I can’t wait until “The Force Awakens”…

It’s official…Star Wars Episode VII has a title: “The Force Awakens“.  It sounds cool.  Certainly better than “Attack of the Clones” and ultimately a better film, or so we hope.  A lot of it has been surprisingly kept secret with of course the odd picture surfacing here and there. One of my favorites is what I like to call the “SpaceHog”.spacehogApparently it’s a full sized creature that takes several men to operate it, much like Jabba the Hut was in Return of the Jedi.  Apparently JJ Abrams wanted to use a great deal of physical effects like in days of old rather than relying too heavily on blue/green screen computer animation. I for one hope that a return to old school visual effects will make the film one of the best in the series.  After all the fan favorite, The Empire Strikes Back was directed by someone (Irvin Kershner) other than George  Lucas so there is still hope that this film will be like Star Wars of old.  I can’t wait until The Force Awakens!

Penniless Prowse?

I just read an article that outlined the paycheques that some of the actors from the original Trilogy received for being in the films.

Surprisingly I found out that Dave Prowse, who played the role of Darth Vader in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, wasn’t even paid at all! This was allegedly due to due to “extremely ‘creative’ Hollywood accounting”.  This means he got letters from Lucasfilm stating that the movies never made any money and therefore they had nothing for him.

prowseNow, I’m not one to normally comment on these types of articles, but I have to say this…Bullshit!  I simply don’t believe that Dave Prowse was dumb enough to suit up for all three films and not get paid.  After A New Hope was filmed, you have to believe that in order for him to reprise his role, he would have put his foot down and simply stated that he’s not working for free.

Okay, yes they could have threatened to replace him, but I’m certain that by now he would have said something to the media regarding not being paid.  Interestingly enough he doesn’t even mention it on his official website either.

Personally, Dave, I would have done it for free, but then that’s just an extreme fan talking.  I hope you did get paid though! May the Force be with You!

A Long, Long, Long, Long time ago……

Star-Wars-VIII still can’t get over it.  Although Episode VII is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, I still can’t get over the fact that we will see Luke, Han and Leia return to the Star Wars Universe. Or should I say, Mark, Harrison & Carrie?   I have to cringe at what the possible outcomes will be having these three re-unite to play characters that they left behind literally 30 years ago.

Let’s face it, Harrison Ford might still be able to pull off Han Solo, but Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamil have done very little acting in the last 30 years.  Personally I am not convinced they can pull it off.

Most of the “treatments” of episodes VII thru IX are not anywhere close to what Lucas had envisioned (today anyway), but for readers interest I’ll post them here.  I still can’t see beyond the aged characters….

  • Episode VII would begin roughly 20 (or perhaps 30-40) years after the end of Return of the Jedi (according to Lucas in 1980 and 1982).
  • R2-D2 and C-3PO would be the only characters who might continue through all nine films (Lucas in 1980, 1981 and 1983).
  • The trilogy would deal with the rebuilding of the Republic (Lucas in 1980).
  • “It’s like a saga, the story of a group of people, a family” (Lucas in 1980).
  • The focus would be on Luke Skywalker’s journey to becoming the premier Jedi knight, with Luke’s sister (who was not Leia) appearing in Episode VIII, and the first appearance of the Emperor, and Luke’s ultimate confrontation with him, in Episode IX (a storyline as planned pre-1980, according to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz).
  • Luke would have a romantic relationship with a female love interest (Lucas in 1988).
  • The main theme of the trilogy would be moral and philosophical problems, such as the necessity for moral choices and the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned (Lucas in 1983 and 1989).
  • The key actors, Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Ford as Han Solo, and Fisher as Princess Leia, would appear, in their 60s or 70s (Lucas in 1983).
  • In Episode IX, Hamill would cameo, “like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope” (according to Hamill, in 2004).
  • “The other one — what happens to Luke afterward — is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that. If I’m really ambitious, I could proceed to figure out what would have happened to Luke” (Lucas in 1980).

So much for the expanded universe…

star_wars_logoAnother unconfirmed yet reliable source has indicated that Episode VII will be set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. The next films are going to be about Legacy as they will focus on the children of Luke, Han & Leia.

The fact that there is a casting call out for someone to fill the Chewbacca suit leads all of the diehard fans to believe that there will be no continuity (or very little) with the Expanded Universe Novels. The novelization began in 1991 and picked up the story of Luke et al right after the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi.

Since then there have been dozens of novels written that follow a timeline and ensure that every story is connected to the next, regardless of who wrote the book.  The idea was that in order to preserve the characters and the events that unfold after Return of the Jedi, all novelist had to read and incorporate events from previous novels.  Essentially this lead to character development that to date has followed the lives and events of the main characters (and some sub characters like Wedge Antilles) for over 45 years.

In these novels (spoiler alert), Chewbacca dies (a heroic death of course).  To bring him into Episode VII means Disney is not following the character development that has endured in the novelization of the Star Wars Universe for over 20 years.

So there you have it.  Expanded Universe fans are most likely going to be in for a shock and I’m sure there will be a lot of fallout because of it.  Personally I will find it difficult to absorb the next storyline presented in Episode VII but I am confident that JJ Abrams will pull it off somehow.  If he does, he will have done what Irvin Kershner did with Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back…still touted as the best Star Wars film of all time. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Star Wars on Blu-Ray: Is High Definition too much?

I was recently gifted the re-release of the complete Star Wars Saga on Blu-ray disc.

First off let me say that this is probably my 4th version of the Saga (from VHS through DVD to Blu-ray) and I am always thrilled to watch it all over again.

Having said this I am left wondering if HD (High Definition) is really the right format for the Star Wars films.  Personally I believe some things are best left alone.  Although I strongly agree that a digital overhaul of the Saga was a necessity (The Special Edition and Episodes I thru III), I don’t believe HD has done it justice.

I know, you must be thinking I’m crazy.  HD is “da bomb” these days and most films look incredible in this format.  I have to say though the images in certain scenes look almost too “crystal clear”.  One scene in particular is in The Empire Strikes Back.  It’s the scene where the Imperial Star Destroyers are being overshadowed by Vader’s massive Super Star Destroyer.  In my opinion, the ships look like they are just little models on a starry backdrop because the image detail is, well,  too detailed!!!.

Sometimes using a filter or a “soft focus” can make things look more appealing and believable.  Many directors use this method for obvious reasons.  HD certainly takes some of that away. The hard edges in some scenes that use matte paintings (paintings on glass) for effects shots are simply downright harsh.

All in all it’s still worth watching again, if not for all the new goodies packaged with the release,  but I’ll still be keeping my other copies…just in case I want to see it as I remember it…. a long time ago in a theatre far far away.

If I’d have known then what I know now!

Click for larger Image

I was just flipping through some old Star Wars calendars and came across one that had the original image of the first release poster for Episode VI  titled “Revenge of the Jedi”.  I recall, many, many years ago, I was a member of the Star Wars Fan Club (go figure!).  I remember prior to the opening date of May 1983, the title posters at the Theatres had all been changed to read “Return of the Jedi” (the imagery was different as well).  Afterward I went home to discover that as a Fan Club member I had received an early print of the poster shown here in this post.

I was curious as to the reason for the name change especially so close to the release date and was informed, most likely via the fan club, that George Lucas had realized that Jedi Order does not believe/participate in Revenge, so the title had to be changed.  Wow!  That was interesting, huh?

For whatever reason this made the “Revenge” poster a collectible item that became highly sought after in later years.  I had been dumb enough to give away most of my Star Wars merchandise.  I had almost given up on Star Wars by 1987, with little or no news forthcoming from the Fan Club. George didn’t appear to be doing anything with the Saga and there was little interest to continue being a Fan.

How did I know that George was planning a Special Edition and another 3 films, amongst other things?  How did I know that novels featuring the continuing story of the main characters would become bestsellers and would breathe new life into the Saga?  I kick myself to this day for giving away some items that are now worth a considerable amount of money.  Not that I would EVER part with them 😉