Sunday 17 December 2017

The circle is complete in subversive Star Wars

This review contains spoilers for the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga. The Last Jedi is best enjoyed free of such spoilers and expectations. You've had fair warning.

Beware Porgs.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens with a bombastic flourish reprising the space battle from Return of the Jedi and culminates in a last stand echoing the claustrophobia of the battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s what happens between these tentpole battles that elevates director Rian Johnson’s subversive and seemingly divisive sequel to The Force Awakens above standard Hollywood fare, and not only lays the foundation for Episode IX but also the director's own trilogy.

Johnson, like Irvin Kershner before him, approaches the space opera from a deeply psychological perspective and not without wit. The horrors are mostly of the mind. It's a thoughtful examination of hubris. From Supreme Leader Snoke's (Andy Serkis) folly for underestimating his apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) debunking of heroic legends and the Jedi order. The latter retrofitting the prequels with gravitas.

Luke Skywalker's heroic return is anything but. His father's lightsaber is tossed away and, as he resists training Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the ways of the Force, a chilling revelation regarding Ben Solo and how he became Kylo Ren is revealed.

Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship is emotionally charged and there’s a palpable attraction. An attraction that borders on romance. Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley are the charismatic leads of the sequel trilogy and here they take centre stage as Johnson cleans house after JJ Abrams rebooted the franchise. Their lightsaber duet, not duel as many may have expected, in the wake of Supreme Leader Snoke’s demise after he's deceived by Kylo Ren, is a death-dealing ballet of choreographed beauty and brutality.

It was impossible to predict what would happen next as Kylo pleaded with Rey to join him on the dark side whilst Rey held onto the belief that the Master of the Knights of Ren could return to the light. Underscored by a sexual chemistry the prequels sorely lacked.

It’s not without flaws. The Canto Bight casino subplot was apparently a return to the prequels and as such dragged the drama to a crawl. In the midst of an assault on the Resistance fleet, Finn (John Boyega) and newcomer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) go off for a day at the races and meet Force-sensitive children, which does have a payoff at the end.

General Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) use of the Force, whilst an honourable intention when viewed in the context of Fisher's tragic death last December and one fans have yearned to see since the original trilogy, resulted in Mary Poppins in space.

Captain Phasma, played by the imperious Gwendoline Christie, was given short shrift and an unsatisfying exit a la Boba Fett.

Minor gripes in an otherwise character-driven tour de force (I went there. Sorry not sorry). Johnson dared to take risks with a franchise that's all too easily homogenised and subverted established tropes.

The Last Jedi climaxes with the embattled Resistance, now significantly reduced in number due to Poe Dameron's (Oscar Isaac) hotheadedness, escaping aboard the Millennium Falcon with General Leia and Rey, who has taken the sacred Jedi texts in the hope of rekindling the order.

John Williams' soundtrack is the beating heart of any Star Wars movie. Here, the maestro excels himself with fresh takes on familiar, beloved, themes spanning an expansive body of work and hints at the future of a franchise for which he is intrinsically linked. Without Williams' timeless orchestral score for a New Hope in 1977, George Lucas' space opera would never have been as epic and my childhood adventures would have been all the lesser.

Illuminated by twin binary suns, Luke Skywalker’s death, following his Force projected confrontation with Kylo Ren, is a profoundly moving tribute from the director to the enduring 40-year legacy of Star Wars. The circle is complete and the saga continues...

Friday 15 December 2017

Deadpool to remain R-Rated at Disney

Whilst the X-Men franchise has witnessed diminishing returns since First Class. Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, was a deviant delight. So much so, I regretted not seeing the movie at the cinema. Opting instead to watch it at home on Sky Cinema.

With Disney's acquisition of Fox film and television assets, fans have been fearful about Deadpool's future as part of the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Bob Iger, Disney CEO, has seemingly quashed those fears. Deadpool will remain an R-Rated franchise.

"It [Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool," he told The Hollywood Reporter (THR).

"As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine."

Deadpool 2 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix are unaffected by the deal. However, expect X-Men and Fantastic Four to be rebooted into the MCU in the future.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Disney buys Fox acquiring rights to original Star Wars

As expected Disney has bought 20th Century Fox for over $52 billion dollars. This encompasses film and television assets including Sky.

The Alien, Avatar, Buffy, X-Men and The X-Files franchises, to name just a few, will bolster the Mouse House's content ahead of launching its own streaming service to rival Netflix. The company will also have a controlling stake in Hulu.

Disney now has the rights to the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, which Fox originally owned in perpetuity. Timely in the wake of The Last Jedi premiering in cinemas this week.

Bob Iger will remain Disney CEO through 2021. Presumably to oversee the successful acquisition that will disrupt the Hollywood studio system.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Is hyperspace travel as seen in Star Wars possible?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in UK cinemas from midnight. Professor Carsten Welsch, Head of Physics at Liverpool University, looks at the possibility of hyperspace travel, as depicted in the space saga, in a guest post.


“She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!”

Ok, so the Millennium Falcon made it from Hoth to Bespin even without its hyperdrive, and technically speaking, traversing the void between stars remains a fantasy, but science fiction is boldly edging a little closer to the frontiers of science fact thanks to pioneering work at the Cockcroft Institute, where experts from the University of Liverpool are leading a ground (and space) breaking programme to train antimatter scientists.

It's the explosive reaction between matter and antimatter that underpins one of the most iconic elements of Star Wars – rapid interstellar travel – but in the real world, this principle makes the study of antimatter difficult because, as Professor Carsten Welsch, Head of Physics at Liverpool University, says, “when an antiparticle and a particle meet they annihilate each other, disappearing in a flash of energy – so a trapping device is needed.”

Until now, only a very small amount of antiparticles have been able to be trapped this way, and for a limited amount of time. But a new facility based at CERN, the Extra Low Energy Antiproton ring (ELENA), will change this, becoming the first and only facility in the world to store and deliver cooled antiproton beams at low energy. Researchers at the Cockcroft Institute’s Accelerators Validating Antimatter physics research and training network, (AVA), will then be able to take a closer look at these mysterious particles and try to understand why it is that all matter in the universe created after the Big Bang isn’t accompanied by an equal amount of antimatter, or particles with an opposite charge.

Prof Welsch says: “The instrumentation and detectors to be developed by AVA will provide us with much better insight into low energy antimatter beams, so that we will be able to understand and control them better and carry out hitherto impossible experiments.” Such experiments have the potential to rewrite our assumptions about the nature and properties of space and time, making it one of the most exciting fields of research out there.

In fact, if scientists can work out how to create or collect large amount of antimatter, antimatter-propelled interstellar travel might even become a reality, although it’s unlikely you’ll ever make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. But if for now we’re still in the dark when it comes to some of the great problems of physics, the Cockcroft Institute and AVA aim to balance this with some much-needed light on the most enigmatic aspects of our universe.

About the Cockcroft Institute:

The Cockcroft Institute is an international centre of excellence for accelerator science and technology in the UK.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Disney and Fox deal could be announced this Thursday

A merger between Disney and Fox is expected to be formally announced this Thursday according to CNBC. The day before Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released in US cinemas.

If the blockbuster deal goes ahead it will have ramifications beyond Disney's Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) franchises.

From a genre perspective. This means Disney can unify its Marvel superhero strand (barring Spider-Man at Sony) ahead of the tenth anniversary of the release of Iron Man, and bolster the offering of the Mouse House's streaming service expected to premiere with a live-action Star Wars series in 2019.

Whilst Marvel fans may not see Hugh Jackman reprise the role of Wolverine in the MCU. The X-Men franchise, aside from Logan and Legion, has been running on fumes following the excellent First Class and is in need of a reboot.

Many Star Wars fans (myself included) have mused the Fox Fanfare maybe reinstated for Star Wars: Episode IX, directed by JJ Abrams, which closes the sequel trilogy in 2019. This will be followed by Rian Johnson's new trilogy.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has been on an acquisition trail that has witnessed Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm merged into the company. To infinity and beyond on the stock market...

Monday 11 December 2017

BBC Star Wars documentary: The Galaxy Britain Built

This Thursday Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in UK cinemas. Press reaction to last weekend's world premiere is exciting.

40 years ago Star Wars was released and much of the original film was shot at Elstree Studios. The BBC is showing a documentary celebrating the talented artisans that brought George Lucas' vision to the silver screen in 1977.

Personally, Star Wars has always signified hope (pun intended). Seeing the original movie with my mum, who passed away in 2007, was one of the most profound experiences of my life in the wake of a life-changing brain injury at primary school. It'll be bittersweet seeing The Last Jedi without her...

The Galaxy Britain Built, made by Star Wars superfan and documentary-maker David Whiteley, will be shown on BBC Four on 21st December at 10:00PM and then on BBC iPlayer.

Special thanks to Matt Charlton for letting me know about this. No Bothans were harmed.

Sunday 10 December 2017

First reactions to Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Following the world premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi last evening in Los Angeles, the press were allowed to share initial spoiler-free impressions of Rian Johnson's sequel to The Force Awakens. It's overwhelmingly positive.

Mark Hamill's performance in The Empire Strikes Back is easily overlooked for how effortless his interactions with Frank Oz's Yoda are during Luke Skywalker's Jedi training. The Last Jedi is another chance for him to show off his acting chops according to THR's Aaron Couch.

Fandango's Erik Davis goes on to suggests it's the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back.

Seemingly The Last Jedi is a home run. However, fans can discover for themselves when the movie is released this week. I'll be seeing the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga on Saturday.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Watch the Star Wars: The Last Jedi world premiere

Excitement for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is building and the world premiere takes place in Los Angeles today.

Fans (myself included) unlucky enough not to attend the premiere can watch the red carpet festivities live on hosted by The Star Wars Show's Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni.

The latest instalment in the Star Wars saga picks up directly from where The Force Awakens ends and box office expectations are stellar. It’s impossible to predict how successful the Star Wars sequel will be, but fan reaction to Rian Johnson’s movie, on social media, should be an indication. Let’s hope they can keep things spoiler-free. So, we can all enjoy The Last Jedi without the secrets spoiled.

Have you booked tickets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 8 December 2017

Win a Star Wars holiday gift from

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in US cinemas a week today. The highly anticipated Star Wars sequel, directed by Rian Johnson, sees Rey begin her training as a Jedi.

The fine folks at are celebrating the release of the next instalment in the Star Wars saga with 25% off products from today and 4 days of sales next week. Be sure to subscribe to my social media, FacebookInstagram and Twitter, as I'll be sharing exclusive vanity codes for further discounts.

We've teamed up to give one reader a limited edition pair of Darth Vader socks for the holidays.

To be in with a chance of winning, just answer this simple question:

Who is Darth Vader's grandson?

A. General Hux
B. Poe Dameron
C. Kylo Ren

Please leave your answer and where you heard about the competition in the comments below.

The competition is open to all and closes Friday, 15th December. The winner will be randomly selected and contacted soon thereafter. Only one entry per household.

Good luck and may the Force be with you. Always.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in cinemas 15th December.

The Force Is Here!
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Thursday 7 December 2017

The Last Jedi features Space Gary

Eagle-eyed Star Wars fans over at Fantha Tracks spied what appeared to be an homage to Gary, the late Carrie Fisher's dog, in a promotional photo featuring Finn (John Boyega) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) from The Last Jedi in Empire magazine. Director Rian Johnson confirmed this on Twitter. You can read more on this exclusive at Fantha Tracks.

Gary is a beloved member of the extended Star Wars family. I'll never forget the hilarity that ensued during Star Wars Celebration Europe when Carrie and Warwick Davis, who played Wicket in the original trilogy, attempted to recreate the scene in which their characters first meet in Return of the Jedi. Gary wasn't having any of it and defended Carrie...

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Carey Mulligan said no to Doctor Who companion role

Steven Moffat, outgoing Doctor Who series showrunner, told the Radio Times that Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan, who played Sally Sparrow in the acclaimed David Tennant episode Blink, was asked to join Team TARDIS:

“Oh my God, Carey Mulligan! It’s funny but 'Blink,' I say immodestly, is a very famous episode of television and yet Carey Mulligan, who was the star of it, I'm almost certain wouldn't even remember being in Doctor Who. I don't think she was much of a fan, or anything. They liked her so much, they said, 'Do you want to be the next companion? but she said no. God, she was amazing.“

Doctor Who returns on Christmas Day on BBC One at 5:30PM. Peter Capaldi regenerates into Jodie Whittaker in the polar ice. International fans, please check local listings.

Saturday 2 December 2017

The Last Jedi cast on Jimmy Kimmel Live

The cast and director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live on Friday.

Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Laura Dern, Gwen Christie, Kelly Marie Tran and Domnhall Gleeson, along with director Rian Johnson and special guest BB-8, stopped by to chat with Jimmy about the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga.

It's an especially poignant gathering as Carrie Fisher passed away last December and fans will see her play General Leia for the last time this holiday season.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theatres from 15th December.

Friday 1 December 2017

Share Star Wars memories with Meerkat Movies

Compare the Market has launched a Meerkat Movies tie-in with Star Wars: The Last Jedi and recreates a scene from The Force Awakens in its latest advertisement.

Mark Vile, Chief Marketing Officer at, said: “The Star Wars franchise evokes nostalgic memories for many people, with a trip to the cinema often a highly anticipated family event. After a hugely successful partnership with Disney for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the biggest movie of all time in the UK, we’re delighted to be working on the next instalment of this iconic film franchise.

"We’ve got some exciting activations in the pipeline that our customers are going to love and be able to get actively involved in, so would advise everyone to keep a look out, as more is yet to be revealed.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in UK cinemas from 14th December.