Skip to main content

#076 J.J. Abrams: Star Wars: The Force Awakens vs. Mission Impossible III w/ guest Zamar Massey

Download MP3 In today's episode Nate and Austin compare J.J. Abrams's best and worst rated films, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Mission Impossible III (2006), respectively. Nate's just there for the exposition, Austin thinks John Boyega is an amateur, and Zamar gets to nerd out for almost two hours. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Night Terrors (1993), his best and worst rated films.
Also check out these interviews with the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

Mission Impossible III Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Agent Ethan Hunt comes into conflict with a dangerous and sadistic arms dealer who threatens his life and his fianceΓ© in response.
  • Ratings: IMDb 6.9 | RT 70% C / 69% A
  • Released: 2006
  • Director: J.J. Abrams
  • Writer(s): Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & J.J. Abrams (written by), Bruce Geller (television series)
  • Cinematographer: Dan Mindel (Star Trek, The Amazing Spider-Man)
  • Notable actors: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Laurence Fishburne, Bahar Soomekh, Jeff Chase, Michael Berry Jr., Aaron Paul
  • Budget: $150 million
  • Box office: $397.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • As the production could do nothing about inquisitive crowds watching them while they were filming in Rome, they actually set up a phony second unit a little further away, hired several girls in bikinis and several older women dressed as nuns and pretended to be filming takes for the film, while the main unit got on with their business largely undisturbed.
    • After the success of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Simon Pegg was asked whether he was going to be pursuing a career in Hollywood, to which he laughed and replied "It's not like I'm going to be in Mission: Impossible III".
    • With a budget of one hundred fifty million dollars, this is the most expensive movie ever undertaken by a first-time feature film director.
    • Tom Cruise did the vast majority of his own stunts in this film. Most of them were done without major injury. However, he cracked a couple of ribs once when he turned his upper torso too quickly.
    • Special Effects Technician Steven Scott Wheatley sued Paramount Pictures, and Tom Cruise's production company for gross negligence, after the pyrotechnics in a stunt in which he was involved, went wrong, and he was engulfed in a ball of flame. Wheatley suffered third-degree burns over sixty percent of his body.
    • Joe Carnahan worked on the film for a total of fifteen months before quitting over creative differences with the studio bosses. He even filmed the moment when he quit, as he figured that it signified the end of his Hollywood career. That was not to be the case, however. He came back the following year with the cult hit Smokin' Aces (2006).
    • At one point, Ricky Gervais was cast in the film as an ally to Ethan Hunt. But due to various production and casting changes, Gervais had to pull out of the film and was replaced by Simon Pegg.
    • In the original script of the opening scene, Brownway was supposed to do the "counting" but J.J. Abrams realized it would be much more dramatic if it was done by Owen Davien (Philip Seymour Hoffman) instead.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Three decades after the Empire's defeat, a new threat arises in the militant First Order. Stormtrooper defector Finn and spare parts scavenger Rey are caught up in the Resistance's search for the missing Luke Skywalker.
  • Ratings: IMDb 8.1 | RT 93% C / 89% A
  • Released: 2015
  • Director: J.J. Abrams
  • Writer(s): Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt (written by), George Lucas (based on characters created by)
  • Cinematographer: Dan Mindel (Star Trek, The Amazing Spider-Man)
  • Notable actors: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Joonas Suatoma, Pip Andersen, Simon Pegg
  • Budget: $306 million
  • Box office: $2.068 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • In a real-life parallel to the film Fanboys (2009), Mark Hamill and John Boyega successfully lobbied director J.J. Abrams to allow Star Wars fan Daniel Fleetwood to see the film before official release, as Fleetwood had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and was not expected to live to see the film's actual release date. Fleetwood was shown the film at a screening in his house, after Disney agreed. Fleetwood died November 10, 2015.
    • Mark Hamill claimed George Lucas nonchalantly told him over lunch a new Star Wars trilogy was going to be made by Disney, and if he did not want to be involved, Luke Skywalker would simply be written out of the script. However, Hamill immediately agreed to reprise the role. Hamill admitted, however, that he pretended to also be nonchalant about it, so it didn't seem like he was excited for the role. He also said within five seconds Carrie exclaimed she'd do it, and asked if there was a part for her daughter.
    • When Finn and Rey ask if he is THE Han Solo, the reply is "I used to be," which is a reply Ford regularly uses when fans ask if he is Harrison Ford.
    • The first J.J. Abrams film not to have a musical score by Michael Giacchino. Aptly enough, Giacchino stated in an interview that he would rather hear the music of John Williams in a new Star Wars film, than his own. Giacchino's name shows up in Episode VII's credits as a Stormtrooper.
    • The lightsaber battles are choreographed to be distinctly different from the ones in the first and second trilogies. Rather than the flashy, Force-assisted moves in the prequels or the formalized, kendo-like movements of the original trilogy, the fights are staged to appear less rehearsed, and more brutal and realistic. According to John Boyega and others, this was a deliberate choice to reflect the characters' inexperience with lightsabers as a weapon. Kylo appears to have had little experience in formal dueling, and Finn and Rey pick up lightsabers and use them with no training at all.
    • John Boyega was so nervous and frightened at the prospect of not getting the role, that he didn't tell his parents that he had been cast until after a cast photo was posted online by the official Star Wars Twitter page.
    • When the first trailer was released, there was much discussion about how it appeared to be getting back to the "grubbiness" ("dirty transporters, second-hand rockets, things that broke") of Episodes IV-VI, rather than the CGI cleanliness of Episodes I-III. British television star Phill Jupitus revealed in an interview that he "met an effects bloke in Essex, he drinks in my local coffee shop. He said (the makers of the new film) bought every gas-bottled air gun in England when they arrived, because they wanted the Stormtroopers' guns to have a kick when they fired them. You don't have to fake it; it looks real."
    • Only time Harrison Ford has received top billing in a Star Wars film, making him the first non-Jedi character to be credited first.
    • After he was cast, Oscar Isaac revealed to J.J. Abrams that his uncle is a huge Star Wars fan. As a result, arrangements for Isaac's uncle to visit the film set were made. To the great surprise of Isaac and his uncle, Abrams then asked if he would be interested in appearing in the film as an extra. Isaac's uncle quickly agreed, and appears as one of the villagers during the opening sequence on Jakku.
    • Kevin Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch visited the set. Smith, infamous for his open and talkative nature, was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and J.J. Abrams had World War II-style propaganda posters titled "Loose Lips Sink Starships" hung up around the set, as a reminder to Smith not to reveal spoilers for the film to the public. True to his word, the only tidbit Smith revealed about his visit was that he cried when he stood on the Millennium Falcon set, as it reminded him of how much he loved Star Wars as a child.
    • While filming in summer 2014, Harrison Ford broke his ankle on the door of the Millennium Falcon. About a year later, J.J. Abrams revealed that he hurt his back while trying to help get Ford out from under the door.
    • J.J. Abrams always wanted General Hux to be played by a young actor. He wanted the character to have a sense of tragedy and the fact that he appears to be too young to be in charge of a murderous group added to that. According to Abrams, the character's name was created after he noticed an old, abandoned grave site with the name Hux engraved on the stone.

Intro music by Eric Lynch

Check out this episode!