Tag Archives: The Force Awakens

Our Favorite Movies Of 2015

The Best Of 2015. Our Favorite Movies

There were some great movies to come out in 2015. From Mad Max: Fury Road, Inside Out, The Martian, Sicario, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it was really a tremendous year for film.  Which is why we at the Film Box would like to look back at our very favorite movies of 2015. If you missed any of these over the course of the year don’t hesitate to catch up with them at a later date. These 2015 standouts are definitely worth your time.

del torro sicario

Sicario

Joseph Jo: Out of all the films that were released in 2015, Sicario was eventually the one that had me in awe throughout the film. The only thing I knew about this film was Denis Villeneuve was the director where couple years back I had the chance to watch his earlier work, the Incendies, which is another one of my favorite. I’m usually one of those theater goers, where I wait until everything dies down, and thankfully I was glad I went to watch Sicario few months after the release, because this is one of those films where you just have to watch alone in the big screen without knowing nothing about it.

I knew from the movie poster that Emily Blunt was starring along with Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Usually I don’t really care who’s in the picture, because ultimately I care about the story, structure, editing and how it was directed. And may all the deities bless the production team, because this movie made me feel exactly like Emily Blunt’s character throughout the movie, and that’s how I feel the movie was intended to be. If I had bothered to even read the tagline, I probably would have never felt the chill when Benicio’s character gave that eerie vibe when he said, “Welcome to Juarez.”

 

heart of a dog movie

Heart Of A Dog

Helen HighlyI would recommend Laurie Anderson’sHeart of a Dog” as Best Film of the Year. This 75-minute, poetic film-collage essay combines Anderson’s personal stories and musings with quotations from renowned philosophers, ink drawings on paper, printed words, animation, scratchy old 8mm home-movie clips, new footage of landscapes, surveillance camera footage with time codes, graphic images such as computer icons, and her ingenious use of music.

The movie is officially classified as a documentary and has rightfully been shortlisted (down to the final 15) for the Academy Award Best Documentary Feature. But it doesn’t feel at all like a traditional “non-fiction educational film.” It’s a playfully experimental memoir that is sometimes a meditation on how to go on living despite despair – “the purpose of death is the release of love,” an insightful (and not maudlin) reflection on America’s 9/11 attack, and also a witty tale on the nature of telling and remembering and forgetting. Ultimately, this is Laurie Anderson’s own love story – about her dog, her mother, her husband, and her city. It is uncommon and evocative film making and a true pleasure to watch

I think this may be the year of the documentary. There were so many interesting, important, and really well done documentaries that crossed over into mainstream film (or at least mainstream indie film). So I think it’s appropriate to name a documentary as “Best Of” this year. And the Laurie Anderson movie is truly beautiful and important as well as being surprisingly accessible (easy and fun to watch), once you start watching. And I also think this film has staying-power. It will still be relevant and worth-watching for years to come. It’s simply a great flick.

More of Helen Highly’s movie related rants and raves can also be found at HelenHighly.com

steve carell the big short

The Big Short

Matt Taylor: In a cinematic landscape filled with big budget disaster flicks it’s a rare thing for a movie to come along with actual, real world doom as part of it’s narrative. The Big Short is a sobering reminder, and revealing portrait, of the 2008 Economic Collapse. Directed by Adam McKay, who you may recognize as the wacky mind behind so many Will Ferrell films such as Anchorman and Talladega Nights, The Big Short presented it’s subject matter in such a lively, innovative way that it had to be my number one pick for Best Film of 2015.

The Big Short follows a handful of bankers who discovered the housing market collapse years before it happened. The film has us follow them as they attempt to expose and profit from this collapse. The irony and hypocrisy on display is what made the film compelling. Sure, there’s a few characters that are bleeding heart crusaders trying to do the right thing, but at the end of the day they’re bankers turning a profit. Even the best among those in the big banking machine are both whistle blowers and profiteers.
The film was made was with a documentary style, with none of the usual documentarian tropes i.e. interviews. The characters do break the fourth wall and address the audience to explain things, and most interesting is the directors use of celebrities and public figures to break down the really tough to grasp financial terminologies driving the story. For example there’s a quick cutaway to actress Margot Robbie in a bubble bath who explains the sub-prime mortgage problem leading up to the financial collapse. The use of cutaways, sound design, camera movement and character made this film about finance, which could have been extremely dull, a fast paced riveting look at one of the biggest disasters in American, and dare I say, World History. It is for those reasons that The Big Short is number one on my list for the year 2015.
More of Matt Taylor can be found at Twitter

the-woman-in-gold film

The Woman In Gold

Charles Soste: My favorite film for 2015 after much consideration, was The Woman In Gold. It was a well-acted, brilliantly directed story of an Austrian victim of World War II seeking to retain priceless art work that was stolen from her family by the Nazis.  The film was incredibly moving and what all great cinema should be.  Helen Mirren was at her unsurprising best in the lead role and Daniel Bruhl and Ryan Reynolds were excellent too.

I should also add that very honorable mention should go to Spotlight, Mr. Holmes and The Martian for me as well since they were all fantastic.

Rey and Finn star wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Cameron Dueker: Like many others, for me, my favorite movie was Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan since I was younger and the franchise has held a special place not only in my heart but in my life because of it. I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news the news that Disney had bought out Lucasfilm and the doubts that crept into my head shortly after. George Lucas was out. J.J. Abrams was in. Would it follow the Expanded Universe or blaze a new trail of it’s own? Could the original actors still play a role in their old age? Any New Hope that filled me was simultaneously checked with cautious trepidation of the still  recent mixed bag of the prequels.

Maybe the years of reverence surrounding the original trilogy  had simply set the bar for any new Star Wars films too high.

As information about the new film slowly leaked out it was clear to me these concerns were also weighing heavily on the cast and crew. You could just see the amount of love and care everybody involved was putting into The Force Awakens which only rocketed expectations into the stratosphere.

And when I finally saw the film I was blown away. It was a call back to 1977 true, but what is so wrong with that? The new characters were hugely compelling, the action was great, the story was intriguing and full of mystery’s still unsolved, and the feel was spot on with how WE all want a Star Wars film to be.

The Force Awakens may not be the best Star Wars film, Empire still holds that crown, but for me it was far, far away the best film of 2015.

 

Harrison Ford Was Paid 50x More Than Star Wars Co-Stars

Harrison Ford meant it when he said in the new Star Wars film that “the force” was real; his celebrity forced Disney and Lucasfilm to pay huge money.

With its global in-take now at a record $529 million, Star Wars‘ box office success is staggering. But how much money did The Force Awakens actors earn to join a galaxy far, far away?

Variety is reporting that Harrison Ford’s salary was in the eight-figure range ($10 million to $20 million) to reprise his role of Han Solo. According to a Disney insider, the 73-year-old notoriously grouchy actor earned a substantially larger cut than his co-stars — 50 times more than the fresh faces who shared the screen with him.

Word on the street says that Disney made a decision in 2014, prior to casting the new roles, to create a “legacy pay scale” intended for talent like Ford, Fisher and Hamill, who had previously been a part of the Star Wars franchise, and pay only “scale” for actors that would be appearing for the first time. In that universe, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher took home pay checks in the low-seven-figure range.

Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac negotiated deals in the mid- to high-six figures, due to their previous film and TV work. But newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were paid only in the low-six-figure range ($100k-$300k), due to their lack of experience in large-scale film. That’s barely a tiny flash of light in the gigantic financial universe that is Star Wars. Let’s hope that next time (and there will surely will be a next time), the force will be with them when they bargain for their salaries.

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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

Spoiler Heavy Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Spoiler Heavy Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

WARNING! You will only get to see the new Star Wars movie for the first time once. So go see it. And if you want spoiler free reviews than you can find a bunch on the internet here, here, and here.

Once you’ve done that come back here for a spoiler heavy review and analysis. You’ve been warned.

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. When Disney bought Star Wars three years ago and announced that an Episode VII was being fast tracked into development fans around the world freaked out. One year ago the first trailer dropped and kicked anticipation into lightspeed. The hype and positive buzz surrounding the film only grew from there as the film inched closer to release.

So how does the first Star Wars film in ten years hold up against the biggest hype train we’ll all never see the likes of again?

In many aspects it holds up quite well. Exceptionally well actually considering the impossibly high expectations and circumstances surrounding it.

But in others it falls as hard as Darth Vader did to the dark side.

darth vader burnt mask

Before we start, I will say this. Given the immense hype and the smattering of trailers and TV commercials that’s bombarded the public in the recent weeks, J.J. Abrams and Disney did an amazing job dangling the movie in front of the public without ruining it. The film has some really great moments and surprises for everybody that the trailers never hinted at or showed. Even if you’ve seen them all a hundred times by now, you know who you are, the film still entertains.

And the Force Awakens does this on the strength of it’s characters. The new main characters are all spectacular, well developed and fun to watch. They were my favorite part of the film by far and will be for most viewers as you can tell the writers put a lot of thought and care into their development.

John Boyega’s Finn is one hundred times funnier than Jar Jar Binks ever wished he was. By the end of the film, he was really nothing more than a dense stormtrooper with a big heart and a conscious who got himself in way over his head. Finn’s best qualities come out when he puts himself into the greatest danger like escaping from the First Order, or on the Millennium Falcon, or in his two great lightsaber duels.

The Rebels, now the Resistance’s, hotshot pilot Poe Dameron had the smallest part of the new cast but always seemed exuberant and eager. I would have liked to see more of him  in the cockpit of his slick black X-wing, but then again I would have liked to have seen more X-wings in the film as well.

BB-8 is a scene stealer throughout the entire movie. Maybe it’s wise R2-D2 was shut down through most of the film as there’s no way he can compete with that adorable soccer ball of a droid.

Kylo Ren Force Awakens Trailer

Kylo Ren was also quite a surprise, but not for the reasons that are the most apparent. As much as he strives not to be, his character is the anti-Vader in almost every way. Emotional, witty and surprisingly funny he is also full of doubt as he finds himself pulled to the light side, something which he struggles to find the strength to combat. What a great way to flip not only Darth Vader comparisons but also the whole dichotomy of the Force and how it’s perceived in general. It’s not just the dark side that can pulls and seduce anymore, the light side is just as tempting it seems. What a great twist that takes what’s come before makes it new and interesting again. I also got quite a kick of his synthesized voice which sounded a lot like Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men and his lightsaber temper tantrums. What better way to show Kylo as the spoiled brat he is than to have him slash everything with his lightsaber. It was also a nice touch I thought that under his mask he is quite the pretty boy which made for a nice visual contrast with Vader’s scared and ruined face.

Rey The Force Awakens

The last great revelation was Daisy Ridley in her role as Rey. Like Luke, she begins the movie as a lost youth stuck trying to make ends meet on a backwards desert planet. Adventurous and resourceful, she braves the derelict ruins of Star Destroyers spelunking  for scrap she can sell for food. She waits patiently on her seemingly adopted homeworld of Jakku for the family she can’t remember to one day return to her. It’s very endearing and gives Rey some vulnerability while also keeping her tough as she needs no one to protect or rescue her in a welcome change of pace. She is also quite plucky and scrappy when she needs to be and develops a great father daughter chemistry with Han Solo that the film never quite wants to awkwardly acknowledge. She has a lot in common with Luke on the surface but I was reminded more of the good qualities she shares with Anakin Skywalker in the prequels. What does that mean, if anything? I have no idea as the film seems dead set on revealing Rey’s backstory in a “I am your father” moment in Episode VIII. Seeing her escape on her own in the Starkiller base instead of being rescued was a great  touch, and it was about time we finally see a girl kick ass with a lightsaber in a Star Wars film.

Han Solo The Force Awakens

The other main character that’s worth mentioning is Han Solo and his huge role in the film. I was worried that age would have caught up to Han Solo as it had Harrison Ford but those fears all flew out the window quickly. The Han Solo in the Force Awakens is still the lovable scoundrel he was in the original trilogy. He’s still down on his luck and constantly facing long odds with only Chewie, his blaster, and his quick wit by his side.

It sucks he had to die.

Part of the fun of watching The Force Awakens is to identify all the callbacks to the previous movies, there are many, and how director J.J. Abrams and writer Lawrence Kashdan play with them. The Force Awakens does stay awfully close to the main story structure of A New Hope. Secret plans are hidden in a droid that must be returned safely to the good guys before he falls into enemy hands. Before the plans are delireved a cantina is visited, a new planet destroying super weapon is tested and some talk about the Force’s role in all this is explained. Eventually the plans are delivered but not before our female lead is captured and rescued while a small fleet of X-wings launches a desperate attack on a looming threat.

By the time Han Solo walks out to confront his son who he’s failed to raise on the straight and narrow in front of Rey and Finn on the Death Star 3.0 you know he’ll soon be following in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s footsteps. It’s a powerful scene that hits hard because it’s so connected to A New Hope.

But it could have been amazing if the film had done anymore than wink about Han’s and Kylo’s father-son relationship. As far as the films go, (I know in the Expanded Universe this is all old hat) it’s a lot for audiences to take in that not only did Han and Leia have a child named Ben, but that he was trained to be a Jedi and eventually turned to the dark side. If we were never told these events took place we’d be hard pressed to believe them as the film never really develops their relationship to a point that’s believable.  Even cold hearted Leia treats the loss of her son to the dark side in the same stoic way as when she lost her home planet. The whole father son reveal falls flat as it seems rushed and loses any of the poignancy required for a death of this magnitude to truly resonate.

Which is another problem the film has in that the second half comes off as too rushed. Too much is happening with the X-wing attack, Rey’s rescue, the destruction of the shield generators, Kylo Ren, Han’s death, and a great lightsaber duel for any of it to stand out.

Compare that to the film’s first half which though brisk, was expertly paced and kept things interesting and moving forward. The first half is pure joy and Star Wars nostalgia as The Force Awakens fills in the gaps of the last thirty years since Return of the Jedi. Seeing Star Destroyers and TIE Fighters back on the big screen is a thrill as is reintroducing the Millennium Falcon and learning what Han and Chewie have been up to in the years since. It also helps having BB-8 around as he’s a much bigger player in the first half than the second. Actually whenever BB-8 was around the movie seemed stronger. He’s that good.

Force Awakens X-wings

A major complaint I have with the film is that it seems too interested in leaving a trail of story related bread crumbs into Episodes VIII and IX. There is a lot of blatant mystery the film sets up but flat out chooses to ignore, at least until further sequels. For instance, how did Luke’s lighstaber get into that wooden box? Who was the old man at the beginning? Who are Rey’s parents? Han and Leia? Luke perhaps? How was she able to become so proficient in the Force in such a short matter of time? What was the relationship between Luke and Ben Solo? How exactly did the Force Awaken?

There were a few small things that really bugged me. Captain Phasma got the true Boba Fett treatment in that she looks cool but doesn’t really do anything and gets taken out like a punk just the same. I didn’t like Supreme Leader Snoke though I am getting a Wizard of Oz vibe from him and his huge holographic projection. The new Death Star was taken out waaaay too easily with only a handful of X-wings and despite the hope of some kick ass space battles, my favorite, the dogfights here were over much to quickly for my liking. And Luke. It would have been nice if he would have said something or if not then at the very least end the movie right after his reveal instead of holding on his straggly beard for what seemed like an entirety in the wind.

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Don’t get me wrong, The Force Awakens was still a good film and I really enjoyed it. It’s the funniest Star Wars film by far and had great action pieces. Seeing the scale of everything filmed with actual actors and props was so effective in making the film seem as real as the originals were. I liked the final duel in the snowy woods where the trees replaced the bamboo groves of old samurai movies. Watching Rey climb the long and winding stairs towards Luke at the end for some good old fashioned Kung Fu training was fun, and seeing her wear the pistol Han Solo gave her, slung low on her hip like Han made me smile.

The acting was top notch all around and it’s clear the franchise is in good hands with this new core group of actors firmly established to take the franchise into the future for many many more years to come.

I can’t wait to see it again. The Force is strong with it.

5 Reasons Why Star Wars The Force Awakens Might Be Good

5 Reasons Why Star Wars The Force Awakens Might Be Good

So, it’s come to this. We are now just days away from the premiere of Star Wars The Force Awakens. As one a time fan whose adoration of the franchise was ruined by the prequels, I am definitely going into this new installment with a good deal of skepticism. Previously and given the tremendous veil of secrecy that naturally surrounds the film, I put forth 5 Reasons Why The Force Awakens Might Suck and there were good reasons for those fears. However, there is also a chance that this new tale about life a long time ago in a galaxy far far away could resurrect the greatness of the original trilogy. Therefore, here are 5 Reasons That Star Wars The Force Awakens Might Be Good.
jj abrams directing star wars
1. J.J. Abrams Is The Co-Writer and Director: In all honesty I’m not the familiar with J.J. Abrams work. Even though I haven’t seen much of what he has done, he is a Spielberg protege and he has been involved in the creation of a number of well-received movies and television series and I’m sure all that praise is not without merit. One need only look at the love people had for his revival of Star Trek to be given a feeling a hope at the fact that he has been intimately involved with every aspect of The Force Awakens. However, more than his successful track record, his biggest asset is being a life long Star Wars fan whose world was forever changed when he saw the first movie in 1977. He has such an obvious love and appreciation for the series that he may have delivered a movie that will satisfy and inspire fans and critics alike. And, who knows maybe it could even be on the level of the originals that were not only entertaining, but actually imparted some deeper philosophical messages like whether there is a god, what gives life meaning, and redemption.

Chewie force awakens
2. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo And Princess Leia Are Back: Although, it appears that the crux of The Force Awakens will focus on the story lines of the new characters in it, the fact that the three stars of the original trilogy are returning is another reason to peel back some cynicism. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia were truly beloved characters portrayed astoundingly by the actors who played them. All three of them may have a limited impact on this film and the state we are going to find them in probably is not wonderful, but they will be there and it will be good to see them. Furthermore, over the course of the film they maybe able to work their way out of whatever entanglements they find themselves in, which could be exciting. Finally, the fact that all three of the actors who were in the original movies came back to be in this film is a good sign as they must have felt the material was worthy enough to reprise their respective roles.

Lawrence kashdan
3. Lawrence Kasdan Co-Wrote The Screenplay: Lawrence Kasdan is an absolutely excellent filmmaker and script writer. One need only look at Grand Canyon and The Big Chill to see how extremely talented he is. More importantly though, Kasdan was involved in the writing of The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of The Jedi. Both of those movies were fantastic and the fact that he has had a hand at writing two Star Wars pictures before means he knows the territory very well. This time he may have delivered a screenplay as good as Empire and Jedi. That is an exciting prospect for any past or present fan and I hope that it meets expectations.

jj abrams bb8
4. Abrams Went Old School: While watching 60 Minutes the other night J.J. Abrams was featured in a segment that showed he employed a limited use of C.G.I. A lot of the new characters that he created for this film were produced organically and all the explosions were real. This is about as close to how Star Wars and its successors were made as possible. In fact, one of the biggest reasons that A New Hope blew everybody’s mind was no film like it had ever been done before and a tremendous amount of that had to do with how it was shot, how all of the creatures in it were created and how incredibly real it all looked. For me, an enormous drawback of the prequels aside from the wooden acting and campy dialogue, were that everything looked so fake and shot on a green screen. If Abrams was able to create a Star Wars similar to the original with as much realism than it could be great.
Millimum Falcon The Force Awakens
5. The Trailers Have Been Good: Movie trailers can be a very deceptive thing. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a trailer for a movie that looked interesting that than turned out to be terrible or seen a trailer for a movie that looked awful and turned out excellent. (The Royal Tennenbaums and Mr. Brooks come to mind when thinking of the latter.) But, the trailers that have been released for The Force Awakens have all been interesting and intriguing. Furthermore, based on the little footage that has been shown, the movie appears to lack the shortcomings of the prequels. That being said, you never know with trailers. But it is yet another reason to believe that the force very well may be strong with this one.

So, therein lie my 5 Reasons For Why The Force Awakens Might Be Good. You may disagree with me and in a few days most of us will have formed our opinions, and all the mystery surrounding the movie will be over. But, whichever way it goes, I do have to give some credit to J.J. Abrams for even undertaking this project considering all of the risks that it entails. Stepping in to helm a beloved franchise with a black mark on its legacy is no easy feat and for that alone he should be given a pat on the back.

Pink Astromech Droid, R2-KT To Appear In The Force Awakens

Pink Astromech, R2-KT To Appear In The Force Awakens

In one of the best pieces of Star Wars news I’ve heard since terminally ill superfan Daniel Fleetwood was given a special advance screening of The Force Awakens days before loosing his battle to cancer, it’s been confirmed that R2-KT will officially appear in the new film as well!

What makes R2-KT so special besides just being a pink version of R2-D2?

In 2004, a little six year old girl named Katie Johnson was diagnosed with a brain tumor that quickly took a toll on her young body. Her father, Albine Johnson happened to be the founder of the 501st Legion, a group of Star Wars fans who dress up in costume for charity events around the world. One day Katie’s father had an idea to build Katie her very own R2-D2 type droid to watch over her while she went to bed and set upon building her one. Katie’s sister came up with the idea of painting it pink and naming it after Katie herself, and thus R2-KT was born.

A special pink droid was delivered to Katie by members of the 501st in time for her to enjoy it while the scratch built R2-KT was still being built with donated parts from supporters. She slept with it every night as it watched over her like R2 did for Padme in the 2nd prequel film, Attack of the Clones.

Katie Johnson R2-KT

Sadly,  Katie soon lost her battle to cancer after receiving her very own R2-KT, but her memory lives on with the pink astromech droid that has become a fan favorite in the Star Wars community in the years since. A toy of R2-KT was even produced, which became highly collectible with all proceeds from sales going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Fast forward to today, as we are less than a month away from the release of The Force Awakens and what was rumored is now confirmed as Katie’s father Albine has been told by Lucasfilm that R2-KT survived the editing process and will indeed make a cameo in the film.

I just love how Disney, J.J. Abrams, and Lucasfilm have been so fan friendly with everything concerning the production of the Force Awakens. You can see how much care and love they have put into the film and it how it extends beyond the cameras in how they are treating fans.

I’m a grown man, yet I fully expect to tear up a few times in the theater when I see the film for the first time.

Seeing R2-KT on the big screen will be another big tear jerker for me.

 

Christmas Gift Ideas For Movie Lovers

Christmas Gift Ideas For Movie Lovers

The holidays are almost here and that means one thing.

Christmas shopping. And the dreaded images of long lines, angry customers, gridlocked parking lots,  and the promise of door buster deals replaced with the reality of depleted shelves. A true holiday headache.

To make matters worse, you have a movie fan on your gift list with no idea what to give them. With everything streaming on the internet now, the old days of simply giving a DVD or Blu-Ray are long gone.

So what do you do? One can only give and receive so many Starbucks and itunes gifts cards after all.

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You take your gift giving to the next level is what you do, with these great Christmas gift ideas for movie lovers of all kinds. Guaranteed to stand out from the socks and sweaters and bring a smile to that special someone’s face.

And with the ease of online point and click shopping, these Christmas gift ideas for movie lovers are sure to bring holiday joy to your valuable time as well.

Gifts for the Star Wars Fan

 

star wars figure set

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Figure Set

Best For: Kids and kids at heart

If you collect Star Wars then chances are you are bound to have some action figures laying around the house somewhere. This 6 pack has the main characters from the new Force Awakens movie along with an awesome looking Flame Trooper for an extra bonus. (The secret of Star Wars figure collecting is that you can never have enough storm troopers). Besides being a toy that can actually be played with on Christmas morning, this is package is a total bargain as each figure would normally be sold for $8.00 separately by themselves.

Xwing minatures game

X-Wing Miniatures Game

Best For: Gamers who spend too much time in front of the TV.

The Star Wars Miniatures Game came out only a few years ago and has quickly grown and increased in popularity to become among players of all ages. With the game you can recreate the action packed space battles from the Star Wars movies right on your kitchen table.

Players pick a side, X-wings or TIE fighters and strategically fly their intricately detailed models around a game board rolling dice to fire lasers and dodge incoming hits.

The X-Wing miniatures game is so cool for so many reasons. First of all, the ships look like toys onto themselves and are built in impress. The detail and paint jobs on each is impressive. Most impressive. What’s really cool is that there are a slew of of other ships you can buy to grow your game beyond the starter set and allow each player to further customize their fleet. From the Millennium Falcon to Darth Vader’s TIE fighter. The base started kit was recently updated with ships from The Force Awakens and I’m sure more new craft will follow once the new film is released.

And the best part about the X-Wing Miniatures Game is that it’s something that can actually be played with right after opening.

bb8 sphereo

Remote Controlled Sphero BB-8

Best For: Tech lovers big and small

Sure to be one of the hottest toys this holiday season, the Sphero remote controlled BB-8 is a little techno wonder every kid is sure to flip out over. And for good reason as this is the closest most of us will ever get to owning an actual Star Wars droid.

The miniature BB-8 is unlike any other remote controlled toy like it. It uses an app on your phone as remote to drive the little guy around, however he’s fully capable of rolling around autonomously on his own. He listens to voice commands and can also project holographic images through the altered reality screen of your cell phone!

And if nothing else, the little guy is just so darn cute it’s hard to imagine any child wouldn’t instantly fall in love with him.

Gifts for Classical Movie Fans

alfred hitchcock dvd set

Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection Blu-Ray

Best For: Hardcore movie aficionados

For serious cinema fans, there are few directors in the same upper echelon as the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. His movies have inspired generations of filmmakers and kept millions of fans on the edges of their seats for years, and now 15 of his best films have been digitally remastered and collected together on Blu-Ray.

All of Hitchcock’s classic’s are represented here like Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Marnie and Rope. However my personal favorite would have to be Vertigo, a deeply personal tale of how far a desperate man would go to recreate the lost love of his life. Already a beautiful film to watch, I can’t imagine how crisp and colorful Vertigo would look, remastered in Blu-Ray high definition.

ava garnder

Biographical Books of Hollywood Legends

Best For: Avid readers and fans of Hollywood’s Golden Age

Sure everybody’s seen their movies, but how well do people know the lives and stories of the stars of the silver screen? There’s countless books that have been written through the years about all of Hollywood’s biggest stars that prove life is often stranger than fiction. Because of that, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find the right book about the right actor to make the perfect present.

Some famous actors that are guaranteed to make for good reading would 40’s bombshell Ava Gardner, her ex husband Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne or Cary Grant. Their lives read like movies onto themselves and who doesn’t love curling up to read a good book?

audrey hepburn barbie dollAudrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s Barbie Doll

Best For: 60’s film fans, Barbie doll collectors, those who appreciate timeless style

Audrey Hepburn has to be one of the most beautiful actresses of all time, and one of the greatest movie stars of her generation.

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She’s been in so many classic films that it’s hard to pick a favorite. But her most iconic role’s has to be Holly Goligthly in the romantic comedy classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And now you can share Audrey’s classic look in this glamorous looking official Barbie doll based on the film’s opening scene, complete with pearl necklace’s and cup of coffee.

Miracle on 34th STreet Christmas village

Miracle on 34th Street Christmas Village Theater

There is no more classic Christmas movie than Miracle on 34th Street which makes it the perfect movie to give holiday gifts for.

People love this movie because it captures the true spirit of Christmas like few movies have. People also love Christmas villages. So why not tap into both of these wells of good feelings with this intricately detailed miniature theater that would make a great centerpiece of any Christmas village?

 

Gifts For Comedy Movie Fans

sex panther cologne

Sex Panther Cologne

Best For: Guys who want to be the life of the party

“60% of the time, it works every time.”

For fans of Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy Anchorman films there can be no greater gift than a bottle of your very own Sex Panther cologne spray. Made with bits of real panther, this pungent odor is sure to sway the ladies closer to any guy brave enough to musk up with the manliest cologne ever made.

sex panther anchorman

Sadly, the cologne doesn’t come with the iconic panther bottle made famous by the movie, but the box does make the sound of a panther growling when opened which is good enough to bring a smile to the guy lucky enough to receive this stocking stuffer on Christmas morning or at the office party.

(not made with bits of real panther)

the room

The Room DVD

Best For: Rocky Horror Picture Fans. Lovers of movies so bad they are so good. 

It’s hard to explain The Room to people who haven’t seen it. To say it is quite possible the worst movie ever made is an understatement that doesn’t do this justice to this masterpiece of a train wreck. It is a movie that can’t be seen. It must be experienced.

the room castWritten, directed, produced and starring the unintelligible, Tommy Wiseau, the scary man on the cover, The Room has become an underground cult favorite among movie goers and Hollywood stars for it’s horribly written dialogue and acting. The film focuses on a middle aged banker named Tommy days before he is set to wed his future wife. However betrayal after betrayal from his friends threaten to ruin his engagement and drive Tommy into deep spiral of depression he cannot escape from until it’s too late.

But there’s more to The Room than betrayal and a ruined wedding. There’s also a drug deal gone bad, breast cancer, football and plenty of spoons.

The film is so good in a bad way that rabid fans still turn out to watch midnight screenings to laugh at the ridiculous lines and throw plastic spoons at the screen, years after it’s release.

If you want to go for the complete package, one of the film’s main actors, Greg Sestero recently wrote a book entitled, The Distaster Artist, which details the ordeal the cast went through in surviving the shoot and enduring the eccentric demands of Tommy Wiseau. (Wiseau shot the film simultaneously on 35mm and hi def cameras because he didn’t understand the difference and would take upwards of 30 takes to say the simplest of lines). The book is as hilarious as the movie and is currently being produced into a major film in itself.

big lebowski shirt

The Big Lebowski Replica Bowling Shirt

Best For: Bowlers and wannbe Dude’s.

The dude abides.

dudex-largeAnd now your loved one can show off their lackadaisical attitude towards life with their very own bowling jersey inspired by the cult favorite film, The Big Lebowski. Made of 100% cotton, this bowling shirt is identical to the one worn by Jeff Bridges, complete with embroidered Art name tag and “Medina Sod” sponsorship on the back. As a bonus, you can make it even more authentic by spilling a little white russian cocktail on it before you wrap it up.

Gifts For Disney Fans

sally ragdoll perfume

Nightmare Before Christmas Sally Ragdoll Perfume

Best For: Those hard to shop for tweeners. A slam dunk for Goth kids.

Kids and teens love Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. But is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? And since when did Nightmare Before Christmas become a Disney property?

It doesn’t matter as there are few things that can would be cooler to receive on Christmas morning than a bottle of Sally Ragdoll perfume. Made with hints of jasmine, black currant, strawberry, sandalwood and almond it’s a scent they’re sure to love and treasure.

Hopefully, Sally left the frog’s breath out of the perfume when she mixed it up. :)

up adventure book

UP Adventure Book

Best For: Newlyweds and young couples.

If you want to find the perfect gift for any young love birds on your list, you can’t do any better than this handmade adventure book taken straight the beloved Pixar animated film, Up.

Up-Ellie-Adventure-Book

The perfect scrapbook or wedding album, this unique book will bring a smile to everyone’s face once opened. Who wouldn’t love having their very own adventure book to store life’s special memories in just like Carl and Ellie did in Up.

mickey mouse glove mouse

Mickey Mouse Glove Wireless Mouse

Best For: College Students and those not afraid to let their Disney flag fly.

How cool is this? A Mickey Mouse….mouse. Whoever though of this is a pure genius.

Wireless mice always look so generic and cheap looking. Everybody I see at my local coffee works around on their ultra high end laptops personalized with stickers and cases to make them stand out. But wireless mice get no love and are always treated as after thoughts.

Well not anymore with this unique mouse that carries more personality with it than any trendy sticker ever could. People will do a double take and smile when they see this being used for sure and ask where they can get one of their own. Problem is, they don’t know anybody as great as you at gift giving and so will have to do without.

 

Gifts For Comic Book Movie Fans

funko pop rocket raccoon

Funko POP! Collectible Figures

Best For: Collectors of all kinds. Cubicle and shelf decorators.

These collectible Funko POP! bobble heads are everywhere these days. And for good reason. They’re original, cute, well made and due to aggressive licensing you can be guaranteed to find a figurine on pretty much ANY film or TV property you can think of. Star Wars. Game of Thrones. Ghostbusters. Disney. The Hunger Games. Sesame Street. The Silence of the Lambs.

Like I said, everything.

Which is great when it comes to comic book films as pretty much every character from every movie you can think of has been given the Funko POP! treatment. You could assemble and gift wrap up the whole team of Avengers or give a little tiny Batman and Superman to fight each other in anticipation of their upcoming movie.

The hardest part is choosing and finding which figures you want to get.

hot toys joker

Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker Collectible Figure

Best For: Serious comic books fans who seem to have everything. They won’t have this.

If you really want to take your gift giving to the next level, and really show somebody how much you care, then this insanely detailed Heath Ledger Joker toy is the way to go. Known for being the Lamborghini or Ducatti of the toy world, Hong Kong based Hot Toys produces the most luxurious toys you’ve ever seen. (They must considering this Joker goes for over $600.00! Like I said, this is the action figure equivalent of a Lambo.)

jokerThis Joker is the real deal. 12 inches tall with real cloth clothing, two interchangeable heads, 35 points of articulation and multiple sets of interchangeable hands.  This Joker even comes with movie accurate accessories right down to the metal desk Batman slams his head on in the film!

And look at the detail in that sculpting! It’s almost haunting how realistic Hot toys was able to get Ledger’s facial expressions molded into plastic. It’s hard to tell if this is a toy or a still of the Dark Knight.

Even better is that Hot Toys makes figures for all the major comic films coming out there days, so if Batman isn’t your thing they have tons of Marvel, DC, and other film property toys for purchase. All with the insane level of detail you can only get from buying a 400.00 toy. Er…. statue. Er…. collectible. Er…. screw it. These toys are downright awesome!

 

captain america t shirt

Comic Book T-Shirts

Best For: Fashionable comic book fans

No doubt about it, geek is in these days. Thanks to all the blockbuster super hero movies getting made these days, being a comic book fan is something hip to brag about. What better way to show that off than with a t-shirt of your favorite superhero?

Like the Funko POP! figures, there are superhero themed T-shirts of all kinds out there for fans of every type. A popular style these days is to go with a hero logo on a solid colored background or a vintage image with a distressed look to appear old and worn.

Gifts For Fantasy Movie Fans

sting letter opener

Lord of The Rings Sting Letter Opener

Best For: Business owners and legal reps with flair

Finding the perfect gift for fans pf the Lord of the Rings movies is rather easy when you think about it. You could buy them a set of the films, though they would already own them if they were a fan. You could buy them a set of the books but they assuredly have that already too. I guess you could buy them their own replica copy of the one true ring but that’s a little too obvious.

And they probably bought that for themselves a long time ago.

Which means you have to look outside the obvious. And what better present could there be than a mini replica Sting sword which is pretty cool on it’s own, but ones that doubles as a letter opener! I don’t know how many letters would get opened with this thing (who sends mail anymore really) but this mini Sting makes for a great decorative piece for any desk and will be sure to protect it’s owner from any unwelcome goblin attacks or raids.

harry potter fantastic beasts book

Harry Potter Book:  Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them

Best For: Muggles and wizards

Get ready for another round of Harry Potter mania as the newest movie in the series, Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them is due to hit theaters next year. Until that time comes Harry Potter fans will have to make due by watching the recently released teaser trailer, or reading the book upon which the film is based.

If it’s been awhile since your loved ones have been into Harry Potter they may not have even known a new book had come out, yet alone made into a movie. What better way to get reacquainted with the Potterverse than by having the holidays to settle in with a new book to enjoy?

Legos

Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings Legos

Best For: Kids and dads

This list wouldn’t be any good if I didn’t mention Legos at least once it.

When I was a kid Legos were still awesome (everything is awesome when Legos are around after all) but they were generic. If me and my brothers wanted to use them to play some of our favorite shows and movies we had to do our best to use our imagination.

But now, Legos come ready made for every type of property imaginable. Kids these days don’t even have to use their imagination when they play with their imagination. It’s not fair.

You gotta hand it to Lego though, they’ve really doubled down on expanding the types of sets they have in stores these days. And the great thing is, besides Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings playsets they have also branched out into Star Wars, superheros, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and even video games like Minecraft. There’s literally a lego set for everybody these days which makes for easy Christmas present shopping.

The Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren Connection

Is Luke Really Kylo Ren in disguise?

No.

No he isn’t. Kinda.

Since the release of the third and final The Force Awakens trailer, the internet seems to have gone crazy multiple ways. The trailer broke the record for most amount of views in a single day with 128 million. Advanced ticket sales for the film which went on sale as the trailer released also smashed the previous record for The Hunger Games eight times over.

Everything seemed right in a galaxy far far away until a disturbance in the force was felt in the days following the trailer’s release. As great as the trailers are, the one complaint has been the total lack of all things, Luke Skywalker. You know, the main character from the original trilogy.

As rabid fanboys tried to make sense of this apparent oversight a crazy fan theory started to make it’s way through the internet. Maybe Luke has been hiding in plain sight all along! Maybe he’s really Kylo Ren in disguise!

star wars face palm

According to supporters of the theory the evidence is overwhelming. (it isn’t and SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!)

  • Kylo walks around in a black hood and robes just as Luke wore in Return of the Jedi.
  • Who else would have the knowledge to build their very own lightsaber as Kylo Ren clearly has, except for Luke?
  • Kylo appears to be in possession of Vader’s burnt and melted mask. Only Luke would know the location of Vader’s mask since he was the last to see Vader’s body as he burned it on a giant funeral pyre.
  • Luke has been tempted to turn to the dark side before and a tendency to do so kinda does run in his family. 30 years is plenty of time to fall off the wagon.
  • In a perfectly planned coincidence, days after the trailers release video footage of a conversation between Mark Hamill and J.J Abrams appeared on the internet where Hamill pitches the idea of an evil Luke to the future director of the franchise 10 full years ago.
  • In the wiped away Star Wars expanded continuity, there was a story line where Luke did indeed go over to the dark side. However studio execs have said on record that because of the depth of material in the expanded universe it would nearly impossible to disregard it completely and that some story elements from 30 years of books may still make it into the new films.
  • J.J. Abrams has pulled off fake outs before. Noticeably in Star Trek Into Darkness where he secretly cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Kahn, but instead publicized him as a new character named  John Harrison.
  • In the new trailer Kylo mentions he wishes to finished the work that Vader has started. Which fans of the theory say Luke all of the sudden now wants to do.
  • Although Adam Driver has been cast as Kylo Ren, he could merely be the actor in the suit for the much older Mark Hammil in the same way David Prowess played Darth Vader who was voiced by James Earl Jones.
  • Others admit Kylo Ren may just be a secret apprentice of Luke who has trained him in the ways of the force.
  • Disney doesn’t want to give such a major plot twist like Luke being the main villain away so they’ve buried the revelation deep in the promotional materials while also hiding it in plain sight.

As you can see, the evidence behind Luke Skywalker-Kylo Ren connection is pretty weak.

There are also numerous reasons why Luke Skywalker isn’t Kylo Ren but instead of going over every obvious detail why I’ll just let the following two pictures do the talking. The first a officially released photo from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens issue of Vanity Fair. The other a leaked picture of Mark Hamill taking promotional photos in full costume.

Adam driver snowtroopersLuke Skywalker leaked picture

Ok, can we move on?

However another more recently leaked picture of Luke from the actually film is a bit more interesting.

leaked luke pic

Again, obviously not Kylo. But what’s interesting is that over the years, Luke’s cybernetic hand has become much more primitive in appearance. I normally I would just write this off as creative license and pay it no mind. This is very good confirmation we have seen Luke in the trailer’s as he’s the one reaching out to touch R2-D2 that’s been shown a couple times now.

In the words of Yoda, “another, there is.”

star wars grave robber

In a previous article written almost a year ago,  I thoroughly examined leaked Force Awakens concept art and went deep on this guy. At the time I was pretty sure we were looking at the reconstructed remains of none other than the Emperor himself. As he was clearly on a Star Destroyer, cloaked in black, partially destroyed and heavily rebuilt with cybernetics, and longingly gazing at the smoking gun of Vader’s charred helmet who else could it be?

It was a good guess at the time but doesn’t seem to hold up now.  (I totally nailed Jakku though) Some have speculated that this could somehow be Anakin reborn, or Supreme Leader Snoke as played by motion capture genius Andy Serkis. It’s been confirmed that it was Snoke’s voice we hear talking about an awakening of the force in the first trailer after all.

I currently think this is just early concept art for Kylo Ren. The latest trailer put Kylo on the bridge of a Star Destroyer followed quickly by a glimpse of Vader’s destroyed mask as seen in the concept art above. Everything matches except for the character design which changes often in the early stages of production.

But look at this guy’s hand, known simply as the Grave Robber on the internet . It looks ALOT like Luke’s mechanical hand. Like identical.

In the third trailer we finally hear Kylo Ren speak for the first time as he talks about finishing what Vader started while looking at Vader’s burnt mask. We presume it’s Kylo looking at it but let’s remember we don’t actually see them in the same frame. It could be that Vader’s mask is entirely in somebody else’s possession.

The question is what unfinished work of Vader’s is Kylo Ren vowing to finish? On my initial breakdown of the trailer I took the quote at face value that Kylo was intent on restoring peace to the galaxy through the iron fist of his rule. But the more I think of it, the more sinister I believe Kylo’s intentions are.

Think about it. Yes ending the Rebellion and regaining control over the galaxy was a main goal of the Empire, Palpatine and Darth Vader through the original trilogy. But beginning in the Empire Strikes Back, Vader had a new goal. To capture and turn Luke to the dark side as a key cog in their plan for galactic domination. Remember that both the Emperor and Obi-Wan foresaw that Luke would one day become a powerful Jedi. More powerful than Luke could even imagine. If you’ve had your ear open to the latest coming out of the rumor mill there’s a good chance that this may have happened to Luke after he events in Return of the Jedi, as he’s become force crazy and gone into hiding for fear of what he’s capable of.

This would be a way to keep many of the familiar themes going from the previous movies while raising the stakes. What’s the most powerful weapon you could posses in the galaxy? A fully operational battle station reincarnated? Or a force mad Jedi turned Sith?

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Another interesting piece of leaked concept art from last year shows what appears to be Rey discovering what know appears to be Luke in seclusion hidden in a cave. The walls look a lot like the ones behind Luke in the leaked picture above too for further proof.

The composition of the piece clearly shows that Luke is caught between the light and dark sides of the force. Interesting don’t you think?

One thing is certain.

Luke Skywalker is not Kylo Ren.

But that does not mean he may not be joining his side by the time the movie ends.

What do you think? Is Luke really Kylo? Or is Kylo really Luke? Will Luke go over to the dark side? Explain your thoughts in the comments section below.

Ten Best Movie Trailers

 

The Ten Best Movie Trailers Of All Time

What’s one of the best parts of going to see any movie?

Getting there in time to watch the trailer’s of course.

Basically extended commercials, movies can live and die by the quality of their trailer. Sometimes the trailer shows too much of a film and spoils any surprises that may be waiting in store. (Terminator: Genisys I’m looking at you) or show hardly anything at all and leave the audience with confusing expectations like the original Matrix trailer did.

Making a great trailer is an art form onto itself. One in which you only have two minutes to get your cinematic hooks into the viewer and convince them that the movie being advertises is worth seeing. Quick cuts, fiery explosions, witty one liners, and passionate kisses are the paints in which a trailer editor works. It’s amazing what kind of mini movies these guys and gals can make given the time constraints forced upon them when you sit back and really think about it.

Crowd watching a movie

But sometimes, just sometimes, a trailer comes around that’s so memorable they can stand on their own as great onto themselves. Even if the actual movie turns out to be a clunker or box office bomb, at least the trailer ended up being better than the movie.

What follows are the ten best trailers ever made. Ones worthy enough to leave the house early to make it to the theater ahead of time.