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Super Episode 7?

A long time ago in a galaxy not far away by any means, a young boy joined by his loving parents took a journey into the darkness of a movie theater in 1978 and witnessed the spectacle of Star Wars.  His world changed along with many other children, young and old alike as they witnessed the birth of one of the most storied and successful franchises in Hollywood history.  With the release of that movie, a generation of loyal fans followed.  Three movies, full toy lines, lunch boxes, clothing, and just about every other merchandising scheme you could dream up was used to Lucasfilm’s advantage.   The Empire was indeed strong, and a commercial juggernaut.

Fast forward almost two decades, and the loyal fan base was energized to hear that George Lucas was set to resurrect the cinematic legend with three more movies would serve as a prequel trilogy to the original.  Taking total creative reigns with the scripts, Lucas released The Phantom Menace to massive success but very mixed reviews.   What followed from that were two more Lucas “solo” creative efforts that also received very mixed reviews leaving the fan base decidedly split on the results.  While some of the luster seemed to have worn off from the Star Wars legend, a new generation of young fans was introduced and what cannot be denied is that in spite of it all, Lucasfilm had continued it’s amazing record of financial dominance.

Now, about eight years removed from the last film release, word is that the franchise will live again with Episode VII scheduled for release in 2015.  Lucasfilm has since sold the rights to future Star Wars releases to Disney, truly giving the franchise the shot in the arm that I believe it needs.  Disney, one of the few film studio juggernauts that could match Lucasfilms’ success, also owns major properties such as Marvel.  And I can’t think of too many people who have been displeased with the creative efforts of the films they have churned out in the last few years.

Without George Lucas monopolizing the creative direction, who might take this franchise into the future….or should I see a new “ frontier”?  Enter the rumors that JJ Abrams has been offered the directorial chair for the next installment.  The man who created what is in my mind the most inventive, interesting, and entertaining TV show in my lifetime (Lost)….the man who took a sci-fi property that I personally did not like (Star Trek) and actually caused me to enjoy its relaunch….the man who has given us some of the most mystery-shrouded marketing campaigns for films like Super 8 and Cloverfield.  Yes, this man who just might be (for me) the biggest creative shooting star in Hollywood today.  What could JJ Abrams do for the Star Wars franchise?

Color me excited.  Of course, this assumes that the rumors are true.  Well, this wannabe Star Wars fan can hope.  “A new hope” for a better Star Wars future, if I may coin another phrase, with apologies to you readers.   Disney and JJ Abrams could be the winning formula to puts Star Wars back on my personal radar, and maybe even win back some of those old fans who have felt the diminishment of a legend.

Are you intrigued by the prospects of a JJ Abrams-directed Star Wars film?  If not, why?  And who would you like to see bring the franchise back to the big screen?

Until, next week!

Chris & the Great Stories Team

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Fresh Popped Corn: January 2013 Movie Trailer Preview

We are already a few weeks into the 2013 movie season, but I wanted to take an opportunity this week to talk about the films on the schedule before we hit the summer blockbuster season.  Great Stories will be previewing Hollywood’s offerings every month on this blog, and it is genuinely a fun subject for us (as we are very big movie fans).

The post Christmas holiday movie schedule is traditionally known as a dumping ground for films that studios either could not fit into their summer/fall plans, or films that the studio does not have a lot of confidence in for one reason or another.  It is generally a time when the industry is talking about Oscar nominations and awards, and even re-releasing the supposed year’s best films to audiences that may have missed the first time around.  We aren’t so impressed by Oscar nominations and all the hoopla over here at GS.  We like to keep all of the fawning and glory-seeking to that Hollywood crowd.  What we are about over here is enjoying two hours for the $10 movie ticket price we just paid.  That can be had with movies that would not garner Oscar nods too (who are the people who decide who gets nominated anyway?).  That all being said, I have found that it is this time of year that I most look forward to in the movie release schedule…..movies that have not been over-hyped!  Hey, we take a chance, and we may be surprised by what we find!?  So, without further delay, here are the movies we have our eyes on for the remainder of January.

January 18th
Last Stand (Lionsgate):  It is Ah-nuld’s return to a leading role on the big screen as he and Johnny Knoxville take on some undesirables who invade their quiet southwestern town.  Cue the explosions!

Broken City  (Fox):  Mark “I don’t talk with animals” Wahlberg and Russell Crow star in a thriller about a private eye who investigates some marital infidelity for the mayor and uncovers a real estate scandal.
Mama (Universal):  Guillermo del Toro produces this horror picture about two little girls who disappeared into the woods after their parents were killed and are rescued years later.  But…hit the scary music….some caretaker of unknown origin still has an interest in them.

Great Stories Pick:  Last Stand
Speaking (however unfairly) for the rest of the team at GS, we are big horror fans (OK, I admit to being the only horror hound on the team).  Mama strikes me as a rental, however, and the draw of a classic Schwarzenneger film is just too good to resist.  I want the old action movie heroes to rise up again!  Broken City looks like a nice moody drama/thriller too, but it will take the runner’s up.

 

January 25th
Movie 43 (Relativity):  A shock and awe comedy with an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Gerard Butler, Emma Stone, Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Uma Thurman, Kristen Bell, Richard Gere, and Julianne Moore and many more.  One of those loosely-related series of sub-plot type of movies is the word.
Hansel & Gretel : Witch Hunters ( Paramount):  Famke Janssen and Jeremy Renner play the famous siblings who survived the gingerbread house of horrors and grew up to become the butt-kicking pair dedicated to vanquishing evil.
Parker (Film District):  Jason Statham stars as a professional thief who is some kind of modern day Robin Hood.  After getting double-crossed by his not-so-merry men, he tracks them down with the help of J-Lo minus the back-up dancers.
Johnny Dies at the End (Magnet):  Two college drop outs have to save humanity after a new drug on the street (soy sauce) sends its users across time and dimensions and then back again in not so human form.

Great Stories Pick:  Hansel & Gretel
Following his roles in “The Avengers” and the latest Bourne installment, what is there not to like about Jeremy Renner? Add in a little ex-Bond girl, some sinister fairy tale lore, and you might be onto something entertaining!  Truth be told, action movies just look better on the big screen too.  Hansel & Gretel looks like the kind of cheesy action/special effects movie that makes it fun to go thrown down your Andrew Jackson , toss popcorn in your mouth, and smile until the end credits.  After seeing the trailer for “Parker”, I quipped to my fiancée that I had already seen that movie (and I sincerely meant it, thinking it was a DVD advertisement and not a new film).  I guess there is just something too familiar about Statham’s roles.  “Movie 43” just looks like an utter mess in spite of the respectable and talented actors that are all over the credits.  And “Johnny Dies at the End” screams of Billy Bob Briggs’ Movie Channel  grade-C movie fare (not that we don’t like that kind of thing!).

Are you planning to hit the box office and catch a flick this month?  What has caught your eye of the films that are in theaters now or to be released in the next couple of weeks?  We want to hear from you!

We’ll check back in with you next week…have a great weekend!

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Icon or Identity?

Christmas went by in a blur as 2013 dawned on us all, and we were reminded that even though we may have checked out of hobby-land for a couple of weeks, a very major event was happening in the world of Marvel…..the death of Peter Parker as the iconic Spider-Man.  Yes, another comic hero passes before our eyes ushering in a new era.  Is Spider-Man gone?  No….just the man behind the mask.  Fan spoiler coming up here in the next sentence, so beware!  The man who was Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius) is the new man behind the mask and spandex.  You can read the book to find out all of the nitty gritty details and theorize on how Peter Parker may once again be resurrected in the future.  After all, that is what is bound to happen.  Comic books are famous for such plotlines with major characters.  Shock and awe is good for business!

Pop culture has seen its share of identity-changing stunts for some of its biggest icons.  Obviously, Spider-Man is not the first.  It has happened with Batman (see Azrael), Captain America (Steve Rogers out and John Walker, who later became U.S. Agent, in), and even Hulk (Grey, Green, or Red).  Outside of the comic book world, we have seen cultural icons like James Bond, Obi Wan Kenobi, Peter Pan, Willy Wonka, and Dracula portrayed by multiple actors to much success in the world of film.  All of these actors have had the gift of fame which begs the question of who we love more.  Is it the people behind the mask or the characters they play?

We live in a very disposable world where the flavor of the month has sunk the biggest pop stars the music industry has served to a ravenous public, yet others have carried on past the expiration date and remain gigantic even as their performances wane.    We have seen political stars rise and fall at a whim, while some endure regardless of the tarnish they bring to their legacy.

How can it all be explained?  What is the difference between those that burn bright and those that fade away without a whimper?

Truth be told, every successful individual in the public eye needs a good role, a good character, or a good story to build around them.  Without these ingredients, talent and good intent is sadly not a recipe for longevity.  In the end, the mystique that surrounds the individual is what transcends!

Madonna created a brand, image, and a personality.  She was no longer Madonna Louise Ciccone.  She made herself into a character that has become the story.  The Kennedy name has brought with it guaranteed political success through a series of great tragedies, no matter the individual or the deeds.   And Arnold Schwarzenegger will always have a following regardless of personal troubles and time because people have fallen in love with his fictional roles (such as Conan and the Terminator).  Stories give life to our memory.  And we cannot deny these effects on our psyche.  We are as bound to them, as we are to our families and friends in many ways.

Spider-Man will survive without Peter Parker.  Dracula has outlasted the great Bela Lugosi.  James Bond is still saving the world without Sean Connery.  The legend and lore are enough to carry us all on the many more journeys of fascination and adventure.  We are ready for 2013 to be another year of Great Stories, great characters, and making great memories.

We, at Great Stories welcome your thoughts on this topic, and we would also love to hear who your favorite cultural icons are!

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2013: The Year of the Great Story

Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the story of a start-up business that began officially in July 2012 with the launch of our website (www.great-stories.net).  Great Stories is taking to the blogging community with a mission.  That mission is to spread the good news that creativity and imagination is alive and well within us all.  While the family business has a foundation in retail, we have much broader goals than just being some ordinary place of commerce….not to say that what we sell is not interesting.  Far from it, since our store features some rare and hard to find treasures for collectors and kids of all ages!

No, Great Stories is far more than that in the minds of its creators and proprietors.  It will be far more than that in a future time that remains to be seen.  And the beginnings of that vision will unfold within this very blog.   It is our hope that you stick around, bookmark this site and come visit us time to time so you can see for yourself the metamorphosis that Great Stories takes on over time.  We will do our best to make this blog an interesting place for collectors and fans of all of the things we love so dearly to discuss, contemplate, and immerse ourselves in.

We don’t want to say too much about what the future has in store for Great Stories and our friends from all over, but we are excited to take this journey with you and see where it leads.  So, here is to a wonderful 2013 for everyone out there.  We hope that you have a year that matches the dreams we have for Great Stories.  Love, honor, and courage be your companions as we write new chapters of life together!

 

We’ll see you on the blog soon,

Chris (for the entire Great Stories team)