The Blockade Runner

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

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Show Notes:

Download this episode (right click and save)

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.

Links:

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

Email=theblockaderunnerpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter=@blockaderun

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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – Stealth Strike

“Stealth Strike” stands out as an episode of Rebels that features a plethora of visual call-backs to the original trilogy (not unusual for the show, but at an even higher volume here), but also at least one key and noticeable reference to the The Phantom Menace.

Actually, I’m sure there are many smaller examples of artistic influence from the prequels throughout Rebels; though the concept art generated by Ralph McQuarrie for the original trilogy is clearly the visual foundation of the show, Dave Filoni and crew are no doubt drawing inspiration from George Lucas’s more recent vision of the Star Wars universe in more subtle ways as well.

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This shot of Ezra sabotaging the reactor core of The Interdictor seems to be an example of that kind of approach. While the room and structures are most noticeably similar to the scene in A New Hope in which Obi-Wan shuts down the Death Star’s tractor beam, the design also draws on the Theed generator complex from The Phantom Menace. The verticality of that structure led to an incredibly dynamic scene, and the Rebels crew takes full advantage of that aspect of this reactor core room in “Stealth Strike,” with Ezra moving up and down between platforms as he reflects blaster bolts back at the Imperial troops above. In one of the best episodes of the season so far, this reactor core scene is able to pay tribute to both the original trilogy and prequel trilogy eras while creating an exciting new sequence of its own.


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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – Blood Sisters

I love Sabine and I was as excited to learn more about her background as any member of the crew of The Ghost, but unfortunately this week’s episode of Rebels didn’t completely work for me (which is something I don’t think I’ve felt about any other episode of the show). I think my disappointment in “Blood Sisters” is directly linked to Sabine’s bounty hunter friend Ketsu Onyo, whose development was too quick and too tidy to resonate with me.

Still, though “Blood Sisters” probably holds the distinction of being my least favorite episode of Rebels (the worst episode of one of my favorite shows ever isn’t such a bad place to be), there is still a lot to enjoy here.

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My favorite shot of this week’s episode comes from Sabine and Ketsu’s initial reunion, and it’s one that harkens back to the cinematography of classic Westerns. The shot I’ve posted here lingers on Sabine’s hand reaching for her blaster, suggesting an impending shootout, and the spotlight on Ketsu in the background clearly designates her as Sabine’s target. It’s a brilliant moment in the episode in the way it evokes the cinematic language of the Western, but it’s also incredibly effective here as a single shot. Everything the audience needs to know about this moment is conveyed in the composition of this still and it’s the kind of visual storytelling that has always been a part of Star Wars at its best.


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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – Wings of the Master

Last week’s Hera-centric episode of Rebels, “Wings of the Master,” featured a number of beautiful shots, many of which come from breathtaking scenes of Hera piloting the prototype B-wing designed and built by Quarrie on Shantipole. The Rebels incarnation of the B-wing looks fantastic, bright color-scheme and all, and it was a joy to watch Hera pilot the ship and be in the spotlight as the episode’s protagonist.

That being said, this week I’ve chosen to focus on a shot (or two) of Kanan manning the Ghost’s canons and taking on a couple of approaching TIEs. While this isn’t necessarily the most beautiful shot in the episode, I was repeatedly impressed by the space battle scenes in “Wings of the Master,” particularly those taking place in turret stations like this one. IMG_0074Space battles are appearing more frequently as Rebels progresses and the show has been portraying them in an exciting and kinetic way. In this specific case, the motion of Kanan’s swinging turrets and seat coupled with the accompanying camera movement creates an impressive immersiveness that rivals (and possibly exceeds) similar scenes from the films. IMG_0069I also made note of the contrast between Kanan’s dimly lit figure and the bright brilliance of the exploding Tie in the distance. The explosion itself looked both authentic and impressive and serves as another example of how the show is able impress while emulating and updating the original visual language of the films.


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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – Brothers of the Broken Horn

The newest episode of Rebels, “Brothers of the Broken Horn,” is the lightest and most humorous we’ve seen since probably “Idiot’s Array” in season one, so for this Rebels Screenshot Spotlight I’m choosing an image that highlights the always entertaining weequay pirate Hondo Ohnaka.

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“Brothers of the Broken Horn” ends with Ezra’s realization that a pirate life is not for him as he knows he has a more selfless path in front of him. Still, Hondo and Ezra shared a brief adventure and though this shot of the two of them together is simple and straightforward, I thought it was a nice moment between the two of them and a good representation of the episode as a whole.

HondoAs a Clone Wars character returning on Rebels, it’s also interesting to look at how Hondo’s design has been simplified to match the aesthetic of the newer show. I’ve always loved Hondo (and I’m not alone, as he’s certainly a fan favorite), but I find him even more charismatic and appealing in his Rebels incarnation. I prefer the more cartoonish feel of Rebels and a character like Hondo exemplifies how warm and welcoming the show’s look is in comparison to the approach of Clone Wars.

Some fans expressed disappointment in “Brothers of the Broken Horn” because it lacks the drama and weight of other episodes of Rebels, but I was happy to see Hondo return and I don’t mind a lighter episode now and then to balance out the darker ones. I’m happy to have the old pirate back, and while I hope they use him sparingly going forward, I’m hoping to see him again when the arc of the show calls for a bit of levity.


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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – “Always Two There Are”

It occurred to me while watching the most recent episode of Rebels, “Always Two There Are,” that I’d like to do something here on The Blockade Runner blog to show appreciation for the incredible art/design/look of the show. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about the show’s style when the characters were revealed (there had been a bit of talk re: the McQuarrie influence and I think was expecting something different), but from the moment I was able to see it in motion, I’ve been incredibly impressed. Seeing Joel Aaron’s presentation at Celebration Anaheim only increased my appreciation for the show’s look and dedication to authenticity, and the initial shot of The Ghost approaching the abandoned Republic medical station moved me to action.

Abandoned Republic Medical Station

I was initially taken aback by the presentation of the medical station itself; the elegance of the station and the cylindrical or almost funnel-like shape of it seemed distinctly McQuarrie. I think it may have reminded me of some of his Cloud City designs, and upon doing some digging I found a piece of Coruscant concept work that shares some similarities with this design. I’m not sure if this specific station was directly influenced by McQuarrie concepts or not, but it shares qualities with his designs that I think are very beautiful and very Star Wars.

I was also struck by the enormity of the medical station in relationship to The Ghost. It becomes clear as the episode unfolds that Ezra and the rest of the crew are pitted against a powerful enemy that outmatches them in most ways, and the composition of this shot emphasizes that the deck is very much stacked against them and that they’ll have to overcome a major challenge to successfully complete their mission.

I’m no design expert, so I hope it’s clear here that I’m commenting on this shot from Always Two There Are” out of appreciation for the incredible work of the Rebels crew. Watching Rebels has delighted me more than I expected in numerous ways, and its so gratifying and exciting to be presented with such beautiful imagery each week, so I’m looking forward to finding more breathtaking shots to feature from upcoming episodes.


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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 1

So excited to finally post the inaugural episode of The Blockade Runner podcast! Expect monthly episodes along with occasional bonus shows. In fact, it’s a safe bet that our first bonus episode will launch next week alongside the strongly-rumored trailer for The Force Awakens.

Download episode 1 here!

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Show notes:

Welcome to The Blockade Runner, a monthly podcast about all things Star Wars produced and hosted by a core crew of longtime fans and friends. On our first episode we discuss some of our personal history with Star Wars, the new novel Lost Stars, some of our favorite under-publicized TFA merchandise, and more.

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

Email=theblockaderunnerpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter=@blockaderun

Instagram=theblockaderunner


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Rebels Season Two NYCC 2015 Trailer Impressions

Lucasfilm and Disney released a final trailer for season two of Star Wars Rebels yesterday at New York Comic Con, and as has now become standard with the show, it left me with major goosebumps.

The early portion of the trailer focuses on Ezra’s search for his parents and the importance of his newfound family, while the second half of the trailer emphasizes the role returning characters Ahsoka and Rex will play in season two. I’m undoubtedly looking forward to the inevitable showdown between Ahsoka and Vader, and Kanan’s discomfort at working with clones and being part of a larger group will surely be compelling as well. But most of all I’m excited about spending more time with the core crew of the Ghost and continuing to see their individual stories unfold alongside their deepening family dynamic.

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To be honest, at times I’ve been slightly concerned that with twice as many episodes, it may be difficult for the producers of Rebels to maintain the show’s focus on the Ghost crew and the simple but incredibly powerful story of that unit as a makeshift family that it so tightly told in season one. But the opening moments of this trailer reassured me that the themes and characters that were so moving and exciting in season one are still a major focus here even if a host of new characters and membership in a larger rebellion will also be emphasized this time around. So far Rebels has been an incredible surprise in terms of its emotional impact on me and its importance to the larger Star Wars story. It’s characters have quickly grown to be some of my favorite in the Star Wars galaxy and I’m so invested in seeing their core story furthered this season most of all. Today’s trailer indicates season two will deliver in those terms while also bringing major showdowns, epic action, and the joyful tone it so successfully emulated from A New Hope as well. I can’t wait.