Jan 31, 2017

What is 'The Official Mission Debrief'?

Not the cover as it's not finalised!
It looks like to 'celebrate' the Blu-Ray released of Rogue One, a tie in book is being released at the same time (speculated to be March 28).

Called 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - The Official Mission Debrief' the hardcover book is currently available for pre order on Amazon

The selling notes on the listing say:

'As Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released on DVD worldwide, The Official Mission Debrief presents an all-encompassing guide to the hugely successful movie, with unprecedented access to the making of the film, its stars, its crew and its stunning landscapes. Relive the latest movie in the world's biggest franchise over and over again. A must for any fan of Star Wars.'

With a list price of $19.99, it's on offer for $13.51 that seems like good value for a hard cover book. 

The Official Mission Debrief is published by Titan Magazines. You may know them as the outfit that has been publishing the official Star Wars Insider magazine for over a decade. So we could have reasonable confidence the book is closely tied with the Rogue One production crew.

Over its 96 pages it will have some pretty useful intel and hopefully some discussion on the much talked about reshoots!

Speaking of Star Wars books, 'Empire's End', the conclusion to Chuck Wendig's trilogy is being released. Find out what happens to Grand Admiral Rae Sloane as As the final showdown between the New Republic and the Empire draws near, all eyes turn to a once-isolated planet: Jakku!

Force Friday for The Last Jedi will be 1 September

Force Friday for The Last Jedi will be 1 September 2017

That's the day when the official toys and merchandise for The Last Jedi will go onsale to the general public.

We're hoping for some more epic Lego sets.

We can probably expect speak to see children's books that promote the book too. Novelisations and other material will come out the day of the films release. 

There's usually a first tranche of toys released and then others, particularly figurine series following of the next months, well into the New Year.

Disney, Lucasfilm will go hard selling gear from Hasbro, Lego, Hot Toys and Funko. We just don't get why Funko dolls are so popular but who are we to argue with consumerism. 

Jan 30, 2017

Filming for Han Solo movie has begun!

Our fear of prequels (in an over all movie and video game sense) has been assuaged somewhat by the success of Rogue One. We trust the new Han Solo movie will be made in the same spirit and will thus be awesome!

We also now have it confirmed the working title is Red Cup.

Jan 29, 2017

How close to the dark side of the Force did Luke Skywalker actually get?

Luke killing Darth Vader
Keep your filthy hands off my sister!

How close to the dark side of the Force did Luke Skywalker actually get?

In ANH, Luke starts out as a farm boy, realises he’s in a war with his own father and suddenly is the last hope for freedom.

It’s a tough gig and by the time Jedi rolls around some four years after Luke followed a crazy old man on an adventure, Luke has changed considerably.

He is no longer the blue eyed dreamer, he’s well on his way to become a Jedi, he is, the new man in black.

Roll over Johnny Cash.

And being The Man in Black means he’s skirting the line, getting too close to the dark side of the Force.

That place where Vader went and look what happened.

Millions died.

So what evidence is there that Luke was bordering the dark side of the Force?

Jedi builds this up very slowly, and quite carefully.

First up is Luke’s entrance to the Palace. He begins his rescue by force chocking two hapless Gamorrean guards in a manner that his father would be proud of.

He then mockingly commences negotiations with Jabba the Hutt and despite nearly having the tables turned on him by way of the Rancor, he warns Jabba 'that's the last mistake you'll ever make'.

That's a death threat if I ever heard one.

I hadn't realised Jedi did such things?

At the very least it's a sign of cockiness, something I believe Han Solo warned him about some four years ago in A New Hope.

Following a mad cap orgy of blood letting at the hand of Luke's saber, Luke having pretty much already effected the rescue, he fires the cannon into Jabba's Sail Barge killing everybody but his pals.

 Everybody but his pals.

He didn't have to kill them, he could have just swung himself and Leia onto their escape ship, but no, he killed them all. Kind of like how Anakin dealt mercilessly to those who kidnapped his mother.

Dark side much?

One could perhaps argue that in getting rid of Jabba, Luke was actually helping the people of Tattoinne become free of the crime lord's family and the long shadow it had cast over the planet.

But I think that's being too free with Lucas' intentions with the script.

And let's not forget the fact that Luke is wearing black costuming for most of the film. He is literally now a man in black.  He arrives at Jabba's Palace in a dark Jedi like robe which when discarded in the Rancor attack reveals a suit of black.

Or more correctly, a suit of black death!

On Endor, Luke is wearing another black costume and wears this when he confronts Vader in front of the cackling confident Emperor. Vader is all in black too as the color is the universal symbol for villainy and so the comparison must be made - Luke is getting close to the dark side and his costume is intended to help the viewer believe this may be the case.

Let's cut to the climatic saber battle between Luke and Vader, during it Leia is shot on Endor and Luke feels her pain through the force and unwillingly reveals her existence as being Vader's taught, a fact which the Sith Lord seizes on and threatens to turn her to the Dark Side.

And, that is a bridge too far for Luke, he loses his shit at Vader.

Gone is the formal Jedi restraint, he just goes for it and beats Vader by tapping into his anger. He deals Vader a mortal blow and suddenly that moment is make or break for Skywalker.

Of course Luke chooses light over dark but he was *THIS* close when he made his final fatal attack. The difference was that he was not Vader, he was Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight.

Lucas then served us with a nice twist of sorts however.

Take a closer look at Luke's costume. Look at the fold across the chest that is now unbuttoned, what is that colour?

It's white. It's the yang to black's yin.

Underneath all Luke's stresses doubts and struggles with who his father was and who HE was, he was always the good guy. Always the Knight in White Satin.

Always the boy who never got to Tosche Station to get his power converters.

This is a movie after all and he was a Jedi, like his Father was before him. Nice symbolism Lucas.

So yes, Luke got pretty close to turning to the Dark Side, but his heroic qualities shone through and after all of that with Vader, he regained his zen and stuck it to the Emperor telling him that he was a Jedi like his Father was before him.

 It was a fearless moment one which nearly cost him life when he was zapped by Force lightning.

But we all know how that turned out....

6 movies that directly influenced the making of Star Wars

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

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 what look sees on his arrival to the moisture farm, his fears realised.

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

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 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 EspaƱa 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.

Why does George Lucas get so much hate from Star Wars fans?

George Lucas, revered director of Star Wars

Why does George Lucas get so much hate from Star Wars fans?

George Lucas is one of the greatest film makers in history.

He created Star Wars.

He created Indiana Jones.

If we forget Howard the Duck (though I loved it as a kid, did you pick him at the end credits of Guardians of the Galaxy), the man has a pretty solid history when it comes to making movies.

Star Wars has made more money than any other piece of celluloid did and it has entertain a gabillion movie watchers a gabillion times.

Yet people seem to hate George Lucas.

They hate George Lucas because he created the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.

They hate George Lucas because he made Jar Jar Binks.

They hate George Lucas because he cast Sam Jackson as Mace Windu.

They hate George Lucas because he made an Ewok's eye's blink and they hate him because he suggested Greedo shot first.

Well screw them all. We mean, those vocal individuals are entitled to their views.

But let's discuss this hate, just one more time.

Special Edition hatred

Let's take the example of the Special Edition of A New Hope.

Han is bravely chasing a few Stormtroopers down a corridor. Why they ran in the first place is a question in itself, however Han abruptly finds himself confronted with a room chock full of at least a hundred troops, all added in by computer design.

And what happens?

The rabid fans cry sacrilege! Lucas has ruined the scene!

No he hasn't.

Remember two things.

Lucas has managed to catch up to himself. Budget restraints meant he probably couldn't get enough troopers in the original shot. Now he has the budget he can catch up and get them in. Second thing is the Special Editions are a re release for a new generation.

I remember I was a university student in the late 1990's when the Special Edition was shown in Palmerston North - and I took my girl friend as she had never seen Star Wars and this was a movie event she needed to be a part of - did the extra troopers hinder her enjoyment of the film?

No, if anything it made the joke better.

And that's it in a nutshell - Lucas's changes to the movies of the original trilogy are designed to enhance them.

An Ewok with blinking eyes is no big detail. A do over of the Emperor in the Empire Strikes Back is no big deal either. Temuera Morrison's voice as Bobba Fett, not tooooo annoying.

A young Anakin Skywalker subbed in for the classic redeemed Vader in Return of Jedi? Well, you got us there, that one didn't make sense.

Regardless, these reasons are not reasons to hate George Lucas.

The case for Prequel Trilogy

I fear that by running this website I'm turning into an apologist for the prequel trilogy. But I'll say this, for every person that says they hate George Lucas because of the abomination that was Jar Jar Binks, I'll find you 15 who love Darth Maul.

Maul has become one of the classic Star Wars bad guys and he actually deserves it far more than a certain Bounty Hunter called Bobba Fett.

At least Maul actually managed to kill a great Jedi....

So what am I saying here?

Yes, the Prequels had some miss steps and Attack of the Clones merely an 'average' Star Wars film but within these three movies there was plenty to love, and fans did - you recall the box office takings didn't you?

That's right, they cleaned up cash wise as people went to see them again and again, despite the supposed hate.

And let's be clear, Revenge of the Sith is a GREAT Star Wars movie. It's actually a favourite.

Indeed, there's so much to love about Revenge of the Sith, one really wonders how people can hate it.

There's a lot of subtlety that a lot of people could miss if they have their 'I hate Lucas' hat on.  Anakin in the dark and Obi Wan in the light is excellent film making for example.

The Kids are alright with it

Ian McDiarmid who played Emperor Palpatine is on record as saying this about the prequels:

“ I’m usually approached by mums and dads of 4-year olds now who’ve been watching the movies, who are completely fascinated by them. And they won’t leave their television screens until they’ve seen the whole lot. So it continues to grip, and it continues to grip kids. And even though, we all know with the prequels some of the adults who’d seen the early films were a bit disappointed, that’s not true of succeeding generations, which sort of means that these films are really going to go on forever, and that’s extraordinary, I think, and great.”

Even JJ Abrams (the director of Episode 7 if you've been living under a rock) said:

"A lot of kids who saw all the prequels when they were young really do identify with those movies as much as my generation identified with the originals."

So that must mean there's a whole generation of 20 years olds (Gen Y?) that totally love George Lucas!

Here's the real reason some people hate George Lucas

We all grew up.

We stopped being mystified by Darth Vader.

We stopped pretending to fly X Wings and we stopped taking part in epic light sabre battles with our brothers.

We grew up and started judging new prequel movies as adults rather than wide eyed kids.

Remember how you may have loved the speeder bike race in Jedi? Kids love the pod race in Phantom Menace (admit it, you actually loved it!).

You loved Rogue One right? You better thank Lucas for it - so much of that was his idea - from Vader's Castle to the Whills, he had a massive influence.

So this has been a ramble and a half. I wonder if all the haters out there on the internet who unleash their venom from behind their keyboards would actually say the things they do to George's face.

Some how I doubt it.

Why 'John Carter' of Mars is the original Star Wars film

a princess of mars original cover

'John Carter' of Mars is the original Star Wars film

While Star Wars was really inspired by George Lucas’s love of the Flash Gordon serial, the real inspiration comes from science fiction author Edgar Rice Burroughs.

His nearly 100 year old stories about a human that travels to Mars and falls in love with a beautiful princess are often argued as being responsible for the whole ‘green men from mars’ thing and Star Wars...

It is irrelevant that the recent 'based on the books' movie called John Carter flopped big time at the box office ( I enjoyed it).

Of the film itself, Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis apparently turned down the chance to direct, quipping "George already pillaged all of that" with the "Star Wars" films.

In other words, most of the best elements of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars fantasies had already been "borrowed" for George Lucas' space saga, and just because the film was dismissed by many people, the source material cannot be so easily rejected.

Lucas made no bones about how he was inspired by Rice's work and said in 1977 “Originally, I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn’t obtain all the rights.

So I began researching and found where (Flash Gordon creator) Alex Raymond got his idea: The works of Edgar Rice, especially his John Carter series of books."

Indeed, the first draft of the Star Wars follow up, The Empire Strikes Back was written by science fiction author Leigh Bracket.

She was quoted as saying:

 “I was introduced to Edgar Rice Burroughs at a very young age . . . That changed the course of my life . . . My fascination for Mars came from the fascination for his Mars.”

It's hard then not to see how her influence also shaped Star Wars by way of Burroughs. 

Some of the influences are plot based.

Some are style.

Check out this comparison:

leia and dejah gold bikini inspiration
Dejah versus Leia
Dejah Thoris, the Princess Of Mars herself, was commonly described and depicted as wearing golden bikinis and showing a lot of skin.

Is it a surprise then that ANOTHER princess wore a golden bikini in Return of the Jedi?

Probably not, so Good one George.

George also took a bit of 'naming' help from Burroughs.

Ever wonder where the word Jedi came from?

While it may have an Asian language link, the monarchs found on the planet of Mars are a titled Jed (king), Jeddak (emperor) and Jeddara (empress) respectively.

So one can assume Jedi may have come from Edgar Rice. On Barsoom a 'padwar' is a low-ranking officer.

This is not too far a stretch from 'padawan', an apprentice Jedi, is it not?

Did you ever see Attack of the Clones? 

Carter vs Clones
At the end it featured a pretty epic Colosseum battle where Yoda swooped in with his merry band of Clone Troopers so save the luckless Jedi from certain defeat. 

Did you notice that the John Carter had a similar scene where the hero had to battle chained alien beasts?

If you thought John Carter was ripping off Star Wars, think again, Burroughs wrote this scene over 100 years ago!

So, if we accept these elements found in Star Wars are indeed nicked from the stories that Burroughs set on Mars, then it would seem only fair to Disney's John Carter of Mars that it should be recognized as the original Star Wars movie.

Or not....

If you want an expert's take, read this. Or you could read essay on how I watched 6 movies that George said influenced him when making Star Wars.

Jan 27, 2017

What are the best Star Wars Lego sets to buy?

U Wing Lego Set

Here's our 9 best Star Wars Lego Sets for 2017

There's something magical about Lego and that's probably part of why it has become such an enduring child's toy.

Actually, it's more than a toy, it's a portal to another world where children (and adults who are never too old!) can build anything they wish.

If you want to build characters and spaceships from the world of Star Wars, Lego has you covered. With the return of Star Wars movies in the form of The Force Awakens and Rogue One there has been an opportunity for Lego to have a new look what Lego sets are on offer.

We have in this top list of awesome Star Wars lego sets, a few of the popular sets from the new movies and some of the classics as well! Most of them are under $100 and there's some great value to be had.

Star Wars Rebel Trooper Battle Pack

LEGO Star Wars Rebel Trooper Battle Pack
Build up your Rebel forces and celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back with this Hoth base set

When the Empire attacks the hidden Rebel base on the ice planet Hoth, brave Rebel troopers and pilots fight back with their combat speeder with flick-firing missiles. The set oncludes 3 Rebel troopers in cold-weather gear and Rebel pilot Zev Sensca who keen fans may recognise as pilot Rogue Two, the one who finds Han and Luke.
  • Includes 1 Zev Senesca and 3 Rebel troopers with new Hoth helmet minifigures
  • Ice cutter includes 2 flick fire missiles, rotating gun and cargo box
  • Allows the child to reimagine the opening scene of Empire Strikes Back 
  • There are 79 pieces with this pack
A reviewer on Amazon spoke quite highly of the set:

"I purchased this as a gift for a five year old boy. He immediately opened it and tackled building it. He successfully completed it that afternoon. A big plus for Lego toys is the instructions: Lego got its instructions right. That a five year old can assemble this toy on his own, without help, pretty much says it all.

The directions are clear and easy to understand. Their method is to show all of the parts needed for each step, which allows you to collect the parts needed before you start each step."

That's some firm praise! Check out the price on Amazon.

The ship that does the Kessel Run, the Millennium Falcon

falcon escaping death star lego set
Straight from the Death Star escape scene of Episode IV: A New Hope, the all-new Lego Millennium Falcon features stunning details, like hull plates that open to reveal a detailed interior, twin flick missiles, rotating quad laser cannons and a detachable cockpit cover so you can play a game of space chess with a certain Wookie!
It opens up to reveal the interior

Featuring Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Ben Kenobi, Princess Leia Organa and Darth Vader, can you rewrite history and help Ben Kenobi defeat his evil nemesis from the dark side?

This set includes LEGO mini-figures of Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, and Darth Vader, so you can replay your favorite scenes from the movie.

Place figures outside the ship to have Obi-Wan and Vader duel, or place them inside the opening hull to play chess, hide in the smuggling compartments, or observe Luke's remote training.

For enhanced play, the set includes three lightsabers, three blasters, and one crossbow.
  • Straight from the Death Star escape scene of Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Includes 6 mini-figures: Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Ben Kenobi, Princess Leia Organa and Darth Vader
  • Millennium Falcon features opening hull, detailed interior, twin flick missiles, rotating laser cannons and detachable cockpit cover
  • 3 lightsabers, 3 blasters and 1 crossbow also included
  • 1254 pieces total.

TIE Striker from Rogue One's Battle of Scarif

Lego TIE Striker from Rogue One's Battle of Scarif
Play out the iconic sky battle over the planet Scarif from Rogue One with the amazing TIE Striker.

With large adjustable wings, minifigure cockpit with top and front access, an opening rear storage hold and dual spring-loaded shooters at the front, this amazing model is the perfect opponent for any rebel starfighter.

The Striker was a brand new addition to the Star Wars franchise with Rogue One so if you are looking to buy this as a birthday present for a young fan, the chances are good they do not already have it!
  • Features large adjustable wings
  • a minifigure cockpit with top and front access
  • opening rear storage hold and dual spring-loaded shooters
  • Includes 4 minifigures: TIE Pilot
  • Imperial ground crew
  • Imperial Shoretrooper and a Rebel Trooper in Endor outfit;Weapons include a blaster pistol
  • blaster rifle and a double-barreled blaster (E-22)
  • Measures over 2” (6cm) high 16” (41cm) long and 9” (24cm) wide
Reviewer Jack on Amazon said of the ship:

"The TIE Striker is constructed extremely well without any flimsy parts.

The wings as well as the body are very robust and are built with sturdiness in mind for children.

The figures included are superb, especially the newly molded helmet and print of the Shoretrooper and the TIE Pilot. It should be yours without a second thought."

Check out the price on Amazon.

Rogue One's Rebel U-Wing Fighter Lego Set

Rogue One's Rebel U-Wing Fighter

Jyn Erso lego minifig
Jyn Erso mino-fig
The amazing U-Wing Fighter from Rogue One has all the details you would expect from an authentic Star Wars model.

It includes 4 big engines, an opening minifigure cockpit with transparent lower observation window, opening side doors with pull-out stud shooters, dual spring-loaded shooters at the front, rear storage hold.  

The huge wings sweep back to create an even bigger model that looks pretty cool, in the same way an X-Wing goes into attack mode. 

Includes 5 minifigures featuring Jyn Erso and and fan favourite Bistan!
  • Measures over 3” (10cm) high, 17” (44cm) long and 7” (20cm) wide with wings closed, and over 14” (38cm) long and 25” (64cm) wide with wings open.
  • This set offers an age-appropriate building experience for ages 8-14.
Check out the price on Amazon.

AT-ST Walker

This is just the best lego set we've seen. We love how well captured the walker is. It totally evokes Jedi but it feels fresh and new as part of the Rogue One release of Lego toys.

It's also great value at its current Amazon price.

Join the hunt for pesky invading rebels aboard the AT-ST Walker, featuring posable legs, wheel-activated turning top section, opening cockpit and top hatch revealing a detailed minifigure interior, dual spring-loaded shooters and elevating guns at the front.
  • Features posable legs
  • wheel-activated turning top section
  • opening cockpit and top hatch
  • detailed minifigure interior
  • dual spring-loaded shooters and elevating front guns
  • Includes 3 minifigures: an AT-ST Driver, Baze Malbus with his heavy blaster and a Rebel Trooper
  • Weapons include a blaster pistol blaster rifle and Baze’s heavy blaster accessory elements include Baze’s backpack and the Rebel Trooper’s helmet
  • Measures over 9” (24cm) high 6” (16cm) long and 5” (13cm) wide
A reviewer on Amazon simply described this unit as being:

"a great set for the price. This has re-ignited my childhood love of Legos! Well thought-out design makes this set very sturdy once built."

Which is just great to hear if you're in the market for this latest version of the famous Star Wars walkers!

Check out the price on Amazon.

Oh. They've encased him in Carbonite! Carbon-Freezing Chamber set

Han Solo has been sent to the Carbon-Freezing Chamber by Darth Vader and is about to be frozen in a block of solid carbonite! Chilling!

Can he defeat Boba Fett and escape or will he be frozen for all eternity by the Ugnaught?

Only you can decide.
  • This awesome lego set features a control center, freeze bed with freeze function, staircase and an elevator
  • Lift bounty hunter Boba Fett into position with the elevator so he can keep guard over his prize
  • Includes 3 minifigures: Han Solo, Boba Fett, his helmet and an Ugnaught
  • Measures over 5" (13cm) high (with carbonite bed raised), 7" (18cm) wide and 5" (14cm) deep
  • Recreate unforgettable scenes from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back

Poe Dameron's X-Wing Fighter from The Force Awakens

Lego set Poe Dameron's X-Wing Fighter
One of coolest things about The Force Awakens was not pilot Poe Dameron but his awesome black X-Wing

black x-wing lego fighterThis customized starfighter is packed with features including the 4 spring-loaded shooters, 2 stud shooters, retractable landing gear, opening wings, opening cockpit with space for a minifigure and space behind for the BB-8 Astromech Droid.  

There's even a loader with weapon rack, extra missiles and ammunition, and a seat for a minifigure. 

So climb the access ladder, strap in and get ready to recreate your own great scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

Check out the price on Amazon.

Build Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle

Lego Set of Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle

Enter the battle with Kylo Ren's personal Command Shuttle!

This fantastic, highly detailed starship has loads of features, including opening front, rear and bottom storage bays; wing-mounted, spring-loaded shooters and detachable weapon racks. 

When you're ready for even more action, activate the amazing extending wing function!

 It's time to hunt down the enemy and get the missing map piece and play out your own great scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens! 
  • Includes 6 minifigures with assorted weapons and accessories: a Kylo Ren, General Hux, First Order Officer, 2 First Order Crew and a First Order Stormtrooper Officer
  • Features opening front, rear and bottom storage bays; wing-mounted, spring-loaded shooters and detachable weapon racks, and amazing extending wing function
  • Weapons include 2 blaster pistols, blaster and Kylo Ren's Lightsaber
  • Accessories include 4 helmets and an electrobinoculars element
  • Activate the amazing extending wingfunction!
  • Launch the spring-loaded shooters!
  • Access the storage bays
  • Rearm with the detachable weapon racks
  • Measures over 11” (28cm) high, 8” (22cm) long and 7” (20cm) wide with wings retracted, and over 15” (40cm) high with wings extended

Last but not least, is the robot that stole the show in Rogue One, K-2SO

Lego robot Rogue One, K-2SO

Infiltrate the Empire with buildable and highly posable K-2SO!

This wise-crackin' former Imperial security droid features a single/double-arm-swinging battle function, tough-looking decorated head and armor elements, and is extra tall for an even more impressive figure.

This durable droid is perfect for dangerous missions against the Empire. 
  • Buildable and highly posable K-2SO figure features single/double-arm-swinging battle function
  • tough-looking decorated head and armor elements and an extra-tall frame
  • Activate the single/double-arm-swinging battle function and enter battle with this ominous looking buildable figurine
  • You can move the limbs into any battle pose you choose
  • Figure stands over 11” (29cm) tall
An Amazon based reviewer said of the cheeky robot:

"This is a beautiful representation of K-2SO as a LEGO figure. It takes about an hour to build depending on how fast you go." Order K-2SO from Amazon now.

Who knew there was so much awesome Star Wars Lego sets out there? As you can see there is some great selection and nice value to be had especially if you are looking to by as a Christmas or birthday gift for a young Star Wars fan!

Jan 24, 2017

That Rian is such a tease!

Teaser of The Last Jedi crawl

2 Academy Award nominations for Rogue One

Those shiping Cassian and Jyn hard would have been quite disappointed that Rogue One has no acting Oscar nominations but the staff at Lucasfilm should be well pleased with their two nods for the Best Visual Effects and Sound Mixing.

The nod for visual effects is especially well deserved as Rogue One was simple breath taking with every set piece being a work of CGI master class.

Step up John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould, your nomination is well deserved and must be a treat for Knoll who's pitch to Kathleen Kennedy directly led to the green light for Rogue One.

Those getting the ear of the Academy for Sound Mixing are: David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson.

The Force Awakens was also nominated for the same categories last year (and a couple more!) but did not win.

Jan 23, 2017

What is the release date of 'The Last Jedi'?

Darth Vader burning on Endor.

What is the release date of 'The Last Jedi'?

The world wide release date for what I'm calling 'Luke's Excellent Adventure' is:

15th December 2017

What does the title of The Last Jedi mean?

What is the meaning of The Last Jedi?
What's in a name?

Here we go again, a new Star Wars film, with an interesting title meaning.

We thought the Jedi had returned yet, now two movies later we're being told that we are back to the last Jedi?

The last Jedi.

At face value, that's Luke Skywalker.


Or does the name mean, that last set of Jedi. The Jedi padawan Luke was training before Kylo Ren killed them all?

Ren is NOT a Sith. Technically he is still a padawan Jedi... kinda.

Word on the street is that the island Rey found Luke on at the end of The Force Awakens is an ancient Jedi Temple (I think Han Solo suggested Luke was looking for it).

Does this have something to do with the title? Will Luke train Rey as a Jedi? That seems to be the set up from the ending of The Force Awakens.

Speaking of Rey, what if she becomes The Last Jedi.

It's possible that Luke has decided the ways of the Jedi were ultimately wrong and a new path is needed, one which eschews traditional Jedi codes such as no family and no real material possession.

What if Luke Skywalker dies in this movie?

As we know, after the death of Han Solo in The Force Awakens, all bets are off. This current round of movies are a hand over to the next generation of characters, Rey, Finn and Poe. So, Rian Johnson would have some room to move if he needed to off Luke to serve the plot.

But that would be sad and leave neither Luke, Leia nor Han in IX.

If the Last Jedi is all about Luke, colour us very excited. We think it's a fantastic title. 

Is Obi-Wan in The Last Jedi? We'll take that serving.

Will Obi-Wan Kenobi have a cameo part in The Last Jedi?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cameo appearances in The Last Jedi

Cameo role appearances in The Last Jedi

Cameo role appearances in The Last Jedi

These days it's almost a given, but Warwick Davis make's his 10th appearance in a Star Wars movie. That's just an incredible run! Davis is a genuinely nice guy and the fans just love him, so it's no surprise he keeps being asked back for a turn.

Rumours swirl through the mists of Dagobah that Obi-Wan Kenobi in the form of Ewan McGregor will play a cameo role as a Force Ghost. We'll believe it when we see.

The best quotes from "The Last Jedi" movie

Film quotes from the Last Jedi

Quotes from The Last Jedi

So this is it, The Last Jedi is all about Luke.

What will Luke say to Rey? That look he gave her at the end of The Force Awakens was amazing. It said everything and nothing.

Was it a look of disappointment?

Of realisation he once more had to face evil?

Either way, he has to offer Rey a line.

It's going to be very hard to see Carrie Fisher as Leia in the movie following her death. We hope the filming has magically captured a wonderful moment so Leia's introduction in The Last Jedi will be quite poignant.

And what of Rey? 

Sure Luke's had a hard time with Ben Solo massacring all his padawan learners but Rey's pain is right now. She's had a less than a week to reflect on what has just happened to her and now suddenly she is in front of the Jedi that she thought was myth.

What do you say to a Jedi like that?

Hello? Here's your light saber that you lost when your father cut your arm off 30 years ago....

Quotes from The Last Jedi

May the Force be with you.

I've got a bad feeling about this!

'Who are you?' Luke to Rey when they first meet.

"It's now or never!"

Breathe. Breathe. Just Breathe - Luke to Rey as he teaches her how to use the Force.

Luke says to Rey “I know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.”.

Luke Skywalker's The Last Jedi quotes

Luke Skywalker's The Last Jedi quotes from Star Wars

Luke Skywalker's The Last Jedi quotes from Star Wars 

Given Luke didn't say a single word in The Force Awakens, we are expecting him to be pretty verbose in The Last Jedi as he's got a lot of explaining to do.

Like what has he been doing for 30 years?

We want to know how he feels about his student Kylo Ren killing everyone. Does he now understand just what the hell Kenobi had been through?

We also want to know how he feels about Rey turning up at the top of the Jedi steps. Who the hell named them the Jedi steps anyway?

Leaked set reports suggests that Luke has been struggling with depression or even insanity so his first exchange with Rey should be pretty interesting!

"Who are you?" apparently said to Rey when they meet.

Breathe. Breathe. Just Breathe - Luke to Rey as he teaches her how to use the Force.

Luke says to Rey "It is time for the Jedi to end".

So be it then, Jedi!

the last jedi title logo

The new title of Star Wars VIII has been revealed:

The Last Jedi

Which just seems perfect.

Note how the words 'Star Wars' are in red, the same as Revenge of the Sith and we know how that went!

Here's the official word from Lucasflm:

We have the greatest fans in this or any other galaxy. In appreciation of the fans, we wanted them to be the first to know the title of the next chapter in the Skywalker saga: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI.

THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is scheduled for release December 15, 2017.

Jan 21, 2017

Thrawn is coming

Thrawn prequel novel by timothy zahn Thrawn

One only needs to say that single word to a Star Wars book reader and they will immediately conjure thoughts of the blue Grand Admiral and make whispery noises of awe. 

A new legion of fans have sprung up now that Thrawn has been added to the new Star Wars canon in the television show, Star Wars Rebels. 

Disney must have long term plans for Thrawn as a new novel by Timothy Zahn that delves into his origins is about to be published by Penguin Random House.

Here's the official guff:

In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power—uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire, through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond.

But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Darth Vader; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated.

On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again—even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, Ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat and leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral—and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy—and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendancy.

Jan 20, 2017

8 great 'Call Backs' that connect Star Wars films

'It's treason then' quote by Palpatine
It's treason then...

8 awesome 'call back moments' that join the Star Wars movies up

When we say call backs we're talking about how the 7 Star Wars movies each have moments where they reference each other. Here's 6 moments where the script writers took the time to match things up. 

Things that go bump on the Death Star

Remember that Storm Trooper that bumped his head in A New Hope? 

That goof became the stuff of legend among Star Wars fans so much so that when Lucas decided Jango Fett was to be the 'father' of the Clone Army, this 'bump' was called back as an actual character trait of Jango. 

During Attack of the Clones, when the Mandalorian gets into his ship after his tete a tete with Obi-Wan, he bangs his head on the open door.

Grand Moff Tarrkin's Revenge of the Sith blink and you'll miss him cameo

Remember this guy from A New Hope? 

Tarkin is the dude who ordered the destruction of planet Alderaan, the home of the Organa family and millions of other voices. 

The quick character cameo occurs at the end of Revenge of the Sith when Vader and the Emperor are standing on the bridge of a Star Destroyer, overlooking the initial construction stage of the Death Star. 

In a blink an you'll miss it moment, a younger Tarkin quietly sidles up to the Sith Lords.

Tarkin was also brought back from the dead as a CGI animation for Rogue One. This means Tarkin appeared in three Star Wars movies in a row (for the time line).

Vader's murder of the Younglings

Killing of the Younglings in Revenge of the Sith was a pretty obvious severe call back to the prior film, the Attack of the Clones. 

While the murder is off screen, it is blatant what the freshly anointed Vader has just done. 

He has murdered innocent children and there's nothing so subtle as that. 

The call back is to the prior film, Attack of the Clones. Recall the scene where in front of the Younglings, Obi-Wan and Yoda chat about how Obi-Wan has lost a planet (how embarrassing!). 

This is the same type of class where Yoda is teaching young ones about being a Jedi. 

In hindsight, it's a brutal set up.

I've got a bad feeling about this

This line is stated by so many major characters, you just expect this line to be in every Star Wars movie you see.

"I love you"

So said Leia to Han as he was about to be frozen in carbonite. Ford's ad libbed reply of" I Know" is the stuff of Hollywood legend. 

The call back came in Jedi when just after Han Solo grabbed Leia's breasts, the lines were reversed. 

"You will die"

During Revenge of the Sith Mace Windu and Palpatine have battled it out and Windu has won the duel (something Yoda couldn't do, even when Mace had softened the Emperor up for him). Palpatine is no longer pretending he is anything but a Sith Lord. 

And he launches a lightning bolt attack on Windu with the words "you will die". 

This is a call back to Jedi when Luke has resolved not to kill his father and join the Dark Side which pisses of the Emperor who confirms Luke is now a Jedi and then stuns him with a bolt or a few thousand of Force lighting. 

He takes a pause and say's "And now, you will die". Great work script writers, great work.

The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens film was basically a well executed re hash of all the famous Star Wars moments, revisited in different guises.

Jakku is a stand in for Tatooine, Rey's heroism matches Luke, Maz's Castle can be likened to the Cantina etc.

The movie is basically a greatest hits of the Star Wars universe and there's one hit which we think is a brilliant call back to the film that started it all, A New Hope. 

When Finn is tending to Chewbacca's injury he looks for something to use. And he pulls out the training remote that Luke used under Obi Wan tutelage, 30 odd years before hand. It's a blink and you'll miss moment but it was a nice wink to the past. 

And if you didn't like that, this little factoid may brighten you smile.

You know when Finn bumps the digital chess board (the game is actually called Dejarik) ... the game the starts up is the uncompleted game that Chewbacca and R2D2 played in A New Hope!

What did Rogue One offer?

Rogue One also featured a few call backs, especially to A New Hope. While the plot connections between the movies are fairly straightforward for us, the call back to 'hope' we like the best is pretty awesome and it doesn't matter in which order the movies are watched.

At the end of Rogue One, Leia's quote is that she has been brought 'hope' in the form of the Death Star plans.

In ANH, Leia refers to Kenobi as being her 'only hope'. With the entire theme of Rogue One being about hope (Jyn says that 'Rebellions are built on hope') the callback is pretty strong.