Tag Archive: Star Wars


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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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Anyone who has ever played with action figures has had the thought.  What would it be like to be as small as the figures and roam around with them in their vehicles, or what if they were as large as life and roamed around with us?  Daniel Picard enjoyed collecting the high-end, Sideshow Collectibles 12-inch “statue” figures.  He was also a photographer.  So Picard blended them together and posted them online.  He then sent some of his photos to Sideshow Collectibles’ management and the result is Figure Fantasy: The Pop Culture Photography of Daniel Picard, a hardcover collection of his creations, published by Insight Editions.

What makes Picard’s photographs work is the “magic” of lining up light and shadow so that his photographs of real world situations blend seamlessly with spliced-in images of 12-inch figures.  The Sideshow Collectibles figures are exclusively used in this collection–these are the figures that sell for hundreds of dollars because of their highly detailed production quality.  (Sideshow made the borg.com Best of 2016 list here last year, and we discussed the Star Wars line last year here).  So this line of figures was ideal for Picard’s project.

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The situations Picard selects, the clever humor, the juxtaposition of the fantastical and the mundane, all combine to make Picard’s work stand out from the standard attempts at similar combinations you might find on the Internet.

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Star Wars Rebels officially crossed over into the Star Wars Cinematic Universe in December with the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  The series’ plucky little astromech droid C1-10P or “Chopper” was seen at the Rebel Base on Yavin 4, and the series space vessel the Ghost was also seen docked there and in other scenes, including a scene with the Rebel Fleet making a jump to hyperspace, and fighting at the Battle of Scarif (no doubt there are some great opportunities here to replay Rogue One from the perspective of the crew of the Ghost).  At the same time, Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy of sequels to Return of the Jedi is now firmly enmeshed into the Star Wars canon, and a new trailer teases even more events will bridge the original trilogy with the prequel trilogy.

It all begins with Obi-Wan Kenobi’s message–a warning–sent to the remaining Jedi after Anakin Skywalker massacred so many (along with Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66) in Revenge of the Sith.  Stephen Stanton, who is known for his ability to mimic Sir Alec Guinness’s voice, is the new voice of elder Kenobi.  Stanton has voiced other Star Wars roles, most recently as the Mon Calamari Admiral Raddus in Rogue One.  The second part of Season 3, continuing this week, will feature Mon Mothma on the Ghost, more Tarkin, and Forest Whitaker again taking on the role of Saw Garrera from Rogue One, albeit an earlier, less cybernetically modified incarnation.

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The trailer for Season “3.5” also shows a bipedal Darth Maul in the shadows of Kenobi’s bonfire.  It looks like it is time for a revisit of their battle in The Phantom Menace.  Watch closely for the guards surrounding Grand Admiral Thrawn, black-armored Death Troopers, which are apparently tied to the “Legends” (the old Expanded Universe) creation of a zombie trooper legion in the new Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide.  Death Troopers are also seen in Rogue One. 

Here is the preview of Star Wars Rebels 2017 episodes:

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Happy New Year!!!!

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We at borg.com want to wish you a festive and safe New Year’s Eve and a spectacular 2017.  We’re entering our seventh calendar year of daily updates here, and we want to say thanks for reading.  We wish everyone a great new year.

We can all look forward to plenty of anniversaries ahead in 2017:

In the film industry John Ford, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel, and Bela Lugosi had their film debuts 100 years ago.

Charles Schulz’s Woodstock from Peanuts turns 50.

The comic book characters Ghost Rider, Barbara Gordon, Deadman, Blue Beetle, and Ronan the Accuser turn 50.  Huntress, Cerebus, and Judge Dredd turn 40.

Valerian, the lead character in the new Luc Besson movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, turns 50.

Star Wars turns 40.  Look for a volley of marketing from Disney about this throughout the year to rival Star Trek’s fiftieth observance last year, including 48 variant covers from Marvel Comics, like this Stuart Immonen artwork:

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Image Comics turns 25 in 2017.  Look for some titles including The Walking Dead to drop to 25 cents for the month of February.

The Jungle Book, The Dirty Dozen, and the original Casino Royale turn 50.  Along with Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind turns 40. E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, Tron, and The Dark Crystal turn 35.  Predator, The Princess Bride, and RoboCop turn 30Unforgiven, A Few Good Men, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and My Cousin Vinny turn 25.

Fifty years ago–in 1967–The Beatles released its Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, and Rolling Stone magazine published its first issue, and Marx Toys released their line of Best of the West toys, including Geronimo and Fighting Eagle, and the Fort Apache metal playset.

In science news from 1967, the world’s first heart transplant was performed, and NASA faced one of its lowest points as astronauts Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffey, and Ed White perished in the fateful launch of Apollo 1–all 50 years ago.

So there’s plenty to reflect on throughout 2017.  But back to New Year’s… Six (yep, six!) years ago we posted a YouTube clip we thought we’d re-post here to welcome in the new year, from Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and it’s now been watched nearly 18 million times!):

Thanks for coming back and thanks for following borg.com on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, or subscribing to daily updates, or just dropping by now and then to see what’s new.

Happy New Year!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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Masters of the Universe.  Red Dwarf.  Mortal Kombat.  And we revisit Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek.

Let’s start this year’s borg.com Hall of Fame ceremony by talking a little about who is NOT in the Hall of Fame who might come close if borgs were more loosely defined.  We still haven’t included the non-organic: like automatons, androids, or robots.  Think Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation before he met the queen in Star Trek: First Contact–despite his perfectly life-like appearance.  For the bulk of the series Data was always an android, not a cyborg.  He’s just a highly advanced C-3PO–until First Contact. 

Droids from Star Wars, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, Robot B-9 from Lost in Space or Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, the Autobots and Decepticons of Transformers, the police force of THX-1138, Box in Logan’s Run, the perfectly human appearing kid-like star of D.A.R.Y.L., the several automatons of episode after episode of The Twilight Zone, Beta in The Last Starfighter, Tron and Flynn and the other microscopic, human-like bits of data in Tron, Hellboy II’s Golden Army, the future Iowa Highway Patrolman in Star Trek 2009 (we assume he’s just wearing some police safety mask), Rosie the maid in The Jetsons, Hogey the Roguey from Red Dwarf, Marvin the Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, X-Men’s Sentinels, Lal and Juliana Tainer from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the title character of CHAPPiE, or Iron Giant, despite their human-like or bipedal nature, none are actual borgs because they lack biological matter, living cells, or the like.

The same applies for the robotic hosts in Westworld–Michael Crichton’s original was clear these were merely automaton robots and we’ve seen nothing from 2016’s HBO series to show that has changed (even the NY Times got it wrong).  Which explains why The Stepford Wives aren’t on the list, or Fembots, either from The Bionic Woman or the Austin Powers series, or the Buffybot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So who’s in?

Here is Round 4, the twenty-eight 2016 borg.com Hall of Fame honorees, in no particular order, some from 2016 and others from the past, bringing the roster count to 134 individuals and groups:

First up is Time, yep… Time itself.  From Alice Through the Looking Glass, a powerful Father Time-esque human/clockwork hybrid who rules over Underland–

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From George Lucas’s original Force-wielding character as envisioned by Mike Mayhew: Kane Starkiller from Marvel Comics’ alternate universe story, The Star Wars:

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The Major, from 2017’s Ghost in the Shell:

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Max Steel got his own movie in 2016:

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Steel hails from the Mattel action figure who received multiple super powers due to an accidental infusion of nanobots:

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Cave Carson from the update of the classic DC Comics comic book series spelunker, the new series Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye:

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Although he was a charter member of the borg.com Hall of Fame, Darth Vader returned in Rogue One, providing some new images of the classic borg:

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More of our inductees, after the cut…

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The Comic-Con, cosplay, sci-fi, fantasy, film and television world–and we at borg.com–are mourning the loss today of Carrie Fisher, who passed away at age 60.  For a generation she portrayed the most important heroine we encountered in the Land of Make-Believe because of a phenomenon called Star Wars.

Fortunately for her fans, she was able to bring her Princess Leia, now a General, to a new generation with last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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We’ll look forward to her once again portraying the strong-willed leader once more in Star Wars: Episode VIII, which she had completed filming, next December.

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Today we thank this fine actress for all the great hours we got to spend with her as the most iconic heroine in science fiction, for the individual influence she had on each of us, and for giving us a character that was a role model and force for positivism for so many.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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Merry Christmas!  We at borg.com want to wish you and yours the very best this Christmas day and throughout the holiday season.  We also want to send our best wishes for a quick recovery to Carrie Fisher, who is in the hospital after suffering a heart attack, as well as anyone else out there in the hospital or who can’t otherwise be at home his weekend.

With Star Wars the big thing in entertainment with the release of Rogue One (reviewed here last week), we thought we’d post a collection of autograph card images we’ve been saving, of autographs Mark Hamill has signed over the years.  You might not know that Hamill is unique in that he not only has autographed the classic Topps trading cards from the Star Wars movies (for fans at conventions, etc.) over the years, his autographs often reflect his sense of humor.

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Check out these samples of Mark Hamill autograph cards–most clipped from certified, graded, or “slabbed” cards in collectors’ hands discussed in forums across the Webisphere over the past several years.

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(more, after the cut)

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Topps’ new series of trading cards for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story scream out “These are the cards you’re looking for” with an array of insert “chaser” cards that trading card collectors and general fans of the series will want to check out.  The term “sketch” cards almost trivializes the variety of forms of media used to create these one-of-a-kind cards.  These aren’t prints or copies of the cards–they are the one-and-only originals the artist created.  Collecting a set is nearly impossible, and if collectors don’t plan to buy boxes and boxes of cards to only get a small number of the cards (if they’re lucky) then the last resort is eBay, where cards can fetch hundreds of dollars or more for a single card.

This weekend Topps releases its new trading card set – Topps Rogue One Series 1 trading cards.  This set features 90 base cards of characters and scenes from the film plus 6 insert sets to collect plus the second set of five Darth Vader continuity cards (the first 5 cards were available in Topps Rogue One: Mission Briefing).  Topps Rogue One also includes autographs, medallion cards, and printing plates, in addition to the possibility of nabbing a sketch card.  Inserts include character stickers, montages, “character icon” cards, propaganda poster cards, vehicle blueprints, and a set each of hero and villain cards.

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Autograph cards include signatures from Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe), Genevieve O’Reilly (Mon Mothma), Paul Kasey (Edrio Two Tubes and Admiral Raddus) and Nick Kellington (Bistan).

You can purchase a box set of card packs here now at Amazon.com.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story finally answers the question of what kind of movie you would get if Hollywood would only, finally, let a diehard fan direct a major franchise film.  For all the great cast of actors and heroic characters in this unique tie-in film that falls outside the episodic trilogies, the real hero turns out to be director Gareth Edwards.  Edwards does so many things right with Rogue One you’ll lose count, and the best of this is surprise after surprise of what is at the next turn.  And if you watched all the trailers that seemed to reveal all too much, surprise again, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  This is, without exception, the most fun movie in the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back, despite its equally dark tone, and it has all the action of the original Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans immediately jumped at the chance of finding its place in the list of the best and worst of the prior six films.  Is Rogue One better than The Force Awakens?  In many ways, yes.  In other ways, such as the use of too many jumps between geographic road marker titles along the way and tightness of story plotting, Rogue One is probably a bit behind.  What fans really want to do is compare Rogue One to the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.  So how does it compare?  It really is too soon to tell.  The hype and excitement of any new blockbuster in a franchise you love makes you want to heap on the high praise.  Is The Force Awakens as good as we thought a year ago?  Fans will never agree.  But the fact Rogue One is worthy of the comparison to Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back should be praise enough.

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The best thing about Rogue One is CGI and motion capture technology improvements.  The best kept film secret in several years should be kept for all to experience, and later we can all chat about it once everyone has had a chance to see the film.  Prepare to be impressed.  Technology is finally catching up with Connie Willis’s future Hollywood novel Remake.  Rogue One also has great writing–an issue that haunted the prequels.  The dialogue is smarter than probably all the past episodes.  The space battles aren’t superfluous like in Return of the Jedi and all of the prequels.  Every step in the film is in furtherance of the goal–find the plans to destroy the Death Star.  This is not a mere MacGuffin, this mission has gravity for everyone.  Delivered like an epic World War II era film, Rogue One is the best war movie of the franchise.

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Above all else, James Luceno’s new novel, Star Wars: Catalyst, A Rogue One Novel, is a sequel to Luceno’s well-crafted novel Tarkin (previously reviewed here at borg.com), another account of the Empire as it grew from the ashes left behind by the Clone Wars.  Surprisingly, Governor Tarkin is a major player in this novel, a prequel to this week’s worldwide theatrical release, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  As in Tarkin, Luceno adds another chapter in the detailed political and economic sphere of how various races are able to harness the energy necessary to power not only Star Destroyers, but this newly conceived idea of a planetoid battle station that becomes the first Death Star.

The corporate nature of the Empire, the scientists and power source behind the creation of the first of what would be three Death Stars in the Star Wars universe is laid out here, perhaps in more detail than the average fan would require.  Key to preparing for the movie, we meet four players of note.  Galen and Lyra Erso are scientists attempting to study and work on energy research outside the world of the military, but their refusal to choose sides lands them in prison and leaves them as pawns to be manipulated by rising officials in competing sects.  Galen’s longtime friend Orson Krennic is an opportunist and master manipulator, often at odds with Tarkin.  Rarely seen in Catalyst, but important because of her legacy as part of the Erso family, is young Jyn, a girl who will grow up to be the leading player in Rogue One.

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Orson Krennic and Galen Erso from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Catalyst serves as a useful bridge between two trilogies: Episodes I-III and Episodes IV-VI.  You’ll find numerous references to characters from the prequels like Emperor Palpatine, Mas Amedda, and Count Dooku.  Geonosis, the planet that factored into the Jedi battle in Attack of the Clones, also plays a key role in Catalyst.  And a secondary story about a smuggler named Has Obitt ushers in a new character called Saw Gerrera, a warrior who will be played by Forest Whitaker in the new film.

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