Monday, 29 April 2013

Star Wars Day - May the 4th: How will you celebrate?



Star Wars Day is May the 4th! How you will celebrate this often overlooked holiday?

Lucasfilm alumnus Bonnie Burton explains the meaning of May the 4th!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

JJ Abrams talks Trek and Star Wars in Playboy



JJ Abrams discusses directing Star Trek and Star Wars franchises in the latest issue of Playboy.

"The worlds are vastly different," says Abrams. "Honestly, that was why I passed on Star Wars to begin with. I couldn’t imagine doing both. But when I said that my loyalty was to Star Trek I was literally working on finishing this cut.

"I couldn’t even entertain another thought. It was like being on the most beautiful beach in the world and someone saying, “There’s this amazing mountain over here. Come take a look.” I couldn’t balance the two, so I passed on Star Wars.

"I was near the light at the end of the tunnel with my work on Star Trek," continues Abrams. "I felt I needed a bit of a breather, actually. But then Kathleen Kennedy called again. I’ve known her for years. We had a great conversation, and the idea of working with her on this suddenly went from being theoretical and easy to deny to being a real, tangible, thrilling possibility. In the end it was my wife, Katie, who said if it was something that really interested me, I had to consider it."

Abrams maintains that his Star Wars will have a very different look to his Star Trek.

"As with anything, because these are very different worlds, they shouldn’t feel the same aesthetically. They can’t. You’re right. But again, I don’t apply aesthetics first and fit a movie into that aesthetic. If I had come into Star Trek with those eyes, I would probably have been paralysed.

"The advantage here is that we still have George Lucas with us to go to and ask questions and get his feedback on things, which I certainly will do. With Star Trek it was harder because I wasn’t a Star Trek fan; I didn’t have the same emotional feeling, and I didn’t have Gene Roddenberry to go to. But I came to understand the world of Star Trek, and I appreciated what fans felt and believed about this universe and this franchise."

On the subject of a third Star Trek movie.

“I would say it’s a possibility. We’re trying to figure out the next step. But it’s like anything: It all begins with the story.”

Star Trek: Into Darkness opens in the UK on 17 May 2013, while Star Wars: Episode VII is expected in 2015.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Back in Vue



Starting today Vue Cinemas will be showing special screenings of a variety of cult classic films including the UK premiere of Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut tonight and the following over the next eight weeks; Evil Dead, Labyrinth, Stand By Me, Trainspotting, A Clockwork Orange, and the digital cinema premiere of Bonnie and Clyde.

This will culminate in a public vote via Facebook and Twitter to decide on the final screening which is to be between Anchorman, Enter The Dragon, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Robocop and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and will take place week commencing 10th June.

Stuart Boreman, Film Buying Director at Vue Entertainment said: “Back in Vue is a compilation of some of the stand-out cult films from the last five decades and includes some defining moments in modern cinema history, from River Pheonix coming of age in Stand By Me to the roller coaster ride of Danny Boyle’s British black comedy, Trainspotting.

“Now that all of our Vue Cinemas are fully digital we are able to schedule in a wider variety of content, making events like ‘Back in Vue’ something we can programme more often. It will be interesting to see which film makes the cut for the final slot in the public vote – all of them are worthy of a re-run on the big screen, but there can only be one winner!”

The Back in Vue season is exclusive to Vue Cinemas, in partnership with Park Circus distributors, and full details can be found at www.myvue.com/backinvue.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

LucasArts closed and game over for Star Wars 1313



Rescue on Fractulas!, Ballblazer, Koronis Rift and The Eidolon are amongst my all time favourite video games from the 8-bit era (I've written about them, previously)! These titles all emerged from the same studio in the 1980s: LucasArts.

LucasArts (formerly Lucasfilm Games) story began over 30 years ago and, unceremoniously, ended this week. John Rivers takes a retrospective look at the studio synonymous with the point-and-click genre...

Guest post by John Rivers

There are some game studios that have their name unforgettably embedded in my memory: The Bitmap Brothers, Codemasters, Psygnosis, Sierra and, of course LucasArts. This week Disney announced that it has shut LucasArts and ceased all productions including the feted Star Wars 1313.

It was inevitable really, Disney is focusing all its Star Wars efforts on 2015 and the new JJ Abrams movie, but its decision to close LucasArts is the end of an era!

For me there are three or four games that will always remind me of LucasArts and not all of them classics. In fact the one that immediately springs to mind is one of the most fiddly and frustrating.

CD-ROM suddenly allowed you to actually feel like you were playing a movie. The huge capacity of a CD allowed for FMV to become prevalent and games like Myst and The Seventh Guest showcased the increased fidelity. Not so well-received (except perhaps in my house) was Rebel Assault!

Released in November 1993, Rebel Assault was an incredible looking and, at times, near unplayable journey through Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. It looked and, crucially for a Star Wars game, sounded fantastic. The on-rails nature of the shooting and ‘flying’ sequences betrayed a hapless game engine. Some levels were more fun if you skipped them. I remember if you moved your joystick up, down, left and right on the LucasArts logo then you would hear a whiny voice say “Lu-casArts” and you could skip levels.

Two other Star Wars games were much, much better: X-Wing brought the frankly dizzying prospect of a space fighter simulator to the Star Wars universe. It required great skills and tactical ability knowing whether to divert your power to your shields or weapons. Yes, it was frustratingly difficult and I remember getting stuck on a level where you had to protect a blockade runner. A colleague of my Dad’s had supplied me with a small .BAT program that I could run after successfully completing a mission. It backed up my pilot, so if he died I could fully restore him by simply copying him back in via DOS.

Dark Forces was the LucasArts entry into the First Person Shooter genre and put the terrible shooter memories of Rebel Assault to rest. Riding on the success of Doom, but using its own Jedi game engine, Dark Forces was atmospheric and exciting and showed that LucasArts could compete with the likes of id Software on their own terms.

The genre though that LucasArts defined is Point-and-Click and they arguably created its finest ever example.

The Secret of Monkey Island is one of gaming’s greatest franchises and greatest games full stop.

You play Guybrush Threepwood, who’s on the quest to become a mighty pirate. Funny, atmospheric and heavily based on Disney’s own Pirates of the Caribbean ride, TSOMI had an amazing plot that felt more like a movie than a game. You genuinely believe in the lead character and enjoy playing him as he goes from zero-to-hero. That I have this game on my iPhone and played through it all again, is a testament to how amazing it is.  If you want to remember LucasArts then I suggest you download and play this game now.

LucasArts knew they were on to a good thing and what followed – Monkey Island 2, Day of the Tentacle, Indiana Jones & the Fate of Atlantis and Sam & Max Hit the Road (which I pre-ordered as a kid and waited AGES for them to release it) are all some of the greatest adventure games ever.

So, goodbye, LucasArts. You not only created some good games, but contributed to the overall history of games, too. You will be missed.

This post originally appears here.