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George Lucas to retire from blockbuster filmmaking

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George Lucas has had enough of your sass. The director is calling his upcoming pet project “Red Tails” his last blockbuster film, and had said in a recent interview with The New York Times, that, after this, he’s headed back to his roots in art house filmmaking.

“I’m retiring,” Lucas said. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”

Yes, we know, you are desperately longing for more “Star Wars” prequels to the prequels and sequels to the sequels. Well, too bad for you. Lucas has heard all of the fanboys’ complaining and is sick of it. While he feels that there are “a lot more important things in the world” than bickering with angry fans, he also has no plans to return to it.

“Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?” he asked.

That being said, he was “careful to leave himself out a clause [to make] a fifth ‘Indiana Jones’ film.”

Speaking of “Jones,” Lucas is still defending the fridge-nuking scene in “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Sure, the term “nuke the fridge” has become the film version of “jump the shark,” but Lucas attributes the sequence to his own naïve style of filmmaking. Plus, according to him and “a lot of scientists,” the odds of surviving a nuclear explosion in a lead-lined refrigerator are “about 50-50.” Who are we to argue with science.

Honestly, we’re glad Lucas is returning to his roots. It was during his film school days that he had the most creative period of his filmmaking career, if we can judge creativity by new and unique projects. Between the years 1965 and 1977, Lucas created 10 original projects. Nine were short films, one of which he created a feature-length adaption for (“THX 1138″) and one was an original feature (“American Graffiti”). But then “Star Wars” was released and, soon after, “Indiana Jones,” and Lucas’ life has seemingly been devoted to them for the past 45 years. We’re glad that, following “Red Tails,” the blockbuster days are over.

“Once this is finished, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do,” Rick McCallum, who has been producing Lucas’s films for more than 20 years, tells the NYT. “He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.”

For the first time in a very long time, we’re genuinely excited to see what Lucas will come up with next. But, just for the fun of it, we give you this:

Are you glad George Lucas is returning to his arthouse roots? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

New “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3D” posters put the Force that much closer to being with you

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Five new posters have been released in anticipation of the February 10 release of “Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace” in 3D, and we’re liking them a hell of a lot more than we liked the first one.

Kino Gallery posted the images, which largely feature Darth Maul. Three of the five posters toy with the imagery of the lightsaber, which actually comes out looking really great.

Though some of the film’s “key characters” are back on the promotional material — we mean Anakin Skywalker, not Jar-Jar Binks fortunately — the focus of the new posters are definitely on the cooler aspects of the movie. We’re of course talking about Darth Maul, pod-racing and Qui-Gonn. And while spoiler alert none of those three live beyond the first movie, they’re still worth celebrating in poster form. And the posters really are pretty awesome.

Other than the pod-racing poster, none of these really play up what we’ll be seeing in 3D. Instead they focus on the characters, taking points from the original “Phantom Menace” posters released back in the late ’90s and updating them to promote fans’ favorite aspects of the franchise. In other words, lightsabers and the Jedi vs. Sith battle.

“The Phantom Menace” was originally released on May 18, 1999. The film was directed by George Lucas and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Jake Lloyd.

Are you going to see “Phantom Menace” when it hits theaters in 3D? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Indiana Jones and the razor-sharp criticism

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“The Adventures of Tintin” might not be setting the world on fire at the box office, but it should. In a lot of ways, the film is the best “Indiana Jones” sequel Steven Spielberg ever made. It’s great globetrotting fun, with dazzling action setpieces, iconic visuals, and charming supporting characters. The story isn’t going to set the world on fire, but “Tintin” is still a hell of a lot more entertaining than 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” a movie so miscalculated it inspired a new variation on “jumping the shark.” Now the moment when franchises officially run out of good ideas, they “nuke the fridge.”

Perhaps that makes this new video review from Red Letter Media — the guys who brilliantly and savagely skewered the entire “Star Wars” prequel trilogy — inevitable, but it doesn’t make it any less welcome. As usual, angry old man, Pizza Rolls enthusiast, and wife-murder-joke-maker Mr. Plinkett’s criticism is silly, funny, and full of razor-sharp observations.

It’s also surprisingly even-handed. Plinkett (yes, I know he’s a character and not a real person, but whatever) avoids the easy targets — there’s hardly a mention of Mutt Williams swinging through the trees with monkeys a la Tarzan — and he even goes out of his way to praise the parts of “Crystal Skull” that work, including theperformance of Shia LaBeouf as Mutt and the underrated motorcycle and car chase scene around the campus of Marshall University. Plinkett doesn’t even make fun of the nuke the fridge moment; he actually praises that scene for its clever comedy and striking visuals. Rightfully so; I always thought the fridge nuke got a bum rap; it’s way better than any of the chases or suspense scenes in the film’s CGI-laden second half. But I guess crystal skulling the kingdom doesn’t have the same ring as nuking the fridge. Here’s the video, in two lengthy parts.

Editor’s Note: The embed function on the videos appear to be broken at this time. If they are still down, please visit Red Letter Media here to watch the videos in full.

The videos are silly, and there are still too many moments of misogynistic humor for my taste, but don’t let those fool you: the Red Letter Media guys are no dopes. Their examination of the Indiana Jones character is right on the money. As much as we love the old movies, the appeal of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” isn’t the character of Indiana jones; it’s the idea of being Indiana Jones that’s appealing. And an older Indiana Jones who has trouble running down stairs and reconnects with an old flame isn’t as appealing a character for vicarious thrills. If they were going to introduce Indiana Jones’ son as a possible torchbearer for the future of the franchise, they might as well have just cast him as a full-on Indiana Jones Jr. Give him the whip, let him wear the hat, and call him anything but Mutt Williams. And, no, it doesn’t make it any better that Indiana was named after a dog.

That’s why “Tintin” is a better movie than “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” even if it’s made with the kind of cartoonish CGI that marred “Indy IV.” Admittedly Tintin is not as cool a hero as Indy in his prime. He doesn’t have the whip or the hat, and he doesn’t have much of a love life. Like Indy, though, Tintin’s fearless, clever, and he has a job that seemingly doesn’t care if he spends weeks or months away from the office in search of adventure. Unlike Indy, he’s made entirely in a computer, which means he never has to worry about getting older. That may be the most appealling part of all.

What’s your favorite “Indiana Jones” sequel? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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