Our Star Wars News Roundup

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First up, I need to apologise for the haphazard (and almost total lack of) posting this year.  As strange as it may seem to some, Carrie Fisher’s passing hit me like a tonne of bricks… that was followed by another tonne, and another tonne, and another tonne.

For any women reading this, here’s an insight into the male mind: we don’t always cope well with loss.  So much so, we tend to avoid anything that reminds us of the person we cared for who has passed on.  We also do that with the jobs we leave and pretty much any other extreme emotional upset!

Sadly, I’ve done that with every significant loss in my life, and it wasn’t until last year that I discovered (via friends) that a lot of other men respond in a similar way.  Further investigation showed me it’s not a rare phenomenon.  A lot of men will retreat into a strange, brooding place because we’re not as emotionally resilient as we’d like to be.

I’m not saying all men do this.  I’m sure there are millions of well-adjusted ones out there, but I’m not one of them.

And so, writing about Star Wars, something I love, became difficult because Carrie Fisher was my entry into the saga, and Princess Leia, despite being female, was the character I identified with.

So, be patient with me.  I’m trying to get back on the horse.

Speaking of Carrie, her public Memorial Service was held today in Los Angeles at the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood hills.

According to Carrie’s brother, Todd, Carrie wanted a public memorial because her fans meant the world to her.

News of the memorial popped up here in Australia earlier this morning.  Australia has long had a love affair with Carrie.  She spent a great deal of time here over the years, and even shot Time Guardians down-under back in the ’80s.  I followed Australia and Carrie’s romantic flirtation throughout my childhood and teenage years, and am sometimes surprised (and really pleased) it’s endured as long as it has.

For more information on the memorial, click the following links:

Visit news.com.au here and the Los Angeles Times here.

As always, we send our love to Carrie’s brother Todd Fisher, her daughter Billie Lourd, and Carrie’s beloved animal companion, Gary.

And, still on our beloved Princess/General Leia, news broke in the middle of this week from Lucasfilm, telling us that Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, has not been changed or re-edited because of Carrie’s passing.

Oh yeah… and in case you’ve been living in a Detention Block somewhere, with Stormtroopers refusing to give you the Death Star’s wifi password, the eighth Star Wars film got its name a few weeks ago: The Last Jedi.  Boy, did that cause an internet meltdown – a few thousand fans trying to divine the meaning of the words “Last” and “Jedi”.  If you want to read about that meltdown, just Google “fan reaction to Last Jedi announcement” and read and be amused.

For more information on the announcement from Lucasfilm about Episode VIII and Carrie’s role in it, visit Syfy Wire (formerly Blastr) here.

In other Star Wars news, we’ve been told that there are plans to keep the films coming after Episode IX sends the Skywalker saga out with a (hopefully fitting) bow.

No one is being overly forthcoming with what that means, but they’re cooking something up that will keep us returning to that galaxy far, far away, for years to come.

In that same announcement, there’s a little news on the new Han Solo film.

For more information, visit StarWarsNewsNet here.

That’s most of the big stuff going on right now.  There are some interesting things taking place in Star Wars: Rebels as they draw closer to the events depicted in Rogue One and A New Hope, and there have been multiple announcements about the upcoming Han Solo movie.  Also, a lot of information has been revealed about the alternate endings to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but that’s pretty much everything.

To read about those and more, I encourage you to head back to StarWarsNewsNet here and scroll through their amazing collection of stories.

Until next time, may the Force be with you.

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Rogue One: A Review

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There is no doubt that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is an unqualified success.  The movie has grossed over one billion dollars in worldwide cinema ticket sales and has proved immensely popular with Star Wars fans and new fans alike.

I had the chance to watch the film a little while ago with my 15 year old nephew – which added a whole new dimension to my viewing experience.

He likes Star Wars, but, unlike his Uncle, has never been a die-hard fan.

Before going any further, despite the fact I’m pretty sure everyone who wants to see Rogue One has already seen it, I need to say…

Spoiler Alert

What did I think of the film?

I’m probably going to get slammed for this… but while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it.  I didn’t hate it, I just left the cinema feeling depressed.

Those feelings would have really affected me, or at the very least interfered with my entire memory of the film, had the movie not ended with Princess Leia’s appearance and her all too brief message of hope.

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Maybe it was because I was still trying to process Carrie Fisher’s passing (which affected me deeply and, to be honest, is still affecting me), but Leia’s appearance in the film softened the ending which was just a handful of scenes that were filled with death after death after death of characters we’d started to become attached too.

My nephew?  He didn’t enjoy it.  He didn’t hate it, he found it confusing.  To put that in context, he loved The Force Awakens, is a fan of the Prequel Trilogy (he was a child when they came out), and enjoys the Original Trilogy.  He loves war movies and thrillers and horror films and going to the cinema in general.

Rogue One?  He didn’t get sucked into the story.

When I pressed him for more information, he mentioned all the different bad guys – Stormtroopers, Shoretroopers, Hover Tank Troopers, Death Troopers… he didn’t know the names of them, he just wanted to know why there were so many different troopers when compared with the other films.  He also felt like the movie was rushed and that parts of it didn’t need to happen.

I definitely agreed with him on the Stormtrooper comments.  In the Original Trilogy we did see different Stormtroopers across the three films, but they were added in one per film and somehow it made sense to the overall narrative.  But Rogue One?  No.  It felt like an exercise in selling merchandise or prepping for a new game.

That might be an unfair comment, because it doesn’t seem to have been an issue for anyone but my nephew and I, but to me we didn’t need them.  My nephews other comments about parts of the film feeling rushed and unnecessary?

He thought that everyone dying was a waste of two and a half hours.  Why invest?  Flow wise, he thought everything was convenient and happened too quickly and too neatly

I didn’t disagree.  At times the pacing was off and the narrative felt contrived.  It lacked the “band comes together” naturally feel that we had with Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The band came together in Rogue One, yes, but in a way that didn’t feel organic.

Galen Erso’s story felt rushed, and his brief appearances and too quick death robbed the story of a lot of its emotional weight.  It felt like it should have been his and his daughter’s story in a much more involved and intimate way.

Mon Mothma’s appearance was also disappointingly rushed.  This movie raised some important questions about the Rebellion and the way it conducted its business, and there felt like there were some pretty great opportunities for Mon Mothma and Bail Organa (who also makes a too brief appearance) to discuss that and agonise over it a bit.  It would have been exciting to see these two juggernauts go head to head over the methods being utilised.  If a film is going to dump a load of Bantha poodoo over an entity and institution that means so much to so many old school fans, that deserves some exploration.

Jyn’s conversion… almost convincing, but a little rushed and mostly because Galen’s story is thin.

Saw Gerrera… wasted opportunity.  This was a real opportunity to link Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the entire Prequel Trilogy in a substantial way.

Chirrut Imwe… another wasted opportunity.  Chirrut was arguably the most fascinating character to come out of Rogue One.

Krennic… awesome, but also wasted.  It felt like so much more could have been done with that fascinating character.  He was one of the best new bad guys Star Wars has ever produced – slimy, selfish, manipulative, cowardly, obnoxious!  He was wonderful.  He broke the mould of other Star Wars Imperials and Ben Mendelsohn deserves an award for his excellent performance.

Watching him and Galen go at it could have created some intense and meaningful drama.

The unnecessary comment?

For me, that was the death side of things.  Not the Death Star, but the fact everyone pretty much dies at the end of the film.

I’ve read so many arguments about it, with a lot of people saying it had to happen because we don’t see or hear from these guys again – but I disagree.  One of the things the Prequel Trilogy did so well was show us how expansive and vast the Star Wars universe is.  There would have been hundreds of conflicts against the Empire throughout the explored galaxy – many of which could have been led by, or in some way involved, Jyn and Cassian and many of the others.

A few of the main characters dying, yep… I’ll go with that.  It’s a war movie.  War should never be glorified and if we can teach our children one thing via entertainment, it is that war is horrible… but all of the characters being wiped out?  Just unnecessarily depressing.

Star Wars definitely has its dark moments – the death of Padme standing out as one of the darkest, but this felt – to me – unnecessary and a complete waste of what were becoming compelling characters.

The next day I checked in with two scifi loving work colleagues who also saw the movie that weekend.  Their first words?  Both of them said: “Oh… I found it depressing.”

Honestly, if Leia hadn’t have made a cameo the film would have been obnoxiously dark.

 

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The movie is definitely worth seeing.  It is good, it does honour Star Wars and it does do that universe justice.  The director did an incredible job, and he took some brave risks – many of which work.  For me, character is everything and when all of the characters die, it changes my emotional relationship with the movie.

Definitely go see it and buy it on DVD and BluRay, just know that my review is mitigated by what I felt was an unnecessary culling of characters.

I’m going to give the movie three out of five Death Stars.

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Best bits:
– Outstanding special effects;
– Brilliant performances;
– Great music score;
– The appearance of Leia, Bail Organa, Grand Moff Tarkin and Mon Mothma;
– It did feel like Star Wars, despite the odd jarring directing and editing moment and the revelation the Rebellion wasn’t as pure as us older fans probably would have liked.

Worst bits:
– Uneven in places;
– A story that felt rushed;
– An unnecessary amount of Stormtroopers!
– Too little time spent on certain characters;
– Everyone dies.

The last thing I’ll talk about is the CGI Tarkin and Leia.  There are moments when you first see Tarkin that shake you, because it’s obviously CGI – and then it’s seamless.  It’s the same with Leia.  At first, it’s as if 1977 Carrie has been transported forward in time – then it’s obviously CGI, and then it’s convincing again.

The Tarkin CGI in particular is phenomenal.  He’s on screen so often, and the work the effects team did is remarkable.  Just as remarkable is the actor’s voice work.  Guy Henry sounds just like Peter Cushing.

If you are one of the few people who haven’t seen the film yet, don’t let the rubbish around the CGI scare you off.  It really is masterful.  Yes, there are a couple of slips but they are momentary.

The Anthology series is a brave step forward in Star Wars story telling, and despite my disappointment over a few things it’s a movie we as fans can be proud of.

Now, I can’t wait for Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was directed by Gareth Edwards and was produced by Kathleen Kennedy.  The screenplay was by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta.  It starred Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker.  The music was by Michael Giacchino with the original theme, of course, by John Williams.

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Our Forever Princess

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2016 has been a remarkably cruel year.  A lot of people have suffered in one way or another, and many of them in ways they could never have imagined.  In my day job I’m a Counsellor, and from my experiences of interacting with hundreds of people this year while they’re at their most fragile, and from simply being someone on social media seeing what people post, I’ve seen what I’d call a remarkable upswing in personal sadness and tragedy.

On top of all the personal trials and tribulations so many of us have endured, 2016 has taken from us some incredibly bright lights.  Most recently, Carrie Fisher.

2016 saw the passing of 46 celebrities to date, names that have defined the entertainment world and many of our lives.  Among them, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Jon English, Garry Shandling, Ronnie Corbett, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Anton Yelchin, Kenny Baker, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, Leonard Cohen, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael and too many more.

For those of us who literally grew up with Star Wars, playing with the action figures as children in the late 70s and early 80s, reading the comics, collecting the books and cutting out newspaper and magazine articles for our scrapbooks, Carrie Fisher’s death is a devastating and surreal blow.

Only yesterday I was posting on this blog that Carrie was doing better, and now today I’m sitting at my computer with my dog at my feet, writing about the death of my all time favourite actor – and wondering how her beloved companion, Gary, will cope.  For those of you who aren’t dog people, our furry friends don’t do well with change and they definitely don’t cope well with losing people.

When I first saw a Star Wars film, it was Empire Strikes Back.  I was nine.  I saw a new hope after Episode V, so my introduction to Star Wars was a little skew whiff.  Because I was raised by a single mother (an incredibly strong woman who had to fight every day for us just to eat) it was the character of Princess Leia Organa that spoke to me.  Not Han Solo, not Luke Skywalker, not Boba Fett (which was a thing back then).  I was swept away by Leia.  Princess Leia was it for me.  She was a character whose strength helped get me through some very rough times.

It might sound strange for a man to say that the character he most identified with in Star Wars was a female character, but to me she was stronger than the men, more resilient and more gutsy.  Han was cocky and actually reminded me of a few of the bullies I had to contend with, and Luke never became a favourite of mine until much later in my life.  Leia was headstrong, confident, hilariously mouthy and unapologetically bold.  As a child I used to think that if I could be half as plucky as her, I’d be okay in life.

As I matured, Leia remained my favourite, but my attention turned to the actor behind the character.

Carrie Fisher was many things.  Most importantly to me, she was someone who endeavoured to live life.  She made a multitude of mistakes and some of them were quite public, but she faced up to them and in doing so changed the world for a lot of people.

Yes, she had a drug addiction, but rather than be victimised or defined by that, she used her fame and her formidable sense of humour to combat her addiction and help others find the courage to do so too.  We eventually learned that her addiction was a form of self-medication, because she had BiPolar Mood Disorder.  Rather than sink into self pity at her mental health condition, she used her celebrity to advocate for mental health reform and to bring awareness to mental health issues in general.  She joked about it, spoke frankly of her struggles, and tried her hardest to live her life.

She turned her experiences into a number of best selling books and gleefully “took the piss” out of herself on multiple occasions.  She faced life by facing her fears, and in doing so actually become fearless.

As a writer, an actor, a Counsellor, and someone with a mental health condition, she was an amazing gift to me – like I know she was to so many people.

Right now I’m just numb.  I opened up the news at a little after 6am here in Melbourne Australia, to see as the top headline the announcement Carrie was gone and burst into tears.  Her death affected me as badly as if it had been a member of my family, and I’m fighting a deep depression as I type this.  I’d had my Princess Leia action figures lined up on my bedside table since Carrie’s heart attack, using them as a focus for good thoughts, and I’d been so happy to hear she was improving yesterday.  The news she has passed is just too much.

The thing about having been a Counsellor since my early twenties is that whether I want to or not, I’m pretty much programmed to “process”.  It’s now 8:30am and I just want to get drunk, but the rational part of my mind is telling me it’s way too early to give into that demon and I need to work through it.

Hopefully my process might help you if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, like I am right now.

Carrie Fisher has passed, but Princess Leia Organa has not, and if the powers that be at Lucasfilm and Disney have a heart, they won’t kill her in Episode VIII or IX because Carrie isn’t able to reprise that role.  While that move worked for Spock in Star Trek Beyond as a way if acknowledging Leonard Nimoy’s passing, it won’t work in Star Wars.

Leia is still out there, kicking fascist ass and that’s empowering to me.  And Carrie?  Her bravery lives on even if she is no longer with us physically.  Her example is a good example, and her life was a life lived well.  Carrie Fisher accepted herself for who she was, warts and all, and though she battled with severe depression for most of her life she used humour and self reflection to stay afloat and to help others in similar situations stay afloat.  She didn’t have to bear her life warts and all for our entertainment.  She did it to de-stigmatise addiction and mental health, and as her own way of processing what she was experiencing.  Yes, she smoked like a chimney, at one time drank like a fish, struggled with her weight, and in her younger years snorted anything she could get her hands on, but those actions didn’t and don’t define her.  What does define her is the person she became and remained after her youthful missteps and her attempts at self-medication.

Carrie was courageous, beautiful, frighteningly intelligent, obnoxious, hilarious, dangerous, relentless, insightful, an unabashed and honest mess, ridiculous, inspirational, obscene, loving, compassionate, effervescent, confronting and powerful.

If each of us could live our lives half as audaciously, we’d probably be a lot happier.

I’ll take Carrie’s example with me, each day, as I confront my own demons and help other people confront theirs.

Thank you, Carrie Fisher, for changing my life and making my world a much brighter place because of your presence in it.

I send my deepest, heart felt condolences to Debbie Reynolds, Carrie’s mum.  To Todd Fisher, her brother, and most especially to Billie Lourd, her daughter, and Gary, her companion.  While my heart is breaking, I know each of yours is shattered.  I hope the love we’re all pouring out for your daughter can in some way help you guys get through this.

This might seem inappropriate, but I’m fairly certain Carrie would appreciate it.  Years ago Carrie gave an interview where she reflected on what she’d like people to say when she eventually passed.  It went like this:

“Remember the white dress I wore all through that film (Episode IV)?  George came up to me the first day of filming, took one look at the dress and said: ‘You can’t wear a bra under that dress.’

“‘Okay, I’ll bite,’ I said.  ‘Why?’  And he said: ‘Because… there’s no underwear in space.’

“He said it with such conviction.  Like he had been to space and looked around and he didn’t see any bras or panties anywhere.

“He explained.  ‘You go into space and you become weightless.  Then your body expands but your bra doesn’t, so you get strangled by your own underwear.’

“I think that this would make for a fantastic obituary.  I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

Rest in peace, Carrie.  You were a gift and I love you.

Carrie Fisher.  She died in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.

Though this powerful woman is no longer with us, her legacy lives on.  Long live Princess Leia.

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Carrie’s Condition Updated

It’s small, but it’s something.

A few hours ago, Debbie Reynolds, Carrie’s mother, posted a brief update on her Twitter:

Keep up the good thoughts, and keep sending the love.

Hopefully this kick-ass actor, advocate and writer will be out of hospital soon, hugging Gary, cracking jokes and getting ready to tackle Star Wars Episode IX.

#Maytheforcebewithher.

Carrie Fisher Hospitalised

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The woman who forged the way forward for strong female leads in science fiction, Carrie Fisher, is in an ICU in Los Angeles after suffering a serious heart attack on a flight from London to LA.

Carrie was rushed by paramedics to a hospital in LA after her flight landed in LAX around 12pm on Friday.

She was on United Airlines Flight 935 from London to Los Angeles when she collapsed.  Flight Attendants and passengers with medical qualifications cared for her, with one, an EMT, providing her with what sounds like it was almost constant CPR.

The airline is being understandably cagey with their responses, because it’s their duty to maintain Carrie’s privacy, but tweets from passengers on the flight give us some insight into what happened:

Anna Akana (@AnnaAkana):
“Don’t know how else to process this but Carrie Fisher stopped breathing on the flight home.  Hope she’s gonna be OK [sad face emoji]”
8:06AM – 24 Dec 2016

Brad Gage (@bradgage):
“I’m in complete shock.  @AnnaAkana and I sat in front of Carrie Fisher on our flight from London and she was just taken off the plane by EMTs”
8:03AM – 24 Dec 2016

Carrie had been in London on a book tour promoting The Princess Diarist, her latest in a long line of books.

According to Carrie’s brother, Todd Fisher, an earlier report that she was in a stable condition was “writing between the lines“, and that Carrie is still in ICU.  Todd says she is not in a stable condition.  “She’s in ICU and everybody’s praying for her,” was his report to Variety in a phone interview earlier today.  “There’s nothing new from the doctors.  There’s nothing new at all… there’s no good news or bad news.

Multiple news and Science Fiction sites are reporting on this story, and you can obtain updates from them.  Here are a few links:

io9/Gizmodo: click here,
Star Wars News Net: click here, and
ScienceFiction.com: click here.

While many of us know and love Carrie for her ground breaking performance as Princess Leia Organa, she is just as widely known for her advocacy work around mental health – in particular Bi-Polar Mood Disorder which she suffers from, and as an acclaimed novelist and respected script doctor.

Carrie’s first book, the semi-biographical Postcards from the Edge, blew me away when I first read it.  The novel was eventually made into a film starring Meryl Streep, and was followed by a number of other books culminating most recently in The Princess Diarist.

2016 has already been a very rough year for many of us.  One person on Twitter summed up what has happened best:

David (@RogueNoOne):
“Dear 2016, don’t you dare take Carrie Fisher”
10:00AM – 24 Dec 2016

William Shatner, Star Trek‘s Captain James T. Kirk, was one of the first well-wishers to jump on Twitter and send his regards.  Carrie and Bill have had a long running faux-feud on Twitter, often focusing on which series is best – Star Wars or Star Trek.  Bill tweeted:

William Shatner (@WilliamShatner):
“I ask everyone to stop for a moment and send special thoughts to @carriefisher.”
8:33AM – 24 Dec 2016

Carrie’s long time co-star and friend, Mark Hamill, also added his voice to the well-wishes:

Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself):
“as if 2016 couldn’t get any worse… sending all our love to @carriefisher”
9:41AM – 24 Dec 2016

Bette Midler and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) also sent their love:

Bette Midler (@BetteMidler):
“#CarrieFisher’s had a heart attack; hope and pray she recovers soon.  Quick witted, hilarious on paper and in person, and just plain beloved.”
10:32AM – 24 Dec 2016

Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieRoars):
“Thoughts and prayers for our friend and everyone’s favourite princess right now.. @carriefisher”
8:48AM – 24 Dec 2016

I join everyone with my well wishes.  Carrie has been an inspiration to me since I was a boy, and has remained one throughout my adult life.

Please get better soon, Carrie, and please leave the ICU ASAP, well on the road to recovery.  May there be no long term damage of any kind, and may you continue to bring joy into our lives for many years to come – and I really want to see you as General Organa in Episode IX!

If you’d like to add your voice to thousands of others and have a Twitter account, just search for @carriefisher.

Also send some love to her family, her daughter Billie Lourd, her mother Debbie Reynolds, and her brother Todd Fisher as they wait anxiously for good news.

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Rogue One Proves its Pedigree

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Without question, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is a hit!

The film was released internationally only a few days ago, and earned $155 million across its opening weekend.

To put that into perspective, it’s the second biggest December debut ever.  No prizes for knowing the BIGGEST December debut.  Hint… it has ‘star’ and ‘wars’ in its title.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has come in at 37.4% behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and is 83% bigger than the $84.6 million debut of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (in 2012).

The opening gross for the film puts Rogue One in third place for a film’s debut for this year, behind Captain America: Civil War (at $179.1 million) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (at $166.1 million).

Not bad at all for the very first Anthology film in the Star Wars universe.  There were people predicting it wouldn’t do well, people predicting it would, and people who were wise enough to keep their mouths shut!  I’m relieved it’s proven itself.

What are the critics saying?

They’re saying mostly good things.  Some have commented on how some of the digital characters momentarily took them out of the film (some in surprise at seeing a particular character in the film, and some because apparently the effects weren’t 100% convincing), and others have said the story is a little thin in places, but most agree the film is excellent.

Rotten Tomatoes has the film sitting (as of the 20th of December) at 84% certified fresh by critics, with a 90% audience satisfaction score.

Me?  I haven’t seen it yet.

The lack lustre information coming out about the film in recent months had kind of dulled the excitement for me.  Which really frustrated me.  I was super-excited for the film up until about October, and then the publicity machine went in a weird direction that didn’t appeal to me.

Because we’re this close to Christmas, I’ll be waiting a little while before I see it, but there will be a review around New Year’s Day.  Am I excited?  Yes.  I honestly am.

On a personal level, despite my disappointment in its promotion as we drew closer to the release date, I’m thrilled this film is kicking goals.

The reviews say it is worthy of the name Star Wars, and that it answers a lot of questions that make you want to watch A New Hope all over again.  Critics have called the film “faithful”, and I’m over the moon they’re exploring other areas of the Star Wars galaxy now that we’re almost at the half way point for the latest (and possibly last) saga trilogy.

If the film hadn’t have been faithful to Star Wars I would have been deeply disappointed – to the point of feeling betrayed, but it sounds like Director Gareth Edwards has pulled it off, and to be honest, from the first two previews I saw, I didn’t actually have any fears about him being faithful to the saga that has defined most of my life.

Go see Rogue One and share some Star Wars love.  If future Anthology films are as dedicated to continuity and the essence of that galaxy far, far away, as Rogue One reportedly is, then we, the long time fans of Star Wars, are in for many more years of joy after what were now and again long periods of time where it looked like we’d never see a Star Wars film on the big screen again.

Last thing – reports are that George Lucas loves the film!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is playing now in theatres all around the world.  It stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Genevieve O’Reilly and Forest Whitaker with unexpected appearances by a handful of Saga characters I won’t name because I don’t want to spoil the movie for you.  The music is by Michael Giacchino (with original Star Wars themes by John Williams), and the film was directed by Gareth Edwards and produced by Kathleen Kennedy.

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Star Wars News Roundup

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I don’t know what’s going on at the moment, but I’m not “feeling” the Star Wars vibe right now.

The lead up to Episode VII had me doing back flips of joy.  The initial news coming out about the first Anthology film likewise had me pretty excited.

Now?  That’s all kind of evaporated.

The odd bit of news is coming out about Rogue One, and we’re getting some news on Rebels too, but next to nothing on Episode VIII so maybe that’s the deal breaker for me?

I’ve always been heavily invested in the Saga films.  I love Luke, Leia, Han, Threepio, R2, Chewie, Lando and Yoda.  I loved Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan and Palpatine despite how unpopular it was to enjoy the Prequel films.  I’ve fallen in love with Poe, Rey and Finn.  Maybe the lack of news on that film has diminished the initial excitement I’d been feeling for Rogue One?

Maybe the news that’s coming out is just average.. and I’m getting too philosophical about it all!

So, rather than write an article on what’s been going on in the land of Star Wars lately, let me direct you to two incredible sites that will keep you up to date on everything.

They’re my go-to sites, but I admit I’ve stopped visiting them as often as I used to because they are kind of drowning in way too many podcasts.  One or two podcasts, fine, podcast after podcast all about the same thing just done by different people and I kind of don’t see the point and it becomes a bit of a turn off.

Never the less, the news these two sites presents is usually pretty good – even if they never ending podcasts are a little irritating.

If you’re keen to keep up to date on all the various things happening with current Star Wars productions, check out makingstarwars.net and starwarsunderworld.com.

Of course, you should also always check out the official Star Wars website at www.starwars.com.

As soon as anything momentous pops up, I’ll be sure to post about it here.

Until then, May the Force be with You.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Update

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A few days ago, a new trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story dropped online.

As with the first official trailer, this one was atmospheric, beautiful, exciting and seems to promise one amazing adventure.

Multiple sites have dissected it, and by and large all of them agree that this looks like it’s going to be a great film and a really worthy addition to the Star Wars saga.

If you’re trying to avoid everything about this new movie, don’t read on because there are very minor spoilers ahead.

Spoiler Alert

There are a lot of things to love about the new trailer, but something that was a really nice touch was one of the first opening shots, which shows us all a familiar image – a moisture vaporator.

It’s a really little thing, but it subconsciously ties this movie into the Star Wars universe.

Standing next to the moisture vaporator is a man who we quickly learn is Jyn’s father.  Approaching him from across the tundra is our new bad guy, Orson Krennic and a bunch of cool looking Stormtroopers.

Interspersed between the images of Orson and his troops approaching are shots of a young Jyn and her father talking, as he tells her to stay where she is.

It’s obvious Jyn’s father is not happy about Orson coming to visit, and may even be frightened of what’s about to happen next.

He’s taken away, and Jyn is left alone in a field watching the events unfold without any way to intervene.

The next images help to further set the tone of this film – a massive Star Destroyer floating above a city scape… TIE Fighters zooming about… explosions… Stormtroopers everywhere… an older Jyn… her arrival at the Rebel HQ where she meets their leadership.

We see Mon Mothma again, and that’s quickly followed by a beautiful image of the Death Star rising above the clouds, brief shots of all the new characters, what looks like it could be the back of Darth Vader’s head as Orson talks to him, and then a lot of fighting and crap getting blown up.

The most noteworthy thing about the trailer is the reveal of Darth Vader through a cloud of steam or smoke.

The second official trailer is jam packed with visuals that remind us this isn’t another saga film, this is a war movie and it’s own beast.

Having Mon Mothma and now Darth Vader in the film help ground it in the Star Wars mythos, and announce to the audience that the stakes at risk in this movie are high.

As I’ve said before, I am excited to see more of Mon Mothma’s story, and now that we know Darth Vader is officially in the film, that amps up my excitement a great deal.  While I love the prequel movies (though admittedly not as much as the original trilogy), I’m not happy that the last cinematic image I have of Vader is him screaming “NO!” after being put back together by Palpatine at the end of Episode III.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is scheduled for release on the 16th of December.

I think Disney and Lucasfilm have fallen in love with this particular month, especially after Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens performed so well as a Christmas movie.

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If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, you can view it on YouTube or by visiting the official Star Wars website here.

Not many sleeps until this movie is released world wide.  Hopefully it will do good business, and we’ll see more anthology films featuring these characters in the future.

I haven’t even seen the film yet and I’m already falling in love with its characters.

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A Star Wars Update

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Way back in June, Rian Johnson told the world that Star Wars: Episode VIII had officially wrapped filming… and maybe it had, but we’ve recently learned that at least one major Star Wars star is about to go back in front the cameras (or did very recently) and another star for the first time!

Lupita Nyong’o, the stunningly beautiful actress whose motion capture skills and acting talent brought the character of Maz Kanata to life in The Force Awakens, had commented a while ago (after Rian’s announcement) that despite the end of principal photography, she hadn’t filmed her scenes yet.

This gave rise to rumours Maz wan’t going to be in the eighth Saga film.

Those were put to rest when Lupita appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

She quickly shot down the rumours and let everyone know that she had completed her scenes and while no one can ever guarantee they won’t end up on the cutting room floor, as far as she knows, she’s in the movie.

Another surprise piece of information that came via the New York Comic Con‘s Instagram was that the First Lady of Star Wars was not done with filming.  The NYCC’s Instagram said “We’re sorry to announce that due to #StarWars production, Carrie Fisher will only be at #NYCC on Sunday.”

The convention runs from the 6th to the 9th of October, which would indicate additional filming for Episode VIII will happen into early/mid October.

This, of course, set the rumour mill off.

The fan community often goes into a minor meltdown when a movie schedules additional filming or reshoots.

It should be pointed out, neither Lupita’s or Carrie’s stuff are reshoots.  Lupita was doing her scheduled filming, and Carrie is doing additional filming.

Additional filming usually means footage is being shot that couldn’t be gotten to because of scheduling conflicts.  Sometimes it means that new things are added in to improve the flow of the film.  There have been indications that Leia’s role may be being expanded.  A few sources have reported this, but to date I haven’t been able to find any formal confirmation so we really don’t know.

Some of you may remember reports from a few months ago that said Leia spends a fair amount of time in a coma in Episode VIII.  Perhaps, during editing, Rian decided that didn’t work and wanted to see the General up and around and being more active.

This would certainly make the fans happy.  Though Carrie had an okay sized role in Episode VII, it wasn’t as meaty as it could have been.  Of course, it was better than Marks!

The important thing to remember is this is normal.  Productions schedule additional shoots and reshoots into their budgets and timelines to cover all bases.  A film shoot is a really complicated thing with dozens to hundreds of different moving parts.  All of which can be derailed by a bird chirp no one picked up on, or a shadow no one saw.  Since World War Z, which required major reshoots because the story wasn’t working, people have gotten anxious when a movie they are looking forward to does a little extra work around the edges.

The last bit of big news out of the Star Wars universe is that Season Three of Star Wars: Rebels launched on the 24th of September, featuring the introduction of fan favourite Legacy character, Grand Admiral Thrawn.

It’s probably a little too soon to gauge overall viewer reaction to Thrawn’s inclusion, as he will be new to some fans who didn’t follow the Expanded Universe (now Legends) novels, but if you are a fan of Thrawn and are able to watch the newest season, keep an eye out for one of the most intriguing protagonists to ever be introduced to the Star Wars universe.

As more news on Episode VIII and Rebels comes to light, we’ll report on it here.

Until then, May the Force be with you.

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The Future of the Star Wars Saga

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Have you wondered what will happen to the story of the Skywalker family when Star Wars: Episode IX premieres in 2019?

A number of media outlets are reporting today (thanks to Variety ) that Disney CEO Bob Iger, has spoken with investors about the future of the Star Wars saga (among other things).

According to Variety, Iger has had conversations with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and mapped out the future of Star Wars well past 2020.

We have confirmation that the anthology movies will be continuing, focusing on moments in time in the saga’s history, and some media commentators are suggesting the saga films could also continue.

It’s reasonable to expect that Episodes VIII and IX will continue to focus on the Skywalker family.  Luke, Leia and Kylo Ren are holding the banner at the moment, but what will happen to this famous, history shaping family after Episode IX?

Will that be the end of their story?

It’s doubtful Kylo Ren will survive.  He’s about as bad as a villain gets in Star Wars, especially with his horrific act on Starkiller Base in Episode VII.

It’s still possible that Rey is a Skywalker.  It’s also possible that Luke did have a child before exiling himself, or that Leia and Han had a second child who was secreted away after Kylo’s fall.  Another possibility is that Kylo has a child who will continue the history of the family – hopefully as a Jedi and not as a Knight of Ren or a Sith.

It would be wonderful to see another generation of Skywalkers work to uphold peace and justice in the galaxy.

Part of me wants the saga films to continue.  I’ve been in love with the Skywalker story for a very long time, and seeing it end would be like saying good bye to an important part of my childhood, but part of me would also feel a sense of closure if the story does end in a way that isn’t just horrifically tragic.

Time will tell.  I’m sure the anthology series will gain a huge audience, and it might only be us GenXers who will feel the absence of the Skywalker family – having grown up with it.  Either way, it is nice to know that Star Wars will continue, probably indefinitely, to inspire new generations to spend some time in that beautiful and compelling galaxy, far, far away.

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