Star Wars Goes Rogue

2When Disney ripped the Star Wars universe from the cold dead hands of George Lucas, many were afraid of the franchise’s future. Those people were wrong. There are plenty of times Disney has made epic and costly mistakes, but they typically come in the form of a John Carter or Lone Ranger. Typically, Disney‘s misfires are attempts at future gold-mines in properties no one has had any interest in for over a century. For the most part, Disney knows their shit, and will not risk fucking up an already-existing pot of gold. In this case, that pot of gold is Star Wars.

Let me start off by saying that if you hated The Force Awakens, fuck you. You’re not a Star Wars fan. If you picked it apart and measured its faults against its successes, congratulations, you’re an acceptable fan-boy. But there was no excuse for hating it. In this case, the majority is very right-on.

Scheduled for a December 16, 2016 release, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, has released its second and potentially final full-length trailer…and–for a Star Wars fan–it is everything.

For all intents and purposes, Rogue One is a prequel. It occurs prior to the original trilogy, but some time after the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. So–this will inevitably be the fan favorite of all “prequel” series…until the Han Solo film comes out in two years, or whatever.

The trailer begins with Mads Mikkelsen, Jyn Erso’s father–confronting Ben Mendelsohn, as Orson Krennic. Galen Erso is a traitor to the Empire, responsible for leaking information about the construction of the Death Star. Krennic is almost a surrogate for Grand Moff Tarkin–tasked with overseeing the Death Star’s construction and reporting to the Emperor. He is tasked with killing Erso…and thus we get this image of a Death Trooper holding a dolly.

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Super bad-ass.

For anyone who’s seen Rebels on Disney XD, the trailer brings to life much of the settings we’ve grown to know and love. This is the Star Wars equivalent to the rise of the Nazis. The Emperor is in charge and any loyalists to the former Republic who attempt to fight the new galactic order are being rounded up or worse. In the midst of the formation of the Rebel Alliance, Jyn Erso (played by the lovely Felicity Jones) is captured as an enemy of the Empire…and scooped up by Captain Andor (played by the lovely Diego Luna), and our adventure really begins.

This is such a continuation from the George Lucas prequels that we’ll get to see some familiar faces from that series in Genevieve O’Reilly and Jimmy Smits who reprise their roles as Mon Mothma and Bail Organa. And let’s not forget James Earl Jones coming back as Darth Vader! But still no word on if we’ll see Hayden Christensen make an appearance.

All of the uniforms, technology, style and joy of the original Lucas trilogy is present here, and it’s very exciting to see a capable writer/director play in that sandbox.

Don’t get it twisted, George Lucas as a visionary creative genius. But he can’t write…or direct.

We get to see some new faces as well. Forest Whitaker plays Saw Gerrera, a Veteran of the Clone Wars, and the first character to transition from the animated series to the live-action universe.

Not only that, but some new fun characters as well such as Alan Tudyk as K-2SO, a former imperial droid with no filter and a wiped memory…and this guy:

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…whose name is Bistan and is referred to as a “Space Monkey”…which, frankly, seems more flat-out racist than endearing.

Space Monkeys and Frost Bane characters aside, this looks to be one of the most diverse Disney casts…or even Star Wars casts of all time, so that should appease the Social Justice Warriors for the time being…until they figure out “Space Monkey” is a slur in a galaxy far far away.

Only time will tell if the Internet will continue to be faux-angry over the back-to-back female leads in their Star Wars films, but I doubt it. The phony rage is played out, and woke nerds have a more important lady to worry about.

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Pamela Adlon Wants “Better Things” for Us

Years ago, Pamela Adlon was the voice of Bobby Hill on TV’s King of the Hill, but since then she’s been working on a different kind of voice. After working with Louis CK on both Lucky Louie and FX’s Louie, Adlon found her home, somewhere between the realms of comedy and tragedy. Here’s hoping that Adlon’s endeavor is more like Louie in structure and content and less like Louis CK’s pet project, Horace and Pete, the 10-episode web series that punctuated elements of pure misery with even more gut-wrenching misery.

Adlon‘s upcoming FX series Better Things focuses on a semi-autobiographical character of Sam, a single mother of two daughters living in Hollywood as a struggling actress. Taking elements from her real life, family and insecurities, Pamela Adlon hopes to create a series of real life moments with inherent dark comedy, rather than attempting to write a set-up-and-joke comedy series.

The mood of the trailer seems to lie somewhere between Ricky Gervais’s Extras and an introspective artist piece that Zach Braff would try and fail to accomplish.

The new series will undoubtedly be compared to the enormously successful Louie. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Better Things is bound to be a break-out hit full of unique perspective, humor, and heart, distancing itself from just being a “Lady-Louie” and finding the exact comedic voice Adlon’s been working so hard to develop.

Better Things premieres on FX Thursday Sep. 8 @ 10PM

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“Best in Show” Director Brings “Mascots” to Life

Jamie Lee Curtis’ talented husband, Christopher Guest is one of my favorite comedy film makers of all time. He’s a visionary, especially in the fine art of mockumentary. He is perhaps best known for This is Spinal Tap–directed by Rob Reiner, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind. But his body of work more than speaks for itself.

Premiering on Netflix on October 13, 2016, Mascots is another mockumentary comedy from Christopher Guest focusing on a competition. Sports mascots will compete for the World Mascot Association Championship‘s Gold Fluffy Award. The premise and cast seem brilliant as always, with the regular Christopher Guest ensemble of Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, Fred Willard and Ed Begley Jr. being joined by some newcomers like the hilarious Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd and the sadly cancelled Guest series Family Tree) and Zach Woods (Silicon Valley).

Based on the trailer, we may be looking at some character cross-overs from Waiting for Guffman or Best in Show as well, which would be a welcome surprise. Netflix gives Christopher Guest an opportunity to play in his sandbox of quirky and hilarious characters without the burden of wrangling a wide-release motion picture–and that could mean phenomenal things for Mascots.

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