Earlier this month, deep within the heart of a top secret location somewhere in Los Angeles, I capped off a day of interviews with nearly the entire principal cast of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (review here) by meeting with J.J. Abrams - the Director, Producer and Co-Writer (with Lawrence Kasdan) of our return trip to "a galaxy far, far away." Today a journey that began in 2012 with the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, is both complete, and just beginning. The release of THE FORCE AWAKENS completes the delivery of the first-ever Disney-produced STAR WARS film, but what begins is a new era in which audiences will be treated to a new STAR WARS film each year for the foreseeable future - with a new Trilogy accented by standalone "STAR WARS Stories" on the off-years in-between. After noting that the selection of toys (a mix of vintage Kenner, and new Hasbro) I brought to the junket as table props were "Nicely done!," we delved into some tales of how an 11-year-old STAR WARS fan became the 49-year-old filmmaker that's setting up STAR WARS before passing the torch lightsaber to other filmmakers to continue the saga in the years to come.
As a member of the Fandango Family Digital Network, I've been asked to do something a little bit different than my norm in my review of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - to do a spoiler-free review written in breakdown form with families in-mind - specifically parents that might be considering taking the little ones to see it in the days and weeks ahead. For our first viewing of THE FORCE AWAKENS, my wife and I went sans children, but we're planning to take the girls at some point during Holiday break.
Lupita Nyong'o & Oscar Issac. One is a model and actress, honored with an Academy Award for her work in 12 YEARS A SLAVE... the other an actor with some serious rock chops, spending much of the 90s rockin' guitar and a mic in ska-punk bands before attending The Juilliard School and becoming an actor... gaining mass acclaim for his role as a musician in The Cohen Brothers' INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS. In a galaxy far, far away, Nyong'o is a pirate known as Maz Kanata, while Isaac is pilot Poe Dameron. While their characters differ greatly, one thing these two actors share is a life-long love of The Force - an attribute that makes their entry into J.J. Abrams' STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS all the sweeter. At the recent STAR WARS Global Press Event in Los Angeles, I spent some time with the duo as they filled us in on their STAR WARS experience.
"I was actually in film school when I saw STAR WARS for the first time," recalls Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy about her first glimpse into a galaxy far, far away. "So as you can imagine, it was just jaw-dropping, mind-blowing. Everybody in film school was talking about it. You realize that there was so much possible beyond anything you could imagine once we all saw that movie." Nearly four decades later, Kennedy's career has proven just that - that so much is possible. After working closely with Steven Spielberg and moving up the ranks in the 1980s, she became one of the most prolific producers in the film world, a driving force behind Amblin Entertainment, and later co-founding The Kennedy/Marshall Company with husband Frank Marshall. Kennedy's resume reads like a "Greatest Hits" of the movies that impacted my youth - titles like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Gremlins, The Goonies, Back to the Future, The Money Pit and dozens more. In 2012, Kennedy would be hand-picked by George Lucas to become his successor at the helm of Lucasfilm, to lead a rebirth of STAR WARS under the new ownership of The Walt Disney Company. At the Global Press Event for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, I sat down with Kennedy for some insight into road that's led to here... The Legacy of The Force, if you will.
With STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS blasting into theaters this weekend, a new generation of fans will soon be looking forward to re-living the adventure, and making new adventures of their own with some of the latest toys from a galaxy far, far away. Just in-time for the film's release and the holiday season, Thinkway Toys has released a full assortment of highly interactive figures and vehicles based on THE FORCE AWAKENS, and the classic Original Trilogy. While we don't yet have these here at Rock Father HQ, the girls and I did check them out a bit on a recent visit to Toys "R" Us, and believe me - the interest was piqued. Between my love for AT-AT and my girls' love of Droids and Kylo Ren, it certainly looks like Thinkway is onto something. Check out the preview videos in the player below, and look for these at your local TRU location, or online at ToysRUs.com.
With the long-awaited release of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, we've entered a new realm of having a STAR WARS film for a new generation that's been created by fans of the Original Trilogy. While filmmaker J.J. Abrams may be the most famous STAR WARS fan to play in the live-action sandbox, as Yoda once said, "there is another..." Actor John Boyega (Finn aka FN-2187) wasn't even born until March 17, 1992 - the very day that NO DOUBT released their debut album, and WHITE ZOMBIE would release their landmark LA SEXORCISTO: DEVIL MUSIC, Vol. 1 - the record that spawned the still in-rotation "Thunderkiss '65." When it comes to STAR WARS, it was an era known to myself as "The Dark Times" - nearly a decade past RETURN OF THE JEDI, and five years prior to the 20th Anniversary Special Editions. Boyega was just five years old when STAR WARS came back to the big screen in 1997 - and he missed it, his family opting for 1998's Disney•Pixar collaboration A BUG'S LIFE for his first big screen experience. For Boyega, his "first step into a larger world" that is STAR WARS came with George Lucas' Prequel Trilogy...
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