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There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
Harrison Ford is one actor who is no stranger to blockbuster franchises throughout his career. During an interview promoting his new film The Call of the Wild, the veteran actor weighed in on lessons he learned from the success of the MCU franchise and how he hopes to apply them to the planned Indiana Jones 5.'I don't really want to give them what they want to see, I want to give them something they didn't anticipate. They are used to a degree of disappointment when you revisit. Certainly, the Marvel movies have made a spectacular example of a success of worked the other way around, they killed it! Well, we're not going to make another Indiana Jones unless we are in a position to kill it. We want it to be the best. We've got some scheduling issues and a few script things to do but we are determined to get it right before we get it made.'
Certainly welcome news for fans of the Indiana Jones franchise, who have been burned in the past, particularly by the fourth Indiana Jones movie which was widely criticized for failing to capture the spirit of the original trilogy. There were concerns in certain fan quarters that the studio saw the series as nothing but a cash cow and would continue to pump out one sub-standard film in the franchise after another, and even bring in a new actor to play Jones.
These fears had previously been negated by Harrison Ford, with him asserting that he will continue to be the one to play the adventurous archeologist, and the character will retire along with him. And now it seems the actor is keeping a close eye on developments for the fifth Indy movie with a view to make sure it is something that fans can be surprised as well as entertained by.The reference to Marvel's success is yet another example of the powerful hold the MCU has over the imaginations of Hollywood studios. There have been multiple attempts to replicate Marvel's success with other cinematic universes, like Universal's Dark Universe consisting of Dracula, The Werewolf and their sinister ilk, Legendary's Monsterverse featuring Godzilla and his kaiju cronies, and of course, the DCEU.
None of these universes have managed to maintain the kind of consistent success that the MCU enjoys, so it is understandable that Marvel's cinematic universe would now be considered the gold standard against which to measure the success of other franchises.
Ford himself has managed to stay out of the MCU up to this point, but interestingly the MCU has already tipped its hat to Indiana Jones in the past. Fans of the original Guardians of the Galaxy will remember that the leader of the Guardians, Peter Quill, was a galaxy hopping bounty hunter with more than a few similarities to Jones. In fact, the very first scene in the film, where Quill enters an alien temple to retrieve an infinity stone, was a reworking of the famous scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy retrieves a golden idol from a similar-looking location. This story...
Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook's new comic could be the next 'Aquaman' for Warner Bros.
Welcome back toThe Hollywood Reporter's weeklyComics Watch, a dive into how the latest books from Marvel, DC and beyond could provide fodder for the big and small screen.
The heroes of the future are here. Wednesday saw the release of Legion of Super-Heroes No. 2 by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ryan Sook. This relaunch, following Bendis' two-part prelude, Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium, sees the teenage heroes of the 31st century joined by Jon Kent, Superboy and son of Superman. While few would consider the dozens of Legionnaires, each hailing from different worlds within the United Planets and possessing different powers, to be top-tier DC characters, they've long held a special place for the top brass of DC Entertainment. There have been several attempts to revitalize the comic book property for the 21st century, yet none have had staying power. But Bendis and Sook may be the ones to change all of that.
Bendis, who made his transition from Marvel Comics to DC in 2018, has largely been associated with his work on Superman and Action Comics. When news of his coming to DC was first announced, it was accompanied by the hopes that Bendis would have the same effect on DC Entertainment that his work had, and still has, on Marvel Studios. While many took this to mean that his stories would determine the plot and scope of future Superman movies, Bendis' investment in not only creating new characters but exploring B and C-listers likely suggest a different level of influence. The Legion of Super-Heroes may well be the future of the DC movie universe.
The original Legion, consisting of Saturn Girl, Lightning Boy, and Cosmic Boy, first debuted in Adventure Comics No. 247 1958. Created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, the original team drew inspiration from Superboy Clark Kent in the 20th century and became prominent supporting characters in his adventures. The ranks of the Legion of Super-Heroes grew exponentially over the years with new heroes like Braniac 5, Chameleon Boy, Phantom Girl, Star Boy, Karate Kid, and Ultra Boy filling the ranks over the years as more planets united to overcome threats that affected them all. The most popular, and referenced era came from Paul Levitz during the 80s, and his arc “The Great Darkness Saga” greatly increased the popularity of the characters and is often cited as one of the best DC stories of all time. There have been a number of reboots since then and given the number of characters, and the future setting, Legion history and continuity is nearly as confusing as Marvel's X-Men titles. Yet, what makes Bendis' current run so engaging is that it plays with an awareness of all of that.
Teenage voices are one of Bendis' strong suits and LOSH gives him a opportunity to further utilize those skills with cheeky dialogue that plays up...
The new based-on-a-true-story drama The Banker inspires a reference to the charming political-fantasy sitcom Parks and Recreation, and its line about something having “the cadence of a joke”. The Banker has the cadence of a movie. It’s 120 minutes long — ah yes, a standard feature-length runtime. Its stars are now best known for their work in franchise fare — OK, they’re taking a break from action movies! And there’s a social conflict at its core, showcasing the destructive capabilities of systemic American racism. Yet there’s something weirdly hollow and dry about this drama. Even if this film had been released as originally scheduled in the 2019 awards season, The Banker would still feel barely like a movie at all.
Anthony Mackie stars as Bernard Garrett, a preternaturally gifted businessman with a desire for buying up apartment buildings to hopefully improve their architectural state and take in a profit. The main problem for Bernard is that he’s a black man living in the American West and Southwest in the 1950s and 1960s, where racial segregation is alive and well, to the point where even his white tenants ostracize him for daring to own and improve these buildings. Eventually, Bernard realizes that the only way to truly achieve his goal isn’t just to own buildings, but to own local banks. He and a brash cohort Samuel L. Jackson work together to achieve this goal moving to Texas, no less, to see it done, with a younger white man Nicholas Hoult as their cover to doing business shrewdly.
The first half-hour of The Banker, co-written and directed by George Nolfi, is squarely focused on Garrett, a moderately introverted, but extremely intelligent man who’s unwavering on his desires. Yet once Garrett is forced to team up with Jackson’s character, who owns a nightclub in LA and is revealed to be a lot more knowledgeable about real estate than outward appearances would imply, the focus gradually shifts into making sure that their gambit can work. And that requires them to coach Hoult’s character about the intricacies of real estate and banking over an insanely short period of time. So, in essence, some of The Banker feels like a capitalistic Cyrano de Bergerac, as a male figure succeeds because of someone whispering in his ear. Once Mackie and Jackson end up feeling like co-leads with Hoult, it both becomes a bit clearer, if cynically so, why Apple would have distributed this film, and dramatically distressing.
The original plan for The Banker was that it would premiere at the AFI Fest in November of 2019 before getting an awards-season release in the hopes of disrupting the balance of theatrical and streaming titles jockeying for a gold trophy or two. Then, some troubling allegations about Garrett’s son who’s shown very briefly in this film, as a young child were aired in the trades,...