Tag Archive: Star Wars

Troopers in the hall

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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In the latest trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, released today during ABC’s Good Morning America, we have even more teased scenes that make it impossible not to get excited for this incredible looking film.  Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) is tapped to lead a dangerous mission, and Forest Whitaker never looked better as an old rogue.  And check out the new movie poster.  Count the good guys.  Is this going to be another The Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai inspired film?  The original Star Wars was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress.


And Darth Vader, no longer hidden as another villain to the new story of Star Wars’ past.  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.


But be warned:  The newest Star Wars entry fills in the remaining plot points, gives a clear look at Mads Mikkelsen’s key role in the story, provides more looks at costumes and landscapes, and introduces a few new characters, including what appears to be Eunice Olumide as a Rebel leader, more AT-STs, Death Star shots, and more Vader.


Check out the latest trailer for the next big Star Wars flick:

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If you haven’t seen the Sideshow Collectibles line-up of premium 1:6 scale figures, then the below gallery is for you.  In the past twelve months Sideshow Collectibles and its Hot Toys brand has released some of the best sculpted figures we’ve ever seen for the Star Wars franchise, beginning with a superb line of Star Wars: The Force Awakens figures.  In the past month we’ve seen even more great figures previewed for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

These movie-accurate collectible figures are specially crafted for the new films, featuring new body designs and armor, highly polished helmets and accessories, sophisticated tailoring of costumes with detailed textures, premium accessories like utility belts with LED lights, lightsaber hilts, character-specific weaponry and poseable add-on hands, and themed figure stands.  And the human figures reflect the actors’ likenesses quite well.

shoretrooper   star-wars-rey-bb-8-sixth-scale-set-hot-toys-902612-01

These previews are a great way to get a first look at the varieties of Stormtroopers coming soon in Rogue One.  Rogue One takes place just before the original Star Wars, so it’s interesting Disney/Lucasfilm included so many new Stormtrooper designs.  Does it add to the film (Star Wars has always been about new, out-of-this-world characters) or is it because fans are going to be wanting to collect them all?

It doesn’t matter because they turned out great.  We’ll see updated Stormtroopers and TIE Fighter Pilots, plus the new Shoretroopers and Death Troopers.  Check out all these figures from Rogue One and The Force Awakens:

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Back in 1998, before the Star Wars prequels, PC users were given the first public look at the deleted scenes from Star Wars–the original, Episode IV, A New Hope, etc.  A two-CD-ROM set called Star Wars: Behind the Magic whetted the appetites of fans who were soon going to be able to see a new Star Wars movie for the first time in 16 years.  Deleted scenes?  Lucas shot scenes we hadn’t yet seen?   Finally those still images we only saw as kids in The Star Wars Storybook came to life, like this guy that looked like Clark Gable or Tom Selleck named Biggs Darklighter, with Luke Skywalker and a group of his young friends just hanging out on Tatooine.  Some of the deleted scenes never made it back into George Lucas’s re-worked final canon version of the trilogy.  But the data on those CD-ROMs was unprecedented, and better compiled and searchable than much information available even today on the Internet.

So we were excited to see Industrial Light and Magic release a new Behind the Magic entry this past week, even if only a few minutes long, this time for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The reel, posted to YouTube by ILMVisualFX, is a bit of a rollercoaster ride through all the layers of CGI and blue screen work required to create so many locations, special effects, characters, and visual spectacles.  It’s wired up with crazy sound, too, and just might make you dizzy as you fall in and out of scene after scene.

star-wars-behind-the-magic   star-wars-storybook

For fans of Star Wars waiting for the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December, and the release of the 3D edition of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in November discussed here previously at borg.com, and featuring even more behind the scenes features, this new reel just locks in our fanboy and fangirl need for that 3D edition.

Check out this behind the scenes look at last year’s–and this year’s–biggest film, in Behind the Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

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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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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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