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Tag Archive: Gareth Edwards


Review by C.J. Bunce

At long last Star Wars fans have a single volume of behind-the-scenes gold that includes more than the original trilogy and the prequels.  Writer Mark Salisbury returns with his next pop culture book, The Moviemaking Magic of Star Wars: Creatures & Aliens.  This is the first book to include coverage of all ten Star Wars films, and it’s the first book that digs into the creature makers and makeup artistry of all the Star Wars movies–a creature effects companion to those comprehensive books reviewed previously here at borg.com chronicling the costume and prop sides of Star Wars productions: Dressing a Galaxy, Sculpting a Galaxy, and Star Wars Costumes.

How many movie franchises can claim visual effects over four decades incorporating all levels of monster making: animatronics, puppetry, practical effects, costuming, CGI, sculpts, animal actors, prosthetics and makeups, stop-motion animation, and motion capture creations–sometimes all in a single film?  The book spans it all: Jawas, Tauntauns, Jabba the Hutt, Yoda, Chewbacca, the Rancor, Ewoks, Watto, Jar Jar, Darth Maul, Rathtars, Maz Kanata, Porgs, Crystal Foxes, Proxima, Rio Durrant, and so many background aliens from the Tatooine cantina, Jabba’s palace, Maz’s castle, the Pod Race, Kamino, Geonosia, and Scarif.  More complex characters from the franchise get the most coverage, with less coverage from Revenge of the Sith and Solo.

Readers will learn about and meet a variety of artists and creators of these creatures and aliens, with interviews and examples of the work of Stuart Freeborn, Rick Baker, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, Jon Berg, Ben Burtt, Fred Pearl, Frank Oz, Kathryn Mullen, Lorne Peterson, Nick Dudman, Rob Coleman, John Coppinger, Tom St. Amand, Richard Edlund, Ken Ralston, Kit West, Nilo Rodis-Jamero, Doug Chiang, Dave Elsey, Neal Scanlan, Luke Fisher, Ben Morris, Darek Arnold, some of the actors who performed costumes characters, and visionaries George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, and Gareth Edwards.  Select concept art is included from Ralph McQuarrie, John Mollo, Iain McCaig, Terryl Whitlatch, Jake Lunt Davies, and others, and readers will learn Doug Chiang’s five rules of concept design.

Keeping with the fun new trend of incorporating three-dimensional, interactive elements into non-fiction books, Abrams has included foldout flaps, accordion pages, and color tipped-in booklets of sketches, photographs, and stages of the creative process.  The book comes from Abrams’ Young Readers imprint, however, the in-depth information and rare or never-before-published photographs and sketches will appeal to all ages of Star Wars fans.

Take a look inside some preview pages of The Moviemaking Magic of Star Wars: Creatures & Aliens:

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Years after a much publicized but failed effort to restore the Star League by the likes of Steven Spielberg and Seth Rogen, the writer for 1984’s beloved science fiction classic The Last Starfighter looks like he may finally be getting a sequel off the ground.  According to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars Rebels writer Gary Whitta, he has teamed up with writer Jonathan Betuel on a film that would stand as a sequel and a reboot to the original story that watched young Alex Rogan leave planet Earth to become a Starfighter to defend the Star League against the Ko-Dan Armada.  It’s one heck of a tease–on the heels of last weekend’s release of the 1980s nostalgia-driven film Ready Player One, Whitta picked a great time to pique the interests of the original film’s legion of fans.

Originating from a video game parked conveniently at a rural trailer park and store called Starlite Starbrite (the store still exists in Acton, California, southwest of Vasquez Rocks Park), a young man demonstrated for the first video game generation that–despite parents’ protests to the contrary–you can save the world by playing for the high score.  Although plenty of movies enter the concept art phase only to end up a footnote in a retrospective film art book decades later, preliminary design drafts of what has been referred to previously as merely Starfighter emerged via Whitta’s Twitter account Wednesday.  Matt Allsopp, a concept artist who worked on Rogue One along with Whitta, created these unmistakable designs, incorporating the Star League emblem, Gunstar ships, and Starfighters.  This takes the idea past the rumor phase, providing some evidence that this latest effort looks to be real after all.

Whitta teased the coming film project with eight photographs of concept art, writing on his Twitter page, “Okay, probably shouldn’t show you this so early but here’s a little something I’ve been tinkering on with my co-writer Jonathan Betuel.  You might recognize the ships.  Thanks to the amazing Matt Allsopp (lead concept artist on ROGUE ONE) for creating these images for us.”  He later added, “People seemed excited by the first tweet so here’s a tiny bit more of Matt’s concept art. Can’t show anything more after this, it’s all too spoilery [smile] #GreetingsStarfighter”.

Lance Guest as Alex Rogan, as he is about to take his first step into a larger world, from 1984’s The Last Starfighter.

Our hope?  How about bringing in original director Nick Castle, and if he’s not interested, what is Rogue One director Gareth Edwards up to these days?  It seems like an obvious target release for the second half of 2019–the 35th anniversary of the original.  It would also seem obvious to include actors Lance Guest, who played Alex, and Catherine Mary Stewart, who played Maggie.  Both well-known The Music Man star Robert Preston and prolific TV and film actor Dan O’Herlihy, who played Centauri and Grig, respectively, passed away several years ago.  In addition to the top photo above, check out seven more images of Matt Allsopp’s gorgeous, futuristic, and evocative concept art below:

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This week the Saturn Awards crowned the best of genre film and television, selecting the best works on the screen for the 43rd year.  As with last year’s selections, although the start and end dates vary from our own calendar year list, this year’s winners aligned in the major categories with our own borg.com picks of the Best of 2016 from film and television.  If the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, and all those other award recognitions leave you wanting, you can always depend on the Saturn Awards to come through for genre fans.

So we’re happy to see the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films name Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction in a Film (Gareth Edwards) and Best Film Visual/Special Effects (John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, Neil Corbould), Doctor Strange as Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture and Tilda Swinton for Best Supporting Actress in a Film, and Star Trek Beyond for Best Film Make-up (Monica Huppert and Joel Harlow) Star of our favorite superhero sequence of 2016, Spider-man Tom Holland was awarded Best Performance by a Younger Actor for Captain America: Civil War.  In the television categories, Riverdale was named Best Action/Thriller TV Series and star KJ Apa won The Breakthrough Performance Award for his work as the iconic comic book character Archie Andrews.*  The Best New Media TV Series was a tie, shared between Stranger Things and Marvel’s Luke Cageand Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown was named Best Younger Actor on Television.  Even a borg.com Hall of Famer won major kudos this year, Six Million Dollar Man actor Lee Majors was awarded The Life Career Award.  We couldn’t agree more with all these selections.

Other works we liked last year that won honors included 10 Cloverfield Lane for Best Thriller Film, Best Actress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Best Supporting Actor (John Goodman), Deadpool for Best Actor (Ryan Reynolds), Arrival for Best Film Screenplay (Eric Heisserer), and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for Best Film Costume (Colleen Atwood).

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How can a movie get better on repeated viewings?  What makes that possible?  After three viewings of the home release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–the Digital HD edition, the Blu-ray, and the 3D Blu-ray–it’s apparent the film on repeated viewings is indeed as good as the initial theatrical viewing if not better, a rare feat in any genre.  Naysayers who didn’t like the CGI effects of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia–the primary criticism of the December theatrical release–should find even a home theater big screen television will mask any distractions seen on a 30-foot theater screen.  The Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray provide the best, clearest picture and sound of any prior Star Wars release.  The 3D transfer is as good as any 3D Blu-ray release to-date, and the special effects, clothing details like stitches and seams are clear and vivid, as is the weathering (or lack thereof, when logical) on props.  As with most 3D movies, outdoor scenes, like the Scarif ground battle, are even more vivid with sharp foregrounds and backgrounds.  Check out the complete review of the film from December here.

The special features disc includes a version of the bonus features viewable together as an entire documentary and also viewable by chapter.  The extra disc available through Target stores only includes two short extra chapters, and although the creature shop feature is excellent the two extras wouldn’t normally be enough to tilt a buyer toward the Target edition–costs being the same–and some may instead opt for packaging, like Steelbook boxes (Best Buy only) or Connexions cards (available only in the Wal-Mart edition).  Fun bits in the features to look for include Bodhi actor Riz Ahmed’s audition tapes for Edwards, a feature documenting many Easter eggs from the show even the best eye likely never identified, and interviews with motion capture actors Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin) and Ingvild Daila (Princess Leia), both who look little like Peter Cushing or Carrie Fisher, proving that simply using lookalikes or prosthetics would not have been a realistic option for re-creating these characters.  The standard bonus features included with the bundles are K-2SO: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & the Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One, The Princess & the Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues, and Rogue Connections (the Easter eggs list).

Rogue One easily merits ranking as the third best film in the series after Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back–but truly in a league with those two films.  One of the best war movie stories put to film, the best prequel or prequel that is also a sequel (yes, even considering the great Godfather II), the best space battle, the best use of spaceship filming (director Gareth Edwards avoids 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture-era overly-long ship takes and instead uses his imagery only as necessary to drive the story forward), while featuring one of the all-time best heist movies.

It really has it all.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

What many don’t realize about movie concept art books is that, from the best of them, you can learn more about the filmmaking design process from the accompanying text than from the images selected.  Make no mistake–The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is chock full of many stages of concept artwork.  But what unfolds over its more than 250 pages is a rare peek behind the scenes at director Gareth Edwards, Lucasfilm executives, and the art design team as they figured out what story to tell in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

We learned last year in Roger Christian’s Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars and Alien (reviewed here at borg.com), that George Lucas knew immediately he wanted to create the look of Star Wars as a sort of documentary, a historical account of a long ago event.  To that end he tapped Christian to create environments made from real world components.  As explained in The Art of Rogue One, director Gareth Edwards knew he needed to emulate that style of filmmaking and overall look, and his route was using a readily available team of concept artists to create the visuals of Rogue One from day one, even partnering with artists to create the ideas for the film’s story elements in advance of a completed story.  These elements included featuring a female lead, a rebel strike squad like that in Force 10 from Navarone, a key droid team member, a battle reflective of Vietnam, a battle reflective of Paris during World War II, and a dark planet for the home of Darth Vader.  Edwards wanted to create an echo of Luke Skywalker’s hero–who wished he could join the far away war–with Jyn Erso, a heroine raised in a life of war who only wished to escape it.  The proof of the efficacy of Edwards’ process is in the result.  Has Edwards begun a new way of making movies, and will future filmmakers take this tack?

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“I look at Star Wars as a real historical event that took place in the universe, and George Lucas was there with his crew to capture it.  And now we’re there with our cameras and our crew, filming as it passed through us,” Edwards says in Abrams Books’ latest film art book, The Art of Rogue One.  “When you look like you’ve come in with a plan, it can feel too prescribed and a bit false–but when it looks like you’re capturing the images, like you’re watching them unfold in real time, it just feels more real.  I’m always trying to find that little thing that knocks you off your path–the idea or the ingredient that we didn’t come in trying to create, the curveball that makes the story feel unique.” Edwards directive was similarly unique:  How the artists remembered the images of seeing Star Wars for the first time became a more important focus than copying the look of the environments exactly from the original Star Wars source material.

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The more that is revealed, the more Rogue One: A Star Wars Story appears that it may be good enough to take on the first two Star Wars films, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, if not at least edging Return of the Jedi or the The Force Awakens out of the third spot.  This week we learned that, unlike for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, George Lucas actually voiced his approval of components in Rogue One.  He wasn’t included in the story or dialogue, but gave his thumbs up on several art design concepts.  That’s thanks to director Gareth Edwards, who appears to be as big a Star Wars fan as the rest of us.

The only concern so far is the trend of releasing images reflecting something like 25% to 40% of the scenes from the film in a year’s worth of trailers leading up to the release.  It seems we know the entire story now, except for who lives and who dies by film’s end.  Of course, the only way to dodge this is to avoid all the trailers.

Even more footage was released this week not in another trailer, but via a behind the scenes featurette.  Plus, more TV spots have surfaced.  And if you haven’t figured out what the story is about already, director Edwards lays it out as clearly as can be at the beginning of the behind the scenes video.  Check it all out below, plus new international posters.

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You probably won’t find any spoilers by way of new concepts if you have viewed the trailers released this year, but if you can’t get enough of footage from Rogue One (like us), them jump right in and see for yourself:

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Star Wars Celebration Europe is in full swing and with new movies rolling out each year each new event comes with new behind the scenes images and clips from the next release.  For this year’s show that means a three-minute look at Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  And a new poster.

And the images look superb–better even than the look and feel of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) has really identified the classic look you’d only think could be designed this way back in 1977.

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Montage images reveal a hive of aliens sure to arrive at Target and Wal-Mart by year end as the newest action figures.  The film’s lead, Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, couldn’t look better as our kick-ass heroine, and her accompanying rogue, Captain Andor (Diego Luna) couldn’t be more of a ringer to fill Han Solo’s shoes.  We think we’re even getting a look at the famous stolen plans.

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So check out a dozen images from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, after the break, and the preview direct from Star Wars Celebration Europe:

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Struzan returns for Force Awakens poster

Finally, with only four months to the premiere, Lucasfilm and Disney released their first official movie poster yesterday for Star Wars Episode VII.  Shown above, it was painted by Drew Struzan, well-known for many film posters of the past, including his series of posters from Episodes I-VI.  Having a poster by Struzan was on the checklist of required elements fans expected to see this year, along with a soundtrack by composer John Williams, the Force, and at least one character saying “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”  Check out our review of a recent book about Struzan here and documentary here at borg.com.

Also revealed yesterday was a cast photo of the main characters of the coming Star Wars spinoff movie, Rogue One.  Other than a guy with a Han Solo parka, there’s not much really screaming Star Wars about the photo.  In fact, it could be from a Firefly spinoff or something from any sci-fi franchise or even something from the Suicide Squad.

The stars of Star Wars: Rogue One are Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler), Diego Luna (Elysium, Milk), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen (Blade II).  Rogue One has begun principal photography.  Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) is directing the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star.  The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy.  Wait–Death Star?  Which Death Star?

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Orphan Black Season Three banner

Tonight we enter a new phase in the world of Orphan Black as a male clone begins to take over part of the spotlight.  How will a new male clone affect the clone sestrahood of Sarah Manning as we enter Season Three?  More to the point, how will the fans of the show–the Clone Club–respond to what must be less Tatiana Maslany?  It all sounds a bit risky but we’ll see how Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel, will face off against clone brothers Mark, Miller, Rudy, and Seth tonight as Orphan Black returns to BBC America.

Actor Ari Millen takes on the male TV role of a lifetime playing all of the Castor clones–creepy, scary and unsettling characters–thwarting the efforts of the women clones to learn more about the circumstances leading to their creation.  No doubt the addition of multiple men clones will give some kind of well-earned break in the Season Three shooting schedule to Maslany, the hardest working actress anywhere for the past two years.

Ari Millen Orphan Black

With the typical BBC series lasting only two or three years, will the same happen for Orphan Black?  Maslany is rumored to be the star of the first Star Wars spin-off movie, directed by Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards, expected to begin production next April for a December 2016 release.  Recently Maslany reportedly dropped a role in an April timeframe play for a conflict–could it be that she will enter the big-time at the top of a Star Wars film?  Wouldn’t it be great if Lucasfilm and Disney pull something from the past and tap her to play the Emperor’s Hand–Mara Jade–or at least someone equally awesome?

Adam Hughes Mara Jade

Admit it! You’d love to see Tatiana Maslany as Mara Jade in the 2016 Star Wars spin-off, right?

Enough speculation!  Let’s check out some previews to Season Three of Orphan Black, after the break:

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