Holonet Blast #2

Lots of news this week! New books! New The Last Jedi details! New hair! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

ARTOO-DETOO RECAST

Though rumored as early as December 2015, it’s now official; following the death of original Star Wars actor Kenny Baker, going forward (beginning with this December’s The Last Jedi) the adorable astromech will be portrayed by Doctor Who veteran Jimmy Vee. I guess this makes him R2-D2-2. (source)

via OhSoSmall.com

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Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray

Finally, after an interminable wait of three and a half months (anyone remember when films took a year or longer to come to video? No? Just me?), we have the home video release, on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD, of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Is it the home video release we’ve all been hoping for, or a bare-bones offering designed to tide us over until a sequel trilogy boxed set is released with the real goods? A little from column A, a little from column B, it turns out. Read on to see what I mean.

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Luke Skywalker and the Secret Ninja Jedi Order

R2D2-and-Luke-Skywalker-in-The-Force-Awakens

This post contains spoilers for the “Journey to the Force Awakens” books and comics. 

Regular readers and listeners of Tosche Station already know my feelings about Luke Skywalker. He’s by far my favorite character in the Star Wars universe, and the reason I got invested in the Expanded Universe and read tons of books set after Return of the Jedi, even when I soured on certain events. I needed to know what happened to Luke after he became a Jedi. I wanted to know if he trained other Jedi, got married, and had children. We got answers in the form of books and comics: Luke started a Jedi Academy on Yavin 4, married Mara Jade, and had a son named Ben. He rose to the rank of General, resigned his commission after the Battle of Mindor, and dedicated his life to rebuilding the Jedi Order. His life wasn’t all roses, however. He had a brief dabble with the dark side about six years after the Battle of Endor, and many years later his own nephew/apprentice became a Sith and killed his wife.

luke-skywalker mindorBut the Expanded Universe is now Legends, and we have a new canon. New films, depicting the events 30 years after Jedi. We never thought this day would come. Now everything we once knew about the Galaxy Far, Far Away has been altered, and we’re left to wonder about the events that happened between Jedi and The Force Awakens. We’re just now getting some answers in the form of AftermathShattered Empire, and other books in the “Journey to The Force Awakens” line. But they’re just drops in the bucket, and only succeed in creating more questions. Then you add in the marketing for TFA, which has been very light on story but high on visuals and Force themes. We’ve seen Han, we’ve seen a tiny bit of Leia, but no Luke whatsoever (at least from the front).

Which leads to the most common question echoed about the internet: “Where is Luke Skywalker?” Or, better yet: “What the hell has Luke been doing in the galaxy?”

I don’t know what Luke’s been doing for the past 30 years, but I’m pretty certain he’s up to something hugely important during the events of TFA. And my favorite theory, the one I’ll cling to until December 17 (and probably even after that, even if I’m proven wrong) is that Luke is off the grid, training a group of secret ninja-like Jedi Knights.

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The Force Awakens News from Entertainment Weekly

jj-abramsSometimes, the best news is the kind that nobody was expecting.

Earlier this week, Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly revealed on Twitter that there’d be no new trailer or footage from The Force Awakens shown at Disney’s upcoming D23 convention. This wasn’t much of a surprise, since director J.J. Abrams revealed prior to San Diego Comic Con that the next trailer wouldn’t be released until the fall.

Today, however, EW released a slew of articles and photos from the upcoming issue, featuring interviews with J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, information about character names, and a badass cover of Kylo Ren. Club Jade has an excellent roundup on what we’ve learned so far.  Here’s some of my highlights:

  • Kylo Ren is not the character’s given name. He comes upon it after joining a group known as the Knights of Ren. Also, his broadsaber is a weapon of his own creation. Could he be the Sith fanboy we’ve all been dreaming of?
  • Kathleen Kennedy persuaded Abrams to direct the film by asking him a simple question: “Who is Luke Skywalker?” While Abrams and Kasdan don’t reveal any new information about Luke’s role in the film, or even what he’s been doing up until that point in the timeline, it’s clear that he’s still a major influence in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
  • Rey rescues BB-8 from a soccer ball style net, held by an alien named Teedo and his luggabeast. How does Teedo come upon BB-8? And does Rey have a history with the droid before rescuing him? That’s still unclear.
  • Yes, there’s a reason the surnames of Finn and Rey are still a mystery.
  • There’s a photo of John Boyega in stormtrooper armor next to the crashed TIE fighter, that can be seen in the Behind the Scenes reel from Comic Con. Odds are he’s the one flying that thing, perhaps out of the hangar that we see in the second teaser. “Fly, yes. Land, no!”

As if this isn’t enough new information for us to digest, Breznican teased more news coming tomorrow, featuring everyone’s favorite scoundrel-turned-general, Han Solo. Stay tuned….

Rian Johnson officially confirmed for Episode VIII, first standalone to be Rogue One

Star_Wars_logoPretty much the whole world has known for a while that Episode VIII’s director would be Rian Johnson, but Bob Iger and Disney made it official today.

Iger confirmed that Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII. The film, which continues the saga after the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is set for release on May 26, 2017 — forty years and a day after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.

Of note is Star Wars returning to a traditional May release window. Looks like we’ll only be doing one holiday Star Wars episodic release. Believe it or not, though, this wasn’t the biggest announcement in this press release. We finally have the name of the first standalone film: Rogue One.

Rogue One is the title for the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga. Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) and written by Oscar nominee Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy, Antz). The first actress cast is Felicity Jones, who garnered an Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim for her performance in The Theory of Everything.

Be still my heart! I mean, we don’t really know what the film is about, but it’s hard to see that title and not think Rogue Squadron and military science fiction. And, hey, there’s a lot of great written material to draw inspiration from.

The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer: Our Reactions

The Force Awakens Logo

Brian: I’m still bouncing. The whole thing was just a rising linear progression of excitement. Right until we got to the X-wings and my heart about shot out of my chest. Then the Falcon shows up and I go straight to crying. It’s Star Wars. The universe feels dirty and lived in again. This feels like the thing I grew up with, and I love it. After you watch the trailer it gets even better. If the characters they showed were nominally the Big Three of this film, there isn’t a white male in the group. It’s progress, actual tangible progress, and I’m thrilled. Today The Force Awakens ceased being this nebulous thing that existed somewhere in the future and became something that’s actually happening. It’s a thing that’s happening and it looks like they’re doing some extremely exciting things with it. I cannot wait.

Nanci: I will admit, I am disappointed we didn’t get a shot of Luke in the teaser. I really, really, really wanted to see him. However, after thinking about it, I realize they made the right decision not to show the old Big Three. They wanted to show that while The Force Awakens will harken back to the Original Trilogy in terms of aesthetics and theme, it’s still a new story with new characters (and new music!). Instead they showed us the new Big Three (or at least I hope they did), and wow did they just stoke my interest big time. I need to know more about the characters John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac are playing. I need to know all about Isaac’s X-wing squadron. (Please can we get a book or TV series about them?) I need to know who that robed figure is; I’m thinking Adam Driver. Not to mention who’s saying the voiceover! (von Sydow or Serkis, probably.) I will end my rambly thoughts with this: while I won’t rest until I see Jedi Master Luke Skywalker wielding a lightsaber, seeing new X-wings made me nearly bounce out of my skin. I am excited. (But not as much as I could have been.)

Bria: Sobbing.  Just gross hyperventilating sobbing.  We have new Star Wars footage for the first time in almost ten years and there’s nothing that could have made me happier except for watching the movie.  The sight of the Falcon and the X-Wings made me squee but what will be sticking with me is that John Boyega was the first person we saw on screen.  Just think about that for a minute.  The first two characters we saw are a black guy and a woman.  DIVERSITY IN THE GFFA.  I’d also like to say that Daisy Ridley couldn’t have possibly looked more like Padmé dressed like Ania Solo in the trailer if they’d tried.  Honestly, there’s nothing that I didn’t love about the trailer.  GIVE US THE NEXT ONE.  AND THEN THE MOVIE.

Sho:  I’m so excited. I really want to know who John Boyega and Daisy Ridley are, who the gravely voice is, who the adorable little rolly droid is. And that scene with the X-Wings was just beautiful. And the lightsaber looked very striking but I’m not sure that cross guard would accomplish anything other than to make the wielder need to be extra careful of their fingers. I am 100% with Bria on how awesome it is to have John Boyega and Daisy Ridley be the first two characters you see. And does this portend how important their characters are in the film? Oh, please let this portend the importance of their characters in the film.

Episode VII has a Title: The Force Awakens

The Episode VII title has been revealed — via a Twitter post, of all things.

Edit: And now on StarWars.com

Around noon EST, the Star Wars twitter announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has completed official photography.

This seems very early to have a title, but I’m not complaining. If we could get some more official news (like characters and pictures in costume), I would also not complain.

I suspect there will be lots of complaining about the title, because that’s what Star Wars fans do. And it also fuels rampant speculation about the nature of the film…color me intrigued.

Episode VII News Update

So, our Intrepid Leaders are on their honeymoon, which means the B-team is subbing in this week (we’re sorry).   Here’s what we’ve got:

J.J. posted another video for UNICEF’s Force for Change, and this time, he’s showing off an X-wing in the video.  Take a look at Mashable.com.  Personally, I’m thrilled at yet another look at practical effect props showing up here, and I’m looking forward to a comparison of this X-wing to those from the original trilogy.

Meanwhile, Badass Digest claims to have plot details for Episode VII.  I don’t think I need to note how very, very, very unconfirmed that is, but if you’re wanting to stay unspoiled, you might want to avoid, just in case.  (TOTALLY UNCONFIRMED, BY THE WAY.  And some of it doesn’t make ANY sense.  Like, at all.)

That’s the news for this morning.  Naturally, since The Intrepid Leaders are on a boat, Bria and I are expecting some sort of exciting news to drop at some point this week.  (You might remember that Brian and Nanci were on a cruise when Episode VII was announced.)  We will be exacting revenge for this later.

Rumor: Rian Johnson to write and direct Episodes VIII and IX

Normally we don’t do rumors, but this one appears to have some legs. Deadline is reporting that Rian Johnson will be writing and directing Episodes VIII and IX.

Johnson will take over the core film franchise, and he’ll get started quickly and this will be his preoccupation for quite awhile. Johnson made his directing debut on the respected indie Brick, and then jumped to mainstream science fiction by writing and directing Looper, an inventive time travel thriller that starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. It would be hard to imagine him taking on a higher profile challenge than two consecutive Star Wars films. I’ll tell you more when I know it. Johnson is repped by CAA.

As mentioned in that snippet, Johnson headed Looper, a time traveling film met with mixed but mostly positive reviews. His indie film resume (as well as some of his work on Breaking Bad) have won him acclaim.

This isn’t confirmed yet, but multiple major outlets are jumping all over this one.

It’s Official: We Have Our Episode VII Cast

episode vii cast The official site finally put to bed all rumors and announced the cast of Episode VII.

“Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.”

HUZZAH. Fandom knows Andy Serkis from the Lord of the Rings films, playing Gollum, while Domhnall Gleeson played Bill Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Oscar Davis starred in the film Inside Llewyn Davis, while Adam Driver is best known for his role in the HBO series Girls.

Also: MAX VON FRICKIN SYDOW? Wow, okay. On a diversity note, we’ve got two POCs in the main cast…but only one girl. Oh well, at least it’s some progress!

Finally, a fangirl note from the author of this post: JEDI MASTER LUKE SKYWALKER RIDES AGAIN!

Now, let the speculation of who they’re all playing begin.