Podmé, a podcast dedicated to Padmé Amidala


From Unmistakenly Star Wars:

Podmé is a monthly series podcast that was started with the intent to shine a light on the often-overlooked female heroine of the prequels, the mother of Luke and Leia, the voice of reason, one of the smartest people in the galaxy during her time and beyond. Amy Wishman Nalan (@AmyWishman), Charlotte Errity (@crerrity), Lynn Walker (@LynnyNeal), Natalie (@ladyofthewhills), and Sarah Dempster (@SarahDemp) all lead this discussion on why Padmé Amidala is one of their personal heroes in this first introduction episode. 

Follow them @PodmeAmidala on Twitter and Instagram. Proudly part of the @WeAreEscapePods network!”


‘The unmasking of Sidious is the scariest scene’ in the saga, says StarWars.com writer


From StarWars.com:

StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In celebration of Halloween, this installment features two StarWars.com writers discussing which scene in the saga brings the most chills and thrills. […]

The unmasking of Sidious is the scariest scene, says Alex.

Of all the monsters in the Star Wars universe — the rancor, the Sarlacc, the rathtars — none can be scarier than the kindly old man who turns out to be a Sith Lord. Discerning fans of a certain age always knew the reveal was coming, but the anticipation of Palpatine finally showing his true colors was half the fun of the prequel trilogy.

The Blu-ray labels this scene “Mace vs. Sidious,” which is accurate enough, but there’s also a total transformation happening before our eyes. Sidious has spent the previous two films lurking in the shadows, a puppeteer of war and chaos, his face hidden beneath a hood. In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine lets loose with everything he’s always been underneath: a wicked sorcerer obsessed with seizing power and, if he has his way, finding the secret to immortality.

Mace Windu’s no fool; he enters the Supreme Chancellor’s private office with three of his best fellow Jedi, knowing he’ll have no choice but to take Palpatine by force. Except that even Windu couldn’t have foreseen the full extent of the Sith Lord’s power. One of the film’s most thrilling moments comes when Palpatine’s gold-plated lightsaber hilt snaps into place and its crimson blade flares to life. “I never dreamt in a million years that I would be given a lightsaber, and that I would have to fight,” Ian McDiarmid admits on the one of the Blu-ray’s commentary tracks.

Suddenly, the gentle man who befriended young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace lets out an inhuman howl and pirouettes through the air, tearing his way through each of the Jedi accompanying Windu as though they were untrained younglings. They’ve underestimated the dark side.

The performances in this scene are completely unrestrained. These are two actors who know that this is the “monster movie” of the Star Wars saga, where everybody’s cards are on the table; no one’s getting out of Episode III alive without some serious scars. Part of the horror element in this scene also comes with the knowledge that Sidious is unmatched as a swordsman — even the Jedi Council’s best are no match for him. And, lightsaber or not, he’s a lethal force of nature, as Windu soon discovers.

The scene’s violent physicality, and Sidious’ witchy facial expressions, are on a level rarely seen in Star Wars, at least outside of Return of the Jedi. Makeup and special effects are used liberally throughout, yet it’s so convincing that it really challenges our understanding of Palpatine and the Sith Lord he’s been hiding inside all along. It’s as terrifying as it is exciting: Who is this man? What’s he truly capable of, in light of what we’re seeing on screen and what he’s told us about his mysterious mentor, Plagueis? To what extent is he holding back just to manipulate Anakin?

As Mace deflects Sidious’ lightning back at him, and his face melts away, the Sith Lord’s voice deepens into something monstrous, and his eyes turn to a beastly, luminous yellow. In this instant, the Sith win — and Vader is born. So much of the movie’s dramatic weight hinges on Anakin’s decision to side with Palpatine instead of the Jedi, and Mace’s death solidifies his fall.

In revisiting J. W. Rinzler’s The Making of Revenge of the Sith, it surprised me to recall how much difficulty Lucas and his crew had while shooting the Mace-Sidious duel. “We’re going to be here all day,” Lucas said at one point, apparently referring to the decision-making process they had to go through to determine what would be CGI (much of Sidious’ performance uses a digital double as well as a stunt double) and what could be close-up shots of McDiarmid’s face.

I can’t help but wonder if the hideousness of the fight — a stark contrast to the neat, civilized choreography seen in much of Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones — is a direct result of the challenges inherent in the shooting process. Fortunately, the brutality of what’s happening in the script fits perfectly with the very chaotic, almost uncomfortable rhythm of the scene — the sudden tight close-up of Sidious, for instance, followed shortly after by a wide shot of whirling sabers and shattering glass.

It’s utterly terrifying, and McDiarmid’s never been more magnificent than when Sidious makes his ultimate promise to Anakin and all the galaxy: “Power! Unnnnnliiimited power!” […]

Alex Kane is a video-game journalist and critic based in west-central Illinois. His work has appeared in GlixelKill Screen, the website of Rolling Stone, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Launch Trailer

From EA Star Wars:

“Heroes are born on the battlefront, and in Star Wars Battlefront 2, you’re able to experience it for yourself. Play as heroes from all three eras of Star Wars in massive battles across iconic locations, and take part in a thrilling single-player story as Iden Versio fights to avenge the Emperor. […]

Star Wars™ Battlefront™ II will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC

Release Date: November 17, 2017”

Visceral’s canceled Star Wars game reportedly included Prequel era ships and characters


From MakingStarWars.net:

“Here are all of the elements of the story of Star Wars: Project Ragtag I was able to gather before the project was canceled. Today Kotaku brought us a great break down of the internal struggles that brought the game to being canceled. Now I bring you the story that would have unfolded over the course of the game’s story. […]

Star Wars: Project Ragtag was set just before Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: A New Hope set the stage for most of the story as I understood it. The Empire was coming down hard on citizens of the galaxy after the various rebellions and the destruction of the Death Star. The pressure the galaxy felt was intense in the criminal underworld. This pressure pushed some into capitalizing on others while some joined the resistance against Emperor Palpatine. […]

The crew runs and discovers an old colonial plantation that was once an Old Republic outpost used during The Clone Wars. They meet Major General Pilaf. A Clone Wars era officer that doesn’t know the war ended and has stood his ground at the post for over twenty years. His only friend is a reprogrammed Super Battle Droid named I-ZK (Isaac). This is the part of the story where they inform Pilaf about everything that’s gone down in Star Wars history and he agrees to give them Clone Wars era technology, weapons, and ships to take down Korzan. […]

The crew then races to the Alderaan Graveyard where they use the Clone Wars era ships to take down Korzan. The mining ships are used to fight the Clone Wars era fighters in a large battle. […]”

Read the whole story at MakingStarWars.net.

Ahmed Best deplores the omission of Jar Jar in WIRED’s ‘history of performance-capture technology’


The article and the video in question, from WIRED:


FOR MORE THAN 15 years, Andy Serkis has been Hollywood’s go-to performance-capture guy, playing such digitally enhanced characters as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings series, Caesar in the recent Planet of the Apes films, and even King Kong himself. But the 53-year-old actor—whose directorial debut, Breathe, hit theaters earlier this month—believes there are still plenty of misconceptions about one of filmmaking’s most crucial innovations. “It’s not just about mimicking behavior,” Serkis says. “This is about creating a character.”

And if anyone could tell people a thing or two about performance-capture tech, it’s Serkis. In fact, he could teach a master class. In the video above he traces the history of the technology, from its early days as a videogame innovation to the glory days of Gollum to this summer’s stunning War for the Planet of the Apes, perhaps the most impressive merger yet between high-end technology and big-hearted performance. […]”

Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels, reacted on Twitter.

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CinemaBlend says it’s ‘necessary’ for the sequel trilogy to acknowledge the prequel era


From CinemaBlend:

“The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is unquestionably a divisive topic among the space opera franchise’s fans, but whether you love those movies or hate them, they’re still important to the saga of the galaxy far, far away. As the backstory of how Anakin Skywalker turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader was revealed, these three movies significantly expanded to the mythology of this universe, adding more flavor to not just the cinematic series, but the novels, comic books, video games and more. But Revenge of the Sith concluded this Star Wars era in 2005, and more than a decade later, we’re now in the midst of both another main trilogy and standalone Anthology spinoffs being released every other year. Recently, however, Star Wars: Episode IX director J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio reportedly said that Episode IX will be infused with “thematic” Prequel elements. That’s a good decision, because it’s necessary to acknowledge this era of Star Wars history, no matter how polarizing it is.

[…] The events of this time period were important, particularly the Clone Wars conflict that ravaged the galaxy between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and paved the way for the Empire’s rise. Even though that all happened half a century ago when the new trilogy unfolds, the consequences of that era left an indescribable impact on this galaxy.

Obviously not everything that from the prequels was added to the Star Wars canon was great, and there are some elements that are better left gathering dust in the proverbial corner. For instance, I doubt we’ll ever hear about midichlorians again. Still, it’s one thing for the current trilogy to maintain connections to the first Star Wars movies, but to ignore the Prequel period entirely is a disservice to the franchise. Obviously the main focus should be making Episode IX a great story, but if J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio can do that and effectively pay tribute to a period of Star Wars history that (from our perspective) only ended a little over a decade ago, then so much the better.

Of course, it remains to be seen what these Prequel elements in Episode IX will actually be. They could be something as minor as seeing a few starships from that era (I’m partial to the Naboo straighter) or hearing about Old Republic politics, to something major like a new droid army or clone operatives being activated by The First Order or The Resistance. […]”