Oct 26, 2016

Why do Obi Wan and Vader fight so slowly in A New Hope compared to Revenge of the Sith?

obi wan fights vader on the Death Star

Why do Obi Wan and Vader fight so slowly in A New Hope compared to how they do in Revenge of the Sith?

Well, it's not because they are old!

This are two ways to answer this question.

The first relates to the effort of movie making.

The second is about the story telling.

In terms of movie making, Star Wars was produced in 1976 and featured an elderly Alec Guiness clashing swords with a muscle man in a big heavy black suit. No one expected the energetic acrobatics of Errol Flynn.

This was a sword fight using 'light swords' and on screen special effects that never ever been done before. No one ever knew Star Wars was going to become the biggest film in history.

No one knew it was going to be one of the most examined and discussed films in history.

If George Lucas had, he would have made it better. But he didn't and indeed, he swapped some points with Steven Spielberg!

There was simply no way that the sword fight between Darth and Kenobi was going to be as epic as what was eventually realised in Revenge of the Sith.

But in terms of story telling, this is where things get interesting. What you witnessed was not a sword battle between a Sith Lord and a famous Jedi Knight, it was a conversation (watch it here).

Forget about Revenge of the Sith for a moment, what we were presented with was two foes that had fought some 20 years earlier where one left the other for dead.

And now, Vader is one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy.

He could have killed Kenobi in an instant but he chose to play it out a bit, maybe so he could figure out what Obi Wan was up to (he already had a plan though to let the Millennium Falcon escape).

One could argue that Obi Wan toys with Vader somewhat as well. He certainly insults him with his sneering use of the word Darth. This repartee fine for Kenobi, he was trying to give Luke a chance to escape the Death Star. He also knew that his death would be a significant event.

The telling point is not this rope-a-dope of sorts, but Kenobi's line "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." that was important.

We didn't know how it was important but we were given enough to know that with this knowledge, Kenobi was not afraid to die.

He knew he was able to help Luke in another, more important way - and that came to be when Luke was doing the trench run on the Death Star and was able to give guidance.

It was a noble sacrifice and it set the path for Luke to become a Jedi and bring down the Emperor (Obi Wan had no idea Vader was still to actually fulfill The Prophecy).

vader kenobi battle
From my point of view the Jedi are evil...
By the time Revenge of the Sith came along, moving making had come a long long way.

Blockbusters were now giant spectacles filled with epic action and featured vast amounts of CGI animation.

George Lucas was able to take the current state of CGI and use it to make his duel between two heroes one of the fastest flowing there had ever been.

He needed to as well for it was the climax of the prequel trilogy and the moment every one had wanted to see since it was learned that Vader fell to the dark side. It had to be epic, anything less would have been a failure.

Extra for experts: Check out this theory about light sabers being used in the Star Wars movies.

Want to read some more sweet things about Darth Vader? 

7 tragic things about Darth Vader.
Why did Darth Vader turn to the dark side of The Force? (if you were living under a rock).
10 Darth Vader quotes that show he was the worst Sith Lord ever (but possibly the greatest Jedi)

Oct 25, 2016

Star Wars cosplayers do it Playboy Bunny style....

playboy bunnies as star wars
This dude knows whats up
This is Star Wars awesomeness at its best - a collective of cosplayers bring the sexy back for Star Wars, Playboy style.

We can only wonder what the pillow fights after looked like....

Did you ever read what Carrie Fisher said when she didn't appear topless in Playboy?

Oct 24, 2016

A brief design history of Darth Vader, Nazi inspiration and all.

Early concept of a young Starkiller dueling Vader

A brief history of the design of Darth Vader

Kylo Ren may be obsessed with Darth Vader but the rest of the world got there well before him.

It was in 1977 to be exact when Vader stepped into the Tantive IV and threw a few Rebels about.

As he did so, he stepped into movie infamy as one of the greatest villains ever.

We have a theory that one of the key reasons why that happened was the look of Vader.

He was like a caped black knight, spewing evil from that robotic face. Not to mentioning that terse, measured breathing that was utterly terrifying.

It was just sinister. Vader was a big deal, even before the most infamous reveal of his fathering Luke Skywalker.

Indeed Pierre Christin, a noted comic creator who had some influence over Star Wars, had this to say on why we love Vader, “A villain like Darth Vader is simply a cinematic flash of genius, destined to be a great film icon forever. The reason we fear him so much is because he partly reflects ourselves.”

So we love Vader because we fear him.

Got it, thanks French dude.

So what were the elements that went into the design of Darth Vader? Who came up with him and his look? Read on, Star Wars fan, read on.

How did the concept of Vader come to being?

George Lucas is the father of Darth Vader.

When Lucas was throwing around ideas for his ‘Journal of the Whills’ concept he wrote down the name of ‘General Vader’ who he noted was an imperial commander.

The character was described as a “tall, grim looking general”. Lucas also wrote down ideas for 'Knights of the Sith', a character called 'Kane Starkiller' who was a cyborg.

Eventually Lucas fashioned the character as a 'Black Knight of the Sith' who served the 'Master of Sith'.

Initially Vader did not have his famous helmet. Lucas had suggested his face be obscured by a black silk scarf.

This was during 1975 at which time Lucas asked Ralph McQuarrie to turn this concept into a drawn character.

When McQuarrie learned that Vader (as it was then in the script) was to cross through the cold vacuum of space to enter Leia’s spaceship, he added the mask.

Obviously the reasons for Vader needing the mask were made more interesting later on.

McQuarrie delivered duly delivered some concept art:

Early Darth Vader concept designs
Early Darth Vader concept designs
A costume designer by the name of John Mollo was given these sketches and told to get to work. He was inspired by samurai influences (which would have pleased Lucas given his penchant for Akira Kurosawa movies) and Nazi uniform and armour that was used in the trench battles of World War I.

In keeping with this minor Nazi influence, Stormtroopers were named after specialist German soldiers from the same era.

Brian Muir made the actual helmet and mask, fashioning early sculptures out of clay. He did his sculpting over a plaster head of David Prowse.

Here’s a great interview with Muir explaining the process.

Fun fact: Vader’s armour was given the serial number E-3778Q-1M.

That voice

During filming, David Prowse did the actions and also voiced the character believing he would be doing the final recordings as well.

Lucas had other ideas and tried to hire the great film maker Orson Welles (speaking or Welles, check out our Theory About Director Krennic's name) with no success.

This was just as well for James Earl Jones got the gig and Vader’s final ingredient was found. Jones recorded his lines in 2 and half hours.

Jones also chose to not receive an on screen credit as he thought his role was too small.

This was eventually rectified when Star Wars become a global smash again with Empire Strikes Back.

That breathing

Ben Burtt invented the sound by recording him using a scuba breathing apparatus.

The microphone was placed in the regulator.

To get the sound just right, these recordings were played in empty rooms and re-recorded to get that ‘from the helmet’ sounding effect.

Who was that guy that played Vader in Jedi?

During ANH and TESB, David Prowse did the body work for the character. Bob Anderson did the heavy lifting. Come time for the finale of Jedi, there was a need to show Vader’s face.

It was the big reveal moment, father and son eyeballing each other for the first, and last time in their lives.

Veteran English actor Sebastian Shaw was hired. His scene was filmed in secret so as to hold off on the ‘surprise’ as long as possible.

It is Shaw who stands as a Force ghost with Yoda and Obi-Wan in the original form, replaced by Hayden Christiansen in the Special Edition.

Coming back to Kylo Ren for a moment – When Luke Skywalker ceremonially cremated his father's armour on the moon of Endor in Jedi, Vader’s helmet featured on the pyre.

In the real world specific prop was an old promotional mask that was used from the promotional touring that took place after the premiere of A New Hope.

In the movie realm, the mask and helmet that Kylo Ren is holding when he talks to his grandfather Vader in The Force Awakens has been retrieved from the pyre.

By whom?

We'll probably never find out.

Who is Nien Nunb?

Who is Nien Nunb ? Why does he look like a pile of pancakes?

With the cameo appearance of Nien in The Force Awakens as an X-Wing pilot, we thought it might be an opportune time to quickly visit the character.

Most fans will recognise Numb as Lando’s co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi – but do they know his name? It's never said in Jedi! Or TFA!

Nien is almost like a Salcacious Crumb kind of character – seemingly fun and amusing but the view is left wondering about the fellow – what’s that language he speaks to Lando for example?

Numb’s back story is that of a smuggler so it perhaps makes sense he found himself on one of the most famous smuggling ships of all.

Expanded Universe tales suggests that he and Lando became friends well before the Jedi time frame and then when Lando was planning his assault on the Death Star II he recognised his old pal in a line up of pilots and selected him.

Nien Nunb was actually a puppet which was operated by two puppeteers, Mike Quinn and Richard Bonehill.

He was voiced by Kipsand Rotich who used his Kenyan language, Haya and also Kikuyu. This was for both Jedi and TFA - the later film required some serious tracking down of Rotich so he could record his part!

Billy Dee Williams nicked named Nien Nunb as 'The Pancake Kid' as his face looks like a pile of the breakfast food!

With all the concern about the new Star Wars canon, we can confirm this Star Wars cannon is still canon.

Empire Strikes Back cannon

With all the concern about the new Star Wars canon, we can confirm this Star Wars cannon is still Star Wars canon.

We're not sorry....

Oct 22, 2016

How long are the Star Wars movies if you add them all up?

how many minutes is star wars run time

Here's a list of the running times of the Star Wars films. 

The timings are in minutes.

The Phantom Menace – 133 minutes

Attack of the Clones – 142 minutes

Revenge of the Sith – 140 minutes

A New Hope – 121 minutes

The Empire Strikes Back – 124 minutes

Return of the Jedi – 131 minutes

The Force Awakens – 138 minutes

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - ?? minutes<

Extra for Experts:

Caravan of Courage - 96 minutes

Battle for Endor - 94 minutes

Star Wars Holiday Special - 98 minutes

So based on the above, Attack of the Clones is the longest running Star Wars movie and A New Hope is the shortest (excluding the Ewok movies and the Holiday Special).

If you counted all the Star Wars movies released so far, their total running time is 1060 minutes with an average of 132 and a half minutes.

If you add in the Ewok spin off movies and the infamous Holiday Special you get a combined running time of 1346 minutes with an average film running time of 122 minutes.

That's a lot of Star Wars to watch!

I debated about adding The Clone Wars movie to these numbers but decided against it. 

Who else gets the feeling a lot of characters are going to die in Rogue One?

Who else gets the feeling a lot of characters are going to die in Rogue One?

Unless Disney is saving up their Rebels for Rogue Two, we’re pretty sure that a LOT of Rebel characters are going to die in Rogue One.

Here's our reasoning.

It’s not quite the Han Solo route, but it’s up there.

This is a heist movie.

It thus needs suspense.

Will the heroes live or die? They need to because we know they get their hands on the Death Star plans and place them in Princess Leia's care.

We’ve complained before that with big budget films, too many good guys win at the end of the day (as no one likes a downer ending right? Wrong).

But we get tired of that.

We want to see things get REAL. As real as the Death of Han solo. 

Wil this Death Squad be will certain er.... death. 
And just like Harrison Ford agreeing to do just one more Star Wars film, this Rogue One prequel gives the filmmakers a massive opportunity to raise the ‘will they survive’ ante.

They can afford to do it as this particular movie does not tie into the original trilogy in the sense that this film’s characters turn up in (Mon Mothma and Darth Vader excluded). 

That means it doesn’t matter if Jyn or Chirrut or K-250 die as it will be of no consequence to the Star Wars franchise going forward.

It will merely add to the drama and viewer's enjoyment of Rogue One.

It's my dear hope that Rogue One can have an epic ending where it really is life or death for the characters and viewers can go along for that ride in the cinema.

As the Death Star’s plans get closer and closer to being Leia’s grasp, the stakes can be raised. There should be glory on all sides!

All it will take is for one character to survive.

If that’s the case, we’d put good money on Jyn surviving and everyone else to die trying.

Hope fully Lord Vader’s saber gets to play a bit of a hand in that but we suspect he will be very under used in the film. 

Oct 21, 2016

10 of the most obscure Star Wars facts. Number 3 is out of this world!

10 of the most obscure Star Wars facts. Number 3 is out of this world!

Star Wars fans love a good bit of trivia and there's plenty of it to around - here's 10 bits that you might not have come across before.
  1. The Bantha milk drank by Luke and Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in A New Hope is blue. Coincidentally or not, the code name for Return of the Jedi was Blue Harvest.
  2. The planet name of 'Coruscant' was created by Star Wars author Timothy Zahn for his book Heir to The Empire. George Lucas liked the name and included shots of Coruscant, the Imperial Capital at the end of the Return of the Jedi movie. It then featured in the prequels.
  3. Han Solo’s space ship the Millennium Falcon has a very small blink and you'll miss it cameo appearance in Revenge of the Sith. It is seen landing on Coruscant.
  4. It was Return of the Jedi’s director Richard Marquand who came up with the idea of having Leia turn up to Jabba’s Palace disguised as a bounty hunter.
  5. When Luke claims Chewbacca is a prisoner transfer from cell block he mentions the number 1138, this is a direct reference to George Lucas’s first film, THX 1138. That film was about a dystopian future where a authoritarian regime was in control – a not to dissimilar state of affairs in Star Wars. 
  6. Han Solo’s “I know” line in response to Leia’s declaration of love as ad libbed by Harrison Ford. It’s become an iconic Star Wars quote.
  7. "I've got a bad feeling about this" or a variation of it is spoken in every movie.
  8. R2D2 is taller than the Ewok 'Wicket' from ROTJ. Kenny Baker who played was originally going to play Wicket however illness prevented him from doing so, thus giving Warwick Davis a chance to stake a claim in Star Wars lore.  
  9. Mace Windu is the only Jedi in any film to wield a purple colored lightsaber. Here's some of his quotes from the prequels
  10. None of the Star Wars films have credits at the beginning of them. This actually became a really big deal and meant Lucas quit various film institutions such as the Director's Guild and Stars Wars films were considered independent movies as result.
What's that you say? You loved this trivia and you want more Star Wars facts?

Oct 20, 2016

E.T. made a cameo appearance in The Phantom Menace

e.t. revenge of the sith easter egg

E.T. clearly phoned home

Three E.T. can be found in The Phantom Menace!

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg share a special friendship, indeed Speilberg has directed all four of the Lucas produced Indiana Jones films and Lucas even tried to get him to direct Return of the Jedi.

So was it a surprise for any one to see three E.T. Chancellors cameo in The Phantom Menace?

Probably not

That's them at the bottom left of the picture.

It was a nice little nod for George Lucas to put in and a pretty sweet easter egg.

I think I also saw one in Attack of the Clones too...

What does Toto and Star Wars have in common?

john williams with son joseph williams from the band toto

The lead singer of Toto is the son of one of the great players of Star Wars

This is probably one of the coolest points of Star Wars trivia you could come across if you were both a Toto and Star Wars fan - Toto's current lead singer Joseph Williams is the son of John Williams, the famous composer of all 6 Star Wars movies!

Musical talent clearly runs deep in that family!

So next time you hear 'Africa'* as you're driving along on a lazy Sunday morning you can follow up by humming a few bars of the Imperial March!

* Not that Joseph sang on the original version of the song...