Rogue One Prequel Series Adds Stephen Schiff as Showrunner

Stephen Schiff, executive producer of FX’s The Americans, has been tapped as showrunner for the upcoming Disney+ Rogue One prequel series.

Not much of the series is currently known outside of the facts that it will be set before the events of the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and feature Diego Luna reprising his role from that film as Cassian Andor.

There is currently another series, The Mandalorian, being run by Iron Man director Jon Favreau. That series will be set after the events of Return of the Jedi.

For me, as someone who hasn’t seen The Americans, this news is still quite a good sign. Though I have no experience with the show, I have only heard amazing things coming from the hit FX series which recently wrapped its run.

As far as a Cassian Andor led series, I’m all for it. I found Rogue One to be quite enjoyable, but I can understand the criticism that its lead characters did not get as much development as would be desired. That’s why I like the idea of giving more time. I found Cassian to be an enjoyable character especially when I think about how he is introduced to us in the film. He’s been on some seriously hard times. I could see a series really fleshing that out nicely.

I’m hoping that showrunner Schiff can really bring out some political intrigue in the new series, and this move makes me more excited for the series.

So what do you think? Are you excited for a new Cassian Andor-led Star Wars series with Stephen Schiff as showrunner? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

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Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till

Screenplay: Simon Kinberg

144 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images.

 

X-Men: Apocalypse is proof that the internet will freak out about anything. When footage first debuted of Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) in costume as the villain En Sabah Nur, or Apocalypse, everyone started losing their minds over the look of the mutant, comparing him to Ivan Ooze of The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Movie fame. In the finished product, he looks and feels fine. The internet went crazy over nothing. They should have been worried about other problems that the film would actually have…

It’s been ten years since X-Men: Days of Future Past, and now, in 1983, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, Wanted, Victor Frankenstein) has been running his school for gifted youngsters smoothly for years. With the assistance of Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road, Kill Your Friends), Charles has taken in countless young mutants like the brilliantly gifted Jean Grey (Sophie Turner, TV’s Game of Thrones, Barely Lethal). But when an ancient evil, En Sabah Nur (Isaac), rises in Egypt and threatens to cleanse the Earth and rebuild a better one, the young students of the school must band together to protect themselves and the world from total annihilation.

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Let’s start with what really works in Apocalypse. Once again, McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds, Prometheus) play perfect foils to each other as Xavier and Erik Lensherr, respectively. It is Fassbender that truly shines as the sins of his past come back to haunt him and he is forced to confront his anger over the loss of his parents once and for all. I also really liked Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. I think when seen in context, he does what he can with what he has to mold his performance. That isn’t to say that the villain is great, but that Isaac capably plays to what he can. I also liked the reemergence of Jean Grey, Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan, Mud, Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee).

I, of course, have to call out the incredible one-upmanship from the previous film in the form of another terrific Quiksilver sequence featuring Evan Peters. This time around, the soundtrack updates and the effects come flying into the 1980s for an absolutely fascinating and fun action scene that steals the whole movie.

Since the shared universe hit a reboot with Days of Future Past, it’ll be interesting to see how certain events play out. Apocalypse hit on a few squandered moments from earlier in the franchise in a fairly stylish way, paying homage to the original comic books. It doesn’t always succeed in its attempt to right the wrongs, as the film creates a convoluted mess of some of the renewed elements. For example, it makes no mention of the ending to DOFP where we discover that Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games, Joy) is mimicking Stryker. Then, we get a new version of several characters who are strikingly different ages than they were in the previous timeline. Granted, this shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but it only seeks to the concerning question of whether this franchise has learned from its mistakes.

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Then there’s the big conundrum of setting this film in the 1980s. In doing so, I didn’t feel a lot of tension for the Earth-shattering destruction as I was fully aware that we saw present day at the end of DOFP and in this year’s Deadpool, both of which exist in the new timeline. Again, small complaints perhaps, but bothersome nonetheless.

But what I really didn’t like about the film was that in creating a new unique villain, director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Jack the Giant Slayer) didn’t really give us one worth fearing. I mentioned earlier that I liked Oscar Isaac as En Sabah Nur, but he is given virtually no character building other than dialogue in the film. Singer removed the space entity treatment of the character to focus on the religious connotations, but he ended up creating a flat villain to place the burden of the film on. I would have liked to have known what Apocalypse was capable of. He mostly just threw stuff around the screen and created lovely debris tornados. His horseman are further treated with no imagination. Magneto and perhaps Storm are the only one pitched with any realy interest. Angel and Psylocke (Olivia Munn, Magic Mike, Zoolander 2) were virtually wasted, Munn being perfectly miscast and her character extremely mishandled. If Psylocke was meant to usher in an X-Force film down the line, I’m more than a little concerned.

I won’t even really go into detail on the dismal work of Jennifer Lawrence because I feel like so many others have already mentioned her lack of trying. It appears like Lawrence is having blockbuster fatigue after finishing The Hunger Games last year. She spends no time in her costume, presumably from something in her contract, which ultimately leaves Mystique in a rather uninteresting situation.

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There’s a throwaway reference in the film when the young mutants are exiting a showing of Return of the Jedi. They remark how the second film is often the best and the third is often the worst. It is seen as a reference to the disappointing reviews from critics and viewers of X-Men: The Last Stand back in 2006, a film Singer left to pursue Superman Returns. It seems like a bad idea to put a joke like that in a film that is essentially the final piece of a trilogy started with First Class and DOFP, especially when considering that next year the Wolverine trilogy is also coming to an end. Apocalypse clearly proves the joke to be true here, and fans can only hope that the minds behind this uneven franchise can learn and right the ship in time for Hugh Jackman’s last outing in the series in next year’s Wolverine 3.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

So have you seen X-Men: Apocalypse? What did you think? And we have seen four of the six big superhero releases of the year (the other three being Deadpool, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Captain America: Civil War). Which one is your favorite? Let me know!

 

 

For my review of Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, click here.

For my review of Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X-Men, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X2: X-Men United, click here.

For my review of Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand, click here.

For my review of James Mangold’s The Wolverine, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, click here.

For my review of Tim Miller’s Deadpool, click here.

[Star Wars Days] Return of the Jed-Five…[Throwdown Thursday] Legends vs. Canon

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Hey folks, welcome to Throwdown Thursday on this, the second day of Star Wars. In Throwdown Thursday, I’ll be taking a look back on major conflicts in the world of entertainment, and I thought I would tackle a biggie today by comparing the recent conflict in Star Wars from fans of the franchise young and old.

So in October of 2012, Lucasfilm was officially sold to Disney with Kathleen Kennedy running the show in place of George Lucas who had passed the company onto her. Between Disney and Lucasfilm, a group was created to discuss and define what the canon is and should be going forward. Previously, Lucas had a pretty open invitation for people to add to the mythos and it left a sprawling and detailed universe to jump in and in fact, starting with the Expanded Universe was scary. It was daunting and convoluted at times, too. There were even the occasional plot hole created by so many hands in the bucket.

After 18 months of deliberating and decisions, Lucasfilm wiped the slate clean, eliminating all the Expanded Universe (now termed Legends) and establishing a simpler canon that can be controlled by a committee that would construct continuity based on the plans of the company and the franchise.

So, here is the breakdown of Canon:

1. The live-action feature films are canon.

                –The Phantom Menace

                –Attack of the Clones

                –Revenge of the Sith

                –A New Hope

                –The Empire Strikes Back

                –Return of the Jedi

                –The Force Awakens

2. The Clone Wars movie and television series, including all six seasons, as well as the Rebels television series, are canon.

3. All books, comics, and expanded media released after April 25, 2014 are considered canon unless (in the case of video games) they conflict with the films or higher level canon, which likely won’t happen too often.

So why all the hubbub about Canon? What’s the big deal? Well, it shapes the way this series is heading…

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FIGHT

LEGENDS vs. CANON

Legends: There are pros and cons to each. Legends already has a gigantic universe built so there are multiple levels to branch out and do stories. Legends also has a giant fanbase who were excited to see some of their favorite stories becomes Star Wars films. The faults? The Star Wars Legends fanbase pails in comparison with the regular Star Wars fanbase and the general movie-going population. Plus, the convoluted plotlines made for difficulty in adapting the series in any feasible way. Also, it is far more difficult to tell an interesting story when you have to obey every rules, plot point, and character set in stone by someone else years ago with no intent to build a new trilogy.

Canon: It is simple and easy to make a committee oversee the new canon and help align it with franchise plans. Star Wars is massive, and it can continue to thrive under a creative team who drive the story path. Cons? They pissed off a lot of people with the elimination of Legends. People that wanted their Star Wars. People that would have been angry either way but especially angry now that their beloved stories are gone.

Overall, there are equal points on either side…but there has to be a winner here.

 

THE WINNER:

Legends was a really cool and expansive world, but not one wholly accessible by the general population who likely didn’t know the further adventures of Luke, Han, and Leia. Canon is a streamlined way to tell a story and will keep the franchise running for years to come.

CANON is the winner.

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Thanks for joining me today, Happy continued Star Wars Day, and we will see you for the next throwdown!

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Oscar Madness] Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

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Director: George Lucas

Cast: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August, Frank Oz

Screenplay: George Lucas

136 mins. Rated PG for sci-fi action/violence.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Effects, Visual Effects

 

Today we are going to look back on Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, a film that has truly polarized fans of perhaps the most-beloved sagas in motion picture history.

Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson, Schindler’s List, Taken 3) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor, Trainspotting, Mortdecai) are about to take part in trade negotiations with the insidious Trade Federation over trade disputes. When negotiations go south and the Trade Viceroy takes control of the peaceful planet of Naboo, the Jedi take refuge on the remote desert planet of Tattooine, where they meet young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd, Jingle All the Way), a child who may just be the Chosen One, a Jedi who can bring balance to the Force.

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Director George Lucas (American Graffiti, THX 1138) returned to his beloved Star Wars franchise sixteen years after 1983’s Return of the Jedi to create one of the most discussed entries in the canon. Some love it; many loathe it. I find it to be an enjoyable, albeit flawed entry in the series.

Jake Lloyd absolutely destroys his role as Anakin by not understanding the characters and delivering his lines as though he is just reading them. His scenes can’t even be saved by Neeson and McGregor. Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie, The Lord of the Rings) and Kenny Baker (The King and I, Willow) return as C-3PO and R2-D2 and help to tie this film to the others. Then there is Ian McDiarmid (Sleepy Hollow, Annie: A Royal Adventure!) as Senator Palpatine. I love his performance here. He is slippery like a politician should be with just a note of secrecy.

I want to say something about George Lucas. I might get flack or praise, not sure which, but George Lucas can direct just fine. He cannot write all that well. He should stick to storytelling but leave the screenplay work to others. Look back at The Empire Strikes Back. It is considered by many to be the best in the saga, but it is the only one not specifically written by Lucas. Just sayin’.

The flow of the film is nicely tied together. I enjoyed the time spent on Tattooine, and I felt like the Naboo sequences add something new to the series. I honestly didn’t care much for Jar Jar Binks, but I also accepted that galaxies far far away probably had annoying aliens. There just has to be some.

The effects are wildly well put together, from the podrace sequences to the battle for Naboo. The new Yoda (played by Frank Oz, Zathura, Monsters, Inc.) is more advanced than previously, though it doesn’t really look like Yoda.

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Looking back at the first chronological Star Wars adventure brings up a lot of questions. How has the film held up? Did the love or the hate soften? Will Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens have the same reception? I don’t have the answers to all those questions, but I can say that expectations are often the culprits for long-waited installments. I like Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. It is far from the perfect Star Wars film, but it is an enjoyable reintroduction to the galaxy and the time that we love so much.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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