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Director Duel: J.J. Abrams And George Lucas Battle In Head To Head Matchup!

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George Lucas J.J. Abrams

Director Wars: George Lucas and J.J. Abrams Duel It Out!

For our George Lucas – J.J. Abrams director matchup we’ve graded them each on five categories: Script Writing, Comedic Flair, Action Sequences, Casting/Actors and “The Big Picture.” Read below to see who scored the best!

When it comes to a head to head battle of the directors, there is no question that a J.J. Abrams bout versus Star Wars creator George Lucas is the current fight of the century.

From the director’s chair, this is the equivalent of Mohammed Ali v. Joe Frazier, two heavy-weight champions who went toe-to-toe for three bouts in the early 1970s. You know, back before light sabers were invented and all that.

Abrams, of course, has only one Star Wars film to his credit, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is battering down box office records as we speak. It is headed at a gallop towards the all-time worldwide record of $2.8 billion, set by James Cameron’s Avatar in 2009.

Still, to be fair, we have to review more films than one. So, while we open up the Abrams portfolio to include movies like Six Degrees of Separation (1993), Mission Impossible III (2006), Star Trek (2009) and Super 8 (2011).

Then, to even up the match, Lucas has some non-Star Wars films to consider, including one of my favorite comedies: American Graffiti (1973) and four Star Wars films, including the renamed Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope (1977) and three others: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

OK – Let’s have at it:

Script Writing:
Lucas has 17 feature film scripts to his credit, including American Graffiti, four Star Wars films and Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the Crystal Skull and, well, let’s face it, Lucas is no William Shakespeare. His jokes are usually hackneyed and stale, but he pulls them off with his talents at theatrics. He has great timing, I’ll give him that. As a writer, let’s give him a solid B.

Abrams’ writing is both more pithy and wittier than Lucas. With nine scripts to his credit, he has shown a much wider range of talent than Lucas, writing high torque action films and moving dramas, like Regarding Henry (1991, staring Harrison Ford) about a man recovering his speech and mobility after a shooting. Score: B plus.

Lucas B | Abrams’ B +

Comedic Flair:
Lucas has made some funny films. The aforementioned American Graffiti is a classic. The humor is subtle and touching. He has a distinct flair for adolescent humor, but when is humor not at least a little bit adolescent? Still, with C3PO, Jar-Jar Binks, the entire first Star Wars film notched on his belt, let’s Lucas an A minus for comedic flair.

Abrams’ shows with Star Wars: The Force Awakens that he can breathe new life into the franchise and he did this with a one-two combo of action and comedy. His jokes were verbal and visual, including great creatures and a classic robot with BB-8.

Lucas A – | Abrams B +

Action Sequences
Star Wars has always relied on packing a wallop with action scenes, but it is safe to say Abrams took the bull by the horns with this year’s masterpiece. After all, we are now in the post-Transformers era and those films defined the term non-stop when it came to sustained action sequences.

Transformers set the bar that much higher for audience expectations. An action film used to be a bumpy ride; now they are veritable roller coasters with just a few dips in their – and not to many of those.

Any-who. On actions sequences, Lucas gets a fine A minus score, but Abrams gets an A plus. Action sequences, after all, is where these guys live.

Lucas A – | Abrams A +

Casting/Actors
It has to be said that with a George Lucas film casting and acting are not the man’s forte. In fact, they often seem like an afterthought.

Yes, Lucas has bragging rights for launching the career of Hollywood’s biggest ever box office draw in Harrison Ford, who stars in four of the top 11 highest grossing films in the United States, when figures are adjusted for inflation. (Three Star Wars, one Indiana Jones film.) But, Lucas has also been able to cast and direct a few abominable actors, who helped make Star Wars a clownish spectacle in many moments.

Not to name names, but Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer and Hayden Christensen have all caused me to wince more than once on the big screen, while Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Samuel L. Jackson and were plug-ins to fill holes in the screen, adding little to the big Star Wars picture.

Abrams, however, is being hailed for his casting prowess. He may have launched two bonafide Hollywood careers with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. Further, his standout casting instincts brought us the ensemble masterpiece Super 8 and many other fine films.

Abrams: A + | Lucas: C –

The Big Picture
It is unfair to judge Lucas and Abrams in the so-called category of the Big Picture. Lucas, it can be said, invented the Star Wars universe. It has a culture, a sense of history, rock star level heroes and the world’s most recognizable evil doer in Darth Vader. His inventions include inventions. The light saber, the personable droid, Jar-Jar Binks, Jabba the Hut, Yoda. There is almost no end to the space-oriented Star Wars universe.

And yet, truth be told, Star Wars started as little more than a Muppet-like cowboys and Indians shoot ’em up that took place in outer space. It was more cute and funny than anything else.

Abrams is much more of a big picture director, who knows how to put many, many moving pieces into orbit and spin them all in different directions and have the scenes come together right at the end. He can block out action sequences, keep the dialogue going at a frenetic pace and throw in some humor along the way.

However, it is also unfair to compare Lucas of 1977 with Abrams of 2015. Abrams has so many Big Picture masters to thank for his education – Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay and Peter Jackson to name just three. Furthermore, they have all learned from George Lucas. Without George Lucas there would be no Force. Plain and simple.

Score on Big Picture: Abrams A – | Lucas: A +

 

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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