Welcome to this edition of Pop Cult Corner, the place that gives insights into the news of the week, makes outlandish predictions and above all, probably has too many opinions.
This week, two news stories stood out to me. One of them is of course the most obvious, as it has dominated headlines and conversations all week. The other is perhaps a bit early to be talking about but it certainly hasn’t stopped some studios jumping the gun. I will of course be talking about Star Wars: Episode IX with the new release date it has secured and the new directer in the form of Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ J.J. Abrams, and I shall also be talking about the Oscars (I know, I said it was early!)
But first, before I start talking a bit more about Star Wars, I wanted to bring up this gem of a pick from the outtakes of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, where well-known geek Patton Oswalt uses his citizen power to filibuster by pitching his idea for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Still just as relevant today as it was back in 2013, this clip is a great way into this weeks topic; I guarantee his pitch is better than anything us fans could come up with!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Background Characters Who Need To Return
With Abrams at the helm of Episode IX it occurred to me that we may see the return of some of the background characters that featured in his first venture of the franchise, The Force Awakens. Therefore, I wanted to have a look at which of the supporting roles, species and villains of the Star Wars galaxy deserved to return to the big screen in December of 2019.
The Guavian Death Gang, whose main member, Bala-Tik, is portrayed by Scottish actor Brian Vernel (who has also had roles in Dunkirk, Doctor Who, The Casual Vacancy and The Last Kingdom), is a great group to reintroduce to audiences. Last seen trying to escort Han Solo to the First Order after a previous deal went awry, it is clear that this gang has no morals or loyalty. With a great uniform and cybernetic enhancements to match, this group is a great villainous entity to bring back as an Empire-esque use of bounty hunters by the First Order. With Bala-Tik seemingly surviving the encounter with rathtars, he is still alive to cause trouble with his group of mercenaries.
The same can be said for the Kanjiklub, also featured in this scene, with leader Tasu Leech, portrayed by Indonesian actor Yayan Ruhian, also known for his work on The Raid series, surviving the events of his encounter with Han Solo. As is the case with The Guavian Death Gang, these mercenaries, known for their work with the Hutt Clan as they were previously slaves under the group, have dubious morals. They are very resourceful with their weaponry and are both visually and narratively stimulating, with the group also having the potential to work alongside the highest bidder in the quest for the galaxy.
The space pirates, Sidon Ithano and his right hand man Quiggold, can be found in Maz Kanata’s castle during the events of The Force Awakens. With an extensive history detailed in an in-canon short story, the duo are already carving up a space for themselves in the Star Wars universe. Looking to help Finn escape from the castle until the First Order troopers attacked, they both escaped alive and well aboard their ship, albeit without the former Stormtrooper alongside them. They are no stranger to troopers however, with their crew including Clone Trooper-6116, a.k.a. Kix, from the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Alongside his fellow rogue space pirates, CT-6116 and the Sidon Ithano gang might just be what Episode IX needs to even the odds against the First Order.
So with the news that Logan has been been sent out to Academy Award voters already, a film which past form at the Oscars suggests probably won’t recive much recognition due to its nature as a big blockbuster and a super-hero film (I know there are always exceptions but the odds are sadly stacked against this brilliant film), it was time to take a look at some of the early contenders that by all means deserve nominations but sadly may never achieve them.
The first film that comes to mind is the final instalment in what is, in my opinion, one of the best film trilogies of all time. War for the Planet of the Apes is a wonderfully made film, with visuals that surpass many in the CGI field today and a narrative core that is both heart wrenching and exhilarating. The blend of family, action, romance and historical analysis is genius, especially when it comes in the form of primates. The series as a whole has showcased the talents of Andy Serkis and as ever, the annual bid to see him win an award for his motion capture performances will start again. But, what’s more, the screenplay also deserves a nomination as does the visual effects work put into the film. For me, Apes deserves at least three nominations, but will sadly probably will only see one in the form of visual effects as did its predecessors, Dawn and Rise.
Baby Driver was also a hit with audiences this year and deserves many accolades for its writing, direction, soundtrack and certainly its cast. With Edgar Wright finally hitting it big time at the box office a nod for this incredible talent is unfortunately not on the cards, but with the stellar work already behind him, I’m sure eventually there may be hope for the Brit. With comedy action films not often getting a mention during the Academy Awards, the odds may be no different for this film, although there are always exceptions with Tarantino obviously being one of these.
Now Dunkirk would be within this article but I do believe that the Academy Awards is very likely to acknowledge the achievements of this piece. The same can be said for the horror genre, with Get Out also being sent out as an early screener recently. Therefore, the third slot shall be filled with an outside pick. A comedy with breakthrough performances, witty writing and a genuine heart. In my opinon, Girls Trip deserves a mention in some capacity, perhaps for its screenplay, or its core cast of Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Kate Walsh and Jada Pinkett Smith, in the Best or Supporting Actress award nominations.
That’s this weeks Pop Cult Corner! What characters do you want to see return in Star Wars under Abrams and can you see the potential for some of your favourites of the year at the Academy Awards 2018? Let us know in the comments below…