Friday, April 26, 2013

Kathleen Kennedy Embracing Episode VII Spoilers?

ScreenSlam had an interesting red carpet interview with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.

The topic turns to filming Episode VII and the inevitable spoilers especially for outside location shoots.

"Its almost impossible not to have things end up on the Internet, so my feeling is you need to embrace that, especially with the fans around something like Star Wars. You need to recognize they are important to the process. Acknowledge that there are going to be things you are going to want to make sure they get to know. I think that's something we are going to monitor and pay attention to."

SOURCE: Ain't it cool news

J.J. Abrams Interview With Playboy Magazine

In a wide ranging interview for Playboy Magazine, Star Wars Episode VII Director J.J. Abrams reveals his thoughts on the two "Star" franchises and why Star Wars fans should all send his wife flowers.


PLAYBOY: Star Wars and Star Trek are church and state in Hollywood. Can you really be loyal to both? Star Trek fans cried out on Twitter that you were cheating on them. 
ABRAMS: I mean, I get it. The worlds are vastly different. Honestly, that was why I passed on Star Wars to begin with. I couldn’t imagine doing both. But when I said that my loyalty was to Star Trek I was literally working on finishing this cut. I couldn’t even entertain another thought. It was like being on the most beautiful beach in the world and someone saying, “There’s this amazing mountain over here. Come take a look.” I couldn’t balance the two, so I passed on Star Wars. 
PLAYBOY: What happened between saying no and saying yes?
ABRAMS: It was a wild time. I was near the light at the end of the tunnel with my work on Star Trek. I felt I needed a bit of a breather, actually. But then Kathleen Kennedy [the new Lucasfilm head who oversees Star Wars] called again. I’ve known her for years. We had a great conversation, and the idea of working with her on this suddenly went from being theoretical and easy to deny to being a real, tangible, thrilling possibility. In the end it was my wife, Katie, who said if it was something that really interested me, I had to consider it.

Editor's Note: Kids please don't follow the link, let your parents print out the interview for you. 



First revealed by io9, the cover art for Martha Wells' new novel in the Empire and Rebellion (fmr. working title "Rebels") series has been revealed.

The cover looks pretty sweet.  I am a bit surprised that it looks like they did some slight Photoshop adjustment to an existing head shot from Empire.  A little too cut and paste for my taste, but alas everyone is a critic.

Many female fans and some male fans may also be thrilled to see that Leia didn't end up borrowing Mara's catsuit for the cover.  Instead we get the more practical cargo pants, a black sleeveless top (a little less practical) and what looks like a utility belt/suspender combo.  Of course there is the giant blaster rifle which is why you always want to be on your best behavior around Leia, she don't play around.

It is interesting to note that in the novel side of the expanded universe there has been very little done in and around the 2 ABY time period where this novel will be set.  The two closest novels timeline wise are Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine (~1 ABY) and Splinter of the Minds Eye (~2 ABY). With the events of The Empire Strikes back occuring at 3 ABY there is a little bit of time for the authors to play with if all three Han, Luke and Leia novels are set during the time in between Episodes IV and V.  This time period is particularly compelling for character reasons as you have a young Luke Skywalker still unsure of his abilities and seeking his way as a Jedi and a Rebel.  It must have been even more complicated for Luke once the legend of his deeds in destroying the Death Star got around and he becomes a Rebel celebrity and the expectations from his higher ups that he can simply repeat that performance.  We also get to see the romantic tension build between Han and Leia which we see erupt in Empire.

Along with the big three I hope we see a nice mix of new and existing back ground characters from politicians to generals that will be a treat to EU fans young and old with this series.

Razor's Edge: Star Wars (Empire and Rebellion) is due out October 15, 2013 in Hardcover, audiobook and ebook formats from Del Rey/Random House.

SOURCES: io9 and Star Wars Books

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Star Wars 'Big Three' Novel Series and Martha Wells' Leia Novel Get Titles

The Original Trilogy era novel series that had been using the working title, 'Rebels' now has an official sub-title and we have a full title for author Martha Wells' novel focused on Princess Leia.

Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion and Razor's Edge

From Del Rey Editor Erich Schoeneweiss

We have a title for the upcoming Martha Wells book featuring Princess Leia - STAR WARS: EMPIRE AND REBELLION: RAZOR'S EDGE. The book is a Princess Leia adventure that will also include Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and is set after A New Hope. EMPIRE AND REBELLION is the title for a trio of stand alone novels focusing on Leia, Han, and Luke. Martha Wells is writing the Leia novel, James S. A. Corey is writing the Han Solo novel, and Kevin Hearne is writing the Luke novel. RAZOR'S EDGE is due to hit stores this October. (Erich)

Star Wars Novel Excerpt: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void

Time to make up for some lost SWEU time.  Up first an excerpt from the forthcoming debut Star Wars novel by British author Tim Lebbon, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Throne of What?!?!: A Game of Thrones: "Dark Wings, Dark Words" Review

Warning: The below review contains some adult language and content based on the content of this week's episode. Reader discretion in advised. 

Secrets and Lies, these are the weights we carry. It is fear of these dark secrets that allows others to manipulate us and forces us to take surprising actions. The truth can set you free, after a fashion.   In Dark Wings, Dark Words we see some characters haunted by the secrets they bare and others unload their burden to divergent results.

This episode also gave us a heavy dose of magic by the introduction and explanation of wargs.

HBO's Episode Summary:
In the Riverlands, Robb Stark escorts his mother to Riverrun for his grandfather’s funeral, while his sister Arya is taken prisoner by the Brotherhood without Banners – and recognized by the Hound. At court in King’s Landing, Sansa Stark meets Lady Olenna Tyrell of Highgarden and confesses to her and Margaery that Joffrey’s a monster. North of Winterfell, Jojen and Meera Reed catch up with Stark boys and explain that they’ve been searching for them.

Nord & Sud:

In the North, the King of the Grim-bearded-stinking-barbarians is escorting her mother (Catelyn) to the funeral of her father at Riverrun.

On the trail Catelyn confesses to Queen Talisa what is perhaps her deepest and darkest secret.  Catelyn was so angry over Lord Stark's affair and the bastard that it produced she prayed to the gods for Jon Snow's death.  Only after Jon fell sick she felt responsible and created a prayer wheel to attempt to save Jon's life.  She bargained with the gods, promising to treat Jon like he was one of her own sons and to convince the Lord of Winterfell to give him proper name and status. Only Catelyn could not keep her promise and she feels that all the bad things that have happened to her family are her fault for breaking her oath to the gods.

At the same time Robb is dealing with dissension and doubt within the ranks as his marriage to Talisa and the stalled war is creating doubts among his forces.  It certainly seems like the King in the North's campaign has lost its momentum.  Can Robb re-gain the initiative are the Lannisters at King's Landing to entrenched in power?

Past the wall we have Samwell Tarly being treated like Piggy from Lord of the Flies until the Lord Commander steps in and institutes the buddy system.  You have to think that Samwell makes a heroic turn at some point in our story. It's hard not to root for the incompetent and cowardly nice guy. He is basically the anti-Theon.

Jon Snow is quickly ingratiating himself in the Mance Rayder's good graces.  While Mance cautions him that he has no compunction about killing Snow if he is playing him, he also tells Jon how he keeps his amalgamated forces together. It is a simple truth, if they do not get south they will all die.  The White Walkers are on the move.  This quick snippet of story above the wall also helps explain the phenomenon of Wargs.  Snow witnesses as Orell possesses and eagle's mind and uses it's eyes to scout ahead for Mance.

Hodor, Osha, Bran, and Rickon travel the wilderness heading for the wall and Castle Black.  While Bran's 3-eyed raven dreams continue, they meet the Jojen Reed and his sister. Jojen will serve as a bit of a friend and guide for Bran has it is revealed that he is a Warg and must learn to control his powers.  While I am sure Bran will be pivotal down the road, I am fascinated by how little attention is paid to Rickon, he borders on being a non-entity almost the entire series.

Down the road at King's Landing, King Joffrey is putting his mother in her place, playing with his fancy new cross-bow and continuing is creepy courtship of Margaery.  We will get back to Maggy's motivations in a minute.

The Ladies Stark:

Sansa's luck is still going good as she hasn't lost her head in court.  She also has Tyrion Lannister rooting for her because he thinks she is a hottie.  More importantly she may have found an unlikely ally in the person of Lady Olenna Redwyne. Lady Olenna invites Sansa for Lemon cakes and cheese with Margaery to get the dirt on King Joffrey. Sansa keeps up her tough front at first but Lady Olenna's honesty and guarantees of fidelity provoke Sansa to finally say what she was trying to get off her chest.  She reveals the truth, that Joffrey is a "monster."

While this revelation isn't going to prevent the impending royal wedding, it gives Margaery to the information and angle she needs to manipulate Joffrey.  In the final scene between the two "love birds" we see Margaery getting pretty dark and playing into Joffrey's perverse depravity of pain and death with talk of killing things.  This certainly reveals a lot more about her character that the previous episode hinted at.  Just how far is she willing to go to become Queen, or is her goal not to become Queen but to simply survive the Game of Thrones that her father cast her into the middle of?

Arya's back! My favorite character makes her less than triumphant return in this episode.  Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie are roaming through the woods a bit lost when they encounter the Brotherhood without Banners.  This meeting in the woods and subsequent dinning hall scene illustrate the reasons that I adore Arya's character.  The chic thing is for female heroines to be tough chicks who can take on all comers.  The thing that is endearing about Arya is that she is a proto-heroine. She has the mixture of bravery and curiosity that gets her in trouble and also allows her to escape trouble.  At the same time she is not yet nearly as capable as she thinks she is, so she often picks fights she cannot win.

Just when Arya and her companions think Thoros is going to let them be on their merry way, the Brotherhood drags in The Hound, who reveals Arya's identity in a rather crass fashion.  What will the Brotherhood do with such a valuable pawn in the game?

Theon meets Karma:

It's always nice when a nasty fellow receives what he deserves.  Theon's rather brutal torture by his mystery hosts.  It will be interesting to see if following his liberation Theon continues to be the bumbling incompetent villain or whether he strives for some measure of redemption over his guilt of sacking Winterfell.

The Odd Couple:

Confession time.  I know he is an incest having, attempted murder, but Jaime Lannister is starting to grow on me.  I thoroughly enjoy the interplay and chemistry between Jaime and Brienne.  The revelation of Brienne's unrequited love for King Renly reveals a softer side to this hard as nails character.  Jaime's line "we don't get to choose who we love," also reveals a level of emotional depth that was often lacking in the character in previous seasons.  There little walk across Westros also provides the greatest line of the series,"It's a shame the throne isn't made of cocks, they'd have never gotten him off it."

I am calling it now, before these two get to King's Landing they are so hooking up.  They would make some mighty warrior babies.

That's all I got on this week's episode.  Tune in Sunday night for Episode 3 of Season 3, Walk of Punishment.

Episode 23: Walk of Punishment Preview


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sabers & Thrones: Men Don't Need Nipples: A Valar Dohaeris Review

Season Three of Game of Thrones got off to an interesting start in an episode that was short on action and heavy on intense dialogue.  Valar Dohaeris revolved around the forging and breaking of relationships between a number of characters, these scenes woven together into an episode provide us with logical starting points for where some of the central characters arcs will evolve over the course of Season Three and beyond.  Valar Dohaeris also provided one of my favorite scenes in the series as Tywin and Tyrion have a rather brutal father and son chat.

HBO's Episode Summary:
Samwell Tarly, Lord Commander Mormont and the other surviving men of the Night’s Watch retreat to Castle Black to warn the kingdoms about the White Walkers. Jon Snow is brought before Mance Rayder and pledges himself to the wildlings. Tywin Lannister, now Hand of the King, tells Tyrion he will never inherit Casterly Rock. Pulled from the sea, Davos Seaworth makes his way to Dragonstone where he is rebuffed by Stannis Baratheon and imprisoned for trying to murder Melisandre. Robb Stark and his forces survey the carnage at Harrenhal.
The Watch, The Free Folk and The Bastard

This episode kicks off with the lovable if marginally competent Samwell Tarly almost being killed only wight, being rescued by his Watch comrades only to reveal that he has failed in his one duty of sending ravens back to Castle Black.  This establishes the Watch's mission to return to the Wall and raise the alarm of the return of the White Walkers and their horde of wights.

Quickly we turn to the every lovely Ygritte leading her prisoner through the Free Folk's camp to meet the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder.  We see in this trip a bit of eye opening for Jon Snow, seeing how the Free Folk live and meeting an unexpectedly familiar sort of individual in Mance.  Rayder is the sort of individual that would have been familiar to Snow south of the Wall.  An intelligent man of principles and honor it would seem that Rayder is a strange person to be leading the ragtag groups above the wall.

The way that Snow approaches this first encounter observing the polite protocols of Westros surprises and impresses Rayder.  Snow is a fascinating character because he is a bastard with honor.  He has everything you would want in a Knight or Lord except the legitimate parentage.  This illegitimacy we see in Season One meant little to his father who still cared for him deeply, but it formed the core of Snow's personality.  Understanding Snow's desire to be a hero, to make his mark and prove himself despite his social status is a key to understanding the character and it is this quick recognition and understanding that will be pivotal in Rayder's seduction of Snow to join the Free Folk.

Overall it looks like the story of Jon Snow is going to follow the familiar trope of the undercover cop having to cross the line while undercover and reaching that decision point whether to come back or to stay part of the criminal element.  I am fascinated to see how the relationship between Rayder, Snow and Ygritte go this reason.  Actor Ciaran Hinds who plays Mance Rayder, also played Caesar in HBO's acclaimed series Rome.  Hinds is a terrific actor and I think lends a regal air to the character that plays well in contrast to the rougher elements in the Free Folks camp.

The flirtation of Snow and Ygritte is no doubt to be a recurring theme in Season Three and provides a secondary motivation for Snow' ultimate likely defection to the Free Folk.  I certainly hope the lovely Rose Leslie is granted as much screen time as possible by the producers of the series, I am a sucker for the capable and confident female heroin, from Leia, to Ginny Weasley, to Ygritte and Arya, girls can kick butt and it's always fun when they do, particularly so when they get the better of the boys.

Pride of Lions

The Lannister's particularly Joffrey, Tywin and Cersei represent the vilest creatures on the show.  It is a total pleasure to watch this gang holding power at King's Landing.

The subplot featuring Jeoffry, Cersei and Margaery Tyrell is interesting.  We see what appears to be a very savy and capable future Queen in Margaery not only in how she treats the war orphans, showing personal bravery and compassion entering Flea Bottom unguarded.  But she also holds her own in a way that Sansa was never able to do.  Whether Margaery's heart is truly as kind as it appears or whether she is just much wiser than Cersei or Jeoffry remains to be seen, but she is one character I am rooting for in that nest of vipers.

It will be interesting to see how Cersei fights against the growing power of her son and his betrothed in Season Three, because I have a feeling that she will not fade into the background quietly.

I am also going to squeeze in a quick comment about Sansa and Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish with the Lannisters because it fits into the palace intrigue.  Sansa is infuriating naive and it is hard to root for her character given, frankly how stupid and petty she was in Season One.  Clearly she has no idea who to trust and now finds herself in the unenviable position of being the former betrothed of the King, a toy he will not share or give away despite the fact he no longer wants to play with himself.  I have about as much faith in Baelish's motives as I do in the chastity of his employees.

My favorite part of this episode was without a doubt the show down between Tywin and everyone's favorite character Tyrion.  There are some interesting parallels between Tyrion and Jon Snow that make these two main characters compelling, being part of these great families but still being separate gives these characters the chance for some very interesting character growth and independence going forward.

When first we meet Tyrion again he is tucked away in a dark corner of King's Landing fearing assassination as the former Hand of the King.  He summons Bronn to his side for protection which provides us with the episodes funniest moment as well as its requisite nudity.  Tyrion's meeting with his sister proves rather uneventful but serves to heighten tensions as we see Bronn and the Kingsguard almost come to blows.

This serves to set up nicely the high stakes meeting between Tyrion and his father where Tyrion is finally standing up for himself against his imposing papa.  Tyrion stinging from the fact that his father did not once visit him while he recovered from his wounds, how his father is receiving all the credit for winning the Battle of Blackwater Bay and how he has not received the title and property that are his by right, calls out Tywin rather pointedly.  Tywin the bully that he is quickly dismisses and slaps down Tyrion's claims in a most hurtful way, it is clear that Tywin is ashamed of his son's defects and blames the boy for his wife's death.  There is a great deal of hatred in Tywin Lannister.  While I have not read the books, it seems clear to me that Tyrion will inevitably either break from House Lannister or take over the House displacing his father and sister.  His intelligence, humor, and bravery are a great combination and provides for a fascinating character who I hope can survive the most dangerous environment in which he finds himself despite his physical limitations.

Water and Fire

Nothing personal but the story of Davos Seaworth rescue at sea and his return to Dragonstone to confront
Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre was probably the weakest part of the episode.  The evil enchantress and the King under her sway is not a new concept.  I am not sure where they are going with this story after the imprisonment of Davos, but I get a feeling that given the historical ownership of Dragonstone, that we may see a confrontation between Daenerys and the followers of the Lord of Light involving lots of flames.

Knights and Dragons

Dany and her dragons are back along with her friend-zoned knight Jorah Mormont and her queasy Dothraki.   Dany decides that she cannot wait for her dragons to grow fully before she attempt to seize the Iron Throne and with the advice of Mormont she travels to Astapor to negotiate for the purchase of the Unsullied a group of eunuch slave warriors.  Despite her moral qualms about slavery, after witnessing the Unsullied's discipline including the nipple-ectomy without flinching of one soldier, Dany seems ready and willing to purchase the 8,000 man army.  Can she afford such an investment?

The episode ends with the attempted assassination of Dany and the return of former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Barristan Selmy.  Selmy rescues Dany from death and subsequently in noble fashion apologizes for failing to protect her father.  Selmy pledges loyalty to Dany and now she has two older gentleman looking out for her.  It will be interesting to see and seems almost certain that Mormont and Selmy will come into conflict at some point this season as Mormont will no doubt be jealous if anyone intrudes on his position within Dany's confidence.

Concluding Thoughts

While Valar Dohaeris was largely an episode stitched together to give us a reintroduction to where the characters are now and what directions they are going in the rest of the season, the lack of an overarching story within the episode was more than made up for by the interesting relationship dynamics that where on display.  North, South and East, things are getting pretty interesting in Westros.

Next Time on Game of Thrones: Episode 22 "Dark Wings, Dark Words."


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi CapeTown Film Festival Screening Tickets on Sale April 8th

The CapeTown Film Festival organized by Entertainment Weekly will be holding three special theatrical screenings of Return of the Jedi on May 4th.  The screenings will take place at 2 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m. at American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

I had the good fortune to attend the Savage Opress/Nightsisters screening at the Egyptian and thought that the theatre has a cool intimate vibe to it.

In the announcement EW writer Geoff Boucher revealed that EW subscribers and American Cineatheque members will have the first chance to purchase tickets through a pre-sale.  These tickets are dirt cheap at only $11 and will sell out very quickly.

American Cinematheque has revealed that their pre-sale will take place April 6th at the Theatre's box office. While they will begin the general ticket sales on April 8th.

“May The 4th Be With You” Celebration!
Co-presented by Entertainment Weekly
Tickets will go on sale April 8th with a special pre-sale at the theatre box office on April 6th for American Cinematheque Members. For information on becoming a Member, please click ">here.

EW subscribers should be on the lookout as they are likely to get a ticket purchase offer in the first week of April as well.