Discussion: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

I was browsing through Youtube recently and I came across the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer again. Amazingly, as I watched through this trailer, all the feelings and waves of emotions just watched over me and I couldn’t help but acquiesce to how unbelievably awesome this trailer was. So I decided to write this bit about it.

I considered discussing the teaser trailers that came before this because they were awesome, too. However, when I was watching over them again, I found that they were just too short. The full trailer above has so many more beats and reveals and a flow the teasers don’t. I still love watching Han Solo tell me that “he’s home.” Further, the teasers definitely added to the awesomeness of the full trailer.

So right from the beginning, with those first keys on the piano the tone is set. Images of a broken star destroyer and Darth Vader’s broken helmet show us that we are moving on from the old, into and uncharted future. I don’t know about everyone else, but I remember feeling overcome with feelings of nostalgia and this feeling of adventure. In fact, I still feel that way watching it now.

In regards to the narrative, you begin feeling that sense of sadness and resistance. The protagonists are in a bad place and they have no hope of escape. Then the music swells and the Millennium Falcon roars overhead with Tie Fighters in chase and I am just drowning in nostalgia and holding back my tears as I choke down the tender feelings of my childhood. Credit must be given to the musical arrangements used because it is this familiar, sweeping melody that everyone knows that just washes over you and brings you back to this place were dreams are possible and a noble underdog of a hero resists the overwhelming forces of evil.

Then you hear that familiar, reassuring voice. Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) tells you to believe. And while he isn’t truly addressing the viewer, in many ways he really is. He’s telling us to believe in this story, in this franchise again. He’s telling us that we can feel what we once felt before, that the feelings we had during the original trilogy will once again return. This is going to be that kind of adventure.

We then get a quick barrage of all the things we love about Star Wars. We see storm troopers, and X-Wings fighting Tie fighters and comradery in the face of evil. And at the very end of this sweeping montage, when I am all but emotionally exhausted and filled with anticipation for this movie, we get that last glimpse of the black protagonist (Fin, but we didn’t know his name at the time) wielding a blue light saber against Kylo Ren’s cross shaped light saber. So epic.

And that was all. Obviously I went and watched the movie as soon as I could and learned that it was mostly a glorified, beat by beat remake of A New Hope. And while that was disappointing, I can almost forgive the movie for the entertainment and emotions given to me through the release of its trailers. This was movie marketing at its pinnacle. No plot points were given away, no big moments revealed, and yet I could not contain my hype for this movie. I watched this trailer upwards of fifty times.

This is how you do a trailer. This is how keep a sense of mystery and adventure. And while I did not love the film, the trailer brought be infinite amounts of joy and for that I am grateful.

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Discussion: The Fantastic Four Reboot/Movie I Want to See

So the final Fantastic Four trailer has come out and some people are saying its all right, some people are saying its terrible. I think it’s okay. It hints at a number of things, seems to take cues from the Ultimate line of Fantastic Four comics, and brings in some things relating to Doom that aren’t in the comics. It’s all well and good, but when I heard they were rebooting the Fantastic Four movies I had a very specific idea of what that should be, of what the Fantastic Four represents to me and I’d like to share it (this story takes massive inspiration from the comics, the movies, and the trailer above).

So what is the Fantastic Four? The Fantastic Four is a group of four superheroes, but to a greater extent they are defined by their leader, Reed Richards. Then who is Reed Richards? Reed Richards is a genius. He is a brilliant physicist, scientist, and engineer. He is an explorer with an insatiable hunger for knowledge and discovery, but not just for his own benefit. Reed seeks to use his knowledge to make the world a better place. And the main thing that distinguishes Reed from any other superhero/genius? He’s a family man. The Fantastic Four is his family and — if forced to do so — Reed Richards would gladly sacrifice the entire universe if it meant protecting his family. Thus, a good Fantastic Four story consists of two things: fantastic science fiction and the values/dynamics of a loving family.

Act 1 – Reed Richards and the Baxter School

So our story starts with Reed Richards. Reed is twelve and your classic pale, nerdy, friendless kid. Well, friendless with the exception of Benjamin Grimm, his childhood friend. With only one real friend, Reed spends most of his time alone dreaming. He dreams of the stars and of all the mysteries of the universe. He dreams of a better world. When Reed isn’t dreaming, he builds. He builds things no twelve year old should know how to build. Things that never seems to work. Things that often explode and get him a scolding from his parents.

While Reed may be a dreamer and a genius, Reed’s parents are profoundly ordinary. They want Reed to go out and play, to make friends, and maybe chase some girls. His dad is a man’s man and often gives Reed a tough time. His mother babies him and encourages him through hugs and kisses.

One night after school, Reed invites Ben over to his garage to look at his latest creation. Ben comes over and sees Reed’s creation: a jumble of wires, metal arms, and what look like nuclear reactors. In the middle of this jumble are two platforms. Reed explains that he has built a teleportation device. With this device an object could near instantaneously travel from one point in our universe to any other point. Reed discovered that the distance between two objects in our dimension is larger than the distance between two objects in separate, but parallel dimensions. Upon this premise, the machine sends an object from point A in our dimension, briefly through a parallel dimension where the laws of time and space act differently on matter from our universe, towards point B which is once again in our dimension, thus lessening the distance and time the object travels. In fact, the distance has been so shortened that the travel time is near instantaneous from our perspective.

So Reed demonstrates the machine. Ben is scared and hopes the thing doesn’t blow up the block. Reed places Ben’s baseball on one of the platforms and turns on the machine. The machine starts charging up and as the platforms start glowing, the lights blow and the neighborhood promptly blacks out. Reed takes out a flashlight and finds Ben. Reed’s dad is yelling from the house and Ben bids Reed adieu and runs out of the garage before Reed’s dad yells at Ben, too. Reed is left alone and fearing the arrival of his father when he points his flashlight at the platforms. The experiment worked; Ben’s baseball teleported from one platform to the other. Reed has finally built something that works and raises his arms in triumph. At that moment, Reed’s dad comes in, grounds him for the next sixty years and takes him off to bed.

The next day, Dr. Franklin Storm shows up at Reed’s house and asks to enroll Reed into the Baxter School for the Gifted. The Baxter school is a school for brilliant children, funded by the United States government, and located in a skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. Dr. Storm detected the outage and asked the U.S. government to not arrest Reed for his dangerous experiment, but to speak with Reed first. After some discussion, Reed’s parents agree and Reed enrolls. This is an opportunity for Reed to learn at his level while truly being able to make the world a better place. Reed later says goodbye to Ben and promises to stay in touch. Ben promises that he will always have Reed’s back.

At the Baxter school in midtown Manhattan, Reed begins his orientation. He learns that the Baxter school is a school for children as brilliant as he is. He meets Susan Storm and Johnathan Storm, Dr. Franklin Storm’s children. Sue specializes in biology/medicine and Johnny in mechanical engineering. The school has the feel of Hogwarts; a magical school were anything is possible. The students are brilliant yet still immature; a great place for shenanigans. Reed, Sue, and Johnny get into shenanigans and quickly bond, with ample flirtation between a self-assured Sue and an introverted Reed. For the first time, Reed has found a girl he can really open up to. Reed also starts to realize that even among a school of brilliant children, he is especially brilliant.

Act 2 – Reed and gang explore Universe 106, they get powers

One year goes by. Reed is a sophomore. Reed has built numerous prototypes of his teleportation machine. He sends various objects through and they teleport perfectly. In his latest experiment, he decides to send a video recorder through. The recorder goes through instantaneously. However, when Reed goes through the footage, he finds that there is about thirty minutes of video on the recorder. While most of it is static, there is a moment when a humanoid figure walks over, picks up the the recorder and looks into the aperture with green, human eyes.

Reed makes two conclusions from the video. First, when an object is sent through the alternate dimension, even though the teleportation is instantaneous, the object spends more time in the alternate dimension than in ours. The ratio is about thirty minutes for every tenth of a second. Second, there is life in the alternate dimension, humanoid life. Reed decides it is time to build a machine that can teleport people, not for the purpose of teleportation, but to explore this alternate universe.

After much argument, Reed convinces Dr. Storm and the Baxter school’s representative from the U.S. government to approve of a project to send Reed and two others into what Reed is now calling Universe 106, based on the frequency at which the matter of that universe seems to vibrate. The team he picks is Sue (for her specialization in biology/life forms), Johnny (to assist in any repairs that may be required, Johnny also helped build the prototypes), and Reed since no one understands the science or function of the machine better than him. The machine is massive, but the key components consist of  two platforms; one for arrival and one for departure.

On the day of the experiment, Reed invites Ben to come witness it. They spend some time catching up before the experiment. At the experiment, various people from the school and the government/military are present. The plan is this: Reed, Sue, and Johnny will teleport in the latest prototype and in the thirty minutes they spend in Universe 106, they will gather as much information as they can.

During the experiment, something goes wrong and Reed, Sue, and Johnny seem to be getting electrocuted and locked into their platform. No one can abort the experiment. Ben runs to the platform and tries to tackle Reed and the gang off the platform. At that moment, the machine initiates and teleports Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben to Universe 106.

Reed and gang wake up in what is a post-apocalyptic wasteland. They go over their situation and find that the machine worked perfectly. They are in Universe 106. They have about thirty minutes to explore before they are transferred back to their home universe. They are all wearing space suits except for Ben, who is in a t-shirt and jeans. Ben seems to be fine however, and this world seems to supports life. They will check on Ben when they get back. There doesn’t seem to be any signs of life around, just a vast wasteland of cracked earth as far as the eye can see. Reed and gang begin exploring.

They find mostly nothing and Reed begins to doubt himself and the footage from the recorder. Then they find some signs and some structures. They are all in English. After some more discovery they learn that where they landed was not an alien world, but an alternate Earth. They arrived in the ruins of Manhattan. They wonder if they didn’t travel to an alternate dimension, but into the future? Reed promptly shuts that down. The nature of matter in this universe is similar, but very different from our own world. This is an alternate world, one where all life seems to have ended.

At that moment they see a humanoid figure walking in the distance. It looks like a person, but also like a machine; metallic with eyes glowing green. The humanoid turns to face them and emits a loud noise, like the horn from Inception. The earth begins to shake and and even further in the horizon, an endless number of metallic humanoids are running at them, like a stampede of rabid animals. Some run like animals using their arms and legs, some run on their feet. It’s like a scene from a zombie movie, except with machine-esque humanoids with glowing green eyes. Reed and the gang start running for their lives.

As per the time limit, Reed and the gang have about 3 minutes before they are sent back to their world. So they run. The following happens: Ben falls into a hole and gets buried, Johnny and Sue get caught in a geyser explosion that spews fire and electricity (Johnny gets hit by the fire, Sue by the electricity), and Reed falls into a pool of goop. As Reed is sinking and blacking out he sees a figure floating above the hoard of machine humanoids, wearing a green, hooded cloak. He recognizes it as their leader.

Reed wakes up strapped in a hospital bed. He slips/stretches out due to his new powers; Reed can now stretch and bend like water. Guards show up and a government official with Dr. Storm show up and explain what has happened. According to the telemetry recorded in their suits, Reed and gang were in Universe 106 for approximately thirty minutes, then they teleported back to the Baxter building, where they all are now. Each of them seemed to be alive, but with fantastic changes to their physiology. It was as if they merged with the matter from the alternate universe. Reed can now bend/stretch like a liquid, Sue can turn invisible and make force fields, Johnny can turn himself on fire and throw fire, and Ben is now a rock like monster. Unlike Johnny, Ben cannot seems to turn off his powers and is seemingly stuck that way. Reed hypothesizes that the matter from Universe 106 interacted with each person and altered their biology. Ben was not wearing a suit so his changes match his greater exposure. Reed meets with each and speaks to them. His conversation with Ben is more somber and he promises Ben he will fix this somehow.

Before they get a chance to relax, a rift opens in the Baxter building and one of the machine humanoids appears and attacks people. The creature is strong and durable, but Reed and gang fight and defeat the creature. More humanoids start appearing in the Baxter building and even across midtown Manhattan. Reed and gang use their new found powers to fight and defeat all the humanoids. This is a big set piece action scene with a lot of collateral damage. It’s also an exploration of each of the Four’s powers and a test of their limits.

Afterwards, Sue leads an autopsy of one of the deceased machine humanoids. They learn that these creatures were originally human beings with all their human organs, except they were altered by nano technology. More horrifying is that these changes were deliberate; each machine humanoid was programmed and received instructions from somewhere/someone. Like a human drone. Reed has a feeling it is the floating figure he saw in Universe 106.

Reed and gang talk with representatives from the government, military, and Baxter school. They conclude that the appearance of machine humanoids (we can call them “drones”) is only the beginning. When Reed and gang went to Universe 106, they attracted someone’s attention, likely the person who turned Universe 106 into a wasteland. They decide that a military force must be sent into Universe 106 to subdue whatever sent the human drones. After further inspection, Reed and gang have been altered at a molecular level. They are now made of matter that consists of both Universe 106 and their own universe. This combined with the fact that they now possess power that rivals an army makes them the best candidates to be sent through. If anyone else was sent through, who knows how their physiology would change. They may be altered even more severely than Ben.

Dr. Storm knows they must do this, but he hugs his children and makes them promise to return safely. Reed talks to Ben and reaffirms that after this is over, he will spend every waking moment on changing him back. Ben tells Reed to focus on the matter at hand because they don’t know what is waiting for them on the other side.

Act 3 – Reed and gang go back to Universe 106 to confront Doom

Reed and gang teleport through again. Reed alters the machine so that they can teleport back and forth at will. When they arrive they find a massive structure that was not there the last time they were in Universe 106. They are also surrounded by the hordes of human drones, except they are all standing quietly. Reed and gang make their way to the structure and find the floating man Reed saw last time floating above the structure. As Reed and gang prepare to fight the man, the man speaks. He introduces himself as someone with many names: God, Death, Messiah, Doom. But the name he is most fond of is the name he was born with: Reed Richards. With that the man pulls off his hood and our Reed is face to face with himself, except the face of Universe 106’s Reed (I’ll call him “Doom” from now on) is a patchwork of metal, like a machine and the human drones.

Doom explains that in this universe, he also wanted to make the world a better place. Instead of cross dimensional teleportation, Doom specialized in nanotechnology/machines and human biology. In hopes of creating a world with no war, pain or illness, he created machines that could alter human physiology, curing disease like cancer and AIDS. But that was only the beginning. Doom built machines that could alter people thoughts, removing feelings of aggression, conflict, and greed and replacing them with better thoughts. The thoughts of Doom. Doom took over the minds and bodies of every person in Universe 106’s Earth, creating what he calls a paradise. Doom was content with his world until he noticed the incursion by Reed and gang. When Doom saw Reed’s face, he understood that he came from an alternate universe and began building a machine that could cross into Reed’s world. Doom intends on spreading his paradise into Reed’s world and perhaps into all the other parallel universes Doom can find. Reed is stunned. Stunned at the idea that he did this, that he could be able to do this.

Reed and gang start fighting Doom and the countless number of Doom’s human drones with the intent of destroying Doom’s dimension traveling machine. This is the big, final action set piece and should be bombastic. Each character should get an opportunity to show off their powers. There should also be an escalation where each character’s use of their powers becomes more and more powerful. Ben’s immense strength should be shown off as every punch he throws causes shock waves, craters, and the flight of human drone bodies. Sue can fly and uses her ability to create force fields to create shapes to annihilate large number of drones, all while remaining hidden, invisible, and flying around. Johnny lights on fire, flies around throwing fire, shoots beams of flame at the human drones, and when surrounded lights himself into a greater fire, like a mini-sun. Reed snakes around the drones, throwing punches that stretch forward and hit many human drones in the face. Most importantly, Reed snakes his way towards Doom who floats above the machine. Doom is assembling the machine.

Reed attacks Doom, but Doom stretches out of the way of his attack and punches Reed with a stretch punch. Doom tells Reed that he is the god of this world, that he is no longer just a man, and that Reed should not expect Doom to have any limits on what he can do. At that moment, Ben attacks Doom and Doom blocks his punch, causing a shock wave. Doom out fights Ben and knocks him a distance away. Sue and Johnny attack together. Doom lights his arm on fire and blasts Johnny with a beam of flame. Doom then turns invisible and appears behind an invisible Sue. Doom blasts Sue with a large blast of flame, making Sue turn visible and blasting the shielded Sue a distance away. Doom hovers over the dazed/injured Johnny and Sue an prepares to finish them by charging a large flame blast when Ben comes back and knocks him away. Ben and Doom continue fighting. Reed makes his way to Johnny and Sue. Reed explains that Doom is too strong. The only way they can win is with a coordinated attack. They formulate a plan. 

Ben is still fighting Doom, when Sue becomes visible and puts a force field around Doom’s head, seemingly suffocating him. Reed then erupts from the ground and constrict himself around Doom’s arms and legs. Reed yells at Ben to punch Doom in his body/chest. Ben complies and pounds away inflicting a large amount of damage, chipping away metal pieces and moving Doom a great distance with each punch. Sue follows in the air while Reed remains constricted around Doom.

Doom eventually has enough and goes “nova;” Doom charges flame in himself and explodes in a massive, fiery explosion that sends Reed, Sue and Ben flying. Reed, Sue and Ben are lying on the ground. Doom walks toward Reed and goes on a super villain speech about his superiority and how righteous Doom is as Doom lights his right arm and prepares to incinerate/kill an incapacitated Reed. Just as Doom raises his hand to burn the life out of Reed, Reed opens his eyes and yells, “Now!” Reed turns invisible and Doom hears Johnny describe his curiosity at how hot Johnny can really burn. Johnny also expresses sarcastic admiration of Doom’s last maneuver, where Doom exploded like a supernova. Johnny then appears behind Doom from the invisibility Sue was hiding him with. Johnny is glowing as bright as the sun and getting brighter by the second. Doom’s metallic shell is burning away. Sue is shielding everyone else and Reed yells at Johnny to do it. Johnny now goes “nova;” Johnny explodes in a massive explosion many times larger than Doom’s. In the light of the explosion we can see Sue protecting everyone with her shield and all the metal getting burned off of Doom in a massive, bright explosion.

We cut back to the Baxter building. About two minutes has elapsed when Reed and gang reappear in Reed’s teleportation platform. Reed and gang bring back Doom who is naked and whose entire body is covered in severe burns. Armed soldiers take Doom away.

We end the film with a number of cuts between various characters and locations, conveying to the audience Reed’s new life, new family, and how all the characters are getting on. Reed’s life has changed fantastically. Though their have been dangers and losses, that is the price of exploration/discovery and Reed is ultimately better for it. However, Reed still wants to rectify any mistakes that were made. During this sequence we see cuts of Reed walking down a dark hallway, pass some armed guards, and into a dark room. He opens the door and inside is Doom, fully stretched out and restrained in a large machine, with only Doom’s burned face exposed. Reed approaches Doom face to face and asks Doom to help fix his best friend, Ben.

After Credits scene – Welcome to the Brotherhood

We cut back to Reed facing a restrained Doom when a boom and a portal appear from the side of the room. Through the portal walk out another Reed Richards with two more Reed Richards’ behind him. The lead Reed is older, with some gray in his hair. One of the other Reed’s exiting the portal is partially invisible, like Sue’s power. The other is partially on fire, like Johnny’s power. The older Reed says, “Hello, brother. I’m here for him.” The older Reed gestures at Doom. Our Reed has an expression of shock on his face. The older Reed from the portal then tells our Reed, “You didn’t really think that — across the infinity of all universes — you two were the only two Reed Richards’ out there, did you?”

THE END

Discussion: I want a John Wick sequel, I want it NOW, and this is what it should be.

It opens “five years and some change” before the events of the current film. John Wick is an unstoppable hitman for Viggo and Viggo’s criminal organization. The film should open with an action scene showing John’s prowess, skill, and ferocity. There should be a large body count and John working his way up henchman, through boss henchman, and eventually killing the target.

John soon meets his future wife, Helen, by happenstance. They fall in love and John realizes there is more to life than just killing and he wants out. He goes to Viggo and asks to leave the life behind. Viggo surmises that this is about a girl. Viggo expresses to him that there is no getting out of this kind of life, except in a coffin. Viggo explains further that even if Viggo gave his blessing (which he does not want to do) to leave his gang/outfit, their enemies would inevitably find him and kill him, and his woman, if/when he becomes vulnerable.

It is here where Viggo offers John the “impossible task” mentioned in the current film. Viggo states that if John completes this task, he will never bother John again and that John will be free to live his life as he sees fit. What Viggo doesn’t say is that this is likely a suicide mission.

The mission is this: Every five years, the heads of all the crime organizations on the east coast meet in New York City to discuss matters related to each and to coordinate. Viggo offers that if John can learn of the meeting place and kill every single crime boss of every major crime organization and their lieutenants, then Viggo can take over in the resulting chaos and power vacuum and that John will be free, of enemies and of Viggo. John, being the badass he is, agrees.

John then goes on a killing spree over New York City of numerous crime bosses and their henchman. He eventually learns of the meeting place’s location, which is in a hotel. John assaults the hotel in a flurry of bullets, martial arts and explosions. He eventually makes his way up the building to where all the bosses are holed up.

Upon entering the room, he finds Helen standing next to the leader of all the crime bosses, along with a small army of henchmen and other bosses. Helen works for the leader of all crime bosses. All the bosses and guards are pointing their guns at John. John realizes that the innocent woman he fell in love with was also part of this life of crime and violence. John realizes he will likely have to kill Helen. In a moment of rage and confusion at his predicament, John ultimately decides on killing everyone anyway.

Insert big action scene with John killing everyone, saving Helen for last. After every else is dead, John walks over to Helen, gun drawn, but ultimately decides not to kill her and that tells her to leave. That’s when the leader of all crime bosses, who was fatally injured, attacks John and prepares to kill him. After another little fight, John is put in a disadvantage and about to be killed. Helen intervenes and shoots the leader of all crime bosses with one of the guns from the fallen henchman. Helen tells John she’s sorry. John gets up and kisses her.

Transition to a patched up John having a meeting with Viggo. Viggo is noticeably uncomfortable and expresses his surprise at John’s accomplishment. Viggo doesn’t say it but he is also fearful of John as well. Viggo honors his end of the bargain. John exits the room to Helen waiting in a car downstairs.

Viggo’s final words to John are that they hope that if their paths cross in the future, it will be as better, more civilized men. John replies: “If our paths cross again, it will not be civilized.”

Viggo whipsers under his breath, “Be seeing you John.”

John leaves with Helen and they ride off into the sunset.

A side note:

Many of the actors from the current film should make an appearance in this prequel. Michael Nyqvist, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Bridget Regan, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, and of course, William Dafoe should be included. DaFoe should have a more substantial role with him participating in the final assault on the hotel. Alfie Allen may make an appearance foreshadowing the events of the current film.