Notes from a galaxy far, far away

DIS­NEY | Start­ing with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Teasers heads to D23 Expo 2017 for a sneak peek at the House of Mouse’s up­com­ing ros­ter of movies…

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Un­doubt­edly the big­gest film on Dis­ney’s slate (or any other stu­dio’s for that mat­ter), Star Wars: The Last Jedi stoked ex­pec­ta­tions with a be­hind-the-scenes fea­turette at D23, just be­fore it was launched on­line. In­com­ing di­rec­tor Rian John­son as­sem­bled cast mem­bers in­clud­ing The Force Awak­ens stars Daisy Ri­d­ley and John Boyega, fran­chise new­com­ers Beni­cio Del Toro and Laura Dern, and Star Wars leg­end Mark Hamill. Speak­ing to Teasers af­ter the on-stage panel, John­son con­fided that his own fan­dom helped him tackle the daunt­ing un­der­tak­ing. “That’s the whole rea­son I felt I could kind of step in and at­tempt this with­out be­ing paral­ysed with fear,” he says, “just be­cause I have that in­ner com­pass of be­ing a fan since I was a kid.”

Hav­ing lived in those con­ver­sa­tions and fol­lowed Star Wars from the out­side for years be­came an es­sen­tial part of the sto­ry­telling process, John­son as­serts. “I’m a fan, I have the same in­stincts. I’ve got to be­lieve that those are go­ing to line up with some peo­ple, at least.” If the fea­turette is any­thing to go by, those in­stincts in­clude fur­ther­ing the prac­ti­cal ef­fects work that helped to

re-ground the galaxy in The Force Awak­ens.

As well as teas­ing a gag­gle of new hand­made crea­tures

– in­clud­ing a spritely arc­tic fox and a longeared beast that’s not a mil­lion par­secs aways from a tauntaun – there are also new First Or­der weapons on dis­play, and the lo­ca­tions in­clude Jedi tem­ples, a gi­ant wa­ter tank and that red-soil planet, Crait.

And then there’s the cast, seen in largely non-spoil­ery ac­tion. John Boyega teases more fisticuffs – “Finn’ll be go­ing up against some­one in VIII”

– and then there’s the small mat­ter of Hamill’s Luke Sky­walker, who ac­tu­ally gets lines this time.

“This is what I’ve heard,” dead­pans Hamill when Teasers puts it to him. “There are so many sur­pris­ing el­e­ments in [the script], things I didn’t ex­pect,” con­tin­ues the Jedi Mas­ter. “I think that’s a good thing, be­cause you don’t want to re­hash old ideas.”

In terms of new ideas, one of the big­gest se­crets The Last Jedi prom­ises to re­veal is what hap­pened to Luke in the 30 years since the Bat­tle of En­dor.

Even Hamill him­self was sur­prised by the di­rec­tion the Jedi golden boy had taken.

“I said, ‘Well, wait a sec­ond. Luke was the em­bod­i­ment of op­ti­mism and hope. Why is he so cyn­i­cal and cranky?’ It won’t be too long be­fore all is re­vealed.”

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Be­sides Star Wars and Mar­vel (see our Comic-Book Pre­view, start­ing page 68), a host of live-ac­tion movies were teased at D23. Stand­ing out was

Ava DuVer­nay’s A Wrin­kle In Time

(23 March 2018), which looked darker and more in­tense than you’d ex­pect from an adap­ta­tion of a clas­sic kids’ novel from the ’60s.

DuVer­nay prom­ises a cast that “looks like the real world” in­clud­ing Oprah Win­frey, Reese Wither­spoon and new­comer Storm Reid. A harder sell was The Nutcracker And The Four Realms (26 Oc­to­ber 2018), which reimag­ines the clas­sic bal­let as a lav­ishly mounted cinema ex­pe­ri­ence.

Dip­ping into the Dis­ney back cat­a­logue was Mary Pop­pins Re­turns

(21 De­cem­ber 2018), and the teaser footage we saw harked joy­fully back to the 1964 orig­i­nal with kites, ceil­ing-danc­ing and an­i­mated back­drops. “I needed to pay homage to Julie An­drews and carve out space for my­self,” ad­mits new star Emily Blunt.

Tim Bur­ton was on hand (via video link) to tease his live-ac­tion take on Dumbo (29 March 2019), which will star Eva Green, Michael Keaton and an adorable big-eared, blue-eyed ele­phant (if the life-size ma­que­tte they wheeled out on stage is any­thing to go by). And Jon Favreau’s live-ac­tion take on The Lion King (19 July 2019) re­vealed spine-tin­gling, pho­to­real footage recre­at­ing the ‘Cir­cle Of Life’ gath­er­ing at Pride Rock.

aN­i­ma­TioN

Pixar’s In­cred­i­bles 2 (13 July 2018) was one of the stars in the an­i­mated line-up, with footage that re­vealed Bob left hold­ing the (su­per­pow­ered) baby. “He­len is put in charge of the ac­tion a lit­tle bit more,” writer/di­rec­tor Brad Bird tells Teasers, be­fore con­firm­ing that the se­quel picks up “maybe 20, 30 sec­onds” af­ter the first film.

Ben­jamin Bratt per­formed a song from Day of the Dead-themed Coco

(19 Jan­uary 2018), which prom­ises to be Pixar’s most mu­si­cal movie yet. Next to noth­ing was re­vealed about Toy Story 4 (21 June 2019), save for a be­hind-the-scenes siz­zle reel that showed con­cept art hint­ing that Bo Peep would have a big­ger role this time out. Pixar’s far-off Un­ti­tled Sub­ur­ban Fan­tasy (TBC) boasted an ex­tremely in­ven­tive twist – it’s set in a mun­dane fan­tasy world where tech­nol­ogy has sup­planted magic, and uni­corns feed from bins as pests.

On the Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion side, lit­tle was said about Frozen 2 (27 Novem­ber 2019), ex­cept that it won’t be called ‘Thawed’, and a new song from the Christ­mas-themed, 21-minute ‘short’ Olaf’s Frozen Ad­ven­ture (play­ing ahead of Coco) was pre­viewed.

But the big­gest cheers were re­served for Ralph Breaks The In­ter­net: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (30 Novem­ber 2018) and its as­ton­ish­ing se­quence of brand syn­ergy, when Vanel­lope en­ters the

Oh My Dis­ney web­site and hangs out with ev­ery Dis­ney princess ever

(real voices and all). Talk about break­ing the in­ter­net.

ETA | 15 DE­cEm­bEr / STAr WArS: ThE LAST JEDi opEnS ThiS Win­TEr.

Con­cept art for The In­cred­i­bles 2.

CoLD CoM­ForT Sven and olaf are set to re­turn in a Christ­mas spe­cial.

Tim Bur­ton hangs out on the set of his live-ac­tion Dumbo

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