Apr 19, 2016

A bit of a day dream about Luke Skywalker's blue and green lightsabers

Luke turns on green saber - deleted ROJT scene

A bit of a day dream about Luke Skywalker's blue and green lightsabers

I was randomly thinking if I could boil Star Wars down into one thing, what would it be. My first thought was an X-Wing, particularly one in flight, flying away from me with 4 red orange engine exhausts leaving me in their wake. Because those things are awesome. And then flashed up Vader gesticulating wildly at some rebelling princess.

All good things, but no, for this writer, it all boils down to Luke’s lightsaber.

So what of it? There’s two key Star Wars moments for me that relate to Luke’s weapon of choice. The first, and by far the coolest part for me as a kid, was watching Luke give some kind of salute to Jabba’s sail barge which turned out to be a signal for R2D2 to fire Luke’s hidden saber into the air so Luke could do a Jedi flip, grab it in mid air and then wreak the worst kind of havoc over Jabba’s henchmen. That green light slicing across the silver screen was burned into my retina.

The second is the moment Obi-Wan handed Luke his father’s old saber and turned it on. That sound, that flash of light blue, that awe that suddenly struck Luke was mirrored on myself. That gentle wave of the sword around as Luke starred into its light. This was not just a cool space movie, this was now a cool space movie with blue swords!

Something borrowed, something blue

So much happened to Luke’s blue saber both before he actually got his farmer boy hands on it.the saber has already seen a LOT of violence. In the Revenge of the Sith film it was used to kill Count Dooku and to fight against Obi-Wan Kenobi, oh and lest we forget, it was used to massacre the younglings. This weapon has some really history and blood of innocents on it's hand before it gets to Luke.

When it’s first handed to Luke by Obi-Wan, it’s both an introduction to him and the viewer of such things as Jedi Knights, the Force and a big hint as to what is to come. But Luke doesn’t use the saber for violence in A New Hope. That’s saved up for Empire.

There was no lying when Obi Wan told Luke that the saber he handed to him was his father’s Anakin Skywalker. You’ll note that Obi-Wan picks it up just as he’s leaving Anakin for dead, so he had in his possession the whole time he was keeping an eye out for Luke on Tattoinne. Luke then used the saber until he lost it down the shaft on Cloud City. It was not seen again until Maz Kanata laid it out for young Rey to find in the catacombe of her castle. We do not know the tale of what happened to the lightsaber between those two moments.

We finally got to see Luke use his saber for realszies in The Empire Strikes back when his duel Darth Vader results him becoming just another Star Wars statistic. The loss of one’s arm must be pretty traumatic. It must be even more so when you’ve lost it at the er.. hand of someone who has just told you that they are in fact your father.  And it’s a key moment in the story of Luke’s saber – as Luke’s hand arm is cut off it two things occur. The first is that it's simply great drama and the second is also serves as a personal representation of the Empire striking back (along with the Hoth battle of course).

The saber was also used in Empire to show that Luke's powers as a Jedi were improving. When he was stuck in the ice came by the Wampa, Luke showed his control over the Force by drawing it from the ice to him to use it set him free. It shouldn't be lost on anyone that when Rey called with the Force to the same saber, this was an homage to that moment in the cave.

With The Force Awakens we get to Rey returning the saber to Luke at the top of her climb to him on planet Ahch-to. Will he accept the sword from her? We imagine he will ruefully take it, ponder some of moments in his life when it was in his possession and give it back to Rey, signalling the beginning of her training as a Jedi.

A small aside is to remember Luke’s saber also serves as means for Han to get Luke into his dead Taun Taun which meant we got the best joke ever made in a Star Wars film, “and I thought they smelled bad on the outside..”

It ain't easy being green - Luke's second saber

I alluded to earlier in this piece at just how cool I thought the green saber was. I think it's mostly because it was an unexpected surprise to see it suddenly slice and dicing the bad guys. Refer the photo at the top - it's a cut scene from Return of the Jedi. Luke is in a cave on Tattooine and he appears to have found the required crystal to make his newly fashioned saber complete. The shot of him with the saber turned, while cool, would have reduced the excitement of Luke's surprise attack at the Sarlacc Pit. 

Even Darth Vader was moved to comment on this new green saber in ROTJ: "I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete. Indeed you are powerful, as the Emperor has foreseen." 

Luke and his dad eventually battle it out in a great duel before the Emperor. The clash of red and green was awesome and the set itself was dark and evil, conjuring thoughts of the dark side of the Force and just how close Luke was to succumbing to it.

Shortly after Luke returns the favour of chopping off his dad's arm the Emperor invites him to join him and rule the galaxy. Luke rejects this grand gesture  and throws the saber to the floor. It's just as a telling moment in Luke’s path to becoming a Jedi as any. He is now one and in becoming so has turned away from the lure of dark side of the Force and the attempted seductions of Palpatine.

We hope we get to see Luke's green blade slicing and dicing in The Last Jedi.

So there we go, a complete rambling noodle of a thought piece on Luke's weapon of choice. What do you think? What's your favourite Star Wars lightsaber moment?

Apr 11, 2016

So are the prequels really worth apologizing for in the first minute of The Force Awakens?

The first spoken line in The Force Awakens is said by Lor San Tekka to Poe Dameron. Tekka's voice is of a grandfatherly tone but one that demands utter attention because the message is very, very important.

"This will help make things right again"

Oh, really JJ Abrams. What needed to be made right?

If we’re going to read into things (and let’s face it, that’s what Star Wars fanboys and girls do) then this line appears to be a message to Star Wars fans from JJ Abrams. It’s like he’s saying, “Hey, we know you guys hated the prequels so I’mmma let you finish this movie but want you to know right now, that I’ve fixed everything. I’ve loaded it up with practical effects and alien monsters, you’re gonna love it!”

It’s like a deliberate psychological trick to frame the view’s perception of the movie as being better than the prequels. Or perhaps less charitably, not as bad...

It actually goes hand in hand with the fantastic marketing campaign that played so clearly on anti-prequel nerves and anguish by demonstrating that there were a googillion practical effects, sets and creatures in the movie. If you don’t understand this point, just understand that every Stormtrooper you saw in Revenge of the Sith was actually CGI generated and not a single practical uniform costume was made. 

It could be considered an OK device if the prequels did totally suck, or at least if they were universally hated. But that’s not the case. A gabillion dollars raised at the box office, another gabillion in home rental and DVD / Blu Ray purchases suggest they are loved and a whole generation who were kids when they first saw them, totally LOVE the prequel movies, even now. JJ said so himself.  Indeed, Revenge of the Sith in particular is actually critically assessed as being better than Return of the Jedi.

So are the prequels really worth apologizing for in the first minute of The Force Awakens?

So what JJ is doing here is responding to the hate and derision that was poured onto the prequels and George Lucas. And let’s not quibble here, some people do hate the movies. OK, a lot of people. But I venture an opinion that there are more people that love the prequels than people that hate the prequels. The Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society certainly love them! There’s probably a large middle ground too, people that think they are just OK, as in they were decent trip to the movies with your mates and that's that. Well, more than OK if Blu Ray sales are anything to go buy by. Speaking of, here's a shameless plug to buy The Force Awakens on Blu-Rey from Amazon. 

So let’s assume than that 1/5* of Star Wars fans do indeed do not like the movies and they hate them (despite watching them countless times so as able to discuss why they hate every particular part of every particular scene). Is that a large enough percentage for the TFA to offer an apology of sorts just before we jump into the action? (The action was awesome, nice job there JJ!)

The risk of making a new Star Wars movie was that it would not be accepted by fans and dismissed as the prequels have so vocally. It’s thus very reasonable for Disney to do as much as it could to make the movie a hit and produce financial returns sufficient to justify their massive investment in Lucasfilm and set themselves up for the long haul success of the franchise.

But is it worth annoying the 80 percent of fans that either love or are 'OK with' the prequels (assuming of course, they all reacted the same as this author to the line)? Yes, it actually is because we are going to enjoy the rest of the movie by sharing in the laughs with BB-8 and shedding a wee tear for Han Solo. JJ and scriptwriter Lawrence Kasdan actually can totally get away with it! They did deliver a pretty good movie after all. Imagine if it was a terrible movie and they left that line it! Much egg over much face.

Is it necessary at all though, as those that hate the prequels seem to be pretty vocal about how much they love the OT - and thus they would have seen TFA regardless....

If you have got this far, thanks for persevering on a pretty inane point. 

*I'd run the same argument if the number was 1/4 or even 1/3.

Apr 10, 2016

What did Yoda and Obi-Wan say to Rey in her flashback sequence in TFA?

You may recall the collective 'Wow!' the collective internet made when it realised that Obi-Wan had a line in The Force Awaken's flask back sequence. There wasn’t just one line from a Star Wars alumni to feature though, Yoda chipped in and even Sith Lord Palpatine was snuck in as well. Listen very carefully and it’s all there.

Here’s the quotes from the three characters that were placed in the flash back sequence:

The numbers represent the second they occur.

[00:08] Yoda: It’s energy…

[00:14] Yoda: …surrounds us… and binds us.

[00:14] Luke: No! No!

[00:21] Obi-Wan: You will be tempted…

[00:23] Obi-Wan: But you cannot control it.

[00:25] Yoda again “surrounds us…“

[00:25] Obi-Wan: The Force will be… –

[00:35] Palpatine speaks to Anakin “…any Jedi!”

[00:38] Obi-Wan: You will do it…

[00:48] Obi-Wan: Rey…

[00:53] Obi-Wan: These are your first steps.

Apr 7, 2016

Mon Mothma quotes from Rogue One

Mon Mothma quotes Rogue One

Mon Mothma quotes from Rogue One 

Mon Mothma is the leader of the Rebel Alliance, first scene briefly in Return of the Jedi, she also made an appearance in Revenge of the Sith but her scenes were cut. Now, she returns in Rogue One.

This 4th Star Wars prequel features the return of Mon Mothma, again played by Genevieve O'Reilly.

The beauty of the casting is that as it;s been over 10 years since she played Mon in Revenge of the Sith, she has aged just as the character would have so she looks the part.

Mothma's quotes as said to Galen's wild child Jyn Erso

When Mothma first meets Jyn, she lays it on pretty thick: "On your own from the age of fifteen. Reckless. Aggressive and undisciplined."

And then she gets to business:

"We have intercepted an Imperial coded transmission."

"We’ve a mission for you. A major weapons test is imminent and we need to know what it is and how to destroy it."

"Our Rebellion is all that remains to push back the Empire. We think you may be able to help us."

'.. that Jedi' - this tells us she knew Obi-Wan was still alive.

It would seem that Mothma has chosen Jyn Erso for this mission as the key to unlocking everything is her father Galen

Apr 6, 2016

The 14 best The Force Awakens bits of trivia

Here's some sweet bits of film trivia about The Force Awakens. You'll find some detail on a very famous actor who auditioned for a role, the reassignment of costume designs and the name of a big red robot...
  • When Kylo Ren takes of his mask before Rey and places it on a table, ashes rise in a smokey haze. These ashes the burnt remains of enemies that Kylo as vanquished. This is a unique insight into Ren’s character. We know he’s a collector of relicts such as Vader’s mask, so why not collect the ashes of the dead as well.
  • When Finn managed to turn in the chess game on the Millenium Falcon, known more properly as a Dejarik board, it had not been played since ‘R2D2 let the Wookie win’ in A New Hope. Thus it was the same game that could have been played.
  • Gary Oldman auditioned for the part of Lor San Tekka. It’s a foot note of history that Oldman turned down a role in Revenge of the Sith as General Grevious.
  • While Captain Phasma’s design was at one time being considered for Kylo Ren’s look, other ideas had also been considered. He once was designed with a red oval helmet. This design was eventually used for the Guavian Death Gang that stormed Han and Chewie’s freighter (which is known as the Eravana). 
    The red helmets of the Death Squad
  • James Bond star Daniel Craig has a blink and you'll miss him cameo as a Storm Trooper
  • Given the franchise's long tradition of characters losing limbs, The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars movie where no one loses an arm. In the novelisation of the film there is a scene were Ankar Plutt arrives at Maz Kanata's castle to retrieve the stolen Millennium Falcon.
  • A big deal was made of TFA going back to Star Wars' roots in terms of realistic puppets, robots and having real sets - the reality is that while there was a huge emphasis on such things, TFA Has more CG FX shots than have any other single Star Wars movie!
  • If you've ever watched a Star Trek movie by JJ Abrams, you may have noticed he quite likes the Beastie Boys. And that love has had a wee influence on The Force Awakens. It turns out that the name Ello Asty is likely a play on the Beastie's work Hello Nasty.
  • The name of the crashed Star Destroyer that Rey pilots the Falcon through is called the Inflictor which was scuttled onto the planet Jakku in a battle that took place one year after the events of Return of the Jedi.
  • That big robot that passes by Han, Rey and Finn as they enter Maz’s Castle is called Hurid-327. During filming it was known as Big Red.
  • John Boyega, who plays Stormtrooper Finn, is said to have auditioned 9 times.
  • Warwick Davis, who famously played Wicket in Return of the Jedi has like his 33rd crack at a cameo in a Star Wars film. He played Woolivan in the cantina scene at Maz’s castle.
  • Peter Mayhew, the beloved actor who brings Chewbacca to life has issues with his knees and would have struggled with the rigours of film Chewie's part. 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.
Want more The Force Awakens trivia? We've got you covered. No, I mean we really have you covered! Still want more? Here's some sweet facts about how The Empire Strikes Back was made.

There's a bad moon on the rise....

Here's a still from the 4 second Rogue One teaser which is a tease to another tease coming tomorrow:

Apr 5, 2016

Shot by shot comparison of ANH to The Force Awakens

If we could all just agree that The Force Awakens is a great re-tread of A New Hope and just enjoy both movies for what they are, fandom would be a happier place. 

Anyways, here's a fantastic shot by shot comparison of key scenes from A New Hope that were replicated or give a nod to by The Force Awakens. 

Watch it for that but also enjoy Rey's Theme being played over the top!

If you are interest, it's just not scene for scene nods that happened - there was plenty of Ralph McQuarrie design from the ANH era used in the production