Serious or funny — what kind of film will Citizen George become?


Without fame and fortune, how might the prequels have turned out? Photo: JR Ralls
Without fame and fortune, how might the prequels have turned out? Photo: JR Ralls

Citizen George is slated to be a full-length independent film about a director who creates a hugely popular space opera film trilogy (read, George Lucas and Star Wars), only to end up releasing disappointing film prequels 20 years later.

So far, so basic, right? The catch here is that you have to choose the type of movie this fan film will end up being. Want a dramatic story about a serious film auteur and the perils of fame and fortune, like Citizen Kane? Drop some cash into the Drama tip jar. Want a wacky, time-travel comedy like Austin Powers? Slide your money into the Comedy tip jar.

Apple Watch wins our wrists and we party with Patrick Stewart on The CultCast


I got a pic with Patrick Stewart.  He was thrilled.
I got a pic with Patrick Stewart. He was thrilled.

This week: Why Apple Watch will win the wrist war, we snap a pic with Patrick Stewart but he’s not amused, the good and bad of a George Lucas-free Star Wars 7, Microsoft’s new HoloLens looks incredible, and we reveal some of our favorite apps and gear on an all-new Under Review.

Our thanks to Automatic for supporting this episode. Plug Automatic into your car’s data port, and their beautiful app will show you where you parked, learn how to save fuel with tips based on your actual driving, and even diagnose and turn off your car’s check engine light.


Full show notes after the click.

RediscoveredEmpire Strikes Back trailer features lost footage of Luke and Leia making out



The San Diego Comic Con has a rich history of giving us our first look at the best upcoming sci-fi movies. Case in point: on August 4th, 1979, Comic Con was where George Lucas showed an excited crowd the very first live-action trailer for The Empire Strikes Back.

For thirty-five years, this trailer was thought to be lost, but it has now popped back up online, and it features some footage from Empire that was left on the cutting room floor… including a very icky scene between Luke and Leia.

7 reasons we can’t wait for Star Wars: Episode VII



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.

Picture: Geeknutz

The return of practical effects

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.

Picture: TMZ

It’s being shot in 35mm

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.

Image: mannyisdead/deviantART

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).

The cast looks pretty great

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.


The Ancient Fear is a pretty cool name

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.

Jony Ive nabs lifetime achievement award from SFMOMA

"Will design for food." Photo: Apple

Sir Jonathan Ive’s list of accolades is already longer than any other contemporary designer, but he’ll be adding a new award to his mantle this fall with a lifetime achievement award coming from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The museum is in the midst of a massive Snøhetta-designed expansion but the absence of an HQ won’t stop it from honoring Jony’s work at the intersection of technology and liberal arts with the the 2014 Bay Area Treasure Award, says SFMOMA director Neal Benezra.