LUKE SKYWALKER RETURNS TO THE GALAXY, FROM DECEMBER 15TH, 2017

ARRIVING IN THE NETHERLANDS, FROM 30/9/17. BOOK NOW FOR THE ULTIMATE 'STAR WARS' EXHIBITION

Saturday, 31 May 2014

PENCIL UNIVERSE! 'STAR WARS' STORYBOARDS: DAY SIX - "IT'S A TRAP!"


In eager anticipation of the UK release of the lavish new STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY hardcover by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS, AFICIONADO presents a six-day tribute to the incredible art works of the diverse visualists whose key contributions helped bring to life the defining three movies of 1977, 1980 and 1983.

Our Day Six finale showcases the impressive style of freelancer David Russell. Under enormous time pressures in their desires to create a spectacular ending to the saga with EPISODE VI, Joe Johnston and ILM were soon recruiting specially chosen outside artists to help with the vital storyboarding, especially on the films barnstorming second half and its numerous dramatic and action-packed conflicts taking place on the forest moon of Endor, or above with the ominous, weapons-packed Death Star II. As seen with this impressive frame, Russell would soon become a privileged member of a small and very exclusive club able to shape the thrilling live-action and special effects elements for the movie- an experience he found thoroughly rewarding, especially as a long-time enthusiast of George Lucas's universe.


Get hold of STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY here: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: Amazon.co.uk: J.W. Rinzler: Books

THE CLONE WARS: RETURN OF THE SON OF DATHOMIR!


Last seen being electrified by the overwhelming powers of his former master, Darth Sidious, the resurrected Darth Maul disappointingly failed to have an onscreen conclusion to his arc in THE CLONE WARS animated series, though a story involving rescue by the Mandalorians, but ultimately a pawn of the Sith to eradicate Mother Talzin of Dathomir, was in the stages of production before the axe fell. That epic script- Son of Dathomir- has thankfully now been adapted into a new four-issue comic series from DARK HORSE, so far receiving some very positive critical notices.

Here's hoping more unmade TCW stories (like the planned Wookiee arc, the return of Ahsoka and the Cad Bane/Boba Fett team-up, as seen here: To Fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Thank You | Star Wars Blog | Star Wars Blog) get to novel or comic book form in the not too distant future...

Look for a review of the complete Son of Dathomir series on AFICIONADO in the not too distant future.

Friday, 30 May 2014

PENCIL UNIVERSE! 'STAR WARS' STORYBOARDS: DAY FIVE - "FAVOURITE DECORATION"


In eager anticipation of the UK release of the lavish new STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY hardcover by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS, AFICIONADO presents a six-day tribute to the incredible art works of the diverse visualists whose key contributions helped bring to life the defining three movies of 1977, 1980 and 1983.

Day Five showcases the ILM jack-of-all-trades David Carson, who contributed many superb storyboards for EPISODE VI, not just for the battle scenes but other all-important, character-related  moments, like this one, of which fans had been waiting three long years to see: Han Solo's carbonite thawing, and the beginning of his rescue from the vile Jabba the Hutt by Luke Skywalker and company.


Get hold of STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY here: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: Amazon.co.uk: J.W. Rinzler: Books

CLASSIC IMAGE: PLASTIC PLEASURES!


In 1980, and right up to today, there's no limit to the amount of fun Kidults could and can have playing with STAR WARS toys, of which this classic French poster/advert for the then latest merchandise of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK definitely pulls at the nostalgia heart-strings.

Fan passion for the Classic Trilogy KENNER/PALITOY figures/accessories continues unabated worldwide: plastic galaxy: the story of star wars toys

Thursday, 29 May 2014

PENCIL UNIVERSE! 'STAR WARS' STORYBOARDS: DAY FOUR - "BUT YOU ARE NOT A JEDI YET!"


In eager anticipation of the UK release of the lavish new STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY hardcover by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS, AFICIONADO presents a six-day tribute to the incredible art works of the diverse visualists whose key contributions helped bring to life the defining three movies of 1977, 1980 and 1983.

Day Four celebrates the work of Ivor Beddoes. A respected and highly experienced talent in the world of British art direction, Beddoes had worked on the original STAR WARS with George Lucas during its pre-production and production stages at Elstree during late 1975 and early 1976 (mostly on key action scenes), and was soon a vital part of director Irvin Kershner's thought processes in developing the fast paced, overall grimmer atmosphere for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Especially superb in drafting physically challenging and athletic sequences, his detailed notes accompanying, well-thought out work on the now legendary lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, deep within the claustrophobic and sweaty bowels of the floating Bespin mining colony, would surely be one of his career highlights.



Get hold of STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY here: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: Amazon.co.uk: J.W. Rinzler: Books

BEHIND THE SCENES: CHASM COMEDY!


Late Spring 1976: Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, supported by Stunt coordinator Peter Diamond, have scary but exhilarating fun in the practise for what would be the one-take only classic Death Star chasm swing-certainly this authors favourite moment from the original STAR WARS: full of action, romanticism and a superb John Williams score.

Carrie Fisher was scared to death before this iconic Star Wars scene - Dork Side of the Force - Star Wars News

Old Carrie Fisher Interview - Star Wars - 1977 - YouTube

Check out this behind the scenes/deleted scene moment unearthed for THE MAKING OF STAR WARS e-book last year: ▶ Star Wars Bridge Swing Behind the Scenes - YouTube

The classic scene recreated for MYTHBUSTERS. Image: DISCOVERY.

The lively hit DISCOVERY UK HD factual series MYTHBUSTERS has a special STAR WARS themed episode next Monday evening, titled Revenge of the Myth, of which one of the scenes examined is the Luke and Leia swing across. The MYTHBUSTERS team wonder if that swing could actually be done for real. What will their results yield? Check it out here: Mythbusters Star Wars Episode

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

PENCIL UNIVERSE! 'STAR WARS' STORYBOARDS: DAY THREE - "EVASIVE ACTION!"


In eager anticipation of the UK release of the lavish new STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY hardcover by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS, AFICIONADO presents a six-day tribute to the incredible art works of the diverse visualists whose key contributions helped bring to life the defining three movies of 1977, 1980 and 1983.

Day Three celebrates Nilo Rodis-Jamero. Starting off as a Padawan to Joe Johnston in the Art Department for the even more ambitious first STAR WARS sequel, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Rodis-Jamero would soon become an ILM star in his own right with his imagination and sense of heightened visual quality in creating impressive scenic shots for characters and action, as seen with this evocative moment from the Imperial pursuit of the slippery Millennium Falcon, as the trusty Rebel Alliance supporting ship soon escapes their clutches via a nearby asteroid field.

Beyond EMPIRE, Rodis-Jamero's position in the company evolved into other areas, too, becoming one of the costume designers for EPISODE VI, as well as a key participant to the success of the eighties STAR TREK cinematic franchise.


Get hold of STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY here: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: Amazon.co.uk: J.W. Rinzler: Books

CLASSIC IMAGE: FORCE BATTLE!


Deep below the Senate Chamber, Master Yoda is temporarily rendered immobile from the Dark Force energies of a gloating Darth Sidious, in this tense moment from EPISODE III.

The 2011 Blu-ray Prequels deleted scenes disc had some fun animatics from this sequence that sadly never made the final cut, including more physical action of Yoda fighting Sidious, his throwing two Red Guards into the path of his foes Force lightning, then making a frog-like leap onto the wall and running the stretch of its upper circular width so as to avoid more dark lightning.

The Royal Guards had an even worse time from Yoda in this animatic.
Yoda run, run, run!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

PENCIL UNIVERSE! 'STAR WARS' STORYBOARDS: DAY TWO - "JUST LIKE BEGGAR'S CANYON BACK HOME!'



In eager anticipation of the UK release of the lavish new STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY hardcover by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS, AFICIONADO presents a six-day tribute to the incredible art works of the diverse visualists whose key contributions helped bring to life the defining three movies of 1977, 1980 and 1983.

Day Two celebrates Joe Johnston: one of the most well-known and respected artists to have worked on the saga, and whom, after the equally distinguished Ralph McQuarrie, put so much of his visual stamp signature into the finished EPISODEs IV to VI. Youthfully innocent of the film business at that time after a stint at Cal State University and some other design company work, Johnston eagerly jumped into the brave new worlds of space fantasy being set up by George Lucas and ILM in August 1975. He and STAR WARS would soon become a match made in heaven, as this terrific early storyboard, showing Luke's flak-hit X-wing fighter speeding down the Death Star trench towards its exhaust port target, ably demonstrates...

Legendary Filmmaker Joe Johnston Reflects on Designing 'Star Wars' and Directing Robin Williams

With thanks to Chris Baker for the image.



Get hold of STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY here: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: Amazon.co.uk: J.W. Rinzler: Books


CLASSIC IMAGE: A REFINED SENSE OF EVIL!


Incredulously not considered a threat by his former friends after leaving the Jedi Order, Count Dooku of Serenno, leader of the Separatists, finally reveals his true colours as a Sith Lord, during the climactic lightsaber duels of EPISODE II. Evil has never been more sophisticated, or more spiteful.

STAR WARS AFICIONADO sends the warmest of birthday wishes to actor/writer/singer Christopher Lee, celebrating his 92nd Birthday today. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

PENCIL UNIVERSE! 'STAR WARS' STORYBOARDS: DAY ONE - "THIS IS MADNESS!"


In eager anticipation of the UK release of the lavish new STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY hardcover by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS, AFICIONADO presents a six-day tribute to the incredible art works of the diverse visualists whose key contributions helped bring to life the defining three movies of 1977, 1980 and 1983. 

Day One celebrates Alex Tavoularis, an artist and friend of George Lucas brought in during 1975 to work on the films boards after Ralph McQuarrie had begun early concept painting. Tavoularis's most notable work would be the dynamic action for THE STAR WARS opening sequence: the Imperial Star Destroyers bullying of the Rebel Blockade Runner and the early arrival on Tatooine by the film's first "stars": droids See-Threepio and Artoo-Detoo- seen here bearing more facial characteristics than their final on screen forms would, as they wander through the corridors of their ship as the attack begins.


Get hold of STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY here: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: Amazon.co.uk: J.W. Rinzler: Books


CLASSIC IMAGE: DESERT CITY DEALINGS...


Trying to avoid attention, Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, Padme and Jar Jar Binks enter the turbulent Mos Espa spaceport of Tatooine, in search of a new Hyperdrive generator, during this echoes of the future/past linked to EPISODE IV. Tatooine, despite its backwater of the universe reputation, continues to be a critical nexus to events in STAR WARS history-something which I hope continues for the upcoming EPISODEs VII to IX.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

HAPPY 37th BIRTHDAY, 'STAR WARS'!


Its that magical time of year again that we celebrate the incredible past launched with George Lucas's seminal event film that changed the world and its entertainment industry forever, as well as looking to a bright new future from 2015 onwards, with the arrival of a next generation of all-new heroes and villains to enjoy and hopefully be dazzled by!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STAR WARS!

Recent Classic Trilogy related clips and news features:

▶ Star Wars original crawl - YouTube

About All These Original Star Wars Blu-ray Rumors…

Anxious he was...Revealed: Why George Lucas was convinced his Star Wars dream would be a flop | Mail Online


▶ Star Wars original crawl - YouTube

A Brief Look At The Creation Of Chewbacca On Peter Mayhew’s Birthday




Mark Hamill interview on set of Star Wars - YouTube


▶ Harley Cokeliss on The Empire Strikes Back for FFW 2012 - YouTube

▶ Mark Hamill & Harrison Ford interviews: The Empire Strikes Back - YouTube


▶ Carrie Fisher - The Empire Strikes Back interview - YouTube

CLASSIC INDY: "I HATE THESE GUYS!"


One of the Indiana Jones series greatest action scenes: as Indy has double trouble trying to rescue his Father (in trouble again!) and fight off those pesky Germans, led by the equally bothersome Colonel Vogel (Michael Byrne), as seen in this tense and terrific tank conflict moment from INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, which yesterday celebrated it's landmark 25th Anniversary.

HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY, 'LAST CRUSADE'!

Friday, 23 May 2014

OF SEQUELS AND SPIN-OFFS. MORE 'STAR WARS' NEWS...

J.J. Abrams and new friend: background alien Bobbajo.

22nd May- The first, so far untitled, spin-off is announced:  Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta Onboard for Star Wars Stand-Alone Film | StarWars.com

Spin-Off Writer Gary Whitta Loves Star Wars So Much He's Not Putting Up With The Prequels Or Special Editions - Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors

AFICIONADO opinion: Welcome to the STAR WARS film universe, Mister Whitta, though we hope you'll be a little more appreciative and considerate of George Lucas and his film efforts now that you're part of their tightly-knit family. Your highly charged, sometimes quite insulting comments about Lucas and the Prequels these past few years are not likely to be forgotten by the fan base!

EPISODE VII related news:

▶ Star Wars: Force for Change - A Message from J.J. Abrams - YouTube
Harrison Ford talks Star Wars VII
Carrie Fisher interview: The secrecy around the new Star Wars film 'is like D-Day' - Telegraph
Carrie Fisher on Star Wars Episode 7: 'I'm fighting to keep the hair buns' - Movies News - Digital Spy
Why ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ Decided to Shoot in Abu Dhabi (EXCLUSIVE) | Variety
'Star Wars: Episode VII' Filming in Abu Dhabi - Hollywood Reporter
Star Wars 7: Jim Henson's Creature Shop Not Involved
Wedge Antilles actor rejected 'Star Wars: Episode VII' role because it would 'bore' him | The Verge

On the opposite side to Gary Whitta, I have to say that I'm very pleased at the creative and personal tone that J.J. Abrams is setting in realising this new STAR WARS adventure, as seen in this apparent personal letter to cast and crew...


CLASSIC INDY: HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY, 'TEMPLE OF DOOM'!

Supreme celebration art by Mark Raats.

From the Shanghai-based dangers of Lao Che inside his Club Obi-Wan, to the heart-stopping Pankot Palace rope bridge struggle against Mola Ram and his Thuggee Cult, Indiana Jones is certainly in for the prequel ride of his life, as his adventure inside the heart of darkness- The Temple of Doom- hits its Thirtieth Anniversary. The film continues to hold up well as one heck of a top-flight blockbuster, as only Lucas, Spielberg and Harrison Ford know how to realise it!

▶ Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Trailer HD - YouTube
▶ Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Trailer - YouTube
▶ Indiana Jones 1999 VHS Spots - YouTube


FORTUNE AND GLORY: Quint reports on an early draft of Temple of Doom! - Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news.

HAPPY THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM!

For more on Mark Raats and his accomplished portfolio, head over to his site: The Art of Mark Raats

And as to possibility of our intrepid hero's return? Well, anything is still possible...
What the Future of Indiana Jones Could Look Like at Disney | Variety

Friday, 16 May 2014

PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY COMMENCES ON 'EPISODE VII'

Good Luck, J.J.!

The day that expectant STAR WARS fans worldwide have been crossing their diary pages through to has confidently arrived. The players are assembled, the studios are ready, and a new section of George Lucas's supreme sci-fi/fantasy universe will soon be cinematically revealed, with some welcome nods to the past and near present thrown in for good measure! A year and three quarters is going to fly by faster than a snowspeeder in combat!


STAR WARS AFICIONADO wishes Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and all the dedicated cast and international crews at Pinewood, LUCASFILM, BAD ROBOT, DISNEY, and beyond, the very best of success for the next cinema-defining, icon-bringing sequels. You're stepping into the shoes of giants but I'm sure you'll all be gaining equal stature soon enough!

Day One. The Clapperboard. Image: BAD ROBOT.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: GOOD-HUMOURED SMUGGLER!


Trying to film a dramatic moment for our heroes, Harrison Ford instead gets to enjoy a laugh within the Millennium Falcon cockpit-one of the 1976 bloopers from the original STAR WARS filming, seen in the 2004 documentary: EMPIRE OF DREAMS, with further revealed Solo hilarity unearthed in a rare and recently gag-reel, available within the electronic marvel that is THE MAKING OF STAR WARS revised e-book, here: The Making of Star Wars (Enhanced Edition) eBook: J. W. Rinzler, Peter Jackson: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Jump forward thirty-eight years, and here's hoping that Harrison Ford manages to raise a behind the scenes laugh or two anew in the Falcon cockpit, for EPISODE VII.



THE CLONE WARS: A CONSPIRACY OF VILLAINS!


Heavily disguised and infiltrating a ruthless gang of bounty hunters headed by Cad Bane, Obi-Wan hears Count Dooku's plan to assassinate Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, in this great scene from THE CLONE WARS Season Four episode Crisis on Naboo.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE LUCAS!


To the one and only Father/Creator of the STAR WARS empire, HAPPY 70th BIRTHDAY, GEORGE LUCAS, from STAR WARS fans worldwide!

The Force will be with him... always!

A STAR WARS career in pictures: STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE: THE 'STAR WARS' ODYSSEY OF GEORGE LUCAS

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

LAUNCHING THE LEGEND. PIC SIX: 'REVENGE OF THE SITH' 2003


In the run up to commencement of EPISODE VII's PINEWOOD STUDIOS principal photography, apparently slated for May 14th, 2014, STAR WARS AFICIONADO presents a key image from the first days shooting of the previous six films of the saga.

June 30th, 2003. The Attack of the Clones had come and gone, attracting the same kind of hit and miss status with critics and certain fans as EPISODE I, but nonetheless sustaining strong box office returns and continued audience interest. Now, the seasoned Lucas had his sights fully set on completing the trilogy and the saga with the all-important EPISODE III- the film that would likely be the real challenge of his Prequel-making career, what with the need to believably and successfully fuse two STAR WARS universes together into a satisfying whole, giving fans lots of continuity to the future past to enjoy, especially linked to Ian McDiarmid's final rise to power as The Emperor, yet not without bringing new and varied alien landscapes to keep general cinema-goers entertained, helped by an impressive supporting villain in the form of multiple lightsaber-wielding cyborg General Grievous to complicate events in the movie's middle, and providing an overall darker edge not seen in the series for quite a while- notably with its final quarter, and the ultimate descent into Sith Hell that Anakin Skywalker would face, becoming the more machine than man nightmare that would be Darth Vader.

But before all that, the reunited cast and crew would have to warm up once again with their first day of digital principal photography, part of a planned, very tight, sixty day shoot: on the cards this premiere day, scenes of Jedi heroes Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan traversing the lift corridor of The Invisible Hand to rescue the captured Palpatine. Always a pleasure to see these Jedi heroes, their complicated friendship would be tested ever further after the concluding events of the three-year lifespan of The Clone Wars. Anakin's relationship with his Jedi mentor and "brother" Obi-Wan would have its last chance to be explored within EPISODE III, and stars Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor, who had become the greatest of friends over three years, wanted to make sure that what was shown onscreen between them, before their final cataclysmic lightsaber duel on the volcanic world of Mustafar, rang true with audiences and for what would later be established in the overall Classic Trilogy storyline. For the most part they would be successful, as the eventually titled Revenge of the Sith, with its fast pace and memorable scenes, concluded the impactful 1999-2005 cinematic experience, and STAR WARS at that time, on an eventful high, winning the hearts and minds of a new generation of fans- a process that will continue on with the Lucas legacy now inherited by Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams for 2015's EPISODE VII.


CLASSIC IMAGE: LINGUISTIC CHALLENGES!


Threepio normally enjoys his protocol duties, but not this time, I fear, in his unfortunate role as the unwilling translation servant, and first one in the frame when trouble breaks out, to the evil Jabba the Hutt. A great image from RETURN OF THE JEDI.

It's going to be interesting seeing what "Golden Rod" gets up to in EPISODE VII...

Monday, 12 May 2014

LAUNCHING THE LEGEND. PIC FIVE: 'ATTACK OF THE CLONES' 2000



In the run up to commencement of EPISODE VII's PINEWOOD STUDIOS principal photography, apparently slated for May 14th, 2014, STAR WARS AFICIONADO presents a key image from the first day's shooting of the previous six films of the saga.

June 26th, 2000. Enduring a critical mauling from both the press and certain persistent fan quarters, EPISODE I's success at the box office in 1999 ultimately overrode its naysayers in re-launching the STAR WARS phenomenon all over again, making nearly a billion dollars worldwide and comfortably trouncing nearby new movie franchise competition in the shape of THE MATRIX and THE MUMMY. Buoyed by an impressive pre-launch advertising campaign, alongside an immense toy and book launch, young and old across the globe keenly welcomed back George Lucas's well-crafted universe of old and new characters, many amazed and intrigued by the CGI universe that would revolutionize film-making in the years ahead. Now, the STAR WARS production machine juggernaut was firmly up and running as work continued into 2000 with the start of principal photography on EPISODE II, though behind the scenes creative pressures were quietly noticeable as Lucas and co. tried their very best to craft the next two episodes in a darker, more dramatic fashion, as the story made its evolutionary reach towards the events of the original 1977 film.

This time out, there would be several firsts for the saga: the series would now be made on revolutionary digital cameras developed by SONY, whilst England's successful Leavesden Studios location would be deserted by Lucasfilm, primarily for financial reasons, as the warmer, cheaper climes of Australia beckoned with their large scale FOX STUDIOS facility: new and ready for the many worlds and alien creatures soon arriving within their soundstages. But starting the filming, so as to get the UK and Oz crews together in a "warming up" kind of way, was the return of the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing character of Ian McDiarmid's splendidly creepy Palpatine, now Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, and his plot-moving senate scenes within the galactic arena of Coruscant, aided and abetted by his mysterious and equally corrupted confidantes, Mas Amedda (David Bowers) and Sly Moore (Sandi Finlay).

Sure enough, the Attack of the Clones against their Separatist enemies would begin, and a universe would feel its destructive after-effects...

POWERING UP! THE LATEST 'STAR WARS' SEQUEL NEWS...


Before the start of principal photography on EPISODE VII, allegedly this week, there's just time to add some further related news stories...

'Star Wars' sequel lands working title? | PopWatch | EW.com
Star Wars: Episode VII: Harrison Ford and Han Solo bury the lightsaber | Inside Movies | EW.com
Oscar Isaac Talks Star Wars 7 Casting - Yahoo Movies UK
Star Wars Episode VII filming to start in Abu Dhabi desert on May 13 | The National
Carrie Fisher Lost 40 Pounds for New Star Wars Movie: She Looks Terrific, Says Mom Debbie Reynolds | E! Online UK
Wedge Antilles Actor Says He Passed On 'Star Wars 7,' Lando Calrissian Appears In 'Star Wars Rebels' As Consolation Prize |The Playlist

Sunday, 11 May 2014

LAUNCHING THE LEGEND. PIC FOUR: 'THE PHANTOM MENACE' 1997

"Good luck everybody. Now lets kick some ass!" Rick McCallum snaps the clapperboard to EPISODE I's filming.

In the run up to commencement of EPISODE VII's PINEWOOD STUDIOS principal photography, apparently slated for May 14th, 2014, STAR WARS AFICIONADO presents a key image from the first days shooting of the previous six films of the saga.

June 26th, 1997. With the Original Trilogy completed and satisfying audience expectations by May 1983, STAR WARS fans would have a very long wait for the technological capabilities of the special effects industry to catch up with George Lucas's dreams and ambitions for his history-revealing Prequel Universe. By 1997, and the release of the souped up STAR WARS TRILOGY: SPECIAL EDITIONS packed with new CGI creatures and environments bolstering and recapturing his enthusiasm, along with sustained box office profits (combined with a massive merchandise tie-in deal with BURGER KING/PEPSI-COLA), the long-promised three-film saga showing the rise of the Empire and the fall of a Republic, that would gradually lead into the events of STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE, could finally, excitedly, begin.

After years of conceptual art planning, animatics and story formulating, Lucas, with his new long-time producer Rick McCallum, was ready, as were the spirited and excited new international cast and crew assembled, as the UK's Leavesden Studios facility became home to intense and pioneering STAR WARS production with EPISODE I, then with the working title of The Beginning. No ambitious, time-consuming action scenes would be tackled on the first day, however-instead there would be a key scene introducing the new series deadliest super-baddies, specifically the return of Ian McDiarmid as everyone's favourite malevolence, now at a time before becoming The Emperor, and referred to here by his Sith Lord title of Darth Sidious, conferring with his new protege: the lightsaber duelling, Jedi killing nemesis that is Darth Maul, played by stuntman Ray Park. From the night-time balcony of Senator Palpatine's luxurious office apartment on Coruscant, the duo's plans for the domination of the Republic will secretly begin.

The Phantom Menace has emerged...


SPECIAL EDITION CLASSIC IMAGE: IMPERIAL TAXI SERVICE!


His attempts to turn Luke over to the Dark Side seemingly failed (for the time being at least), Darth Vader (here played by then ILMer C. Andrew Nelson) and a small entourage make their way back to the Imperial Shuttle, in an extra love-it or hate-it scene added to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: SPECIAL EDITION in 1997 that was designed to show us more visual imagery of Cloud City. Certainly, the loss of James Earl Jones excellently delivered line of anger: "Bring my shuttle!" was a casualty of the re-jigged scene that fans particularly noticed.

Later HAN SOLO movie director Chris Miller played one of the required 5'11 escort Stormtroopers, after a ILM casting call of which he was briefly working for the company as a young intern.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

LAUNCHING THE LEGEND. PIC THREE: 'RETURN OF THE JEDI' 1982


In the run up to commencement of EPISODE VII's PINEWOOD STUDIOS principal photography, apparently slated for May 14, 2014, STAR WARS AFICIONADO presents a key image from the first day's shootings of the previous six films of the saga.

January 11th, 1982. Deciding to do a challenging scene first so as to prove to George Lucas and producer Howard Kazanjian that he can stay on schedule and budget, newcomer to blockbuster directing Richard Marquand opens up the four-month long UK filming of REVENGE OF THE JEDI on a memorable note: a Tatooine sandstorm sequence featuring the last appearance of the specially built prop Millennium Falcon that, in an environment with huge fan controlled dust particles flying everywhere, proves difficult for the returning, bittersweet main cast reunion to act in. The scene is indeed completed on time and budget, but ultimately proves unrewarding- quickly becoming one of the earliest deleted scene casualties of the film's eventual editing.

As fans wait with baited breath for news on the filming of the concluding chapter of the Classic Trilogy, keen to discover the ultimate fates of now iconic heroes and villains after the cliffhanger to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, a telex is sent out by LUCASFILM informing the world's press that principal photography is now underway...



CLASSIC IMAGE: RIDERS OF THE SKY!


In a top of the line airspeeder, Anakin and Obi-Wan continue their hot pursuit of the mysterious bounty hunter whose lethal mission to kill Padme they've only just foiled, in a lively scene set in the packed skylanes of Corsucant, from EPISODE II.

Friday, 9 May 2014

LAUNCHING THE LEGEND. PIC TWO: 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK' 1979


In the run up to commencement of EPISODE VII's PINEWOOD STUDIOS principal photography, apparently slated for May 14th, 2014, STAR WARS AFICIONADO presents a key image from the first day's shootings of the previous six films of the saga.

March 5th, 1979. An earlier sent telex from George Lucas wishing the cast and crew of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK good luck wasn't quite enough in protecting them from, at that time, one of the worst winters that Norway had ever encountered. Arriving at the solitary hotel at Finse, near the vital and stunningly visual Hardanger Jokulen glacier, the small troop (including Mark Hamill, Denis Lawson and Carrie Fisher, the latter there with a girlfriend- just for the location fun of it all!) were soon stranded in their hotel by an avalanche, resulting in director Irvin Kershner's early scenes filming an injured Luke Skywalker desperately traversing the deadly environs of Hoth literally being achieved just a few short steps outside the establishment.

Like STAR WARS troubled filming in Tunisia four years before, equipment problems to cameras and effects instruments persisted- this time due to the intense cold, whilst whiteouts and frostbite would bring their challenges and hardships to the human condition. But all these factors would ultimately be considered good omens by the time the film arrived in cinemas by May 1980.

'TEMPLE OF DOOM' AT 30: FUSION OF DARKNESS!


Another great poster for 1984's Indy "heart of darkness" adventure, loaded with clasisc scene imagery and characters around the great man himself, ready with sword and whip for the approaching evil.

It's a piece of art that I don't ever recall seeing before, so if anyone has any more info on it please get in touch...

Thursday, 8 May 2014

LAUNCHING THE LEGEND. PIC ONE: 'STAR WARS' 1976


In the run up to commencement of EPISODE VII's PINEWOOD STUDIOS principal photography, apparently slated for May 14th 2014, STAR WARS AFICIONADO presents a key image from the first day's shootings of the previous six films of the saga.

March 22nd, 1976. The first day of filming for THE STAR WARS begins in the Tozeur salt flats at Nefta, Tunisia, for scenes of the Jawa droid sale outside the Lars Homestead moisture farm. John Barry's advance built sets and set dressings, plus the enormous bottom section of the Jawa Sandcrawler scaffold prop make an impression on cast, crew and local helpers, whilst the first proper unveiled appearance of Anthony Daniels within the golden See-Threepio suit proves painful for the actor. Luke Starkiller, cast late in the day with Mark Hamill, has now become Luke Skywalker, part of a main cast and Jawa extras (including producer Gary Kurtz's two children and Jack Purvis as their leader) that prove excellent, but the technical problems, especially the droids and other practical effects developed by John Stears- some of which are new and experimental- cause delays and headaches to an already tense writer/director George Lucas.

Right from this first day, on what will be a unique project, the filming is over-schedule, of which further tense times lay ahead...

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: BATTLE IN THE SNOW


Like David versus Goliath, the Rebel Snowspeeders valiantly charge into action against the formidable, threatening presence of the Imperial AT-AT Walkers, in this wonderful 1979 ILM storyboard by Nilo Rodis-Jamero for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, part of an incredible 1,200 art pieces (many never before seen) compiled by "The Godfather" of STAR WARS behind the scenes history- J.W Rinzler- for the lavish STAR WARS STORYBOARDS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY, published by Abrams Books, out this month in the US, and from June 1st in the UK.


Evocative trailer: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy - Book Trailer - YouTube
Original 'Star Wars' Storyboards Reveal Lost Obi-Wan Kenobi Scene, Early Leia Look
Check out R2-D2's bizarre propeller head in 13 original Star Wars storyboards | Blastr
The Art of Star Wars: Storyboard Secrets of the Original Trilogy - Esquire

Get hold of the book here: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: Amazon.co.uk: J.W. Rinzler: Books

Look for the AFICIONADO review in the not too distant future...

RETURN TO TERROR! ALAN DEAN FOSTER's 'ALIENS' - BACK IN PRINT

The Giger factor! The Xenomorphs are unleashed in ALIENS. Image: TITAN BOOKS.

She thought the nightmare was over, but warrant officer Ellen Ripley, last survivor of the destroyed commercial tow Nostromo, awakens from a malfunctioning cryosleep to discover a changed universe and the unwelcome return of the Xenomorph threat-this time in legion form- on the planet LV-426, home to the immense "derelict" craft she and her once crew previously encountered in deep space, now inhabited by a terraforming colony run by the insidious and all-corrupting Weyland Yutani- "The Company"- who will stop at nothing to procure the Alien species for their own twisted ambitions and growing power base. Alongside a squad of hard-bitten, top colonial marines believing themselves experienced and powerful enough to neutralise the threat, Ripley, in order to conquer her own personal demons and help rescue the colonists, has no choice but to return to the world that has spawned such organic terrors- but can even she prepare herself for the horrors and ordeals that lay ahead?

In the lair of evil: Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Newt (Carrie Henn).

ALIEN had been such an incredible smash-hit back in 1979 that there was no way that 20th CENTURY FOX weren't going to do a sequel at some point. Fortunately, despite the departure of Ridley Scott, who had put such an incredible and unique stamp on the first film, writer/producers Gordon Carroll, Walter Hill and David Giler were able to hire a new talent and inspiring film-maker in his own right to tackle part two- a person just starting out in his career as Scott had done eight years before, and with a low budget sci-fi epic that had just hit the big-time on the cult circuit: THE TERMINATOR- yes, the now iconic James Cameron, bringing his love of technology, weapons and warfare to the saga with this brilliantly made, tense and genuinely exciting horror/action/ sci-fi confectionery which would also be a genuinely worthy successor and vital continuance to the ALIEN franchise, featuring an Academy Award nominated performance for Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, who gets to show her maternal side in between operating flamethrowers and bazookas!

A new threat appears with the Alien Queen.

In book form, Alan Dean Foster returns to adapt the saga, and manages to build on the great work he did transforming the original film. That time, he likely had only the original script and no reference photos of the Alien to work with, which, turned into a positive, allowed him to build up the claustrophobia and sweat-inducing tensions on the Nostromo. Now, with the original's passing, he knows the creatures and the character of the fascinating heroine opposing them, giving us a richer, deeper and even more exciting book than the first one, of which he build on certain plot elements and smoothes over any possible potential plot/continuity inconsistencies. There's also several new facets added to the Xenomorphs themselves: we find out out that they have a "stinger" ability that can paralyse their victims, and, alongside the impressive and scary new evolution that is the Alien Queen, Dean Foster introduces smaller versions of the original aliens- Drones- to assist her vile pod laying. Additionally rewarding to readers during this ones original release is the fact that, with no such thing as the ALIENS: SPECIAL EDITION version at that point, this sprightly adaptation keeps all of the original deleted scenes intact within its pages-not forced out like they were in the 1986 theatrical cut (requested of Cameron by FOX in order to keep a two hour running time at cinemas and keep the box office profits flowing), giving us our first taster of the superb sequences that would eventually resurface (more on Ripley's late daughter, the colonists discovery of the decayed alien derelict and the final demise of the loathsome Company man Carter Burke being notable standouts).

TITAN BOOKS 2014 reprinting of the Alan Dean Foster ALIEN novels, alongside up and coming new materials linking it all into one disturbing, evolving gestalt, has proved a welcome move, especially in the run up to the eventual continuation of the series in prequel form with PROMETHEUS 2, likely due around 2016.

Get hold of the book here: Aliens: The Official Movie Novelization: Amazon.co.uk: Alan Dean Foster: Books

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

EPISODE I AT FIFTEEN: DELETED DUELLING!


No Prequel hater can possibly deny the fact that EPISODE I's finale three-way lightsaber duel with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi against Darth Maul isn't one of the best scenes of the entire STAR WARS saga (so far...), particularly showing us the incredible powers of the Jedi in their prime- something that George Lucas always wanted to show us on cinema screens.

My only complaint was later finding out that material had been cut from this adrenaline charged sequence, like this great scene in which Darth Maul Force leaps to escape his attackers, who then promptly give chase in the same manner. Briefly witnessed on the first EPISODE I DVD, it fuelled my hopes that one day we could see more of this action in another eventual release (like the Blu-ray), or inserted back into the film at some point!

In the Theed Power Room, Maul fends off Kenobi with some fancy double saber moves.
Maul begins his leap!
Maul shoots upward.
The Jedi are momentarily surprised!
Maul reaches the upper level.
The Jedi leap up in pursuit...
... reach their destination...
... and continue the fight!

Several deleted scene duel moments can be seen here: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace "One Destiny" Tone Poem Commercial - YouTube