Poe Dameron Finally Gets to Fly the Millennium Falcon

November 19, 2019 – Ace badboy pilot Poe Dameron at last gets his chance to fly the Millennium Falcon in The Rise of Skywalker (premiering Dec. 20th). That tidbit of news comes courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, which recently published the following photo:

With Poe Dameron in the pilot’s seat, Chewbacca as co-pilot, and Finn as spectator, we’re not sure what the trio are staring at. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/© 2019 Lucasfilm Ltd. first published via Entertainment Weekly)

Poe joins a very short list of characters we have seen flying the Falcon since its first appearance in the original Star Wars (1977). On screen, we have seen but a handful of privileged pilots command the Falcon:

● Han Solo (of course)
● Chewbacca as co-pilot during Han’s life and then, subsequently, with Rey
● Lando Calrissian
● Rey
● Poe Dameron will be the fifth pilot once The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters

But off screen, did other beings fly “the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy”? Presumably Yes, because after ownership of the Correlian freighter passed from Lando Calrissian to Han Solo (to pay off a gambling debt), the ship was stolen under unexplained circumstances.

In The Force Awakens (2015), we learn that a criminal by the name of Gannis Ducain has filched the Falcon from Solo. Ducain, in turn, is robbed of the ship by the Irving Boys, Toursant Irving and Vanver Irving. The line of thievery eventually leads to the junk boss, Unkarr Plutt, on the planet Jakku, where the Falcon lies idle for years.

Rey commandeers the ship (technically a theft, but she might have a legal defense of necessity) while trying to escape from the First Order in the first film of the sequel trilogy. She is accompanied by her then-new buddies, BB-8 and Finn.

The Falcon looms large in both The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017) as it ferries Rey and Chewbacca to Ahch-To, where Luke Skywalker hides in self-imposed exile. By the end of Episode VIII, the surviving members of the Resistance board the Millennium Falcon to escape the clutches of the First Order.

Lando rides again in “The Rise of Skywalker” (Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

A much older Lando reunites with the Falcon once again in The Rise of Skywalker (cue to 01:40), as revealed in the final trailer below. How and why Poe Dameron takes the wheel will be revealed late next month when the last Skywalker movie hits the big screen.

Extended Clips from “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order”

November 18, 2019 – Released just three days ago, “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” has received largely favorable views from IGN (rating: 9/10), Metacritic (81%), Gamespot (8/10), Steam (9/10) and others. The action-adventure game was developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts.

SUMMARY: “Cal Kestis, one of the last surviving members of the Jedi Order after the purge of Order 66, is now a Padawan on the run. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an action-adventure game set after Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Develop your Force abilities, hone your lightsaber techniques, and explore the ancient mysteries of a long-lost civilization — all while staying one step ahead of the Empire and its deadly Inquisitors.”

If you are still sitting on the fence, undecided on whether to splurge on the game (price range: $50.94 – 69.99 USD), here are some extended clips to give you a better feel:

Order 66 – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

(clip posted by AFGuidesHD; runtime 10m28s)

Battle of Kashyyyk – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

(clip posted by AFGuidesHD; 21m55s)

All Bosses – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

(clip posted by Boss Fight Database; 51m37s)

“Entertainment Weekly” Reviews Every Film in the Star Wars Saga

November 17, 2019 – If you are feeling a bit academic and nostalgic – and you have spare time to read some intricately written reviews of the Star Wars saga – then Entertainment Weekly (EW) has a treat for you.

In its countdown to The Rise of Skywalker (Dec. 20), EW critic Darren Franich is in the midst of reviewing every film in the Star Wars franchise. But be forewarned: While Mr. Franich has a talent for weaving words and wields powers of observation that may make you look at Star Wars in a different light, his writing at times meanders into self-indulgent musings or digressions that make you scratch your head and wonder aloud: “Where is he going with this?”

Despite the foregoing challenges, the movie reviews of EW’s Darren Franich are well worth the time and effort to read; sometimes for his unique observations, other times the clever quips, and always for the sheer nostalgia.

Review of Star Wars (1977)

EW’s review of the George Lucas film that started it all was published on Oct. 23, 2019. Read the full review HERE.

Favorite excerpts from the review:

● At the Cantina: “But have you ever really thought about why they don’t like Luke? Imagine. You’re a barfly at the local, downing a few with your tusked colleague while Figrin D’An toodles his Kloo horn. Some floppy-haired pretty boy walks in with heavily laundered clothes, a judgey glare in his bright eyes, and a better-than-this attitude. To announce his presence at the bar, he actually pulls on the back of the bartender’s shirt: Faux pax, Luke, faux pas!”

● “[W]hat jumps off the screen are the machines. There’s no human gesture so poignant as R2-D2 fidgeting back and forth, like a trashcan in a long bathroom line.”

● “…Princess Leia watches her entire planet blow up — and gets over it. ‘Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?’ is her first line after the Death Star kabooms Alderaan. Treasure Fisher’s over-it delivery, like she left the party hours before you arrived. ‘We have no time for our sorrows, Commander,’ she explains later.”

Review of The Empire Strikes Back (1983)

EW’s review of The Empire Strikes Back was published on Oct. 30, 2019. You can read the full review HERE.

Many have already written about the well-worn, scuffed, battle-damaged look of Star Wars’ sets and props, which give George Lucas’s galaxy its signature look. But EW critic Darren Franich points out how deflatingly broken everything is in Empire:

“Nothing works in The Empire Strikes Back. The Millennium Falcon can’t jump to light speed, and the failing hyperdrive cackles like a wheezing hyena. The rebel airspeeders can’t go searching for lost Luke … because the engineers are ‘having some trouble adapting them to the cold’ … [I]n a movie full of tinkering we first see Chewbacca welding on the Falcon exterior. Han takes a turn with the welding torch, tells Chewie to flip a switch — and explosions sizzlepop at his feet … Leia is welding right before she kisses Han the first time. R2-D2 finally fixes the hyperdrive, so here’s the pulse-pounding climax: An engine, working.”

Some other favorite excerpts from the review:

● “The Lawrence Kasdan dialogue crackles. The John Williams score sounds like a cathedral made of fireworks. Director Irvin Kershner shoots with a walk-and-talk fluidity that makes Lucas’ own staging look painfully flat. All hail sound designer Ben Burtt: The tittering probe droid, the braying AT-AT laserspray.”

● “It’s a galaxy of terror: ice planet, swamp planet, sky city built atop a plummeting gas planet. And it’s a universe of machines that break down. Someone has to fix them … ‘My hands are dirty,’ Leia says. ‘My hands are dirty, too,’ Han responds: Who needs to say ‘I love you’ after that?”

Review of Return of the Jedi (1983)

EW’s review of Return of the Jedi was published on Nov. 6, 2019.
Read the full review HERE.

Not all of the EW critic’s points hit their mark. Many would disagree when he opines: “The Ewoks! They’re a snooze in Return of the Jedi, but I’ll go to bat for Caravan of Courage and Battle for Endor, the awkward yet enthralling fairy tale spin-offs.”

The EW review makes worthier points with these observations:

● “Jabba’s a gangster … His whole organization exists to consume itself … The Rancor emerges from behind a gigantic door, and the jagged bottom of its portal will be the teeth that collapse into its skull. There’s always a bigger mouth waiting to devour you, and the substory ends at the Great Pit of Carkoon, where the Sarlacc Pit swallows anything you throw at it.”

● “Luke by this point is sexless and undesiring … His scenes with Vader and the Emperor are speechy postulations without feeling or danger. When Vader climactically lifts his boss into the air, Palpatine’s arms stay outstretched: He’s not even a fully posable action figure.”

Review of The Phantom Menace and More

Entertainment Weekly will be publishing additional reviews, including of the prequel trilogy, in the weeks to come. You can find a list of them here.

Star Wars 4K77 vs Despecialized Edition vs Other Formats: The Search for the Holy Grail of Star Wars

November 12, 2019 – For cinephiles and hardcore Star Wars fans, the search for the original, unaltered theatrical releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, are their holy grail.

But George Lucas has put up a huge roadblock. In an interview with American Cinematographer magazine (Feb. 1997), he said:

There will only be one. And it won’t be what I would call the ‘rough cut’, it’ll be the ‘final cut.’ The other one will be some sort of interesting artifact that people will look at and say, ‘There was an earlier draft of this.’… What ends up being important in my mind is what the DVD version is going to look like, because that’s what everybody is going to remember. The other versions will disappear. Even the 35 million tapes of Star Wars out there won’t last more than 30 or 40 years. A hundred years from now, the only version of the movie that anyone will remember will be the DVD version [of the Special Edition].”

Despite George Lucas’s attempt to bury the original theatrical release in some hidden, mythical vault, some passionate fans have been working hard to re-create, clean up and release versions of the original releases.

Harmy’s Despecialized Edition

Work on a series of fan restorations of the Original Trilogy, called “Harmy’s Despecialized Edition”, began in 2010. The restorations were intended to reproduce the appearance of the three films as originally shown in cinemas. The edits were created by a team of Star Wars fans led by Petr “Harmy” Harmáček, an English teacher from the Czech Republic. The first version was released in 2011, with updated versions being released in following years.

As a fan edit, Harmy’s Despecialized Edition cannot be legally bought or sold. However, versions can be found on various file-sharing sites, such as BitTorrent. You can also view them at https://archive.org/details/starwarsivdespecialized.

Project 4K77

Another fan-led restoration team has created Project 4K77 (for the original 1977 release) and 4K83 (for 1983’s Return of the Jedi), and is now working on 4K80 (for 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back). You can follow their progress and read their FAQ’s at thestarwarstrilogy.com

Controversy Over the 2006 Bonus DVD (George’s Original, Unaltered Trilogy)

So why all the hard work by Project 4K77 and by Team Harmy, with no legal way to make a profit? Some consider their work a labor of love as well as a response to Lucasfilm’s refusal to release what fans have been begging for, for decades.

But didn’t Lucasfilm release the original theatrical version of the Original Trilogy in its 2006 bonus DVD 3-pack set? Well, yes, sort of. But once fans saw how grainy and poor the release was, more than a few upset fans questioned Lucasfilm’s motives: Why did the company lazily copy the 1993 Laserdisc version onto the 2006 DVD format without using anamorphic enhancements or other 2006-era technology? There are ample 35mm source materials available to do a proper high-def transfer, some argued. (You can read all the gory details here at SaveStarWars.com)

But the more you dig, the more you realize that over the decades, no one version will appeal to ALL Star Wars connoisseurs. Some will be perfectly content with George Lucas’s Specialized Edition (1997). Others will cherish the first VHS releases (early to mid-1980’s), or the 1993 Laserdisc, or the 2011 Blu-ray version (impressively sharp details, but oh, it is overly saturated in magenta!) and many more.

But Is There Really A Difference? Why Does It Matter?

The YouTube video below shows a side-by-side comparison of four versions of the opening scene of Star Wars. Compare the 2006 Bonus DVD GOUT (George’s Original Unaltered Trilogy) versus the 2011 Blu-ray versus a Silver Screen edition (version 1.6) versus the 4K77 project:

The four versions have their strengths and weaknesses. None is perfect.

A good analysis is provided by Michael French on his YouTube channel, RetroBlasting. His video is enlightening and well worth the 25-minute view time – particularly where he clears up confusion over 4K resolution versus HD-quality film. He also discusses old lens technology and film stock, among other variables, which affect film quality. (Sample: “Anything that’s shot on 35mm film, going all the way back to the Silent Era … has an inherent equivalent of 4K resolution in it.”)

Jabba’s Sail Barge Is Blown Up Again

November 2, 2019 – Ever since the 4-foot long Jabba’s Sail Barge from HasLab arrived on collectors’ doorsteps in March, 2019, a few fans have dared others: Who is going to be the first to sacrifice their Sail Barge to recreate the explosion scene from Return of the Jedi (1983)?

“The Star Wars Show” contrasts the explosion of Jabba’s Sail Barge seen in “Return of the Jedi” (left) with a set explosion of HasLab’s Sail Barge (right).

Initially sold at $499.99 each – and now selling for more than double that price on the secondary market – all copies of The Khetanna have survived intact, until now.

Lucasfilm stepped up to the challenge and re-created the explosive scene in the same building where the original model was blown up for ROTJ 36 years ago. You can watch the 4-minute long video below courtesy of The Star Wars Show:

While some fans professed sadness at seeing one of the limited edition Khetannas destroyed (see video below), they can take solace in the fact that each copy is now even more valuable. Only 8,810 models were officially ordered during the 2018 crowdfunding campaign.