Film Review – “Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi”

 

STAR WARS – EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI

Starring:  Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher

Directed by:  Rian Johnson

Rated:  PG 13

Running time:  2 hrs  32 mins

Walt Disney Pictures

 

 

 

Has it really been 40 years since the world was first introduced to the young dreamer Luke Skywalker?  It has.  Heck, if you don’t count the brief appearances in Episodes III (as a newborn baby) and VII (the last moment of the film), it’s been 34 years since Luke has been on the big screen.  But those numbers are in the past as the Jedi master finally returns in the eighth chapter of the original saga, “The Last Jedi.”

 

The film begins where “The Force Awakens” left off.  We are there as the galaxy’s newest hero, Rey (Ridley) finally tracks down Skywalker (Hamill) and hands him his old lightsaber.  His reaction is not what she expects.  Meanwhile, the first order, led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), both of who are under the power of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) have closed in on the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa (Fisher, in her final screen role).  As things begin to go from bad to worse, Leia reluctantly begins to trust in the leadership and ideals of ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who in turn butts heads with Vice-Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern).  Can everyone agree on the right path to take or will evil finally win?

 

With a script by director Johnson, “The Last Jedi” is a mash-up of many different stories, but all with the same main plot line; good versus evil.  As Rey tries her best to convince Luke to return with her to help the Resistance, he gives her many reasons why he should not.  Among them is the guilt he feels over how his one time student, Ben Solo – his nephew – has transformed himself into the evil Kylo Ren.  In another part of the galaxy, we discover Finn (John Boyega) on an adventure of his own, one in which he meets the funny and resourceful Rose (a much welcome Kelly Marie Tran).  Rose is one of the many new faces that dot the screen, along with Dern and a wiley Benicio Del Toro.  But don’t despair, there are a few old faces that pop us as well.

 

The cast here is strong, with Hamill’s performance quite powerful.  He’s lived with this character for four decades and it’s obvious he’s invested heavily into it emotionally.  Driver, who came off as a little whiny in “The Force Awakens,” is much stronger here, a sign he has gotten comfortable with the character and its place in the story.  Sadly, this is Carrie Fisher’s last performance as Leia Organa, and the film is dedicated to her.  It’s apparent to me that Princess Leia would have been an integral part of Episode IX and I’m curious as to how they will handle her absence.  And if you’re looking for “cute,” not only is fan favorite droid BB-8 back but we also meet a creature known as a Porg, a puffin-like creature that makes the Ewoks from “Return of the Jedi” look like slugs!

 

To share anymore would necessitate the use of the words SPOILER ALERT and I would rather share less than more.  And with a 2 ½ hour run time, there is plenty I could spill.  But I would rather be dropped into a Sarlac pit then ruin your journey back to the galaxy far, far away.  May the Force be with you!

Blu-ray Review “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Actors: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang
Directors: Gareth Edwards
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Run Time: 133 minutes

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was a very risky film in the “Star Wars” universe but it also paid off 10x. I want to start with I commend the director Gareth Edwards for taking on such a challenging project and yet still come out looking like a rock star leaving even the most hardcore “Star Wars” fans satisyed. This film is a great stand alone to the series which tells a very important story seperately like still keeping the big universe in its eye sight and giving us perfect cameos of characters like Darth Vader and even Princess Leia (via CGI). An obvious must see for any “Star Wars” fans and let me tell you it gets better and better with each viewing.

Here is the film’s premise: Jyn Erso, a Rebellion soldier and criminal, is about to experience her biggest challenge yet when Mon Mothma sets her out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. With help from the Rebels, a master swordsman, and non-allied forces, Jyn will be in for something bigger than she thinks.

The Blu-ray presentation of “Rogue One” is nearly flawless. The 1080p transfer looks perfect and the “Star Wars” “universe has never looked sharper. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track delivers a flawless sound for this film and packs a helluva punch! With every blaster to droid sound to John Williams score, the sound is just perfect. The film comes in a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Digital HD copy.

The special features are decent and worth checking out. Not perfect like everything else on this release but still impressive. There is a collection of featurettes focusing on all aspects of the production. “A Rogue Idea” takes the film getting started from the idea pitch. “Jyn: The Rebel” looks at the lead character in this story. “Cassian: The Spy” focusing on Diego Luna character. If you can guess which the next featurette is focused on with “K-2SO: The Droid”, who stole the show. If you are catching the drift here the characters are all covered in featurettes and even the Empire has its own assorted one. Lastly there are featurettes on the digital effects and Rogue cameos.

Blu-ray Review “Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Two”

Actors: Taylor Gray, Vanessa Marshall, Tiya Sircar, Jr. Freddi Prinze, Steve Blum
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Run Time: 484 minutes

Season: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When the first season of “Star Wars Rebels” started, my daughter and I were all in. We watched religiously and enjoyed the first season. Honestly, I did enjoy the second season but I wasn’t overall blown away by it and I don’t feel that IN WHOLE it superseded the first. The best part of the season was the return of Ahsoka Tano, Darth Maul and the introduction of animated Darth Vader. For me those three things saved the season. Otherwise, I honestly don’t even remember much else from it. Hopefully season 3 kicks off with a bang and delivers a better run to keep my interest in this show.

Official Premise: As Ezra Continues his journey to become a Jedi under Kanan’s guidance, the crew of the Ghost bands together with a secret rebel cell and ex-soldiers from the Clone Wars to join a fledgeling alliance to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. But the dark side looms large as Darth Vader dispatches new Inquisitors, setting the stage for a climactic showdown in which terrible truths will be revealed and the lives of our heroes will be changed forever.

There is no shortage of great talent in this show. The series features the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr. (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) as Kanan, Vanessa Marshall (TV’s “Young Justice”) as Hera, Steve Blum (“The Boxtrolls”) as Zeb, Tiya Sircar (“The Internship”) as Sabine, Taylor Gray (TV’s “Bucket and Skinner’s Epic Adventures”) as Ezra, Ashley Eckstein (“Star Wars: The Clone Wars”) as Ahsoka Tano, Dee Bradley Baker (“Phineas and Ferb”) as Captain Rex and EVERY clones (that’s right EVERY CLONE), David Oyelowo (“The Butler”) as Agent Kallus and Sarah Michelle Gellar (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer”) as The Seventh Sister Inquisitor.

The 1080p transfers looks good with the animation and colors perfectly for the TV series. My main issue with the presentation is the audio tracks. I am very disappointed that Disney only is giving us DVD-quality Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks for these episodes. This really feels like a mistake and a real missed opportunity. The special features are decent and worth checking out if you enjoyed the season and looking for some fun extras. “From Apprentice to Adversary: Vader vs. Ahsoka” is an exclusive to Blu-ray extra with Executive Producer Dave Filoni reflecting on the climactic ending of the season with Ahsoka Tano and Darth Vader. “Connecting the Galaxy: Rebels Season Two” looks into easter eggs and other Star Wars connections from the show. Lastly “Rebel Recons” features 20 episode recons with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with cast and crew, and more!

Film Review “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens”

Starring: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hrs 16 mins
Walt Disney Pictures

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

38 years ago…in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas introduced the world to what would become one of the most beloved film series in the history of Hollywood – “Star Wars.” In the ensuing years we’ve seen two sequels (well received) and three prequels (not as much). As the most anticipated film release that I can remember in some time, “The Force Awakens” has some big shoes to fill. And fill them it does.

As the film begins, the opening credit crawl tells us that Luke Skywalker has vanished. We are then introduced to three very different characters. Ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac), with his droid B-88, may have a piece to the puzzle that is the missing Jedi. Finn (Boyega) is a storm trooper who, during battle, has a “what the hell am I doing here” moment. And Rey (Ridley) is a scrap collector looking out for herself. They have nothing in common yet they have everything in common. It is their stories that fuel the film.

As someone who grew up with the films, they were an important part of my youth and I won’t deny that I was skeptical about another film, especially after the middle-of-the-road quality of Episodes One-Three. But I needn’t have worried. What director J.J. Abrams, who so successfully returned the “Star Trek” series to prominence, has created, along with co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, is an adventure that you will want to take again and again. New characters take their place alongside familiar faces and if you don’t get misty eyed the first time Han Solo (Ford) shows up you probably have the heart of a gundar!

Technically the film is amazing. The one problem many fans had with the prequels was that the computerized special effects looked too perfect. Here, with a blend of practical effects and CGI, the universe is back in balance. Abrams utilizes these effects to move the story along smoothly. Those new to the series can enjoy this film without seeing any of the previous films but for those who have, Abrams and company have included a couple nods to the original films that will surely have you smiling, among them the fact that the imperial storm troopers are still HORRIBLE shots! I just caught you smiling, didn’t I?

Book Review “Star Wars: The Force Inside”

“Star Wars: The Force Inside”
Author: Put Me In The Story
Hardcover: 40 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

In a galaxy far, far away, everyone must decide where their true allegiance lies. Are you Jedi or Sith? All the most powerful heroes and villains in the Star Wars universe are here to reveal “Star Wars: The Force Inside” First Yoda, Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia ask questions to guide you and help you become a Jedi Master. Then the dark side of the Force will try to sway you as you flip the book over and meet General Grievous, Darth Vader and a long list of other characters from the dark side.

Just in time for the holidays is the latest offering from Put Me In The Story. “Star Wars: The Force Inside” is a hardcover bound 40 page adventure book that puts the reader directly in the story. Through www.Putmeinthestory.com readers can put theirs or their loved ones name and photo directly in the story making for a truly unique gift giving experience. “The Force Inside” offers two different reading experiences which allows you to follow either the path of the Jedi or that of the Sith with corresponding characters guiding you on your journey. Though some of the name placement points seemed a bit generic the quality of the product more than made up for it as the books hardcover and brightly detailed glossy pages made for an experience that was very appealing to the eye. Each story is about 20 pages and introduces the reader to a number of characters from the “Star Wars” universe which for me was really fun as you didn’t know who or what to expect from page to page.

Though the book is probably best suited for early readers and up the variety of pictures offer an enjoyable experience for “Star Wars” fans of all ages. With a price tag of $39.99 your getting a quality made item sure to provide hours of fun making this a great addition to the list of any would be Jedi/Sith Lord.

Book Review “Star Wars: The Original Trilogy – Read-Along Storybook and CD”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Read-Along Storybook and CD
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press

Our Scores: 5 out of 5 stars

I am very excited that Disney has decided to release the original trilogy for “Star Wars” in a kid friendly Read-Along Storybook with a CD included. I have a 3 year old daughter and she loves “Star Wars” already and this is the perfect way to get introduced to the original trilogy in a fun and exciting way.

The books are fully illustrated with images by “Star Wars” artist Brian Rood. The images are crisp and the dialogue (though not original) easy to read. Included with this storybook series is a CD with word-for-word narration, music, and character voices. I find that it really engages my daughter with the beeps to turn the page and exciting sound effects.

“Star Wars: A New Hope”: Experience Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope like never before! Follow along as Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, rescues Princess Leia, and faces Darth Vader for the first time.

“Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”: The Rebellion faces its darkest hour in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Follow along as Luke Skywalker trains with Yoda to become a Jedi and defeat the fearsome Darth Vader.

“Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” The Rebellion begins a desperate mission to defeat the Empire once and for all in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Follow along as Luke Skywalker and the rest of the rebels take on the Empire’s deadliest weapon yet–a new Death Star.

Disney, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox Announce The Star Wars Digital Movie Collection

/ PR Newswire / — As anticipation builds for the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first new film in the Star Wars Saga in a decade, The Walt Disney Studios, Lucasfilm Ltd., and 20th Century Fox today announced the upcoming release of The Star Wars Digital Movie Collection. For the first time ever, all six epic films in the Saga, from The Phantom Menaceto Return of the Jedi, will be available on Digital HD throughout the galaxy – or at least here on Earth – globally beginning Friday, April 10.

“Since the debut of the first film nearly 40 years ago, Star Wars has become a worldwide phenomenon with legions of fans from every generation,” said Alan Bergman, President, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s only fitting that audiences enjoy this legendary Saga and its many fascinating behind-the-scenes stories on a wide variety of platforms, and we’re very excited to finally bring all six films to Digital HD for the first time.”

“We’re thrilled that fans will be able to enjoy the Star Wars Saga on their digital devices wherever they go,” commented Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “These films broke new ground in technology, design, sound, and visual effects, and we’ve created some very special bonus material which delves into the Saga’s rich history, including new and never-before-released conversations between legendary Star Wars artists – the masters who helped George bring his iconic universe to life.”

With Star Wars: Episodes I-VI available for purchase as a complete digital movie collection and individually, viewers will have the Rebel forces at their beck and call across their favorite devices anywhere – sunbathing at the beach, relaxing in their living room with friends, or waiting to board a flight to Endor (or elsewhere).

Enhancing the movie collection are a host of never-before-seen special features including Star Wars: Discoveries from Inside and insightful Conversations between key contributors from across this celebrated film franchise, plus a curated collection of classic Star Warsextras from each film. These are the droids you’re looking for:

BONUS
*Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer
STAR WARS EPISODE I: The Phantom Menace

  • Conversations: Doug Chiang Looks Back
  • Discoveries From Inside: Models & Miniatures
  • Legacy content includes “The Beginning”; The Podrace: Theatrical Edit; plus eight deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE II: Attack of the Clones

  • Conversations: Sounds In Space
  • Discoveries From Inside: Costumes Revealed
  • Legacy content includes “From Puppets To Pixels: Digital Characters In Episode II”; State Of The Art: The Previsualization Of Episode II; and “Films Are Not Released, They Escape”; plus Episode II Visual Effects Breakdown Montage and six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE III: Revenge of the Sith

  • Conversations: The Star WarsThat Almost Was
  • Discoveries From Inside: Hologram & Bloopers
  • Legacy content includes documentaries “Within A Minute: The Making Of Episode III”; The Journey Part 1; and The Journey Part 2; plus six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A New Hope (20th Century Fox)

  • Conversations: Creating A Universe
  • Discoveries From Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber
  • Legacy content includes “Anatomy Of A Dewback”; Star WarsLaunch Trailer; plus eight deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE V: The Empire Strikes Back

  • Conversations: The Lost Interviews
  • Discoveries From Inside: Matte Paintings Unveiled
  • Legacy content includes “A Conversation With The Masters” (2010); “Dennis Muren: How Walkers Walk”; “George Lucas On Editing The Empire Strikes Back 1979”; and “George Lucas On The Force: 2010”; plus six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE VI: Return of the Jedi

  • Conversations: The Effects
  • Discoveries From Inside: The Sounds Of Ben Burtt
  • Legacy content includes “Classic Creatures: Return Of The Jedi”; “Revenge Of The Jedi Teaser Trailer”; Return Of The Jedi Launch Trailer; “It Began TV Spot”; “Climactic Chapter TV Spot”; plus five deleted scenes.

About The Walt Disney Studios
For over 90 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world.

Feature films are released under the following banners: Disney, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel Studios; Disney|Lucasfilm; and Touchstone Pictures, the banner under which live-action films from DreamWorks Studios are distributed. The Disney Music Group encompasses the Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records labels, as well as Disney Music Publishing. The Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Disney on Broadway, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!

About Lucasfilm Ltd.
Lucasfilm Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production. In addition to its motion-picture and television production, the company’s activities include visual effects and audio post-production, cutting-edge digital animation, interactive entertainment software, and the management of the global merchandising activities for its entertainment properties including the legendary STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES franchises. Lucasfilm Ltd. is headquartered in northern California.

Lucasfilm, the Lucasfilm logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. STAR WARS © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

About 20th Century Fox
One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, 20th Century Fox Film produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of 20th Century Fox Film: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Animation.

Book Review “Star Wars Costumes”

Author: by Brandon Alinger
Hardcover: 232 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: October 28, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Star Wars”, who doesn’t love the amazing costumes that these characters have worn. “Star Wars Costumes” is going to be a huge hit with fans because it focuses on The Original Trilogy. What kid didn’t flip out when they saw Darth Vader’s costume for the first time. This is not the first costume book for “Star Wars” films thought since “Dressing a Galaxy” was released in 2005 but this book is much more in-depth about each costume. It is filled of pretty photos don’t get me wrong, very pretty and extremely detailed but there is some great descriptions backing those wonderful images. Episodes IV, V and IV are well represented here with costumes ranging for Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, Boba Fett, Darth Vadar, Stormtroopers and every guys favorite Slave Leia outfit and many more. I am sure fans are going to not be as thrilled for the inevitable follow-up for the Prequel Trilogy but it could have some great designs for sure. This is a must for any “Star Wars” fan.

Official Premise: Who can forget the first time Darth Vader marched onto Princess Leia’s ship, in his black cape and mask? Or the white hard-body suit of the stormtroopers? Or Leia’s outfit as Jabba’s slave? These costumes—like so many that adorned the characters of that galaxy far, far away—have become iconic. For the first time, the Lucasfilm Archives is granting full access to the original costumes of episodes IV, V, and VI, allowing them to be revealed in never-before-seen detail. In over 200 new costume photographs, sketches, and behind-the-scenes photos and notes, based on new interviews, fans will get a fresh perspective on the creation of the clothes and costume props that brought these much-loved characters to life. Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy affords both new and longtime Star Wars fans an intimate look at the unforgettable costumes from this classic series.

Like I said the resolution on the photos are very impressive. They even have some that are quite close up and you can literally see the seams. I am sure that fans are going to love this. What I also loved is that there is no wasting of pages here since there are great photos throughout this book. The author is Brandon Alinger, who is the COO of the Los Angeles branch of The Prop Store of London, the industry leader in movie props and costumes. There are also three great forewords by John Mollo, Aggie Rodgers, and Nilo Rodis-Jamero. John is the costume designer on Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. Nilo was the assistant art director and concept artist on Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and costume designer for Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Aggie was the costume designer on Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. These people certainly have and give us great insight into their work on the series.

Blu-ray Review: “Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions”

Starring: Matt Latner, James Arnold Taylor, Grey DeLisle, Corey Burton, Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2014
Run Time: 287 minutes

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions” consists of the sixth and final season of the Emmy Award-winning Warner/Cartoon Network animated series. The 13-episode season original aired exclusively on Netflix. Go figure, the show gets canceled right when it is at its peak and yet this is easily one of the best collection of episodes. I definitely have been enjoying “Star Wars Rebels” but “The Clone Wars” was getting to a good point in its story that it was getting darker and much deeper. It is sad to think that “The Clone Wars” is over but at least it went out with a good bang.

Official Premise: In these eagerly anticipated episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, some of the deepest mysteries of the conflict between the light and the dark sides of the Force are revealed. An intrepid clone trooper discovers a shocking secret, Anakin Skywalker’s closest relationship is tested to its limits, and what Master Yoda discovers while investigating the disappearance of a Jedi could forever change the balance of power in the galaxy.

This Blu-ray edition delivers these episodes with fantastic 1080p transfers. This show contains never really felt like a TV series, it always felt much larger to me. The colors are crisp and the animation is well done. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track really works with the non-stop epic action in this episodes. I would have loved to see a little bit more in terms of special features included here especially since it is the final season ever of “The Clone Wars”. What we get is a never before seen 16-minute documentary, which covers all six seasons. Seems a little short though to encompass the entire mass of the six seasons. There are also four additional story reels from “The Lost Missions” season, which are only available on this Blu-ray.

DVD Review “Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars”

Actors: Vincent Martella, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dan Povenmire, Ashley Tisdale, Alyson Stoner
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Rating: Not Rated
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2014
Running Time: 150 minutes

Special: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars” is not the Disney animated series’ first crossover episode. The show also went head to head with Marvel superheros last summer. When it comes to “Star Wars”, I am interested despite the crossover. Honestly, my interest in “Phineas & Ferb” has decreased to almost nothing since 2007. They did do a great job with mashing up “Star Wars” universe. This DVD is called “Star Wars IV: A New Hope – Retold and ReFERBished”, so one might assume that this will not be the last crossover either. The music is very catchy, clever and just plain fun. This DVD also includes six bonus episodes and a Carbonite Perry keychain. Calling all “Star Wars” fans, this is the crossover that you are looking for!

Official Premise: A couple of summers ago in a galaxy far, far away, Phineas and Ferb are happily basking in the glow of Tatooine’s twin suns — until plans for the Death Star accidentally fall into their hands, thrusting them (and Agent P) into a galactic rebellion and an epic struggle of good versus evil in “Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars”. Will Phineas and Ferb be able to resist the Dark Side? Will Stormtrooper Candace finally bust a Rebel? Can Agent P stop Darthenshmirtz from using his Force-powered “Sith-Inator”? Featuring five additional episodes for over two hours of action-packed fun, this mind-blowing, intergalactic adventure is a blast for all ages. May the Ferb be with you… always.

I know that kids don’t care if their cartoons are released on DVD or Blu-ray but there are a lot of big kids that might. This would have been epic on Blu-ray with the action, the animation and the music. Besides, “Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars” special, there are six additional bonus episodes including Be”For Your Ice Only/Happy New Year!”; “Steampunx/It’s No Picnic”; “Terrifying Tri-State Trilogy Of Terror (Parts 1 And 2); “Doof 101/Father’s Day” and “Tales From The Resistance” (Parts 1 And 2). If you enjoy “Phineas and Ferb”, this is a must have. If you have never seen the show once yet love “Star Wars”, this will be a great way to introduce you to the very funny characters and see “Star Wars” retold and reFERBished.

Book Reviews “Star Wars Art: Illustration & Posters” and “Star Wars Visions”

With “Star Wars Episode VII” in the making and the new animated series “Star Wars Rebels” having just premiered everyone in hyper drive for more “Star Wars”. Personally, I am eat, sleep and drink “Star Wars” and I wouldn’t be happier. Thanks to the amazing people at Abrams, they have been releasing amazing “Star Wars” books for their fans for years. I have a two year old daughter and she already knows all of the characters by name because we would spend time looking through the books and identifying all the characters.

I wanted to go through a few of them and showcase what is out there for fans. The first book, I received was “Star Wars Art: Illustration”, which was originally released in October of 2012. This was the third book in the “Star Wars Art” series. “Illustration” is a collection of the best of artwork from various books, trading cards, magazines, video games, and merchandise. The art in this film is everywhere you turn even still today.

This artwork was also curated by the man himself, George Lucas. It also includes previously unpublished, rarely seen, and fan-favorite art from Mark Chiarello, Dave Dorman, Hugh Fleming, Tim and Greg Hildebrandt, Ralph McQuarrie, Jon J. Muth, Tsuneo Sanda, Drew Struzan, Jerry Vanderstelt, Christian Waggoner, and many others. If you are a fan looking to see “Star Wars” from a wide variety of different styles from many illustrators than this book is definitely for you. Abrams really showcases this art so well and in such an amazing book.

The next one is also the latest “Star Wars Art: Posters”, in fact at the time of this writing it is technically not even released yet as it streets on October 14, 2014. The fifth book in the series is a another great book from Abrams, which simply focuses on that wonderful artwork from the posters in the world of “Star Wars”. Ranging from Tom Jung’s iconic one-sheet for Episode IV to Roger Kastel’s Gone with the Wind–inspired painting for Episode V and beyond, “Star Wars” has delivered some of the best posters in movie history over the last four decades.

This book also not able includes showcases the best artwork from all six Star Wars films’ posters but also the “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” animated television series, and limited-edition prints. Again, George Lucas–curated “Star Wars Art” series, impresses. What I really can’t wait to see is what Disney and LucasFilm are planning for the new Episode VII poster. There have already been tons of outstanding fan posters.

The last book, I am covering today is “Star Wars Visions”, which was originally released November 2010. This book calls out to the fans of “Star Wars” to deliver their inspired art work from the series. It includes over 100 well-known and promising artists artwork devoted to the entire Star Wars galaxy. “Star Wars: Visions” features pieces by renowned artists such as Amano, Allan R. Banks, Harley Brown, Gary Carter, James Christensen, Michael Coleman, Kinuko Craft, Jim Dietz, Phillipe Druillet, Donato Giancola, Ann Hanson, H. R. Giger, Daniel Greene, Ron Kleeman, Arantzazu Martinez, Syd Mead, Moebius, Paul Oxborough, Alex Ross, Anthony J. Ryder, Dolfi Stoki, William Stout, Dan Thompson, Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo, Scott Waddell, and Jamie Wyeth

This book is a real tribute to “Star Wars” and really features some amazing alternate artwork. Some of the art included is Kermit the Frog fishing with Yoda or even the manga Leia, which is a quite different look for the character. Other books in this series include “Star Wars Art: Comics”, which I will try and features later this month along with the upcoming “Star Wars Costumes”, which is being released by Chronicle Books later this month.

Steven Blum talks about voice work and his role of Zeb in “Star Wars Rebels”

Steven Blum is one of the best in the voice acting business. He has such amazing range working on shows such as “Cowboy Bebop” voicing Spike Spiegel to “Doc McStuffins” voicing Commander Crush to “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” voicing both Red Skull and Wolverine. Recently he is taking on the role of Zeb in “Star Wars Rebels”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about “Star Wars Rebels” with Steven and his a few of his other voice roles.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got the role of Zeb in “Star Wars Rebels”?
Steven Blum: Well, I auditioned for it like everyone else in town. I didn’t even know what it was for when I showed up. They called it a completely different name and edited out any of the information that would have made us know it was “Star Wars”. I didn’t actually know it was what it was until I booked the role. I was in England at the time at a “Transformers” convention when I got the email that I landed the job and I needed to record it there. So I had to find a studio in the middle of the countryside at this guy’s house and started recorded. About 10 minutes into the session, I am looking at the script and I see Stormtroopers in the copy and I said “What a second…this is Star Wars…THIS IS STAR WARS!!” It was a huge surprise. I just didn’t know the scope of this show. I have done “Star Wars” projects before but it was only in the video game context, so to get to work on the franchise on something this big is just an incredible thing. I got to introduce not only a new character but also a new species into the “Star Wars” universe. It was incredible.

MG: Where did the find the voice for him?
SB: We played with it a little bit. (Speaking in character) “It started out in the lower range” and we ended up tried a bunch of different accents. We did Eastern European, Australian and all sorts of different things. We landed on something that is sort of English with other ascents peppered in. It is sort of like a bad English accent [laughs]. I am apologizing to the entire UK for my bad accent [laughs].

MG: You also voice Shoe and Sparky in “The Boxtrolls”, out now.
SB: I am very excited about “The Boxtrolls”. It is an amazing piece and I have been a fan of LAIKA’s work for a long time. I even got to go to the studio and play with the puppets and see how these amazing people have put this film together. Every single bit of this film is hand made. It is phenomenal. They made like 3,000 different faces for this film with magnets on the back so that they can swap them out for each shot. It is uncanny.

MG: Since you have voices hundreds of characters like Spike Spiegel in “Cowboy Bebop” and Wolverine in various projects; if someone asked you to do a voice what is one of the first that comes to your mind?
SB: It depends on what I am working on that day. I always have a million voices going on it my head [laughs]. I need to do this job so I can let them out and not explode. So, it depends on the day. People can usually just point at a character and I can remember their voice and speak it.

MG: You have done a wide mix of villains and heroes; do you have a favorite type of character to voice?
SB: [laughs] It also depends on the day. If I am really pissed off and sitting in traffic, I will let a lot of that energy out. I do love playing the heroes too though. I love working on kid’s shows also now like Disney Junior’s “Doc McStuffins voicing Commander Crush and the two Karate Kangaroos. It has been really fun to work on something that is so child friendly.

Book Review “Star Wars The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight”

Author: Tony DiTerlizzi jsut him
Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Star Wars
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Release Date: October 7, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

As a father of a two year old daughter, it is a fathers dream to have my daughter follow in my footsteps with my love of all things “Star Wars”. Ever since she was born, she has had “Star Wars” jumpers and outfits. Since Disney bought LucasFilm they have been doing great things for the series. They have some great new content for kids.

“Star Wars The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight” tells the classic tale of good versus evil set in a galaxy far, far away, quickly became a cultural phenomenon during its time, inspiring a generation of story lovers and storytellers. The story is told through Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art. It is kid friendly and a great way to get your kids interested in the series.

Author and illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi is the co-creator of the middle-grade series, “The Spiderwick Chronicles”. This book is his first teaming up with Lucasfilm to retell the original Star Wars trilogy in a picture book. I hope that they are planning to do many more of these.

Book Review “Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Star Wars Rebels
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Release Date: August 5, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I don’t know about everyone else but I am freaking excited for “Star Wars Rebels”. My daughter and i have already been watching the shorts on Disney XD and she has already chosen her favorite of Sabine. “Star Wars Rebels” is a new CG animated series that takes place between the events of “Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.” “Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero” is the first in a hopeful long line of books from Disney and LucasFilm.

“Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero” is collection of concept art for the show put together in this action-packed picture book that introduces us to the new characters and what we can expect when this show airs. I have a feeling this is going to just be amazing. I love the classic characters but we had that with “The Clone Wars” and I think we are all excited to get a new group of misfits. Also included with this book is a downloaded code for the book in eBook format.

DVD Review “Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys”

Director: Brian Stillman
Number of discs: 1
Rated: Unrated
Studio: X-Ray Films
Run Time: 70 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

“Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys” tells the behind the scenes story of how one of the most successful toy lines ever came to be. From the lackluster early planning stages of a toy line/film destined for failure to the over whelming response which prompted the creation of the “Early Bird” mail order set to meet the immense demands. Directed by Brian Stillman the film is a fresh and in-depth look at not just the toy lines creation but also how it impacted countless childhoods.

This is not just another “Star Wars” documentary retelling stories fans of the series have heard time and time again. Instead Director Brian Stillman and company have put together a fun and informative documentary about the next best thing besides the films…the toys! Packed full of interviews with the people who designed the toys along with interviews from various collectors the film is part formal information and part childhood memories. Accompanying the interviews are a slew of vintage commercials, television spots and photo stills that catapult you back to the glory days of immense toy isles chocked full of your favorite “Star Wars” items. Equally impressive is the new animation that was created to transition various sections of the film. The art is fresh and new while retaining that late 70’s early 80’s feel. Something I very much enjoyed.

Alongside the film are a variety of Special Features including one titled “Know Your Lightsaber”. A fun spoof that had me cracking up from start to finish as it recounts the various light saber models and subsequent knock offs that were produced throughout the years. Whether you are a hardcore “Star Wars” collector, a casual fan or someone just wanting to take a trip down memory lane “Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys” is a fun film from start to finish that can be watched by the whole family.