Countdown: The Best of J.J Abrams

January 25, 2013 at 8:00 am

The Best of J.J Abrams | 14 Awesome Projects J.J Abrams has been involved in

STAR WARS EPISODE VII!?

It’s hard to argue that J.J Abrams is one of the most successful producers on the planet.  Especially when it comes to television series.  He’s been a part of so many incredible projects.  When it comes to filmmaking, he’s achieved even greater success having been a part of several HUGE franchises.

He’s about to add the biggest franchise to that list when he takes on Star Wars Episode VII.  Questions have already begun to float around the internet.  Can he handle both Star Trek & Star Wars?

XTRA | The Number 1 Reason Why J.J Abrams is Perfect for Star Wars Episode VII

Given his track record, I think he’s more than earned a shot at the Mouse House that George Lucas built.  Now that he is officially directing Episode 7, I thought it would be great to look back on my favorite projects he’s been a part of.  There are many.  I had to focus on the projects I’ve actually seen so series like Felicity are absent from my list.  Regardless, there was plenty more to choose from while scanning his IMDB page.

With Star Trek Into Darkness around the corner and Star Wars Episode VII on the horizon, the best is yet to come.

14. REVOLUTION

TV Series (Producer)

I tried to get into this series when it premiered in 2012 but I just couldn’t.  It made this list purely on the ambition that fuels each episode.

13. JOY RIDE

Producer

This was a movie I rented long ago with some friends and really enjoyed it.  I had no idea he was a producer.

12. ARMAGEDDON

Co-Writer

I may be wrong but this appears to be J.J Abrams first foray into space! Many people dislike the film & Michael Bay but I’m a fan.  Armageddon is an epic action story co-written by J.J Abrams.  It’s one of those movies you spot scanning the TV guide and before you know it, you watched the whole thing.  Especially if it’s a Sunday and you have nothing else to do.  Explosions.  Space.  Brainless entertainment.

11. ALCATRAZ

TV Series (Producer)

I liked Alcatraz and was disappointed when they cancelled it after a single season.  I think a big part of the problem was the lack of answers.  With Lost, J.J Abrams and co. got away with it.  People weren’t willing to wait this time and I’ll admit the show was a tad frustrating at times.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested in the answers.

10. THE OFFICE – COCKTAILS

TV Episode (Director)

I’m obsessed with The Office.  I’m still coming to terms with Michael Scott’s departure and the upcoming series finale.  I had no idea J.J Abrams directed an episode back in 2007.  It’s no surprise it involved big character moments like Roy finding out Pam kissed Jim.

8. PERSON OF INTEREST

TV Series (Producer)

My wife and I loved the first season of this show.  It seemed like a simple tale at first following a villain of the week structure.  Slowly, we became fascinated by the characters.  I haven’t had a chance to catch up on season two yet but it’s on the list.

9. ALIAS

TV Series (Producer, writer)

Arguably the series that really put J.J Abrams on the map.  (Or at least nerd’s maps.)

7. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL

Producer

Brad Bird’s first live action movie was extremely entertaining and a worthy follow up to the third installment directed by J.J Abrams.

XTRA | Inside the edit: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Trailer

6. CLOVERFIELD

Producer

One of the first film’s to truly showcase J.J Abrams’ secretive approach.  The marketing campaign’s behind Cloverfield and later Super 8 were phenomenal.  I couldn’t wait to see these monster movies.

5. FRINGE

TV Series (Producer, writer)

I’m in the middle of Season 3 on DVD right now so don’t ruin anything!

4. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3

Director

One of my favorite opening scenes of all time.  Owen Davian vs Ethan Hunt.

3. STAR TREK

Director

I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up.  Yet, J.J Abrams created a Star Trek I loved and ignited my interest in the legacy that came before the reboot.

2. SUPER 8

Writer/Director

My favorite movie of 2011.  An astounding movie about young kids making movies together and the monster they discover in the process.  It’s exactly how I grew up…  Except there was no monster.

XTRA | Super 8 Unspoiled

1. LOST

TV Series (Producer, writer)

I didn’t see an episode of Lost until a few months before Season 5 premiered.  A friend of mine loaned me his DVDs and I absolutely crushed every disc like it was my job.  For weeks I would attempt to watch ONE episode but I couldn’t resist hitting play again.  Lost is one of my favorite television shows of all time.  It also changed the way we looked at scripted television forever.

Years after it’s finale, we are still hoping to find the next ‘Lost’ every Fall.

SPOILER WARNING: Don’t click play if you haven’t seen Lost.  It just happens to be my favorite promo for the show.

What’s your favorite J.J Abrams project?

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XTRA | Star Wars Episode VII Story Round Up

10 Flicks: Movies With Awesome Opening Scenes

March 20, 2012 at 1:51 am

10 Flicks: Movies With Awesome Opening Scenes

UNFORGETTABLE OPENINGS

Click here for more 10 Flicks movie lists.

Mission Impossible 3

“We put an explosive charge in your head…”

The introduction of Owen Davian is ruthless and awesome.

Jaws

Tension.  We don’t need to see the shark to be terrified of what lies beneath the waves.

Inglourious Basterds

In true Tarantino fashion, Inglourious Basterds’ opening is full of amazing dialogue, suspense and action.

The Dark Knight

How could I leave out the introduction of one of the coolest villains we’ve ever seen on the big screen?  Not to mention it’s an incredible bank heist.

The Social Network

When they first announced ‘The Facebook Movie’ I was skeptical but within 2 minutes I was hooked.  This brilliant opening scene introduces us to a fascinating and flawed main character using nothing but well written dialogue.

Casino Royale

You can’t talk about opening scenes without James Bond’s name coming up.  With so many choices I had to go with Casino Royale for it’s quiet desaturated beauty.

Star Wars: A New Hope

Ignore the prequels.  Our first glimpse of Darth Vader is just as bad ass today.

Reservoir Dogs

Tarantino again.  I suppose you could put the opening scenes from all of his movies and they would feel right at home on this list.  Obviously Pulp Fiction belongs but Reservoir Dogs is no slouch when it comes to openings.  Only Tarantino can make something as ‘ordinary’ as tipping waitresses so unbelievably interesting.

Drive

…  Look there’s a cop car…  No big deal, I’ll just drive the speed limit because I’ve got nerves of steel…

Easily one of the best ‘getaway’ scenes you’ll ever see and an absolutely awesome beginning to a great movie.

Goodfellas

Truly embodies the meaning of iconic.  Goodfellas grabs you the second the gangsters open the trunk and never lets go.

10 Flicks: Unanswered Movie Questions

February 24, 2011 at 11:35 am

10 Flicks: Movies With Unanswered Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10

There are a ton of movies with giant plot holes that leave the audience frustrated with unanswered questions.  Who was that guy?  Why did they kill that person?  How could that possibly happen!?

This is NOT that list.

True unanswered questions are purposely built into movies that will keep people speculating forever.  Movie moments that cause endless debates among fans.

This top 10 list features some of the most talented filmmakers of all time with Quentin Tarantino, J.J Abrams and Christopher Nolan making appearances among others.

Are these the best unanswered movie mysteries of all time?

Weigh in by commenting below. (Note: Spoilers ahead.)

THE MAN WITH NO NAME TRILOGY
WHAT’S CLINT’S NAME?

10 Flicks: Unanswered Movie Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10

Sergio Leone’s The Man with No Name Trilogy features a legendary character played by Clint Eastwood.  In each of the three films he goes by a different nick name but his true name is never revealed.

THEORIES

The nominees are:

1) Joe – A Fistful of Dollars
2) Manco – For a Few Dollars More
3) Blondie – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

CHILDREN OF MEN
WHAT CAUSED THE INFERTILITY?

10 Flicks: Unanswered Movie Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10 | Children Of Men

Children of Men is based on the idea that humans have become infertile and can no longer reproduce.  The thought provoking film then takes you on an amazing journey of hope that we will find a way to avoid extinction… But what caused the infertility?

THEORIES

While the movie never gives any specific reason, one can turn to some of the common causes of infertility.  This article breaks down a few of them. This doesn’t answer the extremely grim future the film depicts but at least it reassures us we are no where close to that future.

INCEPTION
DOES THE TOP FALL?

10 Flicks: Unanswered Movie Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10 | Inception

Does the top fall or not?  Everyone has a different opinion and that’s the beauty of Inception’s brilliant ending.  Is he still dreaming or does he finally reunite with his children?  When I saw this film in theaters the entire audience gasped when the credits rolled.  That’s an ending!

THEORIES

Here is a fantastic article from Screenrant that explains why it doesn’t matter if the top falls or not.  What matters is Cobb’s overall journey.  That article links to another story where Christopher Nolan himself confirms that theory on how Inception’s ending should be interpreted.

Personally, I think it hugely important that Cobb isn’t looking at the top but I also think it wobbles and will EVENTUALLY fall.  Where do you stand?

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
ALDO’S SCAR

10 Flicks: Unanswered Movie Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10 | Inglourious Basterds

Lieutenant Aldo Raine’s scar hints at an extremely violent encounter from his past.  Who slit his throat and presumably left him for dead?  Is it a rope burn?  Did someone try to hang him?  Was he dragged behind a horse?  Did he survive a lynching?

THEORIES

Some articles have suggested he was punished for bootlegging.  Another report states that Tarantino suggested it was the KKK.  It has never been confirmed but all signs point to an encounter somewhere near his home in Southern United States.

FUN FACT: This isn’t the first time Tarantino has hinted at injuries in his movies.  What’s with the band aid on the back of Marcellus Wallace’s neck in Pulp Fiction?  More on that later…

THE ROAD
WHAT CAUSED THE END OF THE WORLD?

10 Flicks: Unanswered Movie Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10

There are so many ‘end of the world’ scenarios that have been explored in movies.  Nuclear war, mother nature, meteors, disease, infertility and more…  So what caused the world to end in The Road?

THEORIES

You can pretty much pick any of the above but there have been more theories about what cataclysmic event obliterated our species.  Solar storms?  Earthquakes? Some people think the author of the novel Cormac McCarthy never intended to define the event even in his own mind.

CAST AWAY
THE PACKAGE

10 Flicks: Unanswered Movie Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10 | Cast Away

I don’t think I would have waited as long as Chuck did to open those packages.  If I’m stranded on an island, I’m opening those things immediately to look for useful items.  Still, you have to admire him for leaving one unopened. It’s a package that he feels saved his life.  But…  What’s in there!?  Was it useful?  Could it have helped him?

THEORIES

If you hunt for an Easter egg on the DVD you will find out that the box contained a solar powered, water proof, satellite phone.  This is according to the director Robert Zemeckis.  I suppose it would have been useful…

Note: The audio clip is found in the Videos and Stills section (Disc 2) by pressing left on the Raft Escape.

CLOVERFIELD
WHERE DID THE MONSTER COME FROM?

10 Flicks: Movies With Unanswered Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10 | Cloverfield

For a long time leading up to Cloverfield’s theatrical release, fans were obsessed with discovering what the creature looked like.  Fake images and photoshopped monsters appeared everywhere online and speculation grew at a rapid pace.  By the time the film was released, people knew what ‘Cloverfield’ looked like but a much larger question loomed when the movie was over.  Where did it come from?

THEORIES

Fans of the film will no doubt point to the scene on Coney Island at the end of the film when a strange object is seen falling from space into the ocean.  This would suggest that the creature came from space.  Not so fast…  Master of Mystery and Cloverfield producer J.J Abrams described the monster as:

“A baby. He’s brand-new. He’s confused, disoriented and irritable. And he’s been down there in the water for thousands and thousands of years.”

If it’s been down there so long, then why did it take so long before it surfaced?  What about the strange falling object?  According to this site, it’s a satellite and that the recovery of the satellite awakens the monster.  The page also has a clip from the credits where a voice proclaims that the monster is still alive.  Sequel?  Please?

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3
THE RABBIT’S FOOT

10 Flicks: Movies With Unanswered Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10 | Mission Impossible 3

J.J Abrams is at it again in Mission Impossible 3.  Much of the film revolves around the retrieval of an object known only as The Rabbit’s Foot.  It’s basically a thermos with some fancy logos on it but what does it do?

THEORIES

Simon Pegg’s character in the film refers to The Rabbit’s Foot as ‘The Anti God’.  A technology capable of vast amounts of destruction.  Is it a disease or a computer virus?  Maybe a bomb?

Apparently J.J Abrams is good at creating mysterious… Things…

THE DARK KNIGHT
THE JOKER’S SCARS

10 Flicks: Unanswered Movie Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10 | The Dark Knight

One of the most fascinating aspects of Christopher Nolan’s vision of The Joker is the origin of his scars.  No doubt the result of a violent act either committed by himself or inflicted by another.  Nothing is certain except it was an amazing performance and one of the coolest villains of all time.

THEORIES

The Joker himself offers 2 possibilities in the film.  Either he got the scars from his abusive father or he did it to himself for his former bride.  Check out both of his explanations here.  I looked around on some message boards and found a couple theories involving ziplines and a horrific accident involving beans and toast…  It’s anyone’s guess but the entire point to The Joker is to keep his past dark and mysterious.

How many different stories do you think he told people over the years?  He probably had a dozens of gruesome tales.

PULP FICTION
THE BRIEFCASE

10 Flicks: Movies With Unanswered Questions | Movie Blog | Top 10 | Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction is packed with so many cool moments that you almost forget the mysterious orange glow in Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase.  What is in the briefcase?

THEORIES

There are hundreds of theories out there.  Is it simply a light bulb? A few suggest the case contains connections to other Tarantino films like the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs.  Some believe it’s a nuclear bomb. (Which is ridiculous.)

One interesting thought is that Marcellus Wallace sold his soul and is trying to buy it back.  Hence the band aid on the back of his neck.  It’s the most imaginative theory I came across.  Apparently when the Devil takes your soul he takes it from the back of your neck.  There’s your fun fact of the day I suppose.