Feb 9, 2016

Obi-Wan in VII? We'll take that serving.

With internet rumours swirling murkily round the net like the mists of Dagobah*  about the possibility of Obi-Wan Kenobi having a part in Star Wars Episode 8 we thought we’d better chip in because we know that director Rian Johnson reads every day. You could say he’s actually looped in…

But Obi-Wan in Episode 8? WE ARE IN. WE ARE SO IN.

We feel it, and many have said it before that Ewan McGregor’s version of the Jedi General was the best thing about the Prequel Trilogy. His performances, esp in Revenge of the Sith were fantastic. If Obi-Wan was to be in VIII, we would ask that Rian consider Ewan McGregor as a force ghost.

This is not some idle fancy. Obi-Wan has a minor cameo in The Force Awakens. One line, and his legend lives on. We could speculation that Obi-Wan could play a part in a couple of ways.

He could commune with Luke to help with his on-going concerns with the Force. Luke’s been hiding on a planet called Ahch-to for many years – plenty of time for him to appear out of the ether for discussion. But that would all be stuff in the past. 

The movie would need to see something happening NOW – so it would seem to reason that Obi-Wan would offer a form of guidance for Rey. After, all he’s already contacted her when she was in the catacombs of Kanata’s Castle and told her these are her “first steps”.  So he’s already on her case.

While Luke has been cast by many as the Obi-Wan figure of TFA (and mostly 8 has he will probably be the one that actually trains Rey) we think it would be quite cool to have Obi-Wan 'pop in' on Rey as he did with Luke in Empire and Jedi. 

Of course, he could actually be Rey's father but we think that's a long, long shot

* 'Mists of Dagobah' that would be a great expanded universe book title!)

Feb 8, 2016

8 facts you didn't know about The Force Awakens. Number 7 will blow your mind!

Sorry not sorry for the click bait post title. Here's 8 interesting facts about the seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. We assure you that number 7 is indeed pretty good....

1. Yoda was nearly in the movie

Frank Oz recorded some dialogue for the film. We speculate that it was to use in Rey's 'flashback sequence' in the same vein that Obi-Wan was snuck in. Whatever the work was, it didn't make it into the final form of the film.

2. 007 has a cameo as a mind tricked Storm Trooper

James Bond star Daniel Craig has a blink and you'll miss him cameo as a Stormtrooper. Craig was the Stormtrooper featured when Rey attempted to use the Force with a Jedi Mind trick. It's a risky scene as you just have to accept that Rey suddenly found her Force powers and was learning how to use them but if you do accept it, it's a fun moment.

3. Phasma's look was at one time considered for Kylo Ren 

Captain Phasma's final armour 'look' was at one time a conceptual design for Kylo Ren. Phasma wears a black cape with red trim, the colours of the First Order. Given that Phasma was inspired by the Boba Fett character it's no surprise she has a cape as the original idea for Fett was to have him wear a cape / poncho in the style of The Man with no Name from Clint Eastward's Spaghetti Westerns. Phasma's chrome armour is said to be taken from a space yacht built on the planet Noboo that palpTine owned. The suit is thus able to repel radiation however Phasma used the recycled chrome as a symbol of might and power.

4. No one loses a limb on screen, a first for a Star Wars film

Given the franchise's long tradition of characters losing limbs, The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars movie where no one loses an arm. In the novelisation of the film there is a scene were Ankar Plutt arrives at Maz Kanata's castle to retrieve the stolen Millennium Falcon. Chewbacca intervenes when Plutt accosts Rey and rips his arm off. It's not known if this scene was actually filmed and cut or simply dropped prior to filming. Kylo Ren does appear to cut Lor San Tekka in half but we don't see it happen.

5. Rey was left in Ankar Plutt's care on Jakku as a child

In a blink and you'll miss it moment in Rey's 'fashback' sequence check out the hand that is placed on Rey as a child. As Rey is crying, watching her parent(s)/ family leaving her behind, that hand is that of Ankar Plutt - yes, the man charging her for food and water provisions at the Station Outpost.

6. There are 6 Games of Thrones Actors in the movie

There's a 6 actors who performed roles in the Game of Thrones. Gwendoline Christie is the major player as Captain Phasma but did you spot Thomas Brodie-Sangster of The Maze Runner and Game of Thrones plays a First Order officer?

Jessica Henwick who was featured in season 6 of Game of Thrones played X-Wing pilot Jess Testor. Mark Stanley was a Knight of Ren.

Miltos Yerolemou who played Arya’s doomed fencing instructor Syrio Forel, is a bar fly in Maz Kanata’s bar and Emun Elliott had a crack as well as an X-wing pilot. This is because the casting director for the show also did the casting for The Force Awakens. Check out this full list of cameo moments in TFA.

7. Christopher Lee's niece played Doctor Kalonia!

The doctor that tends to Chewbacca's arm wound would have been well known to British Star Wars fans as she was played by Dame Harriet Walter, a renowned stage and screen actress. Her character was called Dr. Kalonia. There's a nice piece of symmetry here in that her uncle was Christoper Lee who played Count Dooku in two Star Wars films.

8. Ello Asty is a reflection of JJ Abram's love of the Beastie Boys

If you've ever watched a Star Trek movie by JJ Abrams, you may have noticed he quite likes the Beastie Boys. And that love has had a wee influence on The Force Awakens. It turns out that the name Ello Asty is likely a play on the Beastie's work Hello Nasty.

Asty also has 'Born to Ill' written in Aurebesh on his helmet, a further play on the BB's debut album, Licence to Ill. Given that, one wonders if BB-8's name is a reference to the band as well! The Born to Ill line itself is a play on "Born to Kill', a war reference, made popular by the Stanley Kubrick film, Full Metal Jacket. The line being written on a soldier's helmet - as was Asty's line...

You can catch some more Force Awakens Trivia here!

Feb 3, 2016

8 great moments Obi-Wan Kenobi had in Star Wars (from our certain point of view)


Here's some of Obi-Wan's greatest Star Wars moments (from our certain point of view)

Luke Skywalker once referred to Obi-Wan Kenobi was ‘Old Ben’ which belies the truth of the greatness that rests on the shoulders of one of the few Jedi that actually, truly made a difference in the struggle to bring balance to the Force.

Obi-Wan has appeared in every Star Wars movie in some shape or form so he’s had plenty of opportunity to get in on the action. Here’s what are our favourite moments of the character, be they quotes, saber fights or misdirection.

This little one's not worth it

By the time Obi-Wan and Luke visit Mos Eisley's cantina bar, we haven't quite got the measure of Obi-Wan. He's demonstrated some smarts with dealing with the sand people and showed us a Jedi mind trick to great effect. But he's just a creaky old man right? Not so young Padawan! As Ponda Baba and his mate Dr. Evazan try to pick a fight with Luke, Obi-Wan politely intercedes with a friendly, "this little one's not worth it" which brings no result. As Ponda presses further Obi-Wan cuts his arm off with his own lightsaber.

We learn at that moment Obi-Wan was a talk no prisoners kind of guy and to be taken seriously.

Fun fact: Empire's assassin droid IG-88 was made from recycled Cantina bar parts!

When he took down General Grievous 

Grevious had been fairly sucessfull in his turn as Supreme Commander of the Droid Army so much so that he was a feared opponent for all those taking part in the Clone Wars. So it would have been hugely pleasing for General Kenobi to beaten him in their fight in Revenge of the Sith. If Jedi were to have feelings, that is. We think this fight with Grevious was great as it was a battle of wills, featured some bad ass saber movies by Grevious and ending with Kenobi delivering a classic line about guns being "So uncivilized".

When he took down Darth Maul

Admit it, you felt pained when Darth Maul killed Qui-Gon Jin in the Phantom Menace. But you damn well loved it when Obi-Wan did a Force flip, grabbed his saber and split Maul in two. Arguably one of the best sword movements in Star Wars, it was a stand out moment in TPM.

That 'look' he gave Vader just after he saw Luke on the Death Star

As a young child watching Star Wars for the first time, I was slightly confused when Kenobi appeared to give up his fight with Vader when he saw Luke. Why would you do that? I was even more surprised when Kenobi's body seemed to have disappeared as if by some magic. Turns out that was the Force, yolo!

As an older child I understood the look that Old Ben had. He knew he was about to become more powerful than Vader could have ever imagined and in doing so he would be able to guide and inspire young Luke. And so he gives Darth Vader this telling look and adds a wry smile to it.

That took balls.

And anyway, like 13 seconds later Obi-Wan is telling Luke to "Run Luke, Run" via the Force...

"Use the Force Luke!"

This was the summation of every part of Obi-Wan in A New Hope. He had taught Luke as much as he could in the short time they had together. In the knowledge he could become a Force ghost to watch over him, he had died in the hope that it (c)would spur Luke on to defeat the Evil Empire.

His guidance at this very moment in the Battle of Yavin directly led to Luke bringing down the Death Star and setting him on a path to assist with Vader's ultimate redemption (though he probably now believed Luke was actually the Chosen One).

When he fought Vader for the second time and left him for dead. 

Then you are lost! The final saber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader was the culmination of three movies that explained how Darth Vader become Darth Vader. And at the end of the day, one moment of anger and rage and fear lead to Anakin thinking he could best his mentor even though it was clearly explained to him that Obi-Wan had the higher ground. Obi-Wan had no choice but to defend him self and so cut off Anakin's legs and arm. And then he picked up Little Orphan Annie's saber and walked away leaving him to die. That was brutal.

"And these blast points, too accurate for sand people. Only imperial storm troopers are so precise"

A classic line that became mocked by many fans for being very incorrect as the original trilogy showed the storm troopers were pretty bad shots.  But at that point in the movie it served a purpose to show how strong willed and evil the Empire was. If you'd managed to live through Order 66 like Obi-Wan had, you could forgive him for thinking about storm trooper precision when being confronted with the Empire for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Anyway's the whole missing their targets thing was all part of the ruse by Tarkin.

When he passes Luke to Aunt Beru at the end of Revenge of the Sith

The passing of the torch in a sense. Kenobi's world had fallen apart, his Jedi life over, his friends all dead. He was going to ‘watch over the boy’ and this moment gave way two the final shot of ROTS, Luke’s two new guardians against the back ground of Tatooine’s two suns setting – echoing the famous scene of Luke doing the same in A New Hope.

Rey! These are your first steps. 

We said 8 great moments but are throwing in Obi-Wan's brief words to Rey during her flashback sequence. It's great to know someone is looking out for her. This call from the force echoes prior calls Obi-Wan made to Luke and also how Qui-Gon Gin reached out to Anakin in Attack of the Clones.

More things Kenobi:

Jan 17, 2016

What exactly is the Resistance in TFA. Why is Princess, I mean, General Leia in charge?

What exactly is the Resistance in TFA? Why is Princess, I mean, General Leia in charge?

The official Star Wars database describes the Resistance as thus:

'A small, secretive private military force, the Resistance was founded by rebel hero Leia Organa to monitor the actions of the First Order. Most New Republic power brokers tolerate the Resistance while regarding Organa and her fighters as dead-enders with an unfortunate fixation on the past.

Organa’s cash-strapped movement relies on credits, ships and equipment quietly funneled to it from the few senators who share her concerns.

Soldiers of the Resistance are well trained and well equipped, but must rely on hit-and-run tactics when faced with the overwhelming might of the First Order.'

If you have seen the movie, you would not necessarily have known this was the case however! The Force Awakens was fairly light on explaining what the Resistance was exactly (and also the First Order). There was some brief mentions by the characters - it was up to the viewers to work it out and at its most basic one simply had to accept that the Resistance where the good guys and the First Order where the bad guys in the same manner the Rebels were the good guys and the Empire were the baddies in A New Hope.

What would have helped explain things to the viewer was actually cut from the movie. We briefly saw a character called Kor Sella just before the planet she was on in the Hosnian Prime system was blown up by the Star Killer base. This is kind of a dramatic irony for she was a diplomatic aide to General Leia, and was sent to Hosnian Prime to petition the New Republic to increase support the Resistance, with the Starkiller Base as proof that the First Order broken the peace treaty that was settled many years before with the Empire!

So how big is the Resistance?

It's smaller than the Rebel Alliance was in Jedi!

In terms of ships, the organization has no capital vessels to call on, and its Starfighter numbers was  woefully light—two squadrons, Blue and Red, with Poe Dameron in the leadership role.

Why is Princess, I mean General Leia in charge? 

Cos it's Star Wars baby!

Jan 14, 2016

How the Force Awakens was inspired by Ralph McQuarrie concept art work

If there's a name as synonymous with Star Wars that's not an actor or George Lucas, it's Ralph McQuarrie. He was the first illustrator that George used to bring his ideas to the life by way of McQuarrie's exceptional drawing and painting talents. Ralph did conceptual art design for all three original films. Star Wars as we know it would be a completely different beast if a different artist was used to draw the Millennium Falcon.

For the Prequel trilogy, a different lead concept designer was used (Doug Chang). However, with the advent of the Star Wars Rebels TV show, Lucasfilm took a look at the original designs McQuarrie did in the past that did not necessarily see the light of day on the silver screen.

This use of McQuarrie's work was continued into the development of The Force Awakens and some of those elements made it on to the screen. Here’s what we’ve noticed as being directly inspired by the works of McQuarrie.

Our favourite is the X-Wing design. Note the split engines!

On the planet Jakku, there’s a opening entrance to the trading post where Rey gets her supplies from. It’s a direct lift from McQuarrie's work - I think this was from the Return of the Jedi design era.

When we first step inside Maz Kanata’s Castle we track a furry looking green tailed fellow. He’s known as a X and was once a suggestion for what the Greedo character in A New Hope could look like.

There's also some more minor examples of costume elements that may have made their way on to Rey's outfit and some Snow Stormtroopers (there were cut from the movie). You could even argue his designs influenced the Star Killer base look.

Extra for Experts:

McQuarrie brought life to R2D2 and C3PO and it was his drawings of them that George Lucas used to help shop his Star Wars stories around the film studios as he attempted to get his space opera made. That design work has also perhaps helped to inspire the design of BB-8.

Check out an original sketch idea and compare to the final version of BB8 and decided on that one for youself!