Forces of Destiny

Star Wars Forces of Destiny Banner

For the last few days, Disney have been gifting us with tiny little vignettes featuring the major female characters of the Star Wars saga.

Who?  Padme, Ahsoka, Jyn, Leia, Rey, and, so far, Sabine.

I don’t know if they’ll include other major women from the saga like Hera and Mon Mothma, but I hope so!

Star Wars Forces of Destiny

Kathleen Kennedy, the current guiding light for all things Star Wars, has described the series of vignettes as:

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is for anyone who has been inspired by Leia’s heroism, Rey’s courage, or Ahsoka’s tenacity… We’re thrilled that so many of the original actors are reprising their roles in these shorts which capture the small moments and everyday decisions that shape who these characters are.  It is a fun new way for people to experience Star Wars.

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is canon, and is a ‘micro-series’ of animated shorts that take place in the prequel, anthology, original and new era of the film series.

Each episode looks at certain decisions made by each character, that have helped to shape and define that person and make them who they are – and who we love.

The current aired episodes, and who they focus on, are:

  • ‘Sands of Jakku’ – Rey;
  • ‘BB-8 Bandits’ – Rey and BB-8;
  • ‘Ewok Escape’ – Leia and Wicket;
  • ‘The Padawan Path’ – Ahsoka;
  • ‘Beasts of Echo Base’ – Leia, R2-D2 and Chewbacca;
  • ‘The Imposter Inside’ – Padme and Ahsoka, and;
  • ‘Bounty of Trouble’ – Leia and Sabine.

There are more to come!

Each episode runs for three-minutes, features an opening monologue from Lupita Nyon’o in character as Maz Kanata, and are actually pretty good.

My favourite to date has been ‘The Imposter Inside’, and the ‘Bounty of Trouble’ wasn’t too bad either.  The voice actors are excellent, and the actor doing Leia’s voice is good and sometimes sounds like a young Carrie Fisher.

The series is worth checking out, and if you have children, these are very child-appropriate.

To watch them, click here to visit Disney‘s YouTube channel.

It’s really great to see new adventures for Leia, Padme and Jyn, because, (SPOILERS), two of those characters were killed off, and, of course, our beloved Carrie Fisher tragically left us in December of last year.  Seeing new material featuring these three women is wonderful, it means their legacy is continues.

Bring on stories for Hera and Mon Mothma!  It might also be pretty damn wonderful to see a Breha Organa story!  Are you listening Disney?  There are a lot of strong female characters in Star Wars and we want to know more about them!

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The Women of Star Wars, and an Episode VIII Update

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There was always going to be a lot of Star Wars news over the Easter long weekend, thanks to the Star Wars Celebration event happening right now in the United States.

There’s both good news and disappointing news out of the event, as well as at least one thing that is sure to excite everyone – the very first trailer for the brand new saga entry.

It’s… fantastic!

We’re eight long months away from Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, and I have to admit I wasn’t expecting a teaser just yet… and I certainly wasn’t expecting this teaser, which left my jaw hanging open.

If you want to avoid spoilers for Episode VIII, then scroll down right now.  You can stop when you see the Episode VIII promo image featuring Rey, Poe and Finn.  You’ll know it when you see it.

Here we go…

Spoiler Alert

The teaser trailer is brief, as you would expect, but it packs a punch.

Particularly the last words of the trailer, uttered by Luke Skywalker.  Yes, my friends!  Luke actually has dialogue in this film!!

Here are a few shots from the two minute long preview:

What we see makes it clear that this movie is going to be bigger and darker than The Force Awakens.  And let’s face it, Episode VII was pretty dark thanks to the death of Han Solo and the destruction of an entire star system!

The film looks beautiful, and I’m really excited to see it.

Those words uttered by Luke, the ones that left my jaw hanging open?

“It’s time for the Jedi… to end.”

WTF?!  That’s the dark stuff I’m talking about.

As regular readers know, the death of Carrie Fisher a few months ago hit me pretty hard, like it did for a lot of fans, and as a result I wasn’t as excited about the new movie as I normally would have been.  This trailer has gotten me pumped up for the next entry in the saga again.

If you haven’t seen the trailer, or if you want to watch it again, you can visit the official Star Wars site, or click right here to visit their YouTube channel.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Promo Image

And now to other Star Wars news.

First, the disappointing item.

After Carrie’s brother, Todd Fisher, told us that his sister would be appearing in Star Wars Episode IX via unused footage from Episodes VII and VIII, we’ve been let down by the current keeper of the Star Wars flame, Kathleen Kennedy.

Kathleen has pretty much said General Leia’s story will now, more or less, end with The Last Jedi.  Carrie won’t be appearing in any form in Episode IX.

To read more, visit sciencefiction.com here.

I understand why they’ve made this decision, but it kind of hurts a bit.  I just hope they don’t kill the character off.  It would be wonderful to still be able to follow her adventures in any tie-in novels and comics.

Lastly, let’s finish the article with some good news.

Disney are releasing a series of mini-stories focused on the women of Star Wars, called Star Wars: Forces of Destiny.

The Women of Star Wars

What we do know, is that there will be a story focused on Princess Leia, as well as one on Jyn, Rey, Sabine, Hera and Ashoka, and that the whole thing will be narrated by Maz Kanata.

Hopefully, these stories will also do something with the characters of Padme and Mon Mothma.  Two important women in the Star Wars saga too often overlooked, despite their vital roles.

If you’d like to learn more about the new Forces of Destiny series, click here to visit Slate.com.

That’s it for now.  If you’re lucky enough to be at Star Wars Celebration, have an amazing time!

For the rest of us, we’ll post any significant news from the event that we hear about.

Until then, 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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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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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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Rogue One and Rebels

Star Wars Update

We have a mission for you.  A major weapons test is immanent.
We need to know what it is, and how to destroy it.
Mon Mothma

As December draws closer, we are getting to see a little more of the upcoming first Anthology film in the Star Wars saga.

A recent trailer, which you can view here, gave us some spectacular visuals, including: the Death Star orbiting a red planet, a Star Destroyer hovering in-atmosphere over what might be a base or a township on top of a levelled off mountain, beach combat for the first time in Star Wars film history, and my personal favourite – Jyn Erso going face to face with a TIE fighter… and she’s not in a starship.  She’s literally face to face with a TIE fighter.

Since the most recent trailer previewed, new publicity shots have also been released including these beautiful ones which have popped up over at /Film.  Check them out here.

As you can see, if you visited either of the above links, Rogue One looks like Star Wars but at the same time has a slightly different visual aesthetic.  The previews, and the stills, have a definite indy vibe to them – which is exciting, but also, if you can believe the reports, something that made Disney a little nervous and may have been the cause of the recent reshoots – though Disney does claim otherwise.

I personally love the look and I am really falling in love with this film – it’s visual style, the snippets of performance we’re seeing, and most certainly the incredible special effects.  I think it’s appropriate Rogue One have a different yet familiar feel to the Saga films.  We’re seeing side stories that play into the overall arc of the Skywalker family, adding more ‘meat’ to the events that caused Darth Vader to become one of the most feared beings in the known galaxy, and the events that catapulted his children, Luke and Leia, onto the Galactic stage.  They should feel different, and they should evoke something new while still being obviously Star Wars.

Star Wars: Rogue One premiers around the world in December of this year, and promises to be a hard-hitting, unique entry into the overall Star Wars story.

The film was directed by Gareth Edwards, and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker (in what will be the most diverse cast to ever appear in a Star Wars film).

The movie has been written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta.

Kathleen Kennedy’s guiding hand is, of course, present as one of the producers of the film.

Star Wars Rogue One Poster - Death Star Rising

What else is happening in that galaxy far, far away?

Some very interesting news for Star Wars: Rebels and fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe series, now known as the Star Wars Legacy series.

A popular character from the Expanded Universe is making their way onto Rebels – and the character they’ve picked to appear is a really wonderful choice.  He captured all of our imaginations years ago when Timothy Zahn released the first Star Wars novel to officially follow up on the adventures of Luke, Leia and Han post Return of the Jedi, and has stayed a fan favourite ever since.

Who is it?

Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Thrawn has never appeared in any Star Wars movie.  His first appearance was in the Timothy Zahn novel Heir to the Empire, way back in 1991.

Thrawn was one of the very few non-human officers to serve in Palpatine’s Imperial Navy, and though he was relegated to the backwaters of space, made a name for himself there – so much so, he ended up eventually leading the Empire after Palpatine’s death.

We don’t know how much of that original backstory will be in play come Season Three of Rebels, but hopefully we will see the same thoughtful and charismatic officer many of us got to know in the Expanded Universe novels.  It would be nice to see him as a strong leader who could, perhaps, go on to lead the Empire after the second Death Star gets destroyed… because that could mean he would appear in a future Saga film (maybe Episode IX) – or maybe even get his own Anthology movie.

One of the brilliant things about having Thrawn appear in Star Wars: Rebels is that he is now a canon character.  It’s an exciting development for those of us who are fans of the Expanded Universe, because there’s now the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to see a few more characters from that series of novels in the future.

Thrawn will make his appearance in the third season of Rebels, due to air September 24.

For more information, check out the official Star Wars website here.

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