Nov 29, 2016

We’ve finally seen everything: Admiral Ackbar as a Playboy Bunny cosplayer

Ackbunny cosplay
My eyes are up here, boys
This most definitely the weirdest Star Wars cross over we’ve ever seen – Jenny Newman has come up with an incredibly odd cosplay riff – a female Mon Calamari as a classic Play Boy bunny waitress!

In a classic play on "it's a trap", comes "it's a frap!"

it's a frape! ackbunny cosplay

Here’s Jenny after her day out as Admiral Ackbunny at the Star Wars celebration event:

Did you know Carrie Fisher once appeared in a Playboy article? The mind boggles...

Nov 27, 2016

Ten oddly interesting facts about Mos Eisely, a well known hive of scum and villany

Mos Eisley

Facts about Mos Eisely

Ben Kenobi famously described Mos Eisely as a hive of scum and villany where people need to be cautious. The place has become a cultural touch stone in many ways.

It's where the Stormtroopers didn't find the droids they were looking for. It's where Luke had his first drink in a bar and it's where Han shot first.

They even named a whiskey after the place in the film Young Adult.

So what's there to know about the place? Here's some facts:
  • The first view of Mos Eisley in Star Wars where Obi Wan delivers his famous quote about it being a place of villany and scum, is was shot from a place called Death Valley in California from what is known as Dante's View. with a matte painting added in the distance to create the visual.
  • The real-world locations for places around Mos Eisley were filmed in Tunisia
  • Check out the drink dispensers from the Cantina - one of them was recycled into assassin droid IG-88.
  • The name of the famous cantina is Chalmun's Cantina. A well known haunt of freighter pilots and a host of other dangerous characters it is where Han shot Greedo first and where Obi Wan cut off Ponda Baba's arm
  • The Cantina had a 'no droids' policy. 
  • The name of hangar where the Millennium Falcon takes off from in A New Hope is docking Bay 94.
  • If you want to know more about IG-88, check out the short story in which he attempts to take over the world.
  • The band that plays the famous "Cantina' music is called Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes. The bald players are known as Biths. You can hire them for weddings but I wouldn't recommend it.

What are the best Star Wars toys for Christmas Presents?

What are the best Star Wars toys for Christmas Presents? What's this Rogue One business?

Coming up to Christmas, it's time to think about ideas for presents for the kids and the kid you know who never grew up.

You can't really go wrong with Star Wars presents so here's what we are picking will be the must have Star Wars toys and products that every young fan will be looking forward to finding in their Christmas stockings! These are great gift ideas and are nearly guaranteed to not disappoint!

Every link below will take you to Amazon where you can check out the price and product details and make your order.

We suggest you get in early so there will be no disappointment come delivery times in late December.

Amazon do a great job, but get in as early as you can.

Rogue One will be the highest demanded toys!

Let's start with the elephant in the room, being Star Wars: Rogue One.

Timed for release just before Christmas, the cash in on tie-in products will be monumental. With new characters and vehicles and space ships, comes a fantastic range of figures and models to choose as gifts.

This will be the number Star Wars present for 2016 - The Star Wars: Rogue One Rebel U-Wing Fighter

The U-Wing looks to be one of the coolest things in Rogue One, but it is guaranteed to be on the hot list of many boys and girls coming into Christmas

Arise, Lord Vader

The return of the Darkest Sith Lord himself, Darth Vader having some scenes in Rogue One is hugely anticipated.

It's one of the most blatant cash ins in movie history bringing back Darth Vader but who are we to argue when there is so much cool character merchandise to share with our loved ones!

Have a Jyn and tonic

While Darth Vader looms large over the movie, the hero of the piece is Jyn Erso.

She's the lastest female lead in a Star Wars film after the great step forward that Rey took and the boy and girls are no doubt keen to snap up her figurine:


If Jedi clashing with Sith and Han Solo were not enough to keep Star Wars fans entertained, the space ships certainly add to the adventure.

While the Millennium Falcon doesn't feature in Rogue One, there were plenty of new space ships added and the models of them will make excellent Christmas and birthday gifts (someone please tell my wife!?).

Our favourite thus so far is the U-Wing. It also comes as a Lego version!

The Force Awakens

Not to be forgotten, there is still plenty of awesome The Force Awakens gear to be had. The BB-8 remote control droid is still a very popular toy.

A big seller as is the face of the whole merchandise packaging for TFA, Kylo Ren.

Star Wars Lego

Lego is a classic children's gift and is an ideal Christmas gift idea. Lego is one of the worlds most enduring play toys and translates very well into the Star Wars line.

While the giant Death Star might be out of most buyer price ranges, there are many affordable Lego sets that make great stocking stuffers.

Star Wars Lego Video Games

If the child or young person you are buying for has an Xbox or Play Station, you could always consider gifting them one of the Lego video games.

Lego has done a fine job turning all the Star Wars movies into video games.

They are deceptively fun games that take classic moments from the films and turn them into small problem solving set pieces. Many an hour can be spent playing through them, especially as some of them have over 50 playable characters!

We had particular fun ourselves with the Original Trilogy game that came out about 10 years ago! The current Lego version of The Force Awakens has been a very popular version of the format, especially as it features the voice acting talent of Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford.

The older kids (and Dads...) might like to have a crack at Star Wars: Battlefield.

Nov 25, 2016

10 peculiar facts and triva about the man who composed all the Star Wars music, John Williams

John Williams conducting
Daaaa Na!
John Williams is cinema’s most celebrated composer and one of the true reasons behind the success of the Star Wars movies.

He’s been in the music making business for over 60 years and has produced some of the most famous musical works in history.



Indiana Jones.

E.T. Schindler’s List and Star Wars.

And those are just the movies we like. Apparently Harry Potter has a good theme ;)

Here's some key points, facts and triva from William's most extraordinary career:
  • Started out as a jazz pianist for hire. His early work with the famous Peter Mancini opened up many opportunities for him. 
  • He’s had to 'thank the Academy' 5 times thanks to his scores for films, Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., and Schindler’s List. That's fine haul of Oscars (Star Wars has a few awards too!).
  • In 1974,  the not yet famous director Steven Spielberg approached Williams to compose the music for his feature directorial debut, The Sugarland Express. They teamed up again a year later for Spielberg's second film, Jaws. This success lead to Spielberg recommending Williams' services as a composer to George Lucas, who needed a composer to score Star Wars. The rest is history.
  • The original Star Wars sound track remains the highest grossing non-popular music recording of all-time
  • In 1999, George Lucas launched the first of a series of prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy. Williams returned for all 3 films meaning the combined scores of all six Star Wars films add up to more than 14 hours of orchestral music. His Duel of the Fates and Across the Stars are considered by man fans as being just as good as his themes from the original films.
  • Williams has been nominated for over 40 Grammy Awards, winning over 20 times.
  • Has had four of his themes chart on the American Billboard Charts:
    • 1975 – "Theme From Jaws," Highest position No. 32
    • 1977 – "Star Wars Theme – Main Title," No. 10
    • 1978 – "Theme From Close Encounters Of The Third Kind," No. 13
    • 1979 – "Theme From Superman," No. 81
  • This next one is a little far out - John's son Joseph is the lead singer for the band Toto! Not the original singer mind you, but the singer right now!
  • Williams has also composed music for television - some well known works included Lost in Space, Heidi, and Gilligan's Island. 
  • Such was the success of their working relationship, Williams has, to date, scored every sound track for Steven Spielberg's films with the exception of The Color Purple. 
  • Rogue One is the first Star Wars film for which he will not record the score. This was due to him working on The Last Jedi. 

Nov 22, 2016

Vaguely written reasons to be excited about Rogue One. As if you needed any more.

Jyn Erso and Cassian at the Rebel Base

Reasons to be excited about Rogue One!! As if you needed any. 

Now we will learn the answers to questions that have been asked for 30 years

It’s a new Star Wars story, one we’ve never seen or heard before, but one we’ve all probably imagined at one time or another.

We knew why Darth Vader had attacked Princess Leia’s ship for the plans but we always wondered how she got them.

It's a prequel but we don't know how it will truly play out

It's a prequel but with an ending that we don’t know about. We loved Lucas’s Prequels but we always knew the end game.

And to an extent we do for Rogue One but this movie is The Seven Samurai of Star Wars, people are gonna die and that’s the mystery.

We don’t know who (with one exception that was spilled by the actor).

Will it be all of them?

Will Jyn make it through? It’s going to be a great journey getting there.

If you’ve seen Godzilla, you’ll know that movie was more style than substance. The beauty of Rogue One is that the director Gareth Edwards has been given the chance to do both style and substance (as much as a Star Wars film can have).

It won’t just be set piece after set piece of monsters crossing the ocean to kill each other, it will be set pieces for reasons!

Ha. We hope.

Darth Vader

The original man in black is back. We really, really are hoping we get to see him in some menacing form and actually see him punishing those in his way. If there’s one reason to go and see Rogue one, it’s the return of Vader.

Jyn Erso

Hot on the heels (boots?) of Rey, the Star Wars universe gets a new Star Wars heroine to carry the movie. More cocky than Rey, Jyn Erso knows where she’s come from and it’s time to pay some dues. Or pay debts. Whatever, 

Jyn looks pretty awesome running across the battle field, we think Felicity Jone’s Jyn looks the part, with a kind of a don’t give a fuck Han Solo  attitude (I rebel!) and look forward to seeing her kicking with Cassian and the Rebel crew.

Location, location, location

There’s gonna be a whole heap of new characters, locations.

These will offer some diversity to the usual sand planets!

Call backs

Star Wars loves a good call back i.e. ‘I’ve gota bad feeling about this!’ and it’s likely to happen again with Rogue One. Update: The line fell to K-2SO!

We’ve already seen Mon Mothma returning as the Rebel Alliance leader, we’ve spied some shiny droids that could be found on the original Death Star and it was only a glimpse in the teaser reel that came out but Bail Organa may be sneaking in too! Update: He was!

Nov 21, 2016

The three key themes found in The Force Awakens

The three key themes of JJ's The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens is basically JJ Abram's love letter to A New Hope.

It is a clear reboot of the Star Wars universe, a chance to begin a fresh after the bittersweet handover from George Lucas.

It is not the empty vessel that some have described it as being.

But while TFA may be the 'new black' of the franchise, it has a thematic rhyme to the film that started it all and we'll now try an explore three of those themes.

Blood is thicker than water

We didn't know it at the time it came out but ANH was was about a family in crisis.

A young farm hand had found the charred remains of the only people in the world who loved him.

A princess was kidnapped by an evil man in a black suit and the evil man in the black suit was lost to the dark side after he trusted it would save the woman he loved.

And they were immediate family.

We learn fairly early on in TFA that the angry Kylo Ren is none other than the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia.


The bad guy who burns villages to the ground is the son of two of the most important people who helped bring down Palpatine's Empire!

We learn too that Kylo killed all of Luke's apprentice Jedi and has fallen under the spell of Snoke.

How embarrassing for Han and Leia!

How sad for Leia when she Force feels that Han has died and probably at the hand of her son.

So like ANH, TFA is yet another space drama with a dysfunctional family where blood will no doubt prove thicker than water.

There's another family question in the TFA.

We first met Rey in TFA as a strong independent woman who is stuck on a desert planet just wishing she could leave but is held back by the promise that her family to Jakku will return for her.

Luke couldn't leave, he's stuck on the sun burnt plains of Tatooine as well. Just like Luke's father Anakin too....

Their tales start the same.

They set forth on a journey making new friends and learning about the Force as they go. Ultimately they meet each other at the top of an island where Ray attempts to hand over Luke's long lost saber to its owner.

It would seem Luke is set to teach Rey how to become a Jedi but the question we're all asking, is Rey Luke's daughter?

Red Dead Redemption

We're led to believe that Kylo Ren lost his course under Luke Skywalker's tutelage due to the power Snoke held over Ren.

Luke had started a Jedi Academy but as Ren turned to the dark side of the Force, he apparently slew every single student apprentice that Luke had drawn to him.

He was lost and either became a Knight of Ren then (but maybe before) and found solace in direction from Snoke.

But Kylo wanted to be better or as good as his grandfather Darth Vader.

It's clear he was having an identity crisis of sorts, not a Sith, not a Jedi, he hated his father (does he love his mother?) yet wanting to finish whatever he thought Vader had started.

He also knew though he was being tempted by the Force to return to the light.

Could Kylo be redeemed by the love of his parents?

Han Solo thought he could.

Leia had told him so.

So as a father, he walked out to that bridge to try and get his son to come home with him. This was Kylo's chance, his first real test. Not wanting to turn to the light, by killing his father, he all but assured his place on the dark side of the Force.

So as the last ray of the sun is taken by the Star Killer, so Kylo makes his choice as the dark descends the base. No redemption here but it does set up quite the meeting with his mother Leia in The Last Jedi or IX does it not?

So there's a theme of redemption running through the movie. For Han, it's him facing up to the fact that he lost his son and did his very best moment as a father to try and save him. This personal redemption cost Han his life.

For Ren, there was no redemption. He made a determined choice to side with the Dark Side. Of course over the development of the next two Star Wars films, he may be redeemed and TFA sets him up for that.

There has been an Awakening

You felt it right?

Rey first felt it when she was engineered down to the dark below Maz Kanata's castle by Maz herself.

She didn't realise it until she actually touched Luke's long lost light saber (the one he lost when he fought Vader at the end of The Empire Strikes Back).

But what was the dark side's awakening?

Supreme Leader Snoke told Kylo there there was an awakening - but referred to the dark side and the light. We presume the moment when Kylo chose to kill his father in cold blood was his awakening in the dark side.

That was his test to see whether he would fall to the light as he had been plagued by thoughts of it. He more or less confirmed this during his father son chat with Han.

Luke using the Force to concentrate during the trench run was arguably A New Hope's force awakens moment. What was Rey's? You'd be right it you wondered it was during that epic fight with Ren.

Ken was almost toying with her and had her at his advantage, swords pressing together with a cliff at Ray's feet. One wrong move and she was dead.

At that moment, she looked inside her self and discovered the Force, she let it in just as Maz Kanata had instructed her to do back at the Castle. As she let the Force in, she was able to overcome the already wounded Ren.

The Force was now with her. It was awake.

A New Hope?

We said there would be three themes but we're sneaking in a fourth.

Rey is a new hope in the same way Luke was a new hope for the Jedi in the original Star Wars film.

While only briefly alluded to at the end of The Force Awakens, this idea will no doubt carry over into Episode VIII.

Nov 20, 2016

When did Star Wars become known as A New Hope?

When did Star Wars become known as Episode IV - A New Hope?

When Star Wars was originally released in 1977 it was but a single movie.

A single movie that smashed attendance records all around the world and everyone who saw that movie  in that theatrical run saw that now famous title crawl without reference to 'A New Hope'. 

Star Wars was simply called Star Wars

Spring forward to the making of The Empire Strikes Back. During production George Lucas was sufficiently of a mind that he had lots of Star Wars stories to tell - some of them were set before Star Wars so he came up with the idea that The Empire Strikes Back was actually Episode 5.

This meant he would be able to make prequel films if he wanted.

So Empire was released in 1980 to even bigger success than the original film with a crawl that referenced the story as being Episode 5. This lead to a second theatrical release of the original movies in 1981 and it was at this point that George Lucas added 'A New Hope' to the film's crawl. 

It was this version of the film that was used for home video release - thus ensuring many fans first experience with Star Wars featured the title A New Hope.

So you can be forgiven for thinking ANH was always called that but it's pretty clear it wasn't officially named as such until at least 3 whole years after the film's original release. 

If you're wondering where George Lucas got the idea for the crawl from, it was the original serial versions of Flash Gordon.

Is it true that Carrie Fisher appeared in Playboy Magazine?

Carrie Fisher in a Playboy Bunny outfit
Fisher in a Playboy Bunny costume

Is it true that Carrie Fisher appeared in Playboy Magazine?

Yes, Fisher did appear in Playboy but not in the way you're thinking.

Get your mind out of the gutter, you won't find topless pictures of her here, Carrie is a princess after all! Well, you could check her nudity out in the film Shampoo.

Back in Playboy's prime, people used to claim to read the magazine for its articles - one of those such articles featured Carrie Fisher. It's a very interesting read as it gives an insight into her mindset.

It took place following the release of The Empire Strikes Back so people would have been drawn to the article and would have thus been exposed to Carrie's thoughts on her mother's breasts, whether Darth Vader is gay and how Warren Beatty embarrassed her.

No, she doesn't reveal her bra size.

On doing a nude scene with Warren Beatty in the film Shampoo:

At the time I did Shampoo, I was a virgin. I knew nothing. They would kid me. Warren [Beatty], Hal [Ashby] and Robert [Towne] would all fall apart laughing, and I would, too.

My line to Warren was “Want to fuck?” and I was supposed to be hostile and mean and power-crazy.

I would say that line and fall apart, because Warren had told the others that I didn’t know what I was talking about and that was very funny to them.

On Vader being gay:

The guy’s not attractive. He has funny hair. He’s not black. He may be neuter. A lot of this is open to people’s interpretations.

Maybe he’s gay.

Vader is gay and he’s embarrassed about some tattoos he had put on his face. He got drunk one night.

No, he has some kind of problem with facial hair. What can I tell you? You’ll find it out in the third film. You had a glimpse of him in The Empire Strikes Back.

He looked like some vegetables gone bad.

On Debbie Reynold's breasts:

For Star Wars, they had me tape down my breasts, because there are no breasts in space.

Camera tape, gaffer tape.

 At the end of every day, I was going to draw a lottery and one of the crew could rip off the tape. I never did it, though.

Actually, my mother is more famous for her breasts than I could ever be for mine. Groucho Marx, in front of Nate ’n Als, once told me she had a great chest.

He was going to visit her in the hospital to see if they were real. He also said that on the Cavett show.

So I have some. I have two.

These responses to some of the questions asked by Playboy Magazine display a well rounded sense of being awake to the whims and ways of world.

A large part of that is clearly informed by Fisher's intelligence and the immersion into the world of show business by way of her famous parents certainly had a hand.

To be talking about someone being gay (even if a fictitious film villain), while not unheard of in the 1980's, was possibly a novel thing for the largely male audience of the magazine.

What was the role of Leigh Bracket in bringing The Empire Strikes Back script to the silver screen?

How much of Empire Strikes Back script did Leigh Brackett write?

Leigh Brackett's name famously gets a nod in the credits of The Empire Strikes Back as having been part of the writing team with George Lucas and Larry Kasdan.

Who is she and how much of the movie did she draft?

Who is she?

In this modern era of post Jedi, Thrawn and Clone Wars, I would bet three of our Earth dollars that most of this generation hasn't read a single Leigh Brackett science fiction novel or probably even watched some of the other films she wrote script for.

That's not to blame them for anything, neither has this author!

But back in the day, Leigh Brackett was a popular writer of science fiction novels such as, The Starmen and Alpha Centauri or Die! and had written a few movie scripts, notably Rio Bravo and The Long Goodbye.

Rio Bravo is considered an all time great movie if you were wondering.

Eventually George Lucas decided he needed some help with his second Star Wars film as his world had become so big after his ANH success and he asked Leigh for a draft of the the film based on some of the ideas he had come up with.

Lucas relayed this story as their first conversation:

Lucas: Have you ever written for the movies?
Brackett: Yes, I have. Rio Bravo, El Dorado, The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye...

Lucas then paused briefly

Lucas: Are you that Leigh Brackett?
Brackett: Yes. Isn't that why you called me in?
Lucas: No, I called you in because you were a pulp science fiction writer!

The sad twist of fate is that shortly after completing her first draft, she died. Bracket and Lucas never even had a chance to talk about the words she wrote for him.

Cancer is a bitch.

George Lucas has been quoted from 'Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays' as saying:

"Writing has never been something I have enjoyed, and so, ultimately, on the second film I hired Leigh Brackett. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out; she turned in the first draft, and then she passed away. I didn’t like the first script, but I gave Leigh credit because I liked her a lot.

She was sick at the time she wrote the script, and she really tried her best. During the story conferences I had with Leigh, my thoughts weren’t fully formed and I felt that her script went in a completely different direction."

The man who took over from Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan later said of Leigh's draft “I only skimmed it. It was sort of old fashioned and didn’t relate to Star Wars. The characters all had the right names, but her story’s spirit was different. I’m sure that had Leigh lived, she could have made the changes that George wanted in an excellent way.”

Is that the end of it?

Not really. Lawrence Kasdan is also quoted in Cinefantastique Vol. 28:

"What I worked on was a draft of the script George had written, based on the story George had given to Leigh. I don’t know what of Leigh’s draft survived into the draft George wrote.

What George handed me was a very rough first draft, really somewhere between an outline and a first draft. The structure of the story was all there – it was the skeleton for a movie. What was needed was the flesh and the muscle.”

But Larry then totally sharpens his thoughts:

"Look, there's no question that Leigh Brackett was one of the great screenwriters of all time. But it was an odd job for her, and there's nothing of that draft left in "Empire."

Now, we should take some of that with a pinch of salt and understand that Kasdan was speaking in broad terms and a lot of what Bracket wrote in the first draft would have been changed, restructured and dropped and added by Lucas who did the second draft.

 Effectively Kasdan comes in as the writer of the third draft and changed it all up again, including Han going into carbonite and the line “I’ll be back” becoming the “I know”.

But while that last Kasdan quote may ring around one's ears a wee bit, we can totally read Bracket's draft and decide for ourselves what carried over from her draft into the final move, and what didn't.

So what are some differences between Brackett's draft and what was the final story line?
  • Han Solo was not frozen in carbonite. 
  • There were no bounty hunters like Boba Fett or IG 88
  • Lando Calrissian's last name was Kadar and he was a clone of his grandfather... 
  • Planet names are different or changed around. Hoth is not an ice planet. 
  • Yoda is called “Minch”. He was quite a serious character in tone from the get go, rather than the joker we first met in Empire 
  • There's a plot where Han Solo needs to speak with his step father which was to lead into the events of the next film. 
  • Luke doesn’t have his arm severed by Vader - but is still rescued by Lando and ... Han Solo. 
This is not to say the ideas that Bracket and Lucas came up with in their first run aren't there thematically or didn't make it into production:
  • The opening of Bracket's work took place on an ice planet with Luke Skywalker getting lost whilst riding a white lizard (hey, remember that lizard Obi-Wan rode in Revenge of the Sith...) the lizards became taun taun and Luke was still attacked by some kind of snow man. 
  • Vader still used Han Solo as bait on the Cloud City to try and trap Luke. 
  • C-3PO still ends up in pieces on Bespin. 
  • Lando still is forced to cut a deal with Vader.
A bigger idea that was cut from Empire but introduced in Return of the Jedi was the relationship between Luke and Leia. The concept of Luke having a twin sister was introduced in Bracket's first draft. Bracket named the sister Nellis.

This idea was obviously transferred to Leia’s character.

You can read the Bracket’s draft here and make up your own mind!

Jabba the Hutt quotes from Return of the Jedi and the Special Edition of A New Hope

Jabba the Hutt quotes from Star Wars and Jedi

Jabba the Hutt quotes from Return of the Jedi and the Special Edition of A New Hope

Possibly the most famous frog eating slug to grace the silver screen, Jabba the Hutt is one of the great Star Wars bad guys.

He was the crime lord who placed a bounty on Han Solo’s head after he failed to complete a smuggling assignment – and thus he was first mentioned in A New Hope as he had employed bounty hunter Greedo to find Solo.

He was a pretty quotable character.

Jabba was featured as the antagonist in the first third of Return of the Jedi and in doing so became one of the iconic Stat Wars characters and in modern culture has become a simple of corpulence and greed.

'Jabba Desilijic Tiure' as he is formally known, made some great quotes during the Return of the Jedi and here 's the best of them:

  • I will not give up my favorite decoration. I like Captain Solo where he is.
  • This Bounty Hunter is my kind of scum, fearless and inventive.
  • You weak minded fool! He’s using an old Jedi mind trick.
  • There will be no bargain, young Jedi. I shall enjoy watching you die.
  • You will soon learn to appreciate me
  • Bring me Solo and the Wookiee. They will all suffer for this outrage!
jabba hutt set photo from jedi
Jabba, Irvine and presumably some puppeteers
Jabba's 'A New Hope' quotes

Jabba was also snuck into a short scene with Han Solo in the Special Edition of A New Hope and had some quotable banter with the space pirate. They were discussing why Han hadn't paid his debt.
  • Han my boy, you disappoint me. Why haven’t you paid me and why did you fry poor Greedo?
  • Han, I can’t make exceptions. What if everyone who smuggled for me dropped their cargo at the first sign of an Imperial starship?
concept art of jabba the hutt from Star Wars
Concept art for Mr J. Hutt
Extra for Experts about Jabba
  • The original script to A New Hope describes Jabba as a "fat, slug-like creature with eyes on extended feelers and a huge ugly mouth". 
  • Jabba the Hutt was played by actor Declan Mulholland in scenes cut from the 1977 release of Star Wars
  • That character was filmed as a fully costumed actor suggests that director George Lucas had changed his mind about Jabba being a slug - presumably for design constraints or budget reasons. 
  • In Return of the Jedi, Jabba is portrayed by a one-ton puppet that took three months and half a million dollars to construct. While filming the movie, the puppet had its own makeup artist. 
  • The puppet required three puppeteers to operate, making it one of the largest ever used in a motion picture.
  • Jabba the Hutt's death in Return of the Jedi was suggested by script writer Lawrence Kasdan. The film's director, Richard Marquand suggested that Leia strangled him.
  • Jabba had a small cameo in The Phantom Menace where he fell asleep during the famous Pod Race.
  • People often remark about that laughing little critter who he kept by his side in Jedi. He was Jabba's court jester of a sort and is known by the delicious name of Salacious Crumb.
Extra for experts - Check out this person I met wearing a Jabba costume which is handy for parties!

Nov 17, 2016

A caution about Darth Vader’s role in Rogue One

How long is Vader's screen time in Rogue One?

It’s no secret that Darth Vader is making a return to Star Wars with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

We caution though, that the movie is not about him and he that will have minimal screen time.

If you think he is going to be running around taking Jyn’s band of merry Rogues out one-by-one with his blazing red saber, you’ve got your head in the Cloud City.

The bad guy of Rogue One is Director Orsen Krennic

The trailers have made this very clear, as has the prequel novel to R1, Catalyst, Krennic is responsible for breaking up the Erso family and the movie explores the echoes of that moment when Galen Erso was taken by Krennic to build the Death Star.

So back to Vader. He is in the movie to add some plot and give weight to the menance of Krennic and to frankly help sell the movie. 

Star Wars fans are going to buy tickets to see a Star Wars movie regardless of who is in it. Mom and Dad type movie goers will go and see Darth Vader. 

Vader is Disney’s cash cow and this is quite possibly the last time for a fair while that they will be able to plug Darth Vader into a movie (flash backs and more prequels aside).

If you recall the film Silence of the Lambs, the bad guy Hannibal Lecter is in the movie on screen for only something like 12 minutes. That was enough time for Anthony Hopkins to win the Best Actor Academy Award. Darth Vader had the same kind of affect in A New Hope. He became infamous all around the world as a bad guy and he was only on screen for 12 minutes as well.

We are picking Vader will have even less time in Rogue One and we suspect he won’t even get his sabre into his hands (though a brief show down with Jyn right at the end would be awesome).

So, if you think Vader is going to have a big role in Rogue One you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. Knowing that he has a small role (but one that could totally steal the movie) you will likely enjoy the movie better.  

11 obvious things you may have missed even though you have watched Star Wars 117 times.

David Russell story board jedi finale
Jedi story board by David Russell.

Plot points you may have missed in the Star Wars movies

I came across this pretty cool factoid about Star Wars the other day, that being the scruffy nerfherder called Han Solo is the only non-Jedi to use a lightsaber in the entire Original Trilogy of Star Wars

That is the moment on Hoth when he uses Luke’s saber to slice open the guts of Luke’s recently dead Taun-taun. I thought it was pretty cool and mused that that was something every Star Wars fan NEEDs to know. 

If you've seen Star Wars a million times before, you may have picked this up – but it got me wondering as well, what other completely obvious things have fans missed even though those things have been staring them in the face since the movies first hit the silver screen? (Are screens still silver? – Ed)
  • So, we’ve covered off the Han thing – how about something from Jedi - the word Ewok is never mentioned in Return of the Jedi at all!
  • Luke Skywalker is irrelevant to the last half of the movie. If you think about it, in terms of destroying the Empire, Luke didn’t need to be on the Death Star as Lando Calrissian had that covered – the Emperor and Vader operating as two Sith Lords working in tandem to rule the Galaxy would have been destroyed when Lando blew up the Death Star. Right? *
  • Grand Moff Tarkin plays a very small cameo in Revenge of the Sith. He steps out from side to confer with the Emperor and Vader.
  • In a New Hope, Leia was kept captive on the Death Star in cell number 2187. This was a deliberate choice as 2187 is the year that the Lucas directed film THX 1138, was set.
  • Several E.T. like creatures are found in The Phantom Menace. Guess someone managed to phone home? It was a kind of pay back to his good friend Steven Speilberg who put Yoda in E.T and some other Star Wars references.
  • In Jedi, listen very carefully as Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and throws him down the Death Star shaft. This is the only time the Jedi theme music plays over a shot of Vader, reflecting his return to the light side of the Force.
  • R2D2’s height is 96cm tall.
  • 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!
  • The Bantha milk drank by Luke and Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in A New Hope is blue!
  • Chewbacca doesn't say a word of English...
Well, to be fair some of these points were not hugely obvious (don’t force choke us!) but they were pretty cool none-the-less. Were there any we missed or where they too subtle?

* The counter to this claim is of course that Luke cut off Vader's hand and realizes he's tapped into the dark side of the Force and is about to become what his father was. His refusal to join the dark side enrages the Emperor so that he decides to kill Luke. Fearing his son was about to die, Vader then fulfilled the prophecy of him being the Chosen One by killing the Emperor thus restoring balance to the Force. 

IF Luke had not fought Vader in this manner, it is reasonable to argue that Vader and more likely the Emperor would not have been distracted and would have focused their efforts on the Rebel assault on the Death Star and wiped them out using the armada of Star Destroyers that were waiting on the periphery of the battle. 

Thus meaning Luke was actually central to the plot of Return of the Jedi. Suck it nerf herders!

Extra for Experts:

Nov 16, 2016

Was LOTR's Gandalf Lucas's inspiration for Obi-Wan Kenobi?

gandalf fan art

It is a burden he should never have had to bear...

When asked about the inspirations for Star Wars, fans would probably be quick to come up with Flash Gordon, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Hidden Fortress or John Wayne’s The Searchers.

But not so many would come up with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

But this guy did and makes a good point about this piece of Tolkien prose:

"What do you mean, ‘good morning’? Do you mean that it is a good morning for you, or do you wish me a good morning, although it is obvious I’m not having one, or do you find that mornings in general are good”

Actually that’s not the writing of Tolkien.

It’s from scene 39 of George Lucas’ third draft of Star Wars. Yes, George had paraphrased something Gandalf said for Obi Wan Kenobi.

Here's the original:

“What do you mean?“ he said. ”Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"

Lucas cut Obi Wan's question to Luke from his draft as perhaps he had used it for inspiration and couldn't make it work.

Or it was too close to the original text. Either way, Tolkien was at least a small part of what went through Lucas’s mind as he drafted his space opera.

But is Gandalf really the inspiration for Obi Wan?

And by extension the Jedi?

Yes and No.

Kitbashed notes, “That Gandalf and Obi-Wan share traits is perhaps better written off to the fact that both draw on the stereotypical wizard of fairytales and fantasy. Granted, Tolkien planted the seed for all modern fantasy with The Lord of the Rings, and so Gandalf is in many ways the stereotypical wizard because he was the first wizard; but he himself was based in large part on Merlin of the Arthurian legends.”

And given that Lucas was mostly inspired by stories and characters found in film and television mediums, it would seem unlikely that Gandalf was a direct inspiration, especially as Lucas took the loose concept of Jedi (Jedarks) and Sith from Edgar Rice Burroughs so he was no stranger to borrowing from strong source material.

More things Kenobi:

Nov 15, 2016

What Academy Awards have the Star Wars films won?

Ben Burtt Academy Award win Star Wars
Ben Burt, C3PO and Mark Hamill

What Oscars did Star Wars win?

You don't think of Star Wars films as being Academy Award winners but they are.

When Star Wars was released in 1977 it was not just the movie goers that loved it, the critical reception was positive so when it came to Oscar seasons, Star Wars actually got 10 nominations and won 7.

George Lucas got a director's gong nod and Alec Guiness famously got a best supporting actor's nomination for his efforts as the fatherly Obi Wan Kenobi.

Star Wars: A New Hope won Oscars for:
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Sound
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Effects, Visual Effects
  • Best Music, Original Score
So Star Wars: A New Hope won 6 Oscars.

A key fact is that the person who the gong for Film editing, was George Lucas's wife, Marcia Lucas.

By the time Empire rolled around, Lucas and film director Irvine Kershner had some issues with the Directors Guild of America so it would seem these issues contributed to a lack of nominations, or perhaps the business had got over the sensation of Star Wars and were not so star struck. 
  • Empire Strikes back won a gong for Best Sound.
  • Jedi won a special achievement award for Visual Effects. 
  • The prequel trilogies had various nominations but won none. 
While the awards dried up, the innovations that Lucasfilm came up with during production had a long and lasting affect on Hollywood and paved the way for many other movie makers which is probably the most rewarding thing for Lucas.

So in total Star Wars movies have one 8 Oscars, 7 being real ones. 

Everything you need to know about Chewbacca and Peter Mayhew

Peter Mayhew filming Hoth scenes in The Empire Strikes Back
Peter Mayhew while filming Hoth scenes in The Empire Strikes Back

All the facts you need to know about Chewbacca and Peter Mayhew

He's the tallest fuzz ball in the galaxy that's far far away, he's Chewbacca.

Or Peter Mayhew.

Or Chewie.

Or the giant walking carpet.

Either way everyone loves Han Solo's most loyal friend and also the actor who plays the big goof is loved by millions of Star Wars fans around the world.

Here's a few facts and figures about Chewbacca & how Pete got to play the role of a life time.
  • Muscle man David Prowse was considered to play Chewbacca but eventually get got to play Vader as he wanted to play a villain. This meant George Lucas had to a search for a suitable replacement and the rest is history for Peter. A movie producer saw the article and cast him—in an uncredited role—as Minoton the minotaur in the film Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. One of the makeup men on Sinbad was later working on the Wookiee costume with Stuart Freeborn and suggested to the producers that they screen-test Mayhew. 
  • Legend has it then when Peter Mayhew stood up to meet Lucas for the first time, Lucas knew that because of his great height, he would be a great Chewie.
  • Chewbacca has appeared in four of the Star Wars movies. 
  • Mayhew's height is seven-foot, three-inch height. 
    Chewbacca playing chess with R2D2
    Let the wookie win!
  • "I think I just ran over a Wookiee on the expressway." This was an ad libbed line that game from the Lucas film THX-1138. It stuck with Lucas and it became Chewbacca's species.
  • Peter suffered from Marfan Syndrome.
  • Chewbacca's distinctive growl is an amalgam of animal noises. Ben Burtt created it by mixing noises from walruses, bears, tigers, camels and badgers.
  • In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Chewbacca is 200 years old. This is a handy trick which allowed Chewbacca to make a brief appearance in Revenge of the Sith. He defends his home planet Kasshyyk with his army and the help of Yoda. 
  • Here's some sweet Chewbacca quotes.
  • Chewbacca's costume was made with a combination of real yak and rabbit hair knitted into a base of mohair. 
  • They killed Chewbacca in the books by dropping a moon on his head but now that the books are no longer cannon Chewbacca lives!
  • Chewbacca’s character design was based on concept art drawn by Ralph McQuarrie. Lucas had originally given McQuarrie a photo of a lemur for inspiration, and McQuarrie proceeded to draw the character as a female—but Chewbacca was soon changed to a male. McQuarrie based his furry design on an illustration by artist John Schoenherr that was commissioned for Game of Thrones scribe George R.R. Martin’s short story “And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.” Yes, the George R.R. Martin that went on to write the Game of Thrones novels.
  • Before he got famous doing Star Wars, Peter Mayhew was employed as a deputy head porter in a London hospital.
  • Peter Mayhew has issues with his knees and would have struggled with the rigours of film Chewie's part in The Force Awakens. So the role was double teamed with fellow giant, Joonas Suotamo. The quick way to tell which actor is doing what is that if Chewbacca is sitting, it's probably Peter and if it's an action shot, it's more than likely to be Joonas.

Nov 14, 2016

Just how influenced by Star Wars was Guardians of the Galaxy?

guardians of the galaxy star wars themed posterNow that the hype and dust of Guardians of the Galaxy has settled somewhat, we can take the time reflect on just how good a movie it was and wonder why that might be.

Is it because it felt like Star Wars?

For this writer, it may have been the best fun he’s had at the movies since he saw Roger Rabbit or Return of the Jedi as a child so maybe there is something there.

Before we go through the Star Wars influences on Guardians, we should note the first comic form of Guardians of the Galaxy was published in 1969, some 8 years before Star Wars hit the silver screen.

So this piece of writing is about how the Star Wars films influenced the Guardians movie and is not a discussion about what came first.

To clear up any doubt about whether the influences are real or just imagined by rabid Star Wars fans, the film’s director James Gunn was quoted as saying:

“This was intentionally my version of Star Wars. When I was first considering doing the movie, the chance to make something like that was one of the things that got me on board. Not just Star Wars, but Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and other movies like that. The stuff I loved as a kid. I wanted to make a movie that made people feel the way they made me feel.”

Here's some of the express influence Star Wars had over GOTG

  • The duo of Groot and Rocket Racoon pretty much stole the movie over Star Lord. They were very funny did some cool things and they had a great personal relationship. Did you notice how Rocket translated everything Groot said for their fellow Guardians? That’s unmistakably a Han Solo and Chewbacca type friendship right there. Han spends a lot of the Star Wars films sharing what Chewie thought or responding. C3PO totally does with R2D2 so this would seem an obvious Star Wars influence on GoG.
  • While Peter Quill (Star Lord) is arguably of the Han Solo mold, Groot is effectively Rocket’s version of Chewbacca. How is Quill like Han Solo? How about his quips for every situation he’s in and his sexual tension chemistry with Gamora mirrors Solo and Leia's and he turns out to be a hero after struggling a bit. 
  • Evil Fathers. As Luke and Leia had Vader as their evil father, sisters Gamora and Nebula had the world conquering Thanos as their adopted father. 
  • There's a puppet master pulling strings. Ronan the Destroyer takes the part of Vader in this film and like Vader serving the Emperor, Ronan served Thanos. 
  • Thanos even kills an underling who annoyed him which mirrors Vader’s force choke moves.
  • George Lucas also managed to have a random influence on the post credits seen – Howard the Duck makes an amusing appearance. While Howard is a Marvel product, it was Lucas who directed the movie version. You could argue that a lot people (such as myself) would only have known who Howard was from having seen the movie (as a child, many years ago!).
Guardians is not exactly a copy of Star Wars it certainly has been influenced by it.

This is not to say that Guardians was not influenced by other things as well. The movie has a multitude of references to icons of the 1980s such as Troll Dolls and Alyssa Milano.

Star Lord is also arguably based on Indiana Jones (which was based on a million of other things but is actually another Lucas influence). At one point Quill even makes a passing reference to the Ark from Raiders.

It's nice to see Star Wars and George Lucas having an impact on movie making in a great way - it's returning the favour after all...

10 strange oddities about the Star Wars movies

10 strange oddities about the Star Wars movies

10 strange facts and oddities about Star Wars

Star Wars has become a huge beast of a franchise and over 6 movies some strange things have cropped up as part of each films production. Here's a wee list.

  1. The wise wizard Gandalf from Lord of the Rings was a huge influence on the character of Obi Wan Kenobi - so much so that an early draft of the Star Wars script featured lines cribbed directly from the pages of Tolkien!
  2. Peter Cushing filmed all his scenes as Grand Moff Tarkin wearing slippers!
  3. Denis Lawson who famously played X-Wing pilot Wedge is the real life uncle of Ewan McGregor who played Obi Wan Kenobi in the prequel films!
  4. The plot twist reveal of the father and son relationship between Vader and Luke in The Empire Strikes Back is often misquoted as "Luke, I am your father". The line is actually "No, I am your father". No one knows why people do this!
  5. In Jedi, the green Twilek Oola has a nipple slip and George Lucas left it in. Maybe the Rancor was supposed to distract us?
  6. Despite being one of the most famous and well known villains in the history of movie making, Darth Vader actually has only 12 minutes of screen time in A New Hope! That's four minutes less than the screen time of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs - and Anthony Hopkins got an Oscar for the part! What an impact Vader has had. 
  7. The reason the little green guy Yoda returned as a character to Return of the Jedi was there was some concern about whether Vader was really Luke's father. After consultation with child psychologists about how Vader's claim could be perceived by younger children who then went on to watch Jedi, George Lucas decide he needed an independent character to confirm Darth Vader's claim that he is Luke Skywalker's father. Which was awesome for everyone as we all love Yoda! And his reasoning was sound.
  8. You know that awesome pod racer race in The Phantom Menace? Yep, Lucas was just copying the famous chariot race from Ben Hur. 
  9. Lucas was actually quite good at stealing good ideas. You know that bit where Obi Wan feels the death of the people on the planet Alderaan? Lucas just took that from a Star Trek episode where Spock felt the death of 400 of his own Vulcan kind.
  10. David Lynch was offered the chance to direct Return of the Jedi but turned it down. Can you imagine how crazy Jedi could have turned out if Lynch had cast his magic over the film? Lynch actually chose Dune as his next film, and while it wasn't an universally accepted film, it has gone on to earn its own unique place in film history as a really interesting sci-fi movie. It was also probably just as well that Sting didn't have a role in Jedi either.....

George Lucas not only re-invented movie making, he heavily promoted metal recycling...

George Lucas not only re invented movie making, he heavily promoted metal recycling...

Did you know that the bounty hunter droid IG-88, who was briefly scene in The Empire Strikes Back, was built with recycled shooting accessories from A New Hope?

IG88 was recycled from the Mos Eisley Cantina

IG-88's head was created from one of the beverage dispensers that can be seen in the cantina of Star War's A New Hope!

While IG-88 was only briefly seen in Empire, it was enough for him to feature in a short story written by Kevin J. Anderson called Therefore I am: The Tale of IG-88.

It's a very clever yarn that's woven around the events of Empire and Jedi.

Get a copy from Amazon here!

Why did Leia lead the Empire to the Rebel Fleet hidden on Yavin IV?

princess leia storyboard sketch

Why did Leia lead the Empire to the Rebel Fleet hidden on Yavin IV?

We wonder if the most popular question asked about Star Wars is why do Storm Troopers always miss then is the second most popular question why did Princess Leia leave the Empire to Yavin IV and thus the location of the rebel fleet?

What is the answer anyway?

The short answer is Leia bet the farm on taking down the Death Star.

With the knowledge that they had found a weakness in the structure of the planet killer, it was time to play and she was prepared to put the entire Rebel fleet at risk to do it.

Once the planet Alderaan was destroyed Leia realised that the Empire was in a massive new position of power.

There was nothing left to lose now that the Emperor had the power of the Death Star at his disposal. There would be no more negotiations with dissenting planets - any one who stood in the Empire's way could be obliterated.

Basically it was now or never and so Leia deliberately let Han Solo drive the Falcon to Yavin IV in the knowledge she and her rescuers had been allowed to escape (which explains why the Storm Troopers missed all their shots).

She knew Tarkin and Vader would have a plan and she was correct in that the Falcon had been bugged. Recall Leia says to her rescuers "They let us escape".

It was thus a game of I know you know with Tarkin.

One which ultimately cost Tarkin his life.