LUKE SKYWALKER RETURNS TO THE GALAXY, FROM DECEMBER 15TH, 2017

ARRIVING IN LONDON, FROM 18TH NOVEMBER, 2016. BOOK NOW FOR THE ULTIMATE 'STAR WARS' EXHIBITION

Monday, 30 June 2014

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: INTO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST!


Having been caught in a powerful tractor beam, the captured Millennium Falcon is brought into the superstructure of the mighty Death Star, now piercing its magnetic shield and en route to confinement within one of its immense docking bays.

A cool as ever effects shot combining models, live action and matte work, from the original STAR WARS.

The original production drawing.

EPISODE I AT FIFTEEN: "ARE YOU ALRIGHT?"


A concerned Obi-Wan Kenobi, accompanied by travelling newcomer Anakin Skywalker, runs to the aid of a briefly winded Qui-Gon Jinn, who has only just repelled the sneak attack of the powerful Darth Maul. An intriguing moment where old and new STAR WARS characters meet, from EPISODE I.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

UPHEAVALS AND RESHUFFLES! THE LATEST 'EPISODE VII' NEWS...


There's more rumours than fact at the moment, especially on the story and characters front. The news drought is sure to continue for a long time to come, especially hampered by Harrison Ford's injury. Potential spectacular, headline-grabbing publicity pics of the Original Trilogy cast reunited have surely been delayed now, especially if none were taken during earlier pre-production costume and make-up tests at PINEWOOD.

Regardless, here's a few notable snippets to enjoy for now...

Fear Leads To Awesome: Why A Very 'Nervous' J.J. Abrams Is About To Make 'Star Wars' Magic - MTV

Star Wars 7 exclusive: Andy Serkis talks script, JJ Abrams & more | SciFiNow - The World's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Magazine

Rumor: J.J. Abrams Wants A Star Wars 7 Release Date Change

Andy Serkis On "Star Wars" Secrecy @ TeamCoco.com

Cara Delevingne Harrison Ford Star Wars Episode VII | The Goss | Showbiz & TV | Daily Star. Simply The Best 7 Days A Week

Oscar Isaac’s role in ‘Star Wars’ to be expanded after Ford injury | Page Six

STAR WARS: Harrison Ford Injured on the Set of Episode VII | Variety

Harrison Ford's Broken Leg May Delay The Arrival Of EPISODE VII - Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news.

Harrison Ford injury means Star Wars star off for eight weeks | Film | theguardian.com

Disney Rep. Denies Expanding Oscar Isaac's Role | The Star Wars Underworld

Could Maisie Richardson-Sellers still be in Star Wars:Episode VII? - MakingStarWars.net

'Star Wars: Episode VII' Cast Freak Out Over Their LEGO Likenesses - MTV

Sad to report, but super-hyprocrite Simon Pegg is still making appearances on the STAR WARS set at Pinewood, chatting with Anthony Daniels on June 23rd. I have bad vibes about him being in EPISODE VII. As one of our Classic Trilogy friends might say, "This deal's getting worse all the time...!"

CLASSIC ART: REVENGE OF THE BUSCH!


Anyone who attended the ice-cold but inspiring CELEBRATION III event in Indianapolis during 2005 would remember what an exciting time it was, literally taking place mere weeks before REVENGE OF THE SITH arrival in worldwide cinemas. When not watching the special, and quite superb, sneak-peek showreel hosted by the now LUCASFILM departed Rick McCallum, or sleeping rough and enduring some of the worst weather conditions to try and see a George Lucas panel, fans were buying up and enjoying all kinds of EPISODE III related tie-ins, be they the official novelisation, souvenir magazines and OFFICIAL PIX images by the bucket load. It was pretty hard trying to keep all the spoilers away!

Particularly adding to the impact of the event was the numerous great art on display by so many talented people, especially Matt Busch, who really came into his own that year, providing this stellar piece linked to the event and the anticipated movie. Enthusiastic as ever, Matt is now celebrating his 20th year drawing supreme STAR WARS art to the highest standards, so we at STAR WARS AFICIONADO thank him for his tireless energy and artistic flair.

Looking forward to seeing your upcoming EPISODE VII work, which I'm sure you're already contracted for by now!

STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE: CLASSIC ART: MATT BUSCH's WORLD OF 'STAR WARS'

Friday, 27 June 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: CAUGHT IN THE KILLING BOX!


A Rebel Blockade Runner, transport and the Medical Frigate squeeze together as they soon come under attack from sneak Imperial Forces in legion, during the climactic Battle of Endor, from RETURN OF THE JEDI.

CLASSIC IMAGE: LAST STAND FOR THE PURPLE BLADE!


His Jedi comrades now quickly and efficiently slain by the Dark Lord of the Sith: Darth Sidious, Mace Windu fights on despite the tremendous powers and lightsaber abilities shown by his lethal adversary. To quote Samuel L. Jackson: "He ain't going out like some punk...!"

Thursday, 26 June 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: NOT ENTIRELY STABLE!


Hiding from the Imperials in what they believe to be an Asteroid "cave", the haphazard, cranky crew of the Millennium Falcon have to get used to their new surroundings, in a classic moment of drama and comedy from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

CLASSIC IMAGE: MISSION INTO THE UNKNOWN...


In his slick starfighter, and with trusty Arfour the Astro Droid socketed in to help, Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi leaves his hyperspace ring attachment to pursue bounty hunter Jango Fett and investigate his arriving presence on the nearby desert planet of Geonosis, in this lovely CGI shot from EPISODE II.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

GOODBYE, TERRY RICHARDS...

Terry Richards as the Cairo Swordsman in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Image: LUCASFILM.

His time and training for what was to have been an epic fight using his Scimitar blade against Indiana Jones trusty whip may have been scaled back and ultimately cut from the film, but the resultant changes to popular stuntman Terry Richards playing of that evil sword wielding thug with the beard and the deep hearted laugh, during the superb Cairo market scenes of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, instigated and improvised by a diarrhoea ravaged Ford and a keen to keep to keep to his filming schedule director Steven Spielberg, soon became the stuff of movie legend, and continues to generate mirth and admiration from audiences young and old audience wherever and whenever the movie is shown.

Richards playing the Wampa during shooting for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Richards, who passed away this week, had a career beyond INDY, of course, with a legion of classic action and adventure movies and TV credits to his name, especially notable within the James Bond series. But STAR WARS/LUCASFILM fans will further appreciate and recognise his talents, again if only for deleted scene legend, for his encapsulation within the bulky and awkward to manoeuvre Stuart Freeborn created Wampa costume at Elstree Studios during filming of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in April 1979, for several pyrotechnics linked sequences showing the snow creature breaking into the Hoth established Rebel base and victimising poor little Artoo Detoo, before finally succumbing to human weaponry firepower.

Certainly a character in the film industry and its stunt profession, Richards passing has added to the sad and continued roll-call of disappearing movie history talent...

BBC News - Terry Richards: UK stunt man dies aged 81

OF FIRE AND SELF-SACRIFICE! 'ALIEN 3' RETURNS TO UK PAPERBACK

Terror beneath the skin. ALIEN 3 makes its mark in novel form. Image: TITAN BOOKS.

Destroying the entire bio weapon Xenomorph threat on the distant human colony/mining world of the icy wind battered Acheron, and gaining a new mini "family" of sorts in the process- last surviving Colonial Marine Dwayne Hicks, damaged but operable synthetic android Bishop, and a new daughter with the once orphan Newt- Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley had seemingly triumphed over her insecurities and long-time fears, believing that her terrifying ordeals in the depths of space were finally over, that her long cryosleep journey back to Earth would be pleasant and uneventful, and that the nightmare which first begun on the ill-fated Nostromo fifty seven years earlier had been well and truly extinguished.

She was wrong...


Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) returns to face her darkest hour. Film images: FOX.
A new type of Alien threatens the prison colony.

Working from the original, hurriedly written but solid script from David Giler, Walter Hill and Larry Ferguson, which had to replace several years worth of now aborted earlier works conceived with directors Renny Harlin and Vincent Ward (whose daring and imaginative scenario was eventually adapted to a degree by the trio), acclaimed novelist Alan Dean Foster completes his superb trio of Classic ALIEN franchise adaptations with his tense, suspenseful, exciting and occasionally disturbing incarnation of ALIEN 3, originally brought to cinematic life (and death) with a complete lack of any post-ALIENS feel good vibes, and under intense studio pressure and interference from 20th CENTURY FOX, by then newcomer director David Fincher, soon carving out an underrated modern 1991 classic: a stunning looking descent into hell finale (well, at the time it was supposed to be the finale!) battle between woman and nightmare monster- a highly charged tale of horror and building atmosphere for our favourite space horror heroine Ellen Ripley that would take away everything that she'd ever loved and felt secure by, mostly established at the end of the blockbuster thrill ride that had been James Cameron's ALIENS, and satisfyingly destroying it all!

Trapped on the hostile prison planet world of Fury 161, its a hard struggle for our ill and uncomfortable icon- a lone woman trapped amongst male murderers, rapists and religious maniacs. But when a singular alien threat, created from a unique new life cycle, returns- and the impossible scenario she'd hoped destroyed is suddenly, alarmingly made manifest again- the ultimate lion amongst the sheep- Ripley must use all her experience, strength of character and what little technological resources she has at her disposal, to fight back. Fate also leaves one last unpleasant and individual calling card for her, too - a vicious and doom-laden surprise linked to the late Alien Queen's last hatched egg- which will see Ripley having no choice but to confront her ultimate and unavoidable finale destiny...

"The Bitch is Back!"

Previous ALIEN films had had cut scenes, mostly for length reasons, but the scissor work and re-shoots made to the overall narrative of ALIEN 3 back in 1992 was often just plain distressing- courtesy of the 20th CENTURY FOX behind the scenes teams desperate attempts to make this moody art house/horror combination film (whose director wanted it to be a cinematic experience more in line with Ridley Scott's original 1979 movie) fit their box office "vision" of what a populist summer blockbuster should be. Thankfully, the written adaptation has none of these problems and reads well with regards to tightly structured pace and character development- in some ways Dean Foster improves on the story, especially with the supporting characters, who, with the exception of the strong lead figure of the prisoner's religious "Brotherhood": Dillon, excellent in both book and film versions (played by Charles S. Dutton), the diverse histories and interrelationships of the Fury prisoners gain welcome depth in certain areas, some of them no longer pretty much interchangeable monster fodder as witnessed on screen. Further originally executed but deleted scenes (like the rescue of crash-landed Ripley from the planets oil sea shore, and the cattle 'birth' of the alien) also make for intriguing and more logical reading in comparison to the final cinematic results.  Particularly noteworthy and important is the return of the  films excised middle, as Ripley and the baldy men finally trap the alien in a secure strong room, only for one of the facility's insane murderers, Golic, now worshipping the creature as an Angel of Death-like figure, releasing it to cause havoc anew. I also recall that, as the book neared its page-turning, doom-laden final chapters, my original reading of it back in the day, before the films eventual UK release, proved a somewhat emotional experience, what with the author's efficiently describing the tragic but noble end for Ripley, making the ultimate sacrifice to prevent the corrupt Company from getting hold of the Alien for its weapons division, thus stopping any further destruction from spreading across the cosmos. A genuinely sad but necessary, and totally in character, demise for our true-intentioned heroine.

TITAN BOOKS reprinting of these classic Alan Dean Foster books this past ALIEN 35th Anniversary franchise year has been most welcome and nostalgically rewarding. But they are just the appetiser for two more brand new, upcoming officially authorised books on the blood red horizon, continuing the horror of the Alien life cycle with zestful apocalyptic shine. Prepare to experience the true and draughty stuff of nightmares all over again... 


More features across this site: STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE: ALIEN





Tuesday, 24 June 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: GOOD MEETS EVIL!


Despite having a day off from filming, a youthful Mark Hamill can't resist a return to the Elstree Studios to watch the legendary horror film star, and one of his personal movie heroes, Peter Cushing, shoot his May 1976 scenes in the Death Star Conference Room. Note Cushing's wearing of gloves between takes-being a smoker he didn't want to get nicotine stains on his hands that might show in filming- a sign of a very professional and thoughtful man much regarded on set by cast and crew.

This image also has the distinction of being one of the few and rare behind the scenes shots from the Classic Trilogy showing Dave Prowse without his Vader face mask on...

CLASSIC IMAGE: LOVER'S QUALITY TIME...


Could there ever have been a more beautiful place to hide and protect young Senator Amidala from brewing dangers than on her spacious and picturesque homeworld of Naboo? ILM may have had to weave additional digital matte painting extensions to filmed scenes, but the overall choice and flavour of Italy for use in EPISODE II was a fine one.


Monday, 23 June 2014

GOODBYE, JIM NELSON...

Jim Nelson with the ILM crew in 1976/77. Image: Dave Berry.

AFICIONADO was sad to hear of the news yesterday of the passing of an early ILM legend, and respected Hollywood TV and film-making chief, Jim Nelson- one of the key behind the scenes personnel responsible for setting up the now premiere effects facility (originally in its Van Nuys garage/warehouse facility), in the process leaving his own successful company to help, recommending and hiring some of its key staff (notably later Academy Award winner John Dykstra), and oversee its original day to day running, especially from the heavy workload Summer of 1976 onwards. Nelson, sadly, left ILM as the original 1977 STAR WARS was nearing completion, unhappy with Lucas that he was not getting an Associate Producer credit for his long hours of work and overall contributions, though he was fully convinced that the film was going to be a major hit, and certainly not afraid to support Lucas in those fraught, often troubled days dealing with a disbelieving 20TH CENTURY FOX, who thought it would be a financially ruinous turkey.

RIP, Jim Nelson, and thank you for that belief...

Jim Nelson Dead: 'Star Wars' Contributor Was 81 - Hollywood Reporter

Dave Berry's wonderful ILM behind the scenes footage featuring Nelson and those pioneering effects greats: 5757 on Vimeo

CLASSIC IMAGE: A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW- WITH FISTS!


Amongst the other children of Mos Espa, young Anakin Skywalker shows hints of his Dark Side edge to come, tussling with a certain trouble-making Rodian who's unwilling to accept that the human boy won his Pod Race victory through skill rather than cheating. As well as Anakin, things ultimately didn't end up going too well for Greedo, either...

An intriguing deleted scene, featuring Oliver Walpole as Greedo, that eventually made the hugely successful EPISODE I DVD release, but has yet to reach HD Blu-ray.

Friday, 20 June 2014

MAN DOWN, BUT FILMING CONTINUES. MORE 'EPISODE VII' NEWS...


Harrison's thankfully recovering and the EPISODE VII and spin-off show, and accompanying news, goes on in his absence...

BBC News - Harrison Ford broke left leg in accident, publicist confirms

Harrison Ford To Return To 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Set Against Doctors' Orders?

Source: 'Star Wars' cast livid over Harrison Ford accident

A newspaper sneaked out shot of the Falcon ramp, believed to have been the cause of Ford's injury, in construction several months prior at Pinewood.

JJ Abrams takes break from filming Star Wars at the Chiltern Firehouse | Mail Online

Warwick Davis reveals desire for role in Star Wars: Episode VIII | Mail Online

When Will We See The First Star Wars Episode 7 Trailer

'Star Wars: Episode VII': Domhnall Gleeson Opens Up About Spoilers - MTV

Stephen Scaia Talks About Writing For Star Wars Live Action Series | The Star Wars Underworld

Star Wars: The Script for Boba Fett Spin-Off is DONE! | moviepilot.com

Not officially confirmed yet: Rian Johnson working on new 'Star Wars' movie(s): 10 Quick Thoughts | PopWatch | EW.com


THE CLONE WARS: A MESSAGE FROM UK FANS TO LUCASFILM...

Don't look glum, CLONE WARS cast- we'll see you soon in the UK. We hope...

We'd like to remind whoever's at LUCASFILM handling the digital transmission release of THE CLONE WARS: THE LOST MISSIONS beyond American territories, that the UK, and its equally devoted fanbase, are still officially waiting to see these episodes somewhere, somehow...


Thursday, 19 June 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: TALK TO THE HAND!


At the entrance to Jabba the Hutt's palace, a quirky communications probe sticks its neck out to inquire about two new droid visitors, in this scene from the opening of RETURN OF THE JEDI.

CLASSIC ART: UPWARDLY MOBILE!


Within the sink hole world of Utapau, Jedi Knight General Obi-Wan Kenobi, atop his faithful lizard charge Boga, leads his Clone Troopers into fearless battle against the planet's final Separatist remnants, in this stunning conceptual art for EPISODE III from Erik Tiemens.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: A JEDI ON THE PRECIPICE...


Getting ready to film the Classic Trilogy's greatest scene, a youthful Mark Hamill, playing a Luke Skywalker realistically made-up to look bruised and beaten by the overwhelming force of Darth Vader, soon gives one of his finest screen performances for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Check out Mark's new INSTAGRAM account: hamillhimself on Instagram

CLASSIC IMAGE: HEROIC POSITIONING!


Surrounded by Battle Droids (to be later CGI superimposed), our brave Jedi heroes, and one plucky senatorial heroine, are cornered into a tight squeeze, during this action image filmed at the FOX Studios, Australia for EPISODE II.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

CLASSIC ART: BRINGERS OF DEATH!


Sith Lord Darth Vader looms large with the technological and destructive terror that is the Death Star, now blasting out with its primary weapon, in this lovely artwork by "Ralph" for Issue 139 of the US 1977 RBCC (Rocket Blast Comic Collector) magazine. If anyone out there has any more info on the artist, please get in touch...

BEHIND THE SCENES: JUST HANGIN'!


Filming what would eventually be a deleted EPISODE III scene set high atop the Invisible Hand's main hangar, the stunt doubles for Anakin (Ben Cooke, later double for James Bond's Daniel Craig), Palpatine and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Nash Edgerton, brother of Joel) hang on to a support as the cameras get ready to roll...

Monday, 16 June 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: SAVAGE DELIVERY!


He may have been "captured" by the mysterious bounty hunter Boushh, but the mighty Chewbacca is not going to be pushed around, as the physically capable Wookiee demonstrates against one of Jabba's Palace guards (played by stuntman Peter Diamond) in this rare image from RETURN OF THE JEDI.

With thanks to Chris Baker for the image.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: A CHALLENGING JOURNEY...


At the busy Coruscant spaceport, and now separated from their friends, an anxious Padme Amidala and her new Jedi protector, the eager Anakin Skywalker, prepare to make their way to Naboo, and hopeful safety, disguised as refugees.

And not to worry, they have Artoo with them!

'TEMPLE OF DOOM' AT 30: TWO MINDS, ONE OBJECTIVE...


In the 1983 heat of Sri Lanka, our "Man with the Hat" confers with director and friend Steven Spielberg - a superb creative partnership - on his upcoming duel with two Thugghee swordsmen, in this nice behind the scenes image from TEMPLE OF DOOM.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

CLASSIC ART: FUTURES OF BEAUTY AND DANGER!


Deservedly Numero Uno of the STAR WARS art world, whose talents will never be forgotten or diminish, Ralph McQuarrie's final yet supreme pieces of STAR WARS related art accompanying the Galoob toy range of the nineties are much loved by fans.

EPISODE I AT FIFTEEN: INTO BATTLE!


Having just survived an assassination attempt, Jedi "negotiators" Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi take the fight to the Trade Federation, in this critical opening sequence to EPISODE I, showing what prime Jedi Knights of the Republic were really capable of!

Friday, 13 June 2014

CLASSIC ART: AN 'EMPIRE' TIGHTENS ITS GRIP!


An atmospheric piece of Japanese artwork representing the main players of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, courtesy of Noriyoshi Ohrai, and which, as far as I'm aware, first made an appearance via the STAR WARS GALAXY card series a few years back.

If anyone out there has any info on what this work was originally commissioned to accompany - perhaps an unused Manga cover idea? - please get in touch...

▶ RARE 1980 "The Empire Strikes Back" interviews and the future of Star Wars. - YouTube

EPISODE VII: GET WELL SOON, HARRISON!


Very sorry to hear tonight's news that Harrison Ford has received an ankle injury on the SW set at Pinewood, and that he apparently had to be emergency airlifted- not a great way to spend your first week returning to a character that you thought you'd gotten rid of thirty-one years ago! And, to make it worse, it apparently happened on the Falcon set, too!

Harrison Ford airlifted to hospital - hellomagazine.com
STAR WARS: Harrison Ford Injured on the Set of Episode VII | Variety
Harrison Ford crushed on Star Wars set: Han Solo star airlifted to hospital - Daily Record

The chances of Mister Ford reading this are slim, and he's likely now shrugging it all off with a wave of that magic finger of his, but we hope that the LUCASFILM press office at least passes on STAR WARS AFICIONADOs and fans across the world's best wishes to our favourite actor for a speedy recovery! With previous calamities affecting STAR WARS films ultimately proving to be good omens for their success, lets hope that this is the case here for Ford and EPISODE VII...

UPDATE (14/6/14): Harrison Ford's wife travels to be at his hospital bedside as fears grow injuries could be worse than previously thought | Mail Online


Thursday, 12 June 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: THE NIGHTMARE CHILD...


"Awaken him..."

The filmed but deleted scene line from Darth Sidious, eager to see the final results of his Sith Lord human/hybrid fusion, the Frankenstein's Monster of STAR WARS that is Darth Vader, as witnessed in the trilogies bridge-building, climactic events of EPISODE III.

The final version shown in cinemas, however, would ultimately have its visual aesthetic changed by Lucas, likely deciding that Vader was now seemingly more accepting to become "more machine than man" at this point and wouldn't quite need to be the severely restrained figure that had been previously filmed.

As seen in the EPISODE III teaser trailer...
... and as seen in the completed film.

With thanks to Chris Baker for selected images.

EPISODE VII OPINION: SIMON PEGG - THE REAL PHANTOM MENACE?!

Simon Pegg: Has the Bantha poo-doo hit the fan!

Just when I was really getting to enjoy all the right and wonderful decisions being made about EPISODE VII, along comes this shocking rumour now likely fact. Its the moment which I and many other SW fans had been worried about for some time...

Jedi News - Latest: RUMOR: Simon Pegg Cast For Episode VII "Secret Role"?

If he is indeed in the new film/s, its a serious slap in the face to many devoted fans of the Classic Trilogy SPECIAL EDITIONS and the three massively under-appreciated Prequels, of which Pegg has been aggressively vocal these past seventeen years. Let's not forget some of his memorably negative things which I'm happy to provide links to - these "gems" of derogatory "wisdom" - he's spouted about them, and creator George Lucas, over the years...

Video: Watch Simon Pegg Rant About How "Star Wars" Was "Destroyed" By Phantom Menace | Complex

▶ Simon Pegg on Star Wars Remastering - YouTube

Simon Pegg: “George Lucas ruined Star Wars" - Yahoo Movies UK

User blog:Brandon Rhea/Simon Pegg: J.J. Abrams will save Star Wars at Star Wars Fanpedia, the Star Wars news wikia

Simon Pegg Wants a Lucasfilm Gig | Star Wars Blog | Star Wars Blog


"Shitty", "clueless", and "a fucking shame" - Simon Pegg on the 2011 Blu-rays, from The Daily Dot website, 2011

Of course, Mister Pegg is fully entitled to his opinions, its a free country, but if he felt that bad about the current state of STAR WARS, someone of his media influence should have had the wisdom to send back the free copy/"care package" of the 2004 DVD set sent by LUCASFILM, turned down the likely later 2011 sent Blu-ray sets, too, and should have politely declined Dave Filoni's ultimately poor and controversial decision in offering him the voice over work of Dengar in THE CLONE WARS animated series- which, for an actor (well Pegg's supposed to be an actor), turned out for many to be a pretty weak vocal performance and an overall ruination of that popular character's bounty hunter mystique.

J.J. Abrams obviously likes the British nerd-ness of Simon Pegg, who is a talent within his own original material (like SPACED, SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ), and surely sees in him some kind of relatable kindred spirit whom he can identify with and have lots of laughs on and off set. But its no laugh to the insulted worldwide STAR WARS fan base- this likely latest addition to the cast is a pretty unpalatable one, is a potentially huge disappointment (especially with Pegg's prior re-imagined TREK connections (there's a big difference between an actor and a directors participation), which we hoped he would sensibly not clash with) and likely cause quite a negative feedback wave in some quarters leading up to December 2015...

One final question: If I slag off the Prequels and George Lucas, do you think someone at LUCASFILM might hire me for a job on the Sequels or Spin-offs? It seems to have worked for Spin-off movie writer Gary Whitta, and now likely Simon Pegg. Is it that easy?

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

FORCE-FUL PROGRESS! MORE 'EPISODE VII' NEWS...


Camp Lucasfilm might have gone quiet again as the main Pinewood Studios filming amps up, alongside tight security akin to traversing the hostile Fire Rings of Fornax, but there's still lots more EPISODE VII and beyond related news to enjoy:

Josh Trank To Direct Stand-Alone Star Wars Film | StarWars.com

Harrison Ford and JJ Abrams are lost in conversation as Star Wars production moves to London | Mail Online

▶ Carrie Fisher at Alan Carr: Chatty Man - June 2014 - YouTube

Mark Hamill talks Star Wars before Disney apperance - Orlando Sentinel

▶ Full Mark Hamill conversation with James Arnold Taylor at Star Wars Weekends 2014 - YouTube

Keeper of the UK purse strings, Chancellor George Osbourne visits the EPISODE VII set.

Gleeson’s family in dark over Star Wars - Herald.ie

NOTE: Possible future SPOILERS: S7AR WARS: "JJedi Mind Tricks" — Latino-Review.com

George Lucas -- Leaked 'Episode VII' Pics Ain't My Problem | TMZ.com

Billy Dee Williams Confirms His Involvement In 'Star Wars Rebels' | The Star Wars Underworld

BEHIND THE SCENES: BRINGING BACK THE BUNS!


In between bringing assassination plots and doomed romances to the screen, First Lady of the Prequels Natalie Portman's Padme gets to sample some outlandish but iconic hair bun arrangements similar to those worn by her later daughter, Leia, on the EPISODE II set at Australia during 2000. Mickey Mouse, eat your heart out!

AFICIONADO sends the happiest of greetings to Miss Portman on her recent 33rd Birthday.

Friday, 6 June 2014

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'STAR WARS STORYBOARDS - THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY'



STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY

Edited by J.W. Rinzler

Foreword by Joe Johnston

Introduction by Nilo Rodis-Jamero

Published by ABRAMS BOOKS


Reviewed by Scott Weller


Another Holy Grail for STAR WARS fans finally materializes from the hidden depths of the LUCASFILM ARCHIVES- the book that Classic Fans in particular have waited years for. J.W. Rinzler and ABRAMS BOOKS previous collaboration with STORYBOARDS: THE PREQUEL TRILOGY was a bona fide visual feast, but STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY…? Well, this is a veritable banquet!


Beautifully compiled and designed to the highest stands of visual excellence, bearing an immense 1,200 pieces of art, its no wonder that artist and director Joe Johnston, possessing such a high-calibre reputation as one of STAR WARS finest visualists after the equally distinguished Ralph McQuarrie, calls it one of the best behind the scenes STAR WARS books ever published. And after other equally worthy book companies had tried and failed in securing his work/contributions in book form, its pleasing to see Johnston deciding to play ball and begin to enjoy his previous association and important historical contributions to the original STAR WARS universe, joining forces with Lucasfilm in assembling this superb package.
 
Late 1975: Joe Johnston choreographs future storyboard movements using the original Colin Cantwell models created for THE STAR WARS.  

Back in the day one couldn’t underestimate the key role storyboards were to Hollywood movie making, especially for a project as large, vivid and production complex as the original STAR WARS and its subsequent sequels would be. Early animatics cobbled together from old war films would be a factor in helping the newly launched ILM visual effects crew get a sense of speed, urgency and rhythm to the action that creator George Lucas had planned, but the pencil and ink drawings rendered by Johnston and his team over nearly eight years would be equally important and valid- their relatively small frames setting up camera directions and all the required frame elements (live action and effects) needed in a shot, and forever more recognized in setting up the incredible and richly diverse realms emerging from Lucas’s imagination. ILM would soon become the dream cathedral- the place where artistry would become unparallelled, its pencil and ink fantasists quickly joining the elite “superstar’s club” of visual effects history.
 
1979: Ralph McQuarrie at work on storyboards in London, for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Within its 352 pages and gorgeous showcase spreads (including never before seen, recently unearthed material), work from 15 incredible artists (the likes of Johnston, Ivor Beddoes, Alex Tavoularis and Ralph McQuarrie, as well as lesser known names like Roy Carnon and David Russell) show us the early genesis of incredible spaceships, like Han Solo’s trusty Millennium Falcon, heroic and industry-sleek X and Y wing fighters, and the TIE fighters that, like real-life Bumble Bees, shouldn’t be aerodynamically possible, but fly into battle for the necessary realms of sci-fi storytelling. Other rare gems to behold, some seen in rare embryonic form here: Ben Kenobi’s non-demise in the original storyboards for EPISODE IV, and looks at planets and vistas that disappeared and re-appeared in the evolving stories, to specific ambitious shots that would be tweaked, replaced or re-engineered over time, some inching to be reincarnated within the late nineties love ‘em or hate ‘em SPECIAL EDITIONS.
 
Battle on the Blockade Runner. Art by Alex Tavoularis.

From the floating world of the Aldreraanian prison planet years before it became the Bespin mining colony of EPISODE V, to the haunting visages of the Death Star superweapon above the forest moon of Endor, it’s a treasure trove- a window into spellbinding beauty, some of it perfectly translated to the screen, whilst others that never quite made fruition prove equally compelling in their own way, giving us an intriguing look into the STAR WARS that could have been had other certain artistic choices and additional production budget funds been available. Used and unused, all are beautifully presented, put on the page in an easy on the eye yet compulsive to savour style from designer Liam Flanagan. You can see how encouraged in their ideas and input Johnston and colleagues would be by Lucas, who often changed his storytelling to bring in their material.
 
"Death Star approaching." Art by Joe Johnston.

Despite the family space fantasy aura that the Classic Trilogy often projects, there’s also a sense of the Gothic in some areas of the books visual revelations- moments that may have been just too much for young viewers if such boards had been realized, like Luke’s decapitated hand moving of its own volition during the sail barge battle of JEDI. In general, decapitation would become a large part of the STAR WARS universe, and more had been planned-look for JEDI storyboard carnage showing a detailed battle between Luke and ruthless Boba Fett, slightly different to the one we saw in the final film, as our Jedi hero literally takes the bounty hunter’s gun arm off. Thirty years on, and into my adult sensibilities, that would have been such a cool moment!
 
The Imperial Death Fleet. Art by Nilo Rodis-Jamero

The What If’s of the book are mostly linked to the original film, though, what with its in-development space ships and environments ever changing with the revised scripts and pruned back budgets. The ambition and scope broaden noticeably with each subsequent STAR WARS film, however, and these are equally paid tribute: the drama and excitement of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, with its incredible opening Snow Battle and the later asteroid field chase, and RETURN OF THE JEDI’s full-on spectacle, of which many of that films presented boards, whether they were revised or not in the pre and post production phases, made their way into the completed film. JEDI has enough action for three movies let alone one STAR WARS adventure, with its huge scenes of Rebels against Stormtroopers on Endor and the eye-capturing epic space battle- situations key to making that particular film so beloved. And the road to that latter sequence was a fraught one: hundreds of elements and moments from it would be altered, deleted or completely replaced at the last minute under orders from Lucas during his complex editing process. This book gives us an all too brief glimpse of some of the sequences likely filmed and still so far not yet to have seen the light of day as deleted scenes footage on DVD or Blu-ray.
 
The Ewoks attack! Art by George Jenson, Rodis-Jamero and Johnston.

I know that the book’s main objective is to keep to the chronologically filmed sequences, but one disappointment is the lack of storyboards accompanying the then 1981 original scripting of RETURN OF THE JEDI, before it changed quite considerably by the time of shooting in 1982. Omissions like the original world of Sicemon, the two Death Stars and the finale lava cave duel between Vader and Luke are notable and would have been nice to see. Perhaps the material is being saved for a second book?

Surely one of the most time-consuming projects to assemble, J.W. Rinzler excels once more in his continued status as the most respected behind the scenes archivist and history-charter that George Lucas and STAR WARS could ever have, helping to solve mysteries from the Classic Trilogy’s production that have occasionally lingered - some of these specially solved for the publication of this book, alongside his hunting down, in a nice way, the names of specific artists who left LUCASFILM’s employ once their freelance contacts were up in 1983/84. He also provides short but articulate passages on key plot and behind the scenes information, giving us more background on the emerging ILM art department, as they also individually recall how they got to be involved in the project/saga, alongside conveyances and reminiscences on the attitudes and teamwork of ILM and the general ambiance of that magical and intense time period.

We’re hoping that the new art and design teams of the upcoming STAR WARS Sequels enjoy this new book as much as the fans do, and that its superb images are inspiring them to concoct equally worthy and exciting new avenues for the continuing past future adventures of the Skywalker family.

AFICIONADO RATING: A truly dynamic and breathtaking look at the universe of STAR WARS, STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY is the essential book purchase of the year so far. 4.5 out of 5

STORYBOARD NOTES/HIGHLIGHTS

"I got him!" Art by Joe Johnston.

STAR WARS (1977)

Alex Tavoularis: His work on the opening scenes show a more adult and violent take on the battle between Rebels and Stormtroopers than we’ve seen before: bodies with leaking pools of blood, heads being blown up, and Darth Vader’s cruelly decapitating a rebel trooper- perhaps the genesis of the limb losses that would affect the saga on and off!

There’s also more human looking versions of Threepio and Artoo, plus the approach and Imperial capture of “the pirate ship”, later named the Millennium Falcon, towards the Alderaan prison facility high up in the clouds.

More on Tavoularis’s work recently found, linked to the second and third drafts of the movie, show Luke when he had briefly changed to a girl searching for her captured brother, whilst Chewbacca is a more lemur-like being. Plus, a couple of boards more heavily realized from Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art.

Joe Johnston: His refinement of the early Colin Cantwell spaceship designs in the run up to effects filming, and his work on the changing face of the epic Death Star trench battle, with help from Ronnie Shepherd and Paul Huston. There's also the intense process of creating the boards and how, during the original STAR WARS, the behind the scenes pressure saw him create a record breaking forty boards in one twelve-hour day!

The Falcon escapes Cloud City. Art by Joe Johnston 

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

The superlative Walker battle – the longest and most changed/evolved boarded sequence of the movie. Its also one that Johnston is most proud of.

Its interesting to see just how similar Johnston, Rodis-Jamero and new recruit David Carson’s artistic styles are on the boards, contrasting the different but nonetheless effective styles of Ivor Beddoes and, later on, Roy Carnon and Brook Temple. Also, spot the cute in-jokes that Johnston and co. often put into their boards for both this and JEDI.

Working alongside Ivor Beddoes and director Irvin Kershner in the UK during 1979, many previously unpublished Ralph McQuarrie storyboards make the book, notably for the worlds of Hoth and Dagobah.

An intriguing deleted scene: an early Hoth wilderness shot where the Probot blasts a Wampa in the ice- a scene filmed in Norway either with the snow beast or with a rodent-like creature instead.

Ivor Beddoes prime showcase in this section is his work on the Dagobah swamp world showing Luke interacting with the diminutive Jedi Master Yoda, revealing several training scenes and intriguing character moments that never made the film- some being too complex to bring to the screen. His later Bespin lightsaber duel imagery is methodically and meticulously worked out for the director and stuntmen to consider.

Luke Skywalker has a limb fetish for Boba Fett. Image: Artist Unknown. 

RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

British artist Roy Carnon (who prior worked on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) and ILM-based George Jenson are highlighted here: Jabba’s Tatooine stronghold and Palace, and parts of the Shield Generator conflict on Endor- enjoy some of the rare forest battle comedy gag boards with the Ewoks and Chewbacca.

A less lighthearted early depiction of Jabba’s palace and its creature nightmares is boarded: the grotesque gangster, prior to inheriting Threepio, uses its tail to whack a former protocol droid interpreter senseless, which is then hacked to bits by Gamorrean guards! Later on, Johnston gives us an early deleted Luke and his new lightsaber scene, plus one further special board linked to the infamous Sandstorm sequence.

Another key Johnston highlight: the entire board sequence for the Endor speederbike chase adapted from early animatic tests, which pretty much appears intact from the page to its final onscreen realization. Keep an eye out for a few intriguing omissions, though...

Superb Endor space and land battle images are further assembled from Johnston, Rodis-Jamero, and David’s Carson and Russell: later difficult to shoot B-wings and Y-wings swoop into battle during the space bound aspects of the Battle of Endor, plus a colourful, differently choreographed Roy Carnon take on the opening part of the lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker (wearing attire very much like his farmboy look from EPISODE IV).



Get hold of STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY here: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: Amazon.co.uk: J.W. Rinzler: Books

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