The Blockade Runner

Star Wars Is Forever


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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 5 – Rebels Trailer Reaction and TFA Editing Theories

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Show Notes:

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Ryan, Dan, John, and first time Blockade Runner Lindsey get together to discuss the new Rebels trailer, Rey’s heritage and how much was originally set to be revealed about her in TFA, and more. Check out the links below for links to articles discussed on the show.

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Intro and outro music in The Blockade Runner is “Hedonism” by Ash.

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Did The Force Awakens Originally Reveal Rey’s Heritage?

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rey (Daisy Ridley) Ph: Film Frame © 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

Daisy Ridley’s Rey is an incredibly effective and likable hero and one that has made a huge impact on audiences. She is universally loved by the friends and family with whom I’ve discussed the film but there’s been quite a bit of debate surrounding where she comes from and to whom she’s related. This is clearly by design, but was it part of the original plan for The Force Awakens?

I avoided spoilers as much as possible in the lead up to TFA while still seeking out and devouring every possible article, interview, photo, and trailer I could in the months leading up to its release. One particularly memorable piece from that period is a November Hollywood Reporter interview with Ridley in which she discusses her audition process, training regiment, and the secrecy surrounding her character. After reading the interview, I was fully expecting to learn the truth regarding Rey’s heritage in Episode VII because of the following exchange:

In this age of social media everyone knows so much about movies before they see them.

And it takes away. I don’t want to dissect something before I see it. And things change. I don’t even know what it’s going to be like after editing.

Everyone wants to know who Rey’s parents are. Do you know?

Yeah.

Will the viewer know after the first episode or not necessarily?

Questions will be answered, absolutely. The main question will be answered.

Ridley’s answer clearly indicates that she believes the “main question” will be answered in The Force Awakens, but unless I missed something, that didn’t bear out. What’s more, she even references the editing process and the possibility of aspects of the film changing as it moves from the set to the editing bay to the theater.

I’ve now seen The Force Awakens seven times, and knowing the movie fairly well at this point it seems possible to me that perhaps Abrams, Kasdan, and Lucasfilm originally intended to provide more concrete details surrounding Rey’s heritage. There are conversations and interactions in the film that sometimes feel as if they end prematurely (such as Kylo Ren’s aggressively-delivered “WHAT GIRL?” as he force chokes Lieutenant Mitaka, or Han’s missing reply to Maz’s probing “who’s the girl?”) that may have originally played out in a different way. It also seems to me that if Rey is a Skywalker (and most of us are in agreement that she is), she spends an awful lot of time around Han, Leia, and Chewie with none of them acknowledging their connection to her. Episodes VIII and IX could obviously supply justifications for that lack of acknowledgment, but again, it seems possible this film was originally meant to do that until a decision was made later in the creative process to hold back the revelation of Rey’s heritage for a future film.

In my experience, no topic has been more hotly debated than Rey’s background. I’ve personally been involved in many, many conversations about that very subject and fans on every side of the argument point to specific lines and details in the film to support whichever theory they endorse. While I have to assume this was the filmmakers’ desired outcome, I’m now wondering if J.J. and crew made cuts late in the post-production process to delay revealing the answer to one of the TFA’s most important questions. With the Blu-ray release and its accompanying behind-the-scenes content likely arriving in April, we’ll undoubtedly learn more about the process of putting the movie together and perhaps we’ll find out more about how Rey’s character developed throughout the film’s production.

UPDATE: Collider released an article today featuring discussion of a deleted scene that seems like it would’ve revealed a cool aspect of Maz Kanata’s character before being left out in post-production. Perhaps another indication of an ongoing debate within Lucasfilm about how much to reveal in The Force Awakens?

 


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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 4.5 – More on The Force Awakens and the Future of Star Wars Films

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Show Notes:

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In this episode of The Blockade Runner, Dan, Kevin, Chris, and John share more thoughts on The Force Awakens. We begin by checking in with Chris and his initial reactions to TFA since he wasn’t available for our last show. We also talk about our conflicted feelings regarding Star Wars movies without George Lucas’s involvement, our thoughts (and fears) about the anthology films, and just more general TFA discussion. We’ll be back soon with an episode about our TFA theories soon!

Intro and outro music in The Blockade Runner is “Hedonism” by Ash.

Email=theblockaderunnerpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter=@blockaderun

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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 4 – First Impressions of The Force Awakens

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Show Notes:

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In this episode of The Blockade Runner, Ryan, Dan, Kevin, and John discuss our thoughts on The Force Awakens. We’ve all seen the movie and we go into spoiler-heavy detail, so please be sure to see the film before listening. We chat about our reactions, criticism, theories, and favorite moments for over two hours, but there’s much more to discuss going forward so be sure to stay tuned for more podcasts, blog posts, and videos from The Blockade Runner!

Intro and outro music in The Blockade Runner is “Hedonism” by Ash.

Email=theblockaderunnerpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter=@blockaderun

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Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Alamo Drafthouse

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The Alamo Drafthouse (Denver/Littleton) is my favorite movie theater ever. It has great food and drinks, amazing pre-film clip shows,  a draconian no-talking/cell phone policy, and they show an eclectic mix of films new and old (I recently saw my favorite horror movie of all time, the infamous 1977 Japanese film “Hausu” there). So naturally, that’s where I wanted to see The Force Awakens on opening night.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Due to some server mishaps on the night the tickets went on sale, I went to bed with Thursday night tickets at another theater. Thankfully, when I woke up the next morning, I was able to get tickets for the 18th, including two of the special Mondo pint glasses and the Star Wars-themed issue of their Birth. Movies. Death. magazine.

Before even reaching the theater, my wife and I knew this was going to be a special experience, as a Biker Scout hung out at the door. Inside, there were even more impeccable costumes- troopers, Darth Maul, and even Kylo Ren. It was high-quality stuff, but unfortunately we were running late, so I didn’t have a chance to take any good pictures or chat with the cosplayers.

Luckily, we made it in time to catch some of the pre-film clipshow. These are always great, but this Star Wars-themed one was maybe the best yet. It had everything from classic Kenner action figure commercials to modern YouTube videos from the likes of Danny Choo. Even the pre-show announcements, about how to order food and how to SHUT UP DURING THE MOVIE were Star Wars-themed.

Then the movie started. Turns out, it was even better the second time (we’ll all be giving our impressions in detail on the next episode of the Blockade Runner podcast… please look forward to it).

On our way out we picked up our pint glasses and magazine. Needless to say, they rule.

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I can’t wait to dig into the magazine. It’s chock-full of interesting takes on the Star Wars phenomenon, from personal anecdotes to rad interviews.

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Also, within the pages are some killer prints from legendary artists that I’ll never be able to afford… but at least now I can hold and admire physical versions!

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While it was a bummer that I wasn’t able to have my first Force Awakens experience at Alamo, tonight was still absolutely incredible, leaving me with both great memories and some unique tangible keepsakes. I can’t wait to continue this new chapter of Star Wars history at the Alamo in the years to come.


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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 3 – The Final Days Before The Force Awakens

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Show Notes:

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In this episode of The Blockade Runner, Ryan and John have one last discussion the weekend before The Force Awakens is finally released! We talk new revelations regarding the scripting process for TFA, George Lucas’s reactions to seeing the film, the Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away series of short e-books, and our plans and feelings in the final days before Episode 7 is upon us.

Look for the next Blockade Runner podcast late next week when we’ll discuss our reactions to our first few viewings of The Force Awakens!

Intro and outro music in The Blockade Runner is “Hedonism” by Ash.

Email=theblockaderunnerpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter=@blockaderun

YouTube

Instagram=theblockaderunner


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Disney, I Owe You An Apology: How I Came to Accept a New Era in Star Wars

4 days out from finally seeing The Force Awakens for the first time, I’m here to own up to my initial emotional and rash reaction to the news that Disney purchased Lucasfilm and would be moving forward with (a lot) more Star Wars.

When the announcement was made a little over three years ago, I felt blindsided (more on our reactions to the news in our first Blockade Runner video episode here). As a fan of the prequels, it was my belief that those films concluded a six part saga that told the story of a father and son in a complete way. I believed the prequels were necessary to communicating George Lucas’s vision for the tragedy of Darth Vader and his eventual redemption through the faith and love of his son Luke Skywalker. I was open to more novels and comics and television shows, but the idea of Disney producing more films seemed almost counterproductive; any more entries in the saga would surely just dilute the power of Lucas’s initial vision and the story of a father and his son. The only reasons I could see to continue the Star Wars saga at the time were financial, so I basically immediately embraced a pessimistic outlook and start digging my heels into the ground.

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George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy discussing Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm.

I was exceedingly negative when friends and family, knowing me as the major Star Wars fan in their lives, immediately started tracking me down that afternoon. They expected to be greeted with excitement and joy on my part, but I instead met them with cynicism and fear. I’m not necessarily proud of that response but, in my defense, I love Star Wars and I was feeling protective. I’ve always argued that experimentation in other mediums is ok; if a bad novel comes out and it doesn’t quite hit the mark, we move on. But if a poor Star Wars film is produced, it’s not so easy to forget and it impacts our perceptions of the original. I was afraid of what more Star Wars films would mean to the legacy of the saga I loved so much and I wasn’t ready to risk seeing them diminished.

I also was (and continue to be) a major evangelist for George Lucas. Though I acknowledge and agree with the commonly-held perception that the prequels aren’t as good as the original films, I believed in the concept of the Star Wars saga as Lucas’s personal vision. The fact that the prequels were flawed in some ways only lent credence to that idea; these weren’t movies made by a committee, but instead, and for better or worse, one man’s uncorrupted vision for the Skywalker clan.

But now Disney was making more movies, and outside of some alleged creative consulting and a loose outline of some kind, without George Lucas.

And there were plenty of examples of Star Wars stories created and told without much input from Lucas at the time. Expanded universe novels, comic books, and video games were so common from the 90s on that I was completely accustomed to the idea of other creators producing Star Wars content.

But I was also very comfortable with viewing that content as something less than authentic Star Wars.

Knowing that George Lucas had wrapped up his vision for Star Wars and that his saga was complete, I was ok with other creators producing Star Wars stories in various forms of media (even television). Whether they were brilliant, mediocre, or embarrassing, I could compartmentalize them as separate from the real Star Wars, from the true Star Wars.

Luckily for me, my perspective has shifted over the past three years.

Winding up where I am now (insanely excited and super optimistic about the future of Star Wars) happened gradually as more and more of the moves Disney made inspired my confidence and hope. Major milestones like the announcement of J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, and Lawrence Kasdan being attached to Episode 7, the first teaser trailer, and maybe most importantly, the incredible quality of Star Wars Rebels all but destroyed any possibility of me maintaining a negative outlook on the future of Star Wars.

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I came to realize that while George Lucas created and defined Star Wars, he’s not the only one who can tell a true Star Wars story. It seems obvious now that he knew that too, and that he knew Star Wars shouldn’t be something that ends with him. He may not have always believed that (he’d previously stated that he’d “left instructions” to stop Star Wars sequel films from being produced after he was gone), but his point of view clearly evolved on this issue too.

So it became apparent to me at some point after almost every move Disney made seemed smart, respectful, and creatively motivated that I had probably better give up on waiting for the other shoe to drop and accept that fact that I had been wrong to immediately embrace a cynic’s view of more Star Wars, whether it was made by George Lucas or not.

The truth is, my vision for what Star Wars should be was too protective, too close-minded, too short-sighted. This new era of Star Wars means another generation of fans will be able to experience the same kind of joy surrounding new films that I did during the prequel era. The new canon (another recent positive change that has taken place since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm) is providing us with some of the most compelling Star Wars stories we’ve ever seen outside of the films, and the future is looking brighter for fans than it has in quite some time. Thank the maker that George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm, and yes, Disney, were hopeful where I lacked vision.

The version of myself that reacted so negatively to the future of Star Wars in 2012 would probably recommend I wait just a few more days to post an apology like this one. After all, there’s no guarantee that The Force Awakens will satisfy our expectations, that we’ll consider it the blessing we’re all hoping it will be.

But even if it’s ultimately not a satisfying film, I’ve so enjoyed the ride leading up to its release that I’m at a place where I can accept that Star Wars should have room to grow, to evolve, to take chances. Not every Star Wars film will be perfect; sometimes we’ll be disappointed. But I’ve already experienced so much joy in the three years leading up to The Force Awakens that I now realize it’s worth taking that risk.

So Disney, and Lucasfilm, and everybody whose excitement I did my best to extinguish three years ago, I’m sorry. Thanks for seeing what I couldn’t, and here’s to many more years of Star Wars.