Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Making of BB-8

If you like the cute little round bot shown in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer then be sure to check out the article on were they discuss the making of the character. The article covers the design (a soccer ball provided some inspiration), proof of concept (using a puppet version), and finally creating a working version that can "act" on set with the human actors. Click here to read the full article. The cover of Empire magazine featuring BB8 is here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Abrams Teases More of Kylo Ren

As part of his interview for Empire Magazine in the UK, JJ Abrams revealed a touch more about Kylo Ren of the villains in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is assumed that because he wields a light saber and a bad guy then he must be a Sith (the equivalent of Jedi) However, JJ Abrams said "Kylo Ren is not a Sith" who "works under Supreme Leader Snoke, who is a powerful figure on the Dark Side of the Force." Since there are always two (now that the Extended Universe is dead) then he might be suggesting that Kylo is the apprentice to Snoke's Sith Lord or at least a wannabe who is faking it. The character of Snoke has yet to be seen but he will be played by Andy Serkis using motion capture (like Planet of the Apes or Gollum).

As for The First Order which essentially replaced the Empire, is the result of "conversations about what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again" and is not necessarily just ex-Imperial officers. He further teased, "Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn’t get done?" The idea of Vader being considered a martyr is definitely an interesting concept.

Rogue One With Grand Moff Tarkin?

The latest rumor regarding Star Wars: Rogue One is an interesting but unproven rumor. The Daily Mail (which basically likes to make up news) is reporting that Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, might get a digital resurrection for the movie. The actor played Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope (the older gent that ordered Darth Vader around) and was the commander of the Death Star and responsible for construction. Considering that the movie is about the theft of the Death Star plans that eventually makes their way the Princess Leia for the beginning of A New Hope, it does seems reasonable that the character would appear so the rumor isn't as crazy as it seems on the surface. I assume that there are family or estate permissions to be granted but Star Wars money means those would be cleared with relative ease. As usual time will tell.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Empire Magazine Star Wars: The Force Awakens Covers

UK's Empire Magazine has revealed their two Star Wars: The Force Awakens covers for their upcoming issue that could almost be posters for the movie itself.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Abrams, Cast Comment on Star Wars in D23 Video

Below is a video of comments from the JJ Abrams and the cast from Star Wars - The Force Awakens as they comment on the film while avoiding actually revealing anything. Abrams did tease that perhaps Han Solo has moved into legend with all the plus and minuses that come with being a living legend in a galaxy far away.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

D23: New Star Wars Director, Poster, Theme Park, and Force Awakens Runtime

At the D23 Expo (D for Disney) in Anaheim, California some new information has been revealed about the Star Wars movies. To start take a look at the new poster by Drew Struzan that is currently exclusive to the D23 Con but hopefully will hint at future posters to promote the movie. Next, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow has been tapped to direct Star Wars: Episode IX. Pre-production on the film is expected to start soon so that means he is out for directing Jurassic World 2. Third, the runtime for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set at about 124 minutes (2h, 4m) which hits right in the length for the original trilogy.

After that we have news that Disney is planning a Star Wars themed land for Disneyland Anaheim and Disney World Orlando. The land will be their largest yet covering 14 acres of land with attractions of a new planet, catina, trading post, a battle between The First Order (Empire) and Resistance (Alliance) and a ride to fly the Millennium Falcon. Essentially it will be like Harry Potter World only Disneyfied. No opening date but something that scale will probably take at least five years to build. Concept images can be found here.

Finally The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams discussed some random bits with the press:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rogue One Adds To Cast, Reveals Cast Photo and New Logo

Disney has revealed a new core cast photo along with a new logo for Rogue One. Filming for the movie, which takes place before A New Hope, began a few weeks ago that follows Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, and Forest Whitaker as they seek to steal the plans for the Death Star. Also announced today is new castmembers Alan Tudyk (Firefly), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Donnie Yen (Ip Man), and Jiang Wen (Let the Bullets Fly). As for the logo, as you can see below, Disney has chosen to drop the "Anthology" and replace it with "A Star Wars Story". No explanation for the change but sadly I suspect testing discovered that a higher than expected number of people didn't understand what "Anthology" meant.

JJ Abrams Talks Pegg, Secrets, and Sound for The Force Awakens

Entertainment Weekly has posted more about their discussion with JJ Abrams about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As usual for the director it contained virtually no real information other than lots of feel good thoughts but some might find it interesting. The key bit of "news" is that Simon Pegg helped provide input on the film. Not as a writer but as a sounding board for story ideas. Details below.

On Simon Pegg's contribution to the film
“I will say this in terms of Simon: while he won’t be recognizable in the movie, in all honesty, his role in this – not the performance or the character – but his support and friendship has been massively important and helpful in the process. He was a wonderful partner in crime to kick the story around and ask questions and come up with ideas, and he was an incredibly helpful part of the process for all of us. I’m very grateful. He was a sounding board. He would drop by the set because he wanted to, and when he could, he would help… We could talk about things, and he was a perfect combination of incredibly smart screenwriter, fan of the series, critical fan of the series, and friend of mine – but not just blindly supportive. He was an honest, critical friend. And he wasn’t so close to it that he became immune to things. He would come in with fresh eyes and very smart ideas. He’s one of a handful of people along the way that has been really priceless.”

On fandom and keeping film secrets:
“One of the great things that Lucasfilm has done over the years is embracing the community of Star Wars fans, and it’s because they realize that it’s really the fans’ story. And that understanding, that sharing of information and engaging with the fans is something that I really admire. My instinct is to typically keep things quiet – and if I had my way, perhaps we would be showing less – but the truth is, I want to make sure that the fans aren’t feeling like we are holding back for the sake of it. I also have read more comments than I ever expected where people say, ‘don’t spoil it for me, don’t show me everything, don’t ruin the story, I don’t want to know it yet. And I’m always grateful for that. So it’s a little bit of a tightrope, and we want to make sure we’re being forthcoming, but that we’re not spoiling."

About Ben Burtt the sound designer for the original trilogy (aka the guy who created all the blaster, starship, lightsaber duel, etc sounds)
“I can’t talk about what he’s doing specifically on this movie, but I’ll say that I’m thrilled to get to work with Ben again. We worked together on the Star Trek films, on Super 8, and now on this. We also are lucky to have Gary Rydstrom, of course, and Matt Wood. We have an amazing sound team. The thing that keeps being remarkable to me is how much George Lucas got right when he did Star Wars. Like, it is a preposterous ratio of things that work that were brand-new, and bold, and thrilling. The sound certainly was one of those things. And when you hear that specific roar of a TIE fighter, or the sound of a lightsaber coming on, or the sound of a droid, or any number of things – and there are so many – the idea that you can close your eyes and hear a couple sound effects and know exactly what movie that is, is completely a testament to the work that Ben Burtt did then, and that he’s contributing to now.”

Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke (using motion capture)
"I have nothing about him yet, but I will say that Andy Serkis is like working with someone who is an historically great actor. He is the kindest, sweetest, most lovely guy, so it’s not that he puts on any airs of being pretentious or anything at all, but he’s simply so damn good, that when I’m working with him, I feel like I’m working with someone who is, you know, like a Charles Laughton, or someone who is just so extraordinary. Then there’s the whole matter of how he incorporates technology in a way that no one has seen or done… There are many levels to his genius, but he is certainly a genius.”

Benicio Del Toro In Talks for Episode VIII

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of the Galaxy) confirmed that he is in discussion for a role in Star Wars: Episode VIII, "I can’t tell you much about it but I think that it might happen. It looks like it’s gonna happen so I’m very excited. I can’t talk too much about it. The script is hard to get. They told me they’d cut my finger if I talk about it." The currently untitled film is to be directed by Rian Johnson (Looper) for a May 2017 release.

Friday, August 14, 2015

First Look at Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens

Fan site Star Wars 7 News has posted an image of Luke Skywalker that was taken from the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Of note is the robes are very "Jedi" like as seen in the films and referenced in the (now no longer canon) video games and comics.

Entertainment Weekly Cover Story Reveals New Movie Images and Story Tidbits

In the cover article for this week's Entertainment Weekly, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy discussed the film providing a few tidbits about the story and the characters along with a few images. The highlights are below. Click here for hi-def pictures and here for the full article.

- JJ Abrams decided to take on film when Kathleen Kennedy asked him "Who is Luke Skywalker?". Exploring that gave him chills.

- Did not reveal details of the post 30 years state of the world but said "Any good story has conflict. And if all were rosy 30-some years post-Jedi, we would be hard-pressed to find an interesting story to tell."

- The Empire has "morphed" into The First Order while a splinter group of the Rebels is called the Resistance with Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) a fighter for them.

- Leia somehow has Anakin's original lightsaber that Obi Wan recovered (Revenge of the Sith) and gave to Luke (A New Hope) who lost it when he lost his hand against Darth Vader (Empire Strikes Back).

- The main bad guys is Vader super fan Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), The First Order General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and First Order Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).

- Force Awakens writer Lawrence Kasdan was also intrigued by the Who is Luke Skywalker question and exploring that 30 year gap for Han Solo and Leia.

- Abrams verified that he is not directing Episode IX (VII is being directed by Rian Johnson (Looper).

- Kylo Ren's mask was designed to be a nod to Vader's helmet while the lightsaber was hand built by Ren.

- Much like "Darth" is a Sith title, so too is "Ren" for Knights of Ren. As for what the knights are, Abrams didn't elaborate.

- Kasdan said "...there’s never been a character quite like [Kylo Ren]. ...he's full of emotion."

Star Wars Anthology Focused on Young Han Solo In Works

In an Entertainment Weekly interview with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, she confirmed that the second Star Wars Anthology film will focus on young Han Solo. The film is currently slated to be released on May 25, 201, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie) and written by them along with Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens) and Jon Kasdan. Currently no one has been cast and no details on the script but Kennedy did comment on a few things.
“There’s got to be a reason for [the stand-alone film] to be. And obviously the thing that Star Wars has always done so well is it doesn’t spend a lot of time [explaining] the stories that have come before. We don’t want to do that either. We don’t want to spend time going back and answering a lot of questions that, quite frankly, I don’t think people want answered.”

“I think the key here is that we are identifying an event or events in Han Solo’s life that gives you some idea of who he is and why he is the character we have all known to love."

“You can imagine, given who we’ve chosen to come in and direct, it should be very entertaining and funny. Han Solo is the character inside Star Wars that everybody knows has a wit and sense of humor. So that’s what this should be.”

“He’ll definitely be probably in the high teens, low 20s. We’re not introducing you to a 10-year-old Han Solo.”
As for the third Anthology film, that is still set for 2020. It is rumored to be about Boba Fett but Kennedy didn't confirm it anyway besides saying "..we're definitely still developing it."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

International TV Spot for Star Wars - The Force Awakens

Below is a TV spot from South Korea that shows a few seconds of new footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.