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.

CRO-MAGS ADDRESS PTSD WITH MUSIC VIDEO “BETWEEN WARS” A Conversation with Harley Flanagan and Michael Imperioli

In The Beginning, New Album Out Now

Watch the Music Video and Interview “Between Wars” Now @ Consequence of Sound.

CRO-MAGS kingpin Harley Flanagan is back with “Between Wars,” the gripping new music video from their latest opus In The Beginning, available everywhere now on Mission Two Entertainment. The track lends its name to Between Wars, the independent film starring Flanagan and The Sopranos star Michael Imperioli, due out later this year.

“This song was a lot of fun to work on as it gave me a chance to do something completely different,” says Flanagan about the instrumental track. “I recorded the song with just bass and drums, followed by all the arpeggiated guitar parts, and eventually I added the cellos and did Hungarian-style throat singing. I was inspired to add the cellos when I first heard Carlos “Lamont” Cooper playing in the NYC subway where he plays to make a living. Turns out he’s an ex-gangbanger from NJ who has had a hard life and although we have had very different experiences, we have a lot of things in common; PTSD will do that.”

Imperioli adds, “Harley’s involvement and performance in Between Wars is organic, natural and necessary. He fit into the role like a glove. The life experience he brings to the project is authentic and true and he made us all raise our games.”

Imperioli and Flanagan sat down with the movie’s director Tom Phillips to discuss the music video, the film, and the importance of music scores and soundtracks. Between Wars takes an intimate look at the struggle of re-entering civilian life post-combat. The film follows veteran Marine Franny Malloy (Shaun Paul Costello) as he struggles with integrating himself back home in NYC after returning from the war in Afghanistan. Battling PTSD and self-destructive behaviors, he finds his only hope in fellow Marine turned PTSD psychologist, Sarge, played by Michael Imperioli. Harley Flanagan plays McManus, an old school Bronx Irish gangster and general madman.

It’s been a few productive years for Flanagan lately, who after forming the CRO-MAGS in 1983, legally asserted his original rights to the band name last year in a well-publicized lawsuit. “In many ways, it is a new beginning and also a tribute to where it all began,” reflects the frontman on the band’s first album in 20 years, In The Beginning.

In The Beginning is available now on CD, cassette and limited edition vinyl.

“The founding band of hardcore punk” – ROLLING STONE

“A hybrid of ‘80s and ‘90s anthemic hardcore full of underlying anger” – BLABBERMOUTH

“Fast punk and thrashy breakdowns” – DECIBEL

“Hits like a ton of bricks” – PUNK NEWS

“This one’s gonna snap a few bones and blacken an eye” – NEW NOISE

“An absolutely ripping album” – BLUNT

“Fast-paced, raw, blazing and blistering” – CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND

“A two-stepping salute to four-chord classic hardcore” – METAL HAMMER

“Cupcake Wars” winner to move Jillycakes into ICON Park

Famous cupcakes to be baked in The Wheelhouse Market

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 15, 2019) — Favorite local bakery, Jillycakes, is moving mouthwatering, eye-popping cupcake baking operations to ICON Park.

The bakery, owned by Jillian Hopke, season six winner of the Food Network Show, “Cupcake Wars,” is already delivering freshly baked cupcakes daily to Shack Sweets in ICON Park’s Wheelhouse Market. Jillycakes is set to make its full debut there on November 9.

“We are thrilled Hopke chose ICON Park as a base for her entire operation,” said ICON Park CEO Chris Jaskiewicz. “Jillycakes already has a local following. International Drive gives Central Florida businesses, like Jillycakes, the chance for global exposure.”

Hopke will be teaching baking classes at The Wheelhouse Market during the holiday season. Those classes will be open to the public by reservation only.

The Wheelhouse Market is a food hall located at the base of The Wheel at ICON Park, featuring a variety of gourmet options, including Latin 21 Street Food, Sausage Shack, 1905 Pizza & Pasta and Shack Sweets. All are part of Restaurant Tour Hospitality Group. Jillycakes’ freshly baked cupcakes are the perfect complement to current offerings, including authentically prepared, globally inspired foods, like andouille sausage, giant Bavarian pretzels and healthy acai bowls.

ICON Park is getting ready for an exciting 2020 with the opening of Blake Shelton’s Ole Red restaurant. Record breaking thrills are on the way with the world’s tallest slingshot ride and drop tower.

For more information, visit iconparkorlando.comiconparkorlando.com.

ABOUT ICON PARK
ICON Park™ is a 20-acre, walkable entertainment destination in the heart of Orlando’s International Drive. A perfect place to ride, dine, drink and explore, ICON Park has more than 40 amazing restaurants, funky bars, boutique shops and can’t-miss attractions, all anchored by The Wheel, a jaw-dropping observation wheel that stands 400 feet – 40 stories – in the air. Guests at ICON Park can visit SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Orlando, SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology and StarFlyer Orlando, the world’s tallest swing ride. Free parking is available in a multi-level, on-site garage, just steps from all the action. Learn more at ICONParkOrlando.com. Follow ICON Park on social media @ICONParkOrlando.

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: “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!

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.

 

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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.