Star Wars Saga – All Six Films Coming to Blu-ray September 2011

Hi there!

Yes, that’s right. George Lucas has dusted off the films once again to get a tad more money for the Skywalker Ranch coffers. But you know what? I’ll be buying the original series Blu-ray set. Am I a sucker? No, just a geek. And I’m a Blu-ray convert over the last few months!

Here’s the announcement in true Star Wars fashion:

–Fitz

p.s. Here’s the original press release:

THE MOST ANTICIPATED BLU-RAY RELEASE IN THE GALAXY IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR WORLDWIDE PRE-ORDER STARTING TODAY

LAS VEGAS (Jan. 6, 2011) – The most anticipated Blu-ray release ever – the Star Wars™ Saga – emerges from light speed this September 2011. For the first time, all six of George Lucas’ epic films (Episodes I-VI) are united in one complete set. Fans worldwide are able to pre-order now with online retailers.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Star Wars in three distinct sets to meet the needs of every Star Wars fan:

Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray (9-disc Set includes all six films)
Star Wars: Prequel Blu-ray Trilogy (3-disc set includes Episodes I-III)
Star Wars: Original Blu-ray Trilogy (3-disc set includes Episodes IV-VI)

STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA ON BLU-RAY will feature all six live-action Star Wars feature films utilizing the highest possible picture and audio presentation, along with three additional discs and more than 30 hours of extensive special features including never-before-seen deleted and alternate scenes, an exploration of the exclusive Star Wars archives, and much more.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray will be available for $139.99 US/$179.99 CAN and the Star Wars: Trilogy Sets for $69.99 US/89.99 CAN. Pricing for each set will vary by international territory.

Flanked by a legion of his finest Imperial Stormtroopers, Darth Vader himself joined Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment President Mike Dunn at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to announce the release, vowing “The forces of the Empire will be at your disposal to assure the success of this endeavor.’’

“The Star Wars Saga is the most anticipated Blu-ray collection since the launch of the high-def format,” Dunn said. “The epic franchise pioneered sound and visual presentation in theaters and is perfectly suited to do it again in the home, with a viewing experience only possible with Blu-ray.”

“With all six episodes available for the first time in one collection, this is a great way for families and home audiences to experience the complete Saga from start to finish,” said Doug Yates, Vice President of Marketing, Online, Distribution, Lucasfilm Ltd. “And with the quality of high-definition, Blu-ray provides the most immersive home experience possible.”

“The Star Wars franchise has been one of the most anticipated Blu-ray releases by Amazon’s customers,” said Bill Carr, Vice President of Music and Video at Amazon. “We think that Star Wars will be incredibly popular with our customers, and we expect pre-orders to be very strong.”

ABOUT TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTANMENT

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company. Representing 75 years of innovative and award-winning filmmaking from Twentieth Century Fox, TCFHE is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming, acquisitions and original productions on DVD, Blu-ray Disc Digital Copy, Video On Demand and Digital Download. The company also releases all products globally for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce throughout the world.

Lucasfilm, STAR WARS™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

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Book Review: The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw

Hi all…

The scholarly adventurer is not a new construct in popular media and fiction. Though Indiana Jones may be one of my favorite smart heroes, many other writers created similar characters long before George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Jules Verne explored huge worlds beyond the everyday while Arthur Conan Doyle focused on the little clues of the everyday that we all leave behind (just ask the writers behind the successful CSI series, The Mentalist, NCIS and others). More recently, Dan Brown brought symbologist Robert Langdon to the fore in his wildly successful book The Da Vinci Code, mixing clues from the past with events in the present.

So when I saw the book The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw, I couldn’t help but see a connection between the title and Dan Brown’s work. But it was the addition of “Lucifer” that intrigued me. How would the Prince of Lies be worked into a Da Vinci Code-type story structure?

Though Brokaw’s debut – The Atlantis Code – was released last year, I somehow missed it. Though The Lucifer Code builds on the first book and includes references to earlier adventures, it wasn’t required reading before hand. What I found was that the adventures of linguist Thomas Lourds managed to provide a fun rollercoaster ride that starts quickly and doesn’t let up to the end.

Lourds, an older gentleman fresh from his discovery of Atlantis, is heading to Istanbul, Turkey to speak at Istanbul University about his field of linguistics. While still at the airport, he’s approached by a beautiful woman. And, being a bit of a womanizer, Lourds is flattered by the attention at first. He’s subsequently caught off guard when she aids in his kidnapping. Lourds finds himself in the company of terrorists leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. And when the group eventually descends into the catacombs beneath the city, their leader presents him with a book.

To stay alive, he must decipher the code contained within and lead his kidnappers to a lost scroll written by John of Patmos – the author of the Book of Revelation in the Bible. But if Lourds succeeds, will he bring about Armageddon or will he stop one?

There are numerous twists and turns to the book, but it follows a traditional pattern. The hero is thrust into a conspiracy that he must unravel along the journey to prevent an evil plot. This one involves terrorists, scholars, and the White House, so it ranks right up there with Angels and Demons, in which Dan Brown used a similar structure. The action in the The Lucifer Code hardly takes a breath and it eventually involves the Prince of Lies in a war in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the conclusion was a bit far fetched even for me.

I have to say I enjoyed The Lucifer Code, but that it will be quickly forgotten. It’s the kind of book that would be perfect for a long flight or business trip. But though Brokaw’s style was fun, I don’t know that I’ll seek out the next book (or the first one) telling more of Thomas Lourds’ adventures.

If you’re looking for a lively book for the plane, definitely check out The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw. But if you’re looking for more than a race around the world against the Devil, I’d look for something else.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these books at Barnes & Noble…

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Book Review: The Art of Drew Struzan

Sometime in the last 20 years or so, the movie industry lost a bit of magic. Once upon a time we hardly had movie trailers on television. Instead, we’d see posters for upcoming movies that would try to snag a bit of our imagination. As much as the script, the actors, the soundtrack… the posters were an integral part of the moviegoing experience. And typically they’d be painted by hand, not edited on a computer or massaged as a photograph. The posters I remember from my youth were just as worthy of hanging in a gallery as they would be hanging on your bedroom wall.

Between 1977 and 1981, I must have had two or three different variations of the Star Wars poster on the walls of my bedroom. They were all in vibrant colors and captured the magic of “a galaxy far far away” better than any of today’s movie posters do. It’s become so bad that I hardly even look at posters any more because they all look the same – a miasma of faces and logos thrown together by a marketing department somewhere.

During this seemingly bygone era, one of these artists seems to have done an influential movie poster for every movie I loved in that time. Drew Struzan. Through the years, he captured a part of my imagination with posters for Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Big Trouble in Little China, Hook and many many more. It was through his talents I was drawn to many movies in my youth – with his art acting as a Pied Piper tune to lead the way.

The Art of Drew Struzan provides a glimpse into the magic his movie posters captured during his career spanning more than 30 years. But along with that you see the tragic tale of how the marketing machine of Hollywood has left the artistic tradition of movie posters in favor of a fast-food style that makes nearly every modern poster pale when compared to those of the past.

A foreward from acclaimed director Frank Darabont sets the stage with a discussion of how the “suits” have lost their way in marketing and a bit about how he came to know Struzan over the years. The artist did many pieces for Darabont’s movies, though some never made it to the public. And an introduction from author and film critic David J. Schow provides a glimpse into the life of Struzan and a lifelong appreciation for how much of his soul the artist puts into each piece. These are well known men in movies and the admiration for Struzan’s work is obvious, but more than that there’s an appreciation for how he works as well.

After that, the book progresses from Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 to Hellboy II: The Golden Army in 2008, showing black and white sketches, partially done pieces, and final artwork along the way. Struzan tells stories of each period as you go through the years, offering explanations for why certain things happened the way they did.

Struzan’s relationships with Spielberg, Lucas, Darabont and Guillermo del Toro through the years, along with other actors and directors makes for fascinating reading. But you can tell it’s all told with a touch of sadness the more recent you get. The fact that marketeers commission art from him but don’t use it is a travesty in my view and that seems to be the case more and more frequently as you go through the book. It’s no wonder that he retired in 2008.

The art alone would make this a worthwhile book to pick up – but it’s the context and history you get along the way that seals the deal. The Art of Drew Struzan should be on the reading list of any movie buff. Be sure to check it out at your local or online bookseller!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up books about Drew Struzan below!

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