Apr 25, 2017

How Mortal Engines ripped off Star Wars and Han Solo (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

mortal engines anna fang han solo

Or rather how Star Wars inspired the Mortal Engines book series

Our favourite character from the first Mortal Engines novel is the Anti Tractionist, Anna Fang.

And why was this?

She just oozed coolness. 

Kind of like Han Solo but without the Wookie boyfriend. 

Writer Philip Reeve once spoke of Star Wars and the effect it had on him in terms of the cosmetic look and feel of the movie:

"The opening scenes on the desert planet, with its mud-brick spaceport and rusty hover-cars, were tremendously exciting because I suddenly saw how you could mix up elements of the past and future to make worlds of your own. So that's really where Mortal Engines comes from, it just took another twenty years to emerge!"

Given Reeve's is a bit of a literary magpie, one should not be surprised how some Star Wars then snuck into his first novel.

There's two key Star Wars inspirations.

Anna Fang is her own person much like Han Solo but the key thing that Reeve nicked from Star Wars is the similarity to the Millennium Falcon and Fang's own airship, the Jenny Hanniver:

Here's a passage from the novel:

'The ship that hung at anchor there was not the elegant sky clipper Tom had been expecting. In fact, she was little more than a shabby scarlet gasbag and a cluster of rusty engine pods bolted to a wooden gondola.

"It's made of junk!" he gasped.

"Junk?" Miss Fang laughed.

"Why, the Jenny Haniver is built from some of the finest airships that ever flew! An envelope of silicon silk from a Shan Guo clipper, twin Jeunet-Carot aero-engines off a Paris gunship, the reinforced gas cells of a Spitzbergen war balloon..."

Does that conversation sound familiar to you?

It strongly echoes what Luke Skywalker says to Han Solo in ANH to which Han retorts: "She'll make point five past lightspeed. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself".

Fangs point about the make-up of her ship sounds much the same.

There's also a second key Star Wars moment in Mortal Engines and that's the beginning. Star Wars famously opens with Darth Vader's Star Destroyer pursuing Princess Leia's Corvette, The Tantive IV. It's a desperate chase, one of life and death.

So how does Mortal Engines start?

With a chase. Here's the first line:

“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”

London (Vader's ship) eventually catches up with the Mining Town (Leia) and consumes it for it's resources.

Different circumstances but it's the same beat. 

Apr 19, 2017

About that time Vader stopped Luke killing the Emperor. Was it what we thought it was?

What if we were to revisit that moment in Return of the Jedi when Luke decides to strike the Emperor down when they are on the Death Star II?

Let's just spitball here for it a bit and let yourself be dragged down the garden path, just this once...

As is commonly considered, the Emperor goaded Luke into raising his saber against him and in doing so this action caused Vader to intervene with his own saber and saving the Emperor's life.

This was all part of the Emperor's plan. He wanted Luke to give into the dark side of the Force, to help Luke let the hate flow through him. Once he had dispatched of his Father, Luke would have succumbed to Palpatine's influence as had Anakin some twenty odd years ago.

We know how this played out, Luke and Vader fought, Luke dealt Vader a mortal blow (or did the force lightning finish him off?), Palpatine attempted to kill Luke and Vader finally made up his mind about where is loyalties lay and saved Luke.

Great story, great ending to the movie trilogy.


What if when Vader stopped Luke's strike, it was not to save his master Palpatine but to stop Luke from taking that final path to the Dark Side?

We know that Luke appears to have been heading down that path.

He's started to wear black. He's slowly becoming part machine due to his daddy cutting of his arm and he forced choked a couple of Gammorean Guards at Jabba's Palace. So he's ripe for the turning right?

Had Vader noticed this change in his son?

Recall in Revenge of the Sith when young Anakin has Count Dooku down for the count. He is humiliated and beaten by Anakin. And what does Annie do? He excutes him with a double blade assault to the neck, mostly at Palpatine's bidding and thus turning him ever more so in the direction of the dark side of the Force.

What if Vader has all this in mind as Luke is about to strike?

We can argue that Vader's loyalty to the Emperor has been wavering throughout the whole of Jedi. That scene with Luke on Endor is arguably a key moment for Vader.

You may have noticed he doesn't respond to Luke when he suggests there is still good in his father. Vader is wavering in his loyalty to the Emperor even more than  he was at the time of Empire when offered for him and Luke to team up and together rule the Galaxy.

So, Vader is wavering and he doesn't really want his son to become like him. So if he had of killed Palpatine with his first strike, that would have been Luke turning, just like Anakin did with Dooku.

Vader chose not to allow Luke to do this, and would rather fight it out a bit and see how things play out. Of course if he had of killed the Emperor, the turning to the dark side probably would only have happened if Vader chose to capitalize on it... but stay with us.

Luke seems to know this, and calls Vader out during the fight but manages to give away that Luke has a sister.

Does Vader know this is Leia?

We have no idea, however it's enough to goad Luke back into the fight.

Vader is wavering still but is suddenly balls deep in a fight to the death, a death he may have wanted for a long time since he was saved from being a crispy critter back on Mustpha by Palpatine.

Either way, by the time Luke beats him (how amazing is that swelling musical score then that happens!) Vader is nearly done.

Ultimately Vader chooses to let his son live but he took his sweet time doing it. Throughout that whole scene he could have gone either way but he really didn't want his son going to the Dark Side. He just wanted the team up.

Any ways, this has been a bit of a ramble, what do you think? Was Vader stopping Luke from falling to the dark side when he prevented Luke from striking down the Emperor?

Or maybe I'm over reaching. It's probably actually simply how it looks in the movie. Vader simply defends his master and it's not until he sees his son dying of a force lightning attack that he makes up his mind.

Extra for Experts

If you look really carefully at the very end of Jedi, post fight scene, Luke's costume is opened up, the flap's insides are white. This symbolises that Luke was always a Jedi like his father before him. Perhaps this casts doubt on all of the above, but the symbolism is clear. Luke was always the good guy.

Extra for Experts II

While we just said that Luke was always the good guy, we understand that an early idea Lucas had was for Luke to become the bad guy at the end, to walk of into the sun set having turned. How interesting a bookend to the Star Wars saga that would have been!

Apr 15, 2017

Top 19 things I took away from Star Wars Celebration 2017

jyn rescue concept design
Congratulations. You are being rescued.
Star Wars Celebration Orlando has wrapped up after an exciting weekend of reveals, confirmations and further expanding mysteries.

Here's the take-aways of information that seem pretty interesting
  1. They must have paid Hayden Christiansen a pretty penny to turn up.
  2. The love shown for Hayden by fans must have melted any concerns he had about prequel haters heckling him. Right?
  3. There's a mining planet called Crait in TLJ.
  4. Luke has probably been on Prozac too long
  5. K-2SO once had the head of an RA-7 droid as part of his design.
  6. There used to be two other alien members of the party in Rogue One, Senna and Lunka.
  7. Rian Johnson seems pretty cool and indeed comfortable with Star Wars fans. Harrison Ford? Perhaps not so much. 
  8. To design the U-wing, 781 different drawings were done by Doug Chiang's design team before they settled on the final look.
  9. Luke's quote from The Last Jedi trailer "It is time for the Jedi to end" is going screw with fanboys and girls for months!
  10. Despite what the CEO of Disney said, Carrie Fisher will not be in Star Wars IX (unless Kathy Kennedy is faking us out). 
  11. Same for Lando Calrissain not being in The Last Jedi. Maybe we'll see him in IX (again, unless it's a fake out)
  12. Daisy and John have an amusing relationship.  Echoes of Hamil and Fisher?
  13. A lot people don't know the meaning of the words 'teaser' and 'trailer'.
  14. Daisey Ridley said Luke doesn't recognise Rey when she turns up at Ach-to Island. Queue more fervent speculation... 
  15. Ashoka lives! !! ?
  16. But that's OK as TLJ director says that we will find out who Rey's parents are (were?) in his movie.
  17. Star Wars Rebels will end after season four. A smart move by Disney. It's a quality show, no need to stretch it out and dilute its quality.
  18. Speaking of Rebels, Thrawn's body guard known as Rukh will have a moment or two. Guess who's doing the voice over? Yep, Warrick Davis is having yet another Star Wars cameo appearance! His eleventh!
  19. Kelly Marie Tran’s character name was revealed as Rose.  Surely they could have given her something cooler?

I'll say it till the dewbacks come home, Ralph McQuarrie was a concept design genius

Doug Chang, a long time Star Wars art designer, revealed at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 a sketch that Ralph McQuarrie had done as part of the sketches for the Rebel Base and ships within for A New Hope.

It was apparently a new publically displayed sketch.

Here it is:

And I thought that seems cool and it triggered a memory. I think it eventually became this concept design:

mcquarrie rebel base final concept design

It seems to be some kind of prototype design of the Y-wing?

I also found this early design as well:

early star wars space ship ideas

I'm sure I've said it before but without McQuarrie's key influence on Star Wars, Lucas would have made a totally different movie!

And that's all I wanted to say. 

The design of K-2SO from Rogue One

k2s0 conceptual design
An original idea for Kaytooso
It's not like I needed to add 'Rogue One' to the title. Everyone knows K-2SO came from Rogue One.

He was arguably the best thing about the movie. He was witty, dark and as noble and heroic as his organic counter parts and like in the case of C3PO and R2D2 so many times, the human heroes would have failed if the tin cans hadn't done their part. 

So what goes into designing a robot such as K-2SO? A freaking lot it would seem. 

Doug Chang has the real intel via an article by Bryan Young on Star

"K2-SO was going to have a transparent head. At one point, Edwards toyed with the idea of K2-SO of having a transparent head so the audience could see him thinking. 

Chiang explained why this didn’t quite work. “When we drew this, it looked like we pushed it just a little bit too much out of the Star Wars box.”

When that didn't quite work, they tried to but the head of a RA-7 droid on the robot. It was apparently a favoured look for a while but it didn't stick. 

If you're wondering what an RA-7 droid looks like, think back to the Sandcrawler in ANH:

ra-7 droid star wars

Young writes "late in the piece a member of the creature department, Luke Fisher, painted the distilled essence of what Kaytoo would be in a painting, which would be recognizable as the lovably sarcastic droid in the film."

You may have seen this below Rogue One concept art that came out at the 2016 Celebration Event - you can see an early incarnation of K-2SO on the far left. 

In the above Rogue One squad design, you could be forgiven for wondering who that big green guy with the furry squirrel like thing on his back is. 

They were known as Senna, “a Chewie type,” and Lunka, “something that could skitter into an air duct, almost like a little thief.” The characters were dropped and one wonders if it was a bit close to Galaxy of the Guardians Groot and Rocket in concept...

This cool set of designs in from The Art of Rogue One:

rogue one robot concept design

Apr 14, 2017

Doug Chiang's insights into the design of Rogue One

Concept art of Jedha and the Kyber temple from Rogue One

Here's wicked awesome report from concept design artist Doug Chiang's Star Wars celebration event session. Written by Bryan Young of it offers a great insight into how the creatures, critters as spaceships were designed.


Doug Chiang is a legend of Star Wars and he’s been playing in that world as an artist for more than 20 years, working on the Special Editions, the prequels, and, now, the new generation of Star Wars films. At Star Wars Celebration Orlando, he offered a presentation on the design of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and we were on the scene to take down the 10 most fascinating facts from the panel.

1. For Rogue One, design was happening the whole time. According to Chiang, “Production design is a team effort and I had a great partner in Neil Lamont. We oversaw a team of 47 artists.” Chiang and these artists worked on Rogue One for years. Not only was there a long time to design through the development phase of the film, this team worked for six months through principal photography and then they spent a year designing the world after principal photography had finished. “Production design no longer ends with principal photography.”

ralph mcquarrie rebel base sketch

A Ralph McQuarrie sketch of a rebel hangar shown during the panel.

2. Original trilogy concept artist Ralph McQuarrie taught Doug Chiang everything. “Designing Rogue One started for me 40 years ago,” Chiang told the audience. “That’s when I saw Episode IV and that’s when I first saw Ralph McQuarrie’s work. His work completely influenced mine. Since I didn’t go to art school, I learned to paint and draw through Ralph’s work. The Art of Star Wars books and McQuarrie portfolios became my textbooks.”

When Chiang finally got to meet McQuarrie, he was dying to know how Ralph did what he did. “When I finally met Ralph in the late ‘90s, it was wonderful to hear how he created his art. His secret was that he was incredibly prolific. His paintings for Star Wars would take only a day or two, where paintings I was doing would take as many as five days.”

Concept art of the Imperial occupation of Jedha in Rogue One.

Concept art of the Imperial occupation of Jedha in Rogue One.

3. Star Wars has a consistent design timeline. In order to let the visual language of Star Wars make sense through different eras, each era of Star Wars is based on real-world design movements. “Episodes I, II, and III were grounded in the [designs of the] ‘20s and ‘30s, everything was handcrafted. Episodes IV, V, and VI were grounded in the heavy manufacturing of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The current trilogy can be seen as an analogue to our time.”

U-Wing Rogue One concept design
U-Wing design concept art

The U-wing went through many iterations before a final design was chosen.

4. The 80/20 rule. With Rogue One butting right up against A New Hope, there was a need to make sure the two halves of the original saga blended together seamlessly. “We knew that 80% of the film would need to rely on the classic designs,” Chiang said, “but that gave us 20% to play with.”

According to Chiang, they wanted to start big and the challenge was to make that 80% of their designs feel as though George Lucas had created them and built them and simply didn’t use them. The other 20% would come from blending the prequel designs with a more handcrafted look.

To design the U-wing (which went through 781 different drawings!), Chiang took Gareth Edwards up to the Lucasfilm archives to show him some of the designs they’d come up with for previous films. Edwards gravitated toward the looks based on an F1 Hydroplane, which shared design elements with Count Dooku’s solar sailer and Zam Wesell’s ship, helping bridge the looks between the dark times.

K2SO original concept design
K-2so statue deisgn concept

The evolution of K-2SO.

5. K2-SO was going to have a transparent head. At one point, Edwards toyed with the idea of K2-SO of having a transparent head so the audience could see him thinking. Chiang explained why this didn’t quite work. “When we drew this, it looked like we pushed it just a little bit too much out of the Star Wars box.”

After that, they tried putting the head of an RA-7 droid on Kaytoo, and that design stuck around for a while, but it wasn’t right. Eventually, a member of the creature department, Luke Fisher, painted the distilled essence of what Kaytoo would be in a painting, which would be recognizable as the lovably sarcastic droid in the film.

The best (and only) Thrawn #cosplay we've seen

thrawn cosplay by a child

This Grand Admiral Thrawn cosplay from the Star Wars Celebration event is awesome and is made even better by the appearance in the photo of David Filoni, the lead chap on Star Wars Rebels and the one who most likely who had the final say on the introduction of Thrawn into Rebels.

Thrawn costume cosplay

What is it with Luke and caves?

The last time Luke found himself in a cave, he got up to a bit of bother. What's in this cave? Long lost Jedi Order secrets? His bed? Do you like Star Wars trivia about The Last Jedi?

Star Wars movie posters - as iconic as the movies

There are many iconic things about Star Wars.

Vader, X-Wings, “I know” and “So be it, Jedi” quickly come to mind.

Those things are movie moments themselves.

Out side the film reel, the original Star Wars poster itself has become an cultural icon and those posters that have followed have also slipped into pop culture.

Here's a brief look at some of the official and teaser posters for the Star Wars films - it's not a full and comprehensive look by any means but the classic shots of Luke and the game are there.....

A New Hope 

Original Star Wars theatrical posters

Transcending the film itself, the original postee (on the left) has become the gold standard for how a movie poster can be designed.

What most people won’t realise was that the poster itself was inspired by classic film posters from the Hollywood era of the 1930s.

Tom Yung had design duties on the original poster. A seasoned designer prior to his Star Wars gig, he’d done some high profile poster design work for films such as Papillion, The Towering Inferno and The Omen. Tasked with the Star Wars work, he was given access to stills of the film and photos taken during product and given a brief of coming up with a design that demonstrated ‘good over evil’. The rest is history.

While two of the posters portray Leia and Luke as sexed up heroes, the drama and fear of the movie is clear in the work.

The Empire Strikes Back

Empire Strikes Back Posters

Yung’s success meant he was chosen to carry on for the sequel The Empire Strikes Back. This time Yung took a trick from his 1967 re-release poster of Gone with the Wind. Again Vader looms large, this time over Leia and Han – which is fitting given their story in the film.

Yung also designed a 'b' poster - a classic vista of Darth Vader in a more action adventure pose suggesting that Vader was weighing into the story even further this time around. Buy it here on Amazon.

Several other posters were also published. The one of Vader on the top left was sent as a teaser poster to movie theatres. By the time Empire's released date was rolling around, Darth Vader was a big enough character to be used to entice people back for the sequel.

The Revenge and Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi movie posters

Return of the Jedi saw Drew Struzan get a chance a doing a Return of the Jedi poster.

This was an interesting time as Struzan’s poster has become the stuff of legend because Lucas decided to change the name of the movie very late in the piece. Return of the Jedi was originally going to be called Revenge of the Jedi and so Struzan had prepared the now legendary teaser poster for the film of that name.

As is now customary for a Star War poster, the shadow of Vader looms large (well why not, by this time Star Wars is actually the story of Darth Vader).

The poster was recalled after George Lucas decided that a Jedi would not seek let alone feel the need for revenge.

Special Edition posters of the Original Trilogy by Struzan
Special Edition posters of the Original Trilogy
The teaser poster on the top left featuring the blue saber was by Tim Reamer.

Legend has it that hands on the saber are those of George Lucas. We doubt it….

That poster of Leia featuring her golden bikini was by Kazuhiko Sano.  

The ‘Return to a galaxy, far, far, away’ poster was by Tom Yung once more. Note the spoiler of the Death Star II blowing up, not cool poster from the 1980s.

Struzan was called back to do brand new posters for all three original trilogy films when they were re-released as the special editions in the mid 1990s. 

The Prequels Posters 

The Star Wars prequel posters

The teaser poster for The Attack of the Clones was quite the brilliant design effort. Featuring the young Anakin Skywalker on the planet of Tattooine, the shadow he caused was unmistakably that of Darth Vader, the figure he was to become. This poster succinctly gave the prospective viewer all the information they needed to know about this movie. 

Drew Struzan was now a favoured artist of Lucasfilm and he did the official poster which was used in over 60 countries. He managed to complete the trifecta as his work was used again for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

TPM and AOTC were the only official posters to not feature an image of Darth Vader (same for The Force Awakens), he of course returned for Revenge of the Sith. 

The Force Awakens

The official The Force Awakens promotional poster was produced by Bryan Morton. It has the classic elements of Star Wars – being Han and Leia at the centre, X-wings and Tie Fighters having a go at each other (check the above posters, the ships are everywhere) and drawn light sabers.

The posters obviously also introduces the three new main characters – and sets up the battle between Rey and Kyo Ren quite nicely as their weapons of choice parallel one another.

You can purchase The Force Awakens poster from Amazon here.

Rogue One

rogue one movie poster

The Last Jedi 

the last jedi movie poster

International Posters

The beauty of Star Wars being a universally loved film is that the film's posters also get the chance to have a 'foreign' touch in the sense that individual countries got to product their own posters. Here's three great ones - see if you can work out which is the Hungarian....

Hungarian Star Wars posts by Tibor Helenyi

They all are apparently!  They were created by Tibor Helényi, a Hungarian painter 

The Last Jedi Official Poster

With the release of the first teaser for the film I'm calling The Return of Luke Skywalker, here's the official Last Jedi movie poster:

last jedi movie poster

Quite a different style from past movie posters! That said it does echo the original in many ways.

It is time for the Jedi to end

rey achto island the last jedi

When the trailer for The Force Awakens was released, I woke up that morning and it was the first thing I thought of. I'd woken up because my young son had jumped on the bed. Together we watched it and the joy that came to my heart when the Falcon boosted up into the sky was a truly great feeling.

So with the release of the trailer for The Last Jedi how did I feel?

Pretty. Darn. Good. AND also completely underwhelmed.

Watch it yourself and check back in. 

If you've ever heard the expression 'leave them wanting more', you'll know that's how The Force Awakens left us. Having given us the briefest glimpse of Luke Skywalker, we REALLY wanted more of Luke. 

And we got him actually speaking " Breathe, Breathe, Just Breathe and the ominous "It is time for the Jedi to end"

But in all, little was revealed other than that. The space battle sure looks like it is going to be epic!

We're pumped.  

That Rex made it to the small moon of Endor IS NOW CANON

rex confirmed on jedi

We generally steer clear of The Clone Wars and Rebels. Called me a bad Star Wars fan but I just don't have time. A mortgage and kids helps with that. 

Sure I've watched a handful of episodes here and there. Pins is of course the best but you can't run In A Far Away Galaxy without knowing a thing or two about a guy called Rex.

Rex is a bit of a fan favourite. 

So when someone saw a guy with a beard in Jedi (known as Nik Sant) that could have looked like an older Rex, the legend was born.

Was Rex truly fighting with the Rebels in Return of the Jedi?

The short answer is no. 

The link between Rex of Clone Wars fame and the bearded Nik Sant of Jedi's Rebels was a bridge too far and certainly not canon. 

But the whispers and rumours creeped across the internet like an insidious vine getting where it shouldn't.

So much so the idea of Rex being in Jedi began to gel. There were hints of it happening. Dave Filoni may have mentioned in an interview: 

"But I think the one thing I have really thought about is I really do think that Rex is that guy on Endor. I really do. Why else is there a bearded old guy on Endor?"

But it was never a published thing in the Star Wars realm and thus not real.

Until today at the Star Wars Celebration to honor 40 years of Star Wars, Filoni made it official, Rex was on the small moon of Endor. 

Here's the revealed conceptual design art of Rex dressed as the Rebel from Jedi:

rex jedi concept art

How can this be? You might ask. 

In terms of the Star Wars timeline, it can play out in theory. The timeline is such that Return of the Jedi takes place only 7 or 9 years after the events of the second season of Star Wars Rebels. Given Clone Troopers like Rex age fairly rapidly due to their genetic engineering it's quite arguable he could fit the part. 

So, we will have to wait perhaps Season 4 of Rebels to see how this plays out, but at least we know that Rex makes it through the whole saga and was able to celebrate the demise of the Emperor.

Apr 7, 2017

From a certain point of view, #OperationBlueMilk, looks like a handy project

From a certain point of view book cover

Here's a cool new official Star Wars project to celebrate 40 years of Star Wars! We will review the book here when it's published.

As from the official Site:

When Star Wars: A New Hope was first released in 1977, part of its appeal was that the world it presented felt alive. Landspeeders and starships were dirty. 

Droids broke down. And it was filled with cool, weird, and really weird background characters. (Really, just take a look around the Mos Eisley cantina.) 

Never mind Han, Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan. Who were these other guys? What was their story? Just seeing them brought up questions for fans that sparked the imagination.

In celebration of Star Wars’ 40th anniversary, Del Rey is going to shine the spotlight on those unsung weirdos, heroes, and villains with a unique, new anthology.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, coming October 2017, will bring together more than 40 authors for 40 stories. 

Each will be told from the perspective of background characters of A New Hope — from X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star to the stormtroopers who never quite could find the droids they were looking for. 

There’s never been a Star Wars book like it, and you can get a first look at the cover below!

The author lineup is a selection of Star Wars all-stars, many of whom have been teasing this announcement with #OperationBlueMilk on Twitter. (Which would be an amazing hashtag, with or without this book.) 

The current list, with more authors to be announced closer to publication, includes:
Ben Acker & Ben Blacker
Renee Ahdieh
Tom Angleberger
Meg Cabot
Rae Carson
Adam Christopher
Zoraida Cordova
Delilah S. Dawson
Paul Dini
Alexander Freed
Jason Fry
Christie Golden
EK Johnston & Ashley Eckstein
Paul Kemp
Mur Lafferty
Ken Liu
Griffin McElroy
John Jackson Miller
Nnedi Okorafor
Daniel José Older
Mallory Ortberg
Madeleine Roux
Gary D. Schmidt
Cavan Scott
Sabaa Tahir
Glen Weldon
Chuck Wendig
Gary Whitta
And more!

All participating authors have generously forgone any compensation for their stories. 

Instead, their proceeds will be donated to First Book — a leading nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. 

To further celebrate the launch of this book and both companies’ longstanding relationships with First Book, Penguin Random House has donated $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm has donated 100,000 children’s books — valued at 1 million dollars — to support First Book and their mission of providing educational resources to children in need. Over the past 16 years, Disney has donated more than 57 million books to First Book.

So if you’re a fan of the desert-searching stormtroopers of the galaxy and the scum and villainy gathered in a Tatooine watering hole, you’re in luck — even if Obi-Wan might not believe in it. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View is available for pre-order now.

Apr 4, 2017

Everything you need to know about Anthony Daniels, you know, the polite Englishman that played C3PO

Daniels as C3PO
Here's some facts about C3PO and the actor who gets inside the golden suit, Anthony Daniels.
  • Daniels has played C-3PO in all sight of the Star Wars feature films from the original installment in the series
  • In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, he also performed the vocal tracks for scenes that featured a computer-generated C-3PO.
  • Daniels also took part in the Star Wars spin offs Droids and The Clone Wars (film and show)
  • Daniels has reprised the role for cameos on The Muppet Show and Sesame Street (where he befriended Big Bird) and most recently a quick part in Legoman.
  • Anthony Daniels did a cameo in Attack of the Clones - check him out in the bar scene where the assassin is caught.
  • Anthony is the only actor to feature in all seven Star Wars films and will continue this streak with The Last Jedi.
  • George Lucas took a lot of his inspiration for Star Wars from a film called The Hidden Fortress (amongst other things). It featured a pair of bickering sidekicks who served as comic relief and crucially managed to help keep the plot ticking along. Lucas adopted this concept and applied it to the C3PO and R2D2. The two loosely serve to tell the tale of Star Wars from their viewpoint and naturally make a few saves along the way. 
  • Robby the Robot from The Forbidden Planet movie also inspired Lucas, especially the fact that Robby was a protocol droid.
  • Here’s three choice quotes from the golden rod:
    • "I suggest a new strategy, Artoo: let the Wookie win." 
    • "Excuse me sir, but that R2-D2 is in prime condition, a real bargain" 
    • "Sir, it's very possible this asteroid is not stable"
  • Famed artist Ralph McQuarrie designed C3PO by taking inspiration from the robot Maschinenmensch that featured in Metropolis.
  • As C-3PO, he has the first line in A New Hope (Did you hear that? They've shut down the main reactor) and the last line in the Revenge of the Sith (oh no!), neatly tying the two trilogies together. 
  • In Sith, All filmed shots of C3PO had the green screen set reflecting in his shiny gold armor, so digital effects artists in post-production had to digitally redo C3PO's armor frame by frame to remove any traces of the green reflection.
  • C3PO is proficient in Bocce. Ha!

Apr 3, 2017

Pablo Hildago confirms 'The Ancient Fear' was never a title of The Force Awakens

We recently got our knickers in a twist about a supposed 'Supreme Intellect' that George Lucas had suggested to Jedi's Richard Marquand who would be revealed as pulling the strings all along in a third Star Wars trilogy.

As part of that work, I mused a rumored name of the film 'The Ancient Fear' was a clue to this mysterious figure and how it was possibly a reference to what became Supreme Leader Snoke of the first order.

It was quickly resolved that yes, this idea of Lucas was gradually parlayed into Snoke. 

But that got me thinking about the rumored name of the movie, 'The Ancient Fear'. 

Was it really a working title of the movie? 

I had no idea and with all the fake news about these days, I went to the source and asked Pablo Hildago if this was the case. 

If you don't know who Pablo Hildago is let me explain that is a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group and if he says something is true or not true about Star Wars, we can take him at his word. 

So here's what he said:

So that clears it up once and for all.

'The Ancient Fear' was never a working title for The Force Awakens and thus it was never a reference to Snoke or any other Supreme Intellect that might have lurked out there a long time ago in a a galaxy far far away!

What's in a name? The meaning of titles of the Star Wars films if you didn't already know..

What do the names of the Star Wars films mean?

Call us Captain Obvious but we thought it might be fun to explain the names or titles of the 8 Star Wars films.

Just in case you missed a trick.

The Phantom Menace

We think this title has two meanings.

The phantom menace is the trade dispute that has been deliberately manufactured by Chancellor Palpatine AKA Darth Sidious. As one half of the Sith duo with Darth Maul, he was the real threat.

Using his cunning he manipulated various parties into the blockade action against the planet of Naboo. While it was a real blockade, it was a 'phantom' menace in that Sidious was using it as a means to an even greater end.

That end of course being to strengthen his political position as part of his plan to build an Empire.

Another way to look at it is that he himself is the Phantom Menace in that he's part of a 'whispers and shadows' campaign.

He's a cloaked figure to many parties after all and his true identity is unknown. He is a phantom...

Attack of the Clones

The Battle of Geonosis where Yoda led his newly acquired Clone Army to rescue his lost Jedi (and Padme!) was were it really all began, indeed Yoda actually says “Begun, this clone war has.”

The Clone War was a further step in Sidious's path to greater power. His manipulations via Count Dooku by way of leading the Separatist movement allowed for the Kamino Clones to be used as a legitimate counter  to that movement.

Revenge of the Sith

If you'll go back to Phantom Menace, you'll recall that Darth Maul was hankering for getting some revenge when he chats with Darth Sidious. It's totally on the agenda.

As for ROTS, after a long time of the Sith not being visibly in the frame work (not since the formation of the Republic), Palpatine has finally exerted his power and taken control of the Senate and formed his own Empire.

He destruction of the Jedi via Order 66 serves as a literal visceral revenge by bringing the Sith back into control of the galaxy as they had once before. 

Fact fact: Return of the Jedi was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi so ROTS was an opportunity to get that theme back on the agenda.

original millennium falcon concept art

A New Hope

Originally Star Wars was just known simply as that. Then in 1981, George Lucas added the title of A New Hope and the episodic nature of Star Wars was born.

In terms of the title's meaning, the new hope for the galaxy is Luke Skywalker.

After all the troubles that befell Anakin, Obi Wan sees Luke as the new hope in response to Vader and the Emperor taking over the Galaxy.

The new hope being the one who will bring balance to the Force. Obi Wan was however wrong on that point and Anakin was actually the Chosen One.

Given the ending of Rogue One, 'hope' can also refer to that which came from Princess Leia receiving the Death Star plans.

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire striking back title is literal. The Battle of Hoth is the Empire returning serve to the Rebel's first truly successful salvo.

After the Rebels destroyed the Death Star I, the Empire had hunted high and low around the galaxy and in finding them, they turned up the heat!

Vader taking Luke's arm is a physical manifestation of the Empire 'striking back' as well. 

Return of the Jedi

You could be forgiven for thinking of Luke as being the Jedi who returned but you would be wrong. Luke is not a Jedi until he has faced Vader as his final test (Yoda tells him this).

So, it's impossible for Luke to be 'returning' as he has never been a Jedi.

However, if you look at it in the sense of Jedi as a collective, you could well argue that the Jedi (as a plural collective) have returned when he says to the Emperor:

Luke: I am a Jedi, like my father before me.
Palpatine: So be it... Jedi!

The real Jedi returning is Darth Vader.

When he decides to save his son in preference to Emperor Palpatine, he becomes a Jedi again. Listen carefully to the music that plays just as he's throwing the Emperor down the shaft, it is the Force theme (AKA Binary Sunset).

It is marking Vader (now actually returning as Anakin Skywalker) bringing balance to the Force!

In short, Vader is the returning Jedi (singular), Vader and Luke together are the returning Jedi (plural).

The Force Awakens

One word:


Rey is a ray of hope.

A new one.

She is also a ray of light.

The light side of the Force.

The Force has awoken in her. She's able to learn the ways of the Force just by an initial thought.

As a guess, she chances her arm with a Jedi mind trick. She can summons a saber to her open hand just by think about it. All in less than 2 days worth of action and adventure. The Force has indeed awoken in Rey.

You could also consider that the dark side of the Force has also fully awoken in Kylo Ren. When he killed his father, he fully committed to crossing over to the dark side and resisting the temptation of the light.

Rogue One

We think this is a reference three things.

The first is that it is the military call sign of the ship Jyn's crew leave for their mission on.

The second is a reference to Jyn Erso's personal nature and the third reference is the fact the movie is set somewhat outside of the Skywalker family saga.

Check out Rogue One's meaning in more detail.

The Last Jedi

A cold read suggests the title is referring to Luke Skywalker. Or does it? Indeed it does, as director Rian Johnson has confirmed as part of the events for Star Wars Celebration 2017 that the title indeed refers to Luke.

Feel free to chip in with your thoughts and ideas of what the title of these film can mean!