Archive for ‘The Movies’



Star Wars in the UK: The Phantom Menace

Mark Newbold | August 5, 2013

swit90s_tpm_1

After the golden age of Star Wars that was the ’90s — a return to the public consciousness that rivaled its heyday of the late ’70s and early ’80s and banished the shadow of the Dark Times — Star Wars was ready to enter a new era of prominence that would both unite and divide an increasingly broad fandom. By the late ’90s, that fandom crossed multiple demographics and encompassed followers of various formats of media including roleplayers, computer gamers, action figure collectors, book readers, and comic fans. It was the era of the prequels.

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The Cinema Behind Star Wars: The Godfather

Bryan Young | August 2, 2013

The Godfather had a profound influence on the landscape of American cinema after its release in 1972, and the Star Wars universe was no exception.

The Godfather is a masterful exploration of the human side of the mafia and the toll it takes on ones soul and family and was directed by Lucas’s longtime friend and mentor Francis Ford Coppola.

The underworld is a prominent feature of the Star Wars universe, from bounty hunters and mercenaries to the bumbling criminal bureaucrats of the Trade Federation and the criminal largesse of the Hutts.
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Becoming Boba: Coming to Terms with an Alter Ego

John "Dak" Morton | August 1, 2013

John Horton as Boba Fett

At Dak’s first Star Wars convention appearance back in 1997, a young fan, maybe 11, comes to his table and asks him to sign his Boba Fett photo. You know the one. Boba’s with Vader, Lando and Lobot in the passageway outside the carbon freezing chamber. Unsure of the protocol, Dak doesn’t know how to respond to this request. Several tables to his right at an angle facing him, Jeremy Bulloch is signing. Dak tells this young fellow to go ask permission from Jeremy. “He is Boba Fett. If he says it’s okay, then I’m good to sign your photo.” Several minutes later the lad makes it to the front of Jeremy’s line; they have a brief exchange; Jeremy looks Dak’s way and gives him the thumbs-up.

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So What the Heck Are Midi-Chlorians?

J.W. Rinzler | June 24, 2013

When Episode I came out a few people were upset by the role midi-chlorians played in the Force — particularly when a drop of Anakin’s blood revealed an unusually high number of them in his system. As Lucas explained in a talk with author Terry Brooks, who was about to start writing the novelization of the film, “In Anakin’s case, there are, instead of one or two or three midi-chlorians in each cell, there’s like a thousand. It’s unbelievable how many midi-chlorians are in there.”

So…what are they? Lucas expounded: “I’m assuming that the midi-chlorians are a race that everybody knows about [in the world of Star Wars]. The way you interact and interface with this larger energy field [the Force] is through the midi-chlorians, which are sensitive to the energy. They are at the core of your life, which is the cell, the living cell. They are in a symbiotic relationship with the cell. And then, because they’re all interconnected as one, they can communicate with the larger Force field. That’s how you deal with the Force.”

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The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Seven Samurai

Bryan Young | June 24, 2013

We’ve talked in the past the influence of Akira Kurosawa’s films on Star Wars, but I think the one that’s had the most consistent influence has been Seven Samurai. Seven Samurai, released in 1954, tells the story of a group of peasant rice farmers terrorized by bandits. When the bandits come too early in the season, they inform the impoverished farmers of their plans to return soon to loot their food. Instead of yielding, as they had every time in the past, they decide to hire samurai to protect them and find a misfit band of masterless samurai to defend them.

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Making The Return of Return of the Jedi and Celebrating 30 Years of a Film I Love

Kyle Newman | June 3, 2013

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The making of The Return of Return of the Jedi: 30 Years and Counting was a whirlwind experience to say the least.

Geoff Boucher of Entertainment Weekly rang me up in early spring to inform me of his plans to celebrate Return of the Jedi with a series of special screenings on May the 4th in conjunction with Lucasfilm. He asked me if I had interest in making something that could play before the main event to honor Jedi turning 30. I desperately wanted to help out but was deep in planning on my next feature film and it didn’t look likely. But two weeks before the screening the stars aligned and a window presented itself. Thankfully Geoff was still in need of an opening act for his Star Wars extravaganza.

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Interview: Dennis Muren on Return of the Jedi

Dan Brooks | May 24, 2013

In 1983, Return of the Jedi marked the end of the original Star Wars trilogy, and with it, an incredible era of effects innovation in film. The movie wrapped up all the story threads previously set in motion — Luke’s journey to become a Jedi, the Rebellion’s struggle against the Empire, and the redemption of Darth Vader — and did so amidst a backdrop of stunning visuals, thrilling action, and lots of strange creatures. From speeder bike chases to lightsaber duels to a trip inside the tunnels of the Death Star, Return of the Jedi is still a spectacular entertainment.

In honor of the film’s thirtieth anniversary this month, StarWars.com spoke with Industrial Light & Magic’s Dennis Muren — the effects legend who worked extensively on Return of the Jedi and the entire Star Wars trilogy — about the early process of getting started on the film, why beams of light shine from a melting carbonite slab, and where Jedi stands historically.

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The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Jaws

Bryan Young | May 21, 2013

Steven Spielberg’s Jaws might be one of the most influential films in history. It set the stage as one of the first, true summer blockbusters in 1975, paving the way for the cultural hysteria Star Wars would cause just two years later. Add to the fact that it stands to this day as a fantastic, well-made film, and it’s no wonder that its influence has seeped into the world of film and has devotees among the elites of the entertainment industry. Bryan Singer’s production company is called “Bad Hat Harry” from a line on the beach in Jaws. Ain’t It Cool News’ best journalist, Quint, takes his name from Robert Shaw’s salty character. I once even accidentally proposed marriage to my wife in the middle of the USS Indianapolis speech. (True story, but one for a different time.)

Jaws is no less important to those who create Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The first time I realized there was a hardcore Jaws fan on the crew of The Clone Wars was watching the thirteenth episode of the third season. “Monster” served as our introduction to the now-iconic villain Savage Opress. The homage from Jaws was subtle and CG supervisor Joel Aron later told me that he thought I might have been the only person who noticed it. But in Jaws (and in a few other Spielberg pictures) there is a lovely shot of a night sky, a quiet moment, and a falling star streaks across the frame. The moment is repeated in loving memory in “Monster” and it brought a smile across the face of the film nerd inside of me.

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The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Roger Ebert and Citizen Kane

Bryan Young | April 11, 2013

I had something else planned for this month’s Cinema column, but after the passing of Roger Ebert, in my sadness I retreated back into his work and found some incredibly fascinating things that connect to the Star Wars universe.

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Star Wars Mysteries: Getting to the Bottom of Max Rebo

Pablo Hidalgo | February 20, 2013
Star Wars Mysteries: Getting to the Bottom of Max Rebo
Not since Lapti Nek will Max Rebo fans have their worlds rocked this hard. A few months back, ace illustrator Brandon Bird reached out to me via the magic of the Internet to back up his contention concerning Max Rebo, about something most people don’t know about the elephantine keyboardist. Referencing an online article about the action figure incarnation of Max, Brandon insisted that Max was never ever supposed to have legs. And you know what, he’s absolutely right.
[action figure picture]
This diapered humanoid is how Kenner extrapolated the body of Max Rebo in 1983 for his first toy. It was created with the assumption that he’s sitting at the center of his keyboard. Since that time, the Expanded Universe has run with the idea that that Max has legs. The Ortolan species (which was established by Troy Denning in 1989’s Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Species) has two legs and two arms. But that was never the intent of Max’s original designers.
[Ortoloan artwork]
Below is the maquette that Phil Tippett created for Max to first define the alien. In this early incarnation, he was known as Red Ball Jett. Look at the shape of those limbs. Those are legs. They terminate not at shoulders, but rather to large muscles at Max’s base that look like a gluteus maximus. A butt, if I may be so bold.
Schematic artwork defining how Max could possibly work made it clear he doesn’t have shoulders. The limbs begin at the base. Note though, in the final film the number of performers inside Max changed to just one.
Max doesn’t have shoulders. Those limbs begin at his base.
Then, when we look at some of the schematic art for the creature, the idea
But the real clincher is this blueprint for the keyboard — called the Red Ball Jett organ. Yes, it was built as a donut-shaped instrument because the filmmaking reality necessitated that the performer sit inside. But looking at the callouts in the blueprint, the “ring” that surrounds Max’s non-existent trunk is described as a cushion. It was meant to be a pillow that Max is sitting on, not a
Of course, when the creature was created, it was hard not to see the limbs as arms, because that is what was needed to drive the performance. The peculiar hinging of the limbs – the upward slant of femurs to knee to shins instead became lateral slants of humerus to elbow to forearms. The skinflaps remained. And yes, I can understand why an artist would interpret them as arms.
But that wasn’t how Max was designed.

Not since “Lapti Nek” will Max Rebo fans have their worlds rocked this hard. A few months back, ace illustrator Brandon Bird reached out to me via the magic of the Internet to back up a certain contention regarding Max Rebo, concerning something most people don’t know about the elephantine keyboardist. Referencing an online article about the action figure incarnation of Max, Brandon insisted that Max was never ever supposed to have humanoid legs. And you know what, he’s absolutely right.

Max's legs -- the blue elephant in the room.

Max's legs -- the blue elephant in the room.

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