Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Star Wars Episode VII is cast

 Clockwise from J.J. at 12 O'Clock Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan. Copyright and Photo Credit: David James.

Yesterday John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were almost completely unknown actors. If you have never saw the British crapfest "Attack the Block" or watched "Silent Witness" on TV recently, chances are you may never have ever seen them either. But thanks to yesterday's announcement from J.J. Abrams  / Lucasfilm / Disney, they are about to be catapulted into super stardom as they have landed two of the biggest acting gigs on the planet in the most famous movie franchise in history, as characters in Star Wars Episode VII alongside Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.

Boyega and Ridley will join five individuals new to the saga who've had somewhat more exposure to the masses in varying degrees:

Brendan Gleeson's Dublin-born son Domhnall is cast and was apparently Bill Weasley in the final Harry Potter movies and appeared in Dredd and True Grit.

Oscar Isaac was in Sucker Punch and Drive, stared as Prince John in Robin Hood [2010] and more recently as Llewyn Davis, the title character of the latest Coen Brothers movie.

Former U.S. Marine turned actor Adam Driver appeared in biopics J. Edgar and Lincoln before ending up on Lena Dunham's turgid "Girls" on HBO where he received an Emmy nomination. He is rumoured to be an antagonist in Episode VII.

Andy Serkis is known to everyone as the performance artist who provided the voice and was motion captured for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit. He was also performance captured for King Kong and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

And finally Max von Sydow needs no introduction to people who've watched movies since the 1950's because the 85 year old Swedish actor has been acting since then. If you've had a brain freeze - von Sydow was Father Merrin in The Excorcist,  Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon, King Osric [Conan The Barbarian], Doctor Kynes [Dune], Judge Fargo [Judge Dredd] and Burgess in Minority Report. More recently he's done voices on The Simpsons and in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I hope I'm not alone in saying that if von Sydow isn't the evil mastermind in this it will be wasted casting.

Franchise stalwarts Peter Mayhew [Chewbacca], Anthony Daniels [C3PO] and Kenny Baker [R2D2] are confirmed for the cast which Abrams' has stated is not yet complete.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Lego Movie thinks outside the brick!

“Everything is awesome, Everything is cool when you're part of a team!” This prophetic and thought provoking mantra has touched the hearts and wallets of cinema goers to the tune of almost $400m at time of writing. All in less than two months after it's release, and I must say that I think it’s worth every cent.

The Danes most famous export is undoubtedly the Lego bricks we played with as children and which we now watch the next generation enjoy. Lego unlocks a world of imagination that spans a literally infinite playing field of adventure. But what would happen if someone tried to prevent that imagination from being creative and limited Lego to a singular purpose – to be used only as the original instructions suggest and be glued together for eternity? Well that’s the frighteningly horrific scenario that the little minifigure heroes of The Lego Movie must prevent.

A star studded voice cast is led by Chris Guardians of the Galaxy Pratt as Emmet [the most interesting person ever], the feisty Wildstyle [Elizibeth 30Rock Banks] student of the old and wise Vitruvius [Morgan Freeman] who must unlock Emmet’s potential. They are joined by Lego Batman [Will Arnett], the rainbow loving Unikitty [Alison Community Brie] and slightly mentally unhinged 1980’s Space-guy Benny [Charlie Pacific Rim Day]. Will Ferell voices the evil Legoland President and CEO of Octan, Lord Business who has an army of henchman led by the split personality of GoodCop/BadCop [Liam Neeson].

The movie can be analysed as a classic charming children's fairytale with an unlikely hero, a princess, wise old wizard and an evil king. Some may push a more specific religious analogy by substituting the characters in the movie over those of Star Wars [Emmet=Luke, Widstyle=Leia, Vitruvius=Obi-Wan, Batman=Han, GoodCop/BadCop=Vader and Lord Business is The Emperor and substituting the Piece of Resistance for The Death Star Plans]. Cynics will say it’s simply a 90-minute toy advertisement. Beard-stroking intellectuals will latch onto it being somewhat Orwellian in it's centralised theme but to most it is just a well crafted, colourful, hilarious movie and fun for all the family.

Is my opinion of this movie skewed because I played with several hundred Lego bricks as a spoilt child? Because between the ages of 7 and 9 I was twice awarded the Lego Master Builder’s Badge? Of course it is, but don't let my greatness cloud judgement, see it for yourself.

Final Verdict: Transformers: The Movie, Toy Story 2 and Shrek are the only G-rated animated features in ‘The Whopper Collection’, to which I’ll be proud to add this perfect and flawless example of the genre.


Please note: The last exemption was granted to The Expendables 2 in August 2012.