Solo Part V-Kessel run!

 

Although they manage to clear Kessel, the Empire has decided to pop up and block the Maelstrom with a Star Destroyer. It’s a pretty cool image that appeared in the trailers. Say what you will about Disney’s handling of the franchise, but they’ve really managed to get some cool Star destroyer imagery in these films. The Empire’s arrival is signaled by an ominous DUN, DUN DUN DUNNNN!!!! music, used in Star Wars and Rogue One at the beginning of most Death Star scenes.

 

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And they’re definitely not letting Han and co. through, as they release TIE fighters. Among these is the TIE brute, a new model of TIE fighter that doesn’t particularly look as different as Rogue One’s Striker and Last Jedi’s silencer, seeming more like a downgraded version of the the TIE bomber from ESB and (briefly) ROTJ.

 

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Han decides to go around the Destroyer, launching on the fabled Kessel run. Unfortunately, to me, this scene sort of plays a lot like a sort of greatest hits kind of thing for the films. First, you’ve got Beckett using the Falcon’s manual cannons, which of course we “later” see in A new Hope, Force Awakens and Last Jedi. It even uses the same “Here they come!” music, although with a bit more drums….and the cannon is somewhat not quite a ‘quad’ yet, but a single and mostly useless one.

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Then we get the Falcon trying to evade the TIEs in an asteroid field; naturally, of course, playing the Asteroid chase music! It’s a great piece of music of course, and it’s nice to hear it again in a Star Wars film (While “Here they come” shows up in ROTJ and TLJ again, ESB was the only other film to use this theme)….but still, couldn’t come up with something more original?

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It’s here that Chewie takes his rightful place as Han’s co-pilot as well, set to the triumphant Star Wars theme. We also learn that Chewie’s 190 years old, which sticks with most non-film sources saying he’s about 200 at the time of the OT.

Lando plugs what’s left of L3 into the Falcon’s computer to help them navigate, allowing for her to pretty much become the ‘brains’ of the Falcon, so we know who Threepio was ‘talking’ to in ESB.

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Finally, we get to the big finale-which involves a giant space monster. While monsters-including ones out in space-have been a sort of Star Wars trope for a long time, it still feels a bit ‘greatest hits’, especially after the last two parts of the chase.

 

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Although “Solo” does add something new, or rather, something reworked from the novels; the Maw, a massive black hole that soon snares both the monster and the Falcon. I’m pretty sure this is the first time we see or have a black hole mentioned in a Star Wars film, although they’ve been around quite a bit in the EU-especially this one, the Maw. In the Jedi Academy novels (now non-canon) it’s revealed that the Maw is host to an isolated Imperial weapons factory, which had a prototype version of the Death Star (something obviously completely retconned by “Rogue One” and even further back, “Revenge of the Sith”) and also a super-powerful “Sun crusher” which has torpedoes that create supernovas. (One such torpedo destroys Carida in the trilogy; Carida is actually mentioned earlier in this film as one of the Imperial academies).

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The Maw pretty much ‘eats’ the giant space monster, and almost the Falcon, but by ejecting some of it’s extra weight and a little coaxium, manages to escape the Maw….in 12 parsecs. Sort of. Of course, all this wear and tear pretty much gives the exterior of the Falcon it’s “classic look”. Sort of.

 

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Solo Part IV

Kessel! We first see our characters go through the Akkadese maelstrom, a sort of big gas tunnel. Funny thing is, it almost sounds a lot like the “Antares Maelstrom” the way it’s pronounced, which puts me in the mind of a quote from another “Star” franchise.

 

 

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Here’s some sort of character downtime, where we get a look at the much cleaner interior of the Lando-era Falcon. We also learn why the holo-chess is a bit flickery later on-Chewbacca hits it, thinking the “pieces” are in fact, solid.

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We also get Qi’ra and Han reminisce on old times-and share a kiss-in Lando’s closet, which of course is full of many capes and outfits. She also states that she’s reluctant to restart her relationship with Han because she’s done terrible things for the Crimson Dawn syndicate (Not really elaborated on, but it’s a criminal organization so probably some bad stuff).

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I wonder if the Cloud City outfit is in there?

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The white interior of the Falcon and the clothes put me in mind of yet another sci-fi franchise; the Doctor Who series, where the Doctor keeps a closet of multiple outfits handy in the TARDIS, which comes in helpfully when the regeneration alters his personality-and fashion sense-sometimes, not for the better.

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I also wonder if this is the same area where Han and Leia first kiss later on. I’m not about to dig out a technical manual or anything to look that up. Kind of makes sense though, that Han would scuttle the closet once he gets the ship. Han basically has two main looks in the OT-the vest and jacket (The jacket also made a comeback in The Force Awakens), so he probably has little need for a fancy closet.

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We also learn that Han is familiar with the YT-1300 design because his father worked on the docks. That’s pretty much all we learn about Han’s father (Who is of course Kylo Ren’s paternal grandfather, and probably didn’t end up anything like his maternal grandfather)…..that would be an awkward family visit.

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We also learn Lando was raised by a single mother as well, a slight detail from the old Lando novels (not the only mention they’ll get). We also get a bit of an awkward conversation between L3 and Qi’ra, and how L3 and Lando seem to have feelings for each other.

Finally, we come to Kessell, where the group pose as slavers selling Han and Chewie to the mines. The mines actually look fairly cheap for a Star Wars film, just kind of a regular mine.  Sorry to bring Star Trek into this yet again, but they don’t look all that different from the Rura Penthe mines in “Star Trek VI” (although with out snow).

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Here we get a little bit of an easter egg-Becket’s disguise here is pretty close to the one Lando wears to infiltrate Jabba’s palace in ROTJ.

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Chewbacca briefly splits to help out another Wookie, a sort of more hairless one (possibly from being in the mines so long)….who is played by none other than Anthony Daniels, AKA C-3PO! When Daniels was cast, everybody naturally assumed he’s be playing 3PO in a cameo similar to his “Rogue One” appearance. Nope! This is the second time we see Chewie among others of his own kind, after “Revenge of the Sith”. Of course, The Holiday special set the precedent (and some assumed from the trailers that the other Wookie was a member of Chewie’s family, as seen in that special)….but that’s best forgotten.

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L3 causes the droids in the control room to revolt while Becket and the others steal the “Coaxium”. While some have been mixed on L3 as a character, I really liked that the droids in this had a sort of  boxy ‘retro’ look, like they could’ve walked out of the 1977 film…

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or even one of the knockoffs, such as “The Black Hole”.

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Chewie also rips a guard’s arm off, the first time we really see him do such a thing, although JJ Abrams did intend for him to do that to Unkar Platt in a scene deleted from Force Awakens.

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So all hell breaks loose, and the group are soon shooting for their lives. Lando, meanwhile, talks about the chronicles of Lando Calrissian to a holographic recorder, I think talking about the Mindharp of Sharu. Pretty much puts the old Lando novel ‘more or less’ back into canon, I guess, if you substitute L3 for Vuffi Raa.

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Unfortunately, during the escape, L3 is fatally shot down, one of the saddest droid ‘deaths’ in the series along with K-S20 (R2 and 3PO were frequently damaged in the series, but ‘got better’ for the most part). While K-S20 sort of had a brave sacrifice and his ‘light’ went out, L3’s is far more shocking, as she starts talking in ‘malfunctioning’ language and seems to be in great ‘pain’ as she ‘dies’.  Lando is also injured as well….which of course now means it’s up to Han to take his rightful place…..

 

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Next: Kessel Run

Solo My thoughts Part III *spoilers*

There’s a bit of a nice scene with Han and Qi’ra before Dryden shows up and sort of spoils the reunion. Basically, Vos isn’t too happy that the Coaxium was lost. It’s a bit like that scene in the special edition of “A New Hope” where Han talks to Jabba, except Vos here is a bit more intimidating (Han seems to not be too intimidated by Jabba here, even stepping on his tail, even if that of course was added as a CG joke by Lucas), but still kind of a bit cartoonishly evil.

 

 

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After a bit of negotiating they agree they’ll get some unrefined Coaxium from Kessel-Kessel of course the planet mentioned multiple times in A New Hope, as the place where there are “Spice mines” that 3PO worries will be their punishment, and of course Han’s famous line about making the Kessel run in twelve parsecs. Although the planet has been featured many times in Star Wars expanded media, “Solo” is it’s first on-screen appearance.

Of course Dryden’s hand in this can not be seen since he as an alliance with another criminal organization around that area….so Han and co. need to do things a bit incognito. Although he does send Qira in as their chaperone, which does kind of tie her to Vos if she’s discovered, so that’s not exactly a plan that’s 100% foolproof. Plus they need a ship/pilot.

Enter Lando. Gambler, card player, scoundrel. You’ll like him.

We shift to a scene on the same planet, with another, far more run-down lodge/cantina, which looks a bit more like the more divey places from the other Star Wars films than Vos’s ship.

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This bar also has something a bit new-droid fighting. While we see droids in the other films in competitive sports (attack of the Clones) and being tortured (Return of the Jedi) I think this is the first time we see them as a sort of “battlebots”.

 

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It’s here we meet Lando, one of the highlights of the film, played by Donald Glover. Glover has plenty of Billy Dee’s mannerisms down, and we also learn that Lando is a bit of a cheat, using a device on his arm to rig the card games. There’s also a nod to Billy Dee William’s weird pronunciation of Han in the OT (Which sounds more like “Haan”). I also feel this is one of the scenes where Alden has more of the old style Harrison Ford swagger.

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This is also the first time we see “Sabacc” a card game mentioned in the EU but never seen in “canon”. The old EU frequently portrayed the cards as actually small electronic devices, which would shift values electronically-as seen in this artistic rendition from the Shadows of the Empire card set-the cards appear to be lit up.

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But the Solo version of the game seems to be somewhat more like your old fashioned card game, and also uses symbols that might be a bit more familiar to Star Wars fans.

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Han tries to get Lando’s ship, but this isn’t the point where he wins the Falcon. We also meet L3, a female droid who is Lando’s co-pilot, but who also has a thing for droid’s rights, a topic that’s sort of been implied a bit in the films but never really explored (“We seem to be made to suffer, it’s our lot in life etc.”). L3’s an interesting design, she basically looks like an R2 unit with a more humanoid body. Lando likewise also had a droid pilot in the old EU as well, although in the end he turned out to be some kind of strange alien (The old Lando novels were kind of weird, although they’re actually sort of referenced in this film a bit later! So I guess there’s a “canon” version of them, but with L3 instead of the droid/alien thing Vuffi Raa) She breaks up the droid match, which kind of embarrasses Lando and provokes an angry rebuke from the guy running the fight…

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Who turns out to be this film’s Clint Howard cameo. Clint is of course, Ron Howard’s brother, who has had small roles in many of his brother’s films, as well as several other TV and movie credits, including memorable roles in “Star Trek” “Seinfeld” and “Arrested development”.

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This isn’t the first time he’s shown up in something Star Wars related-he also played an Imperial officer in a commercial for “Kinect Star Wars”, the somewhat infamous game with, among other things, the Han Solo dance game.

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Yep, that was a thing.

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So Lando agrees to help Han and crew go to Kessel in exchange for a share. We’re given a somewhat weird scene with L3 asking the group not to look at her as she uses an R2-style buzzsaw to open the impoundment area. She looks a bit…different, with the mandible gap filled out and in noticeably better condition than later on.

 

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The ship also appeared in “Revenge of the Sith” as well, in a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo. (Falcon like ships are also seen in “Attack of the Clones” but according to Lucasfilm, this is the actual Falcon). Funny thing is, the “Revenge of the Sith” version is pretty close to the OT version, which means Lando must have fixed up the Falcon a bit, only for Han to kind of mess her up again. Some of the blue paint scheme is still a bit visible though.

 

 

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However, we’re shown that Enfy’s Nest has planted a tracking device on the Falcon, which seems to me to clearly evoke this scene from ANH, where Vader and Tarkin talk about how they’ve let the Falcon escape so they can track it to the rebel base-although there’s no real escape here, and Enfys is not as nearly nervous about the plan as Tarkin was.

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Next: The Kessel run!

Solo-My thoughts-part two *SPOILERS*

As Han and Chewie join Beckett’s crew, we then come to the world of Vandor, which is a snowy planet a bit like Hoth and Starkiller, but this time with a lot more mountains, making I guess you could say, “The Himalayan planet”.

 

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We get a nice bonding scene between the crew, who are out to steal a train cart of Coaxium. There’s some real chemistry between Woody and Thandie here.

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Here we come to the film’s next big set piece, as they attempt a heist of the conveyex, which, like the AT hauler, looks a lot like an offshoot of the Walker family. However, things get somewhat complicated. It’s a fun scene, with a lot near-misses for the characters. But things soon get even more complicated.

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Chewie nearly falls off and gets crushed by the surrounding rock, which I’m not entirely sure, but it could be a slight nod to Lucasfilm’s other famous franchise where a character was stuck between a rock and a hard (vehicle) place….

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A group of marauders, the “Cloud Riders”, arrive. The Cloud Riders are another sort of call back to the old Marvel comics. Although this group-who have armor that looks like a mix between Boba Fett and Phasma-are definitely not anything like the old Marvel versions, except for their use of airspeeders and speeder bikes.

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We see Enfys gets into a brief fight with Beckett. She has a lighted (heated?) blade, so it sort of gives off a lightsaber aesthetic without actually being a lightsaber. She’s also got an interesting theme, a sort of  high-pitched, somewhat Eastern European sounding choral music which sounds a bit like a lighter Duel of the Fates.

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In other words, pretty much exactly like these guys. (although there’s more of this to come)

 

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And the Empire is complicating things too. Stormtroopers-“Range troopers”  on the train itself, which look mainly like somebody “kitbashed” the Rogue One stormtroopers and gave them a bit of a fur coat. They also get part of the old school Imperial theme from ANH.

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….and probe droids (although these look a bit different than their ESB/ROTJ/Rogue One counterparts, far more heavily armed and given more of a sentry/security function), which prove too much of a challenge for Val, who is hopelessly pinned down and destroys the rest of the Conveyex’s rail, and herself. Exit Thandie Newton.

Rio also gets shot and dies, leaving Han to pilot the AT hauler, but the Cloud Riders also get the haul too. Han is forced to jettison their cargo (but rescues Beckett and Chewie), which results in a spectacular, mountain-destroying explosion, which looks and sounds a lot like Jango Fett’s seismic charges from AOTC. Maybe those things had some coaxium in ’em too. Although considerably how valuable they are in this film, I guess the stuff was less scarce before the Clone Wars and the Empire?

 

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With two of his friends dead and the loot lost, Beckett now has a price on his head (Not unlike what will happen to Han later on) and has to face the guy who hired him, Dryden Vos. Vos’s ship shortly arrives, and has a main hall that looks like a cross between Jabba’s sail barge and the more classy Star Wars places like Cloud City and Canto Bight. It’s one of this film’s Cantinaesque scenes, complete with weird singer.

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Vos himself is played by Paul Bettany, who unfortunately comes across as a bit one-dimensional.  BTW that Mandalorian costume back there is just for show, it doesn’t really do anything 🙂

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Bettany was a late addition to the cast, replacing  Michael K. Williams as Vos when Ron Howard took over the film.

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Here, although Beckett tells Han to sort of lay low-similar to Han’s own warning to Rey year’s later (“Don’t stare at any of it”)….but he can’t help it when Qira suddenly, and unexpectedly, taps him on the shoulder…

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Next: Reunions and Lando!

 

Film in Review-Poltergeist Part One

The house looks just like the one next to it, and the one next to that, and the one next to that. A young couple live in it with their three children….and something more.

Its form is revealed, Its focus is clear and the games are over.

It knows what scares you.

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Poltergeist is one of the earliest films Spielberg served as producer, and not director, as well as co-writer. Like Goonies and Gremlins, released the following three years, it sort of muddies the lines between family-friendly adventure and horror; Gremlins, for all it’s cute Gizmo moments and Holiday cheer, as well as the Gremlins themselves being used somewhat for comic relief, there’s still a horror element to the movie-the Gremlins clearly kill several people (although at least one family believed to be dead in the first film-the Futtermans-survive into the second although their fate is a bit ambiguous in the first).

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Even Goonies, for all it’s Hardy Boys nature, has quite a few scares. Not only was there a recent victim of the Fratellis packed in one of the coolers of the restaurant hideout-which then proceeds to fall on the kids once they open it-but the caverns and traps leading to the Inferno have a few extra corpses-local treasure hunter Chester Copperpot, who got smashed by one of the traps in the 1930’s; and it seems like another pirate-or several-got made into a piano trap…and of course Willie’s own crew was extremely dead too.

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Then there’s Sloth’s appearence and unknown intentions at first., but he turns out to be one of the good guys.

 

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Poltergeist, like these, seems a bit family and PG friendly, but slips a bit more into the horror territory; while some of these ghosts and creatures appear benign at first, and there’s nice scenes of family and suburbia to begin with, things begin to take a dark turn about 45 minutes in.

 

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The film begins with the National anthem, as it concludes the broadcast day (something that doesn’t happen anymore), and we get a little bit of the family sleeping soundly, including Craig T. Nelson’s (Coach, The Incredibles, CSI:Ny) Steven, who was watching TV and fell asleep at the remote. As it fades to static, the youngest daughter Carrie Ann is drawn to the TV, and seems to be answering it, despite just static coming from it.

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In many ways, the character of Carrie Ann is similar to Barry from Close Encounters, although Carrie Ann soon seems far more horrified. At least the aliens in CE seem far more friendly, intelligent and benign, although they do cause a lot of hell for the humans that fail to understand their motives. The Poltergeists in “Poltergeist” however, seem to be largely confused and in part, under the control of the entity known as the Beast. (more on that later).

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After this subtly creepy intro, we cut to more of a sort of ‘day in the life’ scene that’s kind of what we’ve seen in a lot of Spielberg films. There’s a big guy kind of awkwardly bike riding with a ton of beers, who then gets pranked by some kids using their remote-control cars, causing him to drop the beers, many of which start to leak all over the place.

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He’s bringing them over-still leaking and half lost-to the Freeling house from earlier, where Steven and his friends are watching a football game. Also, upstairs, as the mother–Diane-is tending to the kid’s room, we have the film’s only real (current) casualty; Tweety, the bird. It’s unclear whether Tweety’s a victim of the ghosts somehow, or just happens to pass away some other way. In any case, he’s a bit of foreshadowing…

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Downstairs, the football game suddenly turns into Mr. Rogers. However, like Tweety, this isn’t really something out of the ordinary, but mainly the Freeling’s remote being on the same frequency as their neighbors.

It should be noted, that apart from Mr. Rogers, the film’s got a lot of 80’s pop culture in it-in Robbie and Carol Anne room alone, there’s a ton of Star Wars, Toys R Us, Sesame Street and even Alien memorabilia, in addition of course to that creepy clown doll.

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Meanwhile, Diane’s about to flush Tweety down the toilet but Carol Anne, catching her, insists on a proper burial and funeral in a cigar box. Although Diane’s teen daughter Diane, and son Robbie, aren’t really respectful at the funeral; elaborating in part why the ghost/beast choose Carol Anne-she seems perhaps somewhat more ‘pure of heart’ than her siblings and parents.

After buying Carol Anne some goldfish as a new pet, Diane puts the younger kids to sleep, although Robbie’s very wary of quite a few things-the massive tree that looks like it has a face outside, and the creepy clown doll of Carol Anne’s. He’ll have more reason to fear both by film’s end.

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But for now, a Chewbacca jacket is sufficient protection.

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We get a bit of goofiness with the parents, with Diane smoking some pot and musing a bit about Carol Anne’s sleepwalking and the potential danger (as they’re building a swimming pool out back) and Steve reading a Reagan book, as well as camping around with his gut, making a diving pose, and then talking in a Donald duck voice. It’s also worth noting the film that he’s watching is a guy named Joe, about a ghost pilot (Spielberg would later make a similar film, “Always”)

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However, Robbie interrupts them about the storm, and after some reassurances it isn’t quite enough and they have to stay in their room. However, the TV does the static thing again, and we get one of the few visual aspects of the ghosts- a bony hand, which appears to try to grab Carol Anne, before shooting over the Freeling’s bed and causing a hole in the wall-and an Earthquake.

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and of course the iconic line:

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The next day the swimming pool dig’s going on outside (overturning Tweety’s grave-a kind of subtle hint as to the true nature of these ghosts), with the kids in general messing around at the breakfast table, although weird things are now starting to happen; Robbie’s glass breaks on the bottom (Which ruins Dana’s homework), and his silverware gets bent. Carol Anne says she’s been talking to the “TV people”. Steve’s also trying to figure out where the “Earthquake” came from on the phone.

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Small note here, one of the guys who catcalls Diane outside (and gets the middle finger as a result) is Sonny Landham, also known for 48 Hours and most famously, Billy in Predator.

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Now, further weird things start to happen at the house. The dog reacts to the hole in the wall, acting as it’s telling him to do tricks…much like the TV talking to Carol Anne.

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And more visible, the chairs pulling themselves out and stacking within SECONDS, spooking the hell out of Diane. Diane begins their might be something to these “TV people” after all.

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After Steve-who works for the real estate company who created their neighborhood-and has plans for expansion-shows a similar (but probably not haunted) house to a husband and wife, he comes home to learn that Diane’s discovered even more weird stuff-the kitchen floor acting as a makeshift slide, moving objects-first a chair, and later a helmeted Carol Anne-across a part of the floor without being pushed forward. Steve is suitably spooked by this. There’s a bit of a deleted scene here with Steve wondering if it’s some kind of natural thing related to the Earthquake from earlier, and Carol Anne saying she doesn’t like Pizza Hut. However, apparently Pizza Hut took offense at this late in the editing phase, and we get an awkward jump cut to Steven and Diane asking their obnoxious neighbors if they’ve seen any weird stuff like furniture moving around. They also suffer some nasty mosquito bites.

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After some speculation on the nature of what’s going on, as well as some mosquito lotion, Steve decides he’s going to have the kitchen off-limits until they can figure out what’s going on….and now, things are about to get much, much worse.

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Next: Trees, TVs, and the long-suffering Marty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars-the upcoming Favreau TV show-Thoughts and speculation

Jon Favreau has now been handed the keys to a live-action TV show based on Star Wars. Although of course, primarily a cinematic franchise, the series is no stranger to TV, with several animated series-Droids, Ewoks, Clone Wars, Rebels, even the Lego one-that have graced sets. Although it’s record with live-action is a bit more tricky….

 

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Although to be fair there were some cool moments in those Ewok movies….there’s something in particular about the Bluurg monsters that just screams “Star Wars” to me…

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Anyway, back after “Revenge of the Sith” George Lucas was still considering working on several “Star Wars” projects outside of the films. One of them, of course, turned into the Clone wars series. Another project, a live-action TV series, was also considered, and several pitches and scripts commissioned. One of these pitches-by FX guy John Knoll- would eventually see the light of day as “Rogue One”.

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When George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney, the TV series concept largely remained dormant as Disney largely focused on getting the new films out-despite a few directorial missteps in 2017 (and some criticism) Lucasfilm/Disney now seem more secure in  the future of the franchise than ever before, commissioning new movies by Rian Johnson and the Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and DB Weiss, although what exactly they will cover remains seens (and still no word on a third spin-off….)

However, last week, we learned that Jon Favreau will be developing a new live-action Star Wars TV series. Favreau’s no stranger to Star Wars, having done a voice for Clone Wars villain Pre Visla…..

 

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and also a voice for a mysterious alien in the upcoming Solo..

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Of course he’s also had an incredible career outside of Star Wars as well. Apart from his acting talents, he’s also a director, having directed several hits such as Elf, The Jungle Book, and Chef (many of which he also had small roles in). But perhaps he’s best known as the director of the first and second Iron Man films, both of which launched the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, one of the most powerful franchises in cinema today (and since 2010, also owned by Disney), and arguably a model that Disney wants to take Star Wars.

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Although Favreau hasn’t directed any Marvel films since Iron Man 2, and was replaced by Joss Whedon for the Avengers films, he doesn’t seem to harbor any ill will, as he continued to appear as the character Happy Hogan in Iron Man 3 (Directed by Shane Black)  and most recently Spider-Man homecoming, and he’s slated to appear in Avengers: Infinity War as well.

 

Now, onto the nitty gritty, what will Favreau’s series cover? It’s too early to really say at this stage, but from what I’ve seen, he seems to do a lot of “slice of life” projects, often with snarky, or naive characters, rather than big ‘event’ films. His Iron Man movies seemed to reflect this, mainly focusing on Tony Stark himself. Even as the Marvel films have gotten bigger and bigger and scope, they seem largely built on the Iron Man prototype, high adventure but with a lot of humor.

So I’m guessing that perhaps Favreau’s series might focus a bit on the fringe of Star Wars, not exactly the big epic events like some epic clash between the light and the dark side but those who try to make it by in this frequently war-torn galaxy…and that’s certainly a major theme of Star Wars-that even those who appear small and irrelevant can change the course of the future. After all, that’s pretty much what Star Wars is all about…as stated by Leia in the Star Wars novel,

“They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally they became heroes.”

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(OK, the TPM cast were kind of high-class characters like a Queen, but at least Anakin and Jar-Jar kind of fit that)….

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….and of course the original team did as well…

and certainly the Disney casts fit the model quite well….

 

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It’s possible the series might cover the “Dark times” era as well (Between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope) although “Rebels” covered a portion of that. However, perhaps a series set earlier, when people are still adjusting to this new, darker galaxy, might be a good idea. Dark Horse certainly tried the concept with their “Dark Times” series.

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Favorite Movie scenes: The Force Awakens

In three years, Disney’s given us three Star Wars films-two installments of the sequel trilogy, and “Rogue One” of course. While they have been a bit polarizing among groups of fandom (mainly due to claims of unoriginality, or going too much into the OT sandbox of Rebellion vs. Empire instead of new story directions), they’ve gotten good critical reviews, and have definetly revived the brand as a major box office force (heh). Here’s my thoughts on a few notable scenes from the first Disney film, “The Force Awakens”.

 

Rey The Scavenger

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While the first few scenes of the film sort of showed off the “new toys”-the upgraded Stormtroopers, the fancy new (and ill-fated) X-wing with a Millenium Falconesque dorsal canon, Kylo Ren, and the new Star Destroyer etc, we get a lot of the old, first shown us via Rey’s goggles, which are crafted from a Stormtrooper helmets, with Rey taking some component out of some massive vessel….which we soon learn, from the outside, is very familiar-an old Star Destroyer (with an X-wing nearby)-the remnants of the Battle of Jaaku, a post-Endor battle-one that pretty much broke the Empire even further than Endor (While also planting the seeds of the First Order) that’s been retold in a good chunk of Disney media since TFA’s release (The novel Lost Stars, the novel Aftermath, both Battlefront games etc.).

 

 

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After Rey drops off some the scrap and get her rations for the day, we get even more interesting callbacks to the OT-Rey’s home, in particular, is that of a toppled AT-AT….and her helmet she seems to put on possibly out of boredom, that of a Rebel pilot.

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It’s worth noting that this was one of the early things we saw emerge from the filming….the foot of the said  Walker.

Related image It’s a sort of reflective scene, somewhat akin to Luke’s “binary sunset” moment, and with a similar narrative function as it’s soon followed by her adventure starting to move forward a bit when she hears BB8 (although at this point, Luke already had plenty of dialogue and had seen part of the Leia hologram, while Rey actually hasn’t spoken in the film at all yet!).

It sort of demonstrates, to a degree, the balancing act of the sequel trilogy; trying to mix the old with the new.

The Garbage will do!

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The Millenium Falcon makes it’s debut in the sequel trilogy (and it’s first real appearence since ROTJ, apart from some PT “hidden” cameos) in this thrilling scene, which of course hearkens back to Luke’s assesment of the ship when the audience first saw it (Well, before the reveal was kind of spoiled by the Special Edition version introducing it a scene earlier).

 

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But of course we get to see what this “piece of junk” can do, once again, in a scene that evokes the classic Star Wars trope of “obstacle course” chase scenes (The trench from A New Hope, the Asteroid Chase from ESB, the speeder bike chase and the Death Star shaft from ROTJ, TPM’s pod race, AOTC’s airspeeder chase and ROTJ’s opening space battle).

 

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We also get a look at a crashed Super star destroyer, once again confirming Vader’s ship wasn’t unique, and of course the shot of the TIE fighter pilot similar to the angle used in the other films (Some interesting trivia-the shot of the TIE pilot briefly seen in ROTJ is actually the same footage from ANH with a different backdrop-one of the rare examples of stock footage in the series.)

 

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We also get a “I can do this! I can do this” moment. I’m not sure if this is an Abrams cliche-outside of the Star Trek films and this I’ve seen relatively little of his work, but the line kind of reminds me of that moment in the 2009 Star trek reboot, although Chechov in the film *knew* he could do it, while in TFA Rey and Finn are pretty much trying to reassure themselves.

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And we also get the return of the Falcon’s gunner stations, which film-wise haven’t been seen on screen since “A new Hope”

(Although a scene was filmed for ROTJ, it ended up getting deleted from the final film-the other Rebel guys in the ship weren’t totally useless it seems!).

 

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Castle battle

The good ol’ shoot out with Stormtroopers, and Han Solo indulging in said favorite pasttime, with a series of shots, including a third one where he’s not even looking at the target…

 

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And of course there’s the running gag of Han using Chewie’s bowcaster.

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But we also get a scene a bit unlike what we’ve seen in other Star Wars films-a fight with a Stormtrooper using melee weapons.  While some of the Battle droids in the prequels-in particular the “Magnaguards” from Revenge of the Sith-had weapons that could block a lightsaber, this is pretty much the first time we’ve seen something similar in the films.

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Although the concept goes back to the early Star Wars days, with a Stormtrooper possessing a lightsaber in concept art. (Certainly, many aspects of the Force Awakens-and arguably the Disney Star Wars as a whole-owe a great debt to Star Wars concept art, which I might explore in a future article).

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Although Han, Finn and co. are quickly overwhelmed, we’re treated to the arrival of Poe’s resistance squadron, with some pretty cool X-wing moves that wouldn’t really have been quite as possible with the OT’s 80’s SFX (although they certainly tried). Particuarly cool is Poe’s skill as a pilot here; with his pretty epic takedown of several TIE fighters causing Finn-unaware that his friend is piloting the X-wing, exclaiming:

 

 

 

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JB-007

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While “The Force Awakens” was filming at Pinewood studios, so was another installment in a long-running franchise, likewise due for late 2015: Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, and the fourth to star Daniel Craig-and like TFA, it brought back some of the long-unusued elements of the franchise; in this case, the criminal organization known as SPECTRE, not seen since the late 60’s.

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Craig decided to make a short cameo in TFA filming close by, as the Stormtrooper that keeps an eye on Rey, but falls victim to her Jedi mind tricks, with an “And I’ll drop my weapon” as almost an afterthought. Some of fandom’s issues with how Rey could possibly know the Jedi mind trick despite not being trained at all aside, it’s a funny scene, and Craig’s voice is pretty much unmistakable. Although it’s certainly hard to imagine any James Bond ever really leaving his weapon behind-this is the guy who keeps his gun under his pillow when he sleeps.