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…
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.”
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.
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