Are we excited about Star Wars: Episode VII? You bet!
For long-time Star Wars fans, 2015’s upcoming Episode VII is shaping up to be the movie the prequels should’ve been.
Narrowing down our excitement about the new trilogy is a task worthy of the most highly trained Jedi, but we’ve tried our best. Without further ado, then, here are the (appropriately enough) seven things we’re most excited about seeing in Star Wars: Episode VII.
The series is back with someone who "gets" Star Wars
It feels weird to suggest that George Lucas, the guy to whom we should be eternally grateful for bringing us Star Wars in the first place, doesn’t "get" his creation. Looking at Star Wars Episodes I-III, however, it would be difficult to argue that he’s totally in sync with what people love about the original trilogy. With all its mentions of trade embargoes and tax deductibles, the pre-credits crawl for Episode I reads more like Lucas filing his 1040 form than the setup for an exciting movie. Things only got worse from there.
That’s not to suggest there weren’t Star Wars moments in the prequels, but they were few and far between. Episode VII director J.J. Abrams, on the other hand, was 11 when the first Star Wars came out: the perfect age to be well and truly hooked. That fanboyishness comes across in everything we’ve seen of the movie so far.
I write about tech for a living, and I’m a massive video game fan, but give me practical special effects over CGI any day of the week! Fortunately it seems that the makers of Episode VII feel exactly the same way, since recent set pictures leaked by TMZ show a giant, piglike creature puppet, supposedly manned by no fewer than five puppeteers.
Is this what all the aliens in the new saga are going to be like? We hope so. Sure, puppets come with their own limitations, but these always seemed to inspire filmmakers to come up with creative solutions rather than falling back on making everything look like a video game you never get a turn on. If J.J. Abrams limited himself to only technology that would have been available in 1983, I would be more than happy. And I think many fans feel the same way.
Of all the un-Lucas moves so far, the news that Star Wars: Episode VII is being shot on 35mm film — something not seen since 1999’s Episode I — fills us with *ahem* a new hope. Digital photography may be getting better all the time, but there can be very few who are going to be crying themselves to sleep over the fact that Episode VII will further embrace the original trilogy by being shot on the same 35mm. Combined with practical effects, this could erase much of the pain of the increasingly video game-looking Episodes II and III. Maybe it’ll even kick-start a bigger trend.
The supporting characters are going to get a bit of space
This one’s not entirely based on Episode VII, but it’s good to know that the wisdom gleaned from several years of ultra-successful Marvel movies is being applied to the Star Wars universe. There are very few sci-fi universes richer than the Star Wars one, but up until now most of that character development has been done in novels, comic books and video games.
With spinoff movies featuring Yoda, Boba Fett and other supporting characters, we could finally see the Star Wars movie mythology catch up with the extended universe stuff. When you consider we’ve been seeing Star Wars merchandise since the late '70s — and only a fraction of it has ever been acknowledged on-screen — there’s more than enough material to translate.
Seeing Luke, Leia and (hopefully) Han back in action
There was a surprising lack of fan service in the Star Wars prequels. It wouldn’t have made sense to include Han Solo or Luke Skywalker given the time frame the movies were supposed to take place in, but the prequels lacked the nostalgic quality we’re expecting to see when Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and (if his leg can recover in time) Harrison Ford step back on screen in Episode VII. Any one of those moments alone will likely get a bigger reaction than anything from the prequels (unless Disney goes back in and adds a deleted scene of Jar Jar Binks being brutally murdered).
No Star Wars movie ever featured Oscar-worthy performances (although Alec Guinness did manage to make his lines sound like Shakespeare in the original). We've seen good actors in the series over the years but, sadly, George Lucas pretty much killed the spirit of any halfway decent thespian he featured in the prequels — with Liam Neeson even temporarily calling it quits on acting after his bad experience in Episode I.
We're thinking the same won’t be true of Episode VII, whose director seems more at ease with actors than Lucas ever has. The additions of Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o and Game of Thrones standout Gwendoline Christie augment what is already looking a stellar cast.
While I never got the hatred for The Phantom Menace's title, there’s no doubting it wasn’t the most inspired of names. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were even less so: Those are the kind of titles that could have been created by some kind of Star Wars name generator online.
The Ancient Fear, while not necessarily the final confirmed title for Episode VII, is a definite step in the right direction. It shows that director J.J. Abrams is embracing the kind of pulpy, Buck Rogers spirit that made the original trilogy work so well. It’s also a great name to set up a whole new trilogy.
From personal computers and smartphones, to tablets and wearables, half the fun of following Apple is trying to figure out where it's going to go next.
Looking back through the Cult of Mac archives, a lot of the rumors we've brought to light over the years did hint at innovations that eventually found their ways into the sweaty hands of excited customers. But every once in a while a rumor comes along that's so ridiculous it can't possibly be true. And more often than not, that's exactly the case.
Check out our gallery for our picks of top Apple rumors that turned out to be totally wide of the mark.
Apple TV is still awaiting its apparently game-centric overhaul, but the Apple TV this rumor’s about is the long-awaited Apple television set we’ve heard reports of for years now. Of all the reports we’ve heard, the most oddly specific was one from analyst Peter Misek. He claimed Apple would make a television “display, gaming center, media hub, computer, home automator, etc.” that would retail for $1,250, bring in 30 percent gross margins, feature IGZO panels from Sharp, and be called the iPanel. Oh yes, and Apple was building 5 million of them in May 2012.
Of course, absolutely none of this wound up happening. Maybe the shipments sunk on their way over to Cupertino?
Disney is an entertainment giant. But with assets valued at a total of just (!) $81 billion, Apple could probably snap it up with the money Tim Cook uses to wedge his office door open with. There are people who will swear up and down that an Apple/Disney buyout makes perfect sense — particularly given Steve Jobs’ history as a major Disney shareholder.
Recently Francis McInerney, a consultant at North River Ventures, called the deal “frighteningly obvious” and said that “the logic is so great this could happen tomorrow.” Rumors of an Apple/Disney merger go back at least as far as 1999 when it was reported that Disney planned to acquire both Apple and Pixar in a $12 billion stock swap, with Steve Jobs being ordained CEO of the mega-company. Since then, this rumor has come back with surprising regularity — although it’s unknown exactly why Apple would be interested in running theme parks and making animated movies.
According to Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White earlier this year, Apple’s busy working on an “iRing" finger ring we’ll use to control our Apple devices with. The suggestion was so preposterous that even the usually poker-faced Tim Cook cracked a joke about it.
The reality is that much of the “digital hub” functionality that an iRing would have brought will likely be carried out by the iWatch when it finally surfaces. For those who really wanted this rumor to be true, however, never fear: several companies have created their own third-party iRings to bring this rumor to life.
The iPhone 6 is getting Dark Knight-style sonar mapping
At the end of Chris Nolan’s 2008 movie The Dark Knight there's a scene in which Batman uses Lucius Fox’s sonar concept to turn every cellphone in Gotham City into a huge sonar-based live map in order to find The Joker. Back in 2012 it was rumored that Apple was interested in applying that same technology to its then-a-gleam-in-Apple’s-eye iPhone 6 handset. The tech would allow Apple to integrate audio sensors into its displays, which could detect the proximity of objects to your iPhone: interrupting your podcast app to alert you that a fast-moving large object is approaching you, for example.
Now obviously it’s a bit difficult to disprove this report given that the iPhone 6 itself is still technically a rumor. This one was also based on an Apple patent, which shows that someone in Cupertino at least took it seriously enough to file the necessary paperwork. However, we’ve heard nothing about it since, while more and more details of the iPhone 6 have been leaking on what seems like a daily basis. Maybe one to chalk up for the unsubstantiated rumor pile!
Which is a real shame because if Apple could’ve figured out a way to license Morgan “Lucius Fox” Freeman’s voice for a next generation Siri the combo could have been a total crowd pleaser.
Greedy rumor-mongers didn’t even wait until Tim Cook started running the show at Apple to begin spreading rumors of his plans to quit. Back in 2010, investor gossip site Fly On The Wall wrongly suggested that Cook was off to join HP as its new CEO. (Gullible investors actually led to Apple stock dropping 20 points as a result.) Now that Cook is CEO it’s a bit more difficult to make those kinds of reports convincing, so the narrative has instead changed to suggest the Apple board is unhappy with Cook’s performance and plans to drop him at the earliest possible opportunity. Well, plenty of opportunities have presented themselves, but Cook’s still hanging on in there.
Maybe (shock horror!) people have realized he’s actually doing a pretty great job.
There have been rumors of Retina iMacs practically since the day Apple announced Retina display was coming to iOS in 2010. Most of them have been complete nonsense, and Mac fans have had year after year of seeing their ultra-high-res hopes dashed whenever Apple would announce a new Mac product. Unlike pretty much every other item on this list, however, it looks like a Retina iMac may finally be happening, courtesy of recently discovered code in Apple's OS X 10.10 Yosemite beta. But maybe that’s just the optimism speaking...
Apple teams up with a super-wealthy rapper? It’ll never happen. Okay, so that’s probably what we would have written before Apple acquired the services of Dr. Dre courtesy of its $3 billion Beats deal earlier this year. That’s not the rumor we’re referring to though.
Back in the heady days of 2008, it was briefly reported that Apple was teaming with none other than Jay Z to launch a brand new music label. The “news” came off the back of Jay leaving his role of president at Def Jam, and was based on "a high-up person attached to Jay.” There was supposedly a business model and everything, but in the end this news lasted less time than Jay Z’s Black Album retirement.
Five years later, Samsung shelled out big bucks for a Jay Z exclusive promotion. Maybe someone at Samsung HQ was reading through old Apple rumors that day...
Over the years the reports of Apple's death have been greatly exaggerated.
According to the always entertaining Apple Death Knell Counter, Apple has been declared dead no less than 65 times since April, 1995. Usually the attempt of journalists looking to pick up click-throughs/sell books/make a fool of themselves, the disease can often manifest in business analysts, other CEOs, and generally anyone who should know better. A recent example? Trip Chowdhry, writing for CNBC, who sagely noted that Apple must come up with its debut wearables product within 60 days or it will perish. "It will take years for Apple's $130 billion in cash to vanish, but it will become an irrelevant company ... it will become a zombie, if they don't come up with an iWatch.” See what we mean?
Sadly these rumors won’t go anywhere, regardless of what AAPL stock prices do. Hey, at least they make amusing reading after the fact.
When Disney bought Marvel Studios, they gained a huge backlog of intellectual properties and stories to mine. The Avengers and the various supporting live-action superhero flicks like Ironman and Thor were just the beginning, as we can see from this new trailer (below) for upcoming animated adventure, Big Hero 6, based on the comic of the same name.
“Big Hero 6 [is] an action comedy adventure about brilliant robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada,” says the Disney press release, “who finds himself in the grips of a criminal plot that threatens to destroy the fast-paced, high-tech city of San Fransokyo. With the help of his closest companion – a robot named Baymax – Hiro joins forces with a reluctant team of first-time crime fighters on a mission to save their city.”
Ever since Disney revealed its grand Infinity gaming universe, we’ve been wondering when Marvel-themed playsets would arrive — or even if they would. Disney bought Marvel in 2009, and it made sense the characters would show up: Infinity would be the perfect setting to flaunt the newly subsumed superheroes. Problem was, nary a whiff of Marvel could be found at Infinity’s January 2013 launch.
While movie streaming applications like Netflix and Hulu Plus remain popular for what they have to offer, Disney has just released their own take on the genre. Disney Movies Anywhere is Disney’s latest application, giving users the ability to access an extensive library of Disney movies on the go. With plenty of great options and features available will Disney Movies Anywhere find its way on your devices.
Take a look at Disney Movies Anywhere and find out what you think.
This is a Cult Of Mac video review of the application “Disney Movies Anywhere” brought to you by Joshua Smith of “TechBytes W/Jsmith.”
Anyone who’s done their time babysitting knows the pain of kids wanting to watch the same Disney movie over, and over, and over, all in one day. To make Little Mermaid marathons that much easier/bearable, Disney’s got a new iOS app that lets you watch all your Disney, Pixar and Marvel movies from anywhere without using iTunes.
Apple updated its Apple TV offering this morning to include new channels for Major League Soccer and Disney Junior. The new channels aren’t bound to raise much excitement from average consumers, but sports fans and parents of young kids are sure to enjoy the new additions.
MLS allows soccer fans to hookup to their MLS Live subscription to watch live games across the country, while also keep tabs on scores and standings. There are a number of soccer-themed videos that can be enjoyed for free, and you can watch highlights of your favorite team via the Club Channels.
The new Disney Junior app provides live access to Disney Junior with a cable subscription, as well as access to Disney Junior TV shows on demand, so you can load up an episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates for your rugrat while you rush around getting ready.
Just after CES wound down back in January, I was part of a (relatively) small group of journalists and bloggers present at the Disney media event that revealed Disney’s Infinity game universe to the world. Problem was, I had no clue why I’d been invited, as all the hoopla was about the console game. Toward the end, I bumped into Bill Roper, Disney’s product development chief, and asked why I was there as I gulped down a delicious, miniature milkshake.
His answer was cryptic. But the reason I’d been invited has just made its entrance onto the app store today — it’s the Disney Infinity: Toy Box iPad app, a virtual sandbox mashup that allows anyone with an iPad to take a variety of Disney characters and play with them in different Disney worlds. And it’s free — for now.
This might just be the kind of rumor only a Hutt could love. According to self-professed “intergalactic” news site Jedi News, the Apple TV could soon get a new channel dedicated entirely to Star Wars on-demand programming.
Apple has today rolled out a new Apple TV update that adds yet more apps to the $99 set-top box. As expected, music video streaming service Vevo is part of the mix, as are the Weather Channel and the Smithsonian, and two new apps from Disney.