Celebration in London

Star Wars Celebration in LondonFor the Star Wars fan, no event is more exciting than a Star Wars celebration. Maybe a new movie is more exciting, but the Star Wars Celebration in London is a close second. In fact, “Jedi Master VIP” tickets for the event sold out in minutes. The celebration is July 15-17 at the ExCel London Exhibition and Convention Center.

A Star Wars Celebration

Last year the celebration focused mainly on the upcoming The Force Awakens; this year the theme is Rogue One. Last year we got a Force Awakens trailer on the first day, so hopefully we can expect a new trailer for Rogue One. Last year also had the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront video game and the second season of Star Wars Rebels.

We can also expect classic convention events such as a cosplay contest (with extensive rules), and a pin trading program. A tattoo pavilion, movie screenings, and art show, and a special exhibit providing a sneak peak at costumes and props that will be featured in Rogue One. There will even be panels on the fine art of Star Wars collecting, featuring super-collector Gus Lopez! We know you’re excited.

Famous guests include stage hosts Warwick Davis (who played the Ewok Wicket), David Collins, who provided numerous voices for The Force Awakens. Guests available for panels and autographs include Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Jeremy Bulloch. Rogue One director Gareth Edwards, as well as Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and others will also be present.

It’s a lot of news from London. No matter your Star Wars taste, there will be plenty to do. With the recent news Darth Vader will be seen in Rogue One, waiting until December 16th will be difficult. Thanks for reading, come back next week for more fun fan Star Wars information!

Reshoots for Rogue One

Rogue One's reshootsExecutive meddling is normally seen as a bad thing. What suit-wearing executive can understand the artistic vision of a director, a writer, or even a video game producer? So, you may ask, is Disney’s recent demand of extension reshoots for Rogue One bad? Star Mads Mikkelsen says not really.

Mikkelsen, a veteran of dozens of movies as well as experienced in television, says reshoots are no big deal. “Basically, all the big films I have done always have reshoots, it is part of their budget. They’re either not super happy with a scene bit, the way we were acting, or maybe there’s something they want to add. It’s not a new thing, it happens with every film. Whether it’s bigger or less, I have no idea, I have nothing to compare with. It’s the same film, it’s just adding little bits here and there to do the final polishing. That’s my feeling.”

In fact, for many films (including this one) reshoots are scheduled before shooting even begins—people are on a tight schedule when filming, especially for something as scrutinized as Rogue One. However, reshoots did have to be pushed back to allow Edwards and his team to determine what to change, which brings us to the worst news: apparently, Disney was not pleased with the film. Edwards plans to add small scenes for character development: talking in cockpits or walking down hallways. Thankfully, no expensive battle scenes need redoing.

Director Gareth Edwards previously revealed he was leaving the Godzilla sequel to focus on Rogue One. “Coming off The Force Awakens, there’s an incredibly high bar for this movie and we have a responsibility to the franchise and to the fans to deliver the best possible movie we can.” The picture is to be locked (meaning all the filming is done) by mid-August, with scoring beginning in September. The film is on an earlier timeline than The Force Awakens, which also went through summer reshoots and locked in October.

Here’s hoping the film finishes and astounds us. Thanks for reading! Come back next week for more fun fan information!

Hux Character Corner

General HuxKylo Ren leads the charge against the Resistance and Jedi in The Force Awakens, but there is another enemy alongside him. General Hux, played by Domhnall Gleeson, is a single-minded and driven leader of the First Order. His is also, perhaps, an even more dangerous figure.

Born about five years before the climactic battle of Endor between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, Hux (no first name known as of yet) was born to Brendol Hux, a Commandant for the Imperial Academy on Arkanis. While growing up, young Hux continually imagined himself as ruling the galaxy, and thought it was his destiny. After the Empire signed a treaty and surrendered, Hux grew up hearing of daring Imperial agents and incredible military victories against the Rebels, and grew up thinking the New Republic was weak and inferior, leading him, ex-imperial officers, and other sympathizers, to flee to unknown regions of the galaxy and begin a junta. Using powerful technology he rose to become a general. He utilized an idea of his father to create intensely loyal soldiers using mental simulations (this is why Finn’s betrayal in The Force Awakens raises so many eyebrows).

Answering only to Supreme Leader Snoke, Hux became the Commander of Starkiller Base, the First Order’s primary base of operations. He, along with Sith Lord Kylo Ren, led the hunt for the last Jedi Luke Skywalker, whom Snoke deemed an enemy of the Order. This leads to the events of The Force Awakens, in which Hux fires the Starkiller on the Hosnian system, destroying the Republic capital and senate. Just before destroying the Resistance’s home planet a Resistance attack downs the Starkiller’s destructive power, leading to a collapse of the planet. Hux barely escapes, taking the humiliated Kylo Ren with him to harry the Jedi in the next movie.

Background

Hux's speech
General Hux’s speech to the First Order

Created for the 2015 The Force Awakens, Gleeson’s character was described as an obsessive character who didn’t get a lot of sleep, and was dedicated to gaining and retaining power at all costs. His appearance—pale, dark eyes—was created with this description in mind. Gleeson stated Hux “would just like a little bit more order in the universe,” and would do whatever it takes for that end.

Hux’s father, Brendol, actually appears in the young reader’s book Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy, who’s ambition is to create an army of loyal soldiers trained from infancy. The connection was made while The Force Awakens was still in development. The idea in the story was then used as General Hux seeing his father’s idea brought to fruition.

Thanks for reading! Come back next week for more fun fan Star Wars information!

Han Solo Anthology Movie

Han Solo AnthologyScheduled to release on May 25th, 2018, the second of the Star Wars anthology is going to feature Han Solo and Chewbacca before the events of A New Hope. After a long search, Alden Ehrenreich was chosen to play the young smuggler, and the film will be co-directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord. The film has been described as an “origin story” for the two characters as we watch Han Solo become the cynical and confident smuggler, thief, and scoundrel first seen in the original Star Wars movie.

Most well-known for his part in the 2016 movie Hail, Caesar!, Alden Ehrenreich began acting in 2008 after meeting Steven Spielberg at a bat mitzvah. His break into films was his starring role of Ethan Wate in the film adaption of the novel Beautiful Creatures, followed by a part in Park Chan-wook’s film Stoker. His co-leading role in Hail, Caesar! helped garner him critical praise. Before we see him in the Han Solo film, he will also appear in Rules Don’t Apply on November 11th of 2016, and The Yellow Birds on an unannounced 2017 date.

The two-man directing, writing, and producing team of Christopher Miller and Phil Lord are known for directing and writing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie, as well as 21 Jump Street and its sequel. They also directed and produced the pilot for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and two episodes for The Last Man on Earth.

Alden Ehrenreich
Alden Ehrenreich

Lawrence Kasdan is well-known to Star Wars fans, having co-written The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark. His son Jon, who wrote and directed The First Time, will also be a writer. Producer Kathleen Kennedy says she “can’t wait to discover what’s in store from these two extraordinary teams of directors and writers.”

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check in next week for more fun Star Wars fan information!

Tusken Raiders

Tusken RaidersIn the past, we’ve taken a look at some of the civilizations the Star Wars universe, such as the fierce Mandalorians and the scavenging Jawas. This week, we take a look at another facet of life on Tatooine: the Tusken Raiders.

Native to the harsh deserts and blinding wind of Tatooine, the Tusken Raiders, also known as Sand People, became harshly territorial and xenophobic, ready and willing to attack anything and everything they come across. Further, Tusken Raiders believed all water was sacred and promised to them, resulting in fury whenever they find anyone else in possession (such as a moisture farm). Groups, known as clans, consisted of around twenty to thirty individuals, led by tribal chiefs or warlords.

At the age of fifteen a Tusken Raider becomes an adult, and must slay a krayt dragon, dangerous reptilian creatures living on Tatooine, and retrieve the natural pearl from its stomach. Living in encampments in the rocky area known as Jundland Wastes known as The Needles, clans are normally guarded by vicious doglike creatures called massiffs. Male Tusken Raiders acted primarily as warriors, wearing rough cloths to both protect themselves from the natural Tatooine landscape and allowe ease of movement, wielding gaderffii sticks in close-quarters combat and using rifles called Tusken Cyclers for vehicles or long range. Every Tusken Raider warrior has their own unique gaderffii stick.

Female Tusken Raiders are distinguished by their elaborate jeweled masks and torso-covering sand shrouds. The children wore simple cowls and cloaks, and were not allowed to dress in specifically male or female dress until reaching fifteen. All Sand People, regardless of age or sex, wear mouth grilles and eye glasses to keep sand out and conserve water. Tusken Raiders are forbidden to remove clothing except during childbirth, wedding nights, and coming-of-age ceremonies.

At age fifteen every Tusken Raider is given a bantha of matching gender, with which they share a close and tied relationship. When Tusken Raiders marry, their banthas also mate, and when the rider dies the bantha is also usually quick to perish. The large bantha graveyard is treated with great respect by all Tusken Raiders.

Behind the Scenes:

Initially appearing in the second draft of A New Hope as a type of Imperial spy, Tusken Raiders had red eyes and drove distinctive speeders. They became a native of Tatooine in the next draft. Though Tusken Raiders sound much like sea lions, their piercing cries were actually made from donkey brays by sound designer Ben Burtt

Thanks for reading! Come back next week for more fun fan information!

Lor San Tekka Character Corner

Max von Sydow as Lor San TekkaOne of the first characters you see in the Force Awakens is Lor San Tekka, played by legendary actor Max von Sydow. If, like us, you couldn’t concentrate on his conversation with Poe Dameron because you were trying to figure out who he was, then this is the post for you. Here we’re going to learn all about this short-lived character—together.

Born in the waning years of the Galactic Republic, Lor San Tekka came to have high regard for the Jedi order, though he had no ability as a Jedi himself. After the destruction of the Jedi by the Empire, Tekka became a member of the Church of the Force, an underground faith who believed in the Jedi ideals but were not force-sensitive themselves. Tekka personally uncovered a great deal of history about the Jedi despite the Empire’s attempt to hide it.

An avid and experienced explorer, after the Empire’s defeat at Endor, Tekka appeared to the fledgling New Republic to provide information regarding worlds around the galaxy. A close ally to Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, Tekka helped Luke recover more Jedi lore the Empire had tried to destroy. He also became close to Ben Solo, who would later betray Luke and destroy the growing Jedi. Skywalker would go into exile. Years later, Lor San Tekka found a partial map to Skywalker’s location. After this, Tekka lived with the Crèche, and gained their trust; eventually they would refer to him as “the explorer.”

Entering his retirement on the planet Jakku, General Organa and the First Order both learned Tekka had the map to lead them to Skywalker. Poe Dameron reached him first, beginning the events of The Force Awakens.

A seasoned explorer, Tekka knew knowledge and wisdom from across the galaxy, specializing in hidden lore of the Jedi. Unable to stand by as darkness took over the galaxy, Tekka was instrumental in introducing Finn and Rey to the Resistance, and eventually destroying Starkiller base. Created for episode VII, Tekka is the first character created for the Church of the Force organization, which was originally dreamed up by George Lucas for the Star Wars live action TV series, which was shelved after Lucasarts was sold to Disney.

Thanks for reading about Lor San Tekka! Be sure to come back next week for more fun fan information!

 

May Fourth: The Ultimate Party

Will the Modal Nodes help you celebrate May Fourth?
Will the Modal Nodes help you celebrate May Fourth?

Happy May Fourth! In the past, we’ve shown you a few ways to make your Star Wars gathering really cool–including special treats and off-the-wall activities. These ideas, thought certainly not wastes, lack an out-of-this world quality. They’re stuck on Earth, away from the amazing vistas and stars that make up half of the Star Wars name. How would the greatest May Fourth party look?

Would it take place surrounded by the crystal spires of Coruscant? Perhaps you would have to decorate the stark military walls of the Death Star, or start the barbecues on Endor’s Moon. There are tons of venues to choose from! As an example, let’s pick the awards ceremony at the end of A New Hope, but instead of soldiers and pilots standing in crisp rows, it’s the entire rebellion getting down.

What’s to eat? The Star Wars movies don’t tend to focus on food, in fact a lot of the most unnecessary scenes from the prequels are during meals (Jar-Jar snapping up food with his tongue, or Anakin floating a slice of pear to Padmé, for instance). So what’s to keep you from choosing all of your favorite foods, real or fake? Pizzas, fried slices of the sentient denizens of the Burger planet, and one of those soda fountains where you can mix the flavors—the choice is yours.

Classic musicians of the Star Wars universe like Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, or the Max Rebo Band may appear, or you can drop in one of your favorite artists to play. Suggestions like Daft Punk, David Bowie, or a house version of Also Sprach Zarathustra for extra points, and for the ultimate meta get John Williams to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra.

How would your ultimate May Fourth Star Wars party go? Leave a note, and be sure to come back next week for more fun fan information! Thanks for reading!

Choose: Who Would You Rather?

Choose one or the otherDuring our lives we are presented with many choices. What do you do with your free time? Do you go to a party, or don’t you? Do you wear your parka and snowshoe combo, or your chinos and tie-dye? Today, we’re going to ask you to choose between one of two characters in a number of situations—both have their pros and cons. Who will you choose?

Who would you rather make dinner?

You’re heading to a friend’s house for a fun meal. One of the characters will be manning the kitchen, but which one: Han Solo or Finn?

Han Solo’s been on his own a long time. Doubtless, he’s learned a few tricks about taking the bare minimum and making something tasty out of it. It may not be haute cuisine, but it’ll taste good and stick to your ribs, and taste good with an after-dinner brew. Finn wants to do the best possible, and won’t stop until he’s either produced an incredible three-course dinner, or has burned the house down.

Who would you rather watch give standup comedy?

You’re getting your local laughs at the Mos Eisley Cantina. A Star Wars character gets on stage. Who would you rather see grab the mic: Anakin Skywalker (circa Clone Wars), or Chewbacca?

Chewbacca is a master of the physical form. Impressions, pratfalls, exaggerated motions, Chewbacca can do it all. On the other hand, he can’t exactly speak English. His well-timed gags and wordplay threaten to sail over your head. Anakin, on the other hand, can speak English, but his comedic timing is, shall we say, lacking.

Who would you rather take to a party?

And now the question most fraught with worry: you’re going to a fun party at Brett’s house, but you can only bring one friend. Do you bring Darth Sidious or Jar-Jar Binks?

Darth Sidious has charisma. He draws people around him. He inspires confidence and trust. However, there is the whole electrifying people with the caustic power of the dark side of the force thing. Jar-Jar, on the other hand, is a bumbling, gleefully hateable creature, destined to be forgotten in the corner an hour in, but at least he knows how to tell a joke. He also won’t burn anybody with the power of the dark side.

Who will you choose? Let us know in a comment. Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back next week for more fun fan information!

Cast Member Update – Prequel and Original Series

The original Star Wars castEpisode VII was a blast—nobody without a tinfoil hat can deny it. It had classic characters like Han, Chewie, and Leia, as well as a fresh collection of new faces to put on our kids’ bedsheets. But Star Wars is a big place, and there are plenty of past cast members who have been left out of the latest installment.

Not for bad reasons, necessarily! Obviously Hayden Christiansen isn’t going to pop up, since his character is long gone. Billy Dee Williams will hopefully show up in one of the future installments, but has yet to be spotted. So, what are these guys and gals from the original cast and prequel trilogy up to?

Ewan McGregor had a short voice cameo in Episode VII, apparently because he’s been in all the other movies. I Love You Phillip Morris, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Ghost Writer, and even Trainspotting 2 (out in 2017) are just a drip of his acting roles since Episode III wrapped, not to mention the numerous documentaries he’s appeared in. His castmate Hayden hasn’t been as active, appearing in only eleven movies since the Revenge of the Sith. The earlier Anakin, Jake Lloyd, has retired from acting after being teased for his portrayal in Episode I.

Natalie Portman’s career has only grown. Since Episode III, she’s stared in popular films such as V for Vendetta, Black Swan, Thor, and more. Her pregnancy and personal life have led her to a slower schedule, staring in zero movies released in both 2012 and 2014. The actress who played Shmi Skywalker, Pernilla August, has mostly acted in a number of (Swedish) films and television shows, but has also directed a few.

Billy Dee Williams, since 1983, has appeared in over thirty movies, including Tim Burton’s Batman, Undercover Brother, and The Lego Movie, as well as dozens of rolls in TV movies, television shows, internet shorts, and video games (mostly Star Wars, save Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars).

There are plenty of other actors and actresses to discuss, but this post would go on forever if we did. Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back next week for more fun fan information!

Kylo Ren Character Corner

Kylo RenOut of the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens, the tortured villain Kylo Ren is one of the most exciting. Today we’ll lay out what we know about this Darth-Vader loving character—his life may be mostly mystery, but there are some things we know.

Kylo Ren was born Ben Solo, son of Leia Organa Solo and Han Solo, leaders and heroes of the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Han and Leia had a difficult relationship, as their personalities clashed: Han, a smuggler, felt strange staying in one place, and Leia became a senator in the new government. Feeling his parents had abandoned him, an individual name Snoke recognized Ben’s potential. Snoke saw Ben as a focal point, and attempted to sway him to the dark side. Leia discovered Snoke’s plan, and sent Ben to train with his Uncle Luke Skywalker.

Though the details are not known, Ben eventually betrayed his uncle, leaving the new Jedi temple in ashes. He began training until Supreme Leader Snoke and become one of the knights of Ren, taking the name Kylo Ren and putting his old life behind him. Wearing armor and a mask and known as “Jedi Killer” in the First Order, Kylo Ren idolized Darth Vader and kept his burned helmet at a shrine, believing, as Snoke did, Darth vader was who Anakin Skywalker truly was.

Kylo Ren built his own lightsaber, using an ancient and crude design. Using a cracked kyber crystal, which could barely withstand the power the weapon generated. As a result, the weapon needed dual vents on either side, as well as making the blade possess an unstable and flickering appearance. Kylo Ren, as Snoke’s apprentice, had the capacity to command military forces, though technically existed outside the military hierarchy. This caused no small amount of tension in the First Order, though it was based off of the agreement between Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.

Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren both know if Skywalker were to reappear, it would be dangerous for the First Order. He commences his search for his old master, leading to the events of Episode VII.

The embodiment of conflict, Kylo Ren’s legacy was some of the most powerful Jedi in decades. He loved the power the Dark Side brought him, and feared the Light Side. He knew he had to avoid Vader’s sentimentality, though his inner conflicts continued, as we can see in The Force Awakens. He combined Jedi techniques with Sith lore, resulting in a contradictory warrior who was often angry, and used his temper as a weapon. Kylo Ren may have been conflicted, but had no fear in battle, and was very sure of his abilities.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren

Behind the scenes, Kylo Ren shares similar aspects with Jacen Solo, the son of Han and Leia from the Expanded Universe, and has a similar name to Kybo Ren, a space pirate from the animated series Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO. Actor Adam Driver was able to better feel the character’s anger because of the time and effort required to get into costume, described as a “cumbersome and difficult” process. An early version of Kylo Ren’s design was used in The Force Awakens for the Guavian Death Gang, one of the criminals Han meets during the movie.

Thanks for reading! Come back next week for more fun fan information!