Saturday, 16 December 2017


As darkness rises to meet the challenge of light within a galaxy far, far away, fans can discover the next phase of the STAR WARS saga's artistic genesis with the newly-released The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, out now in gorgeous hardback, courtesy of those luminous talents at Abrams Books.

From the shorelines of the ancient islands of Ahch-To, to the pursued Resistance forces out in deep space, then on to the wacky races Casino realms of Canto Bight, completed by the red salt world visitation of the remote Crait, home to one of the most spectacular good and evil confrontations ever, this book, written by Phil Szostak, is your lavish personal gateway to how writer/director Rian Johnson and his magnificent ensemble artists brought us such a wondrous and epic new chapter of the franchise, playing in cinemas worldwide as you read this...

Book blurb:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattered box-office records as one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and its eagerly awaited sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is sure to do the same. Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, The Brothers Bloom, Brick) and production designed by Rick Heinrichs (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Captain America: The First Avenger), this chapter, like every chapter before it, owes its visual language and fully imagined cinematic landscape to an incomparable art department: the Lucasfilm visualists. The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi explores their vision and illuminates their creative process in stunning detail. Featuring concept art and costume sketches, storyboards, and blueprints, fans will take a deep dive into the development of the fantastic worlds, characters, and creatures both old and new of The Last Jedi. Featuring unforgettable art and exclusive interviews with the filmmakers, this visual archive highlights moviemaking magic at its finest.

Get the book here:


Original TV Guide advert for The Making of Star Wars.

With the incredible production design, special effects, monsters and droids on display which caught the imagination of the world, it wasn't long before audiences wanted to know more about the smash-hit movie and how such cinematic magic came to be made. Knowing a ratings winner when they saw one, ABC Television were quick to have a special 'Making of' documentary, airing September 16th, 1977, that went behind the (Panavision) camera of the landmark epic, specially interviewing George Lucas, Gary Kurtz, and the three main youthful leads, as well as featuring lively all-new linking material/interplay featuring Anthony Daniels as C-3PO alongside the three-legged remote controlled Artoo. One of the many other pluses for the show was seeing deleted scene footage for the first time, like Biggs and Luke together on Tatooine.


The Stormtrooper body count is always going to be high with freedom fighter Jyn Erso about, as this image from the now legendary Battle of Scarif shows (linked to an ultimately deleted sequence). Great art, from Brian Rood, which would be used for all kind of 2016 merchandising.

Happy UK First Anniversary to that opening anthology film success that is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!

Friday, 15 December 2017


The two-year wait is over for US fans. Enjoy The Last Jedi!

Movie preview:

Interviews various:

Hamill interviews:

Ridley interview:

Driver interview:

Domnhall and Serkis:

Johnson interview:

Johnson, Isaac and Dern interview:

Christie and Daniels on Alan Carr chat show:

Marie Tran talks:

Cast talk deleted scenes:

UK Graham Norton show preview:


Lucasfilm press interview soundbite clips with the cast of The Last Jedi:


Based at the Marine World Africa Zoo in California, the adaptable Mardji the Elephant gets a makeover she surely never expected, costume decorated to become a horned Bantha creature for Sandpeople-related extra scenes needed for post production insertion in the original Star Wars- circa January 1977, filmed at Death Valley, and a small unit by George Lucas.

As Mardji appeared in the film- a still linked to the film's international release.

Thursday, 14 December 2017


The Dark Side poster for the now-showing-in-the-UK The Last Jedi.

The two-year wait is over for UK fans- enjoy The Last Jedi!

Latest TV spots:


UK cast press conference:

Featurette on EPISODE VIII:

Behind the scenes:

BB-8 US TV ad:

Hamill on Colbert:

Hamill interviews:

The Porgs become the cover stars of the EMPIRE magazine subscriber's cover.

Cast go Unscripted

Cast interview:

Daisy Riley UK interviews:

Meet Rose/Kelly Marie Tran:

Adam Driver interviews:

Hugh Fleming art for a US fan screening of the movie.

Cast talks to Wired

Domnhall Gleeson and Andy Serkis BBC interview:

Cast interviews for HMV:

Cast talks for MTV:

Movie and Carrie Fisher remembered:


Stuart Freeborn at work on one of the Chewbacca face masks for the Classic Trilogy.

Already an industry legend with regards to make-ups and make-up techniques on the likes of Stanley Kubrick films' Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey, British talent Stuart Freeborn was the go-to guy for George Lucas once his base of operations for filming the original Star Wars had been set up in the UK. The first creature to get Freeborn's attention was the soon-doomed thug Greedo, re-worked from and based on a previous alien design that Lucas had seen and been impressed by in his London workshop. Then came the beloved wookiee costume for Chewbacca that had to be specifically created using yak hair and via the same special techniques so effectively showcased in the late sixties with the ape-men for 2001. Illness forced Freeborn to abandon work on several never competed Cantina aliens by May 1976, with Rick Baker's US creature make-ups team eventually filling in the gaps with 1977 additional shooting.

A colourized image of some of Freeborn's Mos Eisley aliens at Elstree - May 1976.

Freeborn and Peter Mayhew at Shepperton Studios- mid-May 1976.

A funny, dedicated, much-loved and much-missed inspirational creative genius, Stuart Freeborn, his wife Kay, son Graham, and the rest of his dedicated make-up team would return for the following two Classic Trilogy adventures and even bigger, ambitious creations.

As part of their special Star Wars themed evening on Thursday 21st December, 2017, the UK's BBC 4 have a special documentary showcasing the best of British talent to have worked on the saga over forty years: The Galaxy Britain Built. We're hoping that the more than qualified Freeborn family will be amongst those greats showcased...


He's back to terrorise the galaxy and its freedom fighting heroes anew with the latest and final season of the DISNEY XD Star Wars Rebels series. But let's find out more about this mysterious, unique alien strategist Grand Admiral who's in loyal service of the Empire, as his acclaimed creator in author Timothy Zahn brings us a masterly and efficient backstory like no other- Thrawn, now arriving in UK paperback from Arrow Books.

From his suspicious but inventive origins - seemingly 'discovered' by an Imperial squad in the mysterious Outland Regions - to his swift ascendancy, if rubbing his superiors and xenophobic elitist human colleagues up the wrong way at the Imperial Academy, during his early days 'discovering' both how the Galactic Empire works and the ways it can be used to his subtle benefit, soon sweeping his intimidating presence over officers primarily in their positions of powers via means of existing political/family dynasties, rather than showing any of the superior talents indeed possessed by Thrawn. Swiftly promoted for those 'talents' and his abilities as a tactician for combat and war strategies, the blue-skinned alien is recognised by the feared Emperor himself for his knowledge and his usefulness in a sector of space not yet explored and potentially dangerous to the stability of his realms of influence and control.

Yet such a being like Thrawn can' t survive, nor thrive, these early days without a friend, a guide and and ultimately, often, a decoy to be used in a friendly way as he rises the ranks. And that human/alien is Eli Vanto, at first an unwilling and wary translator to Thrawn, essentially one of the key people involved in his 'discovery', seemingly becoming a friend and confidante and recognizing faster than others the Chizz's true abilities. Or was it all a case of Thrawn letting him know his talents as and when needed? Is Vanto simply yet another tool, a pawn in Thraen's unique life goals- his masterplan?

At first feeling wasted in his new role alongside Thrawn, after years of limited career advancement seemingly stalled by the upper echelons, Vanto travels alongside Thrawn's personal journey to Star Destroyer officer and commander, as the book's second half deals with the Imperial hunt for elusive and smart smuggler insurgent known as Nightswan, soon proving himself a resourceful and equally matched opponent. Thrawn knows that if Nightswan can be found and his pirates eliminated, the final path to power in the Imperial Navy will be assured...

With the original twenty year Expanded Universe of comic/book fiction gone and reshaped from The Force Awakens onwards, author and Thrawn creator Timothy Zahn has to stay away from the tales and history previously concocted linking into what was is now an alternate sequel history post -ROTJ, as well as prior connections from the Prequels. Thankfully, though, the new Lucas books empire does at least respectfully allow him to recognise certain elements of Thrawn's once future background and especially a one-off past encounter with Anakin Skywalker, as seen in the memorable Outbound Flight - a scenario that will surely be crucial for his eventual meeting with Darth Vader in this book's upcoming 2018 sequel.

Governor Tarkin, the Emperor and now ISB Security Chief Admiral Yularen (the latter from The Clone Wars animated series originally and transplanted into Rebels) make effective appearances in Thrwan at strategically placed moments linked to the Thrawn's personal journey. The build-up to the Rebels timeline of which Zahn's plot and lead character now travels in ultimately proves well handled. Plus, there's mention of that mysterious top secret Imperial construction project underway, out in the deepest reaches of space, soon catching Thrawn's quiet attention...

Above them all, though, and obviously the star of the title, Thrawn, by hyperspace miles, remains one of the best non-Lucas created characters ever conceived for the STAR WARS universe, and this book effectively reminds us why this is so, and how blessed the fiction universe of Lucas Books is to have such a talented writer in Zahn still with them, always delivering solid books and page-turning adventures. The genesis of the character is fascinating and intriguing, especially in the aforementioned second half of the book, what with his command of the Expanded Universe Imperial cruiser Chimera, as well as showing us the original officers under his command, of which the inclusion of more female officers in the Empire and its vast Imperial navy is most noticeable here than ever, in sync with Kathleen Kennedy's plan to put more female roles into the saga in all its facets.

A key female player alongside Thrawn in the Rebels TV series, the soon-to-be Governor Pryce's origins are also revealed concurrently to Thrawn's and eventually converging, revealing her steady turn to the dark side over the years by revealing her mining world home of Lothal and the mining company her family once owned soon taken control of by a greedy and duplicitous Imperial officer and a corrupt senator, all of whom sow the seeds for her own entrance into the Empire and setting about her plans of revenge on them, and in taking control of Lothal, and its desperately needed minerals, for herself. I have to say that I personally would have preferred to have read the entire book just abut Thrawn, as Pryce's character, though fleshed out in a workman-like way beyond the boo-hiss cypher she is on television, ultimately proves less interesting and distracting.

AFICIONADO RATING: Thrawn fans and Rebels fans in particular will find this well worth the wait if they don't already have it in hardback. A book that carefully peels back the layers of the Chiss warrior, yet teasing us that there is still so much more to come with him... 4 out of 5

Get hold of the best-selling Thrawn, out now in paperback, here:

Wednesday, 13 December 2017


Image: 'The Dark Side Wizard'

STAR WARS AFICIONADO Editor Scott Weller, forty years a fan (and now starting to feel like some kind of bizarre 'Legacy' character himself), was proud to attend last night's hugely enjoyable, glitz and glamour-packed, truly magical Royal European Premiere of The Last Jedi at London's red-light soaked Royal Albert Hall, of which pretty much the entire main cast were present to launch the film and meet the Royal brothers (who also make cameos as Stormtroopers in a key movie scene). It was particularly special seeing Mark Hamill at the red carpet, once again, and, more deservedly than ever, firmly back in the limelight for this movie. Believe me, his performance in The Last Jedi is superb- a true cinematic career best so far.

A detailed review for the film and a celebration of key scenes will follow on this site by Christmas. But some early thoughts... George Lucas's presence and genuine creative inspirations remains much-missed by this reviewer, but Rian Johnson proves himself a worthy successor to the work done by J.J. Abrams on The Force Awakens. Though it possesses a slightly sluggish and unevenly structured middle act, The Last Jedi ultimately triumphs thanks to its bigger-than-ever spectacular action and very emotional ring-true character moments (light and dark side) that will prove unforgettable to fans, especially relating to Luke and Leia. Carrie Fisher's final onscreen work is genuinely affecting.


Early spoiler-ish-free reviews:

The closest to AFICIONADO's views on the film:

Other reviews:

Alternate Mail review: