Friday 31 May 2019

George Lucas attends Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opening

Star Wars creator George Lucas joined Disney CEO Bob Iger and original trilogy cast members Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) for the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

“Isn’t this fantastic?” Iger said, emerging from a full-scale replica of the Millennium Falcon, Deadline reported. “I have been in this job for 14 years. There are some good days, but this is right up there with the best of them.”

Commenting on the new Star Wars attraction, Lucas said, “Now the technology is here, this thing is amazing. It’s something you couldn’t even dream about 20 years ago. It was a great experience. for me, and it will change your life.”

Hamill added, “Look at where we are today. We get our own land! You know, Star Wars to me has always been the gift that keeps on giving, and that reason is you. Parents tell you not to speak to strangers, but people treat me like family, tell me personal stories.”

Ford started up the Millennium Falcon and poignantly dedicated the moment to Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) who passed away earlier this month, "Peter, this one's for you."

With the loss of Carrie Fisher (General Leia) and Peter Mayhem, it was a misty-eyed moment to celebrate the positive impact Star Wars has had on generations of fans.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens to the public at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, today.

Thursday 30 May 2019

Darkness rises in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

Netflix has released a teaser trailer for upcoming prequel series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson's classic fable, remains a touchstone from my childhood and Trevor Jones' superlative soundtrack underscored countless Star Wars action figure adventures.

"In this prequel to the fantasy classic, three young Gelfling inspire a rebellion against the cruel Emperor when they discover a horrifying secret."

The lavish 10-part live-action prequel series has been in development for several years but looks like it'll retain the mythical power of the original movie with a stellar cast from Game of Thrones to Star Wars.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance streams exclusively on Netflix from 30th August.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens Friday at Disneyland

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, at the cost of $1 billion dollars, opens at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, this Friday.

Josh D'Amaro, the president of Disneyland Resort, posted the above photo on Instagram with the caption: "So proud to introduce you to the inhabitants of Batuu! I want to thank this amazing team for their incredible dedication and passion. Yesterday's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge cast rally was unforgettable. This photo is one for the ages!"

Coca-Cola is the official beverage partner at the new 14-acre attraction. Fans will be able to purchase exclusive Star Wars merchandise including droids and lightsabers for budding young Jedi Knights and Sith. I choked up watching fellow fans react to seeing the Millennium Falcon for the first time.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will not be open in time for the first day whilst the attraction undergoes further tweaks.

A second Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge theme park opens at Walt Disney World in the fall. Are you planning on attending? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 27 May 2019

Harrison Ford remembers his friend Peter Mayhew

Harrison Ford recently appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and discussed the 35th anniversary of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mark Hamill's impression of him on the set of Star Wars and, most poignantly, the passing of his friend Peter Mayhew.

Ford and Mayhew played best friends and Millennium Falcon co-pilots, Han Solo and Chewbacca, in the original Star Wars trilogy and The Force Awakens.

Saturday 25 May 2019

Look who's back in Terminator: Dark Fate

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back and he's brought an old friend. As someone who's been a fan of Terminator since the mid-eighties, I wasn't sure about another sequel after Genisys failed to ignite the box office and reboot the ailing franchise. However, the trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate has my attention.

With Tim Miller (Deadpool) at the helm, James Cameron (Avatar) as producer and Linda Hamilton reprising the role of Sarah Connor for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the franchise may have a resurgence not seen since Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Terminator: Dark Fate is in cinemas this October.

Friday 24 May 2019

Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Picard teaser trailer

In a week of farewells to Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory, CBS All Access has released a foreboding teaser trailer for upcoming spin-off Star Trek: Picard starring Sir Patrick Stewart in the titular role.

“15 years ago today, you led us out of the darkness,” the voice says. “You commanded the greatest rescue armada in history. Then... the unimaginable. What did that cost you? Your faith? Your faith in us? Your faith in yourself? Tell us, why did you leave Starfleet, Admiral?”

Stewart is reprising his iconic role from Star Trek: The Next Generation for the first time in 17 years. The new series is set 18 years after Star Trek: Nemesis and explores the reasons Jean-Luc Picard left Starfleet. Evidently, this appears to be a more intimate, character-driven, series to counterpoint stablemate Discovery.

Star Trek: Picard will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime outside the US.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Knights of Ren return in The Rise of Skywalker

Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) fabled Knights of Ren, first mentioned by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and appearing in Rey's (Daisy Ridley) Force vision in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will finally make their move in The Rise of Skywalker.

Many fans (myself included) imagined the Knights of Ren would play a pivotal role in Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, but it was not meant to be.

Vanity Fair has an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at JJ Abrams' upcoming Star Wars sequel that will conclude the Skywalker saga spanning three trilogies beginning with George Lucas' original trilogy in 1977.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

BBC and HBO adapt His Dark Materials

As the sun sets over Westeros and genre fans look to Westworld, HBO has its sights on a fantastical literary adaptation in conjunction with the BBC. His Dark Materials.

The classic Philip Pullman trilogy was previously adapted for the cinema in The Golden Compass, starring Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Sir Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings), but further sequels were abandoned. HBO and the BBC have released a trailer for the upcoming 8-part series.

His Dark Materials looks utterly compelling, but what's happened to the live-action adaptation of The World of the Worlds, BBC? Asking for a friend.

Monday 20 May 2019

From Westeros to Futureworld in Westworld III

Before the climactic series finale of Game of Thrones, HBO dropped a sinister teaser trailer for Westworld season 3.

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) discovers a distressed Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in what appears to be Futureworld. Futureworld was the sequel to the original Westworld directed by Michael Crichton.

How long before the machines revolt? Find out on HBO in 2020.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Who will sit upon the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones?

Not since Star Wars: The Last Jedi has there been such a vocal backlash from a fevered fanbase. Game of Thrones' final series is as divisive as it is brilliantly brutal (this is coming from someone who painstakingly built model kits; only to destroy them with fireworks). So much so, there's a fan petition demanding HBO remake season 8. Like that's ever going to happen as discussed with major spoilers here. Ownership is an issue that has plagued creators and their audiences for millennia. George Lucas tinkered with the original Star Wars trilogy, for creative and commercial gain, much to the chagrin of many fans.

Admittedly, there are increasing instances of choose-your-own-adventure (Fighting Fantasy was my literary gateway into the genre) creeping into Hollywood film and television series as video games surpass those long-lasting pillars as successful works of commercial art. Netflix recently experimented with branching storylines in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

During season 8 of Game of Thrones, there are moments when I instinctively reach for an imaginary games controller in order to save or allow Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to die, much like playing Don Bluth's laserdisc-based Dragon's Lair in a Great Yarmouth arcade long, long ago. However, there will always be a place for linear storytelling and Game of Thrones has been a pop culture phenomena during a decade that has witnessed a seismic shift in geopolitics.

Did anyone really expect a franchise filled with deeply flawed antagonists, and no clear heroic archetypes aside from the bumbling Jon Snow (Kit Harington), would end happily ever after? Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) dark descent into the 'mad queen', nor Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime Lannister's (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) fate, won't please everyone. But it sets up a difficult to predict finale.

As a wise person once told me: sometimes the journey is more exciting than the destination. Like Lost before it. Game of Thrones has been enriched by shared experiences with followers online and friendships forged. I subscribed to NOW TV in 2012 solely to watch the then-fledgeling series and would never have received Blu-ray box sets or been invited to preview the first four episodes of stablemate Westworld courtesy of the fine folks at Sky Atlantic.

Whatever happens in the series finale today, I'll be watching early Monday morning (BST). Just need to set my Alexa alarm...

Friday 17 May 2019

Batwoman first look as The CW ends Netflix deal

The CW has released a first look trailer for Batwoman. Ruby Rose plays the titular crime fighter in the latest Arrow spin-off series joining The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

Netflix has had a first-run deal with The CW since 2011 in the US, but Batwoman, Nancy Drew and Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene won't automatically be available as owners CBS and Warner Bros. look to capitalise on the streaming space themselves. It's becoming increasingly crowded and, with Apple TV+ and Disney+ entering the fray later this year, not everyone is going to succeed. The streaming wars have begun in earnest...

Thursday 16 May 2019

Star Trek: Picard to boldly go on Amazon Prime

After inking an international distribution deal with Amazon Prime outside the US, CBS All Access has announced the title of its next Star Trek spin-off series.

Star Trek: Picard. Snappy and the logo makes inspired use of Starfleet's iconic insignia.

Star Trek executive producer Alex Kurtzman said Picard, starring Sir Patrick Stewart in the titular role, would be character-driven, “The mandate was to make it a more psychological show, a character study about this man in his emeritus years. There are so few shows that allow a significantly older protagonist to be the driver.”

“What happens when circumstances have conspired to not give him the happiest of endings?” Kurtzman teased. “Hopefully, it’s a reinforcement of [Star Trek creator Gene] Roddenberry’s vision of optimism. He’s going to have to go through deep valleys to get back to the light.”

Kurtzman said the series will be a contrast to Discovery's derring-do. “It’ll be very different than Discovery,” he says. “It’ll be slower, more meditative. It speaks to the rainbow of colors we’re playing within all these different shows.”

Star Trek: Picard is currently in production and expected to premiere later this year on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Game of Thrones’ showrunners to helm new Star Wars

Speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Game of Thrones’ showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff will helm the first instalment in the next Star Wars trilogy following JJ Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker this December.

Fan reaction is mixed given the controversial creative choices made for Game of Thrones’ final season on HBO. I liken it to an essay on hubris much like Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi that deconstructed and subverted established Star Wars tropes.

What do you think about a new trilogy helmed by the Game of Thrones showrunners? Should Disney replace them in the wake of an internet backlash or let the dust settle? Let me know in the comments below.

The first instalment in the new Star Wars trilogy will be in cinemas December 2022.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Disney buys Hulu ahead of launching Disney+

Disney+ launches 12th November in the US and the Walt Disney Company has taken full control of Hulu from Comcast. The acquisition of Hulu will further bolster the House of Mouse's challenge to Netflix in the, highly competitive and increasingly overcrowded, streaming space.

Disney+ will exclusively stream Marvel Studios and Star Wars live-action series including Loki and The Mandalorian.

Monday 13 May 2019

Amazon Prime to stream 'Picard' Star Trek outside US

Star Trek: Discovery recently concluded its second season on CBS All Access and Netflix outside the US. The next Star Trek spin-off from CBS All Access, an untitled series starring Sir Patrick Stewart as fan-favourite Captain Jean-Luc Picard, will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime outside the US.

“There’s only one word that can begin to describe Sir Patrick Stewart as Starship Commander Jean-Luc Picard, and that’s ‘legendary,’” said series executive producer Alex Kurtzman. “We are thrilled beyond measure to have him back in command, bringing the optimistic messages of Star Trek to audiences around the world.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with CBS to bring the newest edition of the storied Star Trek franchise to our international Amazon Prime Video customers,” said Brad Beale, Vice President, Worldwide Content Licensing for Amazon Prime Video. “With the incredible Sir Patrick Stewart returning as the beloved Jean-Luc Picard, we’re excited we can give Trek fans both old and new the opportunity to see him back in action. It’s a terrific addition to our already robust catalog of exclusive Amazon Prime Video content.”

“For 50 years, the Star Trek series have been a global sensation, spanning generations and audiences of all ages. It’s an honor to welcome Sir Patrick Stewart back for what is sure to be another world-class extension of the historic franchise,” said Armando Nuñez, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Global Distribution Group. “We look forward to working with the team at Amazon Prime Video to bring this next chapter of the incredible Star Trek franchise to its passionate international fan base.”

This move is surprising as Star Trek has found a comfy home on Netflix. Whilst fans wait for further details, many fans (myself included) are hoping a Captain Pike (Anson Mount) spin-off will be announced. If not, it'll be one of the biggest missed opportunities in the franchise's long-running history.

Friday 10 May 2019

Star Wars fan film: Vader v Kenobi duel reimagined

This Star Wars fan film reimagines the final duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) and Darth Vader (David Prowse) aboard the first dreaded Death Star in A New Hope. A scene infamously spoiled in the track listing for the soundtrack album. And this wouldn't be the last time a major plot spoiler would appear in a Star Wars soundtrack release. Qui-Gon's Noble End in The Phantom Menace is another notorious example.

"Scene 38 Reimagined is about the final confrontation between Ben Kenobi & Darth Vader in A New Hope nearly 20 years after the events of Revenge Of The Sith. This is a one-off story driven scene reflecting the characters in its chronological order from the point of Revenge of the Sith through Rebels, Rogue One, and all canon material leading to A New Hope."

George Lucas endlessly tinkered with the original and prequel trilogies prior to selling Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. Those alterations have been met with derision by many fans. However, this fan film is certainly worth a watch in an era dominated by Hollywood bombast and attention deficit, a far cry from the seventies. There's a kineticism at play more in keeping with Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) rage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 9 May 2019

The CW releases a teaser trailer for Batwoman

The CW has released a teaser trailer for the upcoming Batwoman spin-off series.

Batwoman, played by Ruby Rose, was first introduced in the amazing Elseworlds crossover event on Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl. Despite an apathy towards too many superhero series, I always make a point of watching crossover storylines and this year's Crisis on Infinite Earths will be no exception.

"Armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind, Kate Kane (star Ruby Rose) soars onto the streets of Gotham as Batwoman, an out lesbian and highly trained street fighter primed to snuff out the failing city’s criminal resurgence. But don’t call her a hero yet. In a city desperate for a savior, Kate must overcome her own demons before embracing the call to be Gotham’s symbol of hope."

Batwoman premieres on The CW later this spring and the pilot episode is directed by genre stalwart David Nutter (Game of Thrones).

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Star Wars is never really gone

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker concludes the Skywalker saga, spanning three trilogies, this December. However, a new trilogy begins in December 2022 with sequels released in 2024 and 2026 respectively.

This seemingly contradicts Disney CEO Bob Iger's comments regarding the franchise going on hiatus following saturation. However, that's relative given the three-year gap, something original trilogy fans (myself included) were used to, between The Rise of Skywalker and first instalment of the next trilogy.

No details have been released regarding whether the trilogy is from director Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) or Game of Thrones' showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff.

The House of Mouse has also announced it's releasing James Cameron's four Avatar sequels every other year starting in 2021. Disney will continue to dominate the box office in the next decade with its Avatar, Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Star Wars franchises.

“We’re excited to put in place a robust and diverse slate that lays the foundation of our long-term strategy, bringing together a breadth of films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, Fox Searchlight and Blue Sky Studios to create an extraordinary collection of cinematic experiences for audiences around the world,” said Cathleen Taff, president of theatrical distribution, franchise management, and business and audience insights at The Walt Disney Studios.

“With a strong summer already in place, we are eager to carry that momentum forward over the coming years thanks to a creative wellspring of bold and imaginative stories coming from our world-class studios – including several new chapters of two revered franchises, Avatar and Star Wars.”

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home is an epilogue to Endgame

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame now that the Russo brothers have declared the lifting of an unofficial ban!

Marvel Studios has released a new trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home and it confirms not only Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) grief in the wake of Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) death in Avengers: Endgame but also the multiverse. The multiverse will introduce the Fantastic Four and the X-Men in Phase 4 or later.

When Spider-Man finally appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in Captain America: Civil War, his overused origin story was, mercifully, skipped and Iron Man became his mentor and felt responsible for the web-slinger's demise in Infinity War. And I'd wager Spider-Man is going to lead the New Avengers given Captain America's (Chris Evans) decision to travel back in time with the Infinity Stones and live out his life with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) which the Cap had more than earned.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces Peter Parker to a Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) from another Earth. Mysterio is a villain who captured my childhood imagination. Are we seeing misdirection at play?

Monday 6 May 2019

20 Years of LEGO Star Wars

It's 20 years since the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace! This coincided with LEGO Star Wars. From modest beginnings, the license has flourished from brick sets to video games. I didn’t start collecting until a former high school friend sent me a LEGO Stormtrooper: became a totem during a traumatic time.

To mark the anniversary, LEGO has released 5 stunning commemorative sets including Anakin's Podracer (affiliate link) which started it all. Further to this. There's the newly announced buildable R2-D2, Mouse droid, and "Gonk" Power droid for the company's programmable Boost line.

To celebrate May the Fourth, the LEGO Shop (affiliate link) is running a special offer for fans that ends today.

LEGO has a very special place in my life. In the wake of a life-changing head injury, LEGO and puzzles aided neurological recovery in childhood. Subsequently, I've donated sets (to various charities) in memory of my late mum and always gift LEGO to younger relatives in hopes of inspiring their creativity.

What are your favourite LEGO Star Wars sets? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday 5 May 2019

Ron Howard in talks to bring Willow to Disney+

Director Ron Howard (Solo: A Star Wars Story) is in talks to bring Willow, written by Star Wars creator George Lucas, to Disney+ with Warwick Davis (Return of the Jedi) reprising the titular role over 30 years later.

Willow flopped, cinema goers were anticipating a new Star Wars, but has built a cult following among fantasy fans. I'll always treasure the memory of renting it on VHS and watching, with my parents, Lucas' medieval adventure on a blustery autumnal Sunday afternoon. Incidentally, Willow introduced me to The Lucasfilm Fan Club magazine (rebranded as Star Wars Insider) which printed a letter of mine in 1993.

“Warwick is so cool and so good and he’s such a good actor that I really hope we get the chance to see the mature Willow in action,” Howard said.

So, it looks like Willow will be joining Star Wars live-action series The Mandalorian and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-offs Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision on Disney+.

Would you like to see the further adventures of Willow? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 4 May 2019

Celebrate Star Wars Day with Design By Humans

It's May the Fourth which means fans around the world are celebrating Star Wars Day!

2019 is extra special as this year marks the conclusion of the Skywalker saga in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, there's Disney+ live-action series The Mandalorian and, for video gamers, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from Respawn Entertainment.

To celebrate, we've teamed up again with Design By Humans to bring Star Wars fans an exclusive discount on the latest collection featuring The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Exclusive savings of 10% on all products with coupon code: GENSTARWARS. Good through 31st December 2019. No minimum spend required.

Shop Design By Humans for official Star Wars apparel today!

About Design By Humans
DBH is a collective of gifted and creative people who take their inspiration from their surroundings. Over 15,000 of these fantastic artists share their imaginations with everyone by designing unique creations which can then be purchased on anything from stickers and wall art to phone cases and t-shirts. Because of the way this collective works consumers have easy access to unique art, and the artists themselves have an excellent space from which to promote their work. Artists use their individual stores to display their artwork which fans can then purchase on the item of their choice.

This blog post is sponsored by Design By Humans and as such, I may receive compensation for any referrals.

Friday 3 May 2019

Peter Mayhew, Star Wars' Chewbacca, dies aged 74

Awoke to the terribly sad news that Peter Mayhew has passed away aged 74.

Mayhew played the mighty Chewbacca, Millennium Falcon co-pilot and best friend of Han Solo (Harrison Ford), in the original Star Wars trilogy and became a beloved fan-favourite to generations of fans (myself included).

"He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame," his family said.

Together, Ford and Mayhew co-piloted the Millennium Falcon and took on the Empire in some of the franchise's most memorable scenes. "We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him," said Ford.

"He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience."

Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, said: "What was so remarkable about him was his spirit and his kindness and his gentleness was so close to what a Wookiee is.

"He just radiated happiness and warmth. He was always up for a laugh and we just hit it off immediately and stayed friends for over 40 years."

I'll always cherish the bittersweet childhood memory of discovering, on Christmas morning, that my grandparents' dog, Smurf, had chewed up action figure Chewie!

May the Force be with you, sir! Always. RIP.

What are your favourite memories of Chewbacca? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Avengers: Endgame writer wants a Moon Knight movie

Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were recently interviewed by The New York Times. Markus revealed that Moon Knight is a character he's wanted to bring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for some time.

“We really do just know what you know,” Markus said. “They’re doing The Eternals, which is a property I know next to nothing about. We’ve been here, trying to set this contraption running. Were we to take another one on, you can’t increase the scope or the stakes from where we are at the moment. We’d have to shrink it back down, do an origin story. There are deep-bench characters where I’m like, if you roll that guy out, I couldn’t resist. There is a great Moon Knight movie to be made, but I don’t know what is.”

Would you like to see a Moon Knight movie for Phase 4? Let me know in the comments below.