Star Wars is Star Wars and Star Trek is Star Trek and never the twain shall meet.
That was the general tone of the Twitterverse this afternoon when President Obama coined a new term at a White House briefing on the sequester crisis. He said his critics think he should use a “Jedi Mind Meld” on the Republican opposition to make them comply. Almost immediately there was a disturbance in the Force, as if millions of geeky voices cried out in horror…but unlike the citizens of Alderaan were not suddenly silenced because we geeks don’t know how to let anything go. It seems Obama blended a Jedi Mind Trick from Star Wars with a Vulcan Mind Meld from Star Trek. Perhaps this is indicative of some greater mental power than that possessed by either Jedi or Vulcans, or perhaps the president has once and for all revealed that he is not our geek in chief. If the latter, then this is surely the most outrageous presidential gaffe since George W. Bush suggested Queen Elizabeth II sat on the throne of England in 1776. (Yes, that happened.)
Here’s a primer for the President: The Jedi Mind Trick is the telepathic technique, often involving slow, hypnotic repetition of commands and a wave of a hand in front of the face of the person you’re trying to trick, to influence somebody to do your bidding. But it works most effectively on the weak-willed. (And some races, like Hutts, are immune.) A Vulcan Mind Meld is the telepathic technique of joining two minds by placing your hand on someone else’s face and reciting “My mind to your mind, your thoughts to my thoughts,” so as to learn what someone else is thinking or read their memories.
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There is another possibility, though. President Obama doesn’t need to have his geek card revoked. In fact, he could actually be geekier than any of us possibly imagined. Because the Jedi of that Galaxy Far, Far Away have indeed been known to practice a Force Meld. Yep, the Jedi do have their own Mind Meld after all. But it’s not in any of the Star Wars movies, mind you. It’s from the Expanded Universe of novels and it involves two (or more!) Jedi joining minds through the Force to act in concert. That can allow multiple Jedi to coordinate with greater efficiency while in battle. In fact, it’s something we first saw Han and Leia’s children, Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin (yes, named after his grandfather) attempt in R.A. Salvatore’s Star Wars: The New Jedi Order—Vector Prime, in which their Force Meld allowed the three of them to pilot TIE bombers through a dizzying asteroid field. Admittedly, Han Solo didn’t need a Force Meld to fly through the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back, but Han Solo is the man, and he doesn’t need any hokey religions or ancient superstitions when he’s got luck and a blaster at his side.
Yes, it could very well be that President Obama is that geeky. After all, the White House's official response to the petition to build a Death Star included the lines "The Administration does not support blowing up planets" and "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?" That geeky.
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Still, the fact that there was such an outcry this afternoon about Jedi Mind Meld-Gate shows how, on a deep, primordial level, fans still refuse to accept any overlap between Star Wars and Star Trek. Maybe we’re now (thankfully) past the point that a fan of one can’t be a fan of the other—this geek is very much a fan of both—the way some zero-sum pop culture fans dictate you pick a side between Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, British Hitchcock and American Hitchcock, or, for those of us who were teenagers at the turn of the millennium, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. But God forbid you confuse the two! What’s next, Klingons wielding lightsabers? Wookiees undergoing Pon Farr? Luke Skywalker having as insatiable a libido as Capt. Kirk?
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of one franchise or both, the standard line is to keep Star Wars and Star Trek separate but equal. That’s going to be harder to do than ever, folks, now that Star Trek reinventer J.J. Abrams has signed on to direct Star Wars: Episode VII. Not to mention that, in 2012, notorious Star Wars prequel hater and new Star Trek alum Simon Pegg bridged both universes by voicing mummy-wrapped bounty hunter Dengar on The Clone Wars. Now, even Zoe Saldana, the rebooted Star Trek’s Uhura, says she wants to take a trip to that Galaxy Far, Far Away. “I'm getting ready to call [Lucasfilm], I’ll tell you that," she said. "I want to be a sexy something, like a princess from another planet."
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Trek and Wars, the twin fountainheads of geek culture have already converged and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. After all, a much wiser being once said, “Always in motion is the future.” And Charlie Chaplin did eventually cast Buster Keaton in Limelight, Alfred Hitchcock returned to Britain to make a movie at the end of his career (Frenzy), and both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera now have experience as oddly dressed, verbally incompetent judges on TV singing competitions. No, Star Trek and Star Wars are fused, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.
But I think there’s one thing we can all agree upon: let’s spend more time thinking about Trek and Wars and less time thinking about the real world.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Shawn Thew/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP Images; Twitter]
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
The average actor earns peanuts compared to what the following group of Hollywood hot shots make, though their bloated salaries are not just handouts. Each and every person on the list below got where they are because of dedication to and love of their craft. Sure, luck plays an integral part, but without the drive to succeed they’d all be yesterdays news instead of next years busiest entertainers. Read on to see who you’ll be seeing a lot of in 2011.
*Note: This list is comprehensive, but not necessarily "complete" as there are many working actors in the business who have just as many, if not more, films in production. The individuals were selected because of their status in current pop-culture and the size of the films in which they appear. That is why someone like Ray Wise, who has 10 films in various stages of production, was excluded while others with less were included.*
Had I made this list last year, or the year before that, Rogen probably would’ve found himself on it. Since becoming a household name in 2007 with Knocked Up and Superbad (among others), the funny man has had more work than he knows what to do with. He starts 2011 with the eagerly awaited release of his 3D superhero flick The Green Hornet, but his cancer dramedy Live With It could hit the festival circuit around the same time. March will see his long-gestating collaboration with Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Paul hit theaters (in which he voices an adorable alien) followed by the May release of Kung Fu Panda 2. Somewhere in the middle of that will be another dramedy, Take This Waltz, in which he co-stars with Sarah Silverman and Michelle Williams. Add that up and Rogen’s got a very lucrative year ahead of him.
Stone is poised to become the starlet of tomorrow with a leading role in Sony’s new Spider Man film, but that’s a ways off. Next year will see her build momentum towards that coming blockbuster with four releases, including a role in Relativity Media’s massive untitled ensemble comedy (which may now be titled Movie 43) and a reunion with her Easy A director Will Gluck in the Mila Kunis/Justin Timberlake rom-com Friends With Benefits. However, what I’m looking forward to most is The Help, an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s beloved novel in which she plays a leading role and Crazy, Stupid, Love, the new dramedy from I Love You Phillip Morris directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa in which she plays daughter to Steve Carell. There’s enough quality here to ensure that Stone becomes a major player in her own right in the new decade and I can’t wait to see what she does with all that star power in the coming years.
The king of all media is back in full force next year, bringing no less than seven major motion pictures to global audiences in addition to one eagerly awaited new network TV show (Terra Nova – due May 2011). First up is the D.J. Caruso-helmed sci-fi actioner I Am Number Four followed by J.J. Abrams’ homage to the famed filmmaker’s early work with Super 8 (Spielberg serves as executive producer on both). The huge summer season continues with Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the very buzzy Cowboys & Aliens before he unveils the Shawn Levy-directed robot boxing drama Real Steel. Then, around Christmastime, we’ll get a double dose of his directorial efforts with the WWI epic War Horse and the motion captured franchise starter The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. That is the mark of a true mogul – releasing a pair of big films just days apart. Small potatoes for Mr. Spielberg, of course.
Captain Jack attacks the world of entertainment on all fronts next year as actor, producer and director. He’ll be seen in two films, including the long-delayed The Rum Diary and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and heard in a third – Gore Verbinski’s animated Rango. He serves as producer on Martin Scorsese’s 3D live action Hugo Cabret and a foreign film called Cool Water (which may or may not end up shooting early next year). Additionally, he should finally release his untitled Keith Richards documentary, which has been in post-production for a long time now. It’s one of the most diverse schedules that anyone in the business can boast next year and I’m very excited to see how it all turns out for EW’s most recent Entertainer of the Decade.
Like Ms. Stone’s upcoming slate of films, Craig’s is comprised of higher quality than quantity. After a lengthy absence from the silver screen, the British bad ass releases four big movies from four big directors. He starts his domination of the second half of 2011 with Jon Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens and segues into Jim Sheridan’s new thriller Dream House. After that, he’ll release back to back December blockbusters with the fore mentioned Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn and the mega-hyped English language adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. All together, Craig is looking at an easy billion-dollar year before he begins work on his third Bond film, due in 2012.
As I was compiling this list I realized that I wasn’t showing enough love to the producers that make filmmaking possible. There are hundreds of financiers and producers out there making movies, but none is quite as prolific today (and tomorrow) as Ryan Kavanaugh. The CEO of Relativity Media puts out a number of titles next year, some of which I’ve already mentioned (including that huge ensemble comedy, Cowboys and Aliens and Rogen’s Live With It). Additionally, he releases Neil Burger’s Limitless (formerly titled The Dark Fields), the James Cameron-produced Sanctum, Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire and Tarsem Singh’s Immortals. He’ll also be active in the realm of production as his company gears up for principle photography on The Town That Dreaded Sundown and The Crow remake. Like most big companies, Relativity could easily acquire a number of films for distribution throughout the year, which would just add to its already stellar slate in 2011.
The “It” Boy of the new decade is ready to take Hollywood by storm (again) next year. He’ll first appear in Ron Howard’s relationship comedy The Dilemma on January 14th before hitting Sundance in his third collaboration with director Dito Montiel with Son of No One. In February, his long delayed swords-and-sandals actioner The Eagle opens, while April will see Haywire finally blast its way into theaters. Tatum will only take very short breaks to promote these films as he’ll be working on a variety of projects including the ensemble drama Ten Year, the period espionage thriller Love and Honor and Sony’s 21 Jump Street reboot, ensuring that his It Boy status will remain intact for many years to come.
Here’s a guy that you wouldn’t think would end up on a list like this, but Koechner’s comedic abilities have made him a must have for productions big and small. The major studio’s called upon him for films like Paul, Final Destination 5 and This Means War (all set to bow in 2011) in addition to indies like Wish Wizard, Wedding Day and Fully Loaded, in which he apparently plays himself. It’s a big moment for the comedian, so I hope he and his fans drink it in.
The Sons Of Anarchy star gets his big-screen due next year with a whopping six (possibly seven) releases. He invades the first frame of 2011 with Season of the Witch and will play father to the Barbarian in Lionsgate’s Conan reboot in August. A number of other independent and studio releases will drop throughout the year as well, including Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, the dramatic thriller Crave and a film called Frankie Goes Boom that will reunite him with his SoA co-star Charlie Hunnam (Chris Noth, Lizzy Caplan and Whitney Cummings co-star). Perlman also joins Universal’s Mummy/Scorpion King franchise with the direct to DVD Scorpion King: Rise of the Dead. If it begins production on time, he could also release the action thriller The Riot, which presents a practical take on the survival horror genre. Factor in the tentative summer start of his old friend Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness (in which he plays Larson) and Perlman, at 60, is busier than ever.
In between financial and psychological meltdowns Nicolas Cage manages to get some work done. The Oscar winning A-lister will appear in a quartet of films next year, starting with Season of the Witch and continuing on with Roger Donaldson’s The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, Patrick Lussier’s Drive Angry 3D and Joel Schumacher’s Trespass. In addition, he produced the family comedy A Thousand Words, which was developed as a starring vehicle but was passed off to Eddie Murphy shortly before production began in 2008. He’ll continue to shoot his Ghost Rider sequel through the first quarter of 2011 and may end up filming a third National Treasure at some point as well.
He’s made a name for himself in films like 300 and Inglourious Basterds but Fassbender has yet to really breakout. Next year, he should do just that with four films locked and a handful of others gearing up for production. First is Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s literary staple Jane Eyre followed soon after by Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. On June 3rd, he joins the X-Men franchise as a young Erik Lensherr/Magneto in X-Men: First Class, which could turn into a career-within-a-career in itself. Additionally, David Cronenberg’s highly anticipated A Dangerous Method should hit the festival circuit at some point in 2011, possibly leading to awards buzz. If you don’t think that is enough of a schedule to balance, try to figure out when/how he’ll shoot two new dramas (Brendan Gleeson’s At Swim-Two-Birds and Steve McQueen’s Shame) amidst all that promotional work? Staggering, isn’t it.