itle

Apr 26, 2017

Just how did Rey win her duel with Kylo Ren? He was a Knight of Ren and she was just a girl...

Thoughts on the duel between Rey and Kylo Ren - how did Rey win?


How did Rey REALLY beat Kylo Ren in their duel?



We spied this amusing comment on the 'net from someone who said they'd seen the movie three times which read:

"How does someone that just a few minutes earlier discover that she has Force ability so easily defeat someone else who although not a Jedi or a Sith has clearly had some training in the force."

And I was like did you see the same movie?

They probably thought Rey was just a girl.

The saber battle between Kylo and Rey was pretty darn good but Rey was the ultimate victor.

How does this come to pass?

The start of The Force Awakens shows Rey being attacked by TWO masked men. She fights them off and displays that she's a talented fighter able to hold her own against physically stronger opponents, using her staff.

She's clearly tough and not afraid of getting into the odd scrape. She's been through it before.

This serves to demonstrate in the fight with Ren that she has enough skills and agility to take him on in combat.

This next bit is really important.

Kylo Ren is severely injured in the fight.

The movie made an extremely blunt point that Chewbacca's Bowcaster weapon is very strong. Both Chewie and Han Solo used it to great effect, demonstrating that when hit with it you would be thrown 10 feet from where you stood. Many Stormtroopers died to bring you this information.

After Kylo Ren killed Han Solo, Chewie shot Kylo with the bowcaster. He took the full blast to his chest. He didn't take a back step, which demonstrated how strong he was.

The blast however left him bleeding and as he faced Rey, his blood was spilling onto the snow at his feet. You saw it when he punched his own chest. He was in real pain.






Finn had also managed to get Kylo with the saber. It was more of a flesh wound but it would serve to help Kylo lose a bit of focus. It would have also tired him somewhat.

Focus is key here too.

Kylo has just murdered his father Han Solo as part of his personal test whether he would be drawn to the dark or light side of the Force. It would be pretty fair to say his mind isn't fully in the game as he's waging an emotional battle in his head.

Another point to consider is that his training is not yet complete - Snoke tells us so at the end of the movie so it's arguable that Kylo is not yet the ultimate swordsman and it's quite likely he hasn't been in combat against another force sensitive person (wielding a saber) since he took part in the massacre at the Jedi Temple / Academy that Luke had started.

Remember, This film is called the Force Awakens and it has awoken in Rey big time.

The Force awoke within her when she touched Luke's long lost saber in Maz Kanata's castle. The Force is seemingly on a mission to bring Rey and Luke together. It is willing her to succeed.

There are some possibilities to consider.

Rey could be Luke's daughter. Rey could also be a Solo - while that would seem unlikely given the context of the film, that could be part of a bigger secret. If there is a familial relation to the Skywalker linage, it would be reasonable to assume the Force is particularly strong within Rey which would help her beat Kylo.

At the end of the day, the Force Awakens need a climactic sword fight - so to make it believable, Kylo had to be turned down somewhat and the blast from Chewie served that purpose.

Think back to the movie Gladiator when the same trick was used on Maximus - though the extreme of that was he was dealt a mortal blow (and still won the fight against Commodus).

We'll find out when The Last Jedi comes out in 2017.

Apr 25, 2017

8 BUSTED myths about Star Wars

Star Wars movie myths busted

Here's a handy infographic which busts some myths about George Lucas and the making of Star Wars. 

Try not to take them too seriously! You you could take this list of 111 Star Wars facts pretty much to heart...

Seriously. 

How Mortal Engines ripped off Star Wars and Han Solo

mortal engines anna fang han solo

Or rather how Star Wars inspired the Mortal Engines book series

Our favourite character from the first Mortal Engines novel is the Anti Tractionist, Anna Fang.

And why was this?

She just oozed coolness. 

Kind of like Han Solo but without the Wookie boyfriend. 

Writer Philip Reeve once spoke of Star Wars and the effect it had on him in terms of the cosmetic look and feel of the movie:

"The opening scenes on the desert planet, with its mud-brick spaceport and rusty hover-cars, were tremendously exciting because I suddenly saw how you could mix up elements of the past and future to make worlds of your own. So that's really where Mortal Engines comes from, it just took another twenty years to emerge!"

Given Reeve's is a bit of a literary magpie, one should not be surprised how some Star Wars then snuck into his first novel.

There's two key Star Wars inspirations.

Anna Fang is her own person much like Han Solo but the key thing that Reeve nicked from Star Wars is the similarity to the Millennium Falcon and Fang's own airship, the Jenny Hanniver:

Here's a passage from the novel:

'The ship that hung at anchor there was not the elegant sky clipper Tom had been expecting. In fact, she was little more than a shabby scarlet gasbag and a cluster of rusty engine pods bolted to a wooden gondola.

"It's made of junk!" he gasped.

"Junk?" Miss Fang laughed.

"Why, the Jenny Haniver is built from some of the finest airships that ever flew! An envelope of silicon silk from a Shan Guo clipper, twin Jeunet-Carot aero-engines off a Paris gunship, the reinforced gas cells of a Spitzbergen war balloon..."

Does that conversation sound familiar to you?

It strongly echoes what Luke Skywalker says to Han Solo in ANH to which Han retorts: "She'll make point five past lightspeed. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself".

Fangs point about the make-up of her ship sounds much the same.

There's also a second key Star Wars moment in Mortal Engines and that's the beginning. Star Wars famously opens with Darth Vader's Star Destroyer pursuing Princess Leia's Corvette, The Tantive IV. It's a desperate chase, one of life and death.

So how does Mortal Engines start?

With a chase. Here's the first line:

“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”

London (Vader's ship) eventually catches up with the Mining Town (Leia) and consumes it for it's resources.

Different circumstances but it's the same beat. 

Apr 19, 2017

About that time Vader stopped Luke killing the Emperor. Was it what we thought it was?


What if we were to revisit that moment in Return of the Jedi when Luke decides to strike the Emperor down when they are on the Death Star II?

Let's just spitball here for it a bit and let yourself be dragged down the garden path, just this once...

As is commonly considered, the Emperor goaded Luke into raising his saber against him and in doing so this action caused Vader to intervene with his own saber and saving the Emperor's life.

This was all part of the Emperor's plan. He wanted Luke to give into the dark side of the Force, to help Luke let the hate flow through him. Once he had dispatched of his Father, Luke would have succumbed to Palpatine's influence as had Anakin some twenty odd years ago.

We know how this played out, Luke and Vader fought, Luke dealt Vader a mortal blow (or did the force lightning finish him off?), Palpatine attempted to kill Luke and Vader finally made up his mind about where is loyalties lay and saved Luke.

Great story, great ending to the movie trilogy.

But. 

What if when Vader stopped Luke's strike, it was not to save his master Palpatine but to stop Luke from taking that final path to the Dark Side?

We know that Luke appears to have been heading down that path.

He's started to wear black. He's slowly becoming part machine due to his daddy cutting of his arm and he forced choked a couple of Gammorean Guards at Jabba's Palace. So he's ripe for the turning right?

Had Vader noticed this change in his son?


Recall in Revenge of the Sith when young Anakin has Count Dooku down for the count. He is humiliated and beaten by Anakin. And what does Annie do? He excutes him with a double blade assault to the neck, mostly at Palpatine's bidding and thus turning him ever more so in the direction of the dark side of the Force.

What if Vader has all this in mind as Luke is about to strike?

We can argue that Vader's loyalty to the Emperor has been wavering throughout the whole of Jedi. That scene with Luke on Endor is arguably a key moment for Vader.

You may have noticed he doesn't respond to Luke when he suggests there is still good in his father. Vader is wavering in his loyalty to the Emperor even more than  he was at the time of Empire when offered for him and Luke to team up and together rule the Galaxy.

So, Vader is wavering and he doesn't really want his son to become like him. So if he had of killed Palpatine with his first strike, that would have been Luke turning, just like Anakin did with Dooku.

Vader chose not to allow Luke to do this, and would rather fight it out a bit and see how things play out. Of course if he had of killed the Emperor, the turning to the dark side probably would only have happened if Vader chose to capitalize on it... but stay with us.

Luke seems to know this, and calls Vader out during the fight but manages to give away that Luke has a sister.

Does Vader know this is Leia?

We have no idea, however it's enough to goad Luke back into the fight.

Vader is wavering still but is suddenly balls deep in a fight to the death, a death he may have wanted for a long time since he was saved from being a crispy critter back on Mustpha by Palpatine.

Either way, by the time Luke beats him (how amazing is that swelling musical score then that happens!) Vader is nearly done.

Ultimately Vader chooses to let his son live but he took his sweet time doing it. Throughout that whole scene he could have gone either way but he really didn't want his son going to the Dark Side. He just wanted the team up.

Any ways, this has been a bit of a ramble, what do you think? Was Vader stopping Luke from falling to the dark side when he prevented Luke from striking down the Emperor?

Or maybe I'm over reaching. It's probably actually simply how it looks in the movie. Vader simply defends his master and it's not until he sees his son dying of a force lightning attack that he makes up his mind.

Extra for Experts

If you look really carefully at the very end of Jedi, post fight scene, Luke's costume is opened up, the flap's insides are white. This symbolises that Luke was always a Jedi like his father before him. Perhaps this casts doubt on all of the above, but the symbolism is clear. Luke was always the good guy.

Extra for Experts II

While we just said that Luke was always the good guy, we understand that an early idea Lucas had was for Luke to become the bad guy at the end, to walk of into the sun set having turned. How interesting a bookend to the Star Wars saga that would have been!

Apr 16, 2017

11 crazy stories, facts and myths about Darth Vader you probably want to know about

Darth Vader doing the Force choke

Darth Vader


We only needed to write those two words and you know exactly to whom's face they belong to.

The fallen Jedi and one of the great Sith Lords, Darth Vader is one of the most famous movie villains of all time.

His imposing presence, magical powers which include the infamous ability to force choke a man just by thinking about and ultimately tragic personal story have inspired all kinds of acclaim and a place in most Star Wars fans hearts.

But enough of this chit chat, here’s 11 crazy stories, facts and myths about Darth Vader that any Star Wars fan would be keen to know!






1. While Lucas had said post release of A New Hope that he had 9 Star Wars movies all mapped out, he didn't really. It was only on when developing the second draft of Empire Strikes Back with Leigh Bracket that Darth Vader became Luke's father. Indeed, in original drafts of A New Hope, Vader and Anakin Skywalker were different characters.

2. The famous reveal of the father and son relationship between Vader and Luke is often misquoted as "Luke, I am your father". The line is actually "No, I am your father". It's kind of like how Star Trek's Captain Kirk never actually said "Beam me up, Scotty".

Sebastian Shaw as Darrth Vader in Return of the Jedi
Sebastian Shaw as Vader in Jedi
3. The character of Vader has been played by several actors. In the original trilogy David Prowse is famous for wearing the suit and Sebastian Shaw as the 'face' of Vader in  Return of the Jedi. 

The prequels saw an idealistic Jake Lloyd tackle Anakin in The Phantom Menace and Hayden Christensen covered the next two movies as well. Bob Anderson also stepped in for sword fighting scenes and C. Andre Nelson helped out a bit with the redux versions of the original trilogy.

4. Hayden also appeared as the costumed Vader in Revenge of the Sith. He apparently begged Lucas to let him play him. The suit had to be designed to accommodate his smaller stature than Prowse's.

5. While Return of the Jedi saw Luke return the favour to Vader and cut his arm off, the idea for it actually came from the expanded universe novel, ‘Splinter of the Mind's Eye’. This book was intended to be turned into a sequel to Star Wars but when that movie became so popular, the idea was abandoned.

6. Vader was actually the only Star Wars film character to lose an arm three times! And both his legs as well. Obi Wan Kenobi got 3 of his limbs in Revenge of the Sith! (he had the higher ground...).

7. Darth Vader was referenced in the film Back to the Future by Marty McFly as being from the planet Vulcan. No one was sure who was more upset - Star Wars fans or Trekkies!

8. Vader has his own theme song written by John Williams. Known as the Imperial March it was introduced in the Empire movie and used in Jedi and in the prequels to show when Anakin was turning to the dark side of the Force.

Darth Vader concept art by Ralph McQuarrie

9. James Earl Jones is famed for providing the voice for Vader however he didn't do the famous breathing sound effect. This was done by the now famous Ben Burt placing a microphone inside the mouth piece of a breathing apparatus and recording it being used. Burt has since become world reknown for his sound recording skills and I believe he worked on every Star Wars movie to date.

10. George Lucas at one stage considered using the great Orsen Welles as the voice actor for Vader. Welles eventually voiced the planet destroyer Unicron in the animated Transformers movie.

11. Anakin Skywalker really is the ‘Chosen one’. While Yoda and Obi Wan may have thought a mistake had been made in the reading of the prophecy, Anakin was the one who actually killed Sith Lord Palpatine by throwing him down the Death Star’s reactor shaft in Jedi and thus restored balance to the Force.

Bonus fact - Darth Vader only appeared on screen in A New Hope for a total of 12 minutes. It's amazing that for such a short amount of screen time that his character become one of the most loved bad guys in movie making history!

We think these were some pretty cool bits of trivia about the Dark Lord.

Do you have any others to share? Leave them in the comments!

Apr 15, 2017

Top 19 things I took away from Star Wars Celebration 2017

jyn rescue concept design
Congratulations. You are being rescued.
Star Wars Celebration Orlando has wrapped up after an exciting weekend of reveals, confirmations and further expanding mysteries.

Here's the take-aways of information that seem pretty interesting
  1. They must have paid Hayden Christiansen a pretty penny to turn up.
  2. The love shown for Hayden by fans must have melted any concerns he had about prequel haters heckling him. Right?
  3. There's a mining planet called Crait in TLJ.
  4. Luke has probably been on Prozac too long
  5. K-2SO once had the head of an RA-7 droid as part of his design.
  6. There used to be two other alien members of the party in Rogue One, Senna and Lunka.
  7. Rian Johnson seems pretty cool and indeed comfortable with Star Wars fans. Harrison Ford? Perhaps not so much. 
  8. To design the U-wing, 781 different drawings were done by Doug Chiang's design team before they settled on the final look.
  9. Luke's quote from The Last Jedi trailer "It is time for the Jedi to end" is going screw with fanboys and girls for months!
  10. Despite what the CEO of Disney said, Carrie Fisher will not be in Star Wars IX (unless Kathy Kennedy is faking us out). 
  11. Same for Lando Calrissain not being in The Last Jedi. Maybe we'll see him in IX (again, unless it's a fake out)
  12. Daisy and John have an amusing relationship.  Echoes of Hamil and Fisher?
  13. A lot people don't know the meaning of the words 'teaser' and 'trailer'.
  14. Daisey Ridley said Luke doesn't recognise Rey when she turns up at Ach-to Island. Queue more fervent speculation... 
  15. Ashoka lives! !! ?
  16. But that's OK as TLJ director says that we will find out who Rey's parents are (were?) in his movie.
  17. Star Wars Rebels will end after season four. A smart move by Disney. It's a quality show, no need to stretch it out and dilute its quality.
  18. Speaking of Rebels, Thrawn's body guard known as Rukh will have a moment or two. Guess who's doing the voice over? Yep, Warrick Davis is having yet another Star Wars cameo appearance! His eleventh!
  19. Kelly Marie Tran’s character name was revealed as Rose.  Surely they could have given her something cooler?

I'll say it till the dewbacks come home, Ralph McQuarrie was a concept design genius

Doug Chang, a long time Star Wars art designer, revealed at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 a sketch that Ralph McQuarrie had done as part of the sketches for the Rebel Base and ships within for A New Hope.

It was apparently a new publically displayed sketch.

Here it is:


And I thought that seems cool and it triggered a memory. I think it eventually became this concept design:

mcquarrie rebel base final concept design

It seems to be some kind of prototype design of the Y-wing?

I also found this early design as well:

early star wars space ship ideas

I'm sure I've said it before but without McQuarrie's key influence on Star Wars, Lucas would have made a totally different movie!

And that's all I wanted to say. 




The design of K-2SO from Rogue One

k2s0 conceptual design
An original idea for Kaytooso
It's not like I needed to add 'Rogue One' to the title. Everyone knows K-2SO came from Rogue One.

He was arguably the best thing about the movie. He was witty, dark and as noble and heroic as his organic counter parts and like in the case of C3PO and R2D2 so many times, the human heroes would have failed if the tin cans hadn't done their part. 

So what goes into designing a robot such as K-2SO? A freaking lot it would seem. 

Doug Chang has the real intel via an article by Bryan Young on Star Wars.com.

"K2-SO was going to have a transparent head. At one point, Edwards toyed with the idea of K2-SO of having a transparent head so the audience could see him thinking. 

Chiang explained why this didn’t quite work. “When we drew this, it looked like we pushed it just a little bit too much out of the Star Wars box.”

When that didn't quite work, they tried to but the head of a RA-7 droid on the robot. It was apparently a favoured look for a while but it didn't stick. 

If you're wondering what an RA-7 droid looks like, think back to the Sandcrawler in ANH:

ra-7 droid star wars

Young writes "late in the piece a member of the creature department, Luke Fisher, painted the distilled essence of what Kaytoo would be in a painting, which would be recognizable as the lovably sarcastic droid in the film."

You may have seen this below Rogue One concept art that came out at the 2016 Celebration Event - you can see an early incarnation of K-2SO on the far left. 


In the above Rogue One squad design, you could be forgiven for wondering who that big green guy with the furry squirrel like thing on his back is. 

They were known as Senna, “a Chewie type,” and Lunka, “something that could skitter into an air duct, almost like a little thief.” The characters were dropped and one wonders if it was a bit close to Galaxy of the Guardians Groot and Rocket in concept...


This cool set of designs in from The Art of Rogue One:

rogue one robot concept design
  

Apr 14, 2017

Doug Chiang's insights into the design of Rogue One

Concept art of Jedha and the Kyber temple from Rogue One


Here's wicked awesome report from concept design artist Doug Chiang's Star Wars celebration event session. Written by Bryan Young of BigShinyRobot.com it offers a great insight into how the creatures, critters as spaceships were designed.

-

Doug Chiang is a legend of Star Wars and he’s been playing in that world as an artist for more than 20 years, working on the Special Editions, the prequels, and, now, the new generation of Star Wars films. At Star Wars Celebration Orlando, he offered a presentation on the design of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and we were on the scene to take down the 10 most fascinating facts from the panel.

1. For Rogue One, design was happening the whole time. According to Chiang, “Production design is a team effort and I had a great partner in Neil Lamont. We oversaw a team of 47 artists.” Chiang and these artists worked on Rogue One for years. Not only was there a long time to design through the development phase of the film, this team worked for six months through principal photography and then they spent a year designing the world after principal photography had finished. “Production design no longer ends with principal photography.”

ralph mcquarrie rebel base sketch

A Ralph McQuarrie sketch of a rebel hangar shown during the panel.

2. Original trilogy concept artist Ralph McQuarrie taught Doug Chiang everything. “Designing Rogue One started for me 40 years ago,” Chiang told the audience. “That’s when I saw Episode IV and that’s when I first saw Ralph McQuarrie’s work. His work completely influenced mine. Since I didn’t go to art school, I learned to paint and draw through Ralph’s work. The Art of Star Wars books and McQuarrie portfolios became my textbooks.”

When Chiang finally got to meet McQuarrie, he was dying to know how Ralph did what he did. “When I finally met Ralph in the late ‘90s, it was wonderful to hear how he created his art. His secret was that he was incredibly prolific. His paintings for Star Wars would take only a day or two, where paintings I was doing would take as many as five days.”

Concept art of the Imperial occupation of Jedha in Rogue One.

Concept art of the Imperial occupation of Jedha in Rogue One.

3. Star Wars has a consistent design timeline. In order to let the visual language of Star Wars make sense through different eras, each era of Star Wars is based on real-world design movements. “Episodes I, II, and III were grounded in the [designs of the] ‘20s and ‘30s, everything was handcrafted. Episodes IV, V, and VI were grounded in the heavy manufacturing of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The current trilogy can be seen as an analogue to our time.”

U-Wing Rogue One concept design
U-Wing design concept art

The U-wing went through many iterations before a final design was chosen.

4. The 80/20 rule. With Rogue One butting right up against A New Hope, there was a need to make sure the two halves of the original saga blended together seamlessly. “We knew that 80% of the film would need to rely on the classic designs,” Chiang said, “but that gave us 20% to play with.”

According to Chiang, they wanted to start big and the challenge was to make that 80% of their designs feel as though George Lucas had created them and built them and simply didn’t use them. The other 20% would come from blending the prequel designs with a more handcrafted look.

To design the U-wing (which went through 781 different drawings!), Chiang took Gareth Edwards up to the Lucasfilm archives to show him some of the designs they’d come up with for previous films. Edwards gravitated toward the looks based on an F1 Hydroplane, which shared design elements with Count Dooku’s solar sailer and Zam Wesell’s ship, helping bridge the looks between the dark times.

K2SO original concept design
K-2so statue deisgn concept

The evolution of K-2SO.

5. K2-SO was going to have a transparent head. At one point, Edwards toyed with the idea of K2-SO of having a transparent head so the audience could see him thinking. Chiang explained why this didn’t quite work. “When we drew this, it looked like we pushed it just a little bit too much out of the Star Wars box.”

After that, they tried putting the head of an RA-7 droid on Kaytoo, and that design stuck around for a while, but it wasn’t right. Eventually, a member of the creature department, Luke Fisher, painted the distilled essence of what Kaytoo would be in a painting, which would be recognizable as the lovably sarcastic droid in the film.

The best (and only) Thrawn #cosplay we've seen

thrawn cosplay by a child

This Grand Admiral Thrawn cosplay from the Star Wars Celebration event is awesome and is made even better by the appearance in the photo of David Filoni, the lead chap on Star Wars Rebels and the one who most likely who had the final say on the introduction of Thrawn into Rebels.

Thrawn costume cosplay