May 04, 2015 | 11:11 a.m.
May the fourth — “Star Wars” Day — has arrived. With that in mind, we thought it was an ideal date to continue our look back at the Los Angeles Times’ original reviews of the first “Star Wars” trilogy. Today brings us 1980’s “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back,” which had some very big shoes to fill after the original 1977 film ruled the box office, won a slew of major awards and ultimately altered the filmmaking landscape in Hollywood. Times film critic Charles Champlin gave the 1977 original a sterling review, but saved his best compliments for “Empire,” while also looking beyond the first sequel to the series’ “grand design,” which will continue this December with the release of “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.” With his only gripe being the film’s slight over-length (a full […]
April 16, 2015 | 4:00 a.m.
“Star Wars,” the space-opera franchise that revolutionized the movie business and spawned a sprawling multi-billion-dollar multimedia empire, is back with a renewed force. “Star Wars Episode VII,” the first new “Star Wars” film in a decade, won’t hit theaters until Dec. 18. But the countdown begins in earnest Thursday, when grown men in Stormtrooper costumes, suburban moms dressed as Princess Leia and kids done up as cuddly Ewoks will descend in droves on the Anaheim Convention Center for the Star Wars Celebration fan convention. It marks a pivotal moment for one of the most lucrative series in film history — and for Walt Disney Co., which paid $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” franchise from creator George Lucas in 2012. Star Wars Celebration: Trailer unveiled | Watch the live stream | Fans gather | Preview Disney is […]
Jan. 21, 2015 | 4:00 p.m.
Forget Joseph Campbell and “The Power of Myth.” The inspiration for “Strange Magic,” the new animated feature co-written and produced by “Star Wars” mastermind George Lucas, was Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” “I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to make the movie using existing music and find lyrics from the songs to actually tell the story,” Lucas said recently during a phone conversation from New York City. “I was trying to take my archive of music that continues long after I did ‘American Graffiti’ and go through it.” Opening Friday, “Strange Magic” centers on the unpleasant Bog King (Alan Cumming), a tragic figure ruling over his dark forest with a foul temper and a distaste for anything related to love. That is, until he meets Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood), a fairy princess who has also soured on love, and many […]
Jan. 16, 2015 | 3:33 p.m.
George Lucas co-wrote and executive produced the new animated tale “Strange Magic,” which arrives in theaters Jan. 23. The musical romp, directed by Gary Rydstrom, takes very loose inspiration from Shakespeare, telling the story of a monstrous Bog King (Alan Cumming) who finds unexpected love in a magical realm of elves and fairies. But it isn’t the only new movie Lucas has on the horizon. The 70-year-old “Star Wars” creator currently is writing two new features, both experimental movies that hearken back to his student days at the University of Southern California. However, he has no plans to ever release either project publicly. “The way [the films] are, they’re not really movies that can be released,” Lucas said of his upcoming projects during a recent phone call from New York City, where he was promoting “Strange Magic.” “They’re movies more […]
Nov. 11, 2014 | 10:36 a.m.
“Strange Magic,” a musical animated feature film inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is coming to theaters in January, Disney announced Tuesday. The news comes after much speculation that the film would be a sequel to Disney’s record-breaking blockbuster “Frozen.” The rumor mill appears to have gotten it wrong, with nary a snowman in sight. Instead, the project — from Lucasfilm and Touchstone Pictures — is inspired by Shakespeare’s magical comedy and based on a story by “Star Wars” mastermind George Lucas, and will feature modern-day pop songs (Electric Light Orchestra, anyone?). Here’s the official description from Disney: “Strange Magic” is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked […]
Oct. 03, 2014 | 12:15 p.m.
The sun was shining brightly on one recent afternoon at Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’ lush yet cozy retreat in Marin County. But Kilian Plunkett, art director for the new animated series “Star Wars Rebels,” was not outside enjoying a stroll through Lucas’ vineyard or taking a dip in the waters of Lake Ewok. He was inside, in the dim light of the Lucasfilm archive, holding a bit of cinematic history in his hands. At just 18×41 centimeters, artist Ralph McQuarrie’s gouache concept paintings for the original “Star Wars” trilogy are smaller than expected, but then again, so is the Mona Lisa. Physical size bears no relation to the impact these paintings have on pop culture. “I always assumed these things were giant movie poster size,” Plunkett said as he pointed out the finer details of McQuarrie’s style. For “Star Wars” […]
June 24, 2014 | 5:18 p.m.
In a galaxy far, far away in the Midwest, one known as Chicago, a grand institution will be built… George Lucas has chosen the Illinois metropolis as the location for his museum, according to a Lucas spokesman as well as a spokeswoman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The city beat out San Francisco, New York, and of course, Los Angeles. Rest assured that Los Angeles made overtures, and not shy ones either, to claim the filmmaker’s museum, which will officially be called the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts. According to our sister blog, Culture Monster, none other than Mayor Garcetti himself reached out to the “Star Wars” creator. In a letter that he posted on his website, Garcetti tentatively proposed the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, located near USC, which is where Lucas studied film in the 1960s. From Culture Monster’s David Ng: “The plan would be […]
May 16, 2014 | 9:59 a.m.
“Star Wars: Episode VII” has gone into production, and a photo to celebrate the occasion arrived overnight via Twitter on the Bad Robot account. The highly anticipated film is being directed by J.J. Abrams, with a cast that includes Adam Driver, best known for his role in HBO’s “Girls,” and Oscar Isaac, who won considerable acclaim for his turn in the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” as well as John Boyega, known for his work in the fan favorite film “Attack the Block,” and newcomer Daisy Ridley. #dayone pic.twitter.com/18jtSH7xYM — Bad Robot (@bad_robot) May 16, 2014 Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, performance capture expert Andy Serkis and venerable Swedish thespian Max von Sydow are also set to star alongside the principal actors from George Lucas’ original saga — Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker — who will […]
May 04, 2014 | 8:00 a.m.
Finally, after months of conjecture, “Star Wars” fans learned last week precisely which actors will have a role in “Star Wars: Episode VII,” the film that will return George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away to the multiplex Dec. 18, 2015. Adam Driver, best known for his role in HBO’s “Girls,” and Oscar Isaac, who won considerable acclaim for his turn in the Coen brothers “Inside Llewyn Davis,” will appear alongside Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, performance capture expert Andy Serkis and venerable Swedish thespian Max von Sydow in director J.J. Abrams’ new film. John Boyega, known for his work in the fan favorite film “Attack the Block,” and newcomer Daisy Ridley, also will star, and the principal actors from Lucas’ original saga — Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker — are set to return […]
March 07, 2014 | 8:30 a.m.
“Star Wars” fans let out a collective howl of anguish last year when it was announced that one of the casualties of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm was the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” The fan-favorite series was canceled without a satisfactory conclusion, yanked from the schedule of Cartoon Network, where it had aired since 2008. That ultimately made way for a new series, “Star Wars Rebels,” set to premiere on the Disney Channel before moving to Disney XD. So, when word came that the final 13 episodes of the show’s sixth season would become available to fans on Netflix, the news was met with good cheer. As of Friday, viewers can check out “The Lost Missions,” which will join the previous five seasons on the streaming video service, including some director’s cuts of those earlier episodes. “The Lost […]