Classic Star Wars Games Coming Back To Stores

AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 11, 2021: Aspyr Media is bringing back some fan-favorite, classic Star Wars™ games to stores near you later this year. Two exciting bundles will be available on PlayStation®4 and Nintendo Switch™. The first bundle, Star Wars™ Jedi Knight Collection, marks the return of Star Wars™ Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars™ Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy™. The second one, Star Wars™ Racer and Commando Combo, is a perfect fit for all prequel fans and includes Star Wars™ Republic Commando and Star Wars™ Episode I: Racer.

Each bundle will be available in North America and Europe for PlayStation®4 on October 26, as well as for Nintendo Switch™ on November 16. Pre-order today at a store not far, far away from you. The SRP for each bundle is $29.99 / €29.99 / £25.99.

About the Star Wars™ Jedi Knight Collection

Get two classic Star Wars™ games with the Star Wars™ Jedi Knight Collection, which includes Star Wars™ Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars™ Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.

Meet iconic Star Wars™ characters such as Lando Calrissian and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars™ Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, where you play as the Jedi Kyle Katarn, employing a unique mix of weapons, Force™ powers and your lightsaber™ in single-player first- and third-person action. Follow an ancient tradition and learn the powers – and dangers – of the Force™ in Star Wars™ Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, a single- and multiplayer action combat game.

Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast:

A Jedi outcast struggles with his past, his enemies, and his destiny. Kyle Katarn’s classic adventure lands on Nintendo Switch™ and PlayStation®4! Experience the legendary single-player epic with modernized controls.

  • As Kyle Katarn, agent of the New Republic, use your lightsaber and the full power of the Force to combat a new evil plaguing the galaxy.
  • Choose wisely from an arsenal of 13 weapons, including the disruptor rifle, thermal detonators, trip mines, and Wookiee bowcaster.
  • Test your skills in 24 single-player missions, four epic boss fights, and one unforgettable cantina.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy:

Forge your weapon and follow the path of the Jedi. The online multiplayer classic comes to Nintendo Switch™ and PlayStation®4 with modernized controls. Take on the role of a new student eager to learn the ways of the Force from Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.

  • Play with up to 16 online players in six online multiplayer modes, including Siege, Capture the Flag, and Free for All.
  • Customize your character by defining both look and gender before entering the Academy to learn the power and dangers of the Force.
  • Construct your own lightsaber from handle to blade. As you progress, discover the power of wielding two lightsabers or the ultimate double-bladed lightsaber made famous by Darth Maul.
  • Interact with famous Star Wars™ characters in many classic Star Wars™ locations as you face the ultimate choice: fight for good and freedom on the light side, or follow the path of power and evil to the dark side.

About the Star Wars™ Racer and Commando Combo

Get two classic Star Wars™ games with the Star Wars™ Racer and Commando Combo, which includes Star Wars™: Episode I Racer and Star Wars™ Republic Commando.

Climb on, strap in, and experience the pure adrenaline-pumping excitement of the Podracing sequence from Star Wars™: Episode I The Phantom Menace in Star Wars™: Episode I Racer. In Star Wars™ Republic Commando, you are the leader of your elite squad of Republic Commandos. Your mission is to infiltrate, dominate, and ultimately, annihilate the enemy.

Star Wars Episode I Racer:

The fan-favorite racer is back! Two engines. One champion. No limits. Take control of a podracer speeding through flaming methane lakes, Tusken Raider assaults, anti-gravity tunnels, and much more in a pulse-pounding, do-or-die fight to the finish line.

  • Choose from 25 playable racers including: Anakin Skywalker, Sebulba, and Ratts Tyerell.
  • Race tracks spanning 8 unique worlds including: Tatooine, Baroonda, and Malastare.
  • Work with Pit Droids to upgrade your podracer for higher top speeds and acceleration.
  • Discover short-cuts and secrets to master your lap times.

Star Wars Republic Commando:

The squad is your weapon. Boss, Fixer, Scorch, and Sev, better known as Delta Squad, are back on Nintendo Switch™ and PlayStation®4! Relive the legendary campaign.

  • Welcome to the Clone Wars: Chaos has erupted throughout the galaxy. As leader of an elite squad of Republic Commandos, your mission is to infiltrate, dominate, and ultimately annihilate the enemy.
  • Battle Relentless Enemies: Battle a variety of highly intelligent and deadly enemies—from brutal Trandoshan mercenaries to the flying insectoid warriors of Geonosis.
  • The Squad Is Your Weapon: Your squad will follow your orders, performing complex commands and strategic maneuvers. You are their leader. They are your weapon.

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About Aspyr

Aspyr is a leading video game publishing and development partner focused on maximizing the potential of games across all platforms and for all players. Today, the company supports a growing network of partners that includes many of the industrys leading entertainment IP holders, publishers, developers, and technology providers. Aspyr is based in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit www.aspyr.com.

All copyrights, trademarks, logos and brands are the property of their respective owners.

STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

Which Star Wars planet is the best to live on?

There are billions of fascinating planets in the galaxy far, far away, but which one would make the best home?

The Star Wars universe is home to an incredible collection of planets. From the desert of Tatooine to the metropolis city of Coruscant, there are countless ways to live a life in the galaxy far, far away.

Of all the planets, though, which would provide the best place to live?

According to to research from Betway casino, we have complied a list of the planets and some pros and cons of living in each one.

BESPIN

Bespin is basically a giant ball of gas. The only thing keeping it hospitable is Cloud City. If you are wondering why it would be a good place to live is due to that fact that Lando Calrissian, the administrator, is the boss there and that dude definitely knows how to throw a party.

CORUSCANT

Coruscant is a bit more hoping that Bespin planet. Coruscant is entirely covered by a giant metropolis. It is also the home to the Jedi Council and the political centre of the galaxy. This is city life for sure 100%. If you are looking for the typical city life that this planet is where it is at.

There is a clear class system here on this planet though with over 1000 levels. So if your loaded with money it might be better for you than just the average worker, since the further down you go its like descending deeper and deeper into the pits of Hell.

ENDOR

Endor is the forest planet, which is also home to the Ewoks. Living here would be a nature lovers dream come true. It is blush with forest ands and trails. As long as you can get along with the little Ewoks, you will be happy here.

HOTH

I don’t know who would want to come to Hoth to be honest, which is a planet covered by snow and ice. Maybe if you were into winter sports, it would be nice otherwise outside of skiing, there is not much here to do. You also especially need to avoid the Wampas, who are very territorial.

NABOO

Naboo is likely one of the best planets in the Star Wars universe. It is the home of Queen Amidala, as well as Jar Jar Binks and the Gungans (which could be considered a problem if you hate Jar Jar like myself). The planet itself is full of culture and beautiful scenery. Honestly if Naboo is good enough for the Queen it is good enough for me to live.

As long as the Gungans don’t bother you too much, fun fact, Naboo was also the birthplace of the Emperor. As long as you can deal with those two facts, this planet might be the place to be if you can afford it that is.

TATOOINE

Tatooine is known best as being the home of Anakin and Luke Skywalker. When you think of Star Wars, this desert planet with two suns, is the first place that I think of. I think of the land as a farming community but everyone seems to earn their own way and I appreciate that.

Tatooine also has the cantinas, which can be a bit deadly if you don’t know how to work the crowds, but if you do it is the coolest of places to be.

ALDERAAN

Alderaan seems to be one of the most beautiful and desirable planets in the entire galaxy. It was also home of Princess Leia and the Organa family…that is until it was destroyed by the Death Star. Like Naboo, it was known for rolling hills, mountains, waterfalls. It was the planet that everyone wanted to live at, at least until it was blown up due to also being the unofficial home of the Rebel Alliance.

MUSTAFAR

Mustafar is a planet that no one wants to visit. It is comprised almost entirely of lava. It is also known as the planet where Anakin Skywaler was struck down by Obi-Wan Kenobi, setting up his new fate as Darth Vader. What is cool as hell is Darth Vader castle, which is located there but otherwise I couldn’t see a reason for visiting here.

DAGOBAH

Dagobah is a remote swamp planet where Yoda trained Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force. Since it is a remote planet, there isn’t much population of places to live but if you are crafty like Yoda, you can make a hut and make it work in a very minimalist fashion.

There is no shortage of species though on Dagobah, some small and some big, so you got to pick your battles carefully. If you are looking for a smooth meditative place to get your force together and trained up this might be the place to go.

KASHYYYK

Last but not least is Kashyyyk, which is home to the Wookies. Kashyyyk is a jungle planet covered in giant trees. There are some beautiful beaches and treehouses for living it up and to relax at but there are some strange species here including giant slugs and spiders out there as well, so you better get some Wookies on your side to help keep you safe.

Most Common Actors to Star In Casino Films

We all know that the TV and movie industry always typecast their actors and roles, surrounding movies within the gambling industry. Therefore, you often see those same types of actors consistently within the movies that are released on a year-on-year basis. Suppose some actors are just really good at hitting the spot, when it comes to acting perfectly, right?

NetBet and Casino777.es are great casinos that can suffice your gambling, should you be reminiscing right now on the casino gambling life, after seeing the great actors we list and remembering the entertainment value that gambling brought them (and you too from watching!). Continue reading to see which actors are listed as the most common stars when it comes to gambling movies.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon is an Oscar winner; we all know this. So, in all honesty he is not type casted, as he is able to act in any genre possible. We have seen him in action, drama, and so on. Yet we are sure you have probably watched the renowned movie Rounders, released in 1988. This movie actually introduced him into the gambling sector and left a super great impression in Hollywood. It led him onto greater and better things too! Ocean’s Eleven needs no introduction as it left a huge mark on the casino movie industry. Of course, if you combine Matt Damon, with a bunch of other great actors, the movie will obviously go down in history and hold epic proportions within the movie community-gambling or not.

Matt Damon went on to play his role further in the new releases of the Ocean’s Eleven; Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen and Ocean’s 8. In each and every movie, Matt was able to bring an energy that reflects a hungry and eager gambler. The enthusiasm was believable, and that is when you know that an actor is good at what they do, as it is so believable. So yes, Matt you most definitely qualify as an actor perfect for the gambling scene, if we may say so ourselves!

Robert De Niro

Would this list even be valid, if we did not qualify De Niro in our lists? Robert is known for his heightened acting skills, and of course his role within mafia movie Godfather, really did give him a great reputation as an actor. There is no doubt about that. Robert’s performance within the film Casino, playing the character ‘Ace’ highlighted how versatile he is as an actor, even more. His character was charming with an underlying sense of ruthlessness.

De Niro even brought humour to his next casino role, Last Vegas. His acting skills were massively showcased here as he went from Mr narcissist to a comedian with some serious ability to make the audience laugh-we know we did. Despite the change in character and style of acting, he is one of the most respected actors today and will always be given roles most of the time now, without having to even audition. Why? He has proved his value, especially in the gambling genre specifically. So, we expect to see him again very soon within another gambling franchise.

Sharon Stone

We got to put Sharon Stone in this equation for gambling movies. Not only is she a very credible actress for the 1990s, but she also managed to really set tongues wagging, with her impeccable performance within the movie Casino (alongside De Niro). Her role as Ginger McKenna made the acting gigs come in just fine, as the role was really iconic, witty and sultry. All actors often wish to get given a role as versatile such as this, because you basically can show off multiple action capabilities at once-and that is exactly what she was able to do!

The other movie which she got cast into (also gambling related), was The Vegas Strip War. This movie had less sex appeal than the Casino movie, yet nevertheless she was selected as the director knew of her versatility when it comes to acting. Casino hit all the categories for acting required to get her cast into it. In fact, many women that love to inspire their casino glam outfits these days, will always take inspiration from Miss Stone herself, playing Ginger.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman is seen as one of the greatest actors within the Hollywood business. He graced the cinema screens with roles that really showed how fast and efficiently he can switch, in terms of one genre to another. We all know he’s of the old but gold actors, meaning his famous gambling roles are those that were made in the 60s and the 70s. The first one we will begin to mention, is The Hustler. It is a must mention. Created in 1961, this role has Newman playing Eddie Felson, the independently driven and confident cool that casino movies have never seen before. It is of course the fact that he is so good looking, which has allowed him to get the good roles that need such charisma. He managed to land the movie sequel to Hustler, called the Colour of Money, which had taken almost two decades to be released surprisingly.

James Caan

James Caan is another recognisable face from the famous Godfather series. That series immediately typecast him as someone who was very hard in character, yet deep down with a soft heart. James managed to land many gambling roles within his career. Las Vegas was the first, and this was a TV series in fact. Having the lead as a casino manager, Caan managed to play this role with the rigidity it needed, to then impress further and land the appearance within Honeymoon in Vegas. This role was unfortunately not as memorable nor did it impact as much as the other roles he featured in, however the movie the Gambler was what dominated his identity within the movie business for gambling. That role itself was huge for his career, and the movie itself goes down as a huge success for the value it brought to the movie making community. Even IMDB says so, they rated it a great 7.4 out of 10, which is not too shabby at all!

Join the Galaxy’s Finest as Star Wars™: Squadrons Soars Into Homes

Climb into the Cockpit on Xbox One, PlayStation®4, Virtual Reality and PC with Cross-play Support in the Most Immersive STAR WARS™ Starfighter Experience Yet

Digital Soundtrack Featuring Score Composed by Gordy Haab Available Now

Strap in pilots, and prepare for battle! Today, Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA), Motive Studios and Lucasfilm released the highly anticipated immersive, first-person, Star Wars™ space dogfighting experience, Star Wars™: Squadrons. The game features thrilling 5v5 multiplayer starfighter combat along with an original Star Wars story set after the events ofStar Wars: Return of the Jedi™Polygon even says, “Star Wars: Squadrons is every inch the spaceflight simulation that fans have been dreaming of for a generation.” In the authentic new story, players will speed to the frontlines of an escalating conflict experienced from the alternating perspectives of two customizable pilots, one serving the New Republic and the other the Galactic Empire.

Star Wars: Squadrons Available Now (Photo: Business Wire)

Star Wars: Squadrons offers the option to play in thrilling Virtual Reality on PS4 and PC, enabling players to feel every drift, evasion and maneuver as if they were in the cockpit. Mastering the skills and controls to become an ace pilot in the Star Wars universe is no easy feat and players looking to test their abilities and fully embrace the pilot fantasy can tune their difficulty in-game and take full control of their ship with hands on throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) support on PC, PlayStation® 4 and Xbox One.

“As a lifelong Star Wars fan, it’s been an incredible journey to bring the space combat experience to life in a way that is true to the legacy of the franchise,” said Ian Frazier, Creative Director, Motive Studios. “It all starts in the cockpit, the center of the action. We’ve worked hand-in-hand with Lucasfilm to hone in on the pilot’s perspective, and match the aesthetic from the films to create an authentic Star Wars gameplay experience that will transport fans into the pilot’s seat. We’re thrilled to bring this experience to players around the world, who can now join together in battles across the galaxy.”

Players can start their adventure in Star Wars:Squadrons and develop their piloting skills in a fulfilling single-player story showcasing daring pilots and rival commanders, flying for freedom with the New Republic or upholding the Galactic Empire’s vision of order. At the heart of the story is Project Starhawk — a starship project critical to the New Republic and one the Empire seeks to eliminate. Across multiple missions in a full campaign, players will report to two leaders: Lindon Javes, commander of the New Republic’s Vanguard Squadron, and Terisa Kerill, commander of the Galactic Empire’s Titan Squadron, whose deep-seated rivalry will fuel many of the encounters throughout the story.

Star Wars:Squadrons features intense 5v5 multiplayer combat in two key modes, Dogfight and Fleet Battles. In Dogfight, players will work with their squadron to execute the best tactics and destroy as many opponents as possible, while in Fleet Battles, players join their squadron in large scale, strategic back-and-forth battles to demolish opposing flagships. Squadrons will also give players the chance to bring their own personality to their starfighters with customization options that are earned solely through gameplay.

“We are always looking to bring new Star Wars stories and experiences to our fans,” said Douglas Reilly, Vice President, Lucasfilm Games. “Star Wars: Squadrons places players at the apex of one of the most uncertain times between the New Republic and Galactic Empire, where the scales of power could be tipped in either direction, and the fate of the galaxy is still unclear. We’re thrilled to give players the opportunity to play their Star Warspilot fantasy and experience this original story.”

As players earn their stripes and progress in the game, they will be able to collect components including Primary Weapons, Auxiliaries, Countermeasures, Hulls, along with Shields and Engines to fine tune the performance of their starfighters, which can be equipped with up to three passive components and four active components. Star Wars:Squadrons features eight iconic New Republic and Imperial starfighters from four starfighter classes: Fighters, Bombers, Interceptors, and Support ships, with a power management system that allows players to divert power to particular subsystems including engines, lasers or shields to outsmart opponents.

After launch players can expect additional online experiences including daily challenges to earn Glory, an in-game currency earned solely through playing, to unlock starfighter and pilot cosmetics, and Operations, which are 8-week cycles bringing their own set of cosmetic rewards to be earned along with new challenges. Players will also earn experience through play, and as they level up, will unlock Requisition points that can be used to unlock ship components to modify their playstyles.

Additionally, the official soundtrack for Star Wars: Squadrons from Walt Disney Records is now available at digital service providers including Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and more. Composed by the masterful Gordy Haab, and recorded with a world-renowned orchestra, the soundtrack includes 26 pieces from the game with a retro, stylized feel reminiscent of the iconic films that launched the Star Warsfranchise decades ago.

Star Wars: Squadrons is now available both digitally and in stores for $39.99 on Xbox One, PlayStation® 4 and PC via the EA Desktop App, Steam and the Epic Games Store, with Virtual Reality (VR) support on PlayStation® 4 and PC. The idea behind the game is not a new one, more and more movies, games, even online slots from famous casinos such as PA online casino, are inspired by Star Wars. EA Play* subscribers can enjoy up to 10 hours of playtime at launch, along with 10% off the purchase of the full game and immediate access to additional in-game perks including cosmetic items like the Interceptor Elegance Helmet and the Ashen Monarch Paint Job Set. EA Play* Pro subscribers will get full access to Star Wars: Squadrons on PC along with all the benefits of EA Play for as long as they subscribe. For more information on Star Wars:Squadrons, please visit: https://www.ea.com/games/starwars/squadrons

Follow the EA Star Wars channels on Twitter and Facebook, or visit https://www.ea.com/games/starwars to stay updated on the latest news.

Dan Shor talks about TRON, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Star Trek

Dan Shor is know best for playing the supporting character Ram, in the movie, TRON. He also played the character Roy Kleinberg in the TRON: The Next Day epilogue to TRON: Legacy, a role that was reprised from TRON in which the character was listed as “Popcorn Co-Worker”. Besides being a veteran actor, he is also a director, writer and teacher with a career spanning 28 years.

Dan is also known for playing Billy the Kid in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. He also appeared “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek Voyager” playing Dr. Arridor.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Dan about these roles and reflect on the legacy of TRON.

Move Over Ugly Sweaters… Win the Holidays with an Opposuit!

FESTIVE FORCE

MERRY SITHMAS

It’s that time of the year again, November is just around the corner. Every year, I love getting to wear themed clothing like ugly sweaters or nice dress-up clothes for the holiday season. This year, I found the perfect combo with Opposuits. With these suits, I can see myself having a little more fun during attending important events, while still looking really sharp. If you are a Star Wars fan get your wallets out because the suit above is one of the MANY amazing designs they have available for sale.

Whether or not you need this sweater rests on a very simple question…what could be better than a Star Wars suit that is also a Christmas suit? I mean this is a win win for any Star Wars fan. It has a really nice fit to it and feels great wearing it. The force is definitely strong with this one… I have a feeling this will be used even when not the holidays. I have a feeling this is going to be used as an excuse to through a fun Christmas in July party as well!

I used to be that guy that wore suits to work. Luckily I don’t have to do that anymore. I told myself I would never put on a suit again. I had a good friend of mine who told me to check this company out and I almost didn’t due to my ode to never wear a suit again but I feel like my whole outlook on suits has change. I also personally really appreciate how the company describes that they make “suits that are the exact opposite of boring business suits”. That definitely speaks to me. They makes product for people who don’t take themselves too seriously, but still want to maintain a sense of style. This is a suit that I want to wear. Period.

Don’t worry if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, they have a ridiculous amount of designs available ranging from Superhero to Patriotic to Halloween, Christmas, Oktoberfest and tons more. I have a feeling I am going to be starting a little bit of a collection here. I usually pride myself on being the T-shirt guy. I always try and have a fun or interesting T-shirt on and now when a T-shirt isn’t appropriate I feel like I can sub in an Opposuit instead and still feel comfortable while looking great. And most importantly the price is right!

 

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Film Review: “A Star is Born”

A STAR IS BORN
Starring:  Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper and Andrew Dice Clay
Directed by:  Bradley Cooper
Rated:  R
Running time:  2 hrs 15 mins
Warner Bros.

To quote “Beauty and the Beast,” it’s a tale as old as time.  Big star on the way down meets rising star on the way up.  They fall in love.  One embarrasses the other and their love is tested.  The tale is so old that it’s already been told, very well, three times before.  But the fourth time may be the best!

Jackson Maine (Cooper) is a popular singer who has lived his life on the road.  Once enjoying his time on stage, now he gets by with alcohol and drugs, showing up, plugging in then hurrying off-stage to the seclusion of his limo.  One night, while looking for a place to stop, he ends up at a drag club, where he gets the chance to listen to a young woman named Ally (Lady Gaga – I was just going to put “Gaga” but I’m not sure how the first name/last name thing works here.  I guess I could have put “Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta” but that would probably confuse you even more.  Ally does an old Edith Piaf song and soon Jackson is mesmerized by her voice.  He invites her out with him, where they buy some beer and talk about music.  When he drops her off at home she figures that’s the last time she will see him.  It isn’t.

A familiar story with enough new twists and turns to keep it fresh, “A Star Is Born” is a triumph.  Much of this praise must go to my rival Bradley Cooper.  (I know my wife loves me, but if Bradley Cooper came knocking I would be just a memory J).  As a first time director, especially in a film starring himself, there is an opportunity to make everything BIG and LOUD and, worse of all, put yourself front and center.  Cooper directs with a restraint that is almost unheard of with newbies.  He frames the story almost as if he’s shooting a documentary, and that close, inside look draws you into the story.  As an actor, Cooper is equally up to the task here.  His voice low and gruff (there’s a great line in the film where Sam Elliott, who plays his brother and who was also a musician, accuses Jackson of “stealing my voice”), he gives quite possibly the best performance of his career, which is saying a lot for a man who has already been nominated for the acting Oscars already in his career.

As Ally, Lady Gaga is outstanding.  We already know she can sing.  I haven’t heard a lot of her songs but I still include the night she showed up at the Academy Awards and sang “The Sound of Music” as one of my favorite all-time Oscar moments.  Not only is she in great voice, she has incredible acting chops.  Both the 1937 and 1954 versions of the film earned Oscar nominations for its stars.  The 1976 version swept the Musical Film Category and I’m predicting that both Lady Gaga and Cooper get nods for their work here.  Great supporting work from Andrew Dice Clay, Sam Elliott and Dave Chappelle make the film even more enjoyable.

Film Review: “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

 

SOLO:  A STAR WARS STORY
Starring:  Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson and Emelia Clarke
Directed by:  Ron Howard
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  2 hrs 15 mins
Walt Disney

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

For more than four decades, those words have promised great adventures and memorable characters.  And most of the time those promises were kept.  I crossed my fingers going into this one but I’m happy to report that the new film “Solo,” like Gary Busey in the 1990s, is indeed a promise keeper.

Brash and full of confidence, we meet a young Han (Ehrenreich) and his lady friend Qi’ra (Clarke) right after they’ve been double-crossed while doing a deal at the behest of the evil Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt).  The good Lady is not pleased but, before she can punish the duo, they make a run for it.  While Han makes his way to safety, Qi’ra is caught.  Knowing he must go away, Han joins the service, determined to become a pilot.  Wonder how that’s going to turn out for him?

Set, in my mind, about 10 years before the events we know as EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE or, simply STAR WARS, “Solo” is an origin story in the true sense of the word.  Taken under the wing of smuggler/thief/jack of all trades Tobias Beckett (Harrelson) we learn many things about Han.  Where he got his blaster.  How he met Chewbacca.  Heck, we even find out where he got his name.  Through the course of his adventures, he meets a young, kindred soul named Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), a card cheat who has an almost unhealthy amount of capes in his closet.  Together, the two adversaries begin a cautious friendship that, we now know, will continue for many years.

There is a lot more I could say, but I don’t want to be known as the guy who forgets to yell SPOILER ALERT!  What I will say is that director Howard has set the pace for a film that could easily stand alone.  All in all, “Solo” is a welcome piece in the continuing “Star Wars” saga!

 

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4K Ultra-HD Review “Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”

Actors: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega. Oscar Isacc
Directors: Rian Johnson
Rated: PG-13
Studio: LucasFilm
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Run Time: 152 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
4K: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I am just going to come out and say this, I dug “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. I saw it twice in theaters and once on 4K UHD and it just keeps getting better. I don’t think us as fans were expecting the next “Star Wars” film to be like “The Last Jedi” but it was definitely different…much different than “The Force Awakens”. I enjoyed looking at this film from a different angle then what I did when I first saw it theatrically and I discovered that I was able to really appreciate it much more. The “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” is definitely a must purchase for ANY “Star Wars” fan (unless you want this film on 3D Blu-ray, then you need to import). “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” marks Disney’s first title available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in both Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos immersive audio, so this is a big one!

In the world of high definition, you want to get the best possible when watching “The Last Jedi”. This 2160p/Dolby Vision UHD release knocks it out of the park. This combo really delivers the best transfer possible here with such an increase of detail and color depth on your TV screen. The depth to facial features as well as costumes and landscape environments. sadly this is lost on the Blu-ray disc. The 2160 transfer with Dolby Vision is the way to go for this release, you will be, honestly, blown away from the amount of detail given here. As it delivers a perfect score on video transfer, “The Last Jedi” also hits a home run with its Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The full featured track is perfectly balanced and delivers a perfect viewing experience.

“The Last Jedi” is JAM PACKED with awesome extra content, all of which is on a dedicated third Blu-ray disc, besides the commentary track. There is also a Movies Anywhere digital code is included with purchase, which redeems a 4K digital copy to watch online or on your phone/tablet. The commentary track with Writer/Director Rian Johnson delivers a very full audio commentary given some much needed insight into the film. I am not 100% on board with him but I tried Lucasfilm knows what they are doing moving forward. “The Director and the Jedi” is THE documentary for “The Last Jedi”. It is a feature film length run 95 minutes and dives super deep into the making of the film from every aspect possible! It is a perfect and must watch extra, cannot stress this more for “Star Wars” fans.

Next up we have “Balance of the Force” is more discussion with Rian Johnson discuses The Force and it’s play out with Rey, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker. Most of this is coverage in commentary as well but in a different format. There are scene breakdowns giving insight into making three of the film’s key sequences – included are “Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle”, “Snoke and Mirrors”, and “Showdown on Crait”. “Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only)” features Andy Serkis’ performance as Snoke in the motion capture suit before CGI was applied. This is a MUST SEE also! He is amazing. Finishing off the extras are nearly 25 minutes of deleted scenes with optional Rian Johnson commentary. I also wanted to point out a digital only extra, there is score-only version available exclusively on Movies Anywhere for a limited time, check it out!

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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!

Interview with “A Christmas Story” star Zack Ward

Ever since his debut as Scut Farkus in “A Christmas Story” over three decades ago, Zack Ward has steadily carved out a career both in front of and behind the camera.  But there is a lot more to Cleveland Street’s best known bully.

Zack and co-star Scott Schwartz will be appearing in Omaha this Friday, November 10, where they will host a charity screening of “A Christmas Story.” I had the opportunity to speak with Zack this week and he shared his thoughts about the film and his career.

Mike Smith:  Why do you think, more than 30 years after its release, “A Christmas Story” is still so popular?

Zack Ward:  I’ve been asked that question many times over the years and I’ve been able to give the answer a lot of thought.  It has something to do with the combination of many things.  The writing.  The story is the same story structure of Homer’s “The Iliad.”  A young boy goes on a mythical adventure.  He fights all of these different demons.  And he does this to finally earn the respect of his father.  That’s what the B.B. gun is about.  It’s not that it’s a toy.  It could have been anything.  If you remember what happens at the very end of the film, when the father says to Ralphie, “What’s that behind the tree?”  The mom doesn’t even know what’s there.  And he finds the B.B. gun and the mom is upset.  But he tells her that he had one when he was that age.  What the whole statement of the B.B. gun is is a coming of age.  It’s the father’s acceptance of the son being responsible and becoming a man.  Transitioning from being a child.  And getting that respect from the parents that you adore means everything.  It doesn’t matter what the toy is.  What matters is what it represents.

MS:  That is the greatest answer to that question that I’ve ever gotten.

ZW:  (laughs)  Thank you.  I’ve had many years to ponder this.  The other thing is the direction.  If you look at the film again, and I’m sure you will now, you’ll notice that it is shot from the child’s view.  Bob Clark had the camera lowered so that the camera was always shooting from Ralphie’s point of view.  That never happens.  Usually adults are looking down on children.  In this situation, it’s always from the child’s perspective.  At a certain point, Bob Clark had them remove the floor from part of the set to ensure they could get the camera dolly low enough in order to have the right perspective.  He fought for that tooth and nail.  Also, the film is multi-generational.  It’s what they call in the industry “co-viewership.”  It’s like “Modern Family.”  You can watch “Modern Family” if you’re a grandpa, if you’re a mom, if you’re a dad, if you’re a teenager or if you’re a kid.  And “A Christmas Story” captivates all of those life moments.  You can see it as a child.  Understand it as a parent.  And reflect on it as an adult, thinking about your own childhood.  I’ve been amazed to watch 70-year old men with their 50-year old sons and 25-year old grandsons and 5-year old great-great grandsons walk up to me because they all want to meet the kid from “A Christmas Story.”  And they’re all surprised it’s me because they actually think it was shot in the 1940s.  That’s the thing that’s incredible.  How multi-generational it is.  How inclusive it is.  There’s no CGI.  There’s no special effects.  It’s just a great story that connects with people.

MS:  Do you have a favorite memory from the shoot?

ZW:  Yes I do.  My favorite memory from the shoot was when I came to the set one day.  We were shooting in Cleveland and there was no snow.  It was the middle of winter and all of the lawns were dark brown.  Cleveland at that time was not a city you really wanted to be in.  It was going through a very severe economic crisis.

MS:  I was born in Cleveland so I know what you’re talking about.

ZW:  So you know.  We were not allowed to go outside of the hotel after 6:00 pm for good reason.  It was a scary place at night.  We walked down to the set, to the house which is now a museum, and we turned the corner.  And every other street is just brown grass and ugly lawns.  But in the middle of the street is a house covered in snow.  With a big tree in the yard full of icicles glistening in the sun.  And it was all man-made.  That for me was a “wow” moment.  It took my breath away and still today I remember that feeling…that anything is possible.

MS:  You have worked steadily since “A Christmas Story,” which is very rare for someone whose career started when they were a child.  What’s your secret?

ZW:  (laughs)  I think it’s because I’ve got this face that people look at and want to punch!  It’s not my fault.  I’m a sweetheart of a guy.  I just happen to have slanty eyes and red hair.  And I really think people want to punch me in the face.  Definitely it’s helped.  (laughs)

MS:  You’ve written and directed in the past.  Do you see yourself doing more of that in the future?

ZW:  I’m actually in the process of doing that now.  I’m writing a series called “Fracture” and we go into pre-production in December.  It’s a series I co-created with a friend of mine and I’m the single writer on it.  I won’t be directing this one but I will be executive-producing and writing.  But I do love directing.  I’m actually getting ready to direct a commercial being shot in Akron, Ohio in about a week.  I love working on both sides of the camera.  The one job I hate is producing.  It sucks!  It’s such a horrible job.  Everybody blames you for everything and nobody thanks you for anything.  No matter what you pay them!

MS:  Anything else coming up soon?

ZW:  Yes.  Onscreen I have a T.V. show called “Swedish Dicks,” as in detectives.  The old, 1940s style term.  He’s a flatfoot.  I appear with Peter Stormare and a little fella named Keanu Reeves.  I tell you, I don’t know but I think he’s got a career ahead of him.  I’m also working on something I’m very excited about outside the entertainment environment.  It’s called “All Sports Market” and it is the world’s first stock market for sports team.  We’ve been working on it for the past 15 years and we’ve had a data model up for the last 3.  The whole concept is that you can buy shares in your favorite sports team.  And you can sell or trade them like you would stocks.  It’s something that goes back to the Roman times, when at the Coliseum people would place their bets.  And the sport always suffers because someone always takes a dive.  Even if there is a suspicion of collusion towards throwing the game, gambling sours sports.  It poisons it like a cancer.  This takes that element out of the game.  And it allows parents to bond with their children over their favorite sports teams.  Do you have any children?

MS:  One

ZW:  How old is he?

MS:  33

ZW:  If you said to your 10-year son, “hey buddy, let’s talk about market fluctuation and dividends and stock prices because you need to learn how to be an investor so you won’t be homeless when you’re 33,” I can pretty much guarantee you that he would fall asleep or start crying.  But if you find out his favorite team, you can tell him that together you’re going to buy 10 shares in his favorite team and you can watch what happens over the season.  It’s something you can do together.  And by the end of the season you’re son or daughter is now financially literate.  They know how to make investments.  Because you took the moment and educated them on something important while to them they were just talking with dad about their favorite team.

You can learn more by going to www.AllSportsMarket.com.  And if you sign up you get $2500.00 of play currency, what we call “learning capital.”  The whole thing now is a learning market.

MS:  Last question.  You run into Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) in an alley.  Who wins the fight this time?

ZW:  (laughs)  Is there any doubt in your mind that Scut Farkus took a dive?  Another point against sports gambling.  You KNEW I took a dive.  I was bought out.  I went down harder than a sack of potatoes.  I’ve got a couple of black belts and was in “Black Belt” magazine so I think I’d do well.  On the flip side, Peter did produce “Iron Man” so he’s probably got more bodyguards!

 

 

 

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.

Masked Intruder Premiers New Video for “First Star Tonight”

MASKED INTRUDER PREMIERES NEW VIDEO FOR “FIRST STAR TONIGHT” AT PUNKTASTIC.COM

Enigmatic pop-punk misfits Masked Intruder have premiered a new video for “First Star Tonight” via Punktastic.com. The track is taken off latest EP Love and Other Crimes out via Pure Noise Records. The record is available for purchase at iTunes and at http://maskedintruder.merchnow.com/.

Watch the video for “First Star Tonight” now at Punktastic.com: http://bit.ly/2jAGooN

Masked Intruder will tour the UK with Me First and The Gimme Gimmes later this month.

For More Information:

https://www.facebook.com/maskedintruder

 

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?