Vanity Fair Star Wars Exclusive

Star Wars The Last Jedi Vanity Fair Shoot

Annie Leibovitz is one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers, and she has a history with the Star Wars saga that has produced some of the series’ most intense portraits.

She recently completed a series of shots for Vanity Fair and their special anniversary Star Wars edition.

The photos feature new and familiar faces, with some of the most beautiful photos carrying an extra layer of meaning because of the recent tragic passing of Carrie Fisher.

The Vanity Fair article gives some new insight into Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and is well worth a read.  For those of us who are fans of Carrie’s, the article gives us a beautiful glimpse into the relationships our beloved Princess formed with her co-stars and with Director Rian Johnson.

Included in the photo collection are Laura Dern as Admiral Amilyn Holdo and Benicio Del Toro as “DJ”.  We also get to see new character Rose Tico, and an incredibly moving photo of Billie Lourd and Carrie Fisher in costume as Lieutenant Kaydel Connix and General Leia Organa.

Billie Lourd and Carrie Fisher as Lieutenant Kaydel Connix and Leia Organa

Equally as moving is a beautiful photo of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in costume.

It’s wonderful to see Luke and Leia together again.

Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa

Here’s a selection of some of the other beautiful photos.  They capture the heart and soul of these characters, and the iconic actors behind at least two of them.

Visit Vanity Fair‘s special edition article here.  Don’t just look at the photos, make sure you read the exceptional article by David Kamp.

There are only a few months left until Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is in cinemas.

The film will be bitter sweet, and hopefully a fitting tribute to Carrier Fisher.

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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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The Force Awakens Roundup

Star Wars Hits One Billion

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is a juggernaut!

It’s now officially beaten Avatar as the highest grossing film in the United States, and now punters are looking at Avatar‘s international record and wondering if the new Star Wars film will topple that?

It’s a pretty tall order, and the film has to make another 1.2 billion dollars internationally (give or take) to do that… but it toppled Avatar domestically in record time, so who knows!

In other Force Awakens news, Hasbro have officially commented on why Rey is not featured in the Star Wars monopoly set, and they’re saying it’s because they didn’t want to spoil the movie…?!

Rey Rescuing BB-8

As a person, I’m not fond of focusing on the negative, but that sounds pretty weird to me.

For now, let’s give Hasbro the benefit of the doubt.

They’re also saying that Rey will feature in a lot of new merchandise this year.

Next, my favourite Star Wars site for all things ‘newsy’ about our beloved saga is MakingStarWars.net.

Making Star Wars Logo

MakingStarWars.net have a few Star Wars news items of note, including updates on the first anthology film (A Star Wars Story: Rogue One), images of the new IMAX posters for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and a bunch of new hi-res photos from the film that have been released by StitchKingdom.

They’re beautiful, as you can see from the small collection below.

Go check out StitchKingdom‘s site!  You can take a wander through the amazing shots they’ve put together right here.  The MakingStarWars.net article is here.

Lastly, io9 have a great feature on the backstory to the Force Awakens – everything from who the heck Lor San Tekka is, to the size of the Resistance and the First Order, and how the Force actually awakened.

To read the article, click here.

Any bets on whether or not The Force Awakens has a chance of beating Avatar in the international takings stakes?

So you know, Avatar took 2.78 billion dollars internationally.  The Force Awakens is currently at 1.56 billion dollars internationally.

For more information so you can make a better judgement, read the Hollywood Reporter article here.

For the record, I think Star Wars can do it.

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Star Wars Breaks Records and Where’s Rey?

Star Wars To Be Biggest Movie Ever

According to ForbesStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is well on its way to becoming the highest grossing movie ever.

Both Variety and Forbes are reporting on the unprecedented speed with which The Force Awakens has broken every US domestic record bar one, and both are stating that the new Star Wars film will surpass Avatar (the current record holder) sometime tomorrow!

Dog Fight Over Takodana

There are too many domestic and international records that The Force Awakens has broken to list them here, especially when so many journalists have gone above and beyond to do just that – but what it all boils down to is that the seventh Star Wars film is a phenomena.

It’s perfect blend of nostalgia and new, humour and tragedy, and heart as well as special effects is a winner for old and new converts, and its success seems to be about more than a group of die-hard Star Wars fans seeing the film over and over again.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has staying power, and it is a movie that resonates with people, in particular young women as can be seen by the trending #WheresRey and the numerous complaints Hasbro is receiving for leaving the film’s protagonist out of box sets and it’s recently released Star Wars monopoly set.

John Boyega Daisy Ridley Peter Mayhew and Harrison Ford

It’s a little sad that the merchandise side of the Star Wars phenomena hasn’t broken any female representation records – considering the fact the film has more female roles in it than any previous entry in the saga, and especially considering the fact that Princess Leia Organa was the world’s first major strong female action hero.  She won our hearts two years before Ellen Ripley and 27 years before the rebooted Starbuck.  You’d think anyone and everyone associated with Star Wars would be proud of that legacy, and Rey would feature predominantly in any merchandise that came out.

Still, don’t let the lack of foresight by Hasbro damage your enthusiasm for this truly wonderful film.

If you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Aweakens yet, I encourage you to.  It is everything you want a blockbuster movie to be – and even better, there’s not a bloody superhero in sight!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Lupita Nyong’o, Max Von Sydow and Gwendoline Christie.

To read the Forbes article on the box office success of Star Wars, click here.

To read more on the #WheresRey controversy, click the following links:

Legion of Leia
The Mary Sue
The Vine
Global News

An interesting side note, the film still hasn’t opened in China, so no doubt a whole bunch of other records will fall when that enormous market starts lining up to see the movie on the 9th of January.

Congratulations to everyone involved in The Force Awakens.  You have given hope to Star Wars fans everywhere, and you’ve treated the source material with respect.

Bring on Episode VIII.

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George Lucas on Episode VII

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“The Great Maker”, aka George Lucas, developed an idea in the 1970’s that went on to capture the hearts and minds of a generation… and then every generation to follow.

His contribution to modern cinema goes far beyond the Star Wars saga, though.

In his many years in the entertainment industry, George has personally directed a number of films, produced even more, and written quite a few.  He’s also done a lot to support the development of the arts and education in general.

His directorial credits include: THX 1138American GraffitiStar Wars Episode VI: A New Hope, and the oft-maligned Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceStar Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

George Lucas 2

His producer and executive producer credits are even more extensive, and include all of the live action Star Wars films (except for Episode VII), all of the Indiana Jones films, and cult classic favourite, Willow – to name only a few.

When you add in his writing credits, his contributions are even more impressive: THX 1138American Graffiti and More American GraffitiStar Wars Episodes IIIIIIIVVVIVII and VIII (yes, Episodes VII and VIII), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (yep, he has a writing credit for the first anthology film), all of the Indiana Jones films, and Willow.  There are more, but those are the best known.

But as indicated above, George isn’t just a writer, producer and director.  He’s also a philanthropist, setting up or contributing to a number of initiatives, including: The George Lucas Educational Foundation, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, he gave one million dollars to help build the Martin Luther King, Jnr National Museum, gave 25 million dollars to the charity After School Matters, and gave 175-180 million dollars to the University of Southern California‘s film school, where he learned to make motion pictures.  He also has plans to donate most of the money he received from the sale of Lucasfilm.

As the creator of Star Wars, George is universally loved.  As a creative person, he’s both loved and loathed.

As a human being, George has equally felt all the love – and all the loathing, and at various times and in various ways it has taken its toll on him.

One thing is clear, without George we wouldn’t have that “galaxy far, far away”, and I don’t know about you, but my childhood would have been so much less without Star Wars.

Despite the contentious way in which George is viewed by Star Wars fans, I do believe most still love and admire him, and I think many of us were shocked, back in 2012, when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.

I think we were just as shocked when we heard that Disney had thrown George’s ideas for Episodes VII, VIII and IX out the airlock.

In the build up to the release of Episode VII, and most certainly since it’s release a couple of weeks ago, a lot of people have been wondering one thing: “did George like Episode VII?”  After everything, would he enjoy this new vision for his baby and how would he feel about the public’s reaction?

I suspect he’s in two minds over it all.  In one interview he said he was looking forward to being swept away by the experience like any other fan, because he’s never had the chance to see Star Wars and be surprised by it.  In others, he’s walked around the question.  George has made a number of comments over the last few months, most diplomatic but there has been at least one that could be called unfortunate, which is the one attracting all the attention right now.  I think the comment he is getting criticism for points to the emotion he feels over moving on from something he feels quite deeply for.  Does he regret the sale?  I get the feeling he does.  Not because Disney has ruined Star Wars, but because, as Yoda would remind us “always in motion, is the future” and what seemed like a good idea doesn’t always stay feeling like a good idea.  Hindsight can be cruel.

For the record, I am a huge fan of George Lucas, and first read the biography of his work, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas by Dale Pollack, when I was about 12.  It was that book that inspired me to get into the film and television industry.

I even own the recently updated edition and am still in love with the book some thirty years later.

Skywalking with Hyperspace Effect

So, as a fan of George’s, I obviously have a bias and feel for him.  As far as I’m concerned, George can have whatever opinion he wants to have, and we should all respect that whether we agree with it or not.

George’s most recent ruminations, it would seem, aren’t completely positive… and I think I get why.  How would you feel seeing something that you had created being taken in a different direction to the one you had been dreaming of for decades?

George created Star Wars and he had a vision for all nine films.  Disney chose to ignore that vision with the sequel trilogy and George is understandably perturbed by that.

It’s important to note that his reaction and opinion aren’t negative.  George doesn’t slam the film, but he is clear that it’s different to the one he would have made.

Some fans will no doubt show very little support for George, saying he shouldn’t have sold Star Wars if he didn’t want to run the risk of someone doing something with the property that he wouldn’t have done.

From what I can remember, George sold Lucasfilm and all of its properties to Disney along with story ideas for the sequels to Star Wars.  He probably thought the sequel films would be developed around his ideas, and never assumed Disney would eventually abandon them.

Some fans might also say that before selling Star Wars, George should have just made the sequels himself.  They’ve probably forgotten how horrible things got there for George when the prequel trilogy came out and how deeply the fan community hurt him.

George Lucas 3

A number of media outlets are reporting on the most recent interview where George talks about Episode VII, so you can read about it on pretty much any entertainment news site.

Rolling Stone magazine are one of those media outlets, and a link to their story is below.

Included in the article is the video interview where George talks about Episode VII and gives his opinion (at around the 50 minute mark), go check it out.  Click here and enjoy and before you judge George, try putting yourself in his shoes for a moment and try to remember that without him, we would have never had Star Wars.

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Star Wars Update

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With Star Wars: The Force Awakens now an unqualified success, Star Wars fans are starting to wonder about what comes next.

While we have continued to bask in the glow of the rebirth of a franchise that we had all, at one time or another, feared was dead, work on the eighth feature film has been underway for some time.

And someone has seen the script.

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Daisy Ridley has read the script for episode eight, and she says it’s good.  Very good.

Episode eight starts filming in only a few weeks time, so of course Daisy has seen the script, along with her co-starts (no doubt), but this is the first time someone has commented on it.

If you’d like to check out the article, visit the fantastic Making Star Wars website for more information.  Bookmark MSW, as a site, it’s writers have done an incredible job of keeping fans up to date on everything episode seven.  No doubt they will do the same with episode eight.

To read the article, click here.

Episode eight is being written and directed by Rian Johnson, and while we don’t know how many of the cast is returning, word is it will – at the very least – be Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Daisy Ridley as Rey, Oscar Isaac as Poe, John Boyega as Finn, and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma.

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A Force Awakens Update

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The spoiler free (and not so spoiler free) reviews are slowly unspooling on the internet, which has become a little bit like a minefield, if you haven’t seen the movie.

What I’m comfortable telling you guys is that according to Rotten Tomatoes, as of the 18th of December (in Australia), Star Wars: The Force Awakens is 95% fresh and has had 245 reviews (43 from top critics)!

Millennium Falcon

What I’m also comfortable telling you, is that the reviews are so far very favourable.

Apparently there are a bunch of people on facebook threatening to spoil the crap out of the movie, and post it on every social media platform unless Disney reinstates the former Expanded Universe Star Wars novels to canon, who probably don’t like the film all that much, but other than those guys, every review I have come across has said Star Wars is back.

Finn and His Tie Fighter

If you want a taste of the excitement felt by those who have seen the film, without any spoilers, we have some for you below – to save you accidentally stumbling across something that might ruin the film for you.

We also have something bloody awesome that should be being shared everywhere – and that’s the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens singing some of the tunes from Star Wars A Cappella.

First, the reviews, then keep scrolling down for something that is sure to brighten your day.

Charlie Jane Anders from io9 reviews SWTFA here.

Various, straight from the premiere here.

Bryan Bishop from The Verge here.

Peter Sciretta from /Film here.

And now for something crazy awesome:

Jimmy Fallon, the Roots and the Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast singing a medley of Star Wars themes A Cappella… right here.

Enjoy!

SWTFA Cast Sing

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New International Trailer

Tie Fighters

A new international trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has dropped on YouTube, showing some beautiful new footage, and giving us an interesting line of dialogue between Rey and BB-8.

As Rey and BB-8 walk through the desert, Rey asks BB-8 where he’s (she’s) from.  BB-8 toots and whistles at Rey, and she interprets the response for the audience, saying “Classified?  Me too.”

Rey and BB-8

Could Rey have been placed in hiding by someone?  Could Leia or Luke be using Ben and Yoda’s old trick – the ruse that was used to keep them safe from their father?  Is this more evidence that Rey is either Leia or Luke’s daughter?

It’s an interesting snippet.  Go watch the trailer and see where that exchange, and others, takes your thinking!

The trailer was put together for a Chinese audience, where Star Wars isn’t quite as well known or popular as it is in most western countries.  A few sites who have reported on this particular trailer have suggested that that is the reason why the Chinese and most foreign market previews are lengthier and reveal more plot than American and Australian trailers.

To view The Force Awakens preview for China, click here.

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Welcome to Star Wars: The Skywalker Legacy

Star Wars The Force Awakens

The Star Wars Movies

Another Star Wars blog?

Yup, ‘fraid so!

This one, like all the others out there, will have it’s own unique take on the Star Wars universe, particularly because I want to focus on the legacy of the Skywalker family, but like so many others it will also report on all things episodes VII, VIII and IX, the new anthology films, and the Rebels animated series which has just been renewed for a third season.

You might be wondering why someone would want to skew things a little to the Skywalker side of Star Wars, when realistically the most popular characters in fandom are Han Solo and Boba Fett?

It’s a good question.

The idea was sparked by two things: my interest in the Skywalker family and my original fan boy love for Leia and Luke, and something that George Lucas said in a November interview, where he spoke about his original vision for episodes VII through IX.  Here’s the direct quote that sparked this website, via an interview online at /Film:

“People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems – it’s not about spaceships.”

If you’d like to read more from that interview or watch it, jump over to /Film right here.

While I love starships and space battles as much as the next guy, I also love the idea of making a family the central theme of a massive war story.  We don’t know much (if anything canon) about the Skywalkers prior to our introduction to Shmi in The Phantom Menace, but we quickly learn that Anakin is anything but ‘normal’.  The arrival of two Jedi and a Queen in exile throw both Skywalkers into the middle of extraordinary circumstances, and it snowballs from there.  We learn, over the course of six movies, that the family are both blessed and cursed with an amazing legacy that began as an ancient prophecy that could have, as its resolution, anything.  Was Anakin going to the Dark Side and then redeeming himself a re-balancing of the Force?  Was it the creation of two powerful Jedi in Luke and Leia, with one pursuing their gifts and the other putting them aside to fight for freedom?  Was it the actual destruction of the centuries old Jedi Order and the emergence of the Sith, and their eventual defeat that balanced those energies that surround us and bind us together?  Is the Force still seeking balance in the new trilogy?

The Battle for Coruscant

I had no idea of any of that when I was first introduced to Star Wars.  To me, Star Wars started as a film about friendship, that’s what the nine year old me took from it when I first saw The Empire Strike Back (I saw Empire before I saw A New Hope).  Then, when we learned about the relationships between some of the middle trilogy characters, it became about friendship and family, and when the prequel trilogy hit that only deepened.

I liked that, and still do.

But then again, I’m also one of the few people who loved the development of the relationship between Anakin and Padme in Attack of the Clones.  Yes, some of the acting wasn’t the best – despite both actors being very talented, but it’s still possibly my favourite prequel film.

Anakin and Padme

When we take our sci-fi fan glasses off and look at the first six Star Wars films, you can see what George Lucas means.  Star Wars is a little like a soap opera.  Not in a Bold and the Beautiful way, but in a Shakespearean way.  The Skywalker family are as tragic as the Montague’s or Capulet’s, while also being as selfless and heroic as Superman or Wonder Woman (or if you’re a Marvel guy or gal, Professor X or Captain Marvel).

I get the Han Solo and Boba Fett love, and like both characters, but the story of the Skywalkers appeals to me the most.

We have Shmi Skywalker, a woman sold into slavery who has a virgin birth via the Force.  Despite the obvious parallels to Christianity, her character is compelling, and flawlessly played by Pernilla August.  Shmi is struggling to provide her son with a normal upbringing despite the both of them being slaves, and despite sensing that there is something very special and unique about her boy.  She accepts her lot and tries her best, until, toward the end of episode one, she makes an amazing sacrifice and practically begs Qui Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi to take her boy away to a better life – even though it means she will be alone.

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Her son, Anakin Skywalker, starts out as a cute if not slightly obnoxious child, who grows into a complicated teen and young adult who kills his wife, pretty much orphans his children, and becomes the ultimate instrument of evil.

While marching around the galaxy sporadically force-choking people for kicks, he tortures his daughter, cuts off his sons hand, and tries to convert his boy to the Dark Side.

Anakin’s journey ends with redemption, but his path back to the light is strewn with the bodies of thousands.

Anakin Skywalker

Both Shmi and Anakin’s stories are tragic.  As is poor Padme’s.

A Skywalker by marriage, she is the child-Queen of Naboo, who eventually becomes the Senator for that world.

Queen Amidala.jpg

She marries Anakin in secret, and falls pregnant with his children, only to be killed by him.

Before she dies, she gives birth to twins.

Things get a little better for Anakin and Padme’s children, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa-Skywalker, but only slightly.  They, at least, both make it into their fifties (which is the approximate age they’ll be in The Force Awakens)!

Both Leia and Luke are orphaned, with one being raised by the Queen and Viceroy of Alderaan, and the other being raised by farmers on a remote, practically lawless backwater planet.

Leia watches her homeworld and adopted family get blown into glowing embers by a monstrous superweapon, while Luke stumbles across the smoking corpses of his Aunt and Uncle around the same time.  And it rollercoasters from there, for the both of them!

They eventually meet on the Death Star without knowing anything about their familial ties, and for a while there it looks like they’re going to fall in love with each other before Han thankfully gets in the way of that, then they both almost end up dead at the Battle of Yavin, only to make it through and eventually find out they’re brother and sister and the children of one of the most most evil people in the known galaxy.

Luke and Leia

It’s suggested they find happiness after the Battle of Endor, but it looks like that was short lived.

If the rumours about the story line for The Force Awakens are true, the Star Wars galaxy has known nothing but war since the Alliance defeated the Empire.  Luke is a recluse or an exile, and Leia has continued to fight for freedom against oppression.  Where it looked like she might find happiness with Han, it appears something happened to their relationship which drew them apart.

Part of my obsession with the story of the Skywalkers is the simple fact I want the poor buggers to know some happiness – not just momentary happiness, but real lasting happiness.

If I were to choose a third reason, it would simply be that I love Star Wars, and I think it’s healthy to let yourself get lost now and again in the things that you love.  What’s wonderful about having a blog is that you don’t have to worry about whether or not people read it, because you’re not trying to make any money out of it and you can just ramble – which can be a little therapeutic!

If you enjoy my rambles and the updates, that’s wonderful, if not, you won’t be back and that’s okay.  Either way, thank you for visiting.

May the Force be with you, and may The Force Awakens be everything we hope it can be… and hopefully, by the end of this trilogy, Leia and Luke at the very least, can find some lasting happiness.

Millennium Falcon in Hyperspace