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Review: 'The Last Jedi' Takes 'Star Wars' in a Refreshing New Direction

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This year's new Star Wars movie is unlike any Star Wars movie we've seen before. To some, this seems to be frustrating and upsetting - it's not what they wanted to see, or were expecting, and it doesn't deliver in some ways. For me, however, it's a refreshing and exciting movie that gives us something different and still packs a punch. To jump right into this I will say up front, even after 3 viewings, I still don't quite "love" The Last Jedi (some of the humor still makes me cringe). I very much like it, and I enjoy it, and there are some moments and some parts I love. But overall, the movie isn't one of my favorites this year (it won't be on my Top 10). That said, there's still so much to it (not only to discuss) but to admire and appreciate and learn from. Note: this review contains spoilers to discuss everything that happens, so only read if you're ready.

Watch: 'The Star Wars' Concept Trailer Based on McQuarrie's Early Art

The Star Wars Trailer

"We never saw that movie. But many of these differences can be seen in the concept art…" Whoa! This is awesome. In honor of the release of the new Star Wars, a group of fans from the DAVE School of VFX have put together a fun concept trailer for "The Star Wars". Many die-hard fans know that the original script and original concept art for the very first Star Wars movie was very different than the eventual version / universe we did get and all know (and love) today. The video goes on to explain that odd things in the script were visualized in the early concept art Ralph McQuarrie did for George Lucas. And so they tried to make a short teaser trailer for a version of "The Star Wars" as if it really exited and it was created exactly from McQuarrie's visuals. It's actually better than you're expecting, and is definitely worth a quick watch below.

Review: Rian Johnson's 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' is Bold But Off-Balance

The Last Jedi Review

Written and directed by filmmaker Rian Johnson (of Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper), Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second entry in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Upon its release in late 2015, The Force Awakens received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and praise from fans worldwide for restoring the saga's former glory while injecting it with fresh blood. As beloved as Episode VII was, however, one criticism continued to appear: it was too safe; a rehash of George Lucas' 1977 film. If Abrams' movie was too safe, then Johnson's follow-up may prove too risky.

New Behind-the-Scenes Training Video for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer

"This is the hardest physical thing I've done yet." Time for a Star Wars training montage! Disney released another behind-the-scenes featurette for Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this one all about the physical training and fight choreography with the actors. It starts out focusing on Daisy Ridley as Rey, but then continues to show footage of Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, and finally Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. At this point, Disney is just giving us more teases and glimpses to keep the hype going until it hits theaters in two weeks. I've already got my tickets, I'm already ready to go, hoping nothing I've seen so far spoils the in-theater experience. It is exciting to see how much work they put into this movie, all the effort into making it look perfect. And I wish I was friends with this Liang Yang guy. He seems cool.

Fresh TV Spot for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Aired During World Series

Star Wars: The Last Jedi TV Spot

"I need someone… to show me my place in all of this…" Have you been sufficiently teased, yet? Lucasfilm + Disney aired a new 45-second TV spot for Star Wars: The Last Jedi during the World Series game last night, and it's now online to watch over-and-over. There's a few shots we've never seen before, including one of Luke getting into the Falcon cockpit (chills). Directed by Rian Johnson, this film continues the storyline started in The Force Awakens following Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo. Daisy Ridley stars with John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, and Warwick Davis. Newcomers include Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and others. I've got my tickets! I'm so ready! Bring on the next chapter! Strap in.

Go Behind-the-Scenes with Rian Johnson on the Set of 'The Last Jedi'

The Last Jedi Behind-the-Scenes

"It's like a real journey of discovery." There's only 52 days left until Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters, which means the marketing machine is starting to rev its engines. Lucasfilm has released another new behind-the-scenes featurette (there was one from Comic-Con as well) this time focusing on director Rian Johnson and his work on this next Star Wars movie. There isn't a lot of new footage revealed, but it is delightful to watch Johnson geek out on set, and to hear everyone talk about how charming he is. There's appearances by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Oscar Isaac, and a few others. It's exciting to see how much Disney is pushing the director, not just the stars and the film, because Rian is really one of the best guys out there. Dive in and get ready for this movie.

Official Full-Lenth Trailer for Rian Johnson's 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer

"I've seen this raw strength only once before. It didn't scare me enough then… it does now." It's time to begin the next chapter. Disney + Lucasfilm have released the full-length official trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the next film in the ongoing Star Wars saga. Get ready to be wowed. Directed by Rian Johnson, this film continues the storyline started in The Force Awakens following Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. Daisy Ridley returns as Rey, with John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Peter Mayhew, Andy Serkis, and Warwick Davis. Newcomers include Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and others. This looks so unbelievably amazing, such chills watching this trailer. Tickets are now on sale in all formats as well. Ready?

'Star Wars: Episode IX' Release Date Pushed Back to December 2019

Star Wars: Episode IX

Briefly: Major news from Lucasfilm/Disney today. It has been officially announced that J.J. Abrams will return to direct Star Wars: Episode IX, replacing director Colin Trevorrow who left the project last week. The announcement also mentions that Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio (Oscar winning writer of Argo, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League). Episode IX was originally scheduled for release in May of 2019, but Disney has also pushed the official release date back until December 20th, 2019. This isn't really a surprise, considering Episodes VII and VIII are both December releases as well, and it makes sense they want to follow that tradition. By now, a new Star Wars is becoming the perfect annual holiday treat for moviegoers all over the world. That's the latest Star Wars news, no other info was revealed.

Go Behind-the-Scenes in New Featurette for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

"I'm hoping it'll be a little shocking. But I'm hoping it will feel real and honest." Lucasfilm has dropped a brand new behind-the-scenes featurette for Star Wars: The Last Jedi at their D23 Expo presentation this weekend. Like the behind-the-scenes featurette for The Force Awakens, this includes a whole bunch of new footage and looks at various characters/aliens/scenes we haven't seen anything about yet. And oh my goodness does it look magnificent. I can't wait!! Daisy Ridley returns as Rey, with John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Peter Mayhew, Andy Serkis, and Warwick Davis. Newcomers include Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and others. There's so many questions I have after watching this. But that's the point - it's an exhilarating tease that will keep our interests piqued while we wait until release. Fire this up below.

Lord & Miller Fired from the 'Han Solo' Movie in the Middle of Filming

Lord & Miller / Han Solo

Whoa! Major news to report. Directors Phil Lord & Christopher Miller will no longer be directing the Han Solo spin-off Star Wars movie, currently in the middle of filming. Lucasfilm and Lord/Miller have both released statements, via Hollywood Reporter, confirming the shocking news and admitting to "creative differences" as the reason. The project was already most of the way through filming, apparently with only a few weeks left, yet they're not going to finish and will instead hand over the work to someone else (yet to be announced). This is a huge shake-up in Hollywood, and will be talked about for years. For now, the original May 25th, 2018 release date is still unchanged, with reshoots planned later this summer with a new director.

Watch: 8-Bit Cinema Version of 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Teaser Trailer

The Last Jedi 8-Bit Cinema

"What do you see?" These kind of trailer remakes always make me smile, no matter what. JoBlo made their own "8-bit cinema" version of the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson. This is technically 16-bit video game footage, but we still call it 8-bit because that's where this all originated years and years ago. This video was created by John Stratman for JoBlo, while the others for many years were made by CineFix. As always, when I see movie trailers turned into video games like this, it just makes me want to bust out my NES and play old games the rest of the week. And I really wish this game actually existed, because I would play the crap out of this. But it's just a fun companion to the actual teaser.

Watch: Fan-Made Jedi Short Film 'Star Wars: The Force And The Fury'

Star Wars: The Force And The Fury

"How does it feel to be alone? I've taken everyone you love. This time you won't forget me." Meet another Jedi in this new fan-made short film set within the Star Wars universe. Star Wars: The Force And The Fury is a short by Jason Satterlund telling the story of a Jedi who crash lands on a mysterious planet. There he encounters a Sith who seems to know him. I won't spoil the rest, but it's refreshing to see such impressive storytelling in a Star Wars fan film. Two other things I love about this: 1) that we finally see a female Sith going bad, and 2) the blue lightsaber has a hilt like an actual samurai sword, nice little nod to actual sabers.

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