The Telegraph reposted its positive reviews of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones

thetelegraph

The Telegraph reposted its original positive reviews of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and its original negative review of Revenge of the Sith.


“Yet The Phantom Menace is probably one of the most deliriously inventive films to have appeared in years: it displays all of George Lucas’s uncommon magic, a wide-eyed genius for adventure narrative that is beyond any ordinary capacity for wonder, and in many respects the latest episode proves itself to be a more finished movie than any of the others. It is daring and beautiful, terrifying and pompous – and that’s just the title sequence.” Click here to read the whole review of The Phantom Menace.


“But, for most of us, Attack of the Clones is indeed a pleasant surprise. It’s fine. It’s just about what we want it to be, it’s certainly an improvement on the last chapter, and it leaves us, if not exactly quivering with anticipation for Episode III, then at least prepared to believe that Anakin Skywalker’s conversion to the Dark Side just might make that the really good one. ” Click here to read the whole review of Attack of the Clones.


Click here to read the review of Revenge of the Sith.

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ILM’s David Weitzberg: ‘Everyone was very excited to be a part of the Prequels’

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From StarWars.com:

“As a young kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland, David Weitzberg was interested in computers and photography, but it was Star Wars that really drew him into the world of special effects. Years later while studying computer science at MIT, Weitzberg traveled across the country to California to start an internship with the company whose work had captivated him. Fast forward, and Weitzberg is now a 19-year veteran of Industrial Light & Magic, living in San Francisco with his wife and three children. StarWars.com sat down with Weitzberg to discuss his start at ILM, his contributions to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest additions to the missions in Star Tours, and most importantly, explosions.
(Note: Weitzberg often refers to films as “shows.” That’s how we talk in the biz!) […]

StarWars.com: So the prequels were announced in ’94, and you started in ’96. Was that kind of a driving force for you for wanting to come back to ILM?

David Weitzberg: Absolutely. When I was an intern, they were shooting the Special Editions at ILM. I still remember seeing the actors in costume walking around and the filming call sheets. There was just something really magical about being here and seeing a Star Wars call sheet. At the time, too, just when I was finishing up school, I could have stayed in school and focused more on graphics research but the prequels were coming and at the time the technology in the industry was moving much faster, and I wanted to get in as soon as I could. I came back here and worked on Episode I — I think it was the second or third movie I worked on when I got back.

StarWars.com: What did you do on the prequel films? What’s one of your favorite scenes that you worked on?

David Weitzberg: Well, I worked on the opening shot of Episode III.

StarWars.com: And you got a VES [Visual Effects Society] nomination for that.

David Weitzberg: I was nominated, and we lost [Laughs], but it was an honor to be nominated. It was a really fun project, we developed the look of the space battle. It was a 2,000-frame long shot or so. John Knoll created the title crawl, and then handed it over to us and we followed the Jedi fighters flying through the battle, with more ships in the background and the planet below, just all kinds of cool stuff.

StarWars.comWhat’s the process for doing all that? Where do you even start?

David Weitzberg: You have to break it down into sort of meaningful chunks. What helps is that there are amazing teams here. First the shot may be storyboarded or shown in an animatic, a rough moving version of the shot that establishes the timing, where someone’s already blocked out roughly, “This thing happens here, this thing happens there.” Then it goes through a camera polish in the layout department, where they refine the camera moves and make sure everything is in the right place. Animation makes all the ships and characters move just right, sometimes another group adds physical simulations to the movement, and then it gets handed off to one of the groups I work with. That’s where you add lighting and different effects. For example, as the little ships fly by the giant Star Destroyer, you might get some bounce light so it glows just a little bit on that side. We add details to make it feel like it fits in the scene better. Then there’s all the particle effects and destruction, which is more what I’m specializing in now. Something blows up, there’s a laser fire, dust clouds, water splashes, whatever is needed in the scene. It’s about breaking up the complicated shot into smaller pieces and refining them all along until the whole shot is assembled.

StarWars.com: What was the atmosphere like during the prequels? Was everyone super excited that they got to work on the new Star Wars?

David Weitzberg: It really was exciting, there was definitely a buzz around it. It was a very popular show to be on and everyone was very excited to be a part of it. There is so much in that universe that can be done, so to be able to be a part of it was really something. For example, I worked on the Mustafar landing platform and I loved going out to the stage and seeing big practical models with the thick goop they used for the lava and the under-lighting effects. […]

StarWars.com: What’s your favorite scene that you’ve worked on in a Star Wars film?

David Weitzberg: There’s a lot. [Laughs] I think the opening shot of Episode III really stands out, just because it’s such a long shot and so much happens in it that we really got to do a lot. And it’s a Star Wars space battle! It’s a common thing, but I may or may not have put my head in for one of the pilots. You’ll never see it, but I know it’s there. […]”

Ahmed Best wanted Jar Jar to die in Revenge of the Sith

Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in the Prequel Trilogy, says he wanted his character to die in Revenge of the Sith (at 45:33):

“I always complained to George, like when I realized that Sith was not gonna have Jar Jar in it pretty much and they were moving very very far away from me… I always complained to George that I didn’t get a good death. I wanted to really be just hacked to pieces in some kind of way, and George wouldn’t do it.

The interesting thing about Jar Jar is everybody keeps looking for an explanation for him, which is human nature, and I’m gonna have a big part of my book talking about why this is what it it because I thought a lot about it. And I like all of these theories that try to explain the reasoning for Jar Jar. We talked about the dark Jar Jar before and this one [in the novel Aftermath: Empire’s End] where he becomes this tragic character who realizes he’s been manipulated in his mind. Everybody’s trying to come up with this reasoning. Everybody’s trying to come up with a finality for him. I think it’s cool and interesting.”

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

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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.

ILMxLAB and The VOID’s Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire trailer and details revealed

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From StarWars.com:

“Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB, and The VOID have pulled back the curtain on Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a groundbreaking hyper-reality experience that promises to immerse fans in a galaxy far, far away. An official trailer (check it out below!) made its debut today, offering a first look at what to expect, and story details have also been revealed — the rebellion needs you, your family, and your friends for a secret mission.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will send teams of four, under the orders of the budding rebellion, to the lava planet Mustafar. The mission: to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. You and your squad must navigate an enemy facility disguised as stormtroopers, with Rogue One‘s K-2SO at your side. You’ll grab your blaster, solve puzzles, and fight giant lava monsters in an effort to fulfill the rebellion’s orders.

The VOID also announced that Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will debut at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando on December 16 and Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim on January 5. Tickets are on sale now at thevoid.com; admission for both the Anaheim and Orlando locations is $29.95 per person plus applicable fees, and Parks admission is not required. […]”

5 behind-the-scenes secrets on the Prequel Trilogy costumes

From StarWars.com:

” […] All of this detail is on display in the “Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume” traveling exhibit, currently at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

The thoughtful displays put the costumes of the Star Wars galaxy in their best light. The outfits are displayed artfully and accompanied by information about their design and fabrication with quotes from the likes of John Mollo and Trisha Biggar. Outfits from all the eras of cinematic Star Wars are represented, with a special section devoted to Padmé Amidala’s stunning and ever-shifting wardrobe.

While browsing the exhibit, certain notes in particular jumped out. Here are eight facts we learned from Star Wars and the Power of Costume.

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1. Disguise and color go hand in hand.

Padmé stayed hidden among her handmaidens in an ombre travel gown with a deep hood. Though the silk and velvet are brightly hued, the hood allowed Padmé to remain in disguise and unnoticed by her foes. Designed by prequel trilogy costume designer Trisha Biggar, the gown was inspired by the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the nineteenth century — the costume was specifically affected by the rich colors found in those paintings.

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2. There are emblematic Easter eggs.

The Naboo royal crest appears overtly and subtly in more garments than you might have noticed on screen. You can spot it hidden in plain sight as a repeating burnout pattern in the fabric or tucked away more subtly on the queen and handmaiden gown designs. Keep your eyes glued to their costumes the  next time you watch the prequel trilogy, especially The Phantom Menace. […]

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6. Wookiees need to stay cool.

By the time several Wookiee costumes had to be crafted for Revenge of the Sith, the costume department learned a trick or two about making them more comfortable. No longer would Peter Mayhew have to swelter under pounds of yak fur without relief.

To ensure the actors wearing the heavy fur-covered suits on set kept their cool and maintained tolerable temperatures, costuming devised a cooling suit to go under the fur. The system featured tubing attached to a mesh shirt, so cold water could be circulated through to combat heat.

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7. Tassel time with no hassle.

Sly Moore’s tassel-covered cloak flowed like the surface of water anytime she moved. It’s the kind of costume you stop and notice, even more so when you learn each and every tassel was individually hand-knotted and attached to the garment.

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8. Palps needs a manicure.

Senator Palpatine probably had nice, relatively normal fingernails. He lost those when he transformed in Revenge of the Sith, instead gaining nails that appeared to be fungus-ridden and rotten. Those fingernails are part of the Power of Costume exhibit and not to be missed. They’re made from resin and paint and applied to Ian McDiarmid’s nails , but the commonplace materials don’t make them look any less sinister.”