Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rebels Rumblings

I don't plan for this blog to be about rumors much at all, casting or otherwise, but I thought I'd chime in on this latest bit of info.  Numerous sites around the web starting with Jedinews, have reported that five actors have been named to providing voice acting for Star Wars Rebels. Some I've heard of, others not so much. One in particular has really got my imagination spinning.   The actors  reportedly cast are:
 David Oyelowo

Freddie Prinze Jr.

Vanessa Marshall
Taylor Gray
and Steven Jay Blum

That's right kids, Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop is allegedly a voice in Star Wars Rebels.  If you aren't familiar with Cowboy Bebop, first, shame on you.  And second get thee googling.  That show was and is the high watermark in Anime for me.  This one bit of casting got my mind reeling with the possibilities that Rebels will even remotely try to tap into what made Bebop so great.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Death of Lucasarts Breathes New Life into Lucasfilm

In an article by http://www.theinquirer.net, (via jediinsider.com) covering the Technology Strategy Board event at BAFTA in London. Lucasfilm was present and gave a small presentation on the direction the company is headed in digital graphics and technology.  Using the assets originally developed for the game Star Wars:1313 (which theinquirer.net claims is still in development), Lucasfilm envisions and end to the era of extended post production phases of movie making.  

Using a video game engine, and motion capture technology, artists at Lucasfilm are able to drastically cut down render times, as well as being able to edit digital assets within a matter of minutes and hours instead of months. Being able to swap characters and equipment on the fly, change set dressings on digital scenery, and dynamically change lighting effects using tablet apps.  The potential of this new technological shift are nearly limitless.

Once the new Star Wars films were announced, and announced to be coming in 2015, a lot of people wondered just how that short of a production schedule could accommodate something as big as a Star Wars film.  If this technology is in place now, then I think we have our answer.  If George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy showed this box of toys to JJ Abrams, that may have been what convinced him to come aboard for these new films.  Perhaps I'm putting a bit too much hope on this breakthrough, but think about it.  The Star Wars Underworld series that was shelved could very well be viable now with this kind of short turn around in the VFX department. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Month Late Reviews--Star Wars #8

Welcome to the first installment of Month Late reviews.  Before I jump in and start with this week's issue, let me first point out what I hope to accomplish with this series of articles.  First, this is a spoiler heavy zone. I will not be holding back on plot points or big reveals, reviewing these issues a month removed should provide everyone with ample time to have read the material.  Second, I'm going to be brutally honest in these reviews.  I'm not going to candy coat anything simply because it has the Star Wars logo slapped on it.  If someone has bad writing, silly concepts, or just plain dumb ideas, it's not only going to be pointed out, but most likely ridiculed highly. My reviews are not intended for the Star Wars novice, yet I'm not so mired in the EU of Star Wars where I won't myself make mistakes....from time to time (dear oh dear).  I am however, more of a G-canon purist, so most of my judgements are based off of G-canon first, EU considerations somewhat secondary.

With that being stated let's move on to the review of this week's featured issue:  Star Wars #8  by Brian Wood (writers),  Ryan Kelly (pencils), Dan Parsons (inks), and cover art by David Michael Beck

Normally I would start off with what I liked about the issue, but this issue and in fact the entire series, has a laundry list of red flags that continually pop up.  So we'll start off right away with the cover, seen above. While I really don't like to judge artists too harshly, I have to admit this is the worst cover for the series to date. Following a legend like Alex Ross would be intimidating for any artist, and I would assume that would cause someone to up their game so to speak when it came to a brand like Star Wars.  A quick google search of artist David Michael Beck proves that he's capable of much, much better work.  So I'm hoping this is due more to a rushed deadline or something, rather than just a lack of interest.  The interior artowrk doesn't fare too much much better, however I wasn't all too thrilled with Carlos D'Anda's work on the series' premiere issues either.  No artist yet on this series has really captured that Star Wars feel in the ways that  a Kilian Plunkett, Jan Duursema, or a Doug Wheatley have in the past.  Chewbacca in one panel looks more like JoJo the dogfaced boy than a Wookiee.  Stormtroopers armor is seemingly made out of a plastic similar to that of an old Kenner action figure. And Boba Fett's "mythosaur" skull is on the wrong shoulder (a cardinal sin in some circles).

That's not to say that the art is all bad, just wildly inconsistent in most cases.  The ships are drawn well throughout, and luckily there is quite a bit of space action in this issue.

Probably my biggest complaint about this issue in particular lands squarely on the shoulders of the writer Brian Wood.  The plot of this series really meanders and I'm beginning to wonder if one 12 issue arc for the Rebel mole storyline was really justified, it seems as if Wood  is simply padding out what should have been a 6 issue run, only to keep his name on the book as long as possible.  I've completely lost sight of the long term goals of these characters.   Luke and Wedge got themselves captured, then promptly stage a prison break so they can implant a worm into the Imperial network, which seems like a very extreme thing for the heroes of the battle of Yavin to be doing so soon after the Death Star's destruction.  Leia is mourning Alderaan as if she didn't have enough time for her grieveing thoughts while prisoner aboard the Death Star. And for the life of me I have no idea what Han Solo is doing on Coruscant.  

The biggest misstep for me in this issue is how specifically Luke and Wedge break out of their prison cell.

Luke Skywalker, still a noobie in the ways of the force, has smuggled his lightsaber aboard the Star Destroyer in pieces concealed in his boot. Luke then assembles his lightsaber in what is portrayed as a very short amount of time, with little effort.

This one page alone is an almost complete deal breaker for the series as a whole.  While I'm at it let me retract one of my previous statements, this one page is my biggest complaint about this issue.  This page represents a failure not only of Woods, but of the editor, and Lucasfilm's continuity department.  Being able to assemble a lightsaber is supposed to be a HUGE deal, both technically, as well as spiritually within the Jedi.  Vader's quote from RotJ "I see you have constructed a new lightsaber.  Your skill are complete"  this quite boldly states that for a Jedi the construction of a lightsaber is a very big step in one's mastery of the force.  Not to mention this scene from Shadows of the Empire:
For Luke to now have reconstructed a saber in such a cavalier manner, destroys almost all of this books credibility for me, and this is Dark Horse's flagship title.  The one they hope to bring people back to Star Wars comics.  I fear it's going to do just the opposite.  I've told myself I would commit to this series through this first arc, but it's becoming tougher and tougher each month.  The few nuggets of brightness I found within the issue, Leia finding the mysterious Clone Wars era star destroyer, and Han's new gal pal Perla were nowhere near bright enough to eclipse the blatant disregard for what has come before.  And mind you, I'm not usually a stickler for strict continuity, but some things really cross a line.  This was one of those things.

I will return with my thoughts on next month's issue, with hopefully more positives than negatives to focus on. Between now and then I will be getting to Star Wars: Legacy vol 2. #6, and The Star Wars #1, which I guarantee will be much more positive.  Please feel free to comment and discuss if you think I'm wrong or too harsh I would love the feedback.