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Jun 23, 2017

Bet you didn't know a bloke called Moebius was the inspiration for ESB's Imperial Droid


Kitbashed has done it again with a flash of brilliance in demonstrating how (for this author) one of the coolest things in The Empire Strikes Back came to be in the film.

I'm talking about the Imperial Probe Droid that finds the Rebel Base on Hoth. Some keen folk call it the Viper droid or Probot.

So every usually goes on about how Ralph McQuarrie or Joe Johnston had the most artistic sway over how the Star Wars universe looked and felt. And this is true, but on this occasion, another very famous person contributed in the most minor way but that contribution left a pretty cool mark on Empire.

Mobieus draw a very small robot in the corner of a frame in what became a well known piece of science fiction called The Long Tomorrow:

imperial droid found in the long tomorrow by Mobieus

As to how the production crew of The Empire Strikes Back came to use the robot, Kitbashed ponders:

"The story supposedly goes (which is my way of saying that I’ve heard, but have so far found no evidence of) that the production team received permission from Mœbius to use his design. That may be true, after all Mœbius did himself go on to produce a number of drawings in the Star Wars universe, and Dan O'Bannon had worked with him, etc. But given how most of the other inspirational borrowings for Star Wars have gone down, I see little reason to believe that this one would be any different."

So there we have it. Another example of Star Wars taking an idea from another piece of media and making something awesome.

Extra for Experts:

Leigh Bracket, who is credited on Empire also wrote a story called The Long Tomorrow, her story was different in nature being set in a post apocalyptic America. It was published in 1955.

Jun 22, 2017

Why did Ron Howard turn down the chance to direct The Phantom Menace?

Why did Ron Howard turn down the chance to direct The Phantom Menace?

It's well known that George Lucas directed the Star Wars prequels. 

What many people don't know is that George didn't really want to and that he wanted to produce as he had done with Empire and Jedi. 

So he asked around some of his Hollywood director buddies. 

Steven Spielberg turned him down. 

Robert Zemeckisi turned him down. 

And so did Ron Howard!

Howard has been quoted as saying:

"He didn’t necessarily want to direct them. He told me he had talked to Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and me. I was the third one he spoke to. They all said the same thing: “George, you should do it!”

I don’t think anybody wanted to follow-up that act at the time. It was an honor, but it would’ve been too daunting."

Too daunting for the man who in the same era as the prequels directed smash hit after smash hit!

How things change in Hollywood.

Things have come full circle and Ron Howard is now directing the Han Solo movie! This is to help save the movie after Lord and Miller where basically fired from direction duties

This makes Howard the first director with an Academy Award to his name to direct a Star Wars movie. 

The Force is strong with Ron Howard


Filmmaker Ron Howard must have a pretty high midichlorian count as he's had some major movie making success. Backdraft, Cocoon, Apollo 13, Willow, A Beautiful Mind, Ransom, The Cinderella Man, Frost / Nixon.

It's a long list*.

And now the Star Wars Han Solo movie can be added to it.

Yes, that's right, now that Lord and Miller have been dumped from the gig of a life time (like how do you screw that up?) Ron Howard is now to see out the rest of the production.

It's a shrewd, shrewd movie by Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy because in many ways Howard is one with the Force and the Force is one with him.

How so?

Guess where Ron Howard got his silver screen big break? A little movie called American Graffiti. A movie directed of course by George Lucas himself.

As he became a director, Howard helmed Lucasfilm's production of Willow. This movie is of course the fantasy adventure film that starred everyone's favourite Star Wars Ewok, Warwick Davis! (Incidentally Davis has yet another Star Wars cameo in the Han Solo movie). This partnership with Lucas clearly meant a life long bond was formed.

Legend has it that George Lucas once offered Ron the chance to direct the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace.

Ron won an Oscar for directing A Beautiful Mind. That's a key signal of quality right there. Who better to come in an fix an ailing film project other than a seasoned pro who has a real and genuine connection to Star Wars?


* We can forgive him for The Da Vinci Code though right?

Jun 21, 2017

Lord and Miller are now Lost and Missing from the Han Solo film set


There's been a strange and mysterious disturbance in the Force, as if a giant corporate conglomerate flexed its muscle against the directors of the Han Solo movie.

That's right Christopher Miller and Phil Lord have left the Han Solo prequel movie with apparently only 3 weeks left citing creative differences. 

3 weeks left in filming and you're out?

Just like the sands of Alderaan through time, they are gone.

This surely is more than the official line of creative differences. The script was agreed on. Lucasfilm had months of dailies to review. The tone and form of the movie were set and agreed on. 

But is this Disney being jerks?! Is Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy playing power hungry movie mogul?

I doubt it.

Can you spell Josh Trank?

Can you spell the near disaster that Gareth Edwards' Rogue One was? 

These issues were all fixed by KK.

One thing's for sure Kathleen Kennedy has been in the movie business a long and successful time. There should be no doubt that  she has the ability to make the calls that will see the movie made as good as it can be.

J.O.S.H.

She made the call to remove Josh Trank when it was clear he was having a few personal issues and couldn't deliver a good movie. She's not afraid of the hard stuff so trust in her judgement.

This tweet from Philip is possibly telling.



If this refers to internal troubles on the production, it's not cool to air them publicly or even hint at them. It's suggests a lack of professionalism.

At the end of the day, the directors are hired guns, they have to do what they are asked to do. This was not a project of their own that they started from the ground up and they were willing participants and need to consider that in any public statements they may make in the future.


T.R.A.N.K.

So will this movie turn out OK,?

Who knows? Who really cares?

This is not the first time directors have left big film projects - Richard Donner famously got the boot after filming most of Superman II for example.

Honestly, we don't need Star Wars prequel films like the origin of Han Solo, the awesomeness of Rogue One aside. I want to see what happens next! I don't personally care enough to be Uber excited for a Han Solo story but fans will lap it up and hopefully there will be some awesome Falcon scenes!

Update: Ron Howard is now filming the movie.

Jun 18, 2017

That Snoke Lego is the real deal

Anyone wondering if the Snoke Lego image leak for The Last Jedi was real or not can stop.

Yes, we know you thought it was fake because you thought that the picture looked like some kind of beat up, took too many drugs at the Playboy Mansion version of Hugh Hefner

And he does kinda. 

But remember that concept art picture of Snoke that did the rounds just before the release of The Force Awakens? 

Take a comparison look:


In this context, the Lego makers have done a great job with representing Snoke as a figurine! 

Speaking of Lego, what are the best Star Wars Lego sets to buy?

Jun 13, 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 could HOWEVER take this list of 111 Star Wars facts pretty much to heart...

Seriously. 

Jun 12, 2017

6 movies that directly influenced the making of Star Wars, I know because I watched them.

I was looking for a movie to watch the other night and I googled for a list of the best science fiction movies. I found a list which looked to be interesting.

Two movies caught my eye.

Forbidden Planet and THX 1138.

This seemed like a good pair to watch as I'd never watched either and one was by George Lucas and I knew the other was an influence on George as he made Star Wars.

So first up was THX 1138. I then watched Forbidden Planet which I thoroughly enjoyed.

And then I thought, I should watch all the movies that are on the record as having inspired George Lucas and his Star Wars films.

I should note that Lucas was a magpie of sorts and took inspiration from many sources including Edgar Rice's John Carter of Mars novels and Flash Gordon serials. I'll not cover them hear but acknowledge they too have had a strong influence over the Star Wars movies.

So this is, a quick review of the movies that in some shape or form George Lucas was inspired by or pinched  key plot points and designs from.

I'll try and limit each review to a maximum of 500 words or less. 

First up, I'll review Lucas's own film, THX 1138


thx1138-original-movie-poster
Poster for THX 1138

Considered by many to be a classic science fiction film, Lucas built this world where humanity appears to be controlled by some kind of dystopian bureaucracy where robots serve as friendly faceless policemen.

The human populace is devoid of family ties, freedoms and indeed are controlled by mandatory drug control which causes obedience and reduces the sex drive.

This is literally population control where reproduction is carefully managed. 

The plot follows title character 'THX 1138' as he and his female 'mate' try to escape the rat race of the future. We discover how society functions as he rushes around discovering his true identify.

George applied later applied this naming concept to Stormtroopers and the concept was more fully fleshed out in The Force Awakens when we learned Finn was only named as Poe refused to call him FN-2187.

For this viewer, this was not new territory. We've ready many science fiction novels and seen many films such as this. We wonder however how interesting this movie may have been to a fresh young mind in 1971. 

Apparently it was not a popular movie but following the release of Star Wars 6 years later, it's merits have slowly been discovered by viewers. I understand it's considered a bit of a cult film now. 

If I had one gripe, the last half an hour before the 'big chase' is quite long and slow. While some points of discovery are quite chilling (his mate's organs appear to be recycled after she is put to death) it's a hard grind to get to the end. 

If I may spoil the ending, the faceless robot Policeman gives up the chase of THX 1138 when he is ordered to do so because the allocated budget to capturing him has been exceeded by 6 percent and it is considered cost effective to let him go! It's a brilliant way to end the movie as the whole point of the movie is to demonstrate population control as governed by bureaucracy.

There's a part during the big chase where a back ground voice says I think over some kind of radio system "I think I ran over a wookiee back there on the expressway." We can only guess that this what influenced the naming of Chewbacca's species!

I enjoyed this movie and can see how Lucas was shaping up as a director. I recommend if you quite like sci-fi movies and are prepared to sit through a little bit of plodding along at points.

Bonus movie inspiration: I suspect the liquid Terminator from T2 was inspired somewhat by the silver faced robot policemen.

Forbidden Planet


Forbidden Planet poster with Robby Robot
This was a movie I had heard of for many years due to it being the origin of one of the more famous robots in science fiction (before R2D2 and C3PO came along!) Robbie the Robot.

What an incredibly strange and wonderful movie!

Released in 1956 this was the first big budget science fiction film of the Hollywood era. Apparently a bit of a flop, it quickly gained cult status and is now considered a classic science fiction movie.

While quaint by today's standards it features strong science fiction themes crossed with star crossed would be lovers. Some research for this movie reveals that it was loosely based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest which you can see play out fairly well.

The graphics and special effects were fun to see and they must have been considered pretty fabulous aback in the day. I had a hunch about it this, and sure enough the movie received an Oscar nomination for its effects.

So, what was it's influence on Star Wars?

At face value it's hard to see. Robby the Robot is the key take-away. When he first meets the spacemen from Earth, he volunteers that he could speak to them 'I am at your disposal with 187 other languages along with their various dialects and sub-tongues' which Lucas probably borrowed for C3PO. Let's be clear though, Metropolis served as the inspiration for C3PO's look (we'll watch that movie later OK?)

I'm not sure if it's my dirty mind but at one point Robby cannot be found because he was giving himself an 'oil job' which could have been a lewd joke by the filmmakers. A loose Star Wars connection is that C3PO would later have an oil bath at Luke's farm.

Nielsen and Francis from Forbidden Planet
Nielsen and Anne Frances as Alta
Of note, Forbidden Planet was the film debut of actor Leslie Nielsen, who people of my age were first introduced to in The Naked Gun spoof movies.

Forbidden Planet was a fun movie to watch. The big reveal at the end was pretty ho hum for a person who has seen 1001 space movies but the concept was brave enough for the time and one other film makers have since copied.

From some further reading, it would seem that this movie had a bigger impact on Gene Roddenberry and his work with Star Trek than it did Lucas and A New Hope.

The Searchers


If you'd asked me to name a John Wayne film that I had actually seen, I think I would be hard pressed to actually name one.
John Wayne's The Searchers movie poster
He had to find her...

So I was pleased to realise that Wayne, featured in The Searchers. This is a great Western featuring the search for two kidnapped women, being Wayne's characters nieces.

Featuring classic sexist tropes, a cliched sherif, wonderful cinematography and stereotyped Indians, this film hangs on the charm and rogueness of John Wayne.

There is also a dark underbelly to this film that sits just underneath the sprawling vista. There's racism, forbidden love, prejudice, blind anger and malice, just bubbling way, much of which comes to the boil at the fantastic ending.

I loved this movie and understand why it is considered a classic film.

So what influence did it have on Star Wars? 


To my mind, it's the return to the homestead that has been attacked. After leaving the farm to chase cattle rustlers, it turns out to have been a rouse. Ethan Edwards (Wayne) and Martin return to find the buildings burning and their loved ones dead, raped and murdered and left to burn.

Which echoes quite strongly to what Luke sees on his arrival back to the moisture farm, his fears realised and Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru have been murdered and their bodies burnt.

There's some other themes that share a similar tone. Ethan was on the losing side of the war, as was Obi-Wan Kenobi (kinda).

Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker make a similar matching pairing to Ethan and Martin, one being the vastly experienced campaigner, the other the handsome young man with a sudden mission thrust apon him.

The Guns of Navarone


guns of navarone movie poster
Original movie poster
I'd never heard of this movie until Kitbashed noted how had an influence on George Lucas.

It's a long war movie starring the impeccable Gregory Peck playing 'Mallory' as he leads a band of soldiers to seek and destroy to giant guns that overlook a strait of water that is a crucial strategic asset during WWII.

The idea is that Peck's mission is to destroy these guns to allow the US warships passage through the strait to rescue 3000 soldiers marooned on an island. The Germans are planning to attack that island and kill the men so timing is crucial.

The destruction of the guns is the key to everything.

Does that seem familiar?


Yes, Lucas was indeed influenced by this concept and adapted it somewhat for the finale of Star Wars. The Death Star (with its supergun) must be destroyed in time before the Rebel base is blown to smithereens.

That's pretty much the only influence The Guns of Navarone really appears to have on Star Wars that I could take away from the movie.

It is a fantastic movie. Peck as Mallory is an inspired character just oozing guile and brains against some pretty 'friendly' German troops. That man just possesses a cool-as-fuck gravitas.

There are some great conflicts between the characters and their German opposites and they serve for a great discussion about the evils of war and the things that men (and woman) do in times of great stress.

Q.E.D indeed, David Niven, Q.E.D indeed.

Metropolis


Metropolis movie poster
The oldest film in this list, stretching back to a 1927 release. It has been described as a 'German expressionist epic science-fiction drama film'. Directed by Fritz Lang, it's a silent movie to boot.

I quite enjoyed this movie too (there are no bad movies on this list!). Once I got used to the narrative of a silent movie I was able to enjoy the story which is basically the classic story of a brave individual up a against a giant corporation. 

For it's time, the special effects were brilliant.

So the Star Wars take away is the inspiration for C3PO. Metropolis features a robot called Maria, a Maschinenmensch robot. Concept Designer Ralph McQuarrie used the look of this robot as part of his initial design work for C3PO and the rest is history. 

Intial C3Po sketch inspired by the Maschinenmensch
McQuarrie's early concept of C3PO and companion R2D2

Maschinenmensch and C3PO comparison
 A side by side comparison of C3PO and the Maschinenmensch


I saved perhaps the biggest influence for last: The Hidden Fortress

The name Akira Kurosawa may ring a bell with film aficionados. He's considered one of the great film makers and his work is hailed by many film critics. He caught Lucas' eye while he was at film school and that was that. 

Hidden Fortress film poster.
The Hidden Fortress is arguably the film that had the most influence on George Lucas.

Let's take a step back and have a look Star Wars for a moment, let's consider it's plot.

It's a story seen through the eyes of two robots who help a princess fight an evil overlord. 

And that's the story I saw as I watched Hidden Fortress. It's the tale of two bumbling idiots as they help an exiled Princess take on an evil General.

Lucas arguably lifted the whole plot!

He also nicked Kurosawa's scene wipes and sprinkled them through out his own movie, making them his own as the general American (and world!) didn't watch Japanese films!

But it's not just Hidden Fortress that Lucas borrowed from. He took many ideas from Kurosawa's films:
  • The famous fight in the Cantina is straight from Yojimbo 
  • The hiding-under-the-floor trick is a lift from Yojimbo's sequel, Sanjuro
  • The Empire Strikes Back  features a lot of the plot and imagery from come from the Oscar winning Dersu Uzala.
  • There's a moment in Revenge of the Sith when Yoda rides in a gunship. He runs his hand over his head, sadly pondering how has Jedi Council's request of Anakin to spy on Palpatine has riled Anakin. This mimics character Kambei Shimada’s motion in the Seven Samurai, one of Kurosawa's most famous movies.

Other movie influences on Star Wars


There are plenty of other noteworthy films which I have not specifically watched for this essay including Ben Hur, The Dambusters and Lawrence of Arabia each of which have had some direct influence on inspiration on George Lucas' movies.
  • For Ben Hur, the comparison between the chariot race and the pod race are unmistakable. 
  • Dambusters features a bomb being landed in an impossible place, like the blast to destroy the Death Star
  • Lawrence of Arabia serves as the inspiration of the sand back drop of Tatooine. We also understand that Lawrence of Arabia director David Lean studied 'The Searchers' for inspiration on how to film landscapes 
  • One more Lawrence of Arabia reference was snuck into Attack of the Clones. That part where Padme and Anakin 'walk and talk' is filmed in exactly the same place (Plaza de España in Seville) as how the same scene happens in Lean's movie. 
  • The Seven Samurai (Kurosawa again) casts a long shadow over Star Wars - while it's arguable that the concept of Jedi came from John Carter of Mars, the way the Jedi carry themselves with a noble dignity arguably comes from this movie.
  • The Cantina scene in ANH was probably inspired by the events that happened in Rick's Cafe in Casablanca. And Han Solo's use of 'kid' when he talks to Luke is possibly borrowed straight from Humphrey Bogart's character. Speaking of Bogart, have you ever wondered how the Millenium Falcon got its name?
  • The medal ceremony at the end of A New Hope is apparently inspired by Nazi propaganda film, Triumph of the Will. Indeed, Nazism inspired much of Star Wars. Think of Darth Vader's costume design, that speech General Hux gave in The Force Awakens and of course even the name Stormtrooper was lifted straight out of Hitler's playbook.

Jun 9, 2017

Did you know that Padme had a younger AUNT?

It blew my mind when Hector posted this on Twitter:


How did I not know that Padme had a younger Aunt? 

I am embarrassed to run the best Star Wars fansite there is.

Anyways. 

This in quite intruiging. 

This means somewhere out there, Luke Skywalker has a great Aunt he could randomly bump into.

We guess she is a Naberrie as that is the name of Padme's parents - Amidala was a name taken on by Padme when she became queen, as part of Naboo tradition.

We presume this was a deliberate set up by Lucas, having a young member of Padme's family available to story lines should he wish to go that way.

Possibly a great story for a book.

Donald, there's something crawling on your lip, mate!

Check out this marvelous mustache on Donald Glover!





Woody Harrelson posted this pic of himself and the guy who is playing Lando in the Han Solo movie.

So that wiggly mo is either a wriggling worm stuck on Glover's lip or it's the new Lando mo!

We love that Woody looks pretty buzzed and Don's wearing such a horrible Donald Duck shirt...

Apparently they are filming in Spain at the moment.


Jun 5, 2017

Best Star Wars Cosplay. Ever


The greatest cosplay of Star Wars ever

The best ever Star Wars cosplay!


Star Wars is a world that's just ripe for cosplay.

There's your Boba Fett freaks.

There's your iconic Princess Leias wearing golden bikinis and we always appreciate a sexy storm trooper getting felt up by Darth Vader.

Your Star Wars fails are amusing enough and we really like it when the Jedi and Sith make their peace.

But this above photo is the best Star Wars cosplay we've have ever seen. It's a beautiful homage to a beloved set of characters done with a mood of, this us, we're doing it like this and if you don't like it, go back to your cave, troll!

We love the R2D2 - it's like Jack Black as his own prom date. C3PO looks pretty grand and as for Han Solo, never have we seen her look so sexy...

How many times has "May the Force be with you" been said in Star Wars?



How many times has "May the Force be with you" been said in Star Wars?



It all starts of course with A New Hope.

The line is first said by General Dodonna to his rebel troops just before the Battle of Yavin. Han Solo then somewhat surprisingly says it to Luke shortly after. Given Han had questioned the value of hokey religion, he used it as a sign of friendship and genuine good will to Luke.

In George Lucas's first draft of Star Wars, the concept of the Force was not fully formed, a character that never made it into the final version of the film called King Kayos, said the blessing "May the Force of Others be with you all".

There was a lengthy development of the concept before it became what we know it to be today.

Amusingly, Obi-Wan Kenobi is sometimes credited with using the phrase first but here are the quotes for when he uses it:

"The Force will be with you... always."
"Luke, the Force will be with you."
"Use the Force, Luke."
"Remember, the Force will be with you always."

There are plenty of other phrases when the force is used too.

But what is it based on? It's likely that George Lucas was inspired by the salutation or blessing that is often said in Catholic mass, "The Lord be with you'.

The Force is mentioned several times in the Star Wars movies but there are three main ways that this phrase we are talking about you is said

"May the Force be with you" is used 16 times in the 7 movies.

"May the Force be with us" is spoken twice and "The Force will be with you" is also used twice.






Here's the use per movie breakdown:

A New Hope

General Dodonna say it to his troops and Han Solo says it to Luke just before the Battle of Yavin

Number of times = 2

The Empire Strikes Back 

When Luke is speaking with Lando and Chewie, he says "Chewie, I'll be waiting for your signal. Take care, you two. May the force be with you."

Number of times = 1

Return of the Jedi

It is not said in Jedi. Admiral Ackbar says before the Battle of Endor, "May the Force be with us"

Number of times = 0

The Phantom Menace

Qui-gon Jin says it to young Anakin just before the pod race starts.

Mace Windu and Yoda exchange this pleasantry between them. Yoda says it another time.

Number of times = 4

Attack of the Clones

Anakin and Obi-Wan each make the exchange before Anakin leaves the planet Corusant with Padme.

Mace says it to Obi-Wan

Obi-Wan gets as far as "may the" before his transmission is cut off. We don't count this.

Number of times = 3

Revenge of the Sith

Yoda says the line to Obi-Wan just before he travels to the Wookie home planet.

Obi-Wan and Anakin say it to each other, the last time they speak as friends.

Yoda and Obi-Wan wish each other it as luck just before Yoda goes to take on Darth Sidious.

Number of times = 5

The Force Awakens

Finally, it is Commander Organa (Leia) who says the classic line to Rey at the end of the The Force Awakens. This makes 'May the Force be with you' the last line spoken in TFA. This line is not only one of 'good luck', it's Leia truly wishing that the Force be with Rey as she begins her journey to becoming a Jedi.

Number of times = 1

So it looks like Obi-Wan says it the most with three times, Yoda and Mace both twice.

Rogue One

Jyno Erso says to her band of merry Rebels "May the Force be with us"

Special mention should go to Admiral Raddus who said "Rogue one, may the Force be with you".

K-2SO also tries to the get the quote out but is told to shut up by Jyn and Cassian.

Number of times = 0

We totally expect the line will be said in The Last Jedi. But by whom?

Did I miss any? I went through the scripts, I could have well missed some. If I have, please gently let me know in the comments. May the Force be with us all.