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Tag Archive: Boba Fett


Troopers in the hall

Review by C.J. Bunce

Written and directed by Jon Spira and funded via Kickstarter, a documentary about the making of the original Star Wars is now available in the U.S. via Netflix after a release last year in the UK and limited-city U.S. theatrical release this summer.  Elstree 1976 is a time travel trip to visit some of the more obscure actors who portrayed characters and, except for Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse, would not make either the poster credits or, for some, even the movie’s end credits.

Yet each of the characters they portrayed became known by diehard Star Wars fans because of its historic success.  Spira’s documentary asserts 2 billion people on Earth have seen Star Wars–something like 25% of the planet’s population.  Perhaps even a fleeting image of an actor in such a universally acknowledged work justifies our fascination with even the most obscure bit player (see George Lucas’s Frames, reviewed here and here at borg.com, for instance).  Remember the Stormtrooper who uttered the line “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for… move along”?  What about Luke’s friends from the deleted Tatooine scenes?  Or one of the actors who claims to be the Stormtrooper who cracked his head on the door aboard the Death Star?

Elstree 1976 poster

Spira selected ten actors to be featured in his film.   Hundreds more could be seen in a similar documentary or documentaries made tomorrow.  But what fascinates is that just as Star Trek actors will tell you about how you never leave Star Trek once you play any part in the franchise, the same holds true for Star Wars.  The convention circuit has breathed new life into careers and new opportunities to make money.  Unlike many films about fans of big franchises, this documentary is quite respectful of the fans, not showing them as oddities.  Most of the actors interviewed are respectful and grateful to the fanbase, too.  The only downside is the uncomfortable politics of the convention circuit among these actors–a few see themselves as a higher status of guest and believe others should not be going to conventions, which sort of misses the point of conventions altogether.

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Troopers in the hall

Written and directed by Jon Spira and funded via Kickstarter, a new documentary about the making of the original Star Wars is coming your way, and it’s not anything you will find in the special features of your twelve editions of the original trilogy in your home video collection.  Elstree 1976 is a time travel trip to visit some of the more obscure actors who portrayed characters who, except for one, would not make either the poster credits or, for some, even the movie’s end credits.

Yet each of the characters they portrayed became famous because of the historic success of Star Wars, and the fact that so many have seen the film so many times that every frame of the film has taken on its own life in the annals of sci-fi/fantasy cinema history.  Remember the stormtrooper who uttered the line “these aren’t the droids we’re looking for… move along”?  What about Luke’s friends from the deleted Tatooine scenes?

Elstree 1976 poster

Spira selected ten actors to be featured in his film.  The documentary includes interviews with actors who filmed scenes at Elstree Studios in England in 1976.  The most well-known are David Prowse (Darth Vader), Jeremy Bulloch (The Empire Strikes Back’s Boba Fett), and Garrick Hagon (Biggs Darklighter), whose scenes were cut by director George Lucas, only to be re-inserted into the Special Edition in the 1990s.

Comic Con with Boba Fett Jeremy Bulloch Bunce

Your Editor with Jeremy Bulloch and the character he made famous a long, long, time ago.

Other actors included are Paul Blake (Greedo), Anthony Forrest (Luke’s friend Fixer and the Jedi-tricked Sandtrooper), Laurie Goode (Stormtrooper and cantina patron Saurin), Derek Lyons (temple guard/medal bearer), Angus MacInnes (Gold Leader), Pam Rose (cantina patron Leesub Sirln) and John Chapman (X-Wing pilot Red 12).

Here’s the trailer for the documentary Elstree 1976:

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Star Wars cosplay

We’ve already shown some photos of a great set of little green army men as well as the best Arrow cosplay from Planet Comicon 2015, but we have a few more images to share.  Not surprisingly, with a new Star Wars film due out by year end, Star Wars cosplay could be seen everywhere this past weekend.  One couple, shown above, expertly recreated the Clone Wars villain Asajj Ventris and Jedi Shaak Ti.

Biker scout PC 2015

It’s hard to beat all the great Imperial armored soldiers that appear at Cons these days.  This speeder bike trooper was no exception.  If you’re not willing to create your own outfit, ANOVOS and other companies now make it possible for anyone to wear screen-accurate Star Wars costumes.

astromech droid PC 2015

Several homemade remote-controlled astromech droids could be found skimming across the convention floor.  Who wouldn’t want one of these at home?  I remember when I first saw an R2 unit at a Con more than a decade ago and it was the highlight of the show.  Now we take these awesome robots for granted.

steampunk Boba Fett

Boba Fetts were everywhere, too, but we really liked this steampunk riveted helmet take on the mysterious bounty hunter.

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Honey Trap logo

What does the Honey Trap Army have to do with G.I. Joe?  Back to that in a minute.

If you’re not already familiar with Gentle Giant, it’s the toy company that creates several specialty collectible toys and busts.  Most are for the serious collector and not something kids will likely ever get their hands on with the company’s large-sized classic Star Wars line offering action figures at $75 and up.  And Gentle Giant handles several franchises, from Star Wars to Marvel to Harry Potter to The Hobbit.

Previously at borg.com we revealed some convention-exclusive figures and the retro-edition, giant rocket-firing Boba Fett may be the coolest large-sized series action figure ever made.  This past week Gentle Giant revealed its first 2013 San Diego Comic-Con exclusive figure, from its Honey Trap Army line: Whisper, variant:

Whisper variant promo

And the limited-to-100 figures edition sold out almost immediately at a whopping $669 per figure.  What’s the Honey Trap Army?  You won’t find a lot of information about them, other than we saw an excellent display of the four initial character figures at last year’s Comic-Con and artist Kevin Dart either created the comic art that inspired the toy line or was inspired by the toy line to draw the characters.  But there is a video with 1960s music and art design to introduce the toy line:

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Episode VII poster

If you have any doubt Patton Oswalt (Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, Starsky & Hutch, The King of Queens, Dollhouse, Community, Caprica, Burn Notice) is a genius, or comedian, or improv performer, good actor, or all-around cool guy, this week should remove that doubt.  borg.com writer Jason McClain is a fan of Parks and Recreation and has championed the series at borg.com here before.  To advertise Oswalt’s guest appearance on the show last night NBC released this completely improvised scene of Oswalt performing a filibuster before the show’s city council.  It illustrates a lot about how this guy’s brain works and that he’s solidly a genre fan like the rest of us.  

Parks and Rec logo

So check out Oswalt’s vision for the next Star Wars movie (a cool Boba Fett opener!), tying in the Marvel Universe (Moon Knight!  Wolverine’s clone daughter X-23!  Hercules!) and some good ideas you could actually see J.J. Abrams taking seriously (um, minus the Chewbacca one, that is), as well as a good recall of tidbits of Star Wars and Marvel trivia. 

The background extras really had their work cut out for them by keeping straight faces, although you can see five young guys in the back that are totally engaged in Oswalt’s story almost ready to crack.

Bravo!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Continuum Rachel Nichols cop suit

Following on the heels of the successful Canada import Lost Girl, the Vancouver based sci-fi series Continuum premiered this year on the Syfy Channel in the U.S. and it easily earns the status of best new TV series of 2013.  Like Lost Girl, the first season has already aired in Canada, and is being shown one season behind here, hopefully to catch up in the U.S. market later this year.  The series has already been renewed in Canada, and Season 2 is being filmed on location in Vancouver, B.C.  Tonight, episode four airs at 7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern on the Syfy Channel.  You’ll want to set up your DVR for this series and if you’ve missed episodes 1-3 you can still catch them on primetime Free Per View.

Continuum stars Star Trek 2009, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Conan the Barbarian’s Rachel Nichols as a British Columbia cop from the year 2077 named Kiera Cameron who gets transported back in time to 2012 where she tracks down a group of rebel terrorists who have come to the past with her.  The terrorists, who go by the name Liber8, were sentenced to death and at their execution someone smuggled in a device that created a warp field that spun the convicts back in time and sucked in security officer Cameron.  Like her cool and tough performance as Scarlet in the first G.I. Joe movie, Nichols is perfect as a no-nonsense cop, quick to act in a gunfight and several other situations she never could have trained for.

Continuum Rachel Nichols

The producers of Continuum have created the most seemingly realistic future technology here along with a creepy possible future political structure where corporations have bailed out the defaulting government and eventually taken over all its functions, taking away individual liberties from citizens.  The police force Cameron works for is in protection of this new world order, and the great twist of Continuum is having the terrorists’ ideal be a return to our political structure today.  Continuum is the series many hoped the Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica would be, but in only three episodes Continuum has already surpassed that other Syfy Channel series in production quality and story.

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Every kid who grew up seeing Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in theaters in their original releases is familiar with the rocket-firing Boba Fett.  First of all, you didn’t watch Star Wars and not at least stare in amazement at your local Woolworth’s or Woolco or Target displays or the Sears Roebuck Christmas “wish book” catalog and drool over the small initial run of action figures.  Then, once your parents caved and bought you even one, there was the little ad for a FREE (!) figure–if you only bought three more–of this mysterious new character with a cameo in the now infamous Star Wars Christmas Special.  Just save those little blue Kenner proofs of purchase.  You wanted to get your four figures fast, because… what if they run out of this Fett guy?  Should I tape these circles to a postcard so they don’t get lost in the envelope?  You wait and wait at the mailbox like the little kid in A Christmas Story.  Finally it arrived, and you have the first discussion with your parents about “bait and switch”.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another character like Boba Fett.  As merely one among innumerable creations of George Lucas, his own Man with No Name cultivated his own mystique and fans elevated him to cult status.  Those who grew up with Star Wars as I did first met Boba Fett on the front cover of an action figure package, an image of a freebie toy you could mail in to receive for saving the little proofs of purchase off the back of the packages.  If you ordered early, like the kid up my street did, you might get not only one but two rocket firing action figures and you could sit across from each other and fire away.  The most fun action figure ever made, Kenner quickly decided to glue in the rocket for safety concerns.

Boba also appeared on a holiday Star Wars special many prefer to forget (not me).  One of several of Lucas’s BF characters (like Bob Falfa in American Graffiti and Bib Fortuna in Return of the Jedi), there is no reason kids should have flocked to him like we did.  His appearance in The Empire Strikes Back was for mere minutes of film.  He was left to a cruddy death scene in Return of the Jedi, one of the reasons I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater once vs. having seen Star Wars in its original theater run ten times.

Boba Fett was so popular Lucas brought his image and armor back in his prequels in the form of his father, Jango Fett, even establishing that every Stormtrooper in the Empire was a clone of his father, and the early clone troopers became an early in-universe variant of Boba’s Mandalorian armor.  This wouldn’t have happened but for this unique status fans brought to this character.  Regardless of why we like him and think he is the epitome of all things cool, it’s hard to deny his incredible worn and damaged armor is a key part of his appeal.  Created by Joe Johnston it stands out among the best creations of any sci-fi character in any franchise.

So it is a superb pick for the subject of this year’s big charity event at Star Wars Celebration VI.  Working with the Make a Wish Foundation, the As You Wish Helmet Project is a charity event that invites designers and other artists to take a plain vanilla Boba Fett or Clone Trooper helmet, supplied by an entrepreneurial costume creation house called  The Dented Helmet, and turn the helmets into something unique.

More than 40 artists have signed up and are providing the finishing touches on their creations this week.  The final results will be displayed in the Dented Helmet booth at Star Wars Celebration VI beginning this Thursday, August 23, 2012 to Sunday, August 26, 2012, in Orlando, Florida.  After the Celebration is over, the Make-A-Wish Foundation will auction off all of the helmets on eBay, with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity.

Although it’s not a contest, you can’t help but recognize how the artists put all their passion into these creations, which are being previewed as they are finished on Facebook.  And with that, we’ve included several helmets above that will hopefully fetch some good bids for a good cause, including one that was re-created by original designer Johnston, shown above at the top of this article.  My favorite is the creation of my friend Tom Spina, who provided a stunning, inspired mash-up of the original Total Recall and our favorite bounty hunter, complete with life-like Arnold Schwarzenegger life-mask.  Like Spina’s creations in this year’s Super Bowl ad where he re-created the famous Star Wars cantina scene, here again he went all out and the result is as cool as Fett himself.

Mark your calendar for this auction.  It’s not every day that a Joe Johnston Boba Fett helmet is available to the public and even though it’s not screen-used, you know you want one.  With creations from Spina, WETA Workshop, ANOVOS, Sideshow Collectibles and dozens of other artists, this event will be sure to turn heads.  Check out the links above for images of other inspired works of sci-fi art.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

Yesterday we started in on what makes a great character, and who and how we determine our favorites, mentioning dozens of  favorites from different genres and different media.  The challenge?  Come up with your top 5 favorite fictional characters from anything.  When I was finished selecting them, I was surprised what they all have in common: a desire to protect others and defend the good against the bad.  I went through a ton of characters to whittle it down to five.  Most of my favorites I see as having some trait I want for myself, or guys I want to be like.  Along the way I carved away Boba Fett, the obscure but coolest of the “men with no name” anti-hero Western archetypes, and opted instead for another Star Wars character.  I lost Steve McQueen’s too cool cop Lieutenant Frank Bullitt for another cop that made the list and had to cut the other coolest guy (other than The Fonz), the no-named drifter from They Live.  I lost Thomas Magnum, the TV show private investigator, that, along with Batman, is up there at the top of my Sherlock Holmes influenced characters.  I cut big life-long heroes like the Six Million Dollar Man, Luke Skywalker, Tron, and even the awesome A.A. Milne creation Eeyore.  No room for Will Riker and Captain Dathon from Star Trek.  I love Dana Andrews’ noir detective Mark McPherson in Otto Preminger’s Laura.  Fred Gailey, who defended Santa Claus (successfully!) in court in Miracle on 34th Street, hung to the list almost to the end.  A top 10 list would have been far easier!

After a lot of soul searching–and this is not an easy exercise (try it for yourself!)–here is where I finally ended up.

When we first meet Uncle Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi, played by Sir Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars, he was an old man.  A miser living out beyond the Dune Sea.  Luke thought he was long dead.  Then he comes out of nowhere in the desert at just the right time to barely save our story’s hero.  Ben doesn’t remember the droids he supposedly owned a few decades ago.  Is he a bit absent minded?  Has the desert gotten to him?   Without Uncle Ben, Luke Skywalker would be dead, and he saves Luke’s life six times: first, from the Tusken Raiders in the desert, second, from an alien in the cantina’s hive of scum and villainy, third, from the Empire by getting Luke out of Mos Eisley, fourth, by releasing the Millenium Falcon in the Death Star, fifth, by guiding Luke from afar to destroy the Death Star in his X-Wing Fighter, and sixth, by keeping him alive after he is mugged by a snow beast on the frozen planet of Hoth.  Kenobi was part samurai warrior, part medieval wizard, part mystic, a monk, a veteran of the last battle of the Jedi.  And later we’d learn he was the reason Luke and his sister survived at all: he’d saved Luke as an infant by bringing him to the remote planet with twin suns.  He doesn’t have much time to mentor Luke, but what he does counts for a lot.  Kenobi proves nothing is more powerful than wisdom and experience.  Ultimately he sacrifices everything to save the galaxy by using his knowledge of the force to convert into a spirit, the only time this ever happens in the original Star Wars trilogy, so he can assist Luke along the rest of his journey.  Later on Ewan McGregor put a very nice spin on the character for the prequels, but the original played by Guinness can never be beaten and Guinness received the only acting nod from the Academy for all the great actors of the series.

DCI Gene Hunt was a cop, a cop played by actor Philip Glenister.  A good cop that blurred some of the rules of British law enforcement, but who was a product of his times, which was 1973 in the BBC TV series Life on Mars, and 1982 in the series Ashes to Ashes.  He is brash, rude, and mouthy.  He is kind.  He is crude and speaks in local colloquialisms that make non-natives have to rewind and view the closed captioning to understand what the heck he just said, and sometimes you still can’t tell.  He protects his team.  More than anything, this guy has angst.  Yet he wants to help others.  He wants to do the right thing.  He believes in justice.  He believes that sometimes a cop has to break the rules to get to the right result.  To find the criminal.  To protect the innocent.  He’s willing to stop and help a woman having an emergency birth.  He falls for a co-worker who herself is a mess and desperately lost.  He tolerates his bizarre group of subordinates, as he prefers them to everyone else, and he’ll join them for a drink at any time of day.  And he always drives a cool car.  He’s like a British version of Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, but with more layers and a lot more problems.  He becomes so involved in everyone else’s affairs that he ultimately forgets who he is.  I have seen Philip Glenister in little else, and wonder whether I like Gene, or I like Gene because Glenister played him.  Either way, nothing is as it seems in Manchester and Salford police departments.  And that leaves Gene to rise above it all and become the best cop in the best cop series ever made.

In the western movie Silverado, at the beginning of the film, Paden is dead.  At least he is left for dead, like real-life Beck Weathers in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.  Paden is played by Kevin Kline.  You can’t start much worse off than Paden, prior to being rescued by Scott Glenn’s character, Emmett.  All Paden has to his name is his 1800s long underwear.  He was trusting, befriended some cowboys who turned on him, stole his horse, his saddle, his hat, his ivory-handled Colt.  The whole rig.  But he really missed the bay horse the most.  They were laughing when they left him.  Thought it was real funny.  He walked for a little while but there was no use, so he gave it up.  Figured it was just bad luck.  He lies down to die.  And he gets a second chance.  But he’s not so much about revenge as looking out for the little dog one of his fellow riders mistreats.  He’s trying to find his place in the world, which just so happens to be managing the affairs of a saloon.  And you never know what Paden will care about.  Even if that means he must stop looking the other way.  He is a hero so he must act.  If that means risking his footing in a new town to defend a man against a racist saloon operator, so be it.  And if that means killing the men who run Silverado and the sheriff himself, his old friend, well then so be it.  Kline plays Paden as funny, serious, smart.  Sometimes warm, as when he is taking care of new friends, sometimes cold, as when he has to shoot a man.  Sometimes puzzling, like when he flirts with a woman the night her husband is shot dead.  Sheriff Cobb is using Stella to get to Paden.  “I don’t want you to get hurt,” Paden says.  Stella responds: “He can’t hurt me… if he’s dead.”  Paden is a complex guy who changes his luck in a time when getting by was good enough.

I’ve read everything I could get my hands on related to Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, as re-developed in DC Comics’ silver age, from 1971 forward.  Queen was a billionaire who lost it all.  He became “everyman.”  He ended up fighting crime as a vigilante and donned the outfit of Errol Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood and took his bow and arrow as well to fight crime.  He’s a bit like Batman, a sleuth in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes.  He became a force for social change and fell in love with a beautiful woman, Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary, and they ended up together in Seattle running a floral shop.  They were members of the Justice League and rubbed elbows with the best superheroes around.  Oliver always was outspoken, sometimes offending everyone around him, yet everyone around him always respected what he had to say and they often took his lead.  He always fought for the underdog.  My favorite incarnation is my first revisit to comic books, Green Arrow written and drawn by Mike Grell, but O’Neil and Adams’ version is a close second.  In his first scene of the modern era, he must convince Green Lantern that he needs to stop protecting a slumlord and instead protect the tenants.  With his on-again/off-again, fiery relationship with Dinah, he became part of the only crime-fighting superhero couple, together ridding the streets of every kind of baddie.

The only one of the five of my favorite characters listed here that never veered from my #1 spot is Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce.  As the leading character in the TV series M*A*S*H over the course of eleven seasons, Alan Alda became the best actor on any TV series, and soldier/doctor Pierce became my favorite character.  He is defined by triage.  Triage in his job as he must discriminate between who has a chance to live and who won’t live.  Triage is his circumstance as he must decide to make the best or worst of being stuck in a place no one, even the local Korean refugees, wants to be.  His tools consist of scalpels, forceps, alcohol, and humor.  He takes the most depressing of dramatic situations and makes everyone laugh, and when the brilliant writing team gives us a serious story, he leaves us silent.  He gives us gut-wrenching performances, via a simple salute to Radar O’Reilly as he leaves for home to take care of the farm, to his reaction to the death of Colonel Henry Blake, to his interview responses for Movietone news.  He makes us laugh at his unending supply of practical jokes, against Hot Lips, Frank, Winchester, or B.J.  He is a hero, he’ll save the life of a North Korean soldier without flinching, and at his worst he freaks-out, asking those questions everyone wants to ask in the middle of a war, but doesn’t.  Why can’t we all just get along, as bunkmates, as co-workers, as Americans, as humans?  And he is calm when he needs to be.  Even when he is being bombed while trying to save lives after hours without rest.   With more than a dose of inspiration from Groucho Marx, Alan Alda conducted a one-man band of chaos in the middle of a stellar cast of characters.  It’s hard to believe M*A*S*H was a 30-minute show.  Never before or since has anyone come close to packing so much emotion, drama, comedy, and energy in such a small period of time, for so many years.  Although the writing of his character bottomed out in the last episode, what came before is what matters, and it explains why the series finale was the most-watched show ever.

Editor’s note: Tomorrow… we will take a day away from our favorite characters and Jason McClain will run down his recommendations to the Academy for the Ten Best Picture nominees, who will be announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday, January 24.  Come on back Tuesday bright and early for Jason McClain’s top five favorite characters, followed by Art Schmidt on Wednesday and Elizabeth C. Bunce on Thursday.

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