Tag Archive: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace


It’s easy to argue that the very best part of George Lucas’s Star Wars prequels was Darth Maul.  All of his scenes in The Phantom Menace and especially his “Duel of the Fates” with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi were spectacular, a cut above the rest of the three films, thanks in no small part to the physical prowess (and facial expressions) of actor Ray Park.  The lightsaber scene is still unsurpassed as the best Jedi-Sith duel of all eleven Star Wars films.  Yet, as we learned for the third time this past December, just because someone knocks you down a vast Imperial chasm, it doesn’t mean you’re actually dead (we should have learned this lesson from Luke in The Empire Strikes Back).  The animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars resurrected Maul, first as a rebuilt man with robotic legs in season four (an amnesiac found on a “junkyard” planet like where Rey is later seen), then upgraded with more human-like cyborg legs.  Maul will return in a new 12-episode seventh season, voiced again by Sam Witwer, where he will have a rematch with The Clone Wars heroine Ahsoka Tano, former Padawan of Anakin Skywalker.  Maul will again be portrayed by Ray Park, this time using motion capture for the animation.

Somebody at Disney must know we love Darth Maul (we’re thinking The Clone Wars original director Dave Filoni, back again for this final season) because of Maul’s return in Solo: A Star Wars Story, revealed in the film’s climax as the ultimate villain behind the curtain.  Was Emilia Clarke’s Qi-ra intended to be Maul’s Sith student?  Was she about to be?  Will we ever find out?  Oddly enough, we didn’t/couldn’t learn the answer because the film Solo was made toward the end of Star Wars Rebels, which ended its run years after the events in Solo, although it takes place before the events in Solo.  What we do know is Darth Maul is still around for Star Wars Rebels, where he tricks the young series lead Ezra into being his student, and ultimately Daul dies at the hands of… Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is hiding Luke on Tatooine, something that could also be addressed in the forthcoming, yet-to-be-titled Obi-Wan Kenobi live-action series.  Confused yet?  This ordering might help:

  • The Phantom Menace
  • Attack of the Clones
  • The Clone Wars
  • Revenge of the Sith
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars Rebels
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars/A New Hope
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Return of the Jedi
  • The Mandalorian
  • The Force Awakens
  • The Last Jedi
  • The Rise of Skywalker

Understanding The Clone Wars’ other fan-favorite character, Ahsoka Tano, voiced again by Ashley Eckstein, pretty much requires another viewing of both The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels to get fully caught up.  Originally she was destined to die at the hands of her Jedi Master, Anakin aka Vader, but then in Star Wars Rebels there was some time travel and parallel world business that prevented her death, plus the return of Emperor Palpatine… even before The Rise of Skywalker.  Tano is considered by many fans to be one of the strongest heroines of the Star Wars saga (along with Leia Organa, Jyn Erso and Rey), appearing in a number of novels and comics outside the TV series.  Her spirit voice can be heard in the battle between Rey and Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker, where fans learned she must have died off-screen sometime before the events in that film.

First disclosed at San Diego Comic-Con last summer, Disney/Lucasfilm is bringing 12 new episodes of The Clone Wars to pay streaming channel Disney+ beginning next month.  The series appears to follow the older, original series animation style versus the updated, more realistic characters and environments of Star Wars Rebels.  Here’s the first trailer for the series, followed by an earlier preview:

Continue reading

 

No one could have predicted when the original Star Wars won six of ten Academy Awards in 1978 that a new Star Wars film would be nominated 41 years later.  At the end of 2019 all will be known–with Episode IX to be released in December the entirety of George Lucas’s nine-part Star Wars saga will be complete.  Although the Skywalker family and its legacy is done, Disney and Lucasfilm will be sure that Star Wars is very far from over.  But expect this year to be full of nostalgic products looking back over the course of the four decades since we first saw the words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away…”  Two movie souvenir compilation books will take Star Wars fans across the film franchise.  Solo: A Star Wars Story Ultimate Guide presents interviews and photographs behind and in front of the camera from Ron Howard’s film.  And today Star Wars: The Saga Begins arrives in book stores, taking a rare look back at the Star Wars prequel trilogy.  We have previews of both books for you to check out below.

In Star Wars: The Saga Begins readers will find articles collected from Star Wars Insider, the magazine that has provided fans with the latest fandom and news since 1994.  In September 1997 with Issue #35, fans got their first glimpses at what would follow the original trilogy, as publisher and fan club president Dan Madsen provided updates in each issue with producer Rick McCallum.  Unfolding until 2005 and beyond, Star Wars Insider provided first looks at new prequel ships, characters, and locations.  Interviews explained what was happening behind the scenes of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith from the likes of director George Lucas, actors Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Temuera Morrison, Daniel Logan, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Daniels, and Brian Blessed, plus concept artists Ralph McQuarrie and Doug Chiang, composer John Williams, costume designer Trisha Biggar, sound designer Ben Burtt and many more.  Star Wars: The Saga Begins is packed with concept artwork and prototypes of creatures and props, plus storyboards and costume designs.  And it has hundreds of photographs.

A similarly designed look at Solo: A Star Wars Story can be found in Solo: A Star Wars Story Ultimate Guide Readers will find Star Wars Insider interviews and profiles from director Ron Howard, writers Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, actors Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, and Thandie Newton, plus composer John Powell, creature maker Neal Scanlan, and costume designers David Crossman and Glyn Dillon.  The Ultimate Guide is full of good detail shots of the Millennium Falcon and sections featuring the newly designed Imperial armor and ships created for the film.

Here are previews from each book, courtesy of Titan:

Continue reading

Mayhew Attack of the Clones    Mayhew Revenge of the Sith

Mike Mayhew, illustrator on The Star Wars series for Dark Horse Comics and an incredible cover and interior artist on many major sci-fi and superhero titles, has created new cover artwork for the Star Wars prequels.  Much like the original trilogy received last year, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith will see their own hardcover editions of their comic book adaptations for your comic book library.

If you couldn’t imagine getting interested in the prequels again, just check out these three beautiful covers.  Mayhew nails both the look and feel of the Star Wars universe and he gets the characters, like Yoda and General Grievous, and the actors behind the characters, all spot-on.

Mayhew Episode 1     Mayhew Vader DownWe’ve also included some other recent cover art by Mayhew (above and below).  You can meet Mike Mayhew this weekend at WonderCon at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Continue reading

Star Wars Episode VII action figures A eBay

When Star Wars: The Phantom Menace premiered sixteen years ago in 1999, action figure collectors had gone a decade without any new 3 ¾-inch action figures from the Star Wars franchise toy line.  Hasbro released updates to the original trilogy beginning in 1995 as Lucasfilm rejuvenated the toy line.  At midnight on May 3, 1999, the day of the release of the new trilogy action figures and ten days before the film’s release, Toys ‘R’ Us stores saw waiting lines similar to what we would see for the first week the movie screened in theaters.

Official May 1999 SW cert

The general public had no “first look” at the new line other than a sneak preview figure of Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu, so fans had to decide quickly upon inspecting the new figures whether they were going to jump in with both feet or ignore the line altogether.  Instantly appealing figures and characters included Qui-Gonn Jinn and Darth Maul.  Wave 1 included eight figures: Anakin in Tatooine outfit, Battle Droid, Darth Maul, Jar Jar Binks, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Naberrie, Queen Amidala in Naboo outfit, and Qui-Gonn Jinn.  Each came with a Commtech chip (Commtalk in Europe) which produced sounds from the movie if placed on a separately purchased Commtech reader.  All card backs featured the face of Darth Maul.

Captain Phasma figure   Kylo Ren figure

September 4, 2016 is the scheduled release date for the first wave of action figures from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Somehow, the first wave of figures hit the streets this week and made it to eBay, and they reveal twelve new action figures for Hasbro’s now (again) Kenner-branded line.  Is one of these going to be the next Jar Jar Binks?

Continue reading

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-action-figures

You might recall, like I do, your first sighting of a copy of the new John Williams soundtrack for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which was released two weeks before the movie was released in theaters.  Before you start the requisite geek-bashing of the prequels, try to recall that back in 1999 we all could not wait to see what Lucas was going to show us, and what could be better than a new Williams score to listen to over and over again?  Isn’t a new John Williams Star Wars soundtrack pretty much the best part of having a new Star Wars film released (yes, he’s signed up to be the galactic composer once again)?  ’nuff said.  But the problem with The Phantom Menace soundtrack that sat in a new stack at the local Fred Meyer?  The title listing included a track called “The High Council Meeting and Qui-Gon’s Funeral.”  Funeral.  Huh?  So all of us who were excited about the new film got a surprise blow.  This new Liam Neeson character wasn’t going to make it out of this one alive.  And that was that.  Note to Williams:  Could you be a little more vague in your titles for the next trilogy?  Just saying.

Phantom Menace soundtrack

Most of us didn’t use the word “spoiler” back in 1999, and certainly not like we do today.  We’re not really talking spoilers per se, but if you don’t want to sleuth through a key question about this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie with us, you might want to move along and come back tomorrow.

Fair warning.

Continue reading