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Posts Tagged ‘Alden Ehrenreich’

a long time agoThere has been lots of talk about where the Star Wars saga should go.  I was skeptical about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and if it were a good idea, ultimately it turned out to be fantastic.  The as yet untitled Han Solo movie is a step further.  Firstly to make a young Han Solo movie it requires a new young actor to plan Han Solo, if you have to do it, Alden Ehrenreich is a good choice, but do they have to do it?  Is Han Solo’s past not best left a mystery?  It is clear why Disney want to make the film; existing properties are the vain of gold that the studio are most expert at tapping, the value of this vein is greatly increased by the addition of an A list character from the franchise.  So where does the franchise go from here? han solo movie cast

Around the time of the original release of Return of the Jedi, I remember an interview with George Lucas where he spoke of a nine film series.  The original trilogy followed by two further trilogies, one prequel, on sequel.  By the time the prequels came out Lucas had changed his tune suggesting that he was too old to make any further films beyond the second trilogy and furthermore, there was only ever going to be two trilogies, the original and the prequel series telling the story of the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. star_wars_episode_one_the_phantom_menace_ver1

As luck and a strange twist of fate, or to be more honest money would have it, we are now getting the third trilogy.  But what next? to quote Winston Churchill (hopefully correctly) “This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just perhaps the end of the beginning”.  So what next, after the Han Solo movie and episodes VII and IX?  There has been constant suggestions of a Boba Fett movie, I am not sure why, he has never been an interesting character.  There is however a whole universe and a thousand generations of stories to be told!

A notable thing about original story is the time in which they are set.  The fight for good and evil, light and dark is told over three films, each set over no more than a few days, this works for the original films but will not work with an origin story.  The second and third prequels stretch the idea to tell their storey over a longer period, this is to their detriment. So back to those thousand generations.  The original conversation between Ben/Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker tells us so much of the Star Wars universe, in some ways too much as George Lucas had to retcon so much of it to fit the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi into the mythology, this was even before he started rewriting everything to make the prequels work.  But there remains one statement from Obi-Wan Kenobi still untouched of diluted:

“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic… before the dark times… before the empire.”luke and obi wan

How long is a thousand generations and what stories could be told?  Best guess, a thousand generations is around 20,000 to 25,000 years.  The stories are endless, You could start with the origin of the Jedi and the start of the battle between light and dark.  This however could be too much of a religious allegory , far better would be individual stories of turning points in the battle.  These could be told in a single stories or trilogies.

The possibilities are endless.  Where and when did the Jedi begin?  Was this a time before intergalactic travel and set on a single planet?  Would you tell the story of The First Jedi?  Who came first, The Jedi or The Sith?  Did one begin as a balance to the other, or did they start out as the same thing and one broke away over disagreements on the use of the force.  I like the idea of a story of a young apprentice learning the ways of the force with his master, only to discover that they are the bad guys not the good guys, we the audience should realise this before the apprentice but not before long before.  The final act would be the apprentices own personal battle between good and evil as he/she has to choose between what they have always known and what they now understand to be right.  Both the prequels and The Force Awakens suggest young Jedi are taught as a collective before been taken on by a master, is there room for a Jedi high-school movie? Jedi are presented as little monk like, how about the story of the first female Jedi? What about Yoda origin story, or even better a story of a power struggle on the Jedi council with a young Yoda as new, headstrong and less wise character than we know.yoda and younglins

As mentioned, the possibilities are endless, I am sure Disney have both the quality and quantity of writers to be able to think up more and better ideas than me, I just hope they do it, I want to hear a thousand generations of Jedi stories.

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Last week saw the second attempt to launch a franchise based on a successful series of young adult novels. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is based on The Mortal Instruments series of five novels (with a sixth on the way) written by Cassandra Clare. Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) plays Clary Fray a seemingly normal teenager who discovers she is a Shadowhunter, a sort of daemon hunter. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with less (intentional) comedy. The other movie earlier in the year Beautiful Creatures is based on The Caster Chronicles: Alden Ehrenreich plays Ethan a seemingly normal high school student ( is this sounding similar?) who has a recurring dream about Lena played by Alice Englert (daughter of Jane Campion), a girl he has never met, until she turns up as the new kid at school. Both films are fun and entertaining movies with a suitably gothic tone. However they are also sadly unremarkable and unoriginal. Beautiful Creatures failed to find an audience making a sequel unlikely.  On the other hand the confidence in Mortal Instrruments is such that City of Ashes the second Mortal Instruments film is already in pre-production.  Shooting is due to start next month with a release next summer. This got me thinking about similar themed books that have been adapted into movies. Some have done better and more successful than others:

City of Bones and Beautiful Creatures

Harry Potter (2001-2011): The undisputed champion of the book to film adaptation in recent years has been Harry Potter having grossed nearly $8billion from its 8 films (based on 7 books). The success of the films comes partly from the great casting and the faithful (so I am told) adaptation from J. K. Rowling‘s books. But it goes further than that, a film should be its own entity and survive on its own merits not requiring the viewer to have read the books. This helps the audience grow over and above the fans of the novel. I didn’t see any of the films until 2011 but watched them all in a short space of time and have to admit I enjoyed them.Harry-potter-films

Chronicles of Narnia (2005-2010): Based on C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series of books and produced by Walden Media in association with first Disney then Fox. Three of the seven novels: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) have been adapted into films so far. Faithful to the source novels and like the source novels, the movies are distractingly preachy but good entertaining fun. Commercially successful grossing over $1.5billion, the first is amongst the top 50 all time highest grossing movies. It appears the series has stalled with complications since Walden Media’s exclusive rights have lapsed.The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Golden Compass (2007): Was an unfortunate mess of a movie. Well cast and beautifully shot but completely ruining Philip Pullman’s fantastic story. If reports are correct it was nothing short of a clusterfuck for New Line Cinema. One of their most expensive films ever with a budget estimated at around $180million, it took around $70million at the US box-office. New Line then sold the worldwide rights to cover the production costs, it went on to take over £300million. In one way it is sad that Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is unlikely to be adapted into a film anytime soon, on the other hand I am glad the series stopped before they made things any worse.

The Golden Compass

The Twilight Saga (2008 – 2012): Coming second only to Harry Potter in the book adaptation box-office, The Twilight Saga had its detractors who were almost as vocal as its fans. It also had its ups and downs artistically; Eclipse (2010) directed by David Slade representing the high point and New Moon (2009) directed by Chris Weitz the low point. The first film directed by Catherine Hardwicke was arguably the most important as its success secured the budget for the ongoing saga. Love them or hate them, you can’t argue with nearly $3.5billion from 5 films (based on 4 books). Not great films but completely inoffensive, I really can’t see why people get so worked up about them.twilight-saga-poster

Tomorrow when the War Began (2010 – ?): Based on the first of a series of seven Australian novels that have a striking resemblance to Red Dawn. The first movie was well received in Australia but failed to find an audience in the rest of the world. Two sequels have been suggested but are yet to materialise.Tomorrow when the War Began

Percy Jackson & the Olympians (2010 – ?): Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013) are based on the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series of books by Rick Riordan. An updating of Greek mythology, Percy is a demigod, and son of Poseidon (based on his exploits in defeating various monsters, he appears to be based on Perseus, son of Zeus). The first film was a financial success but the second has only just managed to make back its budget making an adaptation of The Titan’s Curse less likely.Percy Jackson

I am Number Four (2011): Based on the first of four (to date) novels about alien children hiding out on earth from a second alien race who took over their home world. Finding a good balance between sci-fi action and high school drama the movie is entertaining if disposable. The cast is quite good but Timothy Olyphant is criminally underused and Teresa Palmer’s ‘number six’ is a more interesting character than Alex Pettyfer’s ‘number four’. Made on a relatively small budget (the money was all spent on producer Michael Bay‘s robot hitting exercise) for this type of movie it made a reasonable profit. A sequel was announced but then shelved.I AM NUMBER FOUR

The Hunger Games (2012-2015): Thanks largely to the perfect casting of Jennifer Lawrence the Hunger Games was a huge success. Grossing nearly $700million and becoming the best selling DVD/Blu-ray of 2012 a sequel was guaranteed. The first sequel Catching Fire is scheduled for release later this year with the final book Mockingjay split into two parts, Part 1 will be released in November 2014 with part two twelve months later. My only concern the second and third books were much weaker than the first creating a real challenge for the script writers.The Hunger Games

So what’s next?

Seventh Son: Based on the first (there are twelve so far) of Joseph Delaney’s children’s dark fantasy novel series The Wardstone Chronicles. The highlights of the casting are Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. Scheduled for release next January (February in the UK) next year.Seventh Son

Vampire Academy: Based on a series of six young-adult paranormal romance novels by Richelle Mead. I haven’t heard of any of the principle cast but the supporting cast includes Olga Kurylenko, Gabriel Byrne and Joely Richardson. Scheduled to be released February next year.Vampire Academy

Divergent: Unlike the other films mentioned, Divergent is based on the first of an intended trilogy. It has been adapted into a film before parts two and three have been published. It is the debut novel by American author Veronica Roth. The film version is directed by Neil Burger and has an interesting cast including: Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet and Maggie Q. it is scheduled for release next March next year.la_ca_0708_divergent

I’m not sure we have seen ‘The Next’ Twilight or Harry Potter yet but The Hunger Games is looking like the best and the most successful.

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