Archive for the ‘Star Wars’ Category

“There has been an awakening, have you felt it?”

The first teaser trailer for The Star Wars The Force Awakens has hit and the buzz is huge.  I’m sure there are people who have analysed it in far more detail than me, but there are a couple of points I have noted. 

It has been suggested that John Boyega (best known for Attack the Block (2011)) and Daisy Ridley (who has been in a few TV shows) are the Han/Luke and Leia of the story.  They both appear to be on Tattooine or a similar “outer rim planet”.  The story will surely contrive to throw them together on an adventure.  Whatever the plot he is unlikely to remain stormtrooper.  Meanwhile on a very different looking planet we see a Sith Lord (red lightsaber!).  Endor in winter? Hoth? The Sith is carrying a very different looking lightsaber, longer and with laser hilt, it looks almost like a claymore.  This is reminiscent of the moment we first saw Darth Maul’s bo staff/lightsaber in The Phantom Menace.  But who is the Sith?  The three big names in the cast we don’t see in the trailer are Adam Driver, Andy Serkis and Domhnall Gleeson (Oscar Isaac appears to be piloting an X Wing).  The other question, is he the Master or the Apprentice, we know there must be both thanks to Yoda’s explanation.The Star Wars Force Awakens Cast

The interesting thing, we don’t see any of the returning original cast.  This is a bold but sensible choice.  It would be difficult to see them without giving away where they are and what they are doing.ap_star_wars_cast_jef_130503_wmain

But we do have a link to the old movies.  We know that the Millennium Falcon was an old ship in the original trilogy, it wouldn’t be out of place to have given it a cameo in one of the prequel trilogy, sadly that didn’t happen, however there are no such worries here.  We get to see all the old favourites: the Millennium Falcon, a pair of TIE fighters and a squadron of X-wings.The Star Wars Force Awakens Ships

We only have a year to wait!

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“I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.” Han Solo, Star Wars (1977)

 With the news that Disney is to acquired Lucasfilm for a reported $4billion and that a new Star Wars movie series is on the way speculation is mounting as to how it will work. The first thing that springs to mind is what is George Lucas thinking? I remember seeing an interview with him around the time of return of the Jedi where he suggested that he always saw the saga as nine films, three before and three after the original trilogy. Then around the time of Revenge of the Sith he had changed his mind saying that the saga had always been about the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker/ Darth Vader and that there was nowhere else for the story to go adding that he was too old to do it all again. Far be it from me to say that he has sold out or cashed in, but it does appear that that is what is happening. This in itself isn’t a problem providing it is done well. We have already seen with the prequels that George Lucas is capable of screwing up his own franchise an that other new talent can reinvent a previously stale one: J.J. Abrams with Star Trek springs to mind.

It has been suggested the first new film will be called Star Wars: Episode VII. This suggests following on from Return of the Jedi is what they have in mind. A setting around thirty years after Jedi would work both with the gap between episode III and IV and with the age of the original cast if they are to be used. A thirty year gap will also give the opportunity for Han and Leia to have kids who will now be in their twenties and can play a significant part in the story. Luke could have started to rebuild the Jedi finding and training new young gifted apprentices. A possible plot that could spring from this could involve an apprentice (or group of apprentices) exploring the dark side of the force creating a new threat. This could be attributed to Luke taking on and training multiple pupils instead of the traditional single master and pupil relationship. There have also been suggestions for a film set just after Jedi, this would be a bad idea as it would mean recasting the original characters or using some horrible CGI to make the old actors look young, does anyone remember Patrick Stewart at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine?

This leads us onto other ideas, first the possibility of going years into the future; I have heard the name The New Jedi Order suggested. This would possibly amount to a reboot of the original idea set in the future with new characters. I personally favour a different option. Going back to an older time. I seem to remember Ben/Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Luke that the Jedi were guardians of the universe for a thousand generations. This gives us anything up to 50,000 years play with. Although I am more than familiar with the six existing movies, I have never read any of the spin-off literature or played any of the games relating to Star Wars. With this in mind two titles that I have heard mentioned are Dawn Of The Jedi and Knights of the Old Republic, I have no knowledge of their stories, but the titles sound good. It is conceivable that over time more than one of these ideas could be explored. The one I would most like to see would be the origin of the Jedi and the Sith set in an older simpler time. Were the Jedi formed to combat the dark side of the force or were the Sith an offshoot of the Jedi as some of the order were corrupted by the search for greater powers? Are the Jedi less honourable and good than we think? Were they an attempt by a government to control anybody who is different, anyone with special powers? All these ideas could be explored. However, if we are going to have original cast members in the movie they need to do it now, Mark Hamill is 61, Carrie Fisher is 56 and Harrison Ford is 70.

One thing they should look at in any new saga is a strong female character, possibly a leading Jedi or Sith. Although Natalie Portman’s Padmé had her moments, the prequels lacked anyone with the presence of Leia when they really should have had a stronger character. I’m sure there is a law somewhere in Hollywood stating that Jennifer Lawrence has to be at least “attached to” every new film so just give her lightsaber and see what happens! There has also been suggestion for some time of a TV show set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope featuring some of the secondary characters such as The Hut and fanboy favourite Boba Fett. There has to be some mileage in this as well as the X-Wing novel series that started with Rogue Squadron just after Return of the Jedi.

And finally who could do justice to this most treasured franchise? Two names already working within the Disney family spring to mind: Joss Whedon and Bryan Singer.

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phantomThis July will be the tenth anniversary of the release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace so it seemed to be a good time to look back at how, what at the time was the most anticipated film of all time has aged. I actually went to a midnight screening the day the film came out, sad I know! My impressions at the time were somewhat mixed. Looking back I still think the same. 

phantom2The casting of Liam Neeson, Ewan Mcgregor, Natalie Portman and Terence Stamp is great and Jake Lloyd was okay as the young Anakin. There were two fantastic set pieces, the pod race and the final battle. The lightsabre fights are excellent giving a new dimension not seen in the original trilogy.  The rest of the plot was a little strung out and a bit over padded.  The mysticism goes too far mainly the whole immaculate conception of Anakin concept. The designs of the ships and buildings are excellent showing a shiny and new pre war look in contrast to the old dirty and damaged look of the original trilogy. Queen Amidala’s ship was inspired by the Lockheed “Blackbird” jet and looks stunning. The Naboo star fighters are also perfect, reminiscent of X-wings but in keeping with the rest of the design more streamline. They did however miss an opportunity to show a shiny straight from the factory Millennium Falcon.

yodaGeorge Lucas has claimed that the script contains aspects of his first draft for A New Hope (the original Star Wars from 1977). He has also claimed that he had the story ark from episode I to VI worked out from the start. Both these claims seem a little stretched although I’m sure he had some ideas and concepts that he wanted to use. When comparing episodes I and IV some of the connections in the storyline feel a little forced suggesting the story arc was not as evolved as he would have us believe.

jarjarThen we come on to the big problem Jar Jar fucking Binks. Was this character created as comic releif or to entertain kids? It is as if the film makers didn’t know who their target audience was! Did they want to appeal to the kids who had loved the original films and grown up with it. Or did they want to bring a new group of kids in. the result was the kids film and the fans film linked by the floppy eared clown. The problem isn’t limited to JarJar, the entire Gungan race is a problem. Their dialogue is annoying at best, the society they live in doesn’t seem to make sense and is not believable within the context of the film. Queen Amidala’s constant change of outfits and the over the top design of the outfits is a joke. They are clearly designed to make the decoy queen plotline work. Unfortunately it fails; anyone who had looked at a review of the film knew that Queen Amidala was played by Natalie Portman. that’s when the concept failed as it was clear the handmade sent by the queen to observe Qui Gon was Natalie Portman. The characters can be a bit wooden, I refer to the dialogue not the delivery. This I suspect is the reason for Darth Mauls lack of dialogue, it was cut because it wasn’t very good.

But the problem starts before that. The introduction so called credit crawl scrolling up the screen. In the original film we had:

“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire…….”

This is followed by the rebels running for their lives chased by the evil empire and one of the most sinister villains in movie history. Darth Vader. In The Phantom Menace we get:

“Turmoil has engulfed the galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute….”

We are not kids like we were in ‘77, we now have to earn money and pay taxes, we don’t want our fantasy escapism to be about a tax dispute.

queen1In conclusion taken on its own merits it is a good solid film enjoyable film. The first in a trilogy that gradually gets better culminating in Revenge of the Sith . Taken from the point of view of a fan of the first three films it is a bit disappointing and the best of the trilogy, Revenge of the Sith is at best on a par with the weakest of the original films Return of the Jedi. Like the trilogy as a whole it isn’t bad but it could have been so much more. George Lucas has one last shot at redemption. He has stated that the story finishes with the redemption of Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi so the story can not go beyond that point so he has to go back generations to the start of the Jedi and find out how and why the Sith were wiped out. But he won’t do it so we will have to settle for the six films we have. The possibilities for this film could be endless but I know it will never get made.

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