Friday, 21 November 2014

CLASSIC ART: LIGHT AGAINST DARK!


The intimidating figure of Darth Vader looms large over the galaxy's newest protector, the young and innocent Luke Skywalker, firmly holding his father's laser sword as he's thrust into the adventure of a lifetime, in this early but nonetheless stunning poster idea concept art from Ralph McQuarrie for Star Wars.

The original STAR WARS and its incredible impact on, and tribute to, the science fiction/fantasy genre will form part of the first episode of the upcoming three-part UK BBC 1 documentary series Tomorrow's Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction, which also looks at other past greats including STAR TREK and DOCTOR WHO. It starts tomorrow (Saturday 22nd November) on BBC 2 and BBC 2 HD (9.45 pm) and will surely prove essential viewing...

Anthony Daniels taster clip: ▶ The secret of Star Wars' success - Tomorrow's Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction - BBC - YouTube

Tomorrow’s Worlds: The Unearthly History of Science Fiction – New BBC Two Documentary Series | Telly Chat

Thursday, 20 November 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: JEDI CRUCIBLE!


Another of Nick Gillard's specially posed lightsaber conflict images for Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, used for key publicity and marketing images for EPISODE III.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: B-WING BRUISER!


Seen in so little of the finished film but nonetheless a popular addition to the STAR WARS spaceship league: the Rebel B-wing fighter prepares to enter the Battle of Endor, during the gargantuan action-packed finale of RETURN OF THE JEDI.

I always wanted its toy incarnation as a young teen, but it was quite hard to find in the UK during the mid-eighties. Here's hoping this unique craft-type gets more glory if the rumours of its reappearance prove true for EPISODE VII...


Monday, 17 November 2014

"HAPPY LIFE DAY!" (AGAIN!)


Yep, it's that time of the year again, when we take that dusty VHS tape down from the back of the cupboard and settle down to either A) celebrate B) enjoy C) wail in pain or D) angrily throw cans at the screen! Hoorah, its the 36th Anniversary of THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL!

I wonder if the new cast of The Force Awakens have heard of it, or even seen it. I'd love to know what they thought of this 1978 "gem", and whether they mercilessly teased Harrison Ford about it during filming!

On behalf of space chef Gormaanda, HAPPY LIFE DAY!

That Horrible Star Wars Holiday Special | Mental Floss
'The Star Wars Holiday Special': Read THR's 1978 Review
http://www.ranchoobiwan.org/2014/11/17/happy-life-day-for-the-36th-time-now-go-out-and-collect-something/

Saturday, 15 November 2014

THE CLONE WARS: PRESSING THEIR ADVANTAGE...


Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano assist the injured Ki-Adi Mundi and his soldiers in capturing Geonosian prisoners, after a tense, fiery conflict, during Landing at Point Rain- the adrenaline-fuelled first part of the epic re-taking of Geonosis, beginning Season Two of THE CLONE WARS in action-packed style.

'TEMPLE OF DOOM' AT 30: GONE FOR A RIDE!


He's used to planes, trains and automobiles. Now Harrison Ford undertakes an altogether more different, and literally back-breaking, form of transportation than he's normally used to, during Sri Lankan filming of TEMPLE OF DOOM in 1983.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY, ELSTREE STUDIOS!

The incredible Rebel base interiors for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK at Elstree Studios in 1979.

It housed labyrinth planet killers, bog planets, enormous ice caverns, and alien-filled cantinas for the the STAR WARS universe from 1976 to 1982 (as well as a few mostly blue screen domains during 2002 and 2005), then became home to the globetrotting exploits of that fearless archeologist adventurer Indiana Jones. Now, the UK's prestigious ELSTREE STUDIOS celebrates 100 incredible years of existence in bringing dreams to cinematic reality. It's had some rough patches over the years, mirroring the ever-changing overall state of the British entertainment industry with whom its been locked in symbiosis, and studio facilities may also have shrunk over the last ten years- the loss of the incredible George Lucas Stage to make way for a TESCO superstore in the nineties remains an unforgivable act- but Elstree's lasting legacy as one of the world's finest film and TV production base facilities looks set to be sustained for a long time to come- particularly as home to many continued popular BBC series and event specials.

To all the men and women, past, present and future, working at the studios: HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY! 



Elstree Film Studios Homepage

List of Elstree Studios productions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

STAR WARS AFICIONADO WEBSITE: AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'THE ELSTREE EMPIRE DAY' - 5TH MAY 2012

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

WHAT AFICIONADO WANTS FROM 'STAR WARS: EPISODE VII' (AND BEYOND!)

Certainly the best fan movie poster seen yet by AFICIONADO in portraying our older heroes. Art by Danny Fleyros.

UPDATED 10/11/2014  Ever since 2012, when the new STAR WARS sequels were announced, the Internet had been flooded by fans and fan websites talking about what they want to see in the next films comprising the third trilogy, and the ultimate story directions they should take. AFICIONADO has also shared a few ideas/opinions on its site from time to time. But now, as the first new film- EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS- begins to take cinematic shape, here's a more detailed look at what we personally hope for come December 2015 onwards...


The folder we all want to read: Lucas's original notes for the entire STAR WARS saga!

1. That some of George Lucas's original story material stays intact within the finished film. When STAR TREK creator Gene Roddenberry shockingly lost control of his own franchise after the commercial success but production problems packed first 1979 motion picture, he was very quickly ostracised by his backers at PARAMOUNT. In Hollywood terms, "Executive Consultants" are often talked to but their ideas and suggestions are ignored. This hasn't quite happened to George Lucas- he was in control front and centre with his decision to sell the STAR WARS franchise to Disney, had gone back to his original red-ring binder notes and come up with an all new story to launch the next Sequel Trilogy and secured the original three leads (Hamill, Fisher and Ford) before Bob Iger had joined him in the contract signing. Now, a year on, it looks as if most of that story, along with Michael Arndt's first screenplay, and its original title, has been discarded with a close to the production wire script re-write from reliable EMPIRE/RAIDERS scribe Lawrence Kasdan, a worthy keeper of the Classic Trilogy flame if ever I saw one, alongside the enthused and equally talented writing abilities of J. J. Abrams, who impressed Harrison Ford from a young age with his 90's script for REGARDING HENRY. Whatever the final story ends up being for EPISODE VII, more secret than the code-numbers to entering Fort Knox, it will surely be a billion dollar winner by the time it arrives in December, 2015. But let's also hope that, beyond the use of his character names, that something more substantive of the old George Lucas magic remains somewhere inside its genetic blueprint- after all, he's always come up with tremendous ideas and innovations over thirty years.

"A long time ago..."

2. An amazing opening shot. The original STAR WARS in 1977 blew the world's cinema audiences away with the incredible Rebel Blockade Runner pursuit by the seemingly unending pursuant Star Destroyer. ILM whizz Richard Edlund said that that original shot had to be done right- that it was the key to winning the audience into believing Lucas's universe and what was about to unfold. And the final result certainly did- spectacularly so! To capture the attention and imaginations of the next generation of worldwide fans, EPISODE VII needs something to get the blood pumping straight off the bat, yet also stay true to the established STAR WARS universe.

Who's next to join the STAR WARS villain pantheon?

3. No Sith. Vader and The Emperor were extinguished at the end of EPISODE VI, and the Expanded Universe has had its fun with all kinds of variant on the deadly, galaxy-threatening Sith cult to the point where its now been done to death. Perhaps there might be another kind of ancient enemy that can be created to threaten our old and new heroes? Or will Abrams and Kasdan will take a leaf out of James Bond or Flash Gordon's book and create distinctive new villains with lethal henchman/armies at their side? Or possibly ally them with the remaining grand scale armies of the Empire. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION had the evil cyborgs, the Borg, to life it out of its early doldrums for years to come. Whatever happens, the new STAR WARS needs a foe that will be impactful and durable.

Going beyond Tatooine, and beyond the farthest stars?

4. More new planets. The city world Coruscant of the Prequel Trilogy played host to intergalactic history, whilst the desert world of Tatooine has become a critical nexus to events throughout the STAR WARS SAGA, of which EPISODE VII looks likely to return there for an important new and driving plot element (possibly with a recreation of the classic cantina at Mos Eisley). But this is also the time to bring in new worlds and environments never before seen, of which CGI, matte paintings and model work must catch our imaginations in the same way that Yavin, Hoth and Bespin previously had. To say we're excited at seeing what the UK's Forest of Dean, Morocco, Iceland and Abu Dhabi will bring to the series is an understatement!

Will we start humming that Imperial March again?

5. The Return of the Empire. Thirty years after the Battle of Endor, there must surely be pockets of Star Destroyers, Imperial Garrisons and Stormtroopers still out there. With the exception of the quickly deactivated Separatist Battle Droids of EPISODE III, wars don't just end quickly, and small bush wars can continue long afterwards. The splendid Thrawn Trilogy of books may have been consigned to Lucasfilm's new "Legends" line of the Expanded Universe, but there are still elements from it that have potential to be explored on film. Besides, the Stormtroopers deserve to be better shots this time out, and you can never get enough of the visual coolness of Imperial Star Destroyers or AT-AT's!

Is there even a way for the suit of Darth Vader to return. Nothing's impossible:
STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE: EPISODE VII: WILL VADER RETURN?

A singular guardian of the Force? The return of Luke Skywalker.

6. Luke Skywalker kicks ass! "It's like James Bond getting his license to kill, but not being able to use it." Words by Mark Hamill from 1983 about the fact that the Original Trilogy closes just as Luke has reached his primary objective in life: to become a Jedi. Will this new sequel trilogy eventually see him in some future capacity as teacher/leader of the (so far) few in number next generation of Jedi, or are the rumours true of his being a dark recluse afraid of his continuing growing powers that could destroy the universe is not checked? Whatever direction the story goes, bearded or not, we want the noble, youthful heroism of character reasonable intact and partaking in at least one big action sequence displaying the kind of skills and heroism he had at the battle of the Sarlaac Pit in EPISODE VI. Don't be agist and discount Hamill from action because he's in his early 60's- Anthony Hopkins played Zorro as a mature man in the successful and acclaimed Martin Campbell film re-imagining, and he had some great action scenes.

Sorry about the mess! Not for the death of Greedo, but the unnecessary SPECIAL EDITION change!

7. Han Solo shooting first! To make up for years of having to put up with the dreadful re-imagining of the Han/Greedo confrontation from the 1997 STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE - SPECIAL EDITION! Perhaps Han can take on a new Rodian threat this time out. And, if the rumours of Han Solo's demise are correct-lets face it, this might be the only real reason creatively that Ford is coming back- may it be done in a way that stays true to his often gung-ho character.

Princess Leia: a different kind of Jedi.

8. Princess Leia the Jedi. 'The Other', as finally revealed in EPISODE VI. She picked up the injured Luke's call for help on Bespin, she's had memories of her "real mother" from being an embryo to baby inside Padme's womb. There's a lot of Force potential there, and present an intriguing way to do things differently in the film series compared to how her brother uses his natural skills. Let's see our favourite spunky Princess at least get in some lightsaber training practice somewhere, or put her telepathic or paranormal-like skills to good use in sensing danger or to surprise foes...


Wookiee prime!

9. More Wookiees! The STAR WARS Holiday Special wasn't quite the way we wanted to see them, EPISODE III showed all too briefly an incredible organic technology and an at one with nature civilisation, whilst a planned THE CLONE WARS Season Six/Seven storyline featuring Kashyyyk was sadly axed. They made a brief but notable appearance in the STAR WARS REBELS opener, but now is is the perfect time to go back to that important world, and its hairy heroes- if not for EPISODE VII then at least one of the following films or spin-offs...

Respecting the past? Padme and Anakin from EPISODE II.

10. The Ties that Bind. Luke has supposedly set up a new Jedi Order, and both he and Leia should now be aware of that prior history and their proper, original family lineage. It would be nice if the Prequel Trilogy, despite being hated by many classic fans as well as DISNEY, got some kind of visual recognition as part of the overall story/Skywalker cannon. Would it really hurt to have a brief scene where Luke or Leia look at a hologram of Anakin or Padme, or take a stroll through the old or new Jedi Temple witnessing holograms showing the lost line of Jedi, like Mace Windu, Qui-Gon or a pre EPISODE IV Obi-Wan?

The STAR WARS universe wouldn't be the same without Ralph McQuarrie's legacy.

11. The Ralph McQuarrie Legacy. THE CLONE WARS animated series and STAR WARS REBELS have effectively utilized some of the incredible unused work and ideas brought to visual life by the great artist- STAR WARS first visionary. Let's hope more from that incredible and portfolio packed body of artistry gets into EPISODE VII as well! Early indications from leaked Abu Dhabi exterior photos look promising.

The amazing 1976 interior of the Millennium Falcon.

12. Back to the "Used Universe". Pioneered for Lucas in extraordinary ways by McQuarrie, with UK Production Designer John Barry and Set Decorator Roger Christian, this is a chance to return to the dirty and worn universe seen in EPISODEs IV to VI that fans have loved so much. The full-size Millennium Falcon, apparently being built anew at Pinewood Studios, should be quite a sight- though audiences will see even more wear and tear across its hull than before- baby's been through the wars a bit over thirty years!

Boba Fett: you're in his target frame!

13. Boba Fett and the Bounty Hunters. We all want the return of the galaxy's most insidious and accomplished bounty hunter, Boba Fett, for EPISODE VII- escaping the jaws of the Sarlaac Pit- his demise having been the single biggest mistake of the Classic Trilogy. But such a return must be done in a credible way beyond the kind of thing read in fan fiction. Let's hope he can be put into EPISODE VII, or somewhere else down the line, in a genuine plot integral way, with some serious rivalry/revenge against Solo and his family. We also want to see a CGI IG-88 and a reptilian Bossk thrown in, too! Whatever happens, it looks as if the Lawrence Kasdan Fett spin-off, whether it be set before the events of EPISODE V or not, will be happening at some point...

Can Han be saved? Find out in three years!

14. Cliffhangers. EMPIRE had an impressively gloomy ending in which our heroes only just managed to escape the clutches of Darth Vader. Yet there was a cliffhanger element to it all that proved frustrating then (May 1980) but now being ultimately acknowledged by fans and critics as inspired. Would they be able to rescue Han Solo from vile gangster Jabba the Hutt, and what was going to happen next with the Luke/Vader relationship? I think the cliffhanger element should be reintroduced and have the ante upped for the next trilogy, all three of which will be coming down the wire at cinemas sooner rather than later-the days of ultra-long three-year waits between each film now reduced.

The lively heroes of the JEDI QUEST book series: designed to attract younger fans.

15. A vigorous spirit. It's great to see the Classic Trilogy back, but I'm looking forward to seeing the new characters in action just as much- the next generation of heroes for a new generation of film/fantasy fans who hadn't been previously bothered with STAR WARS before, or who hadn't really experienced it to the degree of interest we showed back in the seventies and eighties. Getting the balance right of zippy action and heroism to youngsters enjoying the likes of HARRY POTTER and THE HUNGER GAMES is going to be interesting and likely very challenging for J.J. Abrams and company, as will be the mixing into the story of older characters/icons from the STAR WARS Original Trilogy (primarily Ford/Han Solo) who might not be so well known to modern cinema audiences. The 2013 changed plan is that, after EPISODE VII has cemented itself, these new heroes will take front and centre of the action- with one or more of new band likely turning bad.

The future has never looked brighter...

16. Just a great story. What could be better than an opening episode, and an overall trilogy, packed with intelligence, drama, occasional humour (J.J, PLEASE, no enthusiastic Simon Pegg cameo!), incident, and shining character moments (including, we hope, the surprise return of Lando Calrissian!) that have meaning for our new and old heroes, mixed with a strong hybrid of practical and CGI effects to take our individual and collective breaths away. (Sorry folks, we're past the point now where CGI can not be used in a STAR WARS film!) Something that, alongside John Williams wondrous music, will take us on a journey above and beyond the many stunning but often hollow summer and winter blockbusters of recent years. Is that all too much too ask?


J.J and Artoo on the EPISODE VII set. 

Other EPISODE VII filming conclusion links:

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and JJ Abrams celebrate with cast of newcomers as they finish filming Star Wars: Episode VII | Daily Mail Online
Mark Hamill Spotted Clean Shaven Outside Pinewood Studios | The Star Wars Underworld
Read A Note Given To Episode VII Cast & Crew On Their Last Day | The Star Wars Underworld
TheForce.net: Even Mark Hamill Is Joking About The Force Awakens
JJ Abrams and R2-D2 Make an Appearance on 'Last Week Tonight' From the Set of 'The Force Awakens' | The Star Wars Underworld
Bob Iger Discusses The Origin Of 'The Force Awakens' Title | The Star Wars Underworld
Big Rumours Emerge on Luke Skywalker's EPISODE VII Role
Star Wars 7 'Better Than Empire Strikes Back' Says C-3P0 Star
'Star Wars' Heading Back to London's Pinewood Studios

Monday, 10 November 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: GETTING A GRIP!


Not ready to let Padme's would-be assassin escape his grasp, Anakin Skywalker holds for dear life onto the tip of slippery bounty hunter Zam Wesell's craft, during the memorable Corsucant air chase of EPISODE II.

OUT NOW ON UK BLU-RAY AND DVD: 'X-MEN - DAYS OF FUTURE PAST'


A genuine return to form for the epic 20th Century Fox franchise, thanks to the combined talents of director Bryan Singer- the original keeper of its cinematic flame, and the writing talents of Simon Kinberg, proving just as adept bringing these complex MARVEL comic heroes to life as he is with the new STAR WARS REBELS for Disney, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST- the fifth film in the series of man versus mutant, mutant versus mutant, is complex, epic, and a helluva lot of fun. As exciting now as when things first kicked off in 2000, its certainly the best adventure since X2, as our beleagured, threatened with extinction saviours of the past and present must join forces through the powers of thought process time travel, and the custodial presence of Hugh Jackman's always snarlingly excellent, claws-wielding Wolverine, to fight the oncoming threat of the lethal and highly adaptive robot killers that are the Sentinels- finally making their way to the big screen with emotionless savagery.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST - Official Trailer (2014) - YouTube

Delivering the kind of effective old and new character mixing/storytelling that we hope will be achieved, if hopefully done even more inventively, for the upcoming EPISODE VII, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST arrives on Blu-ray and DVD today in the UK and is well worth a look, alongside a solid array of special features and select deleted scenes.

Full review: KOOL TV REVIEW: 'X-MEN - DAYS OF FUTURE PAST' (BLU-RAY)

Get it here: X-Men: Days of Future Past [Blu-ray + UV Copy]: Amazon.co.uk: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Bryan Singer: DVD & Blu-ray

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