Monday, 15 September 2014

EPISODE VII NEWS: "ALL PILOTS, MAN YOUR STATIONS!"

Greenham Common joins the elite list of UK locations for EPISODE VII.

X-wing fighters- they looked great in red, and now they're available in blue, black and orange! But which to choose...?

Star Wars Episode 7 News | UPDATE 8: New Footage With John Boyega and Extras from the Episode VII Set at Greenham Common. Harrison Ford Expected on Set on Monday.
STAR WARS: Exclusive First Look, New X-Cellent X-Wing — Latino-Review.com
Jedi News - Latest: New Episode VII Costumes, Vehicle & Footage From Greenham Common Set
Another Photo from Greenham Common Episode VII Set | The Star Wars Underworld
New Photo of Millennium Falcon and X-Wing Outside at Greenham Common | The Star Wars Underworld

Other EPISODE VII and SPIN-OFFs news:

BBC News - Game of Thrones swordsman joins Star Wars film
These are not the 'Star Wars' details you're looking for ... | Inside Movies | EW.com
'Star Wars': First look at 'Episode VII' elements might be in 'Rebels' | Inside TV | EW.com
Jedi News - Latest: Star Wars Episode VII: Rumour Alert: Greg Grunberg in Episode VII?
Star Wars Episode 7: Daniel Craig begged JJ Abrams for part, got mystery role | Metro News
Star Wars Episode 7: Is an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off film on the cards? | Metro News

Sunday, 14 September 2014

STAR WARS REBELS: RETURN OF A JEDI!


He's spent years under the radar of Imperial galactic oppression, but now Kanan reveals his true origins and renewed future destiny as a Jedi Knight - the time has come to fight back, the distinctive and powerful Jedi way, as STAR WARS REBELS arrives on DISNEY XD next month...

▶ Star Wars Rebels Sneak Peek - YouTube
▶ Star Wars Rebels: “A Small Band” TV Spot - YouTube
▶ Star Wars Rebels: “Tyranny of the Empire” TV Spot - YouTube
▶ Star Wars Rebels: “Take a Stand” TV Spot - YouTube
▶ Star Wars Rebels: Meet the Inquisitor, the Empire's Jedi Hunter - YouTube
Star Wars Rebels
Star Wars Rebels: Titles, Writers and Directors Revelaed for Episodes 101-106 | Rebels Report » A Star Wars Rebels Podcast
Jedi News - Latest: Descriptions Of First Two Star Wars Rebels Weekly Episodes
Star Wars’ Newest Show Draws Inspiration from the Franchise’s Oldest Art | Disney Insider
Star Wars Rebels Inquisitor: Why Does He Exist If We Have Darth Vader?

Series arrival October 13th!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

THE NEW HOPES! THE 'JEDI ACADEMY' TRILOGY CONCLUDES WITH 'CHAMPIONS OF THE FORCE'


Moving at lightspeed pace, the concluding part of Kevin J. Anderson's STAR WARS adventure-fest, now celebrating a landmark twentieth anniversary, gets off to a memorable and fiery start. One week on from Book Two's cliffhanger, the Sith-influenced, revenge-fuelled Kyp Durron uses his fearsomely powerful Sun Crusher weapon to destroy the Imperial Training facility world of Carida, though his rescue attempt of his brother, now a Stormtrooper, proves tragically doomed to failure, sending him into a firestorm of pain and anguish. As Kyp threatens further intergalactic annihilation, can his friends Han Solo and Lando Calrissian win him back from evildom's grip?

Meanwhile, back on Yavin Four, our Jedi icon Luke Skywalker's body is now in a cadaverous state- his mind and spirit trapped in a Force limbo controlled by the feared Exar Kun, determined to extinguish his heart of good forever by using Luke's now dispirited and unsure what to do trainees against him. Arriving at the Academy, its here that Princess Leia, despite her pain at Luke's condition, gives one of her finest moral-boosting speeches, ending his disciples continued state of quiet disarray, pulling them together in this difficult time, in a way that will see them ultimately taking the fight, with a little help from the Jedi-sensitive babies Jacen and Jaina Solo (finally getting some good moments in the trilogy), to the Dark Spectre plaguing the Massassi temples. Unfortunately, Leia's inner strength isn't available to them for long, soon making a desperate journey to Anoth, the secret location of her third baby-Anakin, in order to stop him from being kidnapped by the remaining Imperial fractions of Carida, intent on grooming him as their new Dark Side leader- a memorable sequence for Timothy Zahn's created character of minder/nursemaid Winter, gamely holding off the advancing firepower of Anderson's new Imperial creations, the Spider Walkers, thanks to a little technological help, nicknamed FIDO, created by Admiral Ackbar...

Finally, lovable Falcon first-mate Chewbacca, intent on freeing his Wookiee slave brethren at Kessel, brings Threepio, and assists General Antilles and his assault team, as they make their bid to capture the no longer Imperial protected Maw installation. But time and courage ultimately prove not on their side, as the Maw's protective Death Star prototype soon escapes the conflict, now fully armed and operational, ready to cause destructive turmoil to the New Republic, of which Imperial Admiral Daala, having previously cheated death from Kyp Durron's attack in book two, additionally brings further chaos. How can they be stopped?

Ending on a huge space battle, and a lone act of almost self-sacrifice, the ending of the Jedi Academy trilogy reminds us of those nostalgic days when the Expanded Universe had lots of future potential, not yet a bloated, continuity trapped beast. Champions of the Force wraps things up with fast paced enthusiasm and efficiency, of which all prior plot/character strands are generally, satisfyingly tied up. Only the lack of really memorable material for Luke and Leia in the drama stakes proves disappointing.

AFICIONADO RATING: Genuinely keeping the spirit of the post ROTJ era alive and well,  forging new characters and new scenarios for future books to exploit, Champions of the Force may not boast the sophisticated writing style of Timothy Zahn,  but Kevin J. Anderson's enthusiasm for telling a good yarn shines through. IMHO, it's certainly worthy of reprinting within the new LEGENDS branding of the STAR WARS book publishing program. 3.5 out of 5




'TEMPLE OF DOOM' AT 30: THE INDY ELEMENTS!


Another intriguing marketing piece for TEMPLE OF DOOM- the Japanese potpourri poster for the film's 1984 release, primarily focusing on the scary elements of the Thuggee cult's underground lair at the top, with Indy (whom they like to see without his famous hat!) and Willie underneath, and the classic finale rope bridge scene also included.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

STAR WARS REBELS: PASSING THE TORCH...


Fighting the Empire is a 24/7 thing for the unique band comprising DISNEY XD's upcoming STAR WARS REBELS, posing for a lovely piece of premiere celebratory artwork by Brian Snook- a wonderful tribute to the original supreme poster concept by Ralph McQuarrie, for The Star Wars, from 1975.

The next REBELS short before the October arrival of the weekly series, Property of Ezra Bridger (also known as Not What You Think), makes its TV debut, across varying am and pm times, on DISNEY XD UK this September 18th.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: A FEW SCREWS LOOSE...


At the make-up/effects workshops at FOX STUDIOS, Australia, a trio of control assisted, lobotomised Neimoidian heads await their call to eventual filming, and demise via Anakin Skywalker, in this behind the scenes image from EPISODE III.

Monday, 8 September 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE SKIFF!



Mark Hamill and Peter Mayhew watch as Harrison Ford gets to have a sunbathe whilst conferring with director Richard Marquand. Meanwhile, the alien baddies on Jabba's execution skiff are tended to or get ready for filming. A great image that recently surfaced in J.W. Rinzler's excellent book THE MAKING OF RETURN OF THE JEDI, published by AURUM PRESS.

Meeting the very cool stuntman/actor Julius LeFlore, who played one of the Weequays (seen in this picture turning to face a costume/wardrobe assistant) at the London Film and Comic Con of 12th July 2014, Ian Trussler gathered some more behind the scenes info on the classic sequence. Le Flore confirmed the following stunt actors that appeared on the "Hero" skiff. Beyond the principles, these guards were: Peter Diamond as the Weequay who pushes Luke, Julius LeFlore - other Weequay, Dickey Beer - most fans refer to him as Barada, but actually it's Kithaba, as Barada is on the villain skiff, Paul Weston - Nikto, and Larry Holt - the masked human looking guard. Ian also cleared up the whole "who dived head first into the pit" filming mystery, which proved an interesting story. Apparently, Peter Diamond did NOT do any head-first dives into the pit- only LeFlore did those due to some problems that arose between the British and American stunt coordinators, arising from numerous injuries in the action sequences around the Sarlaac Pit. Le Flore did so on request from Glenn Randall, who directly asked him to do the dives. LeFlore was also the one who landed on Weston's leg, accidentally breaking it. 

Cheers for the info, Ian. LeFlore gave me (Scott Weller) similar BTS details when I also met him at the event, additionally telling me that he worked at ILM for around a month on JEDI's blue screen shooting, playing a Biker Scout. A really nice, laid back guy, LeFlore, in his first major event signing, was disappointed that he didn't get to see any Ewok actors at the LFCC, saying humorously that he had some "history" with them!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

OUT THIS MONTH IN UK PAPERBACK: 'THE STAR WARS'

STAR WARS as you've never seen it before - 1974 style!  Images: DARK HORSE COMICS/TITAN BOOKS.

DARK HORSE COMICS may now have lost the license to publish all-new STAR WARS adventures (an inevitable decision to hand the reins back to MARVEL COMICS by LUCASFILM, since Stan Lee's former empire is owned by DISNEY), but its pool of talented writers and artists can at least sit back and cherish the incredible accomplishments they brought to the Expanded Universe of four-colour SW storytelling these past twenty-three years, of which I think its highly unlikely that their successors will carve out a universe quite so diverse and as interesting as what they have previously produced. And when MARVEL abandoned the original comic back in 1986, lets not forget the important role DH played in taking up the franchise reins a few years later, helping to bring in its miraculous return with their action-packed and visually spectacular post Return of the Jedi continuance, DARK EMPIRE, which is still delighting readers old and new today. Zipping forward to this final year, LUCASFILM Editor J.W. Rinzler's symbiotic work with the company adapting the original storyline for George Lucas's 1974 behind the scenes mythic version of Star Wars: A New Hope, originally known as The Star Wars, realised alongside Mike Mayhew's stunning, cinematic-style artwork, brings this unique chapter of DARK HORSE's publishing history to a distinguished, innovative and exciting close, genuinely giving readers one of the brightest jewels in its crown. Garnering huge publicity and well deserved critical acclaim, the eight-issue series has now been compiled into one complete, impressive package for the UK, courtesy of TITAN BOOKS- available from September 18th, 2014.

Annikin Starkiller and General Skywalker go into battle with their lazer swords!

US trailer for the original mini-series: ▶ The Star Wars Book Trailer Dark Horse Comics - YouTube

Its original trappings spawned more from the fifties and sixties sci-fi universe - the kind pioneered by the impressive likes of Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and other literary giants, whilst also taking side root homages from the pulp science fiction of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon (if planned to be realised to higher sophistication), together with a more influential cinematic style pioneered by Japanese cinema legend Akira Kurosawa, this version of Star Wars is in many ways an intriguing, if also pleasantly distorted, reflection not only to the eventual 1977 launcher but also to Lucas's years later re-developed variation of action and political intrigue that would become The Phantom Menace, the latter possessing so many ideas taken from it and reshaped - ambitions for a universe previously excised and now restored thanks to pioneering CGI. The known, and some not so well known, building blocks of characters, planets, locations and creatures soon so vital and indelible to the saga's success are all there in The Star Wars genesis blueprint, but their shaping and realisation is a lot different in comparison to how we've been previously accustomed. And that's also the key to this adaptation's success.

A dark encounter on Utapau's fourth moon.
The genesis of Vader: Kane Starkiller reveals his hidden pain.

It's a genuine thrill to see the STAR WARS universe that might have been now made so incredibly real by Rinzler and Mayhew- a realm where the legendary Jedi Bendu, exemplified by the Starkiller and Skywalker dynasties, showed their incredible skills in The Force of Others long before Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan learner Obi-Wan Kenobi did first battling Trade Federation killers, where squat electronic hero Artoo Detoo miraculously talked to his far more human-looking golden protocol buddy See-Threepio, smuggling legend Han Solo was a green-skinned reptilian alien, and Imperial Stormtroopers had their own lazer swords. A universe of wonder and danger showing gleaming Y-wing fighters ruling the skies, where the desert world of Tatooine was originally Utapau, the oft-mentioned, hitherto unseen world of Aquilae is finally realised as a majestic setting, and a Wookiee world of dense jungle and hidden mystery reveals furry inhabitants not so technically savvy as their later film successors, but soon crucially learning the vital techniques of space piloting needed to attack a devastating space fortress, one yet to be christened the Death Star. All of this is skillfully composed within this visual symphony. Alongside some occasional nice visual tributes to EPISODEs I and IV (special mention should also go out to colourist Rain Beredo for his stunning contributions heightening the galactic scale of it all), further fun comes from seeing many dazzling early unrefined or abandoned production art and conceptual ideas incorporated by Mayhew, like Colin Cantwell's early ship model prototypes (the Millennium Falcon before it became a flying pizza!), notable and not so well recognised elements from Ralph McQuarrie's conceptual paintings/thumbnail sketches of 1975 (as well as Joe Johnston's singular work from that period), plus other early storyboards, gelling within the kind of story that would truly have been unfilmable at that time, even if the money-lacking FOX had been willing to give Lucas and co. a budget of $20 million dollars!

A different, but no less feisty, version of Princess Leia.

As the ultimate curiosity finally made real in comic book form, The Star Wars is indeed a page-turning winner. But, if that 1974 ideas-packed version of the film had been made back in the day, say released in early 1976, would it ultimately have have been as successful as 1977's first entry into The Adventures of Luke Skywalker? It's a question that genuinely makes for lively debate. Personally speaking, I think this original story would have needed better structuring/editing and character development reappraisal were it to have succeeded on the celluloid level (the two young royal children - Biggs and Windy - would surely have been early candidates for erasure in my book- far more irritating than anything later contributed by EPISODE I's Anakin Skywalker!). The characters of '74 are not quite as pitch perfect as they would be by '77- the way the villains are used here is one such example - ignoring the legions of stormtroopers chasing/fighting our fugitive heroes in several memorable sequences, the almost Palpatine-ish Governor Hoedaack and the alternate human version of Vader, a helmeted, one red-eyed general in the enemy forces, don't really contribute enough to the story until its near conclusion. On the plus side, though, Rinzler and Mayhew's chance to show readers Lucas's script to film evolution of Vader, into what he will eventually become onscreen, proves interesting, literally pulled together from three characters: the part human/part robot suffering inflicted by hero Kane Starkiller, the cunning tactical skills of General Vader in this human general persona, and the masked, lazer sword-wielding Sith Lord Knight/warrior Prince Valorum, who turns against his brethren to become a hero- echoing what Vader/Anakin will do for his son by the conclusion of Return of the Jedi.

The fearsome space fortress!

Lucas's well-known depression of the time at being hampered by a low budget and what he thought were too restrictive special effects limitations should not be overlooked as being a huge factor in the films ultimate successful transformation- these apparent weaknesses soon turned into eventual strengths- the final screenplay and characters of Star Wars, by early 1976, now more clearly defined, with characters and story baggage jettisoned. The analogy of the beautiful butterfly emerging from its raw but potent pupae has never been more apt to this first film, now that the franchise has entered pop culture history...

The climactic fighter attack on the space fortress.

AFICIONADO RATING: An ambitious, often stunning, thrill-ride of imagination and invention, showing us the very best ingredients of an altogether very different, but no less exciting, STAR WARS dish. Now then, Mister Rinzler, how's about you and your creative team adapting Lucas and Leigh Brackett's original 1978 script for The Empire Strikes Back? 4 out of 5

Get THE STAR WARS trade paperback from Titan Books here: The Star Wars: Amazon.co.uk: J. W. Rinzler, Mike Mayhew, George Lucas: Books

J.W. Rinzler's blog site: J. W. Rinzler - Home

EXCLUSIVE: J.W. Rinzler Explores Lucas' Original Concept In "The Star Wars" - Comic Book Resources

Friday, 5 September 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: SLEEP DISORDER!


As Natalie Portman gets ready to film a scene in her bedchamber, top effects guru John Knoll brings out the ILM ball, primarily used for post production lighting reference, in this behind the scenes image for EPISODE II.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

CLASSIC ART: BROKEN HOPES!


With Chewie also breaking the glass of a nearby window, and watched by a powerless Lando Calrissian, Princess Leia shoots out at the departing Slave One but is unable to hinder its flight or damage it, in this intriguing conceptual art on Bespin by Ralph McQuarrie. Note that, in this early stage of the film's story development, Threepio, seen peaking out from an alcove (elevator entrance?) of some kind, isn't shot to pieces by Stormtroopers.


Its nice to see some eventual mild referencing to this painted scene in the 1997 Special Edition of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, as one of the Bespin interior corridors leading to the outside docking platform is opened up to include a nice shot showing Slave One in the distance. An example of a new visual effects addition to the film that works well.
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