Tuesday 26 July 2016

Doctor Who's Tom Baker joins Star Wars Rebels

Amid the excitement of Star Wars Celebration Europe, a former Doctor Who joined the cast of a galaxy far, far away... Tom Baker. My Doctor.

Baker plays the mysterious Bendu, neither Sith nor Jedi, in Star Wars Rebels S3 and you can see his new character in this trailer, which premiered during Star Wars Celebration Europe.

Fans may recall the term 'Jedi Bendu' appeared in early drafts of Star Wars.

Series showrunner Dave Filoni told a packed audience, at the ExCeL, that when he wrote this character, he ‘knew’ it had to be Tom Baker to voice it! As a child Filoni was a fan of The Fourth Doctor, describing Tom as "bigger than life."

"He’s so unique in everything he does," Filoni told host Warwick Davis, adding that Bendu is "a different kind of Force character/creature than we’ve had before," and will make a "big difference" to the hit Disney XD series.

This isn't the first time a Doctor Who actor has appeared in George Lucas' space opera. David Tennant won an Emmy for his role in Filoni's earlier spin-off The Clone Wars.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Cause for Star Wars Celebration

Within the blink of a bleary-eye the dizzying 3-day event for Star Wars fans was over and I was left in joyful delirium after meeting two childhood heroes: Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa.

Star Wars Celebration Europe was, easily, the best convention I've attended in my lifetime. Filled with fellow fans, of all ages from around the world, having a blast within an 'inclusive environment' (to quote Danie). Strangers united by George Lucas' creation.

A photo posted by John Hood (@johnhood) on

Star Wars Celebration Europe began inauspiciously with the news An Hour With Mark Hamill was filled to capacity, despite arriving 3-hours earlier with a medical badge, amidst controversy surrounding the issuing of wristbands to ticket holders who had paid months in advance. However, it went into hyperdrive with myriad cosplayers (was that Daisy Ridley undercover as Rey?) and a show-stopping FX masterclass from ILM's John Knoll and Doug Chiang, which looked back at the original and prequel trilogies, The Force Awakens and included tantalising Rogue One teasers.

A photo posted by John Hood (@johnhood) on

There were possible spoilers too. So, be warned. Rogue One cast member Jiang Wen revealed Donnie Yen's character, Chirrut Imwe, dies and Carrie Fisher inadvertently confirmed Han Solo's funeral for Episode VIII. The latter has been mooted for sometime.

A photo posted by John Hood (@johnhood) on

I was fortunate enough to attend several of the Celebration Stage panels, hosted by Warwick Davis, with thanks to my best friend. Anthony Daniels, Without Protocol, Carrie Fisher: The Princess Diaries and the Future Filmmaker Discussion & Closing Ceremony. John Boyega (Finn), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Alden Ehrenreich (young Han Solo) on stage with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and directors Rian Johnson (Episode VIII), Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (untitled Han Solo movie) to rapturous applause and a standing ovation! No, you're crying.

A photo posted by John Hood (@johnhood) on

Serendipitous encounters with friends old and new, humour, duels with the dark side, a kiss from a princess, a hug from a Jedi and tears of joy. It's not everyday you meet childhood heroes who turn out to be amazing in person.

A photo posted by John Hood (@johnhood) on

The Force was (very) strong with this one. More please.

Were you at Star Wars Celebration Europe? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Star Wars Celebration Europe to be live streamed

In just over a week Star Wars Celebration Europe begins at the ExCeL, London, and the holiday season will come early for thousands of geeks (including myself).

Fans unable to attend a galaxy far, far away... The Star Wars Show will live stream the official 3-day event with celebrity guests, interviews with Star Wars creators, and panels all weekend, hosted by Andi Gutierrez and Peter Townley. This is the second year Star Wars Celebration has been live streamed.

I'll be covering Star Wars Celebration on this blog, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer to air on ABC

An ABC listing confirms a 3-minute trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be broadcast on 15th July. That's according to Making Star Wars.

This coincides with Star Wars Celebration Europe where director Gareth Edwards and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will headline a Rogue One panel. It's expected the new trailer will premiere during the event.

Despite the much-publicised reshoots, which isn't unique to this movie, I can't wait to see Darth Vader back on the big screen this December.

Tuesday 5 July 2016

The Force is still strong with LEGO Star Wars

Last summer TT Games' LEGO Jurassic World reinvigorated a beloved movie tie-in franchise in much the same way as its movie inspiration brought ageing dinosaurs back into the lives of the touch screen generation.

Now LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens builds (pun intended) on the success of a rejuvenated Star Wars saga.

Like its blockbusting silver screen counterpart. The Force Awakens LEGO videogame trades on a heavy dose of nostalgia and your enjoyment will be predicated on how eager you're prepared to embrace it. Spoiler! I loved JJ Abrams' space opera and that translates to this witty wonder, too.

It's a faithful adaptation of The Force Awakens unlike EA's Star Wars Battlefront, which was released in the lead up to the Star Wars sequel last December. Battlefront features Jakku, but decades before the events of the movie. I was a critic of Star Wars Battlefront at launch and promised myself I wouldn't buy it! Now it's the game I play the most. Because PEW! PEW! PEW!

TT Games' latest LEGO opus opens during the climactic Battle of Endor from Return of the Jedi! What? I hear you cry. Well, it's a prologue reprising LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. However, there's a fun boss battle with Emperor Palpatine before fans embark on an adventure with new heroes Rey and Finn as they search for Luke Skywalker with the villainous Kylo Ren and First Order in deadly pursuit.

The game sticks to a tried and tested formula of collecting studs and gold bricks, which detractors might argue skews too young for seasoned gamers. However, you'll be missing out on gaming's equivalent of PIXAR and developer TT Games has added a new cover system mechanic that results in spectacular skirmishes akin to Gears of War. Dogfights evoke the adrenalin-filled Rogue Squadron. TT Games should be hired to reboot the feted series.

The original cast of The Force Awakens have recorded additional dialogue and it's a hoot! For example, Harrison Ford requests "Wookie cookies" for his Millennium Falcon co-pilot pal, Chewie, and there's a satirical nod to Ford's on-set injury. John Williams' soundtrack is deftly mixed into proceedings without ever being jarring.

The Force Awakens narrative is stretched to breaking point, even with the inclusion of short stories taken from the wider Star Wars universe including how C-3PO ended up with that red arm, and may have been better suited to LEGO Dimensions if Disney Infinity had been mothballed sooner. However, that's churlish given how much fun this is. It's the closest to a fully open world game, populated by delightful minifigures, we've seen.

A treat for LEGO and Star Wars fans alike. It's the perfect time to revisit The Force Awakens. That's no mean feat for a franchise that began not so long ago in 2005.

**** out of *****

Special thanks to WB Games for providing a PS4 review code.

Monday 4 July 2016

Black Series Kylo Ren for Star Wars Celebration

Hasbro has announced an exclusive Black Series action figure collectible depicting Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), featuring the chard remains of Darth Vader's helmet, for Star Wars Celebration Europe.

The cool looking set also includes Ren's own helmet, crossguard lightsaber and a First Order banner.

The unique high-end action figure will be available exclusively from the Forbidden Planet booth while stocks last.

In related news. Episode VIII director Rian Johnson will appear at Star Wars Celebration! The second Star Wars sequel concludes principal photography on July 22nd.