LUKE SKYWALKER RETURNS TO THE GALAXY, FROM DECEMBER 15TH, 2017

ARRIVING IN THE NETHERLANDS, FROM 30/9/17. BOOK NOW FOR THE ULTIMATE 'STAR WARS' EXHIBITION

Sunday, 31 January 2016

EPISODE VII: EMERGENCY ESCAPE!


Their presence on Jakku detected by the First Order, Resistance fighter Poe Dameron, now the custodian of vital information linked to the missing Luke Skywalker, and his loyal BB-8 droid, prepare for a swift getaway in their X-wing, during the exciting beginning to THE FORCE AWAKENS.

CLASSIC IMAGE: BEYOND DENIAL...


Padme Amidala is shocked to discover the truth behind the Jedi purge and the turning of her husband, and father-to-be, Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side of the Force, in this dramatic, revelatory moment from EPISODE III that fans had waited a long time to see detonated.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

CLASSIC IMAGE: BLIND MARKSMANSHIP!


Blaster aimed, Han says he "can see a lot better!", but Lando, already on the point of being the Sarlaac's next snack, isn't so sure, in this classic image from RETURN OF THE JEDI.


Friday, 29 January 2016

CLASSIC IMAGE: CHARGE OF THE JEDI BRIGADE!


Kit Fisto, Saesee Tiin and a force of 200 Jedi (portrayed by real-life blade artists called in from across Australia) begin their attack on the Geonosian Arena, filmed in second unit by Ben Burtt and Nick Gillard at the FOX Studios, for this classic moment from EPISODE II.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

CLASSIC IMAGE: THE TRAINING BEGINS...


On the swamp world of Dagobah, Luke Skywalker finds that life is full of surprises-large and small- after beginning the intensive and physically exhausting stages of his training in the ways of the Force and the Jedi, via the teachings of the small alien misfit now revealed as the exiled Master Yoda.

A sequence from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK both magical and full of important revelations for future STAR WARS  movies...

OUT NOW IN UK PAPERBACK: 'LORDS OF THE SITH'


The stuff of nightmares with his dark side powers, intimidating attitude and deathly visage, Lord Darth Vader is the one man that the greedy-for-power Imperial underlings, subject to his strict command, would be too fearful to act against. But that's not a problem for those beleagured yet bold rebels of the almost destroyed Ryloth, led by the noble and respected fighter Cham Syndulla, soon initiating a daring, risk-it-all assassination plan against both the Sith apprentice and his abominable master, The Emperor, as the lethal duo visit their world in crisis. What follows next in the cycle of events is unexpected (?) but brutal for its players, as the planet soon becomes a battlefield of opportunity, chaos and bloodshed. New York Times bestselling author Paul S. Kemp's popular tale set between EPISODEs III and IV, Lords of the Sith, unleashes itself on UK paperback today, courtesy of ARROW.

Check out our original review here: STAR WARS AFICIONADO WEBSITE: LORDS OF THE SITH

Get the book here: Star Wars: Lords of the Sith: Amazon.co.uk: Paul S. Kemp: 9780099542681: Books

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

CLASSIC IMAGE: SEAQUEST: NABOO!


Their destination the unknown dangers of the Naboo planet's core, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and their hapless and helpless new friend in Jar Jar Binks depart Oto Gunga in a native sub, in this lovely effects shot from EPISODE I.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

STAR WARS REBELS: McQUARRIE'S LEIA


Season Two of STAR WARS REBELS (airing Saturday mornings on the UK's DISNEY XD) is certainly making the most of its Classic Trilogy lead-in ties, especially with last week's not unexpected return of Princess Leia, voiced so well by Julie Dolan, in an episode which proved delightful. It was also great to see her character wearing an outfit similar to the one originally conceived for her back in 1975, by Ralph McQuarrie.


CLASSIC IMAGE: AT THE PRECIPICE OF EVIL...


A quite chilling shot of Hayden Christensen as a remote Anakin Skywalker, just before he chooses a side during Mace Windu's battle against Darth Sidious, during the middle act of EPISODE III.

Monday, 25 January 2016

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: BLUE SCREEN CONFLICT


In some of the last scenes shot in 1982 for RETURN OF THE JEDI, against blue screen at ILM, Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker prepares to tackle Peter Diamond's Biker Scout, literally twisting his neck before pushing him off his vehicle, in a moment from the classic speeder bike chase not used in the movie's final cut.

With thanks to Chris Baker for the image.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

EPISODE VII: RECYCLED ROVER!


With the most unusual yet coolest transport around, Rey is certainly a memorable figure racing ahead of her scrap gathering competitors within the desert fields of Imperial wreckage on Jakku, in this second great piece of ACME art that appeared in last December's WIRED magazine.

Latest EPISODE VII and sequels news/footage:

StarWars.com Reveals the Roles Played by Additional Voices Cast in 'The Force Awakens' | The Star Wars Underworld
The Untold Story Behind The Force Awakens' Best Easter Egg | WIRED
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS TV Spot - BB-8 Thumbs Up Clip (2015) - YouTube
Star Wars Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base - SNL - YouTube
'Star Wars' Highlights from Critics Choice Awards | The Star Wars Underworld
Star Wars: Episode VIII to Open December 15, 2017 | StarWars.com
Star Wars 8 Script Being Rewritten to Focus on Force Awakens Characters?
Rumor: Has Star Wars: Episode VIII Filming Been Pushed Back to February? New Asian Actress in Contention? - Star Wars News Net | Star Wars News Net
Star Wars: Episode VIII Luke Skywalker Scenes Rumored - Cosmic Book News
Box Office: 'Star Wars' May Have Peaked With 'The Force Awakens' - Forbes
‘Star Wars’ Passes $100 Million In China | Variety
Marvel Announces Poe Dameron Comic Series Coming in April | The Star Wars Underworld
'Star Wars' creatures featured heavily in 'Force Awakens'
'The Force Awakens' VFX Artist Discusses the Inspiration for the Look of Supreme Leader Snoke | The Star Wars Underworld
5 Star Wars cartoons that will ruin your day (spoilers) | GamesRadar
Michael Arndt Discusses The Origins Of 'The Force Awakens' Story & Characters | The Star Wars Underworld
The Orchestra Awakens: Inside the 'Star Wars' Recording Sessions
John Boyega on Bafta nods, speech writing and Finn/Poe | ShortList Magazine
Cailey Fleming Discusses Playing Young Rey In 'The Force Awakens' | The Star Wars Underworld
Meet Young Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens! - Star Wars News Net | Star Wars News Net
The Brothers Who Got 'Star Wars' Stars Into Shape

The stunning ILM cover to the sure sell-out issue of the new CINEFEX magazine.

'Star Wars' Visual Effects Team Reveals Secrets Behind Millennium Falcon's Relaunch - Hollywood Reporter

Cinefex 145 - Star Wars: The Force Awakens / The Revenant / Spectre / Ex Machnia / The Finest Hours

CLASSIC IMAGE: HEAD TO HEAD!


As the violent lightning storms intensify around the water world of Kamino, so too does the physical battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett, the latter delivering an unexpected headbutt at the Jedi, during this action scene from EPISODE II.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

CLASSIC ART: STAR WARRIORS ASSEMBLE!


Looking like they've come off the cover of one of MARVEL's THE AVENGERS comics, our Star Warriors rush towards unknown conflict in this lovely unused poster concept art for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK by Tom Jung, from 1979. Its nice to see Lando Calrissian amongst the group, though Jung clearly had no idea yet what costume Leia would be wearing in the upcoming film- giving her a slinky one piece number and cape that wouldn't look out of place on a superheroine of the day.

Friday, 22 January 2016

CLASSIC IMAGE: AN INSTINCT FOR DEPARTURE!


They've been rescued from imprisonment and surely imminent death by the noble Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, but now Queen Amidala and her party must make to bold decision to escape their planet and head for Coruscant, in a memorable sequence from EPISODE I.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

EPISODE VII: AGAINST THE ODDS!


Poe Dameron leads the valiant men, women and aliens of the Resistance's Red and Blue X-wing fighter squadrons on a sneak attack against the immense destructive power planet that is Starkiller Base, in this great new effects shot from THE FORCE AWAKENS, recently released by LUCASFILM/DISNEY UK.

EPISODE VII: CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE!


Its a subtle yet charged reunion between former lovers on Takodana, of which BB-8 and the golden humanoid protocol droid Threepio can only guess at what's truly going through their minds, in a nicely written and acted scene- another pure lump in the throat moment from EPISODE VII.


Meanwhile, despite the Resistance's victory, poor Finn must survive the guilt and anger at seeing the unexpected capture of Rey by Kylo Ren and his First Order forces...

Two further new images recently released from THE FORCE AWAKENS, via LUCASFILM/DISNEY UK.

EPISODE VII: GETTING ATTACHED TO THE FALCON!


As if Han Solo's beloved Millennium Falcon hasn't been suffering enough since its re-launch from desert limbo, its now facing blaster attacks from the enforcers of the Guavian Death Gang, and has one of the deadly unleashed Rathtars firmly locked on to its cockpit- intent on eating its occupants, in these newly released classic visual effects images from THE FORCE AWAKENS, via LUCASFILM/DISNEY UK.





Monday, 18 January 2016

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'THE ART OF STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS'


Kylo Ren stalks our young heroes in this striking Doug Chiang image captured in THE FORCE AWAKENS first teaser trailer in 2014. All images: The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak © Abrams Books, 2015
(C) 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. And TM. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization

THE ART OF STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

By Phil Szostak

Foreword by Rick Carter

Published by Abrams Books


Reviewed by Scott Weller


“Imagination has no end.” Words spoken by Mark Hamill back in 1980 highlighting the continuing beauty and wonder associated with the visual creation of the incredible STAR WARS saga by George Lucas. That same spirit of beauty, creativity and inspirational zest now hard at work within the conception and reality-based execution of the latest spectacular entry of the incredible cinematic legacy with THE FORCE AWAKENS, whose well-pitched blend of emotion, drama and aesthetically pleasing thrills have so captured the world’s hearts, and whose design origins from art to celluloid life is charted by Lucasfilm Archivist Phil Szostak in his striking new book THE ART OF STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, given glorious publication by ABRAMS BOOKS.

From the official announcement of newly inaugurated company President Kathleen Kennedy’s taking the reins of LUCASFILM LTD from the much-missed George Lucas, to the short, swift and invigorating news of October 2012 that surprised fans everywhere-news that a new set of STAR WARS films was incoming, followed by the quick throwing in of the assistance hat to make those adventures a reality by longtime film designer and friend to Spielberg and Kennedy, Oscar-winning production designer Rick Carter. This was soon followed by STAR WARS Prequel ingĂ©nue Doug Chiang, who truly wanted to work on the evolution of the visual storytelling of the new sequels- the important building blocks of their willing recruitment to the new era charted efficiently by Szostak. This love for the resurrected STAR WARS soon brought together a further collective pool of visualists like no other as the calender reached January of 2103 (and expanding even further into the following year), as acclaimed storyteller Michael Arndt’s emergence as screen writer caught attention, followed by the final acceptance of directing wunderkid J.J. Abrams, despite his early reticence and having just completed the most recent revival of another successful sci-fi franchise in the STAR TREK series, with its second re-imagined entry: INTO DARKNESS.

The first genuine brainstorming meeting during January 2013 must surely have looked like something out of DR. STRANGELOVE at first, but it soon proved a successful, well-honed conflagration of minds, determining what they thought was necessary to recapture those original elements of that first 1977 film that had been so successful and indelibly linked, nay hardwired, into their mindsets. Rick Carter’s foreword to this very special book importantly reveals what STAR WARS, created by George Lucas, meant to him, and how he wanted to bring that magic back to life in symbiosis, and through the eyes of superfan Abrams, and with the at-the-peak-of-their powers, fast-moving conceptual/design team of artists. There’s a stressing of the underlying importance of rediscovering what made the original three films, especially the later titled A New Hope, so great, plus a fascinating what would happen next? discovery and mixing of story and art of which they've clearly, eagerly wanted to reveal after the closing of Luke Skywalker’s story with the redemption of his father…

An older but no less ready for action "Han Solo". Art by Christian Alzmann and Iain McCaig
The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak © Abrams Books, 2015
(C) 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. And TM. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization

As this new storyline emerges, so too does its new young heroes in plucky Kira and charismatic Sam, who’d eventually become our Rey and Finn, immersed within a whole host of intriguing ideas, concepts and art concoctions, separately, together, and, most importantly, inter-mixing with the anticipated return of the Classic Trilogy heroes- the LUCASFILM artists having the equal thrill and responsibility to show us what they’d now look like and also what the've been up to in the 35 years since RETURN OF THE JEDI. Striking tapestries in the book show Han Solo as a tough guy in the best John Wayne/TRUE GRIT tradition, to an ethereal-like, at one with the nature of the Force, and partially submerged in the sand Luke Skywalker, berthed in an unusual but striking illustration.

Then there’d be the classic vehicles they’d all be using/travelling in, like the Millennium Falcon, Rebel/Resistance starfighters and Empire/ First Order Star Destroyers- how they would evolve and change with the times and the demands of a new/old audience. Now a rich and open palette for them to explore, the designers soon unleash their visions in astounding speed- the classic image of the powerful and dominant Star Destroyer, in particular, now becoming a ghostly shrine of an historical war not yet witnessed, crash-landed in the wastelands of that far-off desert realm/scavengers paradise of Jakku, and being one of the first conceptual images to make it across the production process and into the onscreen end product, done in such a successful and hauntingly prescient way. Other shots in this book would later equally become as well captured, surely making the crew justifiably proud of their gestating accomplishments.

In isn’t stated so much, but some of the early work presented in this period could also have come from some of the ideas developed by George Lucas for his original draft/concept for the new sequel saga, the one which helped cement the original sale  of the franchise to DISNEY, and which would ultimately, sadly, be pushed aside- all of this part of the production history quietly ignored for the rest of the book, in favour of the new-yet-old direction that basically reworked so much of the Classic Trilogy with what would be a new vitality and zest- J.J.’s “going backwards to move forwards” idea which has, ultimately, worked with audiences young and old, and propelled the film way past the billion dollar mark globally.

"Saber Studies." Art by Ryan Church.
The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak © Abrams Books, 2015
(C) 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. And TM. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization

Thankfully, the Lucas legacy lives on within the hearts and minds of the artists whom he hired during that intense creative period engineered for nearly ten years with the opulent Prequel Trilogy: the aforementioned Chiang, plus other masters of painted imagination in Ryan Church, Erik Tiemens and Iain McCaig- all welcome contributors. We’ve been so used to seeing their superb Prequel concept art, but it’s even more pleasurable to see their marvellous and evocative work for THE FORCE AWAKENS, with some standout pieces handsomely used over the book’s lavish spreads.

Arndt’s early scripting may be a slow-in-building mass, but the heavy march of time and production deadlines opens the floodgates to artistic interpretation: the idea of a scrapyard planet, old references to classic worlds like Felucia and a Coruscant-esque New Republic (not too dissimilar from The Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars animated series), plus ice planets, double-bladed lightsabers (each side a different colour), and a continuance of the Darth Vader armour and the Sith enemies, come to being and assessment. Plus the continued influence of the late, great Ralph McQuarrie, as well as Lucas’ favourite director in Japanese legend Akira Kurosawa, whose visuals and storytelling tone from classic cinema like THE SEVEN SAMURAI and THE HIDDEN FORTRESS resonate as strongly as the STAR WARS adventures they’d inspire.

Old favourites within the book surprise and delight within new surroundings. The aforementioned Millennium Falcon is particularly, beautifully rendered in all-new scenarios - whether travelling underwater to a crashed Death Star (crazy but fun!), landed and tarpaulin cover blown over on the windswept Jakku, or up in space pursued by the next evolutionary step of the lethal and fast-moving TIE Interceptor, following on from their last appearance in JEDI. There’s a particularly splendid inside hardback cover of the Falcon that I hope someone eventually realizes its worth as a poster.

Other lovely centre spread images lingering in the mindset: Kira/Rey flying an X-wing fighter, its canopy open, as she spiritedly uses her her lightsaber to crucially damage the underside of a Star Destroyer, plus further unused concepts like the L-wing fighter and the single wing-fin TIE fighter, red Star Destroyers emanating from holed out middle planet cores and the massive and intimidating Imperial Warhammer capable of breaking through shielded planets in a way that Imperial orbital bombardments could never do against the Rebels on Hoth during the opening to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

March and April 2013 see more new artistic insights developing from the Arndt script: the former Emperor’s Castle (an idea going way back to the late 1977 conceptual stages of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, of which Vader himself was to have been its primary occupant), an ice planet with a centralized weapon’s core, plus bands of space pirates whose allegiances and positions in the adventure would change as the story changed- from Stormtrooper-esque hunters to junk scavengers, to what they would eventually be in the film, linked to Han Solo, Chewbacca, and later the reconfigured castle now belonging to that warm-heated but secretive bar owner Maz Kanata (who, at this point, hadn’t been conceived), plus the demonic idea of a new “Jedi Killer” (deliberately Darth Vader-ish in appearance, designed to unnerve a Luke Skywalker whose presence was still being worked out, not yet the classic “MacGuffin” he’d ultimately become by the finished film), and the revelation of this new foe being linked to the Third Reich-esque Empire, eventually re-christened The First Order.

Beyond the art, a true highlight of the book and its early behind the scenes charting, is the discovery of just how much of the finished film had been conceived by Michael Arndt. By April ’13, his script, and its influences and contributions from Abrams and the artistic team, would be taking a very recognisable shape, especially the re-development of Sam into a new and more interesting type of hero: Finn- now a Stormtrooper who ultimately doesn’t want to be one. And stronger ideas in tying in events from the Prequels to the Sequels are also considered- a force ghost Anakin and even a new variation of Yoda. An intriguing image of a bearded, Obi-Wan inspired Luke holding the bonfire damaged Vader mask also impresses- something considered and redrawn for the later villain that would be Kylo Ren.

With the rich diversity of the already designed STAR WARS universe being a well still bringing much water to be absorbed, Darren Gilford would join EPISODE VII as Rick Carter’s co-production designer. Working primarily from London, he’d bring his own brand of knowledge and love for the original films to the table, building on the established classic work of McQuarrie, Joe Johnston and others, and being a vital contributor to the needed practical realization of those ideas, especially for the upcoming set construction in England and Abu Dhabi during May 2014. Beyond the world of lightsabers and Jedi, modern-world influences of the team and especially those formed from the life-experienced Carter would prove equally essential in making things believable to the general audience, whose tastes had seemingly changed since the last STAR WARS film of 2005.

July 2013 saw mercurial pirate bartender Maz Kanata’s role in the movie being finalized (completed by and seen by actress Lupita Nyong’o, who embraced the role and used her grandmother as a source of inspiration in bringing it to life), as was the design of loveable spheroid droid BB-8. First known as “Surly’, the little ball droid’s origins were not revealed on screen but are actually pretty dark, having escaped a reject pile on the way to an Imperial vessel's blasting furnace, no less. Happier times ultimately see him becoming best buddy to ace pilot Poe Dameron. August, meanwhile, would see Exotica City- the planed middle planet involving the return of lovable but self-exiled Han Solo and Chewbacca- lost and transplanted into Maz Kanata’s castle with the later fast script re-writes initiated by Abrams and Kasdan, now taking a firm hold of the film’s direction and what they ultimately wanted the film to be about, as Arndt departs the project after his lengthy stint.

Between December '13 and Feb '14, Abrams and Kasdan’s well-matched union brings with it a fresh kind of excitement and enthusiasm that clearly, infectiously pumps up the spirits of everyone around them as the late Spring shooting for Abu Dhabi beckons. Spirits buoyed amidst a high nostalgia factor, mixed with the challenging ambitions of new and unexpected story and character directions soon given exploration via the arrival of additional artistic contributors with an eye for STAR WARS possibilities old and new, and whom previously worked with Carter and Gilford on other successful movies. By March 2014, the all-important look of the “Jedi Killer”, christened Kylo Ren, would be fatefully locked in, retaining a quasi-Vader-ish look but generating a new sense of the macabre with its intimidating facial frontage, whilst an early idea of his bearing a chrome armour became the separate brutal and cold-hearted Captain Phasma, too good not to be used and worn by the saga’s first-ever female villain, played by the strong-willed and strikingly beautiful Gwendoline Christie.

Other Dark Side related factors locked in during that spring would be the new face of Dark Side corruption in the enigmatic and clearly dangerous Unknown Regions-based alien, Snoke (originally conceived as a female, and whom may actually be older than the Sith), the final interior designs of the Starkiller Base (of which ILM legend Dennis Muren ultimately came up with its immense sun-draining capabilities), and the conflicts of the all-important and dramatically charged, tear-jerking third act set within its darkened core, and its multitude of John Barry Death Star tribute hallways.

Now that the results of all those individual and collective talents on EPISODE VII have finally been cinematically released as of December 2015, the sleeping giant that was STAR WARS looks set to be wide awake for a very long time to come, and with further rich areas to be developed, what with many of the artistic team having also just completed work on the closer to EPISODE IV realms of the anthology series opener ROGUE ONE- a darker, more violent, feel the blood and sweat of it all dominion than THE FORCE AWAKENS, as the Rebel Alliance risks everything to capture the plans of a certain battle station approaching apocalyptic completion. Plus the January 2016 on set return of Rey, Finn, their friends and foes, for the revelations-packed events of EPISODE VII! All these new travels, new aliens and new drama eagerly awaited both for on screen life and ART OF book publication!

I wonder how many readers of THE ART OF STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS will eventually forge their craft and surely work on the next blockbuster chapters to come in ten years time?

The saga, seemingly brighter and more reinvigorated than ever, continues…

AFICIONADO RATING: George Lucas’s visual heritage continues to be in safe hands with the dedicated starburst of talent on perusal here. 4.5 out of 5

BEHIND THE SCENES: MONSTERS OF THE EMPIRE!

An unknown Imperial extra, Dave Prowse and Ron Beck on the Death Star corridor set. Image: Ann Skinner.

The one true inhabitor of the Darth Vader costume, Dave Prowse, is given a final check over by Wardrobe supervisor Ron Beck, before filming the now legendary deleted/The Holiday Special re-worked scene with Leslie Schofield's Chief Bast (originally scripted to have been a Stormtrooper Commander conferring with Vader), in the above continuity Polaroid taken by Script supervisor Ann Skinner for the original STAR WARS.
Miss Skinner's earliest 1976 pre-filming typed character and costume details for Darth Vader specifically list him as a ""Dark Lord of the Sith, at 7 feet tall, "Sc(ene). A3: face obscured by flowing robes and grotesque breath mask", with "LIGHTSABER", and a "Right hand to the Emperor"".

The same Imperial extra, Prowse, an unknown behind the scenes man, and Ron Beck.
Vader and Chief Bast (Leslie Schofield) in deleted scene BA53, properly revealed on the 2011 Blu-ray set.
Heavy commuter traffic in the heart of the Death Star.

With thanks to Ann Skinner and the BFI. Additional thanks to Chris Baker.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'THE FORCE AWAKENS' - THE NOVELIZATION


Versatile, dependable and an all-round very safe pair of hands, both then and now, Alan Dean Foster is the genuine go-to talent when it comes to adapting films to novel form, as well as an accomplished and hugely published original author in his own right. In 1976 he launched the original STAR WARS into the hearts and minds of fans months before the release of the actual film, ghost writing that rousing first book for George Lucas, becoming one of the few to know from the start how the saga and its characters were born (via constant communication with their creator), and helped launch a publishing empire that's continuing rosily to this day. Now, in 2015, he's back, penning the most important STAR WARS film since that original in terms of its gigantic behind the scenes shifting and re-imagining of the franchise for old and new generations alike, once again showcasing his creative mettle with this elegant and exciting adaptation of THE FORCE AWAKENS- of which it gives me, and I'm sure many, many others, a happy glow to finally see his name born on the jacket of an official STAR WARS movie adaptation.

The new heroine of STAR WARS: the enchanting Rey.

Foster's flair for his work, and his obvious enjoyment in returning to the saga, is clear- the storytelling feels rights and comes across as a warm sequel to that original 1976 book in so many ways (even down to the all-new Journal of the Whills quote that subtly launches things in style) - the adaptation is precise and turn-the-page memorable, his knowledge of the old characters palpable (Han Solo is exceptionally good here), his development of the new ones full of potential (Rey, who seems a little bit harsher in her Jakku scenes, and the on-the brink villainy of Kylo Ren), alongside a crisp prose coming to the mind's eye (forgive the pun) with a rich and experienced love and command of the written word that puts many of today's SW book world, needlessly overwritten authors to shame. Foster remain unchallenged as the ultimate STAR WARS film-to-book translator.

Kylo Ren's mission to destroy the missing Luke Skywalker gathers momentum.

As with the tradition of all the previous STAR WARS books of the films- not just his work but others- Foster adapts from the original yet still evolving shooting script (and/or likely even a near-final production cut), so there's obviously lots of nice extended moments of deleted dialogue/lost sequences to savour, as well as some quiet foreshadowing to future sequels if you know where to look (Kylo Ren's finale lightsaber duel with Rey having a subtle revelation). In story terms, welcome clarity is given to Princess Leia and the Resistance's battle against the mysterious alien leader Snoke (whose origins and his relationship to the Dark Side-turned Ren get some brief teasing) and the First Order (who aren't the incompetents here that they often seem to be on screen). Plot holes that are more noticeable in printed form (where did pirate bartender Maz Kanata disappear to?), specific rationales and unanswered technological questions (how the Starkiller's unique system killing weapon travels beyond Hyperspace) are also cleverly worked out and resolved. Foster, clearly a Classic Trilogy aficionado, also puts in some fun references and in-jokes of his own, and some additionally touching moments to a story already brimming with nostalgia and high emotion (Chewbacca's wanting Rey to have the Falcon's main pilot seat bringing a tear or two to this reader's eyes). My only complaint with the book is its tight 272 page count- this is one of the few times these last ten years that I could have happily consumed another fifty pages!

Putting STAR WARS confidently back at the Number One slot of the New York Times Bestseller List, here's hoping that Mister Foster will also be the ultimate choice in adapting EPISODEs VIII and IX, in much the same way that he so pleasingly worked on J.J. Abrams two STAR TREK movie books in recent years.

AFICIONADO RATING. A refreshing read to a re-invigorated franchise. If this isn't on your bookshelf already, go get it! 4.5 out of 5

Get the UK CENTURY PUBLISHING hardcover book, which includes eight pages of lovely photo content, here: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Amazon.co.uk: Alan Dean Foster: 9781780894768: Books

Alan Dean Foster official site: ALAN DEAN FOSTER

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: 16 questions the novel answers, like how Poe gets off Jakku and how Rey quickly becomes so powerful | News | Culture | The Independent

Star Wars 7 Script & Novel: New Details and Biggest Answers

Saturday, 16 January 2016

STAR WARS REBELS: SEASON TWO RETURNS TO THE UK

The moment we've all been waiting for: Ahsoka vs Vader in STAR WARS REBELS Season Two. Images: LUCASFILM/DISNEY.

Co-creator/producer Dave Filoni said that the next mid-season trailer for STAR WARS REBELS Year Two would be spoilers-packed. And he wasn't kidding, its clips having more than whetted fans appetites in their thirst for the saga post THE FORCE AWAKENS release. However, the introduction of several new and old characters raises important questions that will need to be satisfyingly resolved continuity-wise in the events before A New Hope.

Star Wars Rebels Season Two - Mid-Season Trailer (Official) - YouTube

- Star Wars - Rebels season 2 trailer - Deep dive with creator Dave Filoni - EW.com

Here's a few grabs...

Vader is back and he's not pleased!
Ezra takes on the Fifth Brother.
The return of Cham Syndulla.
The courage of young Princess Leia Organa.
Ezra communicates with Yoda.
New destinations for the crew of the Ghost.
Zeb encounters more of his people.
Discovering Anakin Skywalker.
A Sith Temple?
Unlocking its sinister secrets?
Guardians of the Old Republic.
Unfinished business with the Mandalorians.
The TIE Bombers return!
Hera takes a hit!
A striking image of Vader.
Connecting strands to THE FORCE AWAKENS.

STAR WARS REBELS Season Two Part Two commences transmissions on the UK's DISNEY XD channel Saturday mornings from 23rd January, 2016.

BEHIND THE SCENES: THE NEXT MOVE!


The EPISODE III "Video Village" at FOX STUDIOS, Australia captures part of Hayden Christensen's lightsaber duel against Kyle Rowling's Count Dooku (an angle I don't recall in the finished sequence), during the fast-paced filming schedule of 2003.

Friday, 15 January 2016

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: THE CHIPMUNKS OF ENDOR!


They'd start off life as more ferocious looking creatures, but there came a time when the cuteness factor couldn't help but come to the fore, as Joe Johnston's designs for the Ewoks of the forest moon of Endor, here looking almost Chipmunk-like, start taking final shape during 1981 post-production for RETURN OF THE JEDI.