Word is Very Good from Viewers of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” World Premiere in LA

Last Saturday, December 9, was the world premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium. With luminaries from the film present, some two thousand moviegoers became the first to see the second installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy in full, outside of Disney and Lucasfilm.

As the weekend turned, this same audience began storming social media with their opinions on The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson and starring Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, John Boyega, the late Carrie Fisher and more. Fans of the sprawling space opera franchise need not be on tenterhooks for the general US premiere this coming Friday, December 15; the premiere moviegoers say it’s all good.

Foremost of the online praise coming out of Twitter is Gizmodo’s Germain Lussier.

The most commonly-cited thing about The Last Jedi is said to be its unpredictability in the plot. Its predecessor The Force Awakens from 2015 may have been a blockbuster, but back-to-back viewers think that Episode VII is not as surprising as VIII’s twists.

Like Luke Skywalker said in the trailer:

Speaking of Luke, the moviegoers were impressed by how well Mark Hamill returned to the role after over 30 years from the end of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Good words were said about director Johnson himself, who gave a tribute to Fisher, who played General Leia for the last time in this film, before the movie was screened.

And of course, as the mass-market premiere hasn’t actually hit yet, the world-premiere audience is doing their part to shush their fellows to silence regarding spoilers. Oh well.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will have its European premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Tuesday, December 12, and hit all US cinemas December 15.

First Sketches of EPCOT-Hollywood Studios Skyliner Aerial Transport System for 2019

It’s a well-known fact that Florida is home to an astonishing number of Disney theme parks and water parks, all of which are tied together under the Walt Disney World entertainment complex. Spread throughout the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista near Orlando, the various attractions from The Magic Kingdom to Typhoon Lagoon have brought joy and excitement visitors over the decades.

This 2017, only four years short of Disney World turning 50 years old, the House of Mouse announced a major innovation in the complex. First revealed during the D23 Expo last July, the “Skyliner” aerial transportation system is a massive gondola network proposed to connect EPCOT to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, giving its passengers a magnificent bird’s eye view of the two parks during the trip.

The latest word on this planned transport system came on Friday, December 8, when Disney released online the first renders of the Skyliner “terminal points,” cabin structures where guests will enter to board the gondolas headed from EPCOT to Hollywood Studios and back.

The EPCOT Skyliner terminal is to be located at the International Gateway, designed in a European style, with a view of the World Showcase area for passengers when coming to and going from there.

The terminal on the other end is set to go up near the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort, at the Epcot – Hollywood Studios Resort Area closer to EPCOT. It is described by Disney blogs as having an open-air Caribbean market design, and passengers taking a ride there will be greeted by views of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The Skyliner is being developed by a European ski-lift design firm, and while service might be temporarily delayed during windy Florida storms, the gondolas and carriage system is said to be able to withstand bad weather conditions. This initiative to ease transportation problems between component parks of Walt Disney World is expected to be completed in 2019.

Marvel-Netflix’s ‘Jessica Jones’ Season 2 Trailer Out

Disney getting ready for its own in-house streaming service aside, it looks like their collaboration with Netflix to produce digital miniseries based on Marvel’s street-level heroes for the MCU remains intact thus far. The Punisher on its inaugural season may have come out with its entirety of episodes last November, but the Marvel Netflix train barrels on with a second-season show making a return.

Jessica Jones, the superhuman yet super-traumatized private eye played by Krysten Ritter, will be returning for a second season of her self-titled series on Netflix next year. That’s hardly a surprise, considering that said season 2 was actually being filmed back to back with The Defenders, the big team series of all the Marvel-Netflix heroes thus far which came up last August.

As seen in the video above, first shown at Sao Paolo’s CCXP event just this weekend, Jessica Jones is coming down from her cathartic (and hopefully permanent) takedown of her past tormentor Kilgrave (David Tennant) from season 1. So she returns to her private investigation work only to find things have changed. Her superpowers are now public knowledge, so she decides to put her sleuthing skills to work towards discovering the origins of the event that gave her powers long ago.

Other than Ritter, the rest of the main stars of Jessica Jones, Rachael Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss and Eka Darville among them, are reprising their respective roles. Additional members of the cast for season 2 feature Janet McTeer and J.R. Ramirez. New episodes will premiere in Netflix on March 8, 2018.

Disney Adds Two More Tech Company Bosses to Board of Directors

With momentous repercussions in store should a deal by Disney to acquire assets from 21st Century Fox is pulled off, it’s understandable that most other news dealing with Disney right now gets to stand in line behind the coverage of the ongoing negotiations. There is still some important stuff though.

For example, word is out that Disney has just named to people to join their board of directors. The announcement was made Thursday, December 7, with the new members to sit on the Disney board effective February 1 of next year. There’s no word yet on their choice of committees.

The two new additions are CEOs from major American tech companies, namely Safra Catz of Oracle Corporation and Francis DeSouza from Illumina. Oracle is deemed to be the second-largest software developer revenue-wise behind only Microsoft, while Illumina’s products and services cater primarily to gene sequencing research centers and biotech companies.

Their inclusion follows a trend on the composition of Disney’s 12-person board of directors. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter are indicative of that makeup. Perhaps the impending acquisition of the Fox media assets might call for such personages to be in the board as history happens.

In related developments, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger has expressed his interest in retaining his position, should the Disney-Fox deal be completed, and through the transition period of assimilating these assets. He has been CEO since 2005 and initially announced his intention to step down by 2019 last October.

Marvel Animation Announces New “Marvel Rising” Franchise with Shorts and Animated Film

The Marvel experience of today has always been multimedia and multiplatform in nature, especially now that they are under the larger Disney umbrella. Other than the comics, the MCU films, the series on TV and on Netflix, and even books, there are also the various animated series over the years.

While the current crop of Marvel Animation programs – Avengers Assemble, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man to name a few – continue airing on Disney XD, Marvel itself has decided to open a new front in superhero cartoons by announcing the launch of Marvel Rising, an initiative focusing on newer and younger hero characters in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel Rising is a shining example of the contemporary multiplatform approach that Marvel has with its properties. It would be based around a feature-length animated film, Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, for 2018. Said movie will be preceded by six digital 4-minute animated shorts.

Each short will introduce the main characters of Marvel Rising, young heroes like Gwen Stacy whose Spider-Gwen/Spider-Woman identity in the comics is being changed to a new moniker, Ghost Spider. Other characters include Kamala Khan/Miss Marvel, America Chavez, Rayshaun Lucas/Patriot, Daisy Johnson/Quake, Dante Pertuz/Inferno, and Doreen Green/Squirrel Girl.

The animation front of Marvel Rising is overseen by executive producers Cort Lane and Sana Amanat. Some prominent talent from both Disney and Marvel TV are also set to provide voices. Agents of SHIELD cast members involved are Chloe Bennett reprising the role of Daisy/Quake, and Ming-Na Wen (Agent May) as the main antagonist. Dove Cameron (Mal from Disney’s Descendants) will voice Gwen/Ghost Spider. Incidentally, she will also join the Agents of SHIELD cast on ABC for season 5.

Amanat, who is also Marvel’s Director of Content and Character Development, describes Marvel Rising as unlike any animation that Marvel has done, with a new distinct style and full of powerful messages. This assures that the project is separate from the MCU and other Marvel Animation shows.

Darker Things Portend for Rey in New “Last Jedi” Teaser 8 Days Before Premiere

We’ve had quite the roller-coaster ride in the character journey of Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. In 2015’s The Force Awakens, she is revealed to be the true hero among the main characters, a powerful Force user and apparent heir to the Skywalker lightsaber.

The Last Jedi, premiering this December 15, seems to be taking Rey’s heroic prospects down a darker path, as trailers spell out that the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren have designs on her. And even while she trains under Luke Skywalker, she seemingly responds to their entreaties.

A new teaser was released on Thursday that further enforces this apparent narrative twists. The preview ends with Rey no longer holding the blue Skywalker lightsaber but the fiery, cross-hilted red saber of Kylo’s. This could even tie into the title of Star Wars: Episode VIII being The Last Jedi.

A more hopeful interpretation from fan theorists would have it that rather than be wholly light or dark in the power of the Force, Rey could instead become the unofficially-termed “Gray” Jedi from Star Wars videogames. They are Force users who wield both Jedi and Sith facets of Force powers.

Gray Jedi seems to be an object lesson in the ideas that “Dark is not Evil” and “Light is not Good.” Perhaps Jedi and Sith must both disappear and their natures be blended into one. We’ll have to wait for the film to learn more. Last Jedi premieres December 15.

Disney Wants Rob Marshall as Director of Live-Action “The Little Mermaid”

We all know about how Disney is putting together a live-action adaptation of their 1994 animated masterpiece The Lion King in time for a 2019 release. That doesn’t mean it’s the only future animation-to-live-action movie they’ve got in the works. A live-action Aladdin is due in that same year too.

And those are only for films that are already in some form of production or other. Take the live-action take on 1989’s The Little Mermaid. It’s labeled as in “early development” but the latest word is that Disney has already made their first directorial approach with veteran filmmaker Rob Marshall.

It makes sense that the studio would start with somebody they worked with before. Marshall has helmed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Into the Woods (2014), and is currently working on Mary Poppins Returns (2018). He’s also an Oscar nominee courtesy of the Miramax movie Chicago (2002).

 

Disney made no comment on their offer to Marshall regarding directorial duties for The Little Mermaid, but it would make his fourth picture for the House of Mouse if he accepts. Original film composer Alan Menken has also been tapped with Lin-Manuel Miranda to write songs for the live-action remake.