The Women of Star Wars, and an Episode VIII Update

The Women of Star Wars and The Last Jedi Update Banner

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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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 who has passed on.  We also do that with the jobs we leave and pretty much any other emotional upset we’re having difficulties processing!

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 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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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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Episode VIII and Rogue One Update

Star Wars Update - SWVIII and SWARO

There’s been a little angst around the recent reshoots that took place for the first of the Star Wars Anthology films, Rogue One.

Some outlets reported that Disney was not happy with the tone of the movie, and didn’t feel that it “fit” with the original trilogy (or even the prequel trilogy), and they were apparently concerned it could cause a backlash from fans.

Other rumours insisted a test audience had reacted poorly – except it was later discovered the film hadn’t been seen by a test audience.  It had only been viewed by the executives at the Mouse House.

All that we really know for sure is that reshoots did indeed happen, but no one seems clear on why – other than the usual reasons for reshoots, which are to tighten up scenes that weren’t working, or to fix something that wasn’t spotted during principal or second unit photography.

If you’d like to dive into those rumours, the two best sources for a wrap up on all the drama are Making Star Wars and the Star Wars Underworld.  For the MSW stories, click here and here.  For the SWU story, click here.  They’re a good read.

One of the benefits of having been in the entertainment industry for two decades, is knowing that reshoots are not a bad thing.  Yes, sometimes they’re done because a film has lost its way, but more often than not they’re done because a mistake was missed during principal or second unit photography, or because something needs to be fixed that didn’t play right when seen in the context of the whole film.  What looks good on the page, doesn’t always translate to the screen.  Reshoots are so common that production companies budget for them in the months before principal photography begins.  They’re run of the mill, and don’t necessarily mean anything is wrong.

I don’t think the fan community need worry too much!

In Episode VIII news, the latest rumour out is that fan favourite, General Leia Organa, gets to use the Force in the film, and in fact, it’s her ability with that energy field that binds the galaxy together, that saves her life.

To read more on this, visit the article at Making Star Wars here.

Finally, there have been a few people questioning whether or not John Williams, the legendary composer, will return to score Episode VIII.  He is, after all, 84 and might actually want to retire.

For a lot of fans this has caused concern, because many of us can’t imagine Star Wars without John’s incredible score accompanying the amazing visuals and story.

John himself recently announced that he would be scoring Episode VIII, if Disney and Lucasfilm would have him.

To read more from John on whether or not he’ll have a part to play in any future Star Wars films, visit the Star Wars Underworld here.

As more news comes to light on the Anthology films and sequel trilogy, we’ll feature it.

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Star Wars Underworld and Making Star Wars to stay up to date on everything!

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Episode VIII Update – Luke, Leia, Poe and More

Episode VIII Update Banner

We’re 626 days away from the release of Star Wars: Episode VIII, and trickles of information continue to escape the production as fans obsess over details both minor and potentially major.

There are so many little pieces of information coming out, that it’s actually a bit exhausting keeping up with it all.  It’s not all that often that I find something I want to take the time to post about, because at the moment we’re getting a lot of disjointed minutia.

I am, however, invested in the story and the characters and when I come across interesting pieces on those aspects of the new film, I’m more than willing to find the time to sit down and write about it.

Some people could consider the following to be spoilers, so proceed with caution.  They deal with the characters of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Poe Dameron, Laura Dern’s as yet unnamed character… and Han Solo!

Spoiler Alert

As reported earlier this month, there are a series of scenes between Poe Dameron and Laura Dern’s character in the upcoming feature film.

In those scenes, it looks like Poe leads a mutiny against Laura’s character.

A few more details have come out giving further insight into those scenes which were originally reported on by Latino Review.

The extra information comes from the wonderful MakingStarWars website.

Laura Dern Leia Organa Poe Dameron

Laura’s character is a leader in the Resistance.  That part of the first report was a bit vague, with there being an opinion she might have been a leader in the New Republic.

Leia’s vessel is ambushed and she is blasted ‘through space’ – which sounds like the vessel she is in is severely damaged during the fight, venting atmosphere and people into deep space!

Leia lives, but ends up in a coma.

Laura’s character takes command of the Resistance while Leia is in medical care.  She kinda screws things up and Poe is not happy.

Poe takes charge and becomes the defacto leader of the Resistance.

To read more on these scenes, visit MakingStarWars here.  The breakdown of the scenes is after a piece on some changes that have been made to Poe’s costume for Episode VIII.

Luke Skywalker Episode VII

The amazing MakingStarWars has delivered some more insight into the upcoming movie via a brief description of a scene that involves Luke.

The scene takes place in what looks like it’s a casino and Luke is walking through it, hunting for someone.  The casino scene is said to be full of aliens, and harkens back to the original cantina scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, and the death sticks scene from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones where Obi-Wan and Anakin are trying to find the bounty hunter Zam Wesell in a bar after an assasignation attempt on Senator Amidala.

Not much else is known about that scene, but some internet commentators have wondered if Luke is looking for Lando Calrissian – which would be amazing.  One of the very few things I didn’t like about Episode VII was the lack of Lando.

To read the article, click here.

Han SWTFA

Harrison Ford is toying with all of our emotions.

In a recent interview with the BBC, Harrison made a comment when asked if Han could return, that set the internet alight: “Anything is possible in space. I wanted Han Solo to sacrifice himself for the good of the other characters to bring some gravitas to the story.

That comment, combined with a recent casting call for Episode VIII that included Harrison’s name on it, has the rumour mill bubbling.

Could Han Solo still be alive?  I hope so – but I doubt it.  I can’t see Lucasfilm and Disney doing that.

Han’s death made sense in Episode VII and it carried such immense emotional weight – plus, Leia felt it in the force.  Yes, she could have sensed a terrible wound, but I can’t see anyone screwing with us fans that mercilessly.

But, as Harrison says, “Anything is possible in space.

To read the article, click here.

That’s it for now!

As more information on the story and characters for Star Wars: Episode VIII comes out, I’ll post it here.

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Episode VIII Update – Laura Dern

Star Wars Episode VIII Update

Latino Review have reported that one of their sources has come across information on a few scenes from Episode VIII, straight from the Pinewood studio sets where some of the action for the new Star Wars movie is being filmed.

The source talks about a couple of scenes that appear to take place on a Republic or Resistance starship between Poe and Laura’s as yet unnamed character.

It appears Laura’s character has some sort of rank on Poe, and that things get a little heated between them.

Laura’s character allegedly describes the people on the ship as being the last of the Republic or the Resistance (that bit is unclear), and announces that General Leia Organa has been gravely wounded but is in the care of doctors.

Poe, who we can tell from the movie and from the novelisation, is devoutly loyal to the former Alderaanian Princess, doesn’t take whatever it is Laura Dern’s character is saying very well.  In fact, he takes it so badly it looks like he leads a mutiny.

These tiny pieces of information are intriguing, and seem to point to a battle that has some very dire consequences for either the Resistance, or what is left of the Republic after the destruction of the Hosnian System in the seventh film.

This report from Latino Times is one of the more concrete bits of information we’ve received on the eighth movie, since the teaser that was released by Rian Johnson a few weeks ago.

A number of Star Wars fans sites have been talking a great deal about some location shooting happening in Dubrovnik, but we haven’t had much real information on the content of Episode VIII until now.

Of course, this doesn’t really tell us a lot, but it does give us a taste of what’s to come.

If the third trilogy follows the dramatic pacing of the original trilogy, we can expect everyone we love to be in some sort of serious jeopardy, just as they were at the end of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.  If Leia is gravely wounded, it makes you wonder what is going to happen to poor Luke and Rey!

To read the Latino Review article, click here.  If you’re interested in reading about what has been happening in Croatia, visit Making Star Wars here and Star Wars Underworld here.

For the record, Latino Review have one of the most impressive records around for getting a hold of legit information on movies in production.

While very few people can say for certain how legitimate this information is, it comes from one of the more renowned sites on the Internet.

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Episode VIII Update – Daisy Ridley, Leia and Chewbacca

Rian Johnson and Star Wars

Star Wars: Episode VIII is well into production, with many Star Wars fan sites reporting on the various tid bits of information that are slipping out of the production.

For more information on these bits and pieces, you can visit either of these two major (and pretty awesome) Star Wars fan sites, Making Star Wars here and The Star Wars Underworld here.

Of more interest, to me at least, have been a couple of reports that have centred around the wonderfully talented Daisy Ridley.

It was inevitable that someone would eventually ask Daisy or one of the other young stars of Episode VIII, to compare Rian Johnson with J.J. Abrams.  Daisy, when asked that very question recently, said that both created a beautiful, warm and friendly atmosphere on set, but that Rian was more cheeky and not as focused on secrecy as J.J. – as was recently seen with the teaser to mark the first day of filming on the eighth Star Wars feature film.

For more on Daisy’s comments, you can visit Den of Geek here to read the full story.

Daisy also featured prominently in the news recently because she was “skinny-shamed”.

Skinny-shamed, you ask?  You’ve no doubt heard of “fat-shaming”, well now internet trolls have taken it to a whole new level, and have attacked Daisy for setting unrealistic expectations amongst young women because she’s too skinny.

All the fuss took place on Daisy’s Instagram feed where one of these trolls posted a meme of Rey with a speach bubble saying “I can’t believe the unrealistic expectations I’m setting for young girls.  Who cast me anyway?  Don’t they know real women have curves?”

The comment took the young star by surprise, but to her credit she responded in a very measured and sensible way, declaring she will not allow anyone to make her feel bad or ashamed about her looks.

Daisy’s response?  “I will not apologise for how I look, what I say and how I live life ’cause what’s happening inside is much more important anyway and I am striving to be the best version of myself, even if I stumble along the way.  It seems apt I get tagged in this a day after I received misogynistic comments on my (International Woman’s Day) post.”

To read more of how Daisy handled this unusual attack, you can check out the article at the Guardian newspaper here.

Finally, J.J. Abrams has admitted he made a mistake in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, by having Leia hug Rey, rather than Chewbacca after they returned from the disastrous mission to take out the First Order’s superweapon.

Fans were so surprised by the lack of empathy between Chewbacca and Leia in the film, considering what had happened to them both, that it was creating all sorts of fury and conspiracy theories on the internet – with some fans even suggesting Chewbacca was the reason for Leia and Han’s relationship ending.

To stop all of the insane speculation, J.J. spoke up to set the record straight, pretty much saying he made a creative error.  There was a definite rationale behind the creative choices he made, and it simply didn’t play out which happens sometimes.

Congratulations to J.J. for having the courage to admit the mistake, because it shows a lot of respect for the fans and a great deal of respect for the integrity of the entire saga.

To read more about J.J.’s admission, visit Games Radar here.

Finn Rey and Poe

Star Wars: Episode VIII is scheduled to be released on the 17th of December, 2017.  The film is being written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Anthony Daniels as C-3P0, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma and Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke.

Joining the stars from Episode VII on the newest film are the recently announced Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran.

For those of you desperate to watch Episode VII on DVD or BluRay, the seventh installment in the ongoing saga of the Skywalker family will be released on DVD and BluRay on the 5th of April.  It will be available for digital download on the 1st of April.

Preorders are available for the digital download now.

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