December 2015- Star Wars: The Force Awakens

22477A couple of years ago, George Lucas sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney. Immediately upon hearing this, millions of voices cried out in terror….

On the 17th of December they were suddenly silenced.

Below is my review. Let me just say it was like being back in 1977. I have seen the film 7 times so far and intend doing so again. My niece and nephews are hooked which says something!

Ever since The Force Awakens came out I have heard a few people moaning, and I totally understand why but here is my take on things:-

Before I start my rant it needs to be said that prior to release, JJ Abrams (yes, I was not his biggest fan after ST:ID) said that his aims for the new films included paying homage to the original trilogy, rekindling old memories and emotions and building a new fan base. I think he has managed all three.

The main complaint I have heard is that the story is a direct copy of Episode IV. Whilst I agree that there are similarities, the story stands in its own right in my opinion. Yes, we have a lonely person on a desert planet (Rey) just like Luke in Episode IV but she is quite different from Luke. No Uncle and Aunt to worry about (though deep down she wished she did) which is almost the opposite from Luke’s original situation.

Then I heard moans about all the space battle/airborne battle scenes. How many of them were the same as the first film. This is just silly. How many ways can you film a space battle? Even if you look at other sci-fi shows they are very similar.
Han and Leia. Now obviously for a fair while they were a couple as they had Ben who turned to the dark side and took the name Kylo Ren. But, some say, they haven’t really changed. This was addressed in the film when Han and Leia were talking about what happened to Ben and how it tore them apart. They both went back to the only thing they knew…..quite natural if you ask me.

The First Order are a bit pathetic was the next thing I heard. I look at it this way. The FO have risen from what was left of The Empire. This means that all of the experienced officers probably died at The Battle of Endor or in the period in between. The First Order is currently being run by inexperienced officers and troops, who really just seem to be having tantrums a lot of the time.

The same could be said for Kylo Ren. At the start of the film he does come across as a stroppy teenager, being pulled in a number of directions and emotionally torn. A bit like Anakin was before he became Darth Vader. This allows for lots of character development in future films, especially after he managed to kill his dad and fall further into darkness. I figured all along that Han may die and thought it might be during a big battle scene. The way it was done though was emotional, very emotional and showed us more about Kylo Ren and his true motives. His name was a bit of a giveaway too: sKYwalker and soLO= KYLO.

We need to remember that each film is just one chapter of a complete story. A Skywalker story in essence, and its not yet complete. It started with Anakin then onto Luke and now I believe it has split in two directions. Kylo’s path as he is the Grandson of Anakin and Rey’s path as I think she is somehow related to Luke (daughter I reckon). But why didn’t Auntie Leia tell her you ask?? Maybe Luke told her not to. Maybe she has to find her own path. Maybe she wants to keep her safe and not make it public, because if the FO found out they would be after her too.

Episode VII paid homage to the original film with lots of nods (The ones I noticed I will list below) and it made me feel like a kid again. It was also a handover film, in the same way that Star Trek Generations was. My 6 year old nephew was a fan before but since he saw TFA on the big screen for the first time he is now hooked as is his 3 year old brother. My niece, trying to be cool says she doesn’t like it but can be happily found playing with the action figures and stealing stuff from me. She even wants a Rey costume. The film has reignited the love for the franchise around the world in a way that the prequel never did. This can only be a good thing.

Homages to the other films I noticed:-
Flags at Maz’s place were a mixture of Mandalorian flags, bounty hunter flags and flags from the pod-race in Ep 1
Dejarik (HoloChess) table was turned on and Chewie became quite interested.
Finns Stormtrooper number FN-2187 is a nod to the cell number (2187) that Leia was held in on the Death Star)
The phrase “We think they may be splitting up” was used in both Eps IV and VII
The training remote that Luke used on the Falcon in Ep IV can be seen when Finn picks it up then puts it to one side.
Flashback scene. Voices of both young and old Obi-Wan, Yoda and Luke yelling “Noooooooo”
The corridor from Cloud City where Luke and Vader fight.
Starkiller base- Luke Skywalker was originally named Luke Starkiller in an early draft.
Han used a number of phrases including “I have a bad feeling about this” and “C’mon baby don’t let me down”
Returning characters such as Nien Numb and Admiral Ackbar
I’m sure there are more but that’s all I can recall. I for one loved the movie and cannot wait for Episode VIII. It’s a huge improvement on the prequels (Sorry George!)

Who knows. To quote Lor San Tekka maybe “This will begin to make things right.”


November 2015- London Film Convention

I used to go to these events regularly and help my mate Mark and his dad out with their stall. I haven’t been since they started adding guests to the event. Needless to say when I say a couple of Monty Python guests (Terry Jones and Carol Cleveland) I had to go. I also met Shane Rimmer of Thunderbirds/Star Wars and James Bond fame.

It was a nice, simple, friendly event and I must keep an eye on the future guest list!

July 2015- LFCC 2015

Well, where to begin! This looked to be a promising event with so many great names on offer including Sigourney Weaver, Michael J Fox, Bill Pullman, Hayley Atwell etc.

Whilst it was nice to meet them and see old friends, in all my 20+ years of attending cons I have never felt so unsafe in my whole life. It was way too crowded. Stairwells were blocked, lifts failed and it was too hot. At one point I was trapped for over an hour on the top floor due to lift failure and stairwells being blocked. This lead to inevitable delays in photoshoots etc. Crew did there best, although there are a few in need of a serious attitude adjustment. One in particular reminded me of a hobbit in need of a shave and a shower!

On the up side, the guests were amazing. Probably the only real reason to go to these particular events if I’m honest.

June 2015- Collectormania 23

It was back to Stadium:MK for what many people believe to be the last Collectormania in MK. To be honest, I’m kinda glad. Personally, I don’t think the stadium is suitable. For the first time in a while I had my brother and his family with me. He is disabled and had great difficulty in getting around and with the photoshoots upstairs he was even more put off.

Whilst I managed to see a few guests and get some signatures on my various canvases, for me, the most fun was had watching my niece and nephews in costume. My nephew Charlie was dressed as Darth Vader, and once he had the mask on he thought he ruled the place. Even England footballer Jack Charlton had to get out of his way. My niece Jessica was dressed as Elsa and loved seeing the other Frozen cosplayers. Little Lewis was dressed as Captain America and flatly refused to have his photo taken with a rather attractive Agent Carter cosplayer. Will have to teach him!!

The rain, the building works and the incompetence of Stadium:MK staff led to a not so pleasant time for my brother and the family. CM:MK needs a rethink!

May 2015-MCM Comic Con

I hadn’t been to one of these for years but the lure of some NCIS and Agents of SHIELD guests was too much for me and my dad. I was hoping things had changed. Boy was I wrong. Whilst getting in was easy and so was getting autographs, the chaos that was the photoshoots was beyond a joke. We waited almost 3 hours for a shoot. No information was passed our way. One overly happy crewmember almost got pounced upon because sge kept telling us to stop moaning and be happy and that we should feel privileged. Never again…..