Tag Archive: Star Wars


luke-obiwan-peering-into-lightsaber

Review by C.J. Bunce

Roger Christian’s success is a testament to the idea of thinking outside the box.  If you stop in the middle of age-old processes, no matter what you’re doing and what field you’re in, and consider trying a different method, you may trigger something special.  In Roger Christian’s new memoir Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars and Alien, it is the old Hollywood method of making movies that is the villain of sorts, with Christian coming to the rescue as the hero with a new way of creating movie magic for audiences in 1977.  And it just so happens he came to the rescue of George Lucas and landed a gig making of one of the greatest science fiction fantasy of all time, the original Star Wars, and the greatest sci-fi horror film of all time, Alien.

In Cinema Alchemist you learn Christian’s modern method of set decoration and design perfected in Star Wars, a method copied by many, that he would soon use again for Alien.  Ridley Scott specifically chose Christian to create the same look he came up with for the Millennium Falcon in his new ship the Nostromo and other sets.

Cinema Alchemist

In any memoir you can expect some amount of hyperbole, although Christian likely deserves a pass simply because the Academy Awards endorsed his work as set decorator of Star Wars with an Oscar.  So he is certainly the real deal.  Countless Star Wars fans have spent years re-creating his original design for the lightsaber, tracking down the original camera parts he used, as well as re-creating all the rifles and pistols used in the film.  Christian had his hands in the creation of R2-D2, C-3PO, the landspeeder, the Sandcrawler, Luke’s Tatooine homestead, the Millennium Falcon, the giant dinosaur skeleton in the desert sand, Mos Eisley and the Cantina, and set after set created for the film.

original R2-D2

George Lucas and the R2-D2 prototype Christian helped to create with a light fixture and metal bits and pieces Lucas called “greeblies”.

The value of the book is in Christian’s accounts of prop making, set design, and using found objects like old airplane scrap metal to create a “real world, lived-in” feel on Star Wars and Alien in light of severe time and money constraints, plus Christian’s personal recollections of conversations and observations with George Lucas on Star Wars and Ridley Scott, H.R. Giger, and Moebius on Alien, and his play-by-play of the filming of the Alien chest-buster scene, arguably the most famous horror scene of modern cinema.  After reading Cinema Alchemist, you will absolutely watch Star Wars and Alien differently, and notice details of the film you haven’t seen in your previous 300 viewings of the films.  That is quite a feat.

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Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens-3D-Blu-ray-Cover

Certain to provide some last-minute marketing funds for its December release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney/Lucasfilm is dipping once again into fans’ pockets in November as it finally releases the 3D Blu-ray 4-disc edition of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  For those fans who don’t have a 3D TV configuration, the set offers some new features that may prompt you to buy whether you plan to view the 3D cut or not.

So other than what promises to be an exceptional 3D version of the film on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, Digital HD, and DVD, why might fans go for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D Collector’s Edition?

How about an audio commentary by J.J. Abrams?  The most sought after director of today will no doubt share insight into this incredible directing opportunity, why he made the story choices he did and a behind the scenes view of the cast.  Not enough for you?  Then how about some more deleted scenes–scenes that were rumored to exist but where held back from this April’s standard Blu-ray, DVD, and digital releases.

Star Wars Force Awakens Blu-ray 3D collectors edition

A 3D version, an Abrams commentary and more deleted scenes cinches it for us.  But if you want any more how about five new behind the scenes features?  Check them out:

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KCCC 2016 X-Wing pilot and Luke

Kansas City Comic Con 2016 kicked into high gear today at the Kansas City Convention center at Bartle Hall.  Probably the largest assemblages of writers and artists in the region, literally several hundred with tables on display, are coming back once again today to share their work with fans.  The big themes this year seemed to be 101 fun variants of Deadpool, Suicide Squad Harley Quinns walked every aisle with the classic version sadly absent, some great Wonder Woman cosplay creations, and Star Wars was alive and well.  I can’t wait to see what cosplay comes after Rogue One is released in December.  I’ve seen plenty of professionally crafted costumes of Rebel pilots but the above X-Wing fighter pilot from The Empire Strikes Back was the best I’ve seen, built by the cosplayer’s older brother.  Below are more photos with Star Wars cosplayers–come back tomorrow as we round out even more great cosplay we saw this year at the show.

On a personal note, I had a one-of-a-kind day today walking the floor as Luke Skywalker with his pal R2-D2, a fully-functional radio-controlled droid perfectly re-created by Chris Rice from the KC R2 builders group.  There was no doubt about the joy brought to Star Wars fans young and old as we walked the floor and stopped for photos.  It was among the most photos and hugs I’ve been apart of since cosplaying in Kansas City and a great feeling to spread around and share with others, from little kids wanting to hug R2 to adults wanting to share in a photo.  What a strange thing to get home and learn of Kenny Baker’s passing away at 81.  Elizabeth and I were lucky to meet him and his wife years ago.  What we all shared today at KCCC was a real tribute to Mr. Baker and the character he helped to create and the enduring legacy of Star Wars.

KCCC 2016 Castle Creations and Luke

With Padme, Leia, Mara Jade and Obi-Wan from Another Castle Creations.

KCCC 2016 Luke and Rey

Luke and Rey–are they related? We won’t find out until 2018. What a great Rey!

We also caught up with friends and met some celebrities…

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Old Luke at KCCC 2016 x

Yesterday thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans began to converge on Kansas City as Kansas City Comic Con returned to Bartle Hall for Kansas City Comic Con 2016.  The show is featuring the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S. as well as some great movie and TV guests.  We had a great time on day one chatting with Nichelle Nichols, well known for her groundbreaking role as Uhura in three seasons of Star Trek and six major motion pictures, Billy Dee Williams, best known as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and the original Bo and Luke of Dukes of Hazzard, John Schneider and Tom Wopat.

And Comic-Con also means cosplay time.

Sporting my “old Luke Skywalker” garb from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with my cloak created by intrepid borg.com contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce, we had many attendees ask the question: Where was Luke all that time leading up to his discovery by Rey at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

You remember, old Jedi Master Luke was only in two scenes.  The first in a flashback with R2-D2:

KCCC 2016 Luke S and R2-D2

… and then at the end when Rey attempted to give him back his lightsaber?

KCCC 2016 Rey and Luke

Here, Sir, I have brought back your lightsaber.

So where had he been hiding all that time?

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Rogue TIE

In the second trailer released today for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, during Thursday evening’s NBC coverage of the 31st Olympiad, so many teased scenes are revealed that it’s impossible not to get excited.  Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) is tapped to lead a dangerous mission, and Forest Whitaker never looked better as an old rogue.

And an old enemy, maybe new to these characters, makes an eagerly awaited appearance.  But something tells us that appearance is going to be similar to Mark Hamill’s brief return as Luke Skywalker in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Death Star

The newest Star Wars entry takes us to the darker corners of the galaxy, into the process of creating a saboteur capable of destroying an entire planet-sized cannon, and shows us new, detailed views of the TIE Fighter, Star Destroyer, AT-AT, Death Star, and some new transport and battle vehicles we’ve never seen.

Plus Alan Tudyk (Firefly, A Knight’s Tale) appears for the first time as the voice of a new droid.

Plenty of callbacks to the original Star Wars: A New Hope can be found here, from a new samurai Jedi (Donnie Yen) to a Grand Admiral Thrawn-inspired villain (Ben Mendelsohn), new environments, and Genevieve O’Reilly (who played the young Mon Mothma in Revenge of the Sith).

Rogue 2

Check out this second, perfect trailer for the next big Star Wars flick:

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Uhura Nichols    EP5_KEY_266_R-store

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will converge on Kansas City as Kansas City Comic Con returns to the Bartle Hall.  The show again has booked the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S. as well as some great movie and TV guests.  Kansas City Comic Con features one of the largest assemblages of nationally known as well as local writers and artists, with more than 300 creators featured.

Headlining this year’s show as part of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek is Nichelle Nichols, well known for her groundbreaking role as Uhura in three seasons of Star Trek and six major motion pictures.  Star Wars fans can meet Billy Dee Williams, best known as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and Brian Herring, the puppeteer behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ lovable new droid BB-8.  Motion picture and TV star Ksenia Solo, star of Lost Girl, Orphan Black, and Black Swan, will be in attendance Saturday and Sunday.  And fans of classic TV can meet the original Bo and Luke of Dukes of Hazzard, John Schneider and Tom Wopat.

BB-8    Ksenia Solo

Nationally known comic book creators featured at KCCC include legendary writer/artist Mike Grell and artist Michael Golden, as well as current Star Wars writer and Eisner winner Jason Aaron and Star Trek writers Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, Star Wars artists Joe Corroney and Bryan Fyffe, and DC Comics artist Ant Lucia.  Plus fan favorite writers and artists including CW Cooke, Sean Von Gorman, Ande Parks, Nicholas Forrestal, Damont Jordan, Arie Monroe, Thaddeus Nowak, Bryan Timmins, and Darryl Woods.  But that’s only scratching the surface–check out the full list of national and local creators here.

Green Arrow by Michael Golden    Grell GA BC

Costume contests, a cosplay wedding, a Friday night concert, gaming room, live art, panels, photo ops, autographs, collectables, toys, comics, a scavenger hunt, video games, and an offsite movie screening for Star Trek fans.  It will be a full weekend for anyone who is a fan of comics, movies, TV, superheroes, sci-fi, and fantasy.

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Anovos helmet

ANOVOS, the company known for its attention to detail in costumes from Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and more, is offering a discount this weekend for attendees at San Diego Comic-Con and–even better–for those who are unable to attend this year’s show.

Just use the code SDCC2016 when ordering, but it’s only available through July 24, 2016.

Find out more information at the ANOVOS website here.

ANOVOS x-wing pilot

ANOVOS has costumes and costume accessories for different price ranges, from full Stormtrooper armor kits, to Han Solo’s belt, to Starfleet apparel from Enterprise to the new movies.  Costumes and helmets are screen accurate and made from studio sourced designs.

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John Williams conducting Star Wars

Few individuals have stood apart from their peers in their professional endeavors as much as maestro John Williams.  Last week the American Film Institute presented Williams with its life achievement award, the 44th awarded and first for a composer.  It’s certainly about time.  With five Academy Award wins and 50 nominations, Williams holds the record for the most Oscar nominations of any living person.  Three of his scores, for Star Wars, Jaws, and E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, are on AFI’s list of the top 25 scores of all time.  This Wednesday night the AFI award event will be televised, and guests honoring Williams include George Lucas, Steven Spielberg–both who owe the most to Williams for their individual successes–as well as Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Drew Barrymore, Tom Hanks, Itzhak Perlman, J.J. Abrams, Bryce Dallas Howard, Will Farrell, Steve Martin, Seth McFarlane, and Daisy Ridley.

You may not remember the first time you heard a familiar tune from Williams, but for those more than 40 years old it was no doubt the theme from television’s Lost in Space series, featuring an end credit to “Johnny” Williams.  He also provided the piano music for the Academy Award winning, and AFI recognized comedy Some Like it Hot.  For everyone since then you can define your generation by your earliest familiarity with his music, whether it’s the Main Title to Star Wars, the Jurassic Park theme, or the theme to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Those whose introduction to Williams was Star Wars: The Force Awakens have plenty of great music to discover.

Williams is of a rare breed of American composer whose songs stick with you forever.  He’s in an elite club with the likes of musicians Aaron Copland, John Philip Sousa, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin.  For more than 60 years Williams has set the bar for–and defined worldwide for moviegoers’ ears–our expectation for modern programmatic movie music.

John Williams

Stepping aside from his success at major memorable themes, one of his greatest skills is his juxtaposition of opposites.  Just listen in the Jaws soundtrack to the busy streets of Amity in the “Montage” and the cheery adventure theme from “The Great Shark Chase” among his well-known bass horror cues.  Some of his most brilliant compositions are tucked away behind giant, epic scores, like “The Asteroid Field” from The Empire Strikes Back and “Escape from Venice” from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  And would modern audiences even know a march beyond nationalistic music if not for “The Superman March,” “The Raiders of the Lost Ark March,” “The March from 1941,” and “The Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back? 

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PH-left-angle

Last week Disney and Lucasfilm released information on a new line of Star Wars: The Force Awakens replica props and helmets from PropShop Studio Editions for sale at this link.  These are high-end replicas taking advantage of current 3D scanning imagery, an idea I suggested in an article on 3D printing posted here at borg.com four years ago.  The new line of Star Wars generated plenty of press because the new costume pieces are fairly pricey:  a melted Darth Vader helmet is selling for $3,500 (limited to 500 units), a Kylo Ren helmet is $2,000, a Finn Stormtrooper helmet is $1,750 (limited to 500 units), and Poe Dameron’s X-Wing pilot helmet is $1,500.  The props are similarly priced: Chewbacca’s crossbow is $2,500, Rey’s staff and lightsaber and Kylo’s lightsaber are each $1,500.

VH-stand

Sound like the holy grail for cosplayers?  Hold that thought.  Here is the description for Finn’s helmet:

  • Created using the original 3D digital data from the actual FN-2187 Stormtrooper Helmet featured in the film in combination with advanced digital manufacturing processes, and then hand-finished by a highly skilled artisan. The original blood marking has been laser scanned and projected onto this helmet, and a special paint effect process has been applied to identically recreate the surface texture pattern.
  • Made of a composition of 3D printing materials, forged items, and cast items
  • Includes a chip to authenticate the serial number that is printed on the Certificate of Authenticity
  • Delivered in an exclusive, custom wooden crate inspired by the packaging used for the original prop
  • Limited Edition of 500
  • Certificate of Authenticity and Authenticity Medallion included

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TFA var cover Phil Noto     TFA var cover Joe Quesada

Are you a fan of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?  How about a comic book adaptation whose quality is nearly as good as that of Marvel’s original trilogy adaptations in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a Marvel six-issue adaptation is coming your way later this month and we have a preview of not only some great variant covers, but previews of interior artwork by Luke Ross.  Chuck Wendig provides the script adaptation for the story.

Variant covers include some beautiful interpretations by Phil Noto and Joe Quesada (above), and John Cassaday and Esda Ribic (below).

TFA var cover John Cassaday    TFA B&W Esad Ribic var

After the break, take a look at some interior pages from Marvel’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Issue #1:

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