CELEBRATING FORTY GLORIOUS YEARS OF 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK' AT STARWARS.COM

Saturday, 30 September 2017

'STAR WARS' AT 40: WARTIME AIDES!


The communications of the Rebel pilots and their movements are tracked in the Rebel command centre on Yavin IV, by a team of technicians, bringing aid and assistance to the space heroes where possible, the overall actions overseen and watched by the main Rebel leaders, including Jan Dodonna and a concerned Princess Leia.


Generic shot of background technicians, filmed at Shepperton Studios.

One of the main liaison officers is played by veteran film and TV actor Burnell Tucker, appearing in other blockbusters around the late seventies and eighties like SUPERMAN THE MOVIE and FLASH GORDON, and whom would return to duty as a Rebel on Hoth for The Empire Strikes Back (though there his voice would be dubbed by another actor). Here he warns the Rebel pilots that enemy ships are incoming.

Burnell Tucker as a Rebel technician, warning the pilots of the approaching TIEs.

THE CLONE WARS: TO SNARE A PROTOCOL DROID...


On the wild streets of Coruscant, C-3PO's determined streak to get a bargain for Senator Amidala's political gathering will soon get the best of him, and straight into a trap orchestrated by Cad Bane, in the memorable Season Three episode Evil Plans.

Friday, 29 September 2017

CLASSIC IMAGE: SEPARATIST WAR MACHINES!


In the hostile wilderness of Geonosis, the Separatist Droid army is on the march in its thousands, as all shapes and size of machine automate terror unleashes its firepower on the approaching Jedi and Clone Trooper battalions, in this memorable shot from EPISODE II.

'STAR WARS' AT 40: THE FIRST X-WING CASUALTY!


The Rebel attack runs on the Death Star surface continue with daring aplomb, but Red Six (aka Porkins) is the first of their X-wing fighter casualties after his craft has a technical problem that soon sees him and it turn into a fireball.

Popular actor William Hootkins, despite concerns over the on set pyrotechnics of the effects boys, gamely let himself be "blown up" on the cockpit set at Elstree Studios in July 1976. Originally, Porkins and Biggs attack run occurred in the script whilst the TIE fighter attack was actually starting, rather than in the finished film, where the death happened beforehand.


Thursday, 28 September 2017

EPISODE VIII: NEW FRIENDS, NEW JOURNEYS!


Now adopted by Chewbacca as his human co-pilot following the tragic murder of Han Solo, Rey looks very comfortable with the Wookiee in their pilot seats on the Millennium Falcon, now located on the sea island world of Ahch-To. Let's hope that this is indeed the start of a true and long-lasting friendship.

A lovely photo by Annie Leibovitz for this year's Vanity Fair promotion/portfolio of The Last Jedi.

'STAR WARS' AT 40: FACTORY PILOTS!


Andrew Ainsworth poses outside Shepperton Design Studios, London, with the various TIE fighter pilot helmets that the company created en bulk for filming at Elstree in Summer 1976. A sequence on the Death Star was filmed of the pilot group racing to their ships but was deleted from the film, though part of the footage turned up eventually in RETURN OF THE JEDI.

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/behind-scenes-imperial-summer-fun.html

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/classic-image-death-star-battle.html

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: MICRO FALCON!


By the time of effects filming for The Empire Strikes Back in 1979 and Return of the Jedi in 1982, numerous sizes of Han Solo's unique Millennium Falcon were needed rather than what was originally created and used back in 1976, for example this incredibly small version that's as full of detail as the larger size creations.

Models may sadly have gone into extinction for the most part of the creation of today's new post-Lucas STAR WARS movies, but when it comes to merchandise, the Falcon remains a unique ship that people love to recreate. So thanks to EGMONT UK for their latest franchise release, just in time for Christmas stocking deliveries:STAR WARS Millennium Falcon Book and Mega Model.


Here's the blurb:

Jump aboard the fastest ship in the Star Wars galaxy with this amazing book and model to make of the Millennium Falcon!
Join Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca for an adventure in this book filled with fun facts, character profiles, ship schematics and story moments from across the entire Star Wars saga.
Press out the pieces to build the Millennium Falcon – with no glue required! When fully built this model is approximately 30x30cm and has moveable cannons and radar dish. Removable panels allow you to look inside to find out more about this famous freighter.
Have you collected all the titles in the Star Wars Construction Books series:
Star Wars: Battle Stations - Activity Book and Model
Star Wars Empire Tin
Star Wars Rebellion Tin
Star Wars: Smuggler's Starship - Activity Book and Model

Get it here (from October 5th, 2017): https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=millennium+falcon+book+and+mega+model

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

EPISODE VIII: CHROME EVIL - THE RETURN OF 'PHASMA'!


POSSIBLE SPOILERS

Ruthlessly efficient in her physicality and practicality, not afraid to do what's necessary for the continuance of the First Order with whom she has thrived as a cold-hearted leader in bringing death, chaos, destruction and her own form of nihilistic self-belief and revenge against such creation failing to conform to her power base beliefs, the tall and intimidating silver armoured warrior Captain Phasma, played by the charismatic Gwendoline Christie, will return for The Last Jedi, and looks set to be more brutal and uncompromising than ever, utilising a new slickly murderous staff weapon that has started to appear in merchandise tie-ins/publicity. With this adventure, we may even see her in drama and action without the helmet on...


Proving herself an adept writing player for the STAR WARS universe with the novella The Perfect Weapon, Delilah S. Dawson was a worthy selection choice to pen a full novel in the lead-up to EPISODE VIII. To have been given the genuinely plum assignment of charting the origins of Phasma, a unique member of the canon, must have been the incredible icing to the celebratory cake of being a part of LUCAS BOOKS and the thriving Lucasfilm Story Team. Out now in UK hardback from Century, Phasma, which has much interconnecting tissue with Chuck Wendig's prior Aftermath saga, has received acclaim, but I have to say it proved the most unintentionally disappointing of reads to this reviewer, from someone who was keenly looking forward to it as part of the 2017 line-up. Dawson's plotting and writing is certainly deft and readable, and the book's main framing device is intriguing, as the crimson First Order commander Cardinal, the most respected and strangely noble soldier of this evil empire when it comes to warfare and the training of his men, has become desperate to discover and expose the secrets of the mystery woman Phasma, born to be a warrior and emergent from a bizarre alien world shrouded in darkness and danger, and whom has now usurped his leadership and his place in the elite command structure. Hoping to find something, some chink in her armour that will see her exiled or face the firing squad, Cardinal has newly captured a cocky and daring female Resistance spy who has the answers, tantalizing her to cooperate in exchange for freedom. And so the origins of Phasma are revealed from there, but sadly it all feels so run of the mill- Phasma's ambitions, attitude and anger all feel right but around her the story arc feels like a STAR WARS version of Game of Thrones in some ways - being part of the Scyre tribe fighting for survival by whatever means and sacrifices necessary in the chance to escape to the stars from the technologically de-evolving and seemingly dying world of Parnassos, alongside a small band of loyal to the end characters all of whom equally wouldn't be out of place in George R.R. Martin's work, mixed together with a quest full of mysterious realms that could have been in early seventies gloom sci-fi, the original Planet of the Apes, or even Classic Star Trek for that matter, which failed to engage this reviewer. Yes, Cardinal's actions towards Phasma end the book on a strong note, but even then the overall tale feels like a padded time waster in some respects, as it's clearly obvious what the outcome will be linked to this iconic villainess, and especially as Cardinal is likely not going to be mentioned in The Last Jedi. What Phasma's actual link to the upcoming film will be, I really couldn't tell you after reading this to the end - likely nothing too substantial, but just enough of an exposition mention to be make this tie-in seem worthwhile. History seems to be repeating itself: sometimes it's better to leave intriguing character's background unexplained, to leave the aura of mystery intact: something a lot of fans never forgave George Lucas for in revealing the true heritage of Boba Fett with the Prequels.

Delilah S. Dawson certainly deserves a second full-length STAR WARS book for the future, but let's hope for something that's much more of an involving and overall more original read.

http://www.starwars.com/news/phasma-excerpt-first-order-captain-journey-begins

AFICIONADO RATING: For the die-hard sequel book fans only: 3 out of 5

Get Phasma here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Phasma-Journey-Last/dp/1780898215/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506538603&sr=1-1&keywords=star+wars+phasma

CLASSIC IMAGE: UH-OH!


STAR WARS was still in its innocence days when the 1978 scripting and early 1979 filming of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was underway in London, as cast and fans alike were wondering which one of the main young guys- boyish hero Luke or smart-mouth rogue Han- was going to win the hand and kisses of the lovely Princess Leia. The idea of "The Other" (the planned female hero for what would have been George Lucas's early scribbles for IX to XII) eventually being Leia by the next film hadn't even been worked out when EMPIRE was in development, so we can only assume that this "almost kiss" scene, seen in an early trailer, was cut from the film for reasons of pace and story structure rather than anything else. Certainly, the soon after this moment proper kiss Leia gave Luke, in order to make Han jealous, has since garnered lots of notoriety and dark humour now that she's officially Luke's sister!

Mark Hamill tells how Luke really felt about kissing his sister Leia - CNET

'STAR WARS' AT 40: 'THE DEATH-STATION OF DARTH VADER!'


It's a wonderful fusion of Classic MARVEL'S larger than life visual excitement of the seventies mixed with the ambitious, beyond its time cinematic storytelling of the original STAR WARS, as the cover of the UK's STAR WARS WEEKLY issue II (from 1978) shows us a defiant Darth Vader, lightsaber raised to the enemy forces, realizing what a threat these seemingly puny and small fighters actually are to the Death Star, that there is some ultimate purpose to the enemies attack on the surface, and soon issuing orders that the TIE fighter crews are dispatched for engagement.

I think it's unlikely that series art starter Howard Chaykin did the cover for the weekly- it doesn't look his style, and his work Stateside for MARVEL on the comic was likely nearing its end. If anyone knows the artist please get in touch.Tony Dezuniga, perhaps?

http://episodenothing.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/looking-back-at-star-wars-weekly-issue.html

TIE fighter pilots scramble:
https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/classic-image-death-star-battle.html

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

EPISODE VIII: COMETH THE JUGGERNAUTS!


SPOILERS!

The Empire's intimidating firepower may be gone but it's technical brutality has nonetheless been reshaped into all new, even more powerful iterations via the First Order, as the stomping metal brute the AT-M6 (All Terrain Megacaliber 6) and the rest of its kind make their explosive and ground-quaking debut in The Last Jedi, during one of the film's finale battles at the location of the once deserted Rebel base on Crait.

CLASSIC IMAGE: THE SUBTLE SITH!


Keeping under the radar for the time being, the newly arrived on Naboo presence of Sith Lord Darth Maul keeps an eye and powers of the Force on the developing situation with the returned Jedi, in a deleted scene set in the Royal courtyard from EPISODE I.

'STAR WARS' AT 40: SURFACE BLITZKRIEG!


Luke Skywalker and other Rebel pilots are making their effective decoy mark attacking the Death Star surface at critical points, in scenes realized on terrific landscapes created at ILM, and whose massive explosions were often detonated outside the Van Nuys office during late 1976.

Monday, 25 September 2017

EPISODE VIII: RIAN'S PLAYTIME!


The universe might be in crisis, and the Resistance potentially on the brink of extinction, but that doesn't mean that the cast and crew can't have a laugh whilst filming the galactic events of The Last Jedi, as seen here with director Rian Johnson, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac on one of the cruiser corridor sets at Pinewood.

'STAR WARS' AT 40: MODEL ASSEMBLY!


Designer Joe Johnston and the original ILM model making team of STAR WARS (including Grant McCune, Paul Huston,Steve Gawley and Jon Erland ) pose for this terrific image at Van Nuys, alongside the models they'd create that would fuel the imaginations of fans of all ages worldwide, and propel all kinds of merchandise iterations for decades to come.

http://www.starwars.com/news/paul-huston-on-making-models-and-history-for-star-wars-a-new-hope


'BLADE RUNNER 2049': THE MYSTERY BEGINS...

Images: SONY.

Harrison Ford looks the business, back as former Replicant hunter Rick Deckard, hiding within a world gone mad, one that's past the brink of chaos and now entering into a whole new phase of future shocks, as BLADE RUNNER 2049 comes to cinemas next month.

New: Finale online short story film: BLADE RUNNER BLACK OUT 2022:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNVPl3NavWM

Terrific behind the scenes coverage (October 2017 issue): https://www.wired.com/2017/09/behind-the-scenes-blade-runner-2049-sequel/

More footage/BTS:

New footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pggDr1wmcoE

Ryan Gosling as K.

New TV spot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9VJAc7D62Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va4dJI0Cyyw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrY7ePGt7G0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_PtkN3aYFo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7vvGYOFtO0

Sunday, 24 September 2017

EPISODE VIII: TRINITY OF EVIL...


Revenge. Revenge against the Resistance will be the main priority for the main trio of villains comprising the First Order's continuing command structure: sneery General Hux, cruel hearted trooper Captain Phasma, and emotionally unbound leader of the Knights of Ren- Kylo Ren, all reunited unhappily yet happily for saga fans in cinemas this December.




http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/films/855458/Star-Wars-8-Last-Jedi-killed-off-General-Hux-Domhnall-Gleeson-Episode-9

http://screenrant.com/star-wars-8-last-jedi-general-hux-domhnall-gleeson-first-order/

'STAR WARS REBELS': HOME IS WHERE THE BATTLE IS...


It looks like things have come full circle for our small, loyal and incredible band of Rebel heroes returned to their home base world of grassy Lothal to try and finally rid it of Imperial tyranny, as the fourth and surely emotional final season of STAR WARS REBELS grows near.

http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-rebels-season-four-viewing-schedule

Trailer 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtigV-biVGg

'STAR WARS' AT 40: IMPERIAL FIREPOWER!


As alarms sound and Stormtroopers and officers race to their positions, the Death Star's fully manned rotating laser turret areas are blasting away at the descending X-wing fighters now beginning strafing runs across the surface of their space station, in a classic moment from the original STAR WARS.

Rehearsal shot of the stationed gunners.

Filmed at the near end of Summer 1976 production at Elstree, the large set would make use of existing wall sections created previously for other Death Star interiors, including the tractor beam power terminal. At least three gun turret props were created for the sequence, though the third background one may have been a cardboard blow-up (to save on the construction budget).

One of the turrets explodes in a moment barely in the finished movie.

A massive detonation, only seen in photo form with this original 1977 TOPPS card.

Several images of Stormtroopers and gunners at work or readying their equipment on the set were taken during filming by the stills set photographers, as well as pyrotechnic work where stuntmen (presumably Colin Skeaping, Peter Diamond or Reg Harding) would land on nearby mattresses hidden out of camera sight (but seen in the above B/W still). Script Supervisor Ann Skinner also took two so far unpublished B/W Polaroids of the costumed extras in and around the various sets and equipment.

Stormtroopers at the ready. Note what looks like a cut-out cannon at the far end.

With thanks to Ann Skinner and the BFI.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

'STAR WARS' AT 40: DESCENT TO THE AXIS!


Above the Death Star, diversionary X-wing fighters peel off and dive towards the space station's surface, in this great imagery that was likely unused/rejected test optical composite shots later used as promotional imagery. In the completed film, the fighters descend like this but not with the Death Star background.

Unused ILM storyboard of X and Y-wing fighters peeling racing around the Death Star surface.


ROGUE ONE: BODHI THE FIGHTER...


We know him more as the shuttle pilot or the vital cable guy who helped the Rebels transmit the Death Star plans from Scarif, so its interesting to see this image of Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook holding a Rebel blaster- it looks more like a film scene image than a posed promotional image, perhaps from one of the original sequences for Rogue One featuring his beach squad involvement at the Imperial base, before all the re-shoots..

Friday, 22 September 2017

'STAR WARS' AT 40: FLIGHT OF REALITY!


He'd spent his early years piloting his T-16 Skyhopper into and around the twisting canyons of Tatooine's Dune Sea region shooting helpless Womprats, whilst simultaneously daydreaming of adventure and excitement amongst the stars he thought he'd never reach. Things change, however, and change quickly, as Luke Skywalker now finds himself in the driving seat of an old but efficient X-wing fighter, call sign Red Five, in a battle of epic importance not just to the growing Rebellion against the Empire, but also the entire galaxy...

Luke has equally gained a new friend and been reacquainted with an old one...

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/first-star-wars-blu-ray-footage-ewan.html

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/star-wars-at-35-biggs-shooting-star.html

CLASSIC ART: INSIDE THE HANGAR BAY


A superb and detailed look at one of the hangar bays inside the First Order's Star Destroyer Finalizer, packed with TIE craft, soldiers and armament, as concept art realized for The Force Awakens circa 2013/14. Stellar work from James Clyne.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

'STAR WARS' AT 40: RED LEADER CALLS HIS SQUAD...


Approaching the Death Star for their attack, Red Leader has his pilots signal in their battle readiness for a classic scene. Stalwart British character actor, and no stranger to UK sci-fi TV appearances in the early seventies, Drewe Henley would give the brave Red Leader a mix of experience and hotheadedness (in agreement with George Lucas), with the character's later trusting his kinsman instincts about Luke in giving the boy command of the back-up trench run fighter flight adding weight to a small but important role.

Red Leader... in sandals!
Henley enjoying the good weather outside the Elstree soundstage, along with Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels, then filming landspeeder scenes.

The British cast (mostly American redubbed in post) X and Y-wing pilot actors filmed their scenes during the then blistering record breaking Summer of 1976. So hot was it filming in the singular cockpit frame at Elstree, and against starfield lights and blue screens, that sweat could be seen on the pilot visors (resulting in cosmetic changes being made to them), whilst Henley got the chance to wear some comfortable sandals and sunbathe between studio calls!

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/behind-scenes-red-flight-at-elstree.html

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/DREWE%20HENLEY

Fighter pilot filming at Elstree: https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/behind-scenes-red-flight-at-elstree.html

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/star-wars-at-35-artoo-detoo-rebel-pilot.html

CLASSIC IMAGE: WOOKIEE STAR POWER!


I think it unlikely that Wookiees have face lifts, but Chewbacca nonetheless has that youthful look about him in the Prequel era's EPISODE III, looking pretty good for his circa 180 years of age!

Before we get to see the world's favourite Wookiee pilot/sidekick in action for The Last Jedi, enjoy his starring role as a family favourite via the fun, busy, colourful and visually mind bogglingly full, yet eye-catching second volume of Where's the Wookiee? It's out now in the UK from EGMONT.


Here's the blurb:


The exciting sequel to the bestselling Star Wars book of the past 10 years, Where’s the Wookiee.
Chewbacca is back and on the loose across the galaxy, and this time he’s brought some Wookiee friends. Find the hairy hero and a host of favourite characters in another search and find adventure. All new locations from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars story, as well as scenes from throughout the Star Wars saga.
Join Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader and many more for another adventure. The perfect gift for Star Wars fans of all ages!

Get the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wheres-Wookiee-Search-Activity/dp/1405284188/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505948994&sr=1-2&keywords=wheres+the+wookie



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

'STAR WARS' AT 40: 'ANGRY MOSQUITOS'!


The small but determined force of Rebel X-wings close-in on the goliath that is the Death Star space station in this superb art by Howard Chaykin for the original STAR WARS Marvel comic series adaptation (issue 6). The X-wings are still referred to as Blue Squadron, with the change to Red happening whilst the comic adaptation was presumably already too far gone into production to make corrections.

Unlike the film version's fifteen minutes, the Death Star firing range point in the comics was thirty.

CLASSIC IMAGE: FUR POWER!


When you're friends with Ewoks, you're friends for life, as our Rebel commandos find when the furry critters become unlikely allies en masse in the battle against the Empire, during the climactic excitement of RETURN OF THE JEDI.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

EPISODE VIII: HEAVY DUTY SPACE WARFARE!


The First Order's space vessels are intimidating enough, but this must be their biggest, more brutal vessel yet in this so far unnamed dreadnought, a squatter and dagger-like redesign of what we've seen with the Empire, making its debut for The Last Jedi, and no doubt amidst much conflict against Resistance ships and fighters.

http://www.starwars.com/news/inside-two-deadly-new-first-order-vehicles-from-the-last-jedi

'STAR WARS' AT 40: PRINCESS OBSERVER!


Time is running out for the Rebels of Yavin IV, including Princess Leia and droid C-3PO, monitoring the battle plan and communications of their brave pilots over the dreaded, approaching Death Star space station, whose superweapon is minutes away from firing. A classic alternate image, and a classic scene, from the original STAR WARS.

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/behind-scenes-monitoring-battle.html

Monday, 18 September 2017

EPISODE VIII: COMPLETING HIS TRAINING...?

EPISODE VIII art of Kylo Ren by Brian Rood,

POSSIBLE SPOILERS!

He's arrogant, aggressive, and highly dangerous in a way that hasn't been seen since the worst examples of Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars, but Kylo Ren has proved far, far nastier and less forgiving in his youthful guise in many respects, especially in Patricide. Prior manipulated into the monster he has become, Ren's presence in the new sequel era has won much plaudits from fans and critics, deservedly so thanks to a strong and memorable performance from Adam Driver, giving us a character who looks set to build on his ability to wreak havoc and chaos once more as he continues his journey towards the Dark Side of the Force, and his deep and unsettling desire to be as powerful as his grandfather. (And watch out for rumoured trips to Vader's old haunts, like Mustafar, in this new adventure).

A revised costume and new cape for Kylo Ren in EPISODE VIII.

Previous abilities seen so eerie and effective in THE FORCE AWAKENS look set to reappear, too, as will a sequence involving him with his band of killers that are the Knights of Ren. The Resistance has never met such a greater challenge with his developing aura of evil, alongside the power of the First Order, threatening to swallow up the galaxy.

'STAR WARS' AT 40: SHEPPERTON FLIGHT!


The superb X-wing fighter prop takes to the air at Shepperton Studios, suspended by a crane wire support whose entry point above came via a specially created hole in the soundstage ceiling at Shepperton, supervised by John Stears and his team- the only way the scene could be realized practically. This iconic moment was also shot from numerous angles for the editorial process, in order to make it look as if more than one X-wing was actually taking flight.

John Stears (under the camera crane) confers on the Shepperton set.