From Empire to bystander – George Lucas sells

Just when I got used to the idea that there would be no more Star Wars movies, George Lucas announces the sale of Lucasfilm to Walt Disney for $4 billion dollars, that there’s a new movie trilogy to come, plus more movies after that, and maybe more television series in the Star Wars universe too.

It sounds like someone’s playing a Jedi mind trick, but apparently not. That said, if Lucas/Disney say “gotcha” tomorrow or next week or even next year, I would probably laugh and wonder how I could be so gullible.

That’s because Lucas has NEVER hinted at selling Star Wars. He has held his precious universe of human and alien characters (that includes you, Ponda Baba/Walrus Man) close to his hip since 1977. The movies would be made up of two trilogies, he assured, not three as was previously rumoured. He didn’t want to create a franchise like Star Trek, which told the same stories week after week, he said. Aside from more stories he would tell on television, that was it for Star Wars on film.

Now he’s saying that it’s time for a new generation of filmmakers to take the reigns of Star Wars. While George had said HE would not continue the Star Wars movies, that didn’t mean the door wasn’t open to others. So he’s being “consistent,” he said.

Bull.

Clearly, Lucas had a change of heart. Was it the $4 billion price tag that changed his mind? The chance to crystallize his investment? Surely he has enough money alerady. What’s another $4 billion to him?

Is he disappointed that his prequel Star Wars trilogy wasn’t as big a hit with critics and fans as the original trilogy? Does he feel he messed up with Jar Jar and stuff like that? Is he looking to redeem Star Wars with the help of hot new directors like Zack Snyder and Matthew Vaughn? Vaughn recently stepped aside mysteriously from directing duties for the sequel of X-Men: First Class – maybe he’s been talking to George already?

Did Lucas’s lawyer mention the words “succession planning” recently that sent Lucas into a tizzy? Is he simply planning for the future of his FIRST child?

Or maybe he finally realized how cool it would be to see Jedi, Stormtroopers, Tusken Raiders, Jawas and, maybe even Boba Fett, on the silver screen again.

Disney has been splurging on acquisitions lately. Mickey Mouse obviously isn’t enough. It’s the home of Buzz Lightyear, Spider-Man, The Avengers, and it seems Lucas found the right home for his beloved Luke Skywalker and friends.

I am excited to see more Star Wars movies. Millions of us are and I’d be lying if I said otherwise. This morning I thought there was zero chance of that happening. This evening we already have a release date is 2015. Again, I have to wonder if this is a Jedi mind trick.

What excites me most is the chance for us to see what other creative minds can do in this amazing universe Lucas created. I think he, too, realized that someone else could take Star Wars to places he never could. That someone else could do Star Wars better than him. Though he says he’s looking forward to “a fan” like everyone else, that sounds like spin to me.

The truth is Lucas finally felt the Force for himself. That’s why he could finally “let go.”

Universal Monsters: welcome to Blu Ray

Just in time for Halloween, Universal Studios has delivered a first-class box set of their classic monster movies, dubbed The Essential Collection.

Dracula – check. Frankenstein – check.

The Invisible Man – my favourite monster movie ever! - check. The Mummy – check.

The Wolf Man – check. The Bride of Frankenstein – check.

The Phantom of the Opera – check. The Creature from the Black Lagoon – check.

I’ve watched almost all of them so far and I guarantee you these films have never looked as good as they do in this edition. Dracula and Frankenstein have received full restorations, but I found the picture quality of The Invisible Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon to be on par. Phantom of the Opera is the only one in colour and it looks glorious.

When you watch the special features and documentaries, which have been incorporated from previous releases, you will see how far the picture quality has come when  you compare the old clipos. Speaking of special features, you won’t see much in the way of new stuff, so that may disappoint some fans.

One of the few bonuses that makes up for the lack of new content is Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D! Yes, what is old is new again! This was one of the first 3D movies and, although slightly dizzying on Blu Ray, it’s quite a treat to be able to watch it in digital 3D. That’s right, no red and blue glasses required for this. It made me feel like I was watching it back in 1954 - just as the Fonz would have enjoyed it.

The Invisible Man is my all-time favourite monster movie and I have the action figure to prove it.

It would have been nice if Universal included the original 1925 silent version of Phantom. I hadn’t seen it so I made an effort to watch it recently and it is spectacular. It’s much scarier than the version included on this set starring Claude Rains. This would have been a great special feature to include. However, I’m happy that the documentary goes into some depth about this version, as well as all the others.

A tip for North American monster movie fans. This release is priced very high in Canada and the U.S. If I bought it from Amazon.ca, it would have cost me about $150, including taxes. However, I purchased a region free set on sale at Amazon UK. The total, including shipping, came to just over $53 Canadian. That is a heck of a discount! The digiback packaging is slightly different than the book packaging in North America, and you get all the special features except for one audio commentary on Dracula, which I didn’t think was a big loss. So if you want to save, buy this set from the UK. The UK also has a special “coffin” package you can’t get elsewhere. It looks very cool and I would have bought it, but my wife wouldn’t let me.