Search This Blog

Monday, August 17, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Poster Speculation, Rogue One Photo Implications, & New Episode IX Director

Edited by Robert Beach

D23 happened over the weekend. If you don’t know, that’s a major Disney expo where they start setting up the hype for their new crop of films. A lot of interesting news came out of D23 this year, but most of it was either in the realm of logo posters for Pixar or trailers that haven’t been released to the public from Marvel. 

The big, flashy, reveals so far have come from Star Wars as Disney and J.J. Abrams continue the slow drip of advertising leading up to this winter’s The Force Awakens. D23 saw the first official poster for Force Awakens revealed, the first set and character photos from next year’s Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One, and the announcement of who will direct Star Wars Episode IX. 


Struzan Does It Again 

I love this first poster for Force Awakens. Firstly, it’s great to see Drew Struzan doing a new Star Wars poster; he’s probably the greatest film poster illustrator there is and Star Wars has always been his muse. What’s more, his classic style is a breath of fresh air in the glut of modern posters. The composition, framing, and color work are all top notch here. I especially love the coded binary divided between the Sith dark side and the Jedi light side. Another nice little touch is the twin suns on the light side background, reminiscent of the shots on Tattooine from A New Hope.  

One thing I’m not exactly crazy about is Harrison Ford in the bottom left hand corner of the page.  I’m not fully against the idea as seeing visibly old movie stars on big, blockbuster posters is a rarity, but I would preferred to see Oscar Isaac given a spot on the page; although, the poster more than makes up for that with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega taking center stage and looking great.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Suspected Theme 

This is the first indication we’ve had that John Boyega will be playing a Jedi character in the film.  I like this choice for a number of reasons. Partially Boyega is a great actor who really deserves this chance to shine, yet it’s just nice to see Star Wars finally get more diversity, especially on the Jedi side o things. I’m still not totally convinced Daisy Ridley won’t be picking up a lightsaber herself at some point, though if she serves as something new, a force-less warrior, that’d be pretty cool too. 

I really like the idea of Boyega’s character transitioning from a servant of the empire to a member of the Jedi. His past with the imperial forces reminds me of Han Solo’s history in A New Hope, and I like the idea of going from being a literal anonymous soldier to a personal agent of peace. It’s been reported that a theme of the film will be about clashing ideologies as the empire and the rebellion both splintered in the wake of Return of the Jedi. That seems to be the case given the nature of the film’s characters: showing us the empire’s idealists like John Boyega, its dark lords like Adam Driver’s Kyloe Ren, and its heroes like Captain Phantasma. It makes me seriously wonder how Oscar Isaac will factor into this meditation and if he’ll be representing the rebellion at its worst. 

Rogue One's Tone and Intent 

Rogue One is the first of a series of entitled Star Wars Anthology that will be running counter to the main films. This first installment is being directed by Gareth Edwards, the man behind last year’s deplorable Godzilla remake. Putting that aside, Rogue One looks and sounds really amazing. Set in the time after Revenge of the Sith but before A New Hope, it’s the story of the rebel unit that stole the Death Star plans we saw in the opening of Episode 4. 

We’ve been getting details on the film for a while now and they all sound amazing.  One of Edwards’ key points about the film is that it will have a darker tone to it focusing on the brutal nature of the empire and the blossoming rebellion. In probably his most evocative statement, Edwards stated there wouldn’t be any Jedi in the film as it he wanted a feeling of hopelessness, as if the Gods had forsaken the universe. This first photo really nails that vibe and aesthetic.  The Rogue One crew all look like they’ve been not only been through hell, but they’re still there right now. Like Force Awakens, I’m glad to see Felicity Jones taking center stage as the leader of the unity. 

Rogue One Casting Promise 

It’s also really great to see Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen in a big Hollywood production for a change. Yen’s a martial arts master and a lot of people assumed he’d be playing a Jedi in some aspect of the new films.  The idea that he’s not only fuels my idea that these movies will be presenting us with a new role in the Star Wars universe for warriors without the force. Still, it’s possible that Yen is a proto-Jedi here; someone who posses the force with none of the training needed to use it. 

The other actor of major note here is Mads Mikkelsen, standing in the far back right. Mikkelsen has been blowing up the Internet on NBC’s Hannibal for about 3 years now, so it’s good to see him finally getting more success. Overall, the casting on both Star Wars films has been rock solid, going hard for lesser-known but still highly talented actors. 

Most of all, I really love the grungy, spaghetti World War 2 aesthetic to this picture. The original trilogy drew heavily from World War 2 films and mythology for its iconography only it was drawn from the golden fantasy of World War 2 rather than the harsh reality. In keeping with the theme of Star Wars growing up, Rogue One seems to have re-purposed the inspiration into something harsher and more brutal, sort of like Fury from last year.  

Star Wars Episode IX: A New Director

Finally Colin Trevorrow was announced to be directing Star Wars Episode IX. This isn’t a huge shock given that Trevorrow’s atrocious Jurassic World dominated the box office this year, but he declined to return for the sequel. Disney spent the entire summer getting creamed by his creation, so scooping him up is a savvy move even if Jurassic World was more successful due to name than the actual film. 

Funnily enough, Trevorrow is actually a lot like Abrams. He’s a serviceable cinematographer but a very inert storyteller. Of the three new Star Wars directors, Rian Johnson is the only one who seems to have a defining sense of personality and identity beyond to his work beyond the basics of film geekery. I’ve heard this is a deliberate move from Disney to try and keep the films producer focused, similarly to the way Marvel works, but that hasn’t been confirmed anywhere. 

If that is true, it’d make me a whole lot happier about Trevorrow directing because I absolutely hated Jurassic World. It’s possible this is another situation like Abrams Star Trek where the problem was just bad writers (Trevorrow is only 1 of 4 screenwriters for Jurassic World), yet I’m still too frustrated by the film to let it go at this point. Still, Star Wars 9 is 4 years away, so at least I’ve got some time for the memories to fade before Trevorrow takes the reigns. 

No comments:

Post a Comment