Showing posts with label mark hamill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mark hamill. Show all posts

Friday, 5 May 2023

Celebrating Carrie Fisher on May the Fourth

Carrie Fisher, who most famously played Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy (in the process becoming my first and greatest silver screen crush 45 years ago), was poignantly remembered on May the Fourth AKA Star Wars Day!

Her daughter Billie Lourd, Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill, C-3PO and R2-D2 assembled for Fisher's Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.

Hamill read out a note he'd written shortly after his friend's death in December 2016.

“I thought, this is as relevant today as it was when I wrote it,” Hamill said about the note.

“Carrie was one of a kind. She belonged to us all, whether we liked it or not,” Hamill’s note reads. “She was our princess, dammit! And the actress who played her blurred into one gorgeous, fearlessly independent, ferociously funny, take-charge woman who took our collective breath away. Determined and tough, but with a vulnerability that made you root for her and want her to succeed and be happy. She played such a crucial role in my professional and personal life. Both would’ve been far emptier without her.

“Was she a handful? Was she high maintenance? No doubt,” the note continues. “But everything would’ve been so much drabber and less interesting if she hadn’t been the friend that she was. I’ll never stop missing her, but I’m so thankful we had her as long as we did. I’m grateful for the laughter, the wisdom, the kindness, and even the bratty, self-indulgent crap my beloved space twin drove me crazy with through the years. So thank you, Carrie. I love you.”

With my best friend, I met Fisher and Hamill at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016. A kiss from a princess, a hug from a Jedi Knight and tears of joy. It's not every day you meet childhood heroes who turn out to be amazing in person.

Friday, 11 November 2022

Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, has died

Kevin Conroy, synonymous with being the voice of the dark detective since fan-favourite Batman: The Animated Series began in 1992, has passed away aged 66.

Growing up, I watched reruns of Adam West's Batman television series and saw Michael Keaton's Batman at the cinema with college friends. However, it's Conroy's distinctive voice I can hear inside my head as I type these words.

In the wake of director Tim Burton's blockbusters Batman and Batman Returns, Batman: The Animated Series was born. This is considered by many fans (myself included) as the definitive dark night, with Conroy's performance regarded as one of the very best, and spawned a thrilling theatrical tie-in: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. I took my Kenner action figure collection with me to university.

Mark Hamill on the passing of Conroy: "Kevin was perfection," recalled Hamill, who redefined the Joker playing opposite Conroy's Batman. "He was one of my favourite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him - his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated."

"Kevin was a brilliant actor," Hamill said. "For several generations, he has been the definitive Batman. It was one of those perfect scenarios where they got the exact right guy for the exact right part, and the world was better for it. His rhythms and subtleties, tones and delivery - that all also helped inform my performance. He was the ideal partner - it was such a complementary, creative experience. I couldn't have done it without him. He will always be my Batman."

Thank you for voicing the dark detective in the definitive Batman series and beyond for over 30 years.

My deepest condolences to his husband and his whole family and everyone else who loved him. RIP Kevin Conroy!

What are your memories of Conroy's Batman? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Mark Hamill returns to Jack in the Box

Before Mark Hamill saved the galaxy as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and played The Joker in Batman, the fan-favourite actor was fired from Jack in the Box.

Hamill recently returned to help promote spicy chicken strips and french toast sticks.

Read the official synopsis:

"Actor and movie icon Mark Hamill returns to one of his very first roles: working the Jack in the Box drive thru. He was fired the first time for doing character voices. Now he's surprising fans with voices, autographs and tales from the past."

He said that while speaking to customers, "I thought you should talk like a clown, which is what I did. I thought it was amusing — my boss thought it was annoying."

Hamill explained that his boss ordered him to stop, and he did as he was told.

"But when the work day was finished [my boss] said, 'You know what Mark, if you can't take this job seriously, maybe this isn't right for you.' In other words, go and never come back," Hamill continued.

"What are the chances of a former employee who let you go, asking you to come back? It was too good to [pass up]. I said, 'I've got to do this' because it's so personal, and it actually happened."

How cool would it be to be served by Mark Hamill at a drive-thru? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Mark Hamill in Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian

Luke Skywalker's surprise cameo in The Mandalorian - an impressive feat in this hyper-connected era - was an overwhelmingly uplifting moment in a saga that is renowned for hope in the darkest of times.

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian reveals the cutting-edge technology that brought a young Luke Skywalker (post-Return of the Jedi) back in the second season finale last Christmas.

“You see your crew just staring at Mark [Hamill], and you realize they’re remembering what [Star Wars] meant to them,” executive producer Dave Filoni said. “And you realize you’ve been part of constructing something that’s giving that experience to people. This good feeling.”

“Fundamentally, Star Wars should deliver a good feeling. An uplifting feeling,” he continued. “In you, in your family, in your kids, whatever.”

The second season of The Mandalorian has received 24 Emmy nominations. The third season is expected to go into production in September.

The Book of Boba Fett and Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off series should satiate fans (myself included) whilst we wait for further details.

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian debuts on 25th August on Disney+.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

ILM hires Deepfake expert

When Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) cameoed in The Mandalorian second season finale last Christmas, most Star Wars fans (myself included) were overwhelmingly surprised and delighted to see the beloved Jedi Knight at the peak of his audacious powers.

However, the de-ageing technology, utilised by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), was divisive. And independent VFX wizards quickly got to work on subjectively improving the visuals (following in the hallowed footsteps of Star Wars creator George Lucas' endless tinkering on the original trilogy).

One stood out from the rest. YouTube Deepfake star, Shamook.

His work was so impressive, it caught the attention of the fine folks at Lucasfilm who have subsequently hired him. IndieWire confirms in this quote:

“Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it’s been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances.”

This is a mission statement suggesting there'll be more classic characters appearing in Star Wars spin-offs both on the big screen and Disney+.

“As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilm a few months ago and haven’t had the time to work on any new YouTube content,” Shamook wrote in a comment this month. “Now I’ve settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They’ll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart. Enjoy!”

Are you a fan of Deepfake technology or more concerned with the possible ethical implications therein? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Worlds of Star Wars and Indiana Jones collide

The 40th anniversary of Indiana Jones is the ideal moment to share this award-winning Star Wars fan film approved by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

Read the official synopsis:

“Star Wars: Origins takes a unique look at where it all began. A thrilling action-adventure film drawing inspiration from both Star Wars and Indiana Jones to tell an epic story based on Earth during WWII. Behind what is possibly the most expensive fan film ever made are award-winning team, and life-long Star Wars fans; writer/director Phil Hawkins filmed on location in the Sahara Desert, Morocco, Star Wars: Origins is a self-funded not-for-profit project and the culmination of three years work.”

The movie stars Marie Everett (What Happened To Monday), Jamie Costa (Han Solo: A Smuggler’s Trade), Hadrian Howard (The Mummy) and Philip Walker.

On his ambitious love letter to George Lucas’ beloved sagas, writer and director Phil Hawkins said, “I’ve been lucky enough to make five feature films in the past — which were released by the likes of Sony Pictures and Netflix — but I could see a great divide from the low-budget films I was making to the scale and ambition of the films I’d like to make. Those films I grew up watching. Star Wars: Origins is hopefully a piece of work to help cross that divide and show the studios what I can do.”

Hawkins' fan film takes its inspiration from the Star Wars Easter eggs in Raiders of the Lost Ark and captures the essence of both beloved Lucasfilm franchises with aplomb.

If you have a Star Wars fan film you'd like to share, please contact me.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

WandaVision cameo comparable to The Mandalorian

Like the Golden Globe-nominated live-action Star Wars spin-off, The Mandalorian, Marvel Studios' Disney+ series are fully interconnected within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in a way not possible for Marvel's Netflix spin-off series, which folded before the launch of Disney+ in 2019.

Actors Paul Bettany (Vision) and Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff) have both teased a major cameo in WandaVision comparable to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in The Mandalorian's second season finale.

Speculation ranges from Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) to Sir Ian McKellen (Magneto). Given WandaVision is inspired by House of M, a seminal comic book series written by Brian Michael Bendis, it's possible Pietro AKA Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) will return but all may not be as it appears.

New episodes of WandaVision premiere every Friday exclusively on Disney+. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in the titular roles, continues Phase 4 on Disney+ on 19th March.

Who do you think WandaVision's major cameo will be? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

The Muppet Show is coming to Disney+

The Muppet Show is coming to Disney+. The original series ran for five seasons from 1976-1981 and featured memorable guest star appearances including Mark Hamill (Star Wars).

"It's going to be great to welcome back longtime fans, and to give a new generation of fans a chance to see how we got our start, how Miss Piggy became a star and so much more,” Kermit the Frog said in a statement.

"Today, I’m proud to say: 'It’s time to play the music, light the lights and meet the Muppets on Disney Plus tonight!'" Kermit added. "And as for Statler and Waldorf, the two old guys in the balcony, I can only add: 'Sorry, guys, but... here we go again.”

Kermit, Miss Piggy and friends hold a special place alongside Doctor Who and Luke Skywalker. So much so, my parents gifted Muppet memorabilia to the children's hospital where my life was saved, against the odds, in 1977. If we ever meet when it's safe to do so, over tea and cake I may tell you the full story of the boy who lived.

Still no sign of Muppets Tonight, which is a travesty as Sandra Bullock is an all-time great guest and a crush of mine.

All 120 episodes of the original The Muppet Show start streaming 19th February on Disney+. Are you excited? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Luke Skywalker returns in The Mandalorian

Having waited almost a month in the hopes of not spoiling surprises for fellow Star Wars fans, I wanted to share my reaction to Luke Skywalker's return in the second season finale of The Mandalorian on Disney+.

After a torrid year spent self-isolating due to being at high risk from coronavirus, seeing a childhood hero at the peak of their powers during the holiday season was 'emosh', as I originally tweeted without giving anything away to my followers on Twitter.

A week before Christmas, Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni and the fine folks at Lucasfilm had left this lifelong fan (as well as many others) in tatters and shaking - such was its raw emotional power. Overwhelmingly so.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had answered Grogu's AKA Baby Yoda's summons from an ancient Jedi temple, destroyed Moff Gideon's (Giancarlo Esposito) Dark Trooper army with aggression worthy of his late father Anakin Skywalker AKA Darth Vader, and would train the tyke in the ways of the Force if he wished to leave Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal).

Grogu decides to follow Luke and the goodbye between the pair evoked the finale of E.T. - the Extra-Terrestrial. As Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) warned, Grogu has formed an attachment to Din and we all know the consequences for a Jedi coupled with what happens to Luke's academy before The Force Awakens.

If that wasn't enough. R2-D2, Luke's faithful droid companion and my first Star Wars action figure, appears. All too much for this fan - at least I spared social media the ugly mess of my live reaction. Triggered by composer Ludwig Göransson effortlessly segueing from an eclectic fusion of Brad Fiedel and Ennio Morricone to John Williams' lush leitmotivs with goosebump-inducing aplomb as a familiar X-wing flies into view.

Looking to the future of The Mandalorian and the live-action spin-offs already announced. It's increasingly clear showrunner Jon Favreau's endgame is to introduce Grand Admiral Thrawn for a live-action Heir to the Empire trilogy adaptation on Disney+.

Author Timothy Zahn's sequel to the original trilogy was released 30 years ago and ushered in a new era for the franchise created by George Lucas.

If so, then we'll see more of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. He's the hero we deserve as hope leads us out of these dark times...

Friday, 5 June 2020

The Force is strong with Jimmy Kimmel Live

During the coronavirus pandemic, folks on the frontline deserve our admiration, respect and support both now and for the future.

Jimmy Kimmel Live surprised a frontline nurse, Chloe Ducose from San Diego, who is a Star Wars superfan with an appearance from Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker).

Ducose began to tear up as Hamill told her, "The force is strong with you."

Hamill also added, "I applaud you for having seen the Star Wars movies more than I have."

So much live-affirming joy in these dark times.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Is Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge worth the read and ride?

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened, with much fanfare, at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, last May. Our resident US correspondent, Nick Smith, discovers whether or not Marvel's Galaxy's Edge tie-in comic book series is also worth the ride?

Guest post by Nick Smith

It’s sitting there like a gleaming heap of wonderful space junk in a theme park not so far away. The Millennium Falcon is parked in Orlando, Florida, 5 hours from where I live, plopped in an outpost called Black Spire. Unfortunately, I can’t climb aboard the ship and go for a beer run, let alone a Kessel one. The 14-acre corner of Disney World doesn’t open until August 29th, 2019.

However, the Anaheim, California, Galaxy's Edge launched in May with a five-minute original soundtrack by John Williams, a visit from Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and a touching tribute to the late Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca).

The impression given by the press photos and behind-the-scenes footage is one of breathtaking scale. The Falcon towers over the actors and visitors. There’s a droid depot, a cantina and two major rides, Smuggler’s Run and (at a later date) Rise of the Resistance.

When I last visited Orlando’s Hollywood Studios a few years ago, Galaxy’s Edge was under construction – pardon our space dust – and I was concerned! Some speeder craft sat outside a shed; there were props and games in a dark studio space called Launch Bay; Kylo Ren fooled with a cheap toy lightsaber and First Order troops marched back and forth like they couldn’t find the exit. Was this going to be a half-assed blend of our world and the Outer Rim? When Galaxy's Edge opened, would I be making a five-hour drive to disappointment?

I needn’t have worried. In all their glory the Star Wars trappings are by all accounts seamless, providing escapism from our landlocked lives – a big attraction of the original movies, of course. Got bills to pay? Make the jump to hyperspace for a couple of hours. Relationship troubles? Go hug a wookiee!

To whet our appetites for this new land, with events set between Episode VIII and IX, there’s a five-issue comic book series from Marvel that gives some hints of what we can expect in Black Spire. The comics, by writer Ethan Sacks and artist Will Sliney, follow the shady adventures of Remex, Kendoh and Wooro, three outlaws trying to keep a low profile in the First Order-occupied outpost. Not so low, though, that they’re not prepared to pull a heist. Their target: the hammer-headed Ithorian Dok-Ondar who runs the Den of Antiquities, a collection of rare objects and beasties such as baby sarlaccs.

Han Solo and Chewbacca snag the babies in a first issue flashback. While it’s always nice to see the pair of smugglers doing what they do most (smuggling and getting out of tough scrapes), sarlaccs are best left underground and don’t come across as very threatening in their infancy. They’re actually kind of cute if you’re into teeth and tentacles.

The end of the first issue of Galaxy’s Edge hides the identity of a rare and precious object… until you turn the page and a house ad reveals that it’s a lightsaber! Might want to rethink those commercials, Marvel, and the plot too – since there’s a lightsaber shop just down the street from the Den. Not so rare after all, although this saber is a relic that once belonged to Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi from the prequels.

The second issue, “Shoot First, Questions Later,” is better written – the narrative is faster, more intense as Star Wars creator George Lucas would say – framing two flashbacks this time. The main one focuses on Rodian bounty hunter Greedo who comes across as a bit of a loser, sent by Jabba the Hutt on a past mission to kidnap a codebreaker. Poor Greedo’s plans never go quite right although at the end of this tale Jabba gives him another chance… “a simple bounty.”

The flashbacks are fun but the deficit of this format is that the main story doesn’t progress very far and we don’t get to know the outlaws very well. The glimpses we get of the planet of Batuu betray its real-world influences – Tunisia, Jordan, Istanbul, wrapped in a morass of Arabian marketplaces and sand-seared hardware. The LA Times describes it as, “the mouse-ears version of the Persian Gulf” and it comes complete with an invasive superpower.

Beyond setting the microcosmic mise-en-scene, the comics don’t give a lot away about the new park. The Den of Antiquities is a major setting in the story so far and it’s an attraction in Anaheim and Orlando. In the marketplace backgrounds, attractively and authentically drawn by Sliney, there’s an emphasis on variety. How cool will it be to have Rebels, Stormtroopers and aliens like Dok-Ondar wandering around in real life? Very.

With its connections to the movies we love, particularly the characters and post-The Last Jedi setting, Batuu looks like an exciting melting pot of a place to visit. As a hint at adventures to come and a souvenir of the park, Galaxy’s Edge is worth the read (and the ride).

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.

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.

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.

Monday, 17 December 2018

All-star cast for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

Netflix has released new images and announced an all-star cast from film and television for the streaming service's upcoming Dark Crystal prequel. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.

In a statement, Netflix said: "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance tells a new epic story, set many years before the events of the movie, and realized using classic puppetry with cutting-edge visual effects. The world of Thra is dying. The Crystal of Truth is at the heart of Thra, a source of untold power. But it is damaged, corrupted by the evil Skeksis, and a sickness spreads across the land. When three Gelfling uncover the horrific truth behind the power of the Skeksis, an adventure unfolds as the fires of rebellion are lit and an epic battle for the planet begins."

The all-star cast includes Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Helen Bonham-Carter (The King's Speech) and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina).

Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company and daughter of Jim Henson, said in a statement, "It is thrilling to see this assembled team of artists, puppeteers and now voice actors, many inspired by my father's original film, work together to realize this unique world – through performance and craft – at a scale that is rarely seen today."

Friday, 19 October 2018

Luke Skywalker will appear in Star Wars: Episode IX

Most Star Wars fans (myself included) will have assumed Mark Hamill would reprise the role of Luke Skywalker in Episode IX.

Luke Skywalker may have died in The Last Jedi but he can follow in the hallowed footsteps of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi by becoming a Force ghost to guide Rey (Daisy Ridley) or Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to their ultimate fate.

Hamill took to Twitter to reaffirm that he'd be appearing in director JJ Abrams' sequel and wouldn't be answering any questions. Because spoilers.

Carrie Fisher, who sadly passed away in 2016, will also be seen as General Leia in the upcoming Star Wars movie. In Abrams I trust.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Star Wars 'bittersweet' without Carrie Fisher

Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) took to Twitter in the wake of casting news for Star Wars: Episode IX. Unused footage of the late Carrie Fisher (General Leia), taken from The Force Awakens, will be used in director JJ Abrams' final sequel.

"In loving memory of our princess Carrie Fisher.

"It's bittersweet facing my final chapter without her - she is simply irreplaceable.

"I'm finding solace in the fact that she won't BE replaced and would love the worldwide outpouring of affection from those who loved her when they heard the news.


Star Wars: Episode IX begins filming on Wednesday at Pinewood Studios and will include returning cast members Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and Lupita Nyong'o among others.

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...

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.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Daisy Ridley talks Star Wars on Good Morning America

The Star Wars: The Last Jedi press tour is well underway ahead of the movie's release in December.

Daisy Ridley told ABC News' Good Morning America (GMA), owned by Disney, that she was surprised by The Last Jedi, which she saw a few weeks ago. The Star Wars actor also divulged her dad is a Star Trek fan and that she hates watching herself, which is not uncommon for actors.

“I think I’m more proficient with a lightsaber,” she said, teasing what fans have already seen in The Last Jedi trailers and TV Spots.

“I never really trained before the first one and the second one I was training for like [a] year. So I had more stamina and I felt really strong,” she explained.

Ridley said “it was wonderful” shooting with Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker.

“It was wonderful because obviously I was very lucky to be able to work with Harrison [Ford] and Carrie [Fisher] and when I worked with Mark the first time — we sort of had time, we went for dinner with his family and then we had time for rehearsals and we’re shooting with him a lot which was really amazing,” she said.

Ridley said she screened the film last week and while she doesn’t enjoy watching herself, she admitted: “I was more surprised with this one, because there’s like — there’s a few story lines that [are] sort of coming together and connecting.”

“Rey is trying to find out about herself and about the universe and those questions don’t entirely fall to the good nor do they fall entirely to the bad,” Ridley said. “She’s trying to do her own personal growth.”

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