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Friday, 30 March 2018

'SOLO': INTRODUCING QI'RA...


Looking like one of the galaxy's most refined and elegant of women, and, from images and footage released so far, some kind of social mover (or classy confidence trickster?) across the powerful and lucrative realms of the First Galactic Empire, the mysterious Qi'Ra also has an intriguing back history with smuggler-to-be Han Solo that shows they're more alike than anyone could ever know- both street kids who have learned to survive, a link to criminal groups and speed junkies, and each blessed (or cursed) with their own fair share of secrets. Qi'ra is clearly a capable individual in any situations she finds herself in, but her kinswomanship with Solo may be more than just plutonic- indeed, an early shaping influence on the man, and eventual icon, in ways that will play out during the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story. She's also the kind of girl blessed with aspects/qualities of bravery and attitude that he'll eventually see with Leia Organa by the time of the Classic Trilogy.


In a role that seems tailor-made for her, and no stranger to big franchises, Game of Thrones wonder, icon and sex symbol cover star Emilia Clarke will no doubt be a huge bonus for this new STAR WARS Anthology adventure.

More: http://ew.com/movies/2018/02/08/emilia-clarke-solo-a-star-wars-story/


Thursday, 29 March 2018

BEHIND THE SCENES: EVERYBODY, SAY... "MONSTER"!


With the near conclusion of filming of scenes set in Maz Kanata's waterhole on Takodana, J.J. Abrams, costume designer Michael Kaplan and creature supervisor Neal Scanlan pose for a group shot with the many bizarre aliens and droids created for The Force Awakens at Pinewood Studios.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

ROGUE ONE: HEROES OF THE SKY!


Arriving in the nick of time and only just before the Empire's planetary shield is activated, Blue Leader and his X-wing squadron bring much needed airborne assistance to our small band of Rebel heroes on Scarif, taking out the light-weight but weapons powerful ground cargo Walkers, in this soaring visual moment from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.


Tuesday, 27 March 2018

CLASSIC IMAGES: FUTURE PLANS INITIATED...


Retreating hastily back to the Outer Rim world of Utapau, General Grievous discovers the next phase of Darth Sidious's cruel plans for the galaxy, and the future for a certain Jedi, in a scene from EPISODE III.

Monday, 26 March 2018

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'INFERNO SQUAD' (OUT THIS WEEK IN UK PAPERBACK)

From the flames of Imperial crisis comes Inferno Squad!

"We're going to get them Gideon. We're going to make them pay." 

Imperial Senior Lieutenant Iden Versio

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD...

The Empire's "Fearsome Four"- the alternate take to Jyn Erso's brave rebel Rogue One squad, led by another battle-hardened, revenge-fuelled female star just as dedicated to her own cause in Iden Versio, are showcased in a new and fast paced adventure of covert warfare from reliable STAR WARS book talent Christie Golden, linked to the official Lucasfilm/EA Games bestseller: STAR WARS Battlefront II - Inferno Squad, out this week (27/3/18) in Arrow UK paperback.

One of the few Imperial survivors of the Battle of Yavin, and the destruction of the once-thought seemingly indestructible Death Star battle station - the ultimate firepower satellite of which she was proud to be in service during her role as a TIE fighter pilot, Iden wants bitter revenge against Princess Leia Organa and the Rebel Alliance, a terror organisation which has since become more dangerous than anyone had prior realized.

Iden is disciplined, intelligent, fiery, ambitious and attractive -using all those talents to the fullest in her personal wish to bring order to chaos in the galaxy around her, whilst living the powerbase dream of galactic rule of which she is a part, having grow up under the disciplines and doctrines of the Emperor's order and via the advice and upbringing of her strict disciplinarian, seemingly compassionless Imperial admiral father. There's certainly no love lost between them as Iden's first mission as team leader for him begins, though there is a healthy respect of sorts, and efficient businesslike relations.

Iden Versio, as seen in the STAR WARS: Battlefront II game.

And in this newly created group called Inferno Squad, with all the latest fruits of Imperial technology and weaponry at their disposal, Iden's new leadership role will be a true baptism of fire, in charge of a unique team of four that must yield quick results and solidify the fear that the Empire must bring to insurrectionists. A team that will comprise friendly rival Gideon Hask-  an older figure, and a respected lieutenant of promotion and talent, Del Meeko, who has risen up the ranks from stormtrooper grunt to Star Destroyer engineer, and new star Seyn Marana, a keen and arrogant officer with a meticulous eye for detail from Intelligence and a brilliant blaster shot!

On a quest to find a defector from Saw Gerrera's reorganized Partisan forces who has stolen important Imperial information, Inferno Squad's earliest missions are soon interwoven: retrieve said info then infiltrate and destroy the enemy group. Killing these partisans, bolder than ever with the passing of the Death Star, should be a simple idea, but it'll soon prove anything but for Iden and her team once their infiltration of 'The Dreamers' begins, as a building storm of emotion and ideological complexity begins.

One could get fatigue with the many 'teams' of heroes and antiheroes we've had within the current realms of STAR WARS films and Expanded Universe tales, but Inferno Squad remains a solid enough read, effectively carrying on the gritty feel established by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, of which this is an official sequel of sorts. Golden keeps things moving briskly, even if the characters, including Iden Versio (clearly designed as 'the next big thing' in STAR WARS female-dom) don't particularly feel all that memorable, though there is a very satisfying use of a popular and very relevant character from The Clone Wars animated series whose ultimate fate was never shown.

Thankfully, the book has a tough and satisfying conclusion, but it's not quite as ambitious a novel and adventure that I was hoping for, feeling more like a smaller scale continuance of something like Star Wars Rebels than a movie.

The idea of Inferno Squad remains a good one, and there's lots of potential for a future series of books with the surviving characters. But let's hope for more story originality, and an overall feel of action/adventure that actually lives up to this book's evocative selling-point cover art!

AFICIONADO RATING: 3 out of 5

Get the book here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Battlefront-Inferno-Squad/dp/1784752940/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522060960&sr=8-1&keywords=inferno+squad&dpID=51yWuYCBp8L&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

Sunday, 25 March 2018

THE CLONE WARS: DOUBLE 'SABER ACTION!


Having finally tacked down the elusive Ziro the Hutt, Obi-Wan Kenobi now finds himself on the offensive against unique bounty hunter Cad Bane, and bearing two lightsabers, in a scene from the fast-paced The Clone Wars Season Three episode, The Hunt for Ziro.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

BEHIND THE SCENES: LUKE WHO?


Donning a blonde wig, the Classic Trilogy's resident stunt man and Luke Skywalker lightsaber duelling double Colin Skeaping films some critical moments for Return of the Jedi that Mark Hamill is not allowed to do, mostly for insurance reasons, as the sparring conflict between Luke and Vader (played once more by British fencing champion legend Bob Anderson), is renewed, during filming on the Throne Room that on and off continues from March until early April 1982.


CLASSIC INDY: LIKE FATHER...?


He emerged like a Marlon Brando-esque figure from the smog of a railway track to ask for Indy's help, then a short time later our intrepid hero discovers that troubled biker/mechanic youth Mutt Williams is his son as they embark on a mission to locate the missing professor Harold Oxley! How's that for a family revelation!

Friday, 23 March 2018

CLASSIC IMAGE: IN DYING LIGHT...


Beautiful the secret wedding of the handsome couple Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala may be, but the spectre of the impending Clone War looms ahead for them and the galaxy beyond the Naboo twilight, in this gorgeous scene filmed on location at Lake Como, Italy, memorably ending EPISODE II.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

'SOLO': SMOOTH CRIMINAL!


Where there's a young hotshot Han Solo, there's got to be a young Lando Calrissian too, and who better to bring him to life for this prequel adventure - Solo: A Star Wars Story - than rising star talent actor/writer/musician Donald Glover, who, from the early teaser looks a confident and comfortable fit in the role originally brought to suave and heroic life by Billy Dee Williams. In these early days of his charismatic era of adventure, we'll see him as the original owner of the Millennium Falcon (certainly a much cleaner and fully repaired version than the one we'll see with Han years later), working alongside his trusty droid, the feisty but inspiring L3-37.

Glover talks about becoming, and inheriting the legacy, of Lando Calrissian:
http://ew.com/movies/2018/02/07/harrison-ford-solo-star-wars-story/


Before the film gets released, look out for Lando as one of the main characters of the upcoming Han Solo all-new prequel adventure novel: Last Shot, out April 18th in the UK, from Century. His visage bares the book's alternate collector's hardcover jacket, which, like Lando, is very cool.

Get Last Shot here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079VVP9GX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518873328&sr=8-1&keywords=STAR+WARS+LAST+SHOT+SHOT


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

EPISODE VIII: WINNING STREAKS!


Distracted and awed by all the glitz, glamour and opulent wealth seemingly on tap within the Canto Bight casino on Cantonica, Finn will soon be introduced by Rose to the harsh reality behind the decadent facade, in this great image from The Last Jedi.

John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran voice their characters for the latest Forces of Destiny animated short, this one linked to their journey to Canto Bight:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3pkOFym6sY

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'THE LAST JEDI - EXPANDED EDITION'

A time for destiny and balance is at hand, for The Last Jedi.

SPOILER ALERT!

Despite the expansive entertainment world in which we live, a few of its notable and special realms have been brought to life by but just a small and exclusively select group of lucky people. Examples: only six people so far have officially portrayed James Bond, only thirteen people have been the TV Time Lord Doctor Who across fifty plus years. And, in the realms of adapting the cinematic adventures of the STAR WARS saga, long-time franchise author Jason Fry is now a very lucky man indeed, joining that very unique and elite club of talented scribes making their best seller publishing mark within a truly 'official' part of the saga's history and life blood, to deliver the all-important novelisation of writer/director Rian Johnson's unique entry into the new modern sequel saga - the ambitious and at times quite dark The Last Jedi, whose prose transformation is out now in UK hardback 'Expanded Edition', via Century. Fry delivers a thoughtful novelisation as enjoyable and worthwhile to read on the page as viewing the story in its cinematic form, expanding its plot and characters further via all-new original material (which he makes a commendable mark with), as well as incorporating further official Lucasfilm/Johnson input.

The mystery of Luke on Ahch-To continues... Art by Brian Rood.

Clearly learnt and stealing (in the nicest of ways) from the best of the previous SW film adaptors, most notably the original trilogy scribes of Alan Dean Foster (yet to beaten in his film-to-book conversion skills), Donald F. Glut and James Kahn, Fry delivers well-structured storytelling and a zippy, straightforward prose. Though the film has some occasional pacing problems, The Last Jedi's novelisation has none of that baggage potentially weighing it down, of which the (perhaps) over-hyped new material enjoyably adds further depth and dimensions to the main characters (whilst also clearing up a few now noticeable plot holes) during the book's opening chapters, leading to the oncoming, officially out of the shadows threat of the First Order against the retreating and decimated-in-numbers Resistance at D'Qar, plus a chance for a grieving General Leia Organa to say goodbye to her murdered husband Han Solo, and the legacy he leaves behind to her, the son who ultimately killed him, and the future of the galaxy now seemingly without any kind of Jedi protectorate.

Down but not out- General Leia Organa.

Of Leia's AWOL Jedi brother, there's an inspired prologue of a Luke Skywalker that could have been had he not gotten originally involved with the Rebels after seeing that brief hologram message/plea from Leia, of which Fry's description of the farmboy/man's alternate life on the desert world of Tatooine, alongside a well known deleted scene female, proves both fun and interesting to read, reminding me of those great, back-in-the-day Star Wars: Infinities tales, set amidst a portent of change for the self-exiled and disenchanted Jedi Master on Ahch-To, whether he wants it or not.

The nature of the Force, and the building powers of it within Rey and Kylo Ren, is given further depth. 

Beyond Luke, Fry further excels with the remainder of the Classic Trilogy heroes, giving them some fine character nuances that feel right, and Fry should know all about these icons- having written for and about them for so long, whilst also successfully getting us into the mindsets of the all-new young and passing-the-torch sequel trilogy heroes with some broad canvas stroke detailing- Rey's brave spirit to win over Luke Skywalker, and, later, her mistaken belief that Kylo Ren could turn to the light and destroy the First Order (of which he has become such an important part), being well represented. Former Stormtrooper Finn also has much more to do here- great news as this reviewer thought that he was a little shortchanged in the story arcs since being separated from Rey, and after his injuries at the destroyed Starkiller Base. Meanwhile, space spitfire pilot Poe Dameron learns more about the cost of reckless leadership from both Leia and quirkily charismatic newcomer Admiral Holdo. Many of the film's deleted scenes (now released on Blu-ray) linked to these main character arcs developed by Fry are also worthily included in the book's 316 pages.

It's a race against time for BB-8, Finn and Rose as they head to Canto Bight.

Of further interest to the dedicated fanbase: more development of the seemingly inseparable-from-birth Tico sisters as they escape the First Order occupation of their world to join the Resistance, and the eventual tragedy that will on split them apart forever. Interestingly, Rose comes across much more spiky and bitter in novel form before the final third changes things- it's a testament to Kelly Marie Tran for making the character much more likeable on screen. In the reverse of that, the hit-or-miss scenes linked to Rose, Finn and BB-8 on the casino world of Canto Bight work better on the printed page than they did on screen- a case of fun intentions showcasing the film's fine creature and effects teams that didn't quite gel with audiences.

The malignancy of Supreme Leader Snoke continues.

And as light rises to meet darkness in the depths of space, there's more tantalizing hints emerge about the malevolent Supreme Leader Snoke's corruption of the all-too-powerful Ben Solo prior to his Jedi training, as well as titillating subtle past connections/manipulations of the Skywalker family. Here's hoping the full and no doubt compelling history of the evil doer's involvement with that troubled family lineage finally comes to novel reality after the event of EPISODE IX - it should be right up James Luceno's street!.

Finally, a special mention and commendation to one of the very best moments in the book, not written by Johnson but Fry- at the end, when our heroes are gathered escaping Crait in the Millennium Falcon, there's a scene where Leia, subtly separated from the main group, tells an emotional Chewie of the loss of Luke Skywalker. It's a true tear in the eye, lump in the throat moment between these two important and iconic characters that I wish had been in the film, especially after the mistake made on screen in The Force Awakens where Leia wasn't seen comforting her old friend Chewie on the death of Han. For this special new scene alone, the purchase of The Last Jedi - Expanded Edition proves essential.

AFICIONADO RATING: A solid page-turner adaptation. Oh, and I liked that 'Cosmic Force' referencing too, Jason! 3.5 out of 5

The red of rebellion, and revenge!

Get hold of the book here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Jedi-Expanded-Star-Wars/dp/178089841X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1521553625&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+jedi+expanded+edition

Jason Fry talks about the book and his personal goal to fuse the film adaptation with other aspects of the novels and comics forming the current iteration of the official Expanded Universe: 

http://www.starwars.com/news/how-the-last-jedi-novelization-connects-to-a-galaxy-of-star-wars-books-and-comics

Monday, 19 March 2018

EPISODE VIII: A MESSAGE OF THE PAST... AND FUTURE!


Still in grief from the loss of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker's reunion with R2-D2 in the Millennium Falcon is a welcome one for both the characters and audience, especially when the little droid tries to win Luke back to heroism with his playing of the original hologram message of help from his sister Leia - the message that sent the once farmboy into a wider universe, and adventure, he hadn't been fully aware of.


A lovely and emotional moment in The Last Jedi, utilizing original 1976 shot footage at Elstree Studios, acting as both a poignant celebration of the original Star Wars in last year's 40th Anniversary, and a celebration of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa.

Early unused footage of Carrie Fisher as Leia for the Hologram message scene.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

EPISODE VIII: THE LEGACY OF SNOKE!

All that glitters... Supreme Leader Snoke in The Last Jedi.

He brought the fragmented and in-retreat remnants of the Galactic Empire's fleet under his ruthless and inspiring control, alongside much of the mysterious Outer Regions, going on to build an immense new war machine - the First Order - against the New Republic. Now, as The Last Jedi begins, Supreme Leader Snoke, and his powers in the Force, are more dangerous and unpredictable than ever, in a live action/motion capture performance from Andy Serkis that would prove chillingly effective and consistently impressive.

When Snoke met Rey!

How Snoke was brought to cinematic lfe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69Ld3phO1V0

The newly released film novelisation 'Expanded Edition' from CENTURY sheds new light on Snoke and his manipulating connection to Luke Skywalker:
https://www.comicbookmovie.com/sci-fi/star_wars/star-wars-the-last-jedi-novel-finally-sheds-some-light-on-snokes-origin-and-ties-to-luke-skywalker-a158222

Andy Serkis on set at Pinewood Studios.

Andy Serkis on playing Snoke:
http://ew.com/movies/2018/03/06/andy-serkis-snoke-star-wars-last-jedi/

Serkis and friends in a fun on-set image.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

EPISODE VIII: BLU-RAY DELETED SCENES REVEALED!

Finn gets a look over from an intrigued Stormtrooper (Tom Hardy), in a deleted scene from The Last Jedi.

There's a reason they're called 'Deleted Scenes' by the film editors, but when it comes to that special thing called STAR WARS, then its a whole different story, with everyone fascinated by the unused material that never quite made it to the finished movies they adore. Here's a selection of images of what UK fans can expect appearing within the home entertainment release of The Last Jedi on 9th April, 2018- the set's hand-picked selection of deleted material, both short and long, by writer/director Rian Johnson.

Official site extras sneak-peek:

www.starwars.com/news/get-a-sneak-peek-at-star-wars-the-last-jedi-bonus-features

Blu-ray preview and film review:

https://kooltvblog.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/re-igniting-spark-of-rebellion-star.html

Paige fights the TIE fighters swarming the Resistance bombers.

Poe proves he's not a sewing expert.

A reminder of friendship from BB-8.

New visitors to the island on Ahch-To...

... but are they friend or foe?
Rey gets a surprise discovery with the Caretakers!
                                                                                                                                                     
Chewbacca and R2 enjoy the celebrations!

Things get a little crowded for Finn, Rose and DJ.

Rose bites back!

Finn is cornered by Phasma and her troops.

How long can Phasma retain her troops loyalty?

Escaping the Supremacy.

Avoiding intense fire ahead from the First Order, in a brief moment of humour.

A further look at the key deleted scenes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2b9_4-2wLg

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/03/14/star-wars-last-jedi-deleted-scenes-explained.html

CLASSIC INDY: NUKING THE FRIDGE!


Critics call it the 'Jumping the Shark' moment of the Indiana Jones saga, but the idea of what Indy does to escape the nuclear blast test in Nevada has apparently been proved reasonably sound by selected science teachers! Let's face it, when hasn't there been the odd preposterous action moment in any of the Indy films, from filmmakers whose aim has always been to celebrate the old and classic cliffhanger movie serials of the past with fun and enthusiasm.

Friday, 16 March 2018

EPISODE VIII: STARTING THE BLITZKRIEG!


With an army of immense AT-M6 'Walkers' at his disposal, plus aerial brutality from a squadron of TIE fighters, the full power for evil of Kylo Ren's attack force comes to bear on the Resistance's last hideout and its defensive facilities, located on the salt/sand world of Crait, during the climactic events of The Last Jedi.



ILM showcase of the scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TolPxaXrCfU

The practical side of filming at Pinewood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=99&v=lv3MLVFpFSg

More on the AT-MT6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsI_-j3ItVY

Thursday, 15 March 2018

'SOLO': A PERFECT TEAM!

Latest international poster for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

"As I live and breathe," Jessa scoffed. "Have we finally seen Han Solo doing something unselfish? Are you going soft? Who knows, you may even pick up a little morality one day, if you ever wake up and get wise to yourself."

Han stopped, his leer gone. He glared at her for a moment, then said, "I already know all about morality, Jess. A friend of mine made a decision once, thought he was doing the moral thing. Hell, he was. But he'd been conned. He lost his career, his girl, everything. This friend of mine, he ended up standing there, whilst they ripped the rank and insignia off his tunic.The people who didn't want him put against a wall and shot were laughing at him. A whole planet. He shipped out of there and never went back."

She watched his face become ugly. "Wouldn't anyone testify for your friend?" she asked softly.

He laughed sourly. "His commanding officer committed perjury against him. There was only witness in his defense, and who's going to believe a Wookiee?"

An intriguing backstory from the beginning of the STAR WARS Expanded Universe created by Brian Daley (with Lucasfilm) for the still-great Han Solo at Stars' End, back in 1979- the first of a trilogy of then all-new original adventures. Now, nearly twenty years later, we're getting our first solo Han Solo cinematic adventure, and we're all looking forward to seeing it. Let's hope some of those intriguing elements from 1979 might make it to the screen's official history for everyone's favourite star smuggler, and his quirky and loyal first mate, when Solo: A Star Wars Story debuts this Summer.