Showing posts with label jj abrams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jj abrams. Show all posts

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Oscar win for The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a life-affirming midwinter tale of a found family on BBC iPlayer and Apple TV+ from producer JJ Abrams (Star Wars)! On Sunday, it won an Oscar for best animated short film.

“We are so proud of Charlie and the brilliant team who brought The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse to the screen and we sincerely thank the Academy for tonight’s recognition,” said Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video. “This powerful story has deeply affected audiences around the world and has shown that no matter what age you are or where you live, it’s never too late to spread more compassion, empathy, and kindness in our daily lives. Congratulations to everyone involved, including our teams across the globe. We are all celebrating with you tonight.”

Last Christmas, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse afforded me a moment of reflection, remembering family and friends long gone. And I was reminded of the winter that followed my life-changing head injury 46 years ago, it had snowed and a neighbourhood girl helped me build a snowman in our back garden. It’s a cherished childhood memory during a traumatic time of upheaval and uncertainty.

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse shines a light on the magic of discovering connection in unexpected places, and we are honored that the Academy has awarded this beautifully moving film tonight,” said Jamie Erlicht, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video. “Bringing Charlie’s visually stunning world to such vibrant animated life, this short reinforces the strength that can be found in our common humanity and we toast the entire creative team on this uplifting cinematic achievement.”

Have you watched The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

Classic FM interviews John Williams

It's Betwixmas! So, as I watch festive fare on a new Sony BRAVIA XR Master Series OLED, my first Sony television in twenty years, I thought I'd share this exclusive Classic FM interview with legendary Hollywood composer John Williams (Star Wars) from last summer.

Whilst Williams has announced he's retiring from composing movie music after Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, he would love to compose music for the James Bond franchise.

Williams' lost soundtrack for SpaceCamp was our inaugural Star Tracks feature reviewed by Nick Smith.

What's your favourite John Williams soundtrack from Harry Potter to Star Wars? Is it possible to choose? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 18 March 2022

Damon Lindelof's Star Wars?

According to The Ankler, Damon Lindelof, who co-created Lost with JJ Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and worked with the director on the big screen Star Trek reboot, is rumoured to be in talks for an upcoming Star Wars movie.

Neither Lucasfilm nor Lindelof have confirmed this. However, in 2020 the award-winning co-creator of The Leftovers mentioned he wanted to work on Star Wars and is a lifelong fan of the franchise:

"At some point, but certainly not in the immediate future, I feel like I would love to do something in the Star Wars universe. Maybe a decade from now when I would no longer be blamed for ruining it. That would be a hoot."

Is Damon Lindelof a good fit for Star Wars after Star Trek? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Batman: Caped Crusader coming to HBO Max

Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), JJ Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Matt Reeves (The Batman) are joining forces for Batman: Caped Crusader from HBO Max and Cartoon Network.

“We are beyond excited to be working together to bring this character back, to tell engrossing new stories in Gotham City,” said Abrams and Reeves in a statement. “The series will be thrilling, cinematic and evocative of Batman’s noir roots, while diving deeper into the psychology of these iconic characters. We cannot wait to share this new world.”

Timm, who previously worked with Paul Dini on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in the eighties, has a storied history with the dark detective.

“Batman: The Animated Series was a masterpiece that shaped the perception of the character for an entire generation of fans,” said Warner Bros. Animation president Sam Register. “It is in that spirit that we are bringing together three master storytellers in J.J., Matt and Bruce – each with their own intuitive understanding and affection for the character – to create a new series that will continue in the same groundbreaking legacy.”

Abrams, having rebooted the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, has a development deal at Warner Bros. (via his Bad Robot production company) and is linked to direct a new Superman movie.

Abrams says, “I know that Hollywood is a place where it used to be that people would be inspired by something that they would see or an old film or a show or something and think, ‘Oh, here's my response to that. Here's a version of that that.’ It's become a place where, more often than not, you see something and people get inspired by it and go, ‘Let's redo that exact thing.’ I feel like, as someone who started writing in television and telling original stories on film and in TV, it is something that I really do miss. The few things that I'm working on now, as a writer, are original ideas. I just feel, as a director, I really would love to have my next projects be things that didn't pre-exist me necessarily.”

Are you looking forward to Batman: Caped Crusader? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Daisy Ridley reveals Rey could have been a Kenobi

Almost a year after the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Daisy Ridley reveals Rey was almost a Kenobi.

"At the beginning, there was toying with an Obi-Wan connection, and then it really went to that she was no one," the actress told friend and Murder on the Orient Express co-star Josh Gad on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

"When it came to episode nine, JJ pitched me the film and was like, 'So yeah, Palaptine's [your] grandaddy.' Then, two weeks later, he was like, 'Yeah, we're not sure.' So it kept changing. Even when I was filming, I wasn't sure what the answer was going to be."

This has sparked further heated debate amongst fans about the divisive conclusion to the Skywalker Saga. Ridley was amazing as Rey and that's a testament to her acting ability. She stars next with Willem Dafoe and James McAvoy in upcoming video game 12 Minutes for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Star Wars in crisis?

In this opinion piece regarding the current state of Star Wars, Matt Charlton, our resident Disney superfan, reflects on recent rumours in the wake of the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga. Does the Force have a future?

Guest post by Matt Charlton

Like the whispers of a planetary blockade in place above the planet Naboo over a 'trade dispute', with news only just reaching the Galactic Senate and prompting the dispatch of two Jedi Knights to investigate, could there be any truth in a recent revelation from a YouTuber that we could well be facing a Star Wars Expanded Universe-esc (EU) retcon, which might result in the sequel trilogy being spun off to an alternative reality?

Be warned, spoilers will be afoot for those who have not yet seen the Skywalker Saga - if you would like to avoid them, please navigate away now.

It's no secret that the sequel trilogy wasn't well received by an especially vocal segment of the Star Wars fanbase. There were many people who were upset with story lines, casting decisions and many other issues that came to light from what many perceive to be a disjointed way of thinking, combined with conflicting ideas from The Walt Disney Company along with directors, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, screenwriters and an urgency to recoup the $4 billon dollar invested in acquiring Lucasfilm from George Lucas in 2012.

If there's one thing that we've learned in the Information Age, there is nought as fickle as a pop culture fanbase and given 24/7 access to the internet, boy do they like every one to know about it [the fandom menace casts a long shadow- Ed].

A lot of people were overly critical that director JJ Abrams' The Force Awakens followed George Lucas' A New Hope too closely. Some of the plot points certainly seemed to mirror those tropes we saw in 1977. Simply replace Starkiller Base with the Death Star and take Jakku's sandy landscape for what we saw in Tatooine with a teenager staring out into the sky wondering what might be possible and you can certainly see what people are saying - if you were that way inclined.

Personally, I loved The Force Awakens. I liked the new direction. I liked the teases about Rey's (Daisy Ridley) parentage, wondering about where Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o) got Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) lightsaber from when we last saw it dropping through the middle of Cloud City on Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back and wondering what on earth had happened to make Luke up sticks and run away, and why the heck R2-D2 ended up with a map to where he was if he didn't want anyone to find him?

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was the perfect embodiment of the dark side. Wonderfully played by Adam Driver with a depth we've not seen in the Star Wars universe for some time. It was a great start to the trilogy and I remember wondering if that was a gravestone we saw where Luke was on the cliff top, to the point where I would freeze frame the digital copy that I bought on the Apple TV in order to try to find clues in what The Last Jedi might bring us.

Rian Johnson's movie was a fairly radical departure from what we knew. A lot of people were unhappy with the way that Luke was written out. It's difficult to know how Mark Hamill felt about the way things went but I think he probably, like the rest of us might have wanted to see a little more than Force Projection as a display of Luke's powers. It was even worse when the resulting physical and psychological damage from this ends the life of our beloved hero. I loved him throwing the lightsaber over his shoulder. It was funny - though I'm not sure it was a very 'Luke' thing to do.

We know from The Rise of Skywalker that the X-wing, we see beneath the waves, is fully operational, but it could well be that until Luke transcended the living Force and gave up his physical form that he never truly believed that he could get over that stumbling block that Master Yoda (Frank Oz) had to help him with in The Empire Strikes back and lift it out of there. The accompanying score to that piece (mirroring the Dagobah swamp sequence) certainly helped my tear ducts to produce 'something'. He finally did it. Do, or do not. But there was nothing stopping him, physically from jumping into it and heading to Crait to help out, in person, and get a proper on screen reunion with his sister and his two beloved droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO.

The return of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) in The Rise of Skywalker was pretty cool, we got to see some pretty neat set pieces and some new Force powers. The pacing of the movie is pretty quick, it never feels as long as it is.

I think for me, looking back over the three 'new' movies as a whole - I enjoyed them, they were fun, and there are certain aspects of them that I love, but when you put them all together, as a trilogy - something isn't quite right. The poorest, out of the three was The Last Jedi. With Luke's bizarre behaviour, green milk drinking defeatist attitude and Yoda blowing up the (empty) Jedi library. The last act with them trying to outrun the First Order and having limited fuel was also a little lacking on story timing.

As a trilogy, it falls flat.

Is this down to a missing overarching vision? Was it a case of having too many different directors involved, then changing directors due to creative differences? Did Rian Johnson look to change too much of what JJ Abrams had laid the foundations for and it was too difficult to bring back to something that made sense?

One of the really jarring things, is Leia's (Carrie Fisher) Mary Poppins in space sequence, I didn't like that at all, it just felt like it went against everything we know about what would actually happen if someone found themselves out there in the vacuum of space. I know it's a movie, I know it's science fiction, but it just didn't gel for me, maybe it was the CGI, it just didn't look natural.

Although Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford all signed on for (at least) The Force Awakens, there was never a reunion of all three on screen. I think everybody expected this to happen. With Harrison Ford being taken out in the first movie, it was probably never going to be part of the plan, though he does return for The Rise of Skywalker. The untimely, devastating passing of Carrie Fisher will have also changed the direction of where they were originally going with the trilogy when it was first planned out.

There's been a lot of talk on the internet about how the fine folks at Disney aren't too happy with Star Wars - when they purchased Lucasfilm, they thought they were buying a license to print money, and it turns out that if the money you're printing isn't the denomination or the currency that the fans are wanting, they'll outright find another minting source.

I'm a big Disney fan. I love Disney. I also think that they did a stellar job with Marvel Studios since they took over, the whole of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) shows what is possible with joined-up thinking and an overarching storyline that can culminate in the coming together of multiple superheroes and a decade of planning to give us the Russo brothers' Avengers: Infinity War/Endgame blockbuster.

However, I don't know if they've taken the right path with Star Wars. I love there's a portion of the theme parks dedicated to all things Star Wars in Galaxy's Edge, I love that there's Darth Vader meet and greets and I love some of the other stuff that's come out. I even enjoyed Solo: A Star Wars Story, and I don't think there are many people who didn't enjoy Rogue One. In fact, I'd quite happily watch 3-hours of footage based around Darth Vader's single-handed assault on the docking corridor of the Tantive IV.

I remember the prequels coming out - I was 18 when The Phantom Menace was released. I remember when the first teasers dropped and you had to have QuickTime (QT) to watch them [I streamed it endlessly on my graphite iMac DV SE - Ed]. I remember being excited. I remember enjoying them. All three of them.

Sure some of the acting was wooden, some of the dialogue was cheesy, Jar Jar (Ahmed Best) was annoying, but overall I love them. I know a lot of other people didn't. There were similar feelings of unhappiness, the internet was still something that not many people had access to in the late 1990s and if they did it was on a single family computer rather than in the palm of their hand. It's a lot easier now to broadcast your opinion on an iPhone and have someone read it instantly.

If we think about the timelines of the trilogies, we can see some major differences.

The Phantom Menace - Anakin is a young boy
Attack of the Clones - Set 10 years after TPM
Revenge of the Sith - 3 years after AOTC
A New Hope - 19 years after ROTS
The Empire Strikes Back - 3 years after ANH
Return of the Jedi - anything up to a year
The Force Awakens - 30 years after ROTJ
The Last Jedi - Immediately after The Force Awakens
The Rise of Skywalker - A year after TLJ

The prequel trilogy spanned 13 years.
There was a 19 year gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
The original trilogy spanned 4 years. The sequel trilogy spanned 1 year.

It makes you wonder whether things got a little too granular, maybe there wasn't a big enough time jump to allow off-screen character development to take place, maybe this was influenced by the release schedule being one film every year [thankfully now abandoned - Ed]?

Say what you want about George Lucas, and him not having a 9 movie plan to start with [Lucas makes mention of the 9-part saga in the liner notes of The Empire Strikes Back - Ed] (I remember pre-internet this was something I used to excitedly discuss with my school friends). Star Wars was his baby. I know that the trade disputes/Trade federation weren't a great addition to The Phantom Menace, but it was more about bogging down the Jedi with red tape and distracting them from what else was going on, which gave Palpatine the platform that he needed to grab some emergency executive power to make things run faster so that he could 'help' Naboo. I get it, I get what he was going for.

I still would have rather had 3 movies about Anakin (Jake Lloyd/Hayden Christensen) at his darkest though. What we see implied with the Sand People and the Younglings is only scratching the surface at how far our young hero had to fall in order to become Darth Vader.

So anyway, back to the original point of this article. A concept was introduced in Star Wars Rebels called the Veil of the Force. If applied to the movies, this could allow for a multiverse/multiple timelines scenario. It could allow the events of the sequel trilogy to become things that are ignored/never happen. It could also give rise to something new - like a big screen version of Timothy Zahn's EU (now legends) trilogy complete with Grand Admiral Thrawn. That would be epic.

I completely understand why Disney did what they did with the EU content, by retconning/retiring all of the things that had come before, they could forge their own path. They wouldn't be constrained by stories that had been told before.

To paraphrase Doctor Ian Malcolm, just because they could do something, doesn't necessarily mean that they should have.

There's been a huge number of internet outlets pick up on the potential 'leak' from Dicktor Van Doomcock, with some mainstream UK tabloids also getting in on the act.

There's rumours that a Lucas cut of The Rise of Skywalker exists, and that it contains lots of additional footage that was left on the cutting room floor of the edit we ended up with. There are rumours that somehow Luke will be warned not to attempt to kill Ben Solo, stopping him from becoming Kylo Ren.

There are rumours that the higher ups at Disney aren't happy with the direction things have been taken in and there are rumours that things could be changing as and when contracts end.

There are also rumours that we could see additional Luke Skywalker movies, set in the Mandalorian timeframe that could also somehow tie into the Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) live-action series.

I still want to know how the hell Maz got hold of the lightsaber, and like Mark Hamill want to know if it came with the hand still attached? :D

The Mandalorian has shown Disney that there is still a massive appetite for Star Wars content, and that the content doesn't necessarily have to have characters we have come to know and love in them. If the story is right, the direction is done well and there's a cute green alien involved, we're all over it.

Jon Favreau (Iron Man) is being touted as the new head of Star Wars alongside Dave Filoni, with the help of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. There are even rumours that George Lucas might be coming back to run Lucasfilm. Who knows at this point what is true or not.

I'm not sure a replacement sequel trilogy will be what we end up with, but I definitely think that Disney are doing some work, internally, to see what they can do to move forward from where they have seemingly ended up.

There are still so many aspects of the Star Wars universe that are ripe for exploration on both the big screen and on the small screen with Disney+, I don't think the stories are finished, and I'm excited to see where things end up going.

Do I think that there's enough hate to completely remove the sequel trilogy from Star Wars canon? Maybe.

Do I really believe that something like this will happen? Not really.

And besides, Master Yoda says that... Hate.... leads to Suffering.

What's next? We get Game of Thrones Season 8 redone? :D

The original YouTube video, with regards to the rumours.

Read an article on Cosmic Book News, which discusses the content of the video above and also lists Lucas' alleged demands.

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

Friday, 1 May 2020

Is the Force still strong with Star Wars?

Star Wars fans can look forward to an unprecedented intergalactic bounty on Disney+ on May Fourth AKA Star Wars Day: Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, the final ever episode of The Clone Wars and The Rise of Skywalker.

Whilst I'll be eagerly watching The Rise of Skywalker for the first time since seeing it at the cinema last December. Other fans will be approaching the conclusion to the Skywalker saga from a certain point of view.

Guest post by Simon Judges

The Rise of Skywalker hitting Disney+ earlier than expected got me to thinking about my relationship with the saga.

I was there at the beginning. When I was six years old, my dad took me to see the original Star Wars at the local “fleapit”. I’d be lying if I said I could remember how I felt coming out of the film, but I do know I saw it again at a bigger, better-equipped cinema not long afterwards. And it dominated my childhood. Playground games, comics, books, toys, stickers. I lived and breathed Star Wars, and wanted more. Luckily, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi fed my hunger.

My love of Star Wars hasn’t diminished much in the 42 years since. It’s true that, as I approach 50, I tend not to play at being Han Solo so much, but I regularly watch the films, read the books, play the video games, and generally keep up with all things Star Wars.

In December last year, however, something strange happened. For the first time ever, I watched a Star Wars film and left the cinema underwhelmed.

Now, while I didn’t love the prequels, I did find something in each of them to enjoy. The pod race, the duel of the fates, the battle of Geonosis, the opening and closing moments of Episode III (although the less said about Vader’s “Nooooooo…” the better).

I really enjoyed The Force Awakens. Yes, it was a retread of A New Hope, but it had energy, pace, and genuine wit and humour. And I still don’t understand the hate for The Last Jedi. It’s certainly not the best of the bunch, but it ain’t that bad. Rightly or wrongly, Rian Johnson made some bold decisions. Personally, I loved Luke as a grumpy old man. (That’s my opinion - don’t @ me.)

But The Rise of Skywalker just felt wrong. On first viewing, it seemed to be a bad story, badly written and badly acted. A friend described it as the worst kind of fan fiction up on the screen. And I think that was the problem. JJ Abrams was facing a double-edged sword. He had to service the story, and he had to serve the fans; fans who, if Twitter and YouTube were to be believed, were VERY unhappy about the way things were going. In doing so, he managed to create a glorious mess. To me, it felt rushed and sloppy. There was just too much crammed in. The story and the characters had no time to breathe. Worse, the two main plot points - Palpatine’s return and his connection with Rey - just felt lazy.

I’ve seen it a couple of times since - once, again, at the cinema. Going in with lower expectations, I didn’t find it quite so… bad. I’ve also seen it at home. Somehow, TV seemed kinder to its flaws; while still present, they’re less glaring. And of course, I’ll be watching it again now that it’s on Disney+.

I love Star Wars. I love everything about Star Wars. I always have. And I’ll always defend the rights of Abrams and Johnson et al to make mistakes. Their intentions are good; they come from the right place. You just can’t please everyone, especially with a property as hot as Star Wars. But I think I’ll always be disappointed with the way this current saga ended.

The Mandalorian has given me hope. It’s clearly affectionate for the past - you only have to watch the Mos Eisley episode to see that - but it’s already ploughing its own furrow. Let’s see what season two brings. But, while I am looking forward to what the future holds, I’ll admit to a tiny bit of trepidation. For the first time ever, I’ve felt let down by a Star Wars film. “Faster, more intense!” may have worked for Lucas, 45 years ago. But it’s a phrase I think should be best avoided by whoever’s next in the director’s chair.

What do you think? Is The Mandalorian and further live-action spin-offs the future of Star Wars? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Fans animate Colin Trevorrow's Star Wars

Whilst Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may have ended the saga that George Lucas started. Director JJ Abrams (The Force Awakens) didn't appease all fans - an impossible task for anyone at the helm. And Colin Trevorrow's (Jurassic World) leaked treatment for Episode IX, Duel of the Fates, has inspired this awesome animated fan film.

What do you think of this animated fan film based on Colin Trevorrow's script? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Rian Johnson's thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker

Director Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) spoke to MTV, on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, about his thoughts on JJ Abrams' The Rise of Skywalker:

“I want to sit down like a Star Wars fan and just get my popcorn and just be 10-years-old again and see this whole thing brought home in a beautiful way that surprises me… it’s Star Wars. It takes you there. It transports you. The instant that John Williams score comes up, the instant you’re back in that world and hear those lightsaber sounds, it’s just [snaps] – you’re back to being ten.”

Eloquently put in the wake of the fandom menace surrounding the conclusion to the sequel trilogy. Johnson is currently developing a new Star Wars trilogy at Lucasfilm.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Colin Trevorrow confirms Duel of the Fates leak

Director Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) confirmed, on Twitter, leaked conceptual artwork is from his unmade Star Wars sequel, Duel of the Fates, after he left Lucasfilm, citing creative differences, and JJ Abrams took over the project to direct what would become The Rise of Skywalker. Thus, finishing what he started with The Force Awakens.

Trevorrow's tweet comes a week after a screenplay was seemingly leaked online. It sees Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) dispatched by Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the final act and the Emperor's (Ian McDiarmid) 7000-year-old master, Tor Valum, a "Lovecraftian" menace, playing a pivotal role. Pity, it wasn't Darth Plagueis, first mentioned in Revenge of the Sith, who some fans thought was Snoke's (Andy Serkis) true identity before Rian Johnson burned the house down in The Last Jedi.

Trevorrow spoke to Empire magazine about his time on Star Wars, “I don’t want to talk too much about it because I don’t want to affect the way that fans get to see these films.”

He added, “When we were kids, these movies came to us from far away. They were a gift. And the more we talk about how they’re made, the more it reveals that they’re just movies.”

Trevorrow continued, “But they’re not just movies, they’re more than that. Beyond that, I got the opportunity to tell a story that is a celebration of everything I believe in, I got to tell it to George Lucas and I got to tell it to Luke Skywalker, and those are experiences I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Billie Lourd played Leia in The Rise of Skywalker

There are spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Patrick Tubach revealed the creative process behind the late Carrie Fisher's (General Leia) inclusion in The Rise of Skywalker.

For the scene depicting Leia's Jedi training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Billie Lourd stood in for her late mother.

"Billie was playing her mother," Tubach told Yahoo Entertainment. "It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly – that she was willing to stand in for her mom.

"It felt great for us, too. If you're going to have someone play [Fisher's] part, it's great that it's [Billie] because there are a lot of similarities between them that we were able to draw from."

The filmmakers also used footage from Return of the Jedi for Fisher's younger face, and visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett added: "What you see is what we developed.

"The idea was to provide this great surprise where they take the helmets off, and you see Luke and Leia's younger faces. We scoured outtakes from the original movies, and we took some pieces and then had to try and figure out the technical aspect of putting that shot together."

However, he noted that it was up to Fisher's family – particularly Lourd, who also plays Kaydel Ko Connix in the sequel trilogy – as to whether her likeness will ever be used in a Star Wars movie again.

He added: "When you see her in this movie, it's the live-action element of her face taken from outtakes of either The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, and then building a digital Carrie around that face.

"She's wearing a new costume, she's got new hair, she's got new jewellery. We didn't want it to feel like we'd simply taken previous shots from previous movies and just edited her in; we wanted her to be unique to this movie, and we wanted her to be integrated into the scenes.

"JJ's principle in pre-production was, 'I want Princess Leia to be played by Carrie Fisher. How do we do this?' That was the integrity that he wanted brought to it, so that he could really put his hand on his heart and say that Princess Leia was always played by Carrie Fisher."

Lourd writes in Time magazine about becoming the keeper of Princess Leia.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in cinemas now.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker nears a billion dollars

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may have divided fans and critics (what franchise doesn't?). However, the final chapter in the Skywalker saga starts 2020 as the dominant box office Force. JJ Abrams' Star Wars sequel is on course for a billion dollars and is the number one movie for a third week.

During the holiday season, Disney announced a new 27-disc Blu-ray box set spanning all 9 movies in 4K UHD. It is presumed these are taken from the 4K masters used for Disney+. This is available as an exclusive limited edition from (affiliate link).

Over the years, like many fellow fans, I've bought Star Wars countless times on VHS and DVD, but stopped short of Blu-ray due to format fatigue and switching to streaming services such as Netflix and most recently BritBox (to access classic Doctor Who). I'm going to make a rare exception for this.

Will you be buying the complete Skywalker saga on Blu-ray? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Star Wars at the speed of light

Director JJ Abrams (Star Trek) had the unenviable task of rebooting the Star Wars franchise with The Force Awakens in 2015. Fast forward to 2019, Abrams has the Herculean task of wrapping up the 9-part Skywalker saga in the shadow of the fandom menace.

Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi (2017) remains divisive among fans. However, I still stand by my review, but am delighted to say The Rise of Skywalker eclipses Johnson's subversive instalment with interstellar zest and ends George Lucas' space opera with an emotional flourish.

At the speed of light, The Rise of Skywalker is a deliriously brilliant conclusion to a saga that is closest to my heart than any other! It features inevitable lightsaber duels between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), that pack an emotional punch equalling those from the original trilogy, as echoes of the past reverberate around them.

Johnson laid the groundwork for 'Reylo' in The Last Jedi and this is taken to its bittersweet conclusion in standout performances from both Ridley and Driver. Their battle of wills is the beating heart of Disney's sequel trilogy underscored by composer John Williams' rich repertoire spanning the entire Skywalker story.

The maestro John Williams is on hand to finish what he started in 1977. His ninth soundtrack for the Skywalker saga is a joyous journey through light and dark, tinged with sadness in the knowledge this will be Williams’ Star Wars swan song. For 42 years, his music has been the soundtrack to many fans (myself included) lives. More than once, familiar leitmotifs evoked memories of loved ones long since passed away and I was unable to hold back tears. Rey’s theme becomes the centrepiece as her story reaches its conclusion with an ending that witnesses one of Williams’ most beautiful orchestrations with nods to Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Schindler’s List in a galaxy-spanning symphonic celebration.

The gang's back together. It's an unalloyed joy to be in the company of Rey, Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels). This plays to Abrams' greatest strength. His innate ability to create compelling character relationships that began with Felicity and continued in Lost.

Where would Star Wars be without droids? C-3PO gets to shine, not just literally, in the final episode alongside best friend R2-D2, BB-8 and newcomer D-O, a delightful droid with PTSD. C-3PO and R2-D2's humorous exchanges were sorely missing from the prequel and sequel trilogies up to this point. It would be churlish not to mention Zorii Bliss' (Keri Russell) droidsmith Babu Frik.

Star Wars has always served as an anti-fascist allegory and none more so than here with the repeated stance of the First Order, about to become the Final Order under the auspices of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E Grant), making the Resistance think they're alone, which is, to invoke Marxist cultural criticism, false consciousness. Suffice to say, with Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) back at the helm of the Millennium Falcon, the good guys will never give up, never surrender (borrowed from Galaxy Quest).

The Rise of Skywalker meshes Lucas' sci-fi opus with the explosive exuberance of Marvel Star Wars Weekly, school playground adventures with friends long gone and is a love letter from a superfan to fans that still believe in hope over despair. I geeked out with fellow fans, strangers brought together by the Force, as it should be.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Rey is full of the Force says The Force Awakens writer

Rey's (Daisy Ridley) enigmatic affinity for the Force has been a point of fevered discussion among fans since The Force Awakens (2015). Co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, talking exclusively to Entertainment Weekly (EW), sheds some light on the pivotal moment when Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber flies into her hand, sparking speculation she was a clone of Luke's father.

"Rey is full of the Force — you know that pretty early on," he said, adding that the signs had always been there: "We've seen other demonstrations that she did earlier in the movie that she has in her. You know she's not unimportant.

"The saber flies into her hand because it belongs in her hand. While the secret to Kylo is that he's massively insecure. He wants to be Darth II, but he isn't because he's very conflicted about everything he wants."

Kasdan went on to tease that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is a conflicted character.

"[Kylo] says right before, 'That lightsaber, it belongs to me'," he continued. "So when it flies by him into her hand everything he worries about is confirmed."

Following the events of The Last Jedi (2017), fans won't know exactly how Rey and Kylo's story will end in The Rise of Skywalker this December. Will there be a surprise twist given the return of the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid)?

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Entertainment Weekly shares new Star Wars images

A month from today Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be in UK cinemas and I've booked tickets for a day-one IMAX with Laser screening at Cineworld.

Entertainment Weekly (EW) has shared new exclusive photos featuring Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adama Driver) and more here.

Are you looking forward to the conclusion of the Skywalker saga? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Disney CEO says less is more with Star Wars

Disney CEO Bob Iger, in an exclusive interview with BBC Radio Four, admitted: “I have said publicly that I think we made and released too many Star Wars films over a short period of time.

“I have not said that they were disappointing in any way.

“I’ve not said that I'm disappointed in their performance.”

Looking to the future of the franchise, Iger added: “I just think that there’s something so special about a Star Wars film, and less is more.”

The Skywalker saga ends this December with JJ Abrams' (The Force Awakens) The Rise of Skywalker. The next trilogy is slated for 2022, 2024 and 2026. Game of Thrones' showrunners have left the project. However, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is producing the next Star Wars movie with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

So, will a director or directors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) take the helm of the new trilogy? The Russo brothers (Avengers: Endgame) are firm favourites with Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) purportedly still working on his own trilogy.

Whilst Star Wars is taking a break from the big screen, Jon Favreau's (The Lion King) live-action series, The Mandalorian, is an exclusive launch title on Disney+ from 12th November. And Marvel is rebooting the long-running comic book series in 2020.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker smashes Endgame

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to dominate the box office this holiday season and may surpass stablemate Avengers: Endgame after setting a new record for pre-sale tickets in the US.

“A year after the events of The Last Jedi, the remnants of the Resistance face the First Order once again—while reckoning with the past and their own inner turmoil. Meanwhile, the ancient conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its climax, altogether bringing the Skywalker saga to a definitive end.”

Director JJ Abrams (The Force Awakens) has the unenviable task or opportunity to overcome, as my dad would say, of closing the epic Skywalker saga that began in 1977.

After seeing the final trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, I think Abrams has every hope of sticking the landing this December. The mysterious movie's runtime is currently 155 minutes. So, get comfy, it's going to be an emotional thrill ride for generations of fans...

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

IMAX posters for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker dropped during Monday Night Football and tickets went on sale everywhere. IMAX has released two art posters to celebrate.

Booked tickets to see Star Wars: The Rise on Skywalker in IMAX with Laser at Cineworld on 19th December. When are you seeing the final chapter in the Skywalker saga? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Final Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer today

The final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be shown during ESPN's Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. Expect the trailer to appear online and here shortly thereafter. Tickets will go on sale around the world following the trailer's debut.

The Rise of Skywalker is the culmination of the Skywalker saga spanning three trilogies and purportedly Lucasfilm is test screening eight possible endings to George Lucas' space opera.

"This is about bringing this thing to a close in a way that is emotional and meaningful and also satisfying in terms of actually answering [as many] questions as possible," director JJ Abrams (The Force Awakens) said.

"So if years from now, someone's watching these movies, all nine of them, they're watching a story that is as cohesive as possible."

Abrams added: "While there were many things that were planned for and discussed — George Lucas himself said when he created this he saw it as three, three-act plays — that doesn't mean there isn’t discovery, that doesn't mean there aren’t things that come up that make you realise, 'Oh, here’s an opportunity.'

"It also doesn't mean that there's a list of payoffs that we have to do because of setups. But we also were very much aware this is the end of the trilogy and it needs to satisfy. We went into this thing knowing it has to be an ending. We're not screwing around."

Will you be booking tickets for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker today? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Former Doctor Who Matt Smith in Star Wars?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is released in cinemas exactly two months today and fellow Doctor Who fans may have uncovered the role former Doctor Who Matt Smith plays in director JJ Abrams' (The Force Awakens) upcoming sequel.

Eagle-eyed fan @reysrepublic spotted a Topps trading card and shared the above photo of what appears to be Smith playing a blue-skinned alien with the cryptic title: A New Face.

Both of Smith's former TARDIS companions, Karen Gillan and Jenna Coleman, have appeared in Disney stablemate the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

In related news. The final trailer for The Rise of Skywalker premieres during Monday Night Football.

What do you think? Is this Matt Smith? Let me know in the comments below.