve probably ever done. When I was in high school or college I was so drunk that I don’t think I ever remembered (laughing) quite how scary it was. But I also never played an instrument, I was always just signing. And even then I was just kind of talk signing. The stakes were low, but I learned bass for this film. That, for me, is the scariest part, playing bass live and being part of a rhythm section where you have to stay on a beat and sing in key. Those things scare me live. I did a lot of theater in New York, on Broadway and off Broadway before I moved out to L.A. I think that doing comedy in front of a live audience, not a taped live audience because those people are being forced to laugh, but on stage is one of the hardest things. Ever. To have that immediate response of whether or not you’ve landed a joke can either be so exhilarating or just crushing and it’s really hard to recover when you’ve put yourself out there with some big joke or take and it just lays flat. So I personally like to shape a performance until I think it’s perfect and then deliver it to an audience. We played live at Sundance and while both Adam and I were shitting our pants, it was really exhilarating.

Jay: Which of your performers surprised you the most?

Lister-Jones: I hadn’t seen Fred Armisen do anything that was dramatic. He’s never fully dramatic in the film but he does have some moments that are really grounded and I was really impressed with him in that regard. Obviously I knew that he was going to be funny as hell. Adam’s musicianship really impressed me. I didn’t expect it. He was very humble about it and it continues to impress me. And Jesse Williams, I have to say, was SO funny. He improvised so much. There was so much gold in there that we just couldn’t fit into the movie, but he’s hilarious.

Jay: What’s next?

Lister-Jones: I have a project that’s coming up in my next hiatus that I want to write, direct and star in. But I can’t talk about it just yet. Stay tuned.

Jay: Thank you for the time and best of luck with Band Aid.

Lister-Jones: Thank you so much. That was awesome.

 

 

IR Exclusive Interview: Ben Wheatley Talks Free Fire, Bad Boston Accents and What Could Come After Freakshift!

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

I had the pleasure of speaking with High Rise director Ben Wheatley the morning after he brought his newest film, Free Fire, to Boston. We had a great chat and I even managed to pry some details about some of the other films he’s got in the works PAST his next film, Freakshift starring Armie Hammer and (maybe) Alicia Vikander and a possible Wages of Fear remake.

The following interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Jay: I heard the screening went well last night?

Ben Wheatley: Yeah, man.

JAY: Were you worried bringing the film to Boston since the film is set here?

BW: Abso-fucking-lutely. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous about it. As they rightly said, it was actually screening in Cambridge, so it’s not the same.

JAY: Good point.

BW: And also, the film never mentions Boston so that was always my get out. I was always very cautious.

JAY: I never even noticed.

BW: Yeah, it’s all over the press and all over the press releases and bullshit, but from the beginning we went, “You know what? Movies are made in Boston by people from Boston and the accents get complained about. What chance have we got?”

JAY: The one thing I have to say, is some of the worst Boston accents come from actors who are from Boston. The ones in your film were better than what we get from a lot of actors who are from Boston.

BW: Well that’s good, fuck. The way I always thought about it was if an American came to the UK and made a film in Manchester and they brought a lot of Americans in to do the accents, we’d all be like “Fuck me.” But it’s a weird one, isn’t it? I knew that there was a history of people making crime films about Boston and it’s just like- I bet everyone was tired of that. So that’s why we specifically never mentioned it.

JAY: How did Free Fire come about?

BW: It had been bubbling around for a long time for me. It started for me in the 90’s where I’d read this report, this FBI field report, of a shootout they’d had in Miami between FBI agents and potential bank robbers. They were on their way to rob a bank and these cars all screamed in and they were caught up in this thing. The report just goes on forever and it’s very forensic and very detailed because they have to account for every bullet they fired when they do the report and it’s just a mess and horrible and terrifying and not like the movies at all. It just reads like this really grim short story of death, you know? I was like, “Damn, there’s something in this somewhere.” And I wanted to make something and then over time I kept thinking about it and there’s something in it in a procedural kind of gun battle that we haven’t really seen.

You get a little bit of stuff like the shootout at the O.K. Corral gets looked at quite a lot, and there’s some interesting versions of that. When you actually read about the history of the shootout at the O.K Corral, which is basically a massacre, they just get in their corner and shoot at each other. (Laughing) It’s not pretty at all.

Then I started reading all sorts of other stuff, like that combat shooting is a perishable skill and if you don’t do it all day long you go back to not being able to do it at all. And if you’re not like a Navy Seal in combat situations it becomes very hard to shoot straight. That bad rap that Stormtroopers get in Star Wars is not necessarily too far from the truth. It’s only kind of keyboard warriors and people who only ever fire at paper targets who are the ones that tell you, “Why can’t people shoot straight in movies?” It’s because people are mortally terrified and want to hide.

JAY: Add to that the adrenaline pumping as you’re trying to aim. You can’t keep your hand straight, let alone with a gun in it.

BW: Exactly. Certainly with a pistol, which as soon as you move slightly it’s like going all over the place. Like the .38’s they use in the film are police weapons for firing in close quarters, not long range. So, in movies when they do all that crazy shit, it’s totally unrealistic. Not that this film is a documentary, to be fair.

Then I was doing a lot of research on the troubles in Northern Ireland and I’d read this story about the movement of guns from the states back to Belfast, which was really interesting. They’d smuggle them on the QE2 and then the QE2 would take them to Belfast and they’d smuggle them off again and I was like, “Fuck, there’s something there.” I was talking to Cillian Murphy and we got along pretty well and he was going, “If you ever think of a role for me, don’t hesitate to ask.” It all kind of came into focus and I went, “Fuck, I’ll do a thing about Irish guys going to America to buy guns.”

It kind of felt right, it was my first American film and it’s a genre film and I’m coming, metaphorically and mentally to do it and it’s important to have a load of Europeans and Africans turning up in this movie and negotiating with American characters. It feels like kind of a halfway house to start making American movies.

JAY: Did the film change tonally from writing the script to making the film? They say you make three different films when you make a movie: the one you write, the one you shoot and the one that comes out of the editing room.

BW: There’s four movies really. The one you write and the one your wife re-writes. (Laughs) Then the one that you shoot and the one that your wife re-edits. I’d written a very grim version that was much more rolling around on the ground screaming and being horrible to each other. Then Amy (Jump) read it and was like, “Fuck, nobody’s going to want to watch this. It’s too much.”

JAY: My reason for asking is because when the film was announced there was this promo/teaser post that looks like something for a really dark Paul Schrader film from the 70’s.

BW: Yeah, that’s a different movie. Having seen Sharlto playing Kruger in Elysium he probably could have done the dark version and it was on the table at the beginning. But Luke (Evans) went off to do some random art film about talking candlesticks. I don’t know what happened to that. I don’t think it was ever released. (Laughing)

JAY: It doesn’t sound like anything that anyone would pay to see.

BW: And Olivia Wilde went off to do Vinyl. So that was that. Nothing Machiavelli about it. That is the finance/teaser poster that got out. It’s a great poster, it’s a Jay Shaw poster. He did the current one with the finger in the gun. Jay Shaw is great.

So there was a darker version of it. Then Amy wrote this much funnier version of it. She put all the really filthy stuff in it, like the Stevo thing where he tells Harry that he came so hard in his cousin’s mouth. I’m reading it and I’m like, “Oh, Fuck.”

JAY: Do you ever just look at her and wonder where that all comes from?

BW: Yeah, (laughing) well everyone does.

With low budget films you don’t really get much time to rehearse, or any. We had one day’s rehearsal just to make sure the guns shot and the gunfight would work where we walked it through.

And with Sharlto it kind of changed a little bit as we were doing it. There was a point where he said, ” I can do the really hard, nasty South African character or I can be a bit shitter.” I was like, “Oh there’s something really funny about you not being able to shoot straight.” And he was like, “Ok.” It’s really down to when he fires and shoots the mirror off of the van, that was the beginning of the end for that character. And Amy was there every day as well, because we shot near our house, so we did a thing that we’ll never do again because it was too stressful, but she was re-writing on set. We’d have a day shoot and she’d be a day ahead. So she’d be writing the next day but we’d be looking at the rushes and incorporating stuff into it. It’s not like it was like Apocalypse Now where it was all over the place. It was enough where you could kind of tweak stuff. The problem with improv bits is as good as they are on set, they don’t usually fit within the film and they just get cut. Everyone’s sitting there like, “Oh this is amazing!” and then you get into the editing room and it ends up coming out.

JAY: Gunfights are logistically already tough to shoot and since your film is one huge gunfight does that make improvisation tougher than if it was in the course of a regular scene? Or is it possible for that spontaneity to work in that kind atmosphere?

BW: It’s a little of both. There’s all types of improvisation. You can’t just get up and walk around, making shit up and firing wherever you want. You can’t do any of that. But certainly just the asides can be done. At the beginning of the film it was much looser with how the blocking was and a bit more loosey goosey. Certainly around the van when they were all arguing, you can’t tell them precisely what to do anyway since there’s eleven of them and they’re all moving around really quick. But as soon as they’re all shot they can’t move around anyway, so that becomes more manageable.

JAY: Obviously with all the weapons the cast had to be prepared and trained with all the guns they’d be using?

BW: Barely. Because they’re not meant to be any good at it. You don’t want to send them off for any kind of special forces training.

JAY: It’s better if they don’t know how to hold it properly.

BW: Yeah. Brie was saying she’d never held a gun before the film. And I’d imagined that her character had probably done target shooting, but had obviously never been in a shootout. Why would she have been? That’s crazy unless she was Gloria or something. So that was fine. They all just got safety training, going over it for literally five minutes with the armorer. He was like, “Here’s the guns, this is how you load them, this is how you fire them. OK, good.” Armie already knew that stuff inside and out from doing all the action stuff and so did Sharlto, so that kind of made sense for their characters, as well. Even Cillian and Michael Smiley’s characters, it’s not like the IRA did much training, they did a bit and there was some Libyan training and stuff, but it wasn’t like they were trained soldiers. It’s a different thing, you know? It’s a different skill set.

JAY: Which one of them surprised you the most?

BW: Armie was surprising, I’d just had a completely different idea of who he’d be as a person. He was not that person. He was really fucking cool and lovely and funny. Sam Riley. Again it was like, I’d liked his films but he wasn’t in the front of my mind for that character. I talked to him for about three minutes on Skype and I was like, “Fuck this guy’s great.” He’s like a young John Hurt. He’s fantastic. And that character, taking that character and making him so… Because on the page I was so worried about that character, that there wasn’t enough there. but he’s just like, “BANG.” This is the power of a great performance.

JAY: Which character changed the most compared to what you’d envisioned based on the actor coming in? Obviously, you had a different idea for Sharlto’s character originally.

BW: Yeah, that was really written for him to be South African. That really helped. And also the Babou Ceesay character, we didn’t write any ethnic stuff in there, so when he came in it was like, “OK, that makes a certain type of dynamic now that we’re going to have to address and work out.” Yeah, I mean I think I’d learned a bit off of High Rise where I’d cast Sienna Guillory and her part in that. I was a bit embarrassed, she’s a great actress and she’s done loads of stuff, but she had like four lines in High Rise and I was like, “Fuck, really? She’s so good.” But when the film was finished she feels really massive because her performance is so intense.

I was really happy with all the characters and that there was a balance in the movie and you feel sad about when characters die. Even someone like Noah Taylor’s character, which… it should be an extra, that character, in the other version of this movie and yet he gets a full life, even down to his love of art.

JAY: Which one of them would you most want on your side if a gunfight was to break out?

BW: Armie Hammer, probably. If we’re talking about the characters, he’s the only one with any training. I like that he just hides straight away because he knows what’s about to go down. There’s no showboating or running around and Rambo’ing about. It’s you hide and you back away if you want to survive something like that.

JAY: A common complaint for directors indie directors is that they can’t get the funding to make the films they want to make, yet you’re making movies at a Woody Allen-like pace these last six years. What do you attribute that to?

BW: Budget.

JAY: Keeping it low?

BW: Totally. The seven-hundred grand to a million, that’s ok. It’s obvious that you’re gonna get the money back. This? This is like the alright area… I guess this is like a… because the British pound has become so weak it’s kind of hard to calculate … like eight million dollars or something like that. The seven or eight-million-dollar level is good because it makes sense in the indie world. But if you’re at the top end of it, my god I don’t know how anything gets made. I suppose the indie world tops out at twenty million and that’s really hard to get that financing together. That’s when it becomes start/stop, start/stop over years. Or you do studio stuff and the studio stuff again is an investment of time, two or three years for it about to go and they have ten projects and they decide which one is gonna go. I used to be like, “Oh, I’m making loads of films, why do people take seven years.” Now I know, so I don’t feel so clever about that anymore.

JAY: How tempting is getting involved in a big studio film? Do you take those meetings?

BW: I always have taken those meetings, but it’s more the investment of time that’s the thing. I’ve always got something I’m going on to, so it really means turning over that film to take a studio thing that may or may not happen. It’s such an amount of time, it’s a real gamble if you’re currently making stuff.

We haven’t made a film last year, so we’re slowing down, Amy and I, a little bit. Because Free Fire and High Rise were back to back and that was a bit much. So we just spent the last two years writing and prepping for the next couple of movies. So, I don’t know, I think it’s something I’d like to do but it’s not necessarily in my hands as much as you might imagine.

JAY: What would it take to get Ben Wheatley on the set of a hundred-million-dollar movie?

BW: (Deep exhale)

JAY: Is that even something you’d want?

BW: I’m writing the Hard Boiled adaptation for Warner Brothers so that’s what that would be. Well, I don’t think it would be a hundred, it would probably seventy to eighty or something like that. The money’s not important… The actual budget size is a different thing from how much money you make, so that doesn’t make any difference. And then it’s just grief. It doesn’t get easier, the more money there is. It just becomes more pressure. So the sweet spot is probably, I don’t know, three million or four million, where there’s less people worried about it. Then if it breaks out, people are like, “Wow!” If it doesn’t then it probably made the money back.

Jay: What would be your dream project if money wasn’t an issue and you could take anything you’ve ever wanted to make and just make it?

BW: I dunno. I mean… it’s tricky. Because that’s kind of… you mean like a property and turning that into a film?

Jay: Could be a property or a script that you’ve had sitting in a drawer somewhere that you’ve thought you’d never be able to get made.

BW: Alright, I do know. I wrote a Gauntlet adaptation for Warner’s that’s pretty good.

Jay: Gauntlet, like the game?

BW: Yeah, the video game. And I have some other fancy stuff which I wouldn’t mind doing. Which you can’t do… you’d have to do massive. Because I wanted to do something that was like… I really like those… the thing I really like about those movies is when they go on a mission and they go into tunnels and they have traps and they have to deal with traps and shit and they steal stuff. That’s the best bit of the movie and you have to deal with a whole load of fucking riding on horses over mountains or something and you know, some other bullshit at the end of it. But the bit in the middle where they’re doing that is the best bit. I wanted to make a movie like that. So yeah, there’s something there. I wrote another one called Upon a Time Once which is about a magical kingdom turned upside down. That would be… I don’t know… a few movies down the line.

Jay: Freakshift is next?

BW: Yeah. In August hopefully.

Jay: And you have Armie Hammer coming back?

BW: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jay: And Alicia-

BW: Vikander. According to the internet.

Jay: Not according to you though?

BW: You know…

Jay: Attached, but not signed?

BW: Yeah or something… I don’t want to say she’s definitely doing it and then get my fingers snapped by angry agents. Yeah, no, it all looks good. That will be action… it will be a similar vibe to Free Fire in a way, but more monster-y.

Jay: I like that. Then after that?

BW: I don’t know, it’s Wages of Fear, which is on the bricks or its Criminal Behavior which is another one. It’s about an FBI for criminals. So if you’re a drug dealer and you get a load of shit stolen, you can’t go to the police so you’d go to these guys who investigate and track down guys and punish them with extreme prejudice to get your money back. I basically wanted to do a Big Sleep-style detective thing but from a really harsh perspective.

Jay: That sounds great. We’re getting the signal to end.

BW: They’re pulling the plug.

Jay: Thank you for the time and best of luck with the film!

BW: Cheers. Thank you.

 

Unfortunately, that is it. I had a great time talking with Ben Wheatley, I feel like we could have continued that conversation for days. I think we were just getting to some really good stuff.

Make sure you get out and see Free Fire this weekend. It’s a blast.

 

The New ‘Thor Ragnarok’ Trailer is a Contender

 

In Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!

“Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taika Waititi and returns Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor and Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki. They are joined by Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.

Kevin Feige is producing with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum, Thomas M. Hammel and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost and Stephany Folsom and Eric Pearson.  Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok” thunders into U.S. theaters on November 3, 2017.

The Final Defender Arrives in the New Trailer for Marvel’s Iron Fist

ironfistheader

Fifteen years after being presumed dead in a plane crash, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) mysteriously returns to New York City determined to reclaim his birthright and family company. However, when a long-destined enemy rises in New York, this living weapon is forced to choose between his family’s legacy and his duties as the Iron Fist. Marvel’s Iron Fist premieres March 17, 2017 exclusively on Netflix.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is Now Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

last-jedi

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

We’ve all been waiting for some official news to drop by way of a trailer or title reveal for some time now and today we have the official title for Rian Johnson’s upcoming middle chapter to the Sequel Trilogy: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Johnson’s production shot under the title of Space Bear and the crew even sported some pretty rad caps adorned with the Space Bear and the Roman Numeral VIII on the back. (Hit me up if you have one to sell, because I NEED one :))

I have to say, the title certainly effective, my gears immediately got cranking over the implications of such a title. Is this in reference to Luke Skywalker being the last? Does this mean the Jedi are done and a new order will rise from the Jedi Order? Will Rey be the first of something new, or is she The Last Jedi? Something else to consider is that the title doesn’t necessarily have to be in reference to a single Jedi, as Jedi can also be used as a plural.

Aside from the actual title, we also have the official logo to consider. The logo has abandoned the usual yellow outline of Star Wars for a red one, which is quite foreboding when paired with the official title. We can expect that we’ll see the First Order rebounding  from where we last saw them in The Force Awakens since The Last Jedi is our middle chapter in the sequel trilogy. Within a typical trilogy structure, the middle film leaves the protagonist in a dark place, setting up the resolution for the culminating film. The Empire Strikes Back saw Luke losing a hand, finding out Vader was his father and Han Solo frozen in carbonite and taken away by Boba Fett.

We’ll have to debate the implications of the title and logo until we know more. I can’t wait to see what Johnson has up his sleeve!

Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi will hit theaters December 15, 2017.

Let’s Help Raise Money For War-Torn Syrian Refugees, Donate For A Chance To Win A Signed Rogue One Poster!

riz-ahmed-bodhi-rook-rogue-one

by: Joshua Outred

As many of you are aware, the conflict in Syria has become one of the worst humanitarian crisis’ of our time. With hundreds of thousands killed, and many left homeless with nowhere to go, children and families have become displaced and are desperately trying to find some peace in their lives again.

As temperatures in Syria reach desperately cold levels, refugees who have escaped the brutal conflict now face another struggle for survival. Clambering around fires thrown together in old barrels, children clasp to any warmth they can get, with only the clothes on their backs to help keep them warm, a truly heartbreaking image and one that is more real than we like to imagine.

Many celebrities have banded together with humanitarian organizations and charities to help raise money for workers on the ground to continue their selfless support of the thousands of displaced families. One celebrity, Riz Ahmed, who played the brave and courageous Bodhi Rook in Rogue One has been one of these celebrities supporting this humanitarian crisis. Today, Riz Ahmed announced another way fans of Star Wars and his can help; by donating a minimum of $10 to Crowdrise.com you would not only help in providing much needed medical aid, and food for refugees, you could also be in with a chance to win fantastic prizes. By donating $30, you will be entered into win a Rogue One poster signed by the cast!

It warms my heart to see people from all over the world come together to help those in the most unimaginable situations, Star Wars and pop culture has always been an incredible platform to do this from, and it’s amazing to see what Riz Ahmed is doing! So help us help those in need, and donate for a chance to win a signed Rogue One poster and other great prizes. Follow the link below to donate, and thank you so much for helping those in need!

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT A GREAT CAUSE!

If you’d like to help further, there are a number of incredible organizations that do amazing work every day to bring aid to displaced refugees, whose lives have been torn apart by the horrendous civil war in Syria. I’ve added a few links below, so if you would like to continue supporting, please do! And again, thank you!

The Trailer For The Belko Experiment Looks FUCKING BANANAS!

belko-experiment

On March 17, it’s kill or be killed.

In a twisted social experiment, a group of 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogata, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.

The Belko Experiment stars John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley and Michael Rooker.

Check Out Zoey Deutch in the New Sundance Trailer For ‘Before I Fall’…Check Out Zoey Deutch in the New Sundance Trailer For ‘Before I Fall’…Check Out Zoey Deutch in the New Sundance Trailer For ‘Before I Fall’…

zoey-deutch

What if you had only one day to change absolutely everything?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the perfect friends, the perfect guy, and a seemingly perfect future. Then, everything changes. After one fateful night, Sam wakes up with no future at all. Trapped reliving the same day over and over she begins to question just how perfect her life really was. And as she begins to untangle the mystery of a life suddenly derailed, she must also unwind the secrets of the people closest to her, and discover the power of a single day to make a difference, not just in her own life, but in the lives of those around her – before she runs out of time for good.

It’s Morphin Time! Check Out the Shiny New Power Rangers Trailer!

power-rangers

SABAN’S POWER RANGERS follows five ordinary teens who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.

Jerry Seinfeld Driving His Cars and More Over to Netlfix

shandling-seinfeld

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

Jerry Seinfeld is moving his comedy series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to Netflix in late 2017. The show, which sees Seinfeld selecting a car and comedian guest to go grab a cup of joe with has been on Crackle since its inception in 2012 and is frankly the only reason I’ve ever even gone to Crackle. It’s a great show and Seinfeld has pulled some amazing guests over the last five years such as Garry Shandling, Lorne Michaels, Larry David, Judd Apatow, David Letterman, Louis C.K. Tina Fey, Howard Stern, Jon Stewart, Amy Schumer, Jim Carrey, Kristen Wiig and even President Barack Obama.

Besides new episodes of Comedians, Netflix will add the original 59 Episodes of the Crackle run to its robust streaming comedy library that it’s been investing in pretty heavily lately. The deal also includes two exclusive stand-up specials (one to air in 2017) as well as scripted and unscripted programming. There are currently no details on what that might entail.

Netflix has cornered the stand-up market lately and has no problem throwing money around. The streaming giant recently shelled out $40M to Chris Rock for two upcoming exclusive specials and signed Adam Sandler to a huge four film deal back in 2015. THR says that Industry watchdogs estimate that Seinfeld may have netted $100M for this new deal.

Official Press Release:

Creator, producer, writer and performer Jerry Seinfeld is making Netflix the exclusive home for his new comedic endeavors. Netflix has signed the comedian to a multi-faceted production deal, starting in 2017.

As part of the exclusive pact, new episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee will arrive exclusively on Netflix in late 2017, as will previous episodes of the Emmy-nominated series. Seinfeld will also film two, all-new stand-up shows exclusively for Netflix members globally, the first arriving on the world’s leading Internet TV network later this year. Seinfeld will help develop scripted and non-scripted comedy programming for Netflix, with additional elements of the deal will be announced later.

“Jerry is known the world over as both a great TV innovator and beloved comic voice,”   said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix. “We are incredibly proud to welcome him to the Netflix comedy family.”

“When I first started thinking about Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the entire Netflix business model consisted of mailing out DVDs in envelopes. I love that we are now joining together, both at very different points,” said Seinfeld, who produces, directs and hosts the show. “I am also very excited to be working with Ted Sarandos at Netflix, a guy and a place that not only have the same enthusiasm for the art of stand up comedy as I do, but the most amazing technology platform to deliver it in a way that has never existed before. I am really quite charged up to be moving there.”

Twenty four brand new episodes of the comedy series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee by Jerry Seinfeld, that feature Seinfeld joining friends for a cup of coffee and a drive in a classic car, sharing stories along the way, will premiere in installments globally on Netflix starting in 2017, with subsequent installments following in 2018 and beyond. Prior seasons of the series (fifty-nine existing episodes) will also become available exclusively on Netflix at the same time.

SUPERNERD RETURNS!! AND HE BROUGHT HIS YEAR END LIST ALONG WITH HIM!

little-prince

by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer

Here we are once again at the end of another year. And even though I haven’t been as active as I’d like in the past, the IndieRevolver Supernerd is back with his look at the top films of 2016!

Last year I had a  list of 89 films over the course of a calendar year to pick from. For a guy with a regular Monday-through-Friday “banker’s hours” job (who also tried to fit in family and the occasional trip to the gym) I thought that was pretty good. But there were so many other films that I missed and in that my list felt…inadequate. So I made a promise to see even more films to give my list a more well-rounded feel.

That task has been accomplished. From January 1 up to December 31, 2016 I managed to eke in 212 films. How? I pretty much ignored my family, skipped the gym and spent every weekend watching something. Sleep? I’ll sleep when I’m dead!

If you’d like to see my complete breakdown of films and grades, drop an email to IndieRevolver or tweet at him or me (@IR_Supernerd) and we might just put it up for you to see how I spent my 2016.

As always I’m writing this from the common fan’s perspective. What does that mean? It means that I paid for each and every movie on my list in some way. Whether it was buying a ticket at my local theater (or some that I had to drive over an hour to get to), buying a Blu-Ray or ordering something on VOD, every movie was paid for out of my own wallet. So if I don’t like something you’re damn right I’m going to give it the grade it deserves. On the other hand there were quite a few films that I saw multiple times in theater AND bought the physical home media for. Why? They were that damn good (and quite a few of those are on this year’s best of list).

And let’s get to that list shall we, instead of me rambling on. We’ll begin with my award for the biggest turkey of the year…

 

WORST FILM OF THE YEAR

knight-of-cups

It’s easy to write a Worst Of list. People love to read them (I’m guilty as charged on that). But social media recently has made me rethink my stance on the Worst Of list. I won’t waste my time running down a bunch of films that we all know were bad. And if you liked what I didn’t now you feel alienated. So I’ll just stick with one film. The only film this year that I gave a F / 0-star rating to:

KNIGHT OF CUPSI’ve had the argument with people that it’s beautifully shot and the cinematography is gorgeous. But it takes more than just pretty pictures to keep me engaged. This film, with it’s scattershot story and barely comprehensible plot, was the only film that made me wish I’d done something else with my two hours. Terrence Malick might get away with stuff like this these days because of his name, but I’m probably going to skip his next cinematic offering when it comes out.

Enough negativity. Time for…

 

BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR

Let’s start with some Honorable Mentions (really good films that just didn’t make the top cut and in no particular order):

 

MOANA Beautifully animated. Catchy songs. Stellar performances. You really can’t ask for more from Disney.

 

THE HOLLARSFrom director John Krasinski (who also starred) will have you laughing and crying – sometimes at the same time.

 

THE JUNGLE BOOK This was my top film for about two months (my how things change). Great adaptation of the animated classic and the best CGI I’ve seen all year.

 

SING STREETTry to see this and not smile. Impossible. A story that’s relatable on the most basic of levels (trying to find yourself and where you fit in) combined with a soundtrack of earworm songs that you’ll be signing for days make this a must see.

 

Now, the final countdown…
arrival

  1. ARRIVALAn impressive piece of science fiction. The ending will haunt you for days and make you wonder how you’d play things out if you were in the same boat. Director Denis Villeneuve has proven he can handle any genre thrown at him. Stellar performances from Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner make this an easy rewatch for years to come.

Doctor Strange 2

  1. DOCTOR STRANGEMy second favorite Marvel solo origin (behind Captain America: The First Avenger), Doctor Strange introduced us to the mystic side of the MCU and has now opened the doors for many different possibilities. With characters who were neither fully good or wholly bad, the shades-of-grey characterization will do well for the (hopefully) many future installments of the Master of the Mystic Arts.

Little Prince 07

  1. THE LITTLE PRINCEIf there was one movie that got the shaft this year it was Mark Osborne’s The Little Prince. Dropped by distributing studio Paramount weeks before it’s U.S. debut in March, the gorgeously animated tale was picked up by Netflix and made available in August. Adapting the the original tale into a framing device and using it as a parable for teaching children about death and being able to let go, this may be my favorite animated film not just of this year, but of all time. When you can get my Mom and me crying over the same movie, you’ve got something special.

hell-or-high-water

  1. HELL OR HIGH WATERA pulpy western of the best kind, Hell Or High Water starts off with it’s foot pushing the pedal all the way down and never letting up. Violent and stylish, Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges all put in Academy Award worthy performances.

MBTS_3869.CR2

  1. MANCHESTER BY THE SEABrutal and heartbreaking, Kenneth Lonergan’s latest offering is one of the realest films about grief that you’re likely to find. Anchored by a heartbreaking performance by Casey Affleck (with one of the best Massachusetts accents since he was in Gone Baby Gone), this is one of the saddest and most genuine films of the last year.

sw-r1

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORYNot just a great Star Wars movie but a great movie in general, Rogue One lived up to the hype. Much like it’s team of rebels, this film needed every actor working in sync to achieve its ultimate success – and that happened in spades. Proof that you don’t need the “Skywalker Saga” to have a successful Star Wars film.

la-la-land

  1. LA LA LANDDirector Damien Chazelle’s love letter to the old-school musical, La La Land is chock full of great music and snazzy dance numbers. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone shine as Sebastian and Mia, singing and dancing their way through a tumultuous year together that sees as many downs as there are ups. With a bittersweet ending that just feels right, you’ll be singing and dancing your way back to your car after the credits roll.

handmaiden

  1. THE HANDMAIDENThe South Korean crime drama from director Park Chan-wook has more twists and turns than I expected. What starts out as a regular hustle of a wealthy heiress turns out to be much more layered and complex than most crime capers out there. As the double-cross turns into a triple-cross turns into a free-for-all, you’ll want to watch it all over again just to see if you can catch all the little nuances and clues left behind.

moonlight

  1. MOONLIGHTOne of this year’s most rewarding films, director Barry Jenkins has crafted a beautiful love story in the unlikeliest of places. Focusing on Chiron – and to an extent Kevin – over three pivotal moments of his life, Moonlight is more than just a story about a person discovering who he is and what love can be. It transcends the regular definitions of masculinity and gives you hope for finding the person that completes you.
Marvel's Captain America: Civil War Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War
Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland)
Photo Credit: Film Frame
© Marvel 2016

  1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WARAs a standalone film Civil War is pretty spectacular. Taken into context with everything that’s come before it and it becomes a monumental achievement. Tying together storylines going all the way back to 2008 and the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War manages to not only weave together various dangling plot threads from previous films and juggle an already established cast of almost a dozen superheroes but introduce a couple new players to the board and give you an effective villain that makes sense in his motivation (even if his plot was overly complicated in the long run). I just rewatched this before finalizing my list and feel that yes, Captain America: Civil War was the top film of 2016.

 

So there you have it folks. After 212 films I’m a little tired. But was it worth it worth it? I wouldn’t change a thing.

Agree? Disagree? Did I leave a film off that you loved or rank something too high or too low? Sound off in our comments or drop me a line on Twitter. I’m always up for an educated debate.
Until next year, this has been Supernerd. See you at the movies!!

John Wick GOES OFF in the Newest Trailer For ‘John Wick Chapter 2’

john-wick

He’s back. Check out the new trailer for JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 – in UK cinemas February 17, 2017, starring Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane and directed by Chad Stahelski.

In this next chapter following the 2014 hit, legendary hitman John Wick [Keanu Reeves] is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.

 

Check out the First Footage From Blade Runner 2049!

deckard-br2

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

 

When news broke that after many years of conversation Blade Runner 2049 was officially a go I was against it. Blade Runner ranks among my favorite films of all time. Part of what makes that film so special for me was the ambiguity of its ending. My kneejerk reaction was to shut down the prospect of a sequel, because it would undo everything I love about the original film. Harrison Ford was going to be back so it would have to demystify everything I loved about the world of Blade Runner. Blade Runner 2049 would have to definitively tell you if Deckard was a replicant, right?

What if it didn’t?

I started thinking about how you bring Harrison Ford back to futuristic Los Angeles without messing up what made Ridley Scott’s film a flawed masterpiece. Then it occurred to me. The best way to approach Harrison Ford’s character in Blade Runner 2049 is to make him a replicant.

“But Jay, I thought you just said you liked the ambiguity of the original film.”

I did. But follow along…

The best way to handle the character of Rick Deckard in Blade Runner is to leave that character in the first film. His story ends when those elevator doors shut. What happened after that? Who knows? Was he a replicant? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s whatever you want it to be.

The character Harrison Ford plays in BR 2049 should be a replicant. It preserves the character established in the first film. If you thought he was a replicant and Gaff knew his dreams, he can be a replicant. If you believe he was a human who ran off with an android that he fell in love with, he did. Our Harrison Ford in BR 2049 can be a whole different character. He can be a replicant based on the human Blade Runner we met in the original film. Or maybe he’s another replicant in a long line of Deckard replicants. Pretty cool, right? The important part is this film doesn’t need to answer the questions that the first film asked viewers to answer for themselves.

Deckard the replicant could also open up a very cool plot for BR 2049. Imagine a world where Harrison Ford is the “skin job” on the run, with Ryan Gosling tasked to retire him? That idea makes me positively giddy. Maybe Deckard 2.0 is a replicant who has a human’s lifespan. This is the future, after all.

After coming to the realization that Blade Runner 2 doesn’t  have to ruin what I loved about Blade Runner I am REALLY excited to see what story Villeneuve plans to tell in BR 2049.

Granted this trailer doesn’t tell us much, but I fear they may have gone a little two dimensional with the approach, especially based off of the synopsis released above. It frankly sounds like the plot of The Force Awakens with mixed with the plot to Total Recall (another film based on a Philip K. Dick story). I have ridiculous expectations for this film, my love of Blade Runner rivals my love of Star Wars. I’m really hoping Villeneuve is able to make something really special that stands up proudly next to Ridley Scott’s original film. He’s been knocking everything out of the park for the past few years. If anyone can make worthy sequel it’s him. (If you haven’t already seen it, get out there and see Arrival)

Blade Runner 2049 is set to open 10.6.17

Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

star-wars-rogue-one-cast

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

They didn’t lie. Rogue One was certainly a Star Wars Story and a pretty damn good one at that. Equal parts thrilling, dark and hopeful.

The concept is brilliant, focusing an entire film on the theft of the plans to the Death Star which served as the impetus of A New Hope, the very first Star Wars film. It’s such an important detail, but one that most probably never gave a second thought to. Credit to John Knoll for spotting that seed and Gary Whitta for developing a story and creating a whole crew of characters that are new but feel quite right in the Star Wars universe.

First off, fans can breathe a sigh of relief.  The widely reported reshoots do not impact the viewing experience. Rogue One is not a damaged, incoherent film in any way. Is it a perfect film? No. But that doesn’t mean that anything is broken. My complaints after one viewing are all fairly small.

From the get-go we know that this is not our typical Star Wars film. Sure, it begins with the usual “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” but missing is the subsequent text crawl that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in every other Star Wars film previously. This was an inspired decision, one that subconsciously disorients the viewer and puts them in a position they’ve never been in with a Star Wars film before. We have zero idea of where we’re being dropped in the Star Wars universe. We’re not entering with the big picture having just been spoon fed to us. Anything is possible. This is followed by a VERY Star Wars moment, a ship in outer space. But this familiar opening is subverted since we find ourselves in a flashback, a first in Star Wars cinematic history (Rey’s force vision in The Force Awakens is not a flashback). It’s like they’re kinda, sorta playing by the rules, but not. Until I was sitting there watching it unfold, I hadn’t realized how much I’d gotten used to the way a Star Wars film is presented. It was exciting to be in that universe and have things be just a little bit different and not knowing what to expect.

The plot of Rogue One focuses on Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. Jyn is tough as nails as a result of what she’s seen and how she was raised. She is stoic, even when over her head but there’s a vulnerability that Jones brings to the character that adds an important dimension. But make no mistake, as much as the film hinges on Jyn’s story, this film is an ensemble piece and they’ve assembled a very deep bench of talented and diverse actors and actresses unseen thus far in any Star Wars film, which is great news. There is representation for nearly everyone in the film and it never feels gimmicky or forced.

Most intriguing among them is Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor.  Andor is man of mystery, a character who operates in the gray area, doing bad things for a good cause. He is a means to an end and a character we haven’t seen the likes of before in any Star Wars film, a dark character in a world without much hope. Andor is another example of the way that Rogue One separates itself apart from past Star Wars films. A good guy has never been this bad before. In the other films the characters are either white hats or black hats. (This is where some will bring up Anakin. It’s very different because Anakin was never doing bad things for altrusitic reasons) That is not the case in Rogue One. People who had reservations about Han shooting first are likely to take umbrage with Andor and his actions early in the film. I’ve heard people refer to Cassian Andor as the Han Solo of Rogue One. He’s not. People have a tendency to put characters in a bucket with one of the others that have come before. It’s a mistake and a disservice to well written characters to do this. Han Solo is a fast talking, charming smuggler, which is the polar opposite of Andor, who is a (seemingly) cold and calculating soldier doing whatever it takes for the rebellion.

Also of note is Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe, stealing nearly every scene he’s in with his daredevil-like fighting prowess and zen-like optimism. Chirrut is the closest thing we have to a Jedi in Rogue One. I wouldn’t want to spoil his backstory but suffice to say this is with good reason. Also noteworthy is Ben Medelsohn as Orson Crennic who delivers a chilling performance, making me wish we’d gotten this same intensity from Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux in The Force Awakens.

Star Wars fans have come to expect that we’ll have multiple films to explore new characters and that is Rogue One’s real problem. I wanted more time with characters like Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso, Saw Gerrera and Chirrut Îmwe. I wanted to see these characters journey prior to Rogue One. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the plot of Rogue One is utilitarian and has to operate at breakneck speed from the very beginning. The plot is literally life or death and there is precious little time to stop and smell the roses, which I appreciated. But the result is that the time we have with these characters feels truncated and left me wanting more. I’m sure that we’ll be getting a lot more of these characters via novels and comics and all the other avenues that Disney have in their arsenal for fans to get their Star Wars fix, but none of it is a suitable replacement for writers, actors and filmmakers all collaborating to bring a performance to life onscreen.

Going in, I was especially worried with how they were going to use Darth Vader in this film after early rumors indicated that we might see Vader in heavy action. It wouldn’t make sense that the very stiff looking Vader of A New Hope would be running around pulling ships out of the sky in action in Rogue One. I was happy to see how they handled Vader in the film. His last scene had me grinning like a fool.

Beyond Vader, it would have been very easy to fill Rogue One with too many nods to the subsequent Original Trilogy films. There are some great references in there, that will have fans excited, but it didn’t feel like they went over the line. This brings me to one of my main issues. Without revealing too much, there is a character in the film that has been brought back by use of CGI and it just doesn’t look right. I’m never that guy who whines about bad CGI, I’m usually pretty forgiving with that stuff, but this is a Star Wars film. Spend whatever you need to spend and take the time to make it look right. Or just don’t do it. As cool as it was that we were seeing this character, the CGI took me right out of it. I’m sure as a still shot the character it looks spot on, but in motion among real actors, it stuck out like a sore thumb. The rendering looked far too smooth and it felt like the dialogue would fall out of sync at any moment. There is another character brought to life with CGI that also bothered me a little, but at least it was brief. Less could have been more in both of these cases, though.

Ultimately, I had a great time with Rogue One. There is something in the film for every Star Wars fan. A credit to the cast and filmmaking team for actually expanding the Star Wars universe in a new and exciting way. I hope that Lucasfilm and Disney take note of what was accomplished with this film and apply what they’ve learned to other upcoming films under the “A Star Wars Story” banner. How cool would it be to have a television arm of Star Wars stories like this? An anthology series with wildly different types of stories that take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? It’s big galaxy with a big sandbox, let’s get even more talented filmmakers in there and have some fun building things.

I’m sure you have your tickets already, if not get some. I can’t wait to give this one another look, or ten.

What an amazing time it is to be a Star Wars fan!