Just back from an epic adventure through the galaxy care of Disney's Star Tours, this writer/Rebel spy is ready to tackle this week's Star Wars Round-up.
We’ve Got leaks!
Of course it was bound to happen. With all the hype behind the new Star Wars VII, it is no surprise that leaked images would slowly filter out of the set despite all efforts to keep spoilers in check. Warning: If you’re trying to avoid spoilers, best to stay off the internet for the next year.
TMZ, ever at the forefront of exposing secrets, posted some 45 images from the film set in Abu Dhabi. The photos reveal some large alien creatures, most likely puppets, a few alien ships, some extras, vehicles and what appears to be a village of sorts. Some smoke and fire appears in some photos, perhaps moments after some epic battle? The series of images is telling in that it shows that J.J. Abrams is, indeed, going to back to some old school techniques and using practical effects instead of relying wholly on CGI. The most telling, however, are the images of what appears to be the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon.
No telling how much TMZ paid for the exclusive photos, or if the person who is taking and selling them has been found out, but not to be out done, Abrams has taken to twitter to do a bit of trolling himself.
— Bad Robot (@bad_robot) June 4, 2014
You know, this Abrams guy isn’t too bad. While his reaction is a bit tongue in cheek it is likely that the culprit who sold the leaked images is being sought out, perhaps by some highly skilled bounty hunters.
The Sequel That Never Was…
Before the popcorn got cold in 1977, George Lucas had a plan for what would come after the original Star Wars. While A New Hope was not yet the success it would become, his vision for a sequel was an expensive one. In the end, A New Hope was a success and Lucas chose to go with the very pricey Empire Strikes Back, nearly blowing every penny he had made on the first film to do it. But before he took that very expensive leap that ultimately landed him in the film history books, he commissioned writer Alan Dean Foster to pen a much lower budget option for the sequel, just in case. Foster, in talking with ScreenCrush has this to say:
“I was originally brought in while Star Wars was still in production,on a two-book contract to do the novelization of the film, but he also instructed me to write a novel that could be filmed on a low budget.”
This story, that never made into film, was titled Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. When the novel was released in 1978, it could not feature the faces of the two main characters, Luke and Leia, in any of the art due to contract issues with Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. What’s more, the story itself contains little or nothing in regards to Han Solo, as Harrison Ford had yet to agree to do anything related to Star Wars sequels.
Leia’s part in the story is more substantial than in any of the finished movies. At one point in the story, Luke finds himself trapped under a rock and Leia must battle Vader herself, in an epic saber fight. “That would have been very cool,” Foster says, on the prospect of Leia fighting on the big screen. We can’t help but agree.
While the book never made it to the big screen, some elements of the story might seem familiar. For instance, when Luke eventually joins the battle mentioned above, he ends up taking off Vader’s arm and sending him down a seemingly bottomless pit, pretty much the opposite of what happens in Empire. But Foster isn’t bothered. ”I have no problem with stuff like that,” He said. “It’s the nature of film that it’s a collaborative enterprise.”
Lucasfilm has since disowned anything outside the finished films as non-canon, Foster’s work included. Foster isn’t bothered by that, either, and plenty of fans have read and loved his work. ”That’s what you have to say,” he adds, “It’s not my universe. There’s no reason for me to get upset about it.”
Splinter of the Minds Eye is still an interesting read for Star Wars fans, provided you don’t mind a bit of incestual heat between Luke and Leia that is. Dark Horse Comics also released a graphic novelization (seen above) of the story for those collecting Star Wars related comics.
Star Wars Spin-offs Get Another Director
Disney has announced the second director to be chosen for the stand alone spin-offs scheduled for release 2016 and 2018. Josh Trank, best known for his work on the stunning teen superhero drama Chronicle (2012) has signed to direct one of the upcoming Star Wars spin-offs. Rumors are that the films are to focus on Boba Fett and Han Solo. No word yet as to which film Trank will direct, though his raw approach in Chronicle would no doubt suit both bounty hunter and scoundrel alike. This isn’t the first time Trank has ventured into the universe of Star Wars. Back in 2007, with a budget of $80, he created a YouTube masterpiece called Stabbing at Leia’s. Enjoy.
Trank joins Gareth Edwards as the newest members of an elite list of Star Wars directors. Congrats to Josh Trank as he joins the team and becomes part of Star Wars history.
The Ladies of Star Wars
A lot of big news for fans of the ladies of the Star Wars universe. After weeks of rumors that more female characters would play a part in Episode VII, it was announced last week that Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and Game of Thrones fan favorite Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) will join the cast.
While the original cast saw only one female lead, Leia Organa, her character was far from the stereotypical damsel in distress, blasting away stormtroopers in her first scene. Male and female fans alike are no doubt looking forward to these new female characters holding their own in saber and blaster battles.
In other ladies of Star Wars news, a campaign calling for Disney to recognize their newly acquired blaster toting princess Leia, #WeWantLeia, has received an official comment. The campaign, which began after Disney Store reps told fans there were no plans for Leia related merchandise, seems to have worked.
Time Magazine got the exclusive statement from Disney Store spokesperson Margita Thompson,
“We’re excited to be rolling out new products in the coming months, including several that will feature Princess Leia, one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars universe.”
For fans who grew up looking to Leia as a strong role model, this is a big time win. Kudos to the Disney Store for listening to fans and giving them what they want, the most badass of all of Disney’s Princesses, and some much deserved attention for one of Star Wars‘ greatest heroes.
The Empire Strikes Back The Greatest Movie of All Time?
While a considerably high number of fans cite The Empire Strikes Back as their favorite movie in the series, they will now have some back up when they call it the greatest movie ever.
Empire Magazine’s first reader poll in six years put The Empire Strikes Back at number one for their list of greatest films of all time. According to the magazine, hundreds of thousands of readers voted to rank the top 301 movies on the list. At last ranking, back in 2008, Empire sat at number three, with the Godfather at number one. In the new poll, Star Wars: A New Hope sits in the top ten at number 6, while Jedi is way down at number 120.
Don’t forget to check in with us next week when we will have more Star Wars news from around that galaxy far, far away.
Images: LucasFilm, Disney, Dark Horse