|THE RISE OF SKYWALKERRISE OF SKYWALKERSTAR WARS 9EASTER EGGSKYWALKERSTAR WARSSURPRISE|
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...
With The Rise of Skywalker now on home video, and with the novelization available, it seems like there is no better time to discuss some of the movie's big reveals, now that we've all had at least a little bit of time to digest them. Perhaps the biggest reveal comes, not just as the end of this movie, but the end of the whole Skywalker saga, with Rey taking on the name Skywalker. While this proved to be a controversial choice, author Rae Carson has a reasonably compelling argument to make in favor of it.
Rae Carson penned the Star Wars 9 novelization. During a recent interview, Carson discussed the whole Rey Skywalker thing and why she felt it was not only warranted, but the ultimate victory, as she describes it. Here's what Carson had to say.'When I was 18 years old, I took on the moniker of my stepfather to honor the bonds of love and trust between us. I imagine it was much the same for Rey, who wanted to honor her own chosen family. I recognize that Rey's decision proved controversial, and I look forward to discussing this with fans for years to come. But my current take is this: The entire Skywalker saga is about Palpatine turning or trying to turn Skywalkers to the dark side. He especially hopes that Rey will prove a worthy vessel for his own power and ambition and become the Skywalkers' final downfall. But in spite of all his efforts over the course of three generations, he fails. Rey rejects everything about him and takes on the Skywalker mantle and legacy. In the end, it's a Palpatine who turns to the light, thus handing the Skywalkers their ultimate victory.'
This is an argument that is easy to see both sides of. I understand that Rey's now-infamous 'Rey Skywalker' line left many fans feeling cold. I get it. But hearing Rey Carson's explanation feels compelling. Whether or not one feels the same way, it's hard not to at least see where she's coming from to some degree. We can argue about execution all day, and perhaps that's an argument for another time, but there is some emotional logic to it within the overall narrative.
J.J. Abrams directed Episode IX, having previously helmed The Force Awakens. The movie was intensely divisive amongst critics, but seemed to be less so with general audiences. Whatever the case, it wasn't the well-rounded home run Lucasfilm was looking for to round out the sequel trilogy. Still, it did bring in more than $1 billion at the global box office, making it yet another hit for the Disney era of Lucasfilm.
This did punctuate the Skywalker saga but more Star Wars movies are in the pipeline. At present, Disney has a release date locked down in December 2022. What will be there to fill that date? That is the million, or perhaps billion, dollar question right now. Whatever it ends up being, be it something in the Old Republic or something entirely new, just don't expect to see Rey Skywalker show up. This news comes to us via StarWars.com.
The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, take a closer look at the recent Rick and Morty season 4 trailer teasing the remaining five episodes. Plus, a video essay explores what is being called the decline of Kevin Malone on The Office, and finally, have your kids gather around for storytime as he reads one of 365 Bedtime Stories for Disney.
First up, ScreenCrush breaks down the most recent Rick and Morty season 4 trailer, teasing the second five episodes. There are plenty of details to notice in the trailer, from some obvious appearances by characters like Snowball to more obscure characters like Tammy, Summer’s best friend who turned out to be working for the galactic government, and has now returned in a lightsaber battle with her old friend.
Next up, since we’re all spending a lot of time watching The Office at home while we also work from home, The Take wanted to call our attention to the fact that Kevin Malone played by Brian Baumgartner started out as a reserved, subtly dimwitted accountant, but then he turned into and overly stupid, cartoonish man that felt like he was from a bad CBS sitcom. How did this happen?
Finally, if your kids could use some nice soothing storytime, let Thor: Ragnarok and Jurassic Park star Jeff Goldblum read them one of the stories from the 365 Bedtime Stories stories collection from Disney. This one involves Pinocchio and Geppetto, and Goldblum has some kids of his own who enjoy it along with him. You can pick up the book yourself over at Amazon now.
Matthew McConaughey took some time out of his social isolation to surprise a group of senior citizens in his home state of Texas. The Enclave at Round Rock Senior Living center asked the Oscar-winning actor back in September to host their weekly bingo night, and McConaughey finally made good on that request by hosting this week’s bingo night on video chat via The Independent. The actor appeared on camera with his wife and children and called out the numbers during the group’s game. McConaughey is also quarantining with his family in Texas.
“Ever play virtual bingo with Matthew McConaughey?” the Enclave wrote on social media. “You'd be a whole lot cooler if you did! The residents at The Enclave at Round Rock Senior Living got to play virtual bingo with Matthew McConaughey and his family! Thank you to Matthew, his wife Camila, and his mom Kay for hosting our residents for a few rounds of virtual bingo! Our residents had a great time playing, and they loved talking with Matthew about his family heritage and his favorite drink.”
McConaughey most recently starred in the Guy Ritchie action film “The Gentleman,” which STX Entertainment recently made available on digital platforms on VOD early to help ease quarantines across the country. The actor is also spending his time social distancing by launching a new web series on his social media platforms called “McConaughey Takes.” The first episode debuted April 6 and finds the actor looking back at his famous romantic-comedy “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” McConaughey credits his chemistry with co-star Kate Hudson for making the film a blockbuster, and the actor says to this day “How to Lose a Guy” remains the movie that gives him the most residual money.
McConaughey is far from the only A-list talent spending his quarantine making surprise video conference calls. David Fincher made headlines last month for giving a video masterclass in filmmaking to 450 students at the United Kingdom’s National Film and Television School. The school has also live-streamed sessions with talent such as “Knives Out” composer Nathan Johnson and “1917” and “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes.