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Star Wars

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Wars without Williams.


As making the rounds of late, the raw C-SPAN feed of the Yavin 4 medal ceremony was a considerably weaker PR hit for the Rebellion, and no mistake. (Chewie in particular comes off much worse — This is like learning of Lincoln’s squeaky voice.)

Also in recent Original Trilogy-related humor, Black C-3PO (BL3PO? Either way, probably still less offensive than Jar Jar et al) and this analysis of the insurgency on Endor’s moon. “The Ewoks are not soldiers, but a tribal insurgency — and a remarkably successful one once they receive the backing of foreign special forces.”

Guardians of the Force.


As Harrison Ford nurses a broken leg and Star Wars-minded folk digest the welcome news that Rian Johnson will be writing and directing Episode VIII, the original trilogy gets a new trailer in the style of Guardians of the Galaxy. Good time to be a SW fan.

12 Years a Sith | Brienne of Darth.

As shook the fandom interwebs ten days ago, the mostly male Star Wars VII cast gets a much-needed XX infusion with the additions of Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie (best known for 12 Years a Slave and Game of Thrones respectively) to the cast. Now we’re cooking — Please, JJ, don’t waste all this talent. (*cough Into Darkness.)

Return of the Force?

“‘We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.'”

The Star Wars Episode 7 cast is announced, and, give credit where due, this is pretty auspicious (although heavily male) bunch. Along with all of the original gang — minus Lando — and the previously-rumored Adam Driver, Episode VII also includes John Boyega (the break-out star of Attack the Block), Daisy Ridley (don’t know her), Oscar Isaac(!, a.k.a. King John/Llewyn Davis), Andy Serkis(!, mutant master of CGI), Domhnall Gleeson (increasingly ubiquitous son of Brendan, late of About Time and Anna Karenina), and the venerable Max Von Sydow(!!! Needs no introduction, and it is a rush in itself to see him get his place next to Cushing, Guinness, Jones, and Lee.)

With all the usual caveats — Into Darkness, lens flares, etc. etc. — that’s a damned exciting cast. (Ok, so was MacGregor, Neeson, Portman, Jackson, and Stamp fifteen years ago, but let’s not talk about that.) Now how ’bout getting Frances McDormand, Saiorse Ronan, Viola Davis or somesuch in for additional support?

Update: Could well be damage control, but late word is there’s more to come. “Several sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that director J.J. Abrams has another substantial role to fill — and it’s a female part. No further details are known.”

Painter of Lightsabers.

“Artist Jeff Bennett has invaded the cloying world of Thomas Kinkade with the full might of the Galactic Empire. In a series Bennett is calling Wars on Kinkade, the Painter of Light’s ethereally bland landscapes come under the iron fist of Star Wars storm troopers, Imperial Star Destroyers and Hoth-crushing AT-ATs.” General Veers, prepare your men for a surface attack: The Empire Strikes Kinkade.

Storm of Sabers.

Sigh…nobody ever listens to Ser Akbar. This has been languishing in the bookmarks for a bit: The Star Wars v. Game of Thrones subreddit. That’s cute.

The Emperor’s Cabinet.

General Veers, prepare your men for a whiskey, neat. The Emperor’s Cabinet, a.k.a. an AT-AT wet bar, made of plywood, mahogany, brass, and glass. Hey, Skywalker, don’t be getting drunk and toppling this beautiful imperial machinery.

Red Bricks Standing By.

“This has been a wild and exciting project for us, and it’s taken an international team of designers, engineers, structural consultants, model builders, and logistics personal over a year to bring this model from a conception to reality,’ Varszegi said in an email. ‘In one respect, designing it was the ‘easy’ part, as we were creating a scaled version of an actual toy construction set.'”

It may not have the detail of Lego Hogwarts, but pretty cool nonetheless: A life-size Lego X-Wing is unveiled in Times Square. “The model…has a wingspan of 44 feet and comes complete with R2-D2 and a full range of sound effects…[It] was made with 5,335,200 Lego bricks. That, according to Lego, makes it the largest model ever built, eclipsing the Lego robot at the Mall of America by some 2 million bricks.”

Mighty Ray Young.

Harryhausen’s fascination with animated models began when he first saw Willis O’Brien’s creations in KING KONG with his boyhood friend, the author Ray Bradbury in 1933, and he made his first foray into filmmaking in 1935 with home-movies that featured his youthful attempts at model animation.”

“Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.” “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no STAR WARS” — George Lucas.

“THE LORD OF THE RINGS is my ‘Ray Harryhausen movie.’ Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least.” — Peter Jackson

“What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.” — Terry Gilliam.

“I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.” — James Cameron

The Master stops motion: R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen, 1920-2013.

The Empire’s Last, Best Skeptic.

“In a statement from his three children, they said he ‘is one with the Force’ and thanked their father’s fans and friends for their longtime support. ‘Every time we find someone’s lack of faith disturbing, we’ll think of him.'”

Somebody had to speak truth to power: Richard LeParmentier, best known as Admiral Motti, 1946-2013. “The Pittsburgh-born actor worked regularly throughout the 70s and 80s, appearing in such films as Octopussy and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

No Stranger to Jedi.


I’ll be honest. This rather egregious plot hole has been bothering me ever since Episode III. Now, at long last, witness Artoo’s real message to Obi-Wan.

Farewell, LucasArts.

“‘After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games,’ Disney informed Game Informer in a statement. ‘As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.'”

It’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. As part of their recent acquisition of the Star Wars empire, Disney decides to close down LucasArts. (A solid appreciation of their middle period is here.) As one of the wags at Coming Soon well put it, this deal is getting worse all the time!

Granted there hasn’t been a must-play Star Wars game since Knights of the Old Republic in 2003, and that was mostly on account of Bioware. But give credit where due – in the late 80’s and early 90’s, LucasArts had an unparalleled record of excellent games: Maniac Mansion, Zack McCracken, Sam and Max, Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Grimm Fandango, Dark Forces, and, of course, the original X-Wing.

Throughout, the LucasArts sign was a symbol of quality craftsmanship, and in many ways, they kept the torch of adventure games aloft after Infocom had closed up shop and Sierra’s Quest line had faltered. (Today, that torch is held by Telltale Games, where Sam and Max and Monkey Island live on.)

Still Scruffy-Looking.

Latino Review scores big news from the emerging Star Wars empire at Disney (and many Bothans died to bring them this information): Harrison Ford is officially signed to return as everyone’s favorite Corellian smuggler in the next set of Star Wars movies. Presumably he’ll be joining Luke and Leia in the JJ Abrams sequel trilogy, not the rumored Han Solo spin-off movie. Either way, don’t blow this, Han.

FWIW, as a Star Wars kid, I’m mostly OK with this ginormous SW revival over at the Mouse. The prequel trilogy — especially Attack of the Clones — already broke the seal in terms of bringing bad Star Wars into the world. So, even if this all seems extremely commercialized even for a franchise that was always driven by toy sales, I’m still curious to see other diverse and talented filmmakers playing in the great sandbox Lucas made. But JJ Abrams? Eh. I already saw his Star Wars movie back when it was called Star Trek.

Update: Mark Hamill discusses the current situation.

Better Off Sith.

Haverchuck and Schweiber? Sorry, those aren’t the nerds you’re looking for. The Mary Sue points the way to Star Wars re-envisioned as an 80’s teen comedy.

The Snowtroopers in the Cupboard.


By way of Geek Tyrant, photographer Avanaut makes snow and sand-flecked cinematic art from Star Wars action figures. Considerably more impressive than the “underground rebel base” playset I once made out of an Ethan Allen book case.

Empire Calls.


As seen on He Geek She Geek, Star Wars propaganda posters. “They’re kind of from all over the web…Some are on shirts, some are prints, some are just fan art.

B-Movies Go A-List.

In the trailer bin of late:

  • If Contagion wasn’t enough for 2011, Steven Soderbergh has assembled an impressive cast for some straight-to-video-ish action in the new trailer for Haywire, with Gina Carano, Ewan MacGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas. It doesn’t look all that great, but with Soderbergh and that cast, you never know.

  • Speaking of A-list casts down for some B-movie action, Ryan Gosling is a stunt driver by day and wheelman by nightin the red band trailer for Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive, also with Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac, Ron Perlman, and Albert Brooks. This got great reviews at Cannes, and, like Haywire, I’m intrigued by the personnel involved. But Oldboy has already cornered the market on hammer shenanigans.

  • In the not-too-distant future, Justin Timberlake has time on his side — or does he? — in the Comic-con trailer of Andrew Niccol’s In Time, also with Cillian Murphy, Amanda Seyfriend, Olivia Wilde, and Vincent Kartheiser. The timestamp thing is rather goofy, but Niccol (Gattaca, The Truman Show) is usually good for a smart sci-fi premise. I’m in.

  • Luke constructs a lightsaber, Han shoots up a shield generator, and wampas and sandstorms attack in this preview of the Star Wars Original Trilogy deleted scenes, coming soon to a Blu-Ray player near you. Sorry, I think you have to buy the prequels as well to get these.

  • And, not a movie trailer per se, but Rick Grimes and the gang are as ready as they’ll ever be for another round of the zombie apocalypse in the new trailer for Season 2 of The Walking Dead. I’m more excited about S2 of Game of Thrones personally, but this’ll do until the trouble gets here.

“No Ball Left Unbusted.”


As part of the rollout for Cowboys and Aliens, director (and former Dinner for Five host) Jon Favreau kicks off a series of interviews by sitting down with one of his stars, Harrison Ford. (This is just one section above — click through for the rest of them.) Particularly given how ornery or bored (or worse) Ford usually seems when chatting to the press, this is quite a fun interview, especially for the fanboy/fangirl-inclined. There’s life in the old Corellian yet.

This Will Be a Day Long Remembered.


Obi-Wan Kenobi ‘s demise is a defining moment in the stormtrooper-led fight against terrorism, a symbolic stroke affirming the relentlessness of the pursuit of those who turned against the Empire at the end of the Clone Wars. What remains to be seen, however, is whether it galvanizes Kenobi’s followers by turning him into a martyr or serves as a turning of the page in the war against the Rebel Alliance and gives further impetus to Emperor Palpatine to step up Stormtrooper recruitment.

After twenty years, we finally got him: Obi-Wan Kenobi is dead. “When the end came for Kenobi, he was found not in the remote uncharted areas of Wild Space and the Unknown Regions, where he has long been presumed to be sheltered, but in a massive compound about an hour’s drive west from the Tatooine capital of Bestine. He had been living under the alias ‘Ben’ Kenobi for some time.

The Clown and the Ringmaster.


‘I am serious,’ Nielsen replies. ‘And don’t call me Shirley.’ The line was probably his most famous — and a perfect distillation of his career.” First dramatic, then comic actor Leslie Nielsen, 1926-2010. (See also Matt Zoller Seitz’s appreciation.)

I’d say he was probably the most successful versatile director in Hollywood. He could do just about anything really well, from science fiction to cult thrillers to domestic dramas to westerns to romantic comedies.” To, of course, Star Wars films. Director Irvin Kershner, 1923-2010. (The great Kershner pic above via Quint at AICN.)

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