Cast of Star Wars VII Announced!

star-wars-episode-7Happy (early) May the Fourth everyone! This year, I thought I’d get on this fandom anniversary early by passing on some franchise news that was just released from Lucasfilm and Disney regarding the upcoming relaunch of the Star Wars franchise. After months of speculation, the cast for the upcoming Star Wars movie has finally been announced! The news came this past week in a post on StarWars.com, where  companies spelt it out for all the fans who have been eagerly awaiting the news.

In addition to Mark Hamil, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher – who will receive top billing as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia – Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker will also be reprising their roles as Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2. Also, the movie will star several notable actors in new roles, including acting great Max von Sydow (The Tudors, Minority Report, Snow Falling on Cedars, Judge Dredd, Needful Things).

starwarsAlso, Adam Driver (Girls, Lincoln), Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood, Sucker Punch, Drive), Andy Serkis (who brought Gollum to life in LOTR and the Hobbit franchises), Domhnall Gleeson (who played Bill Weasely in the Harry Potter series), and British television stars John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were announced, though has is not yet been announced what characters they will be playing. But since the upcoming movie will be taking place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, it’s fair to assume that the focus will be on these characters rather than on the original cast.

In a photo release this past Tuesday (seen below), director JJ Abrams is seen having a roundtable discussion with the cast at Pinewood Studios in the UK. Note the body of R2-D2 which sits unboxed behind them, having no doubt just been brought out of storage. JJ Abrams, identified by his spiky hair and glasses, can be seen sitting to the left of R2, with Harrison Ford to his right, Carrie Fisher two seats down, and Mark Hamil seated opposite to the far left of the photo.

star-wars-episode-7-cast-announceWhen news of the cast was released, Abrams was quoted as saying:

We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.

This, the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise, and is slated for a December 18th, 2015, release. In addition to Abrams directing, he is also collaborating on the screenplay with Lawrence Kasdan, the man who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer.

star-wars-prequelsI think I speak for fans and geeks everywhere when I wish them all luck! Lord knows we could all use a really decent Star Wars sequel, especially when so many of us felt so utterly let down by the prequels! However, I think it is fair to say that Abrams and the rest should not be too concerned about what the fans and expect. If this latest installment is to be a success, it must not be overly aware of itself or its legacy. Such was part of what brought the prequels down in my estimation, and like everyone else, I just want to enjoy what comes next!

Good day and May the Fourth be with you all!

Source: starwars.com

New Movie Trailer – 300: Rise of an Empire

300-rise-of-an-empire-thumbIt seems that Zack Snider and Frank Miller are back for another round of comic book adaptations! After bringing us 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, and Man of Steel, Snider has signed on for a sequel named 300: Rise of an Empire. This time around, the movie will adapting material from Frank Miller’s own comic sequel to 300, which was entitled “Xerxes”.

As you can see from the trailer, Lena Headey is back to reprise her role as Queen Gorgo of Sparta, while Roderigo Santoro is back as well, reprising the role of the ridiculously tall and pierced man-god Xerxes. David Wehnam is reprising the role of the narrating Dilios. Meanwhile, the beautiful Eva Green plays Artemisia, Xerxes’ ally and naval commander, and Sullivan Stapleton plays General Themosticles – commander of the Greek navy.

300-Rise-of-an-Empire1As you can also see, the movie picks up where events in the first movie left off, after the Battle of Thermopylae where King Leonidas and his 300 were eventually wiped out. In adapting real history to an over-the-top format yet again, Snider and Miller give us a souped-up version of the Battle of Salamis, the war at sea that followed shortly thereafter.

This confrontation between the Greek and Persian navies occurred off the tip of the Greek mainland, just 20 km away from Athens which had been abandoned to the Persians. It was a desperate fight, but in the end, the Greeks proved victorious, using the home field advantage to trap and defeat the larger Persian forces.

300-Rise-of-An-Empire3In many ways, this battle would prove to be the beginning of the end for the Persian army, since defeat at sea now meant they could no longer launch offensives into the Peloponnese (home of Sparta and where the Greek Allies were now based) by both land and sea. Marching across the thin and fortified isthmus of Corinth would prove slow and difficult, and Thermopylae had demonstrated that frontal assaults against fortified phalanxes were not effective.

In addition, Xerxes now feared the Greeks could mount a naval offensive on the Hellespont (the land bridge between modern day Turkey and Greece) and cut off his forces from their overland supply routes. On top of that, he was dealing with rebellions within the conquered territories and had to tend to those as well.

300: BATTLE OF ARTEMESIUMAs a result, the war would consist of sieges against rebelling states until the decisive land battle of Plataea, north of Athens, (shown at the end of 300) and the naval battle at Mycale off the coast of Turkey would take place a year later and drive the Persians out of Greece and the Aegean for good.

Honestly, not sure if I’ll catch this one. Sure, the last one was cinematic action porn, and fun if you ignored the historical inaccuracies and alleged attempts to draw a connection between the past and the “war on terror”. But I think its fair to say this is Snider and Miller’s attempt to cash in again and really doesn’t have much magic to it. And without Gerard Butler screaming martial slogans, it just seems flat.

“THIS IS SPARTAAAA!” No, this is a sequel. And oftentimes, they suck! But then again, I do love the history and there have been cases where the sequel was even better than the original… we shall see! And of course, we can all enjoy the trailers in the meantime!