MCC Live-Tweeting: That Final Trailer for “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker”


Threepio jacked in Matrix-style, trying to be among the first 300 to see the new trailer and get misty-eyed.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last spring my wife and I had the sincere pleasure of watching the first full-length trailer Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in its premiere airing at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, surrounded by thousands of fellow fans:

The crowd watched as one. We cheered as one. We whooped and hollered as one. Together we held our breath in the seconds before the subtitle was revealed to the entire world at that very moment after years of speculation. Together we got it. Tens of thousands of voices cried out in Chicago with the interjections and expletives of their choosing. To say nothing of the reactions of the Viewers at Home.

Whether the setting is a state-of-the-art theater or an extra-large flea market, there’s something about a geek harmonic convergence that convention showrunner fiat and any number of internet trolls can’t blast away.

There was no convention to attend for the new trailer’s premiere tonight during Monday Night Football halftime, unless you count the game itself. I doubt they showed the trailer live at the stadium, but who knows. No, for this event I was at home at the same time as millions of other viewers, online and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. It wasn’t nearly the same kind of experience as the previous trailer, especially since I was trying to watch Black Lightning when it finally premiered around 9:50 pm EDT, give or take a few minutes, right in the middle of a key development with the Pierce family.

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Photos #4: Rising with Skywalkers

Colbert Abrams Kennedy!

Our host Stephen Colbert., director J.J. Abrams, and producer Kathleen Kennedy, streaming to us live from a galaxy far, far away.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…

The centerpiece of the entire weekend, its biggest event, its most anticipated breaking news story, was the long-awaited first trailer for Star Wars Episode IX, as yet un-subtitled when the convention began. The trailer’s release was scheduled as part of an hour-long presentation which would star director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy, at the very least. Additional unnamed guests were promised. It was fair to assume these surprise pop-ins would be the big, big-name costars from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, almost none of whom were on the show’s main guest list.

Everyone wanted in on that event. Everyone wanted to be part of that live magic. Everyone wanted to count their first viewing of the trailer among their greatest SWCC 2019 memories. Not everyone got their wish.

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The Heartland Film Festival 2016 Preview Night

Heartland Film Festival!

Tickets to their Preview Night were $5 and included fine table settings and miniature buffet offerings packed with foodie-approved flavor. Strongly recommended.

Since 1992 Indianapolis has held its own celebration of cinema with the Heartland Film Festival, a ten-day, multi-theater marathon every October of documentaries, shorts, narrative features, and animated works made across multiple continents from myriad points of the human experience, usually with an emphasis on uplift and positivity. Several have aired previously at other festivals; at least one will be its their American theatrical debuts; I think there may even be a world premiere, but my notes are sketchy on that point. For the 25th annual event, dozens of volunteers screened 2,535 submissions from dozens of countries and narrowed them down to 135 entrants, several of which will be vying for official festival prizes.

Last month my wife and I had our second annual date night attending Heartland’s Preview Night at the Athenaeum Theatre downtown, at which the staff announced their official selections and competition finalists, and released this year’s schedule in a very nice, silver booklet for their milestone anniversary. For said occasion, the Festival will also include encore presentations of entrants from previous years such as Rudy and Lars and the Real Girl.

Among the numerous films coming to Indianapolis in October, the following is a partial list of what jumped out at one or both of us, some of whose stars will be in town appearing at their screenings. If we can make time to see one of these during one of our busiest months of the year, the results will be reported here on MCC. Trailers are enclosed where existent.

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The Only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Shot-by-Shot Trailer Analysis You’ll Need

The Force Awakens!

John Boyega. Daisy Ridley. STAR WARS. Canon. Cope.

In the past 24 hours eight hundred million other internet users have posted their thoughts on the all-new Official Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer that premiered Monday night during ESPN’s Monday Night Football and was released online seconds later for those of us who don’t do sports. Hardcore fans have devoted every hour since then freezing every frame, enhancing every pixel, scrutinizing every living being or moving object, collating the data, and sharing results in hopes of extrapolating the plots of the next six Star Wars films, or at least guessing which toys they’ll buy next.

Now…it’s my turn.

Right this way for the greatest film study that matters only to me ever!

The Heartland Film Festival 2015 Preview Night

Heartland FF Snacks!

Low-cost admission, free hors d’oeuvre, big-screen trailers, a chance to support the arts and to hang out with adults. Tonight had all the best qualities we needed in a diversion from the week’s events.

Since 1992 Indianapolis has held its own celebration of cinema with the Heartland Film Festival, a ten-day, multi-theater marathon every October of documentaries, shorts, narrative features, and a few animated works made across multiple continents from myriad points of the human experience. Several have aired previously at other festivals; three will be making their American theatrical debuts; two have elected Heartland as the site for their world premieres.

In the early years Heartland concentrated on works of pure uplift and positivity, while today their keyword is “transformative” as the breadth and technical proficiency of entries has grown by leaps and bounds. For the 24th annual event, dozens of volunteers screened 1,756 submissions from 96 countries and together culled them to a more manageable 175+ official selections, several of which will be vying for official festival prizes.

My wife and I been fans of the Heartland concept for years, but so far we’ve shamefully managed to attend just one, a 2011 screening of Emilio Estevez’ The Way at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Last May, Anne signed up for Heartland’s mailing list at their Indy Pop Con booth. This week she was notified of tonight’s special preview presentation at the Athenaeum Theatre downtown, at which the Heartland staff announced their official selections and competition finalists, and released the 99%-finalized schedule for 2015. We had the time, we sorely needed to get out of the house, we’d been hoping for a chance to jump into the Heartland experience, and we loved the idea of having more information at our fingertips about our future viewing options.

Among the numerous films coming to Indianapolis in October, the following is a partial list of what jumped out at one or both of us, either during the presentation or in the detailed festival guides they handed us as we exited. Trailers and links to official sites are provided where available. We’d like to see at least a few of these, time and location permitting. Naturally the results will be reported here on MCC.

Right this way for titles, trailers, and more!

Space Makes Every Movie Better

The Martian!

Matt Damon had no idea how far he’d have to drive to track down Minnie Driver.

I’d never heard of Andy Weir’s novel The Martian until the first trailer for director Ridley Scott’s movie adaptation surprised the internet last week. I had no idea what to expect, and the name “Ridley Scott” told me things could go either way. Fortunately what I saw seemed somewhat different enough from Interstellar, Contact, Armageddon, and all those ’90s Martian disaster films (Mission to Mars, Red Planet, Total Recall, Mars Attacks!) that I considered myself somewhat impressed and a bit hopeful that some of the reviews end with hyperbole such as “Ridley Scott’s boldest vision of the future since Alien and Blade Runner!” or “Isn’t it time we forgave him for The Counselor?”.

That was my first thought. My second thought regarding this trailer in which Matt Damon, super-genius, defies expectations and accomplishes nigh-impossible doctorate-level feats under improbable circumstances while everyone else stands back and watches in befuddlement…my second thought is we’re about to see the long-awaited sequel Will Hunting, Good King of NASA. I don’t think I’m complaining, though. In fact, maybe more movie characters should buy tickets to go see the Final Frontier up close and rake in a few extra hundred billion bucks worldwide. Or on an interplanetary scale, even.

Right this way for Pitches! In! SPAAACE!

Five Days, Five Big Trailers, Four Sequels and a Reboot

Star Wars: the Force Awakens!

When blockbuster trailers come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions!

It’s been busy, busy times these past five days in the world of watching previews for mega-budget movies that won’t be here for a while, speculating on same, prejudging them all and assigning our Tomatometer ratings in advance so our opinions won’t be skewed later by the movies themselves. If you haven’t see all five of the latest hopeful super-sized moneymakers, now’s your chance to catch up and revisit worlds we haven’t seen in a long time. There’s a world where dinosaurs are reborn and man is the least dangerous game; a world where “hero” is a word they keep using, but I do not think it means what they think it means; and that one rediscovered world with the lightsabers and the Force and whatnot.

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The Super Bowl XLIX Movie Spot Roundup


George Clooney and director Brad Bird welcome you to the World of Tomorrow!

Longtime MCC readers know sports aren’t really my thing, and Super Bowl XLIX is no exception. My wife and I spent the evening dining out, trying new foods, and wandering a deserted downtown Indianapolis to our heart’s content with virtually no other humans around. And then I came home and waited patiently for the internet to tell me which new movie spots I missed.

Please join me in sampling the following summer action blockbuster EXPLOSIONS-filled mini-teaser trailers that apparently aired during the Big Game. Leaving out Seth MacFarlane’s Ted 2 (bleah) and the one infamous gargantuan big-budget slashfic adaptation (zero intention of watching a single trailer for it, let alone the movie), the internet notified me of six different contenders that may or may not make zillions this year at the box office:

Right this way for potential movie awesomeness! Plus a very special party-ruining appearance by the Nationwide Kid!

The Great Comics/Sci-Fi Invasion of the Fall 2014 TV Season

Grant Gustin IS The Flash!

Grant Gustin stares down the competition as the Flash, who hopefully won’t spend ten seasons moping and being called “The Red and Yellow Blur”.

With Community, Revolution, and Almost Human cancelled, I’m finding myself with extra holes in my schedule for the fall 2014 TV season. Mind you, I’m not interested in watching three hours’ worth every night. Even two-hour TV time blocks make me a little edgy and take time away from other activities (e.g., MCC, sleeping). Apparently I’m in luck — four of the five broadcast networks are launching new fantasy/sci-fi series geared for anyone who’s not interested in crime-drama franchises. (The fifth network, CBS, boasts a lineup whose star rookies will be their third NCIS and their fourth CSI. Yes, really. Not making these up. At most, both should handily restock the internet’s dwindling supply of CBS punchlines.)

But what’s a guy like me to watch? Oh, decisions, decisions. The networks released previews this week for the following newcomers, a few of which are based on comic books from my collection:

Right this way for super-heroes, demon hunters, and America’s next instant cancellations!

Will “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Be the Best Even-Numbered Film in the Series?


Anyone wanna tell them “No”?

Today marked the premiere of the first full-length trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the next entry in the apocalyptic series that’s so far been rebooted twice for theaters, this time with a bit more success. The new one comes from director Matt Reeves, who previously tinkered with disaster in Cloverfield; features MOCAP king Andy Serkis once again as Caesar, lord of the apes and probably their best public speaker; and includes human roles for the likes of The Gary Oldman, Fringe‘s Kirk Acevedo, and Jason Clarke, who was Zero Dark Thirty‘s friendly interrogator but seems much more stressed out here in this trailer than he was on the war front.

This way for the trailer and my pet theory about the numbering…

“American Blogger” Trailer Spells Doom for Future Tomatometer Rating

"American Blogger" PosterTwo weekends ago saw the low-key, zero-promotion release of a professionally polished trailer for a new documentary called American Blogger, in which a young filmmaker chronicles his forty-state road trip to visit forty of his blogger wife’s blogger associates. After receiving single-digit daily traffic in its first week of release, last weekend it soared to the kind of near-viral status that every blogger dreams of attaining. I wish I could say this sudden fame was due to the trailer’s proud, heart-swelling representation of an entire internet culture. Unfortunately, it was the other kind of fame.

In a world where millions vie for the attention of billions and the most innocent art projects can veer radically out of control when we least expect it, one young filmmaker would experience an apocalyptic shift that would thrust him into the burning limelight, shatter his innocent perceptions, pulverize his foundations, and transform his life retroactively from birth onward for all eternity. Along the way he would solidify old friendships, make new enemies, suffer hard choices at one crossroad after another, hold his ground against the forces of evil, stand on the bleeding edge between order and chaos, find himself the last repository of hope in a world gone mad, and scream “Vendetta!” at the infinite blood-streaked skies as the rage of a million exploding suns threatened to consume him from within.

Or something like that, the way his trailer narrator tells it.

This way for an entry that will change the way you see an entire industry!

The Super Bowl XLVIII Movie Trailer Explosion Roundup

I’d rather not spend my evening typing a thousand words that no one will read because they’re drunk, hung over, or avoiding the internet’s two-pronged takeover by Super Bowl XLVIII and #EsuranceSave30. (If you don’t know what that is, you probably don’t want to know. You have to be a greedy resident of the continental U.S., a registered Twitter user, and not opposed to irritating the heck out of all your followers for the chance to win bucks. I’d rather not perpetuate that, beyond what damage I’ve already done there for purely comedic purposes.)

To that end, please enjoy the following summer action blockbuster EXPLOSIONS-filled trailers that either aired during the Big Game, or had tiny teasers aired for them during the Big Game that directed fans to jump online for the full-length extravaganza. (Compatibility warning: if these aren’t cleared for viewing outside the U.S. or on smartphones, my sincerest apologies. Hopefully a quick search would turn them up at other locations.)

Leaving out Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, the internet notified me of four viable specimens that may or may not make zillions this year at the box office. Enjoy!

1. 30-second teaser for Transformers: Age of Extinction, in which Mark Wahlberg has replaced Shia LeBeouf as the guy who runs away from killer robots. But the image of Autobots riding Dinobots will rule the hearts and minds of fans for the next two days.

This way for more ACTION…

Tips for Running a Movie Theater for Fun and Profit

MPAA spoofThe last time my family went to the theater, the ads that ran from the film’s scheduled showtime until the moment the feature presentation began spanned over twenty minutes. Many of the ads were movie trailers, but not all of them. Ads for new cars, smartphones, TV shows, and soft drinks are routine pre-show entertainment while you’re settling into your seat, mentally preparing yourself for temporary phone deprivation, swapping notes with your companions, and consuming your snack too early. Even when it’s ostensibly showtime, the commercial parade isn’t over yet, because a lot of manufacturers want a moment of your time, in exchange for keeping your theater in business.

According to a Hollywood Reporter article this week, the National Assocation of Theater Owners have decided that movie studios are taking advantage of your presence, and it’s all their fault that your time is being wasted. Obviously the owners can’t simply run fewer spots, because then here comes the poorhouse. To that end, NATO members are demanding an amended guideline limiting trailers to a maximum of two minutes, slashed from the current 2½-minute boundary.

We can infer from various statements in that THR article that owners believe this will reduce the length of the pre-show, instead of giving them latitude to run even more ads that eat up the same allotted minutes. They believe that it would be harder for shorter trailers to give away the entire movie, apparently forgetting that most romantic comedies can be boiled down to their primal essence in twelve seconds flat. They seem to think the current limit is a recent abuse of creative power, somehow unaware that trailers in the ’40s and other nostalgic decades could occasionally run well past the three-minute mark, sometimes spooling entire scenes instead of mere quick-cut snippets.

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Will “Man of Steel” Be the First Good Superman Film Since Jimmy Carter Was in Office?

Henry Cavill, Superman, Man of SteelYou’ve seen the newest trailer for Man of Steel that was just released Tuesday evening, right? The one labeled as “Trailer #3”, with lots more Jor-El in it? At least once?

No? Really? No one mentioned it in your social circles? Do you believe in watching movie trailers online? Is your Internet connection above 56K? You don’t hate super-hero movies, do you? Not that I wouldn’t respect that, mind you. My oldest relatives aren’t super-hero fans, either. I’ve included it at the end of this entry, just in case. See, I even saved you a few seconds of Googling.

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“White House Down” Trailer: Starring the Jean Grey of American Landmarks

Roland Emmerich, "White House Down"We saw the White House blow up in Independence Day. We saw it blow up again in 2012. As I type this it’s being blown up yet again in theaters in Olympus Has Fallen. Add your own memories here of the White House’s repetitive history of exploding again and again and again at the movies, whether at the hands of terrorists, invaders, or bad weather.

Now add one more death scene to the list, as director Roland Emmerich, the White House’s arch-nemesis, has directed yet another film in which the poor, beleaguered establishment takes a discouraging beating for entertainment’s sake. In the trailer for Emmerich’s new film White House Down, the President’s workspace is targeted neither by aliens nor by Mother Nature. This time the bombs are coming from inside the country:

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If Other Classic “Star Trek” Villains Received Power Upgrades for Future Sequels

Benedict Cumberbatch, "Star Trek Into Darkness"Most of you have already seen the new “announcement trailer” for Star Trek: Into Darkness, apparently heralding the real teaser trailer scheduled for release on December 17th. Internet fans continue debating the exact identity of the villain played by TV’s Sherlock, the inimitable Benedict Cumberbatch. The early rumor-mongers assumed he was Khan, but the more recent consensus is the superhuman Gary Mitchell from the original series’ second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. 1966 special effects limited Mitchell’s displays of power, but if that’s SuperCumberbatch’s true identity, then today’s cinematic tools have upgraded him to the same weight class as General Zod, Hancock, and the Chronicle teens. I look forward to seeing him punch the Enterprise out of orbit, and to watching the new Captain Kirk devise something besides an instant avalanche to end their rebooted confrontation.

After Mitchell’s ostensible facelift and the redesigned Romulans who menaced our new crew in director J.J. Abrams’ first Trek film, it’s safe to assume other classic Trek villains are vying for their turn in line to be extracted from mothballing and upconverted for future sequels. The possibilities are many:

* Apollo: The alien in a toga from “Who Mourns for Adonais?” who pretended to be the original Greek god impressed me when I watched the episode as an eight-year-old. In today’s world, imagine Our Heroes taking on an Apollo straight out of the new Clash of the Titans, all muscles and bone-crunching sound effects and flared nostrils and blinding lens-flare armor. Considering that Luke Evans had so little screen time in the Titans role (his one big scene was deleted and made him look petulant), he could reprise the role here and enjoy actual screen time for a change, not to mention superpowers.

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“World War Z” First Trailer: Raise Your Hand If You Recognize a Single Moment from the Book

I wouldn’t call myself a horror fan anymore, but I dabble in minuscule doses under controlled circumstances, if I sense some sort of aesthetic at work whose quality isn’t measured by how many sanguinary “epic kills” are racked up for our carnival amazement. I read Max Brooks’ debut novel World War Z a while back and thought it was an exemplary exception. Styled as an assembled “oral history”, WWZ was a patchwork of short stories about human perseverance (or lack thereof at times) in the face of standard undead onslaught, attached to a Big Picture framework you could discern if you paid attention to the little details scattered throughout its varied first-person narratives. Brooks had a remarkably dexterous way of shifting across a full spectrum of cosmopolitan viewpoints across continents, at exploring different levels of survival competence ranging from blind luck to militarily prepared, and especially at extrapolating how governments other than ours might respond to such a nightmarish, supernatural threat. (Ever wonder what extremes China might consider? Brooks does.) Content extremity was kept to a minimum in most sections, opting instead for a more well-rounded, humanizing approach to the storytellers. It wasn’t Frank Peretti, but it wasn’t torture porn or splatterpunk, either.

This mosaic of unrelated characters has apparently now been funneled into the major motion picture World War Z starring Brad Pitt as the Main Character the book didn’t really have, Mireille Enos from The Killing demoted from failed detective to The Wife, and some cute defenseless children, because Paramount Pictures is reportedly aiming for a PG-13 rating so everyone can conscientiously keep a Blu-Ray copy on the family-blockbuster shelf next to Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.

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“Iron Man 3” First Trailer: Destruction, Desolation, Mandarin

The first trailer for Iron Man 3 is here at last. Writer/director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, among several other sharp action-film scripts) takes Tony Stark and friends into their explosion-filled darkest hour, while Sir Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce show up in clips full of foreboding menace.


Trailer #2 for “The Hobbit” Starring Dr. Watson and Doctor Who

Longtime fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy who’ve been watching last December’s two-minute teaser for The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey on an endless loop every day for the past nine months can finally close that browser and tune in for the new, full-length trailer that was released to the Internet on Wednesday. It’s comforting to see our old friends Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Andy Serkis all returned and on point, but I’m personally more interested in the new tidbits:

I’m delighted to see Martin Freeman portraying astounded exasperation with his usual finesse. Whether as Tim from The Office, Arthur Dent from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or the average-minded John Watson from Sherlock, Freeman specializes in men who can’t believe what he sees in the other men that surround them. To his credit, his Bilbo Baggins (at least in these scant samples) seems to retain at least a smidgen of confidence in stressful situations, a trait that his adopted nephew struggled to inherit in the trilogy.

New to our eyes this time around: Sylvester McCoy, erstwhile Doctor Who, as Radagast the Brown, a wizard colleague of Gandalf and Saruman who was name-checked in passing in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original novel. I remember reading it in seventh-grade English class, where our teacher Mrs. Price gave us extra credit if we completed our Hobbit homework and quizzes in green ink. I don’t recall Radagast’s name at all, but I’ll take everyone else’s word for it. Here his role has been broadened to compensate for his complete deletion from the LOTR trilogy, and set far apart from those other, mainstream sellout wizards by donning the world’s craziest winter hat and possibly threatening to invoke a divination method certain to make the Middle-Earth Humane Society cry.

Also integral to my seventh-grade Hobbit experience: the three trolls! I was hoping one of my favorite scenes from the book would be included in the first movie, instead of being relegated to The Hobbit Part 7 or however long this series ends up.

I’m especially curious to see more of Richard Armitage’s version of dwarf’s dwarf Thorin Oakenshield, the new face of 21st-century dwarfdom — to say nothing of his dozen companions. Compared to these nimble warriors, in hindsight Gimli son of Gloin looks like Volstagg the Voluminous.

You’ll also note the younger, cleaner Gollum who’s a little less sinister in his threats of hobbit cannibalism. Little does Prequel Gollum know he’s sparring with an opponent who’s a little less highstrung and morose than Frodo was. I don’t look forward to the moment when crafty ol’ Bilbo absconds with his Precious and shatters his heart.

In the grand tradition of The Return of the King and its endless parade of endings, Warner Bros.’ official movie site offers a total of five different versions of this trailer that end with different scenes, each one amusing in its own right, four of them at Bilbo’s expense. Laugh while you can, pesky dwarven bullies. Over the next three years, Bilbo will show you all.

Full Trailer for “The Master” Offers More Narrative Tidbits, Still No Mention of “Battlefield Earth”

I was previously intrigued by the first and second teaser trailers for The Master, the new film from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, whose psycho-oil-magnate character study There Will Be Blood remains indelible and haunting even though I only saw it the one time in its theatrical release. The Master is an alleged roman à clef, or perhaps a mere parable, about the introduction of Scientology to the masses by one man who at first glance doesn’t quite appear to be Moses or Mohammed.

A longer, less vague full-length trailer is now available, with new shots of Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the cagey author, Joaquin Phoenix as the agitated follower, and Amy Adams as the female.

The “cult” aspect is now unmistakably in the forefront. Hoffman has crowds at his disposal and detractors in the corners. Phoenix is all about the head-tilting, lip-curling, mule-headed arrogance. Adams has more than one line as the naive (?), supportive wife. Non-believers probably played by decent character actors will presumably either get on board with Hoffmanetics or suffer ignominious fates.

To be honest, I’m a little afraid to get too attached to this. If the movie turns out to be a three-hour sex scene and the only scenes with clothing are all in the trailer, I may have to bow out. If the plot takes a hairpin curve and ends with a surprise endorsement of Scientology in the form of an hour-long passionate hard-sell from the cast and crew, I promise I’ll pitch a fit. If we can tell early on that this was filmed during Phoenix’s bizarre rap phase, I’m out. If the next trailer is all about explosions and collisions, I’ll flip a coin.

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