Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Core Cast of Star Wars Episode VII Revealed

Today LucasFilm casually announced the core cast of Star Wars Episode VII. As the staged pic (left) reveals, it is a bit of a dude-fest (only one new female cast member). As per JJ Abrams operating procedure established with Star Trek Into Darkness, no character names or story details were revealed and chances are it will be quite a while before we learn something as simple as a name. Returning favorites are Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Kenny Baker (R2D2).

After that the list dissolves into a list of "who?" with John Boyega (Attack the Block), Daisy Ridley (?), Adam Driver (Girls, rumored playing movie's big bad), Oscar Isaac (?), Domhnall Gleeson (oldest Weasley brother in Harry Potter films), and Max von Sydow (legendary actor but not known for sci-fi & action films).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Star Wars Expanded Universe Being Rebooted

LucasFilm has announced they are officially closing the Star Wars Expanded Universe of the last 35 years and opening a new sandbox to align with the Abrams additions to the universe. Anything produced from this day forward must tie into the new EU as the old Expanded Universe is officially closed for new works. The only current official canon that exists will be the 9 Star Wars movies (adding the three unreleased ones) and two cartoon series (Clone Wars and Rebels). Anything, be it books, comics, and video games, etc. no longer count for anything and will be filed under the "Legends" banner so that Disney can at least continue to make money from the old stuff. The over all plan with the reboot is to once again try to have all Star Wars properties align into a single canon (like the old EU), with only the old EU names and characters can return in new and completely different forms (as LucasFilm already owns them). Any stories from the old EU do not count.

If this sounds familiar, DC Comics did the exact same thing a few years ago creating the "New DCU" where the sales boost was temporary, most fans have not really liked the rebooted characters as much and the only consistently successful franchise after the reboot is Batman whose own history essentially carried over the new DCU virtually unchanged. To say the least, after enjoying the Expanded Universe far more than the movies themselves, this news has made me angry.

Honestly I really do not have a problem with a reboot in and of itself. I just have a problem with closing the EU entirely. It just unnecessary and pointless. The old EU has plenty of great stories still to be told, especially with the books just starting a storyline where a planet of Sith are starting to take steps to conquer the universe. Now they have closed it off. After all these years, all these threads will remain unfinished like a long time TV series suddenly cancelled. I know studios like to think their audiences are really dump but when it comes to sci-fi, that simply isn't the case. I think fans can keep up with two universes at once. Most Star Wars fans are keeping up with dozens of them at any one time be it from comics, movies, books, or video games. Adding another isn't really a big deal and just allows fans to enjoy alternate takes on characters even more.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Star Wars Movies Ignoring Expanded Universe

Just in case you doubted my previous posts on the subject, Star Wars: Rebels writer Simon Kinberg has put another nail in the Star Wars Expanded Universe coffin. While at Wondercon he said, "You know, [the Expanded Universe is] not off-limits, and it’s certainly inspiring — I’m working on an animated show for [Lucasfilm] as well, Star Wars: Rebels, that will take inspiration from everywhere, but — I know for the movies, the canon is the canon, and the canon is the six films that exist." If you are wondering about his bonafides, he is writing the movie script for one of the three planned standalone films that will focus on a single Star Wars character. As such he would be at least aware of the broad strokes of the trilogy storyline so his movie can at least avoid contradicting the main trilogy.

So basically the canon is the movies and nothing else. I assume that includes the cartoons too. If Abrams grabs anything from EU its probably going to be because the name, design or what have you is already owned by Lucasfilm so free and clear to use but not because he actually saw any EU content that he deemed worth using. So for hypothetical example, let us say there is an Admiral Thrawn in the movie (this is my made up example, not real). But the character might be in the Alliance army and only has a five second appearance before assassinated. The name wasn't used as a wink to EU fans but because Abrams said "I need a name I can legally use for this minor character" and legal returned with a list of names of which Abrams happened to like Thrawn the most. So for EU lovers, its dead and done. There might be a few more books that come out to finish any story lines out there but by 2015 they will gear up to tell stories set in the post-Abrams Star Wars verse simply because that is how Disney operates. I find it tragic waste but that is how it is.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Star Wars Planning Tatooine Desert Set

It looks like Star Wars is returning to a location it has returned to many times before. According to The Hollywood Reporter, production is planning to rebuild the Skywalker homestead seen in the previous trilogies. Tatooine is the birth place of Darth Vader, previous domain of Jabba the Hutt and home of Luke Skywalker that kicked off the franchise. The somewhat decayed set used in the movies still stands in Tunisia where the previous movies filmed on location. However, the country is considered unsafe as politically unstable and under economic hardship that has increased incidents of terrorism and kidnapping. The main takeaway from this is the Episode VII story arc involves scenes at Luke's old home. I am betting Luke is retired and called back into service by Han or Leia with a goal to "introduce" him in a near similar way he was introduced in A New Hope.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Star Wars Update: Chewbacca and Filming Has Started?

As Star Wars Episode VII is a JJ Abrams production, that means information will be hard to come by and what information you do get could be incorrect or just rumor. The latest is that actor Peter Mayhew will return as Chewbacca, joining returning favorites Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. The reason it remains rumor is that the information has not been confirmed by Disney. Which doesn't mean much since Abrams has no problem letting false rumors circulate if it contains his movie secrets (which he defines as literally anything and everything to do with the movie, even if not really remotely related to spoiler information).

In other related news, Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said in an interview that Episode VII has already started filming. That doesn't necessarily mean the principle photography has begun. Chances are whatever is being filmed is background plating and other things needed for ILM to begin their CGI work on the film that probably started months ago and will continue almost right up to the film's release in December 2017.