Tuesday, April 29, 2014

EDITORIAL: ON THE STAR WARS: EPISODE VII CAST REVEAL!





The Star Wars: Episode VII casting rumors have finally proven true.

It was revealed on April 29th, 2014 that the principle cast of the original Star Wars trilogy shall reprise their roles.

Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Meyhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker are officially tied to the upcoming sequel, along with an extensive cast of actors new to the sci-fi/fantasy series that includes the incomparable Max Von Sydow.


via www.starwars.com
The majority of the cast is pictured above, doing their first ever read-through of the fiercely guarded script.

J.J. Abrams had this to say:
"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."
Like many, my feelings about the Star Wars series, and its recent acquisition by Disney, are complicated.

But a few weeks ago, I spent some time simply listening to John Williams iconic score, and I discovered that the almost tangible glimmer of magic inherent in the entire Star Wars series tenaciously remained in the purest part of my soul (click here to read more on that and experience my very own trailer created through music, stills, and gifs).


Beyond the cluttered cynicism, disappointment, and the fear a new film under the Disney/Abrams banner inspires, an inescapable childhood love of Star Wars remains.

Even when I think back to the prequels, I remember, at the time, sitting in the theater, thoroughly enjoying them (except for Episode II - that film was one of several adolescent entertainment events that regrettably brought me out of childhood naiveté).

Revenge of the Sith
I've noticed a lot of snark, anger, and unfounded disdain on internet message boards for this currently nonexistent movie, particularly when it comes to bringing back the old cast members. It seems everyone who posts such negativity wants to be a member of the "cool kid's club" or show their pop-culture, entertainment savvy, referencing the unsuccessful Superman Returns, calling JJ's next Star Wars nothing more than a nostalgia film before it even hits theaters.

I am certainly no J.J. fan. His films watch and sound like the work of someone who rigidly adheres to Screenwriting For Dummies. That's not always a bad thing, it simply results in some occasional contrivances and hackneyed storytelling. He's a competent filmmaker albeit an unoriginal one. I like some of the choices he made with Star Trek (2009). That movie is certainly entertaining - and in a good way, regardless of the direction it moves that particular series.

He shows an aptitude for crafting intense, visually compelling CGI action sequences that are grounded in the emotional bonds of the characters present. Again, the way he goes about it is occasionally contrived, but only transparent to people who pay attention to those details or who have read Screenwriting For Dummies or who have seen every Steven Spielberg film. He generally seems to elicit, or be the beneficiary, of good performances, however, and that is arguably the most important creative aspect of the next Star Wars.

A New Hope
Abrams' particular kind of success and sensibility - the commercial sort - could lend itself well to the inherently formulaic Star Wars story structure. I will never like him as a choice, and until I see the film this will remain the most unsettling aspect of the creative-team behind the movie. J.J. is only slightly better than a director like Bret Ratner. You likely won't ever leave a J.J. Abrams movie and spend hours talking about his brilliant, unique aesthetic the way you would a better filmmaker.

There really isn't a "J.J. Abrams Movie". And that's exactly why he got hired. He'll do exactly what Disney and Lucasfilm thinks he'll do (or so it would seem - I may, hopefully, get proven wrong). As an artist, I can't help but take issue with that, desirous of a more daring filmmaker who will, without imposing their own sensibilities thus overriding the Star Wars mythos, bring some genuinely original ideas to the proceedings.

Regardless of all of that, when I consider the possibility of seeing Luke Skywalker transformed into the sage old Master Jedi, I can't help but get goose bumps.


My fears about massive corporations, assembly-line spin-off movies, and hacks are certainly real. But they're no less real than the natural, positive excitement I experience at the thought of a new Star Wars movie.

The two co-exist, with the light side winning if for no other reason than it feels right to be excited for Star Wars.

Suddenly, when I just imagine the possibilities with this truly historic and I believe necessary inclusion of Hamill, Ford, and Fisher, the fears aren't entirely excised, but they do get tucked away for a while.

Without these original cast mates, an entirely blank-slate Star Wars film with entirely new characters, unrelated to the two previous trilogies (or merely relatives of original characters) would struggle to get over. The chances for it to "feel off" would be greater. The series, and the story, might benefit from a passing of the torch, from the comfort, and ultimately the significance of these three characters coming back to the silver screen.

Empire Strikes Back
When I consider all of the positives, I stop caring about how bad the prequels were.

I stop caring about George Lucas or how old the original cast looks or how the movie very well may be nothing more than a massive power-point presentation by Disney, explaining why you should buy more stuff.

And perhaps that's merely the brilliance of the corporate devils at work.

Regardless, Star Wars is inherently joyful, in a very real, honest way and the people making this movie have demonstrated, at the very least, an awareness with regard to what it is people love about Star Wars and entertaining, epic movies.

Just seeing that reading-session photo is exciting and incredibly interesting. It's reminiscent of the audition films for the original cast:


Another easy way to combat whatever reservations or concerns we have about our beloved series being further tarnished, is to think about how undeniably historic and remarkable it is that there will be a handful of characters whose on-screen life will have spanned nearly forty years. In real-time!

The same characters played by the same actors, from 1977 to, at least, 2015. Many of us will have grown up watching those characters in the 70s and 80s, and then watched a new prequel trilogy in our adolescence or adulthood in the 90s and early 2000s, and now, going even deeper into the future, shifting in the timeline to a sequel trilogy, we will see those same characters having matured into old-age. That's never really been done before.

Handled with care, with the utmost sincerity and intelligence, this could easily be one of the most exciting, fascinating, and emotional events in the entire history of the visual medium.

Many are concerned about the age of the actors and their potential physical limitations, especially after the travesty that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (a film that shall seemingly never be redeemed). It was hard to see an old Indiana Jones. Such was made even more difficult by the odd, parody-like performance Harrison Ford gave, and the laughable Inter-Dimensional Beings plot.


But Han Solo is not Indiana Jones, and the Star Wars Universe is not The Indiana Jones Universe. Star Wars is a saga. It's a prolonged, almost never-ending archetype-driven story that sees characters mature, grow old, change, and die. Indiana Jones was a series that rested primarily on Ford's shoulders and his convincing athleticism.

Indy needs to be young, healthy, and virile for that story to really work.

Han Solo just needs to be Han Solo.


Han could be confined to a wheelchair for the whole film and still contribute something meaningful. The strengths of that character are his voice, his attitude, his smirk, wit, and charm. The most Ford did in the original trilogy, physically, was run occasionally and shoot a blaster.

So unless Ford just completely phones it in (which I doubt he will. He's enjoying his recent resurgence as a character-actor, and has expressed enthusiasm for this role), unless the character is still wearing the same outfit after thirty years like a cartoon character, and unless Han goes swinging through the trees of Endor with some Ewoks, then it could very easily turn out fine and I think we can rest easy with regard to his return.


Much is idiotically made about all of the original cast's appearance, but mostly Carrie Fisher. These are absolutely irrelevant, superficial complaints that have no bearing on the effectiveness of the actors nor their significance in the movie. People age. Their bodies change. Their faces change. That is reality. And even though Star Wars is a fantasy, its in keeping with the themes of the series if we see these characters age. With age comes history; emotional and psychological depth. That should be embraced, even celebrated, instead of regarded as a flaw.

I understand the legitimate argument that it's simply difficult to accept seeing beloved characters who are so visually fixed in our minds, defined by their younger faces, as older and transformed by time.

But we are far too superficial. Far too judgmental. If the performances are good, the looks of the actors will contribute to the lives these characters have led, off-screen, since the credits rolled on Return of the Jedi.

Fisher is a cool lady, and an incredibly funny woman. Her sincerity and frankness, and feminine strength is an asset to this film.


Above all, I'm excited about the return of Mark Hamill.

Luke Skywalker is the most significant character in all of Star Wars.

Certainly a case could be made for Anakin, but I believe, ultimately, it is Luke's story, and that his maturation from A New Hope to Return of the Jedi remains one of the most convincing, beautifully crafted narratives of growth ever chronicled on-screen.

Hamill is also an awesome, strange guy in real-life (much like the rest of the original cast). His enthusiasm for everything he works on is incredibly infectious. I have no doubt of his ability to make Luke come to life again, adding yet another layer to this character's epic odyssey.


When I imagine the original cast together, sitting on those couches at that table read, it's hard not to smile and hope that they're moved by the historic event they are helping to create.

When I imagine the film, admittedly in a specific way, and exactly as I'd hope it to be, I get incredibly excited and can't wait to see it. If I'm setting myself up for disappointment, so be it.

My biggest concerns, apart of J.J. are the literal look of the movie (it has to nail the look and tone - it can't be all bright and digital-looking. The fact that it's being shot on film is encouraging), and the sincerity with which the dialogue is written and delivered.

If all of that is nailed, this could easily be an amazing, memorable film.

So give in to your natural inclination to get excited for a Star Wars movie.

Let go of your hate.

Embrace your positivity.

And may the force be with you...






















All photos via www.starwars.com and www.lucasfilm.com

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @MaximusWrestler

Monday, April 28, 2014

THERAPY WITH BATMAN: DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEES

CLICK TO ENLARGE
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JUSTICE LEAGUE MOVIE ANNOUNCED: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

First off, it's finally happening

 


At times it seemed like Justice League would forever be in development hell along with the likes of Lobo, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman, but last night it was finally announced/confirmed that Justice League will follow the sequel to Man of Steel tentatively called Batman vs Superman. There had been many rumors circling about that the release date of BvS was pushed back due to WB reassessing their plan for the DC Cinematic Universe. Now it seems that that was exactly the case and that a script is pretty solid and ready to film during/after BvS.

Friday, April 25, 2014

RANKING EVERY HALO VIDEO GAME


 
Ever since the jade-armored warrior known as John 117 The Master Chief first exited his stasis chamber, and began shooting his way through UNSC and Covenant corridors, I've been a Halo fan.

My fandom hasn't extended into the expanded universe of comics and novels, but it has led me to each of the video game iterations of the series.

The following is my very own, totally biased, ranking of each of those games from least favorite to favorite. I'd like to think it's fairly indicative of a more objective point of view at times, with perhaps one or two notable exceptions.

As we near the potential reveal of Halo 2: Anniversary on the Xbox One, and the inevitable release of Halo 5, let's think back on all those well-remembered battles, to the days of Noob Combos, Sticky Grenades, BR Battles, Equipment, funny, little grunts, and the almighty, elusive 50-rank.

Let's finish the fight!

via www.taringa.net

HALO 4
 


While it's certainly not the worst video game by any stretch (or even the worst Halo), when I think back on my time with Halo 4, I remember it the least fondly of any other game in the series. It brought me the least joy, and served only as a reminder that the series has grown somewhat stagnant (particularly in the multi-player department) and that the previous entries were far more significant, and enjoyable when I played them consistently.
 
343 did an excellent job strengthening the visual-fidelity of the series, and did their best to infuse the narrative with as much humanity as possible. But I found the story of Cortana's deterioration and Master Chief's battle against a new, not-fully-fleshed out nemesis (The Forerunner), ultimately uninspiring and alienating.
 
Perhaps I painted myself into a corner as a result of my anticipation going in, and my desire to play something entirely new and different from the previous entries - story-wise. I wanted to discover a humbled Master Chief, alone on an alien planet without the support of the UNSC. I had grown tired of battling The Covenant, regardless of how lovable those dumb grunts are, and grown even more tired of lame, hackneyed soldier-speak. There's nothing more buzz-killing than being the biggest bad ass in the galaxy and still needing to take orders from some pasty, pencil-neck general with a Napoleon-complex. The tongue in cheek military bravado of the original trilogy (which inevitably resulted in some heartfelt moments in Halo 2 and 3) was nixed in favor of overly dramatic, insincere attempts at representing the struggles of Marines.
 
The quick-time-events and on-rails set-pieces were more Call of Duty than Halo, feeling like an unnecessary, ill-fitting tee-shirt on Master Chief's capable body. Such intrusions were ultimately strange, and, having become passé long ago even in the tired COD franchise, felt antiquated and defamatory to Halo's legacy of innovation. The shadow of Activision's behemoth multiplayer franchise looms large over Halo 4, and the game's campaign, and particularly its multiplayer, cannot escape.
 
Moving forward, 343 must understand that Halo needs to be Halo. They simply will never win over Call of Duty fans by mimicking Call of Duty's brand of attention-deficit success. Halo's two best multiplayer games, 2 & 3, were skill-based, incredibly challenging, and rewarded devoted gamers with a simple rank that reflected their actual ability. To reinvigorate the franchise, 343 must cater their game, first and foremost, to the diehard Halo fans that are still playing Halo 3 and Halo Reach to this day. Only then can they win back who they've alienated and actually compete with other FPS multiplayer games by differentiating itself from the pack. The series is an old horse at this point, but it needs to prove that the old ways are still viable, perhaps even superior.
 
In fundamentally moving away from what Halo is, especially in terms of multiplayer, Halo 4 ends up ranking last on my list.
 
HALO REACH
 
 
Halo Reach is probably my least favorite narrative in the series. One of the main draws of Halo has always been The Chief. He is an iconic cypher for the gamer. Playing as a faceless, nameless rookie in a team of poorly written Bro-Spartans never resulted in anything interesting or sincere.
 
The multiplayer was good for a few months, when there was, for a brief time, a ranked playlist of sorts. But it eventually devolved into a frustrating free-for-all based on experience points and challenges, never really feeling as though anything was truly earned or significant. It still resulted in some good times, and I played it consistently for almost two years, but Reach, for me, was a far cry from the intensity and simplicity of my Halo 2 and Halo 3 adventures.
 
This was the first entry to reveal signs of Call of Duty's destructive influence.
 
HALO 3: ODST


I fondly remember my brief ODST days. I particularly remember the jazzy musical score, the (literally) darker tone, and the enjoyable, sometimes challenging horde-mode. It was a nice addendum to Halo 3, although an overpriced one, that neatly combined all previous Halo 3 multiplayer maps onto one disc.
 
It also told a fairly interesting story of a variety of soldiers lost and struggling to survive in a futuristic African mega-city.
 
A good game that pushed the Halo universe forward in a creative, beneficial way.
 
HALO WARS
 
 
Halo Wars is a forgotten gem - a soft RTS-game created by the makes of Age of Empires. It was originally never supposed to be a Halo game, but the eventually debunked studio was coaxed into creating a Halo-centric RTS game by Microsoft. The result is surprisingly well-executed considering the circumstances. The new perspective coupled with the reimagined winning Halo gameplay formula offered consistent fun and some surprising insights into Halo canon.
 
HALO: SPARTAN ASSAULT


While I have yet to complete this one, I'm happy to report it is one of the best Halo games in years. Like Halo Wars it reimagines the 15 seconds of fun on repeat that made the first Halo such a success, and creates a genuinely enjoyable, action packed top-down shooter that's wholeheartedly Halo. With stellar graphics, fairly intuitive touch-screen controls (though I recommend using a keyboard and mouse or purchasing it on a console), and a surprisingly deep suit of options, features, and customizations, Halo: Spartan Assault is a welcome addition to any fan's Halo library.
 
HALO 3


Now we're getting into the big guns, where it becomes increasingly difficult to decide which game ranks where. Halo 3's multiplayer took over my life. It was one of the most significant aspects of my every day from the day it was released in 2007 to the day Halo: Reach came out. The only reason it falls below Halo 1 and Halo 2 is the fact that I was so genuinely underwhelmed by the campaign.
 
It didn't help that I had just re-played and beaten Halo 2 days before beginning Halo 3. The visuals weren't much of an improvement (especially when compared to the shocking evolution between the first and second games), and the story felt far too brief and lacking in emotional depth.
 
 
The best part of Halo 3, aside from the intense multiplayer, was actually the ad-campaign for the game, which was so massive and genuinely exciting that it has never been matched by any game since. It was a true happening, an unprecedented media event that simply cannot be appreciated by the younger generation of gamers that wasn't there to experience it.

The trailers, TV spots, banners, merchandise, and promotions tapped directly into the Halo fan's consciousness, building anticipation more effectively than any prior entertainment release - and it set a record for most successful media release in the history of games, television or movies (the first game to do such a thing).
 
 
Perhaps this hype created unrealistic expectations, especially with regard to the campaign which played more as an aside than the true, emotional finale The Chief deserved.
 
I remember a feeling of instant disappointment when I took my first steps in that game - though, at the time, I refused to accept it. Though many fans hated the inclusion of The Arbiter as a playable character in 2, to see him reduced to little more than an NPC with a floating blue triangle over his head (a walking waypoint) was disheartening, and felt cheap.
 
The multiplayer more than made up for it though.
 
It shall haunt me for the rest of my days that I never managed to earn my 50 General Rank in Team Doubles or Lone Wolves. I think I made it to 47 or 48. We were true contenders, easily in the top 10% of the best in the world. When I think back to the countless hours I sunk into that beautiful game with my best friend and fellow Halo-Warrior, it's recalling some of the best days of my life. In those days multiplayer was very different from the loadout, perk, and experience-point-heavy extravaganza it is today.
 
Back then you lived and died, in real-life, with every win and loss. We felt the pain of our failures and the joy of our victories. With each hard-fought win, we watched our rank slowly creep upward, level after level. And it was harder to earn those ranks than it was to lose them.
 
A truly devastating, wonderful, and unforgettable experience.
 
HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED


This was one of the first genuinely mature games I ever played. It was the best first person shooter I had ever played and it ranks on the same list as those video game experiences that broadened my mind and ignited my imagination at an impressionable age: Ocarina of Time, Ico, Morrowind etc.
 
 
The first entry in the Halo series stands the test of time. It's one of those few, wonderfully crafted games that managed to create a unique, concrete world and an unforgettable tone. I never played the multiplayer (these were the days before Xbox Live if you can believe it), but the campaign will always stay with me, existing as the benchmark by which all others will inevitably be judged.
 
The story made no hackneyed attempts at drama or cheap emotionality. It simply spoke for itself, inviting you into a world of badassery, humor, and sci-fi magic.
 
343 would be wise to keep replaying that campaign, to understand that The Chief doesn't need to say or do too much to resonate with gamers, and tell an awesome, simple story of heroism.
 
HALO 2


Halo 2 was my first foray into serious online gaming. It is a milestone in my life for many reasons, beyond the undeniable excellence of the game itself (the campaign, even The Arbiter sections, was an epic, brilliant expansion of the first game's narrative).
 
 
It was the first video game that I was better at than my brothers. I will forever fondly remember the day both of them faced me in a multiplayer match on the Xbox. They were confident in their gaming ability, and I quickly demonstrated my knowledge of the nuances of all the guns and techniques, and destroyed them. It was well-earned after almost two-decades-worth of punishment in Mario Kart, Madden, GoldenEye and MVP Baseball. Finally there was a game that I knew better than my peers. I could demonstrate my skill and my unyielding passion for gaming, and even if I lost a match, it didn't both me because I was confident in my strengths.
 
This passion took me to college, where others in my dorm hall frequently played Halo 2. Unlike today's solo sessions where people communicate over headsets whilst sitting in other parts of the world, we actually had to share controllers and systems and sit in the same room and play on a four-player splitscreen.
 
It was how I met my best friend who I still play video games with almost every night. Today, we play Titanfall, the first game to capture our attention and reinvigorate our multiplayer passion since Halo 3.
 
For nearly ten years our love of Halo and games has bound us in a competitive spirit, our pursuit of multiplayer glory. For this reason alone, Halo 2 shall rank among my favorite in the series.
 
I sincerely hope magic shall strike again with the release of Halo 2 Anniversary or Halo 5.
 
Halo may be an old horse, but it's still got a few wins left in him.

Thanks for reading, and always finish the fight.


 

Be sure to follow on Twitter @MaximusWrestler

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

TEN COOLEST MUTANTS FROM THE X-MEN MOVIE UNIVERSE



With the release of the highly anticipated X-Men: Days of Future Past just a few weeks away, we here at the Machine wanted to focus on the X-franchise as a whole and determine the coolest of the coolest mutants around. Say what you want about X-Men: The Last Stand, but we can only assume that DOFP will use all of the X-continuity and rework it into a new timeline. Though the days may be numbered for the X-Men and other mutants of the Fox X-verse, we would like to celebrate the appearances of the most memorable mutants. I think that's as many X puns I can come up with at 9:00am in the morning!

Monday, April 14, 2014

EDITORIAL: GOOGLE JUST BOUGHT A DRONE COMPANY - SKYNET IN THE WORKS?


Google, The Internet Search Engine God, has purchased Titan Aerospace, a drone and "atmospheric satellites" manufacturer.

Visit the Titan Aerospace website and you will find the following message (I like to imagine hearing this over an intercom system, spoken in soothing tones by a female AI):
"At Titan Aerospace, we’re passionate believers in the potential for technology (and in particular, atmospheric satellites) to improve people’s lives. It’s still early days for the technology we’re developing, and there are a lot of ways that we think we could help people, whether it’s providing internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited to learn from and work with our new colleagues as we continue our research, testing and design work as part of the Google family."
While I know paranoia and conspiracy theories are typically an unhealthy path of thought, I can't help but be slightly disturbed by this news. Perhaps my reaction is merely resultant from being raised on movies like The Terminator and The Matrix, because I honestly don't see how we're not headed toward a war with the machines.

Friday, April 11, 2014

New Batman Animated Short Film By Bruce Timm w/Analysis - In Honor of My 75th Birthday


"STRANGE DAYS" by Bruce Timm

Writer, producer, animator and Batman-guru Bruce Timm, best known for his work on Batman: The Animated Series and the DC Animated Universe, has released a new animated short-film starring everyone's favorite Caped Crusader.


The film is as beautiful as it is succinct.

Heavily influenced by the original comics created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the self-explanatory short is in black and white, and features a narrative-style and aesthetic common to Batman's first days in comic form. The subtleties of the short are particularly enjoyable for Batfans that have been fortunate enough to get their hands on an anthology and sift through those early comics; Batman's basic gloves, elongated, curved ears, and art-deco-style plane (a pre-cursor to the Bat-Wing - complete with auto-pilot even back then).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR HAS PASSED AWAY AT 54 YEARS OLD


The WWE has issued an official statement that The Ultimate Warrior has passed away.

Information is scarce and vague at the moment, though TMZ reports The Ultimate Warrior - James Hellwig - collapsed outside an Arizona hotel at 5:50 on April 8th while walking to his car with his wife. He was later transported to a hospital and pronounced dead.

This tragic news comes on the heels of Warrior's long-awaited return to the WWE. He was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, and cut a good, eerily poignant promo on Raw this past Monday Night.

In a week where the past, present, and future of the wrestling art in the WWE was been honored and celebrated, this news is sobering and difficult to process.

He was 54 years old and is survived by his wife and two daughters. He left behind a legacy few wrestlers ever achieve.

His parting words with the WWE fans, found here on ABC News, will never be forgotten.


Monday, April 7, 2014

How I Learned To Stop Caring And Get Excited For Star Wars Episode VII

Is the theme already playing in your head?

I have found it difficult to get excited for J.J. Abrams' forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII.

Depending on one's level of fandom, Stars Wars is a complicated bit of living cinematic art. The franchise was at one time so deeply ingrained in my consciousness, so significant to my childhood and adolescent life, that it's difficult to accept how, with age and an increasingly commercial-seeming world, my enthusiasm, interest, and hope for the future of this beloved fantasy has faded.

Just beautiful in every way.
My initial pure and rightful love of Star Wars has been gradually polluted by years and years of altered DVDs and altered Blu-Rays and re-releases and subpar video games and subpar action figures and the sale of the franchise to Disney and the potential spin-off films and the caliber of filmmakers and the caliber of screenwriters brought on to make what's shaping into a nostalgia film crafted by committee to hit all the right focus-group criteria for what makes a "good" movie.


To find your honest love tainted by a world of interconnected corporate power is disheartening and inevitably leads to cynicism. The new Star Wars seems more like a giant ad for Disney than a film, little more than an elaborate power point presentation.

So disheartened, I've even started to question whether or not my love was real - if the beloved work of art was never really as good as I thought it was. I've gone back and tried to watch the films, but simply found it too painful because it has become impossible to have a pure experience of them.


The love of Star Wars is founded on everything that is good in the human spirit. The films are a tapestry of sonic and visual joy that taps into our desire to be heroic. Despite how convoluted the series has become, diluted by years of Lucas-interference, I have to believe the initial goodness of those first three movies was real, and that someday I'll be able to enjoy them again.


The recent news that Chewbacca will return for the new film does little to peak my interest, but it did inspire me to seek out my favorite Star Wars song and give it a listen.

And I'll be damned if simply listening to The Force Theme didn't get me pretty psyched for a new Star Wars movie.

Please hit play now, and listen as you read.


Hearing John Williams' score, and particularly what I consider to be the best piece of music in the entire Star Wars saga, instantly reignited my imagination and my hope.

I immediately crafted, in my mind, my very own trailer for the new film.

It would be silent, save this entire song, and it would open with a slow fade-in. The camera pans up, revealing the twin suns of Tattooine and a distant, cloaked figure watching them set.


From there we travel through the familiar locations of the original saga, slowly fading in and out of each locale, getting a glimpse of aged Rebel Bases and debunked Imperial ship yards.


And then, as we reach the initial crescendo in the song, we get our first glimpse of a familiar face or two - perhaps R2-D2 and C-3P0, and eventually Han and Leia, each of them staring off into the distance - standing on balconies of the Jedi Temple or the rooftops of Coruscant.


And then we see some new faces - the children of Han and Leia - perhaps we see them age in a few cross-fades, with the loving parents watching them grow. We see children as Padawans, tying their traditional braids, putting on their robes, training with Lightsabers. We see Han and Leia's children graduating from the Jedi Academy, bowing before a foreboding, cloaked figure whose face we cannot see.


The family is proud, and the world seems at peace, the old heroes enjoying the fruits of their labor.


And then, as the tone of the music shifts, we see a dark presence rising in the galaxy - the Imperial Remnant, or a lone Sith Lord, training his/her own legion of dark followers.


The haunting score continues despite the consistently somber, yet positive tone.

But we are now bombarded with images of tragedy and destruction. The Jedi Academy is besieged. Han shooting his trusty blaster, looking haggard and ancient, face covered in sweat and dirt. Leia crying, R2-D2, C-3P0, and Chewbacca racing to The Millennium Falcon.


The Dark Sith Lord approaching a downed and scrambling Han Solo, red lightsaber gleaming across the screen.


Han and Leia's kids fighting hordes of enemies, deflecting laser-fire with their sabers, running, leaping, screaming, their costumes tattered and worn.


And then we take to the stars - bolts of laser fire and exploding ships, a brief glimpse inside the old Falcon.


Finally, as the music slowly fades, we return to Tattoine, to the cloaked figure, watching the twin suns set.


Cut to a close up of an old Luke Skywalker's face, shrouded in shadow beneath the hood of his cloak. He takes the hood off, his face bathed in the light of the setting suns. There is a mournful look in his eyes - we do not know what this weathered warrior has endured.


And then, slowly, he walks out of sight and the title fills the screen.

This is my ideal trailer, and my ideal set up for a new Star Wars film.

The new film can easily, and excellently bridge the gap between the old and the new. In deft hands, a truly powerful, emotional film that plays on 30 years worth of love and joy could result in an astounding picture. In my ideal film we would lose some of our beloved heroes to the tide of a new war that must be won by the next generation. The sons and daughters of the original cast might find themselves on opposing sides as the new trilogy develops, and gradually, as before, peace shall be restored in the end.

Luke Skywalker is the character I care about the most, and while I have my misgivings about this movie, I firmly believe Luke can be a fascinating character in his old age. To see Mark Hammil go from a young, bright-eyed kid, to the wise old mentor-character once played by Alec Guinness in A New Hope, would be cinematic history and possibly assist in telling a new, great story.

So treat yourself to some Star Wars music, switch off the internet, and let your natural inclination to get excited for a new Star Wars film take over. I promise it will make you smile.


Thanks for reading and may the force be with you. Always.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Why CM Punk Should Have Taken 2013 Off And Returned At The 2014 Royal Rumble

WHY CM PUNK SHOULD HAVE HAD MORE TIME OFF



Following WrestleMania 29 in April of 2013, CM Punk took some time off from wrestling. Unlike his current and seemingly permanent departure from the business, Punk's 2013 break was scheduled and sanctioned by the WWE brass.

His vacation was, arguably, far too brief, however, for he returned in June to have a match against Chris Jericho at the Payback pay-per-view, and continued wrestling for the company until his inevitable departure earlier this year.

Despite leaving the WWE after his 'Mania loss to The Undertaker as a definitive heel, a month off and a hometown return at Payback effectively gave Punk's character the etch-a-sketch treatment, transforming him into a face simply because fans were happy to have him back.