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Lucasfilm has announced the official subtitle for the highly anticipated Star Wars Episode Seven. It will be called The Force Awakens. It may be just a title, but it follows the pattern set by all the titles in the Star Wars saga in that embraces the B-movie nature of the films. The Empire Strikes Back has gone down into history as one of the most wonderful titles in all of cinema, but the phrase “strikes back” is most definitely the kind of expression more befitting of a pulpy science fiction story like Amazing Tales. That really is the point, since the series draws a lot of its inspiration from B-movies.
Interesting note: Legend has it that the title The Empire Strikes Back was kind of a lucky fluke. While the film was finishing production, one of the producers was being interviewed about the film, and the interviewer asked “will the Empire strike back?” in the new film. Thus, the title was born.
Fan circles are (already) torn about the title The Force Awakens. Some call it more fitting to a Star Wars video game, much like the Force Unleashed. Others just consider it “safe” at best. At least it’s not quite as oblique as The Phantom Menace or as broadly obvious as Attack of the Clones, but it fails to leave much of a lasting impact at all. Maybe that’s the case, but there is still quite a bit of intrigue to be found in the title. In A New Hope (a film that has a similarly safe B-movie-esque title) Obi-Wan explains that the Force is an energy field that penetrates all living things. What if that energy field was conscious in and of itself? What if that energy field was dormant or, perhaps, in limbo, what kind of chaos was allowed to transpire during the intervening years since the Emperor was killed at the end of Return of the Jedi? Even the much maligned prequels hinted that the Force had a sense of will. Perhaps in conceiving the new film and how the Force works they are considering a balance between the interpretations of the Force that takes aspects form both trilogies. The new episode might dispense with the notion of midichlorians living in symbiosis with the host telling them the will of the Force, but if the Force itself does have a will or sense of purpose, it is quite possible that the Jedi of the Old Republic might have attributed the midichlorians as something that was able to manifest this will.
Regardless of whether the Force is merely a conscious energy field that penetrates all living things, or if it depends on these so-called midichlorians, the new title implies that this particular consciousness has fallen away from the galaxy for some time. It opens up some intriguing story possibilities.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Aarmies, the third and final film in the Hobbit trilogy, will be released this holiday season, and Warner Brothers has released the second (and final trailer) this week. All the pieces are in place for this final film, as Thorin Oakenshield and his party of dwarves have arrived at The Lonely Mountain, which was once was a great Dwarvin kingdom, and now they seek to reclaim it and hold it against the armies of darkness. Is this a mission of mere pride and glory, or is t means to quell the dark armies before they spread across the land?
This time, the titular battle takes center stage, as we get to see various contrasting cultures that all take part (men, dwarves, elves, orcs, and eagles) as they each bring their own unique sensibilities to the battle, and the screen is populated by legions of warring participants, the scale of which hasn’t been since, well, the final Lord the Rings film. Still, even with all that is going on, the most important aspect of the trailer is us getting a sense of what has brought this all about. Bilbo might be the titular character of these films, but the real soul being tested here is Thorin’s. In this film Thorin is out to right a terrible wrong done to his people many years before, and he has since had to live in exile. He may be burdened by his duty to give his people the life they were denied, but the other characters in this trailer aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions. They aren’t afraid to wonder if he has gone too far.
Of particular note is what appears to be the fall of a major character, Tauriel. She is the one character created for the films, and the trailer hints that might not survive the events of the film. On the surface, this might not seem to bothersome, particularly from the point of view of a fan of the books, since this character was created by Jackson out of whole cloth for a screenplay and was never even conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien, but Tauriel has truly earned an interesting niche in these films. In her limited screen time, she has become the voice of empathy on the battlefield, and it is speculated that she might change sides from her native people, the elves, and join the dwarves’ cuase. May \be she would do this for Kili (their relationship was hinted at in the last film) or maybe she would – even if through Kili – see how much the dwarves have lost over the past century. In either case, her death (if she does indeed die, as it appers to happen – aiun a most brutal way – in the trailer) could serve as a major turning point in the battle.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will be released on December 17.
The popular series of fantasy books, Lemony Snicket and a Series of Unfortunate Events, which spawned a Jim Carrey film in 204, is being fast tracked for a Netflix original series.
Netflix’s other original shows, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, might be targeted to adults, but there is no reason to believe that a show targeted to families that has an equally high caliber production values, can’t be as successful. Allowing families to enjoy these stories at home might be ideal as the cinema release for family fare is already a very crowded, very tricky market. Will the gamble to create all of the stories at once for the screen pay off?
We won’t know until the series debuts on the streaming service. Right now, the show is still being planned, and, as yet, no directors have been attached.