6 items from 2015
Since George Lucas got out of the Star Wars business, he's been lending his Hollywood heft to some long-gestating passion projects that might be difficult to produce independently elsewhere. He started developing Red Tails, a war movie about the Tuskegee airmen, back in 1988 and eventually served as producer and an uncredited co-director on the 2012 movie.
Lucasfilm's latest, Strange Magic, is directed by Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom, but it's also been around for much longer than you'd think. 15 years ago, while working on that pesky prequel trilogy, Lucas started thinking about making a film for his daughters. “Just like Star Wars was designed for 12-year-old boys,” Lucas told Wired upon the film's Us release in January, “Strange Magic was designed for 12-year-old girls.”
If that sounds a little reminiscent of when John Travolta »
Apparently this was inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it has about as much in common with that as Burger King does with Macbeth. I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Lucas gets a story credit and served as executive producer, but this has the whiff of a vanity project for cowriter and director Gary Rydstrom, making his feature debut. Yes, legendary sound designer Gary Rydstrom, who’s won seven Oscars in that field and has created some of the most memorable movie noises ever for films including Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, and Minority Report, but who, the evidence of this movie suggests, has no business writing and directing a movie. »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Every now and then, I find myself suddenly and unexpectedly angry at George Lucas, but not for reasons that have anything to do with "Star Wars." There has been a refrain we've heard from him over and over during the past couple of decades, where he talks about returning to his roots and making experimental films that could never exist inside the studio system, movies that aren't created to be commercial product, but that come from a very personal place. And over and over, those comments lead nowhere and nothing happens. I'd love to see him do it, though. I have a huge fondness for "Thx-1138," Lucas's first feature film, which evolved out of a student film he made. I take Lucas at his word that commercial filmmaking was never meant to be the complete detour it became after "American Graffiti" and "Star Wars" both blew up into mega-hits, »
- Drew McWeeny
Johnny Depp and Jennifer Lopez, two stars whose best box box office days appear behind them, will try to bounce back in new movies opening Friday. But with the record-breaking reigning champ “American Sniper” turning into a cultural phenomenon, they may have picked the wrong weekend.
Lopez is featured in Universal Pictures’ R-rated erotic thriller “The Boy Next Door” as a high school teacher who becomes the object of a young neighbor’s obsession after a one-night stand. Rob Cohen directs and Ryan Guzman, »
- Todd Cunningham
If you’ve ever longed for a movie with all the insistent life lessons of a Disney fairy tale, the tacky visual excesses of digital-era George Lucas, and enough glorified karaoke covers to fill half a season of “Glee,” then you may want to treat yourself to the altogether perplexing animated brew that is “Strange Magic.” Everyone else can just imagine a CG cartoon mash-up of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Arthur and the Invisibles” and “American Idol” populated by extras from the Mos Eisley Cantina, and they’ll pretty much get the idea. An insipid byproduct of the Disney-Lucasfilm merger that looks to attract a fraction (if that) of the audience for this year’s “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,” this noisy, unappealing children’s fantasy fails to distinguish itself among January’s many, many reasons to steer clear of the multiplex.
Lucas is credited here »
- Justin Chang
Rubber-faced characters and a seemingly ceaseless parade of repurposed pop ditties combine to make what might be the worst animated feature Disney has ever released
Well, now we know what a Las Vegas show designed for eight-year-olds would look like.
The advance marketing on producer George Lucas’ “Strange Magic” suggested a retread of the not-all-that-memorable 2013 cartoon “Epic.” And yes, this fairies-versus-bugs story does recall that earlier film, but “Magic” also ladles in unwieldy dollops of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Moulin Rouge!” and a particularly long and excruciating episode of “American Idol.”
See Video: Sing Along With the First Trailer »
- Alonso Duralde
6 items from 2015
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