Hello, everyone! It’s One Of Us’ weekly article series, “The Weekly Wrap-Up.” Covering everything from film announcements to comic books, “The Weekly Wrap-Up” ensures that the biggest stories of the week are analyzed and discussed by our team of writers. This week we cover all the big announcements from D23, including Star Wars and Pixar’s upcoming slate of films.
Star Wars: Rogue One Cast Announced
Though there were many announcements regarding the future of Star Wars at D23, including the announcement of Star Wars-themed expansions to Disney’s theme parks and Colin Trevorrow as Episode IX’s director, one of the most exciting reveals was the cast for the new standalone Star Wars film, Rogue One. Rumors had previously circulated on who had been cast in the Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) directed film, but now it has been officially confirmed that Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed and Alan Tudyk will be starring in the standalone Star Wars prequel. The first film in Lucasfilm’s Star Wars stories series, Rogue One is set not long before the events of A New Hope and follows a diverse group of resistance fighters undertaking the dangerous mission to steal the plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star.
Along with the cast reveal, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy released a statement reiterating that though Rogue One will have the same aesthetic elements of the original Star Wars films; it would be telling a new story about the Galactic Civil War from the perspective of soldiers.
“Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe. It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know. Gareth is such an innovative director and I’m so excited to be working with him and the extraordinary ensemble cast he’s selected for Rogue One.”
Though it probably doesn’t have to be said, but damn, this is one hell of an impressive cast. Not only is Rogue One led by Jones, who’s recently coming off of her Academy-Award nominated performance in The Theory of Everything, but her co-stars include Ghost Dog, Ip Man, Hannibal Lecter and Wash Byrne. Who could possibly be better co-stars than that?
Rogue One will infiltrate theatres December 16, 2016.
The Lion Guard
Though initially announced several months ago, Disney has revealed more details surrounding their latest television series based off of their 1994 classic, The Lion King. The series follows Kion (Max Charles), the second cub of Simba (Rob Lowe) and Nala (Gabrielle Union), who takes it upon himself to assemble a team of animals to protect the Pride Lands. Characters from The Lion King and its television sequel, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, will be featured prominently throughout the animated series Most of the original film’s voice cast has been replaced, with the exception of James Earl Jones, who will reprise his role as Simba’s father, Mufasa, and Ernie Sabella, the original voice actor for Pumbaa, the warthog Simba meets after fleeing the Pride Lands. Along with the television series, which is set to air January 2016, The Lion Guard will receive its own primetime original movie entitled The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, which will air in November.
So Disney hasn’t exactly been very successful when it comes to making direct-to-video movies or animated series based off of their Renaissance-era films (The Little Mermaid II and Pocahontas: Journey to The New World being prime examples). However, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, though never coming close to the original in terms of quality, was fairly competent for a children’s movie. If The Lion Guard manages to be as entertaining as Simba’s Pride, then it’s fair to say that Disney Jr. might have a hit on their hands. Plus, it’s not The Lion King 1½. It has that going for it at least.
Toy Story 4 Plot Revealed
Toy Story is perhaps the most beloved franchise of the Pixar canon. It’s where the company started, helped guide them into the new millennium and gave them one of their biggest financial hits at the dawn of this current decade. Now, it looks like we’ll get to see more of Woody and the gang, despite the finality of the third entry. At D23, Pixar announced their full slate which included the plot for Toy Story 4, set to be released June 16 2017. This fourth story will feature Woody and Buzz searching for Bo Peep, who was briefly mentioned as being gone during the beginning of Toy Story 3. The film will be written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack and has been described as a “romantic comedy.” John Lasseter will return to direct along with co-director Josh Cooley and voice actors Tom Hanks, Tim Allen & Don Rickles have signed on to return.
Frankly, I can’t muster much of a reaction for this beyond a disappointed sigh. I love the Toy Story films as much as the next guy. Toy Story was the first film I could remember even seeing in a theater as a young boy and the other two were great continuations that dealt with the concept of being a child’s plaything and how important that is for a child growing up. This just seems so unnecessary, especially given that plot line and how it removes the essential heart of the series that was being a child’s toy. The fact that Bo Peep was missing in 3 and Woody acknowledged it with a saddened aside was a subtle yet powerful moment that showed just how much change had happened in the years between installments. Now, she’ll just be re-added to the mix just for the sake of continuing a franchise that didn’t need to keep going in feature length form. If anything, this could have been the plot for one of the innocuous yet cute Toy Story TV specials Pixar has been producing for ABC. At least then it would sting less than a feature length continuation. Well, at least Annie Potts will be getting work again.