Monday, 29 May 2017

steven spielberg movies in 6 minutes

The clever people over at Diaries of a Movie Geek have put together this six minute video featuring all of Steven Spielberg's movies all intertwined into one glorious movie journey.  Can you name all the clips as they play?  Let us know in the comments.



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Sunday, 28 May 2017


War Machine
Starring Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Michael Hall, Topher Grace, Scoot McNairy, Tilda Swinton
Based on The Operators by Michael Hastings
Written and Directed by David Michod


Out of Four


Reviewed by Paul Gibbs 


Brad Pitt isn't the sort of actor we associate with drastic transformation. He's given a lot of very good performanes and even some excellent ones, and he's consistently engaging and compelling. But he's not an actor who disappears into different mannerisms or character voices with each role. And that's okay: for the most part I find those actors to place the technique over the soul of the performance, and I'm rarely moved by their work. Give me a Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks or George Clooney who make me think of and relate to their character as a fully-realized human being any day over a Johnny Depp who is self-concously absorbed in showing us how quirky or "versatile" he can be. But the downside is that when an actor whose persona we know as well as Pitt's does attempt that kind of transformation, those layers of artifice somehow make us more inclined to just see the actor underneath and keep us distanced from the character. And that's the problem with Pitt's portrayal of an ambitious general in the Netflix original film War Machine. 


Pitt stars as Gen. Glenn McMahon, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (McMahon is a fictionalized portrait of General Stanley McChrystal). In the early days of the Obama administration, McMahon runs a "counter insurgency" campaign, trying to win over the hearts and minds of the Afghani people to the American occupation and way of life. But, as journalist Sean Cullen (Scoot McNairy) points out in his voice over narration, it's hard to make yourself beloved in a country you've invaded. The story is framed around a fateful interview McChrystal did with Rolling Stone magazine (Cullen is a fictionalized version of writer Michael Hastings), and seems to be largely a tale of ambition and hubris bringing down a powerful man. It's a Greek tragedy told in the form of either a drama with comic elements or a satire with dramatic elements,. and while it has moments of success as both, it never entirely settles on its tone or point of view well enough to succeed fully as either. And the unfortunate miscasting of Pitt is part of the problem: the actor speaks in a less than convincing "tough as nails" bark that's clearly modeled on George C. Scott (equal parts George Patton and Buck Turgidson) and his hair has been grayed, but he still has the same magazine cover face and svelte movie star build. Despite giving it his all, he never takes us to the necessary suspension-of -disbelief level to forget that we're watching Brad Pitt the actor, and that keeps us from caring as much as we should about the fate of Glenn McMahon the general.

Writer/Director David Michod keeps things moving well enough, and provides some powerful sequences, such as a disgruntled young soldier experiencing a devastating tragedy after breaking from orders on a mission, or an amusing extended cameo by Ben Kingsley as former Afghani president Hamid Karzai, or one jaw-dropping moment where McMahon discovers why U.S. policies force local farmers to grow heroin instead of cotton.  But as with too many of Hollywood's war on terror movies, we're left unsure what exactly the film is trying to say. The futility of the counter-insurgency approach is explained so well and so succinctly that we don't feel we need the rest of the film to illustrate it, and it gets a little tedious just seeing McMahon and his team continuing to do things that obviously aren't going to work.

While War Machine isn't fully successful as a film, it's a worthy effort for Netflix as it continues to work toward being as big a force in feature films as it is in series television.  This is a slick, well-made film with strong production values and A-list talent both in front of and behind the camera, making the sort of mid-budget character oriented fare that's becoming distressingly rare in the blockbuster oriented Hollywood of today. Here's hoping Netflix will continue giving us this kind of film, and that next time they hit the busllseye.

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george lucas monaco 2017

The Renault F1 team were hoping the Force was with them during the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend as they were joined by R2-D2 and George Lucas.  The F1 team were sporting the Star Wars 40th anniversary logo on the side of their cars and the team themselves celebrate a 40th anniversary.  It will be 40 years this year since their first F1 entry way back in 1977 at the British Grand Prix.

star wars 40th renault f1


Joining George Lucas and R2 for a photo opportunity were drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer.  Unfortunately the Force eluded them during the Grand Prix as Nico had a DNF and Jolyon finished one place outside of the points.

george lucas monaco 2017

We've seen Star Wars grace F1 cars before such as the Red Bull team in 2005.  George Lucas is often seen at various Grands Prix and was even asked to interview the drivers at the 2015 Italian Grand Prix on the podium.

Red Bull F1 Car 2005


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Saturday, 27 May 2017


Vacation season is officially here. Planning on taking a trip to Chicago by any chance? For fans of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, there's a new attraction that is an absolute must for travel itineraries. Be prepared to fully immerse yourself in the world of dinosaurs with Jurassic World: The Exhibition:

This year, not only can you see real dinosaur fossils inside The Field Museum, you’ll be able to imagine what it would have been like to walk among these breathtaking animals in Jurassic World: The Exhibition. Get closer to dinosaurs than ever before in Jurassic World: The Exhibition! Based on one of the biggest blockbusters in cinema history, the Exhibition immerses audiences of all ages in scenes inspired by the beloved film. Now, the park that was only a promise comes to life…right before your eyes.

Travel to Isla Nublar as a VIP guest and explore Jurassic World. Stare in wonder at a towering Brachiosaurus; come face-to-face with a Velociraptor; and get a rare up-close look at the most vicious dinosaur of them all, Tyrannosaurus rex.

Created in close collaboration with renowned paleontologist Jack Horner, the Exhibition is infused with interactive educational elements—drawn from the real-world science of dinosaur DNA that allowed Jurassic World to come to life. Visitors of all ages can now learn all about these incredible prehistoric creatures.

Don’t miss the awe-inspiring journey into Jurassic World: The Exhibition. The Field Museum hosts the Midwest debut of the exhibition starting May 26, 2017.
For more on this exhibit, visit www.fieldmuseum.org.
Sue the T-rex
While at The Field Museum, be sure to pay a visit to Sue, the largest, most complete T-rex ever found.
Still need more dinos? Swing over to the Brookfield Zoo for their Dinos & Dragons exhibit:

Dinosaurs have roared back to life at Brookfield Zoo! They’re bigger and better than ever and they’ve brought some of their mythical dragon friends. The zoo’s new Dinos & Dragons features 17 animatronic creatures, including the Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Chinese dragon.

Along the winding outdoor path, guests of all ages can explore the origins of myths and legends through culture, literature, and paleontology that is illustrated on engaging signage. Inside a tented area, zoogoers can get up-close views of live reptiles, including a Komodo dragon, seen for the first time at Brookfield Zoo!

The temporary exhibit will also have hands-on activities, as well as a dinosaur dissection lab, dino dig boxes, and an excavation site.



For more information, visit https://www.czs.org/dinosdragons.

See? There's plenty to keep fans occupied as we wait for the next installment in the Jurassic saga!

Contact Lisa at lisad@coffeewithkenobi.com


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Friday, 26 May 2017

star wars autograph book

  • Carly Owen, from Ladbroke Grove, won the unique prize, signed by the iconic stars of the film franchise, in a prize draw that raised over £12,000 for charity
  •  
  • Neil Ellis, from Elstree, Hertfordshire, spent a year collecting the signatures into one book, including Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, J.J. Abrams, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher,

A student from Ladbroke Grove, London, has won a unique autograph book, signed by the cast and crew of the iconic Star Wars films. The book, crammed with over 180 signatures, was won in a prize draw for the national disability charity, Sense, raising £12,247 to support people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs.

29 year old, Carly Owen, who works part-time as a barmaid and is studying to become a veterinary surgeon, was one of over 1700 people that entered the prize draw to win the unique book.  Her name was picked out at random by Marcos Sanjurjo, a service user at TouchBase South East, a Sense day-service in Barnet.

The prize draw was organised by Star Wars fan Neil Ellis, from Elstree, Hertfordshire, who began collecting the autographs whilst working in the costume and props department at Lucasfilm for the first installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens.

On finding out the news, Carly said:
“I can't believe it! I never win anything, and I actually found out I had won on my birthday!

Carly explains how she ended up entering the draw:
“I'm a collector of vintage toys and as I was on eBay looking at R2-D2s, I came across a Kenny Baker signature (actor that portrayed R2D2 in Star Wars). I was tempted to bid but it was a few hundred pounds so I decided not to. That same evening I received a Just Giving email about the prize draw, to be drawn the day after my birthday, so I thought... It's a sign! I went for it and I am so happy that I did!

Neil Ellis said:
“This is a truly amazing, priceless, prize and I’m so pleased a genuine fan has won it, and we managed to raise so much for a great charity. My friends and family think it’s great, but wonder why I didn’t compile two, so I could keep one for myself!”

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Thursday, 25 May 2017

a new hope behind the scenes


Happy Birthday Star Wars.  40 years ago today movie history was created.  I was lucky enough (and old enough) to remember the phenomenon that changed my life.  I was five years old and from the moment I left the cinema I've craved Star Wars.  Thank you George Lucas for giving the world Star Wars and for letting us play in your galaxy.
a new hope behind the scenes
I was either five or six being either 1977 or 1978 when Star Wars first hit our cinemas here in South Wales.  In those days, there always seemed to be a huge gap between US releases and the rest of the world.  Anyway I had never heard of Star Wars and out of the blue my brother, who is sadly no longer with us asked if I would like to go and see this space film.  Any trip to the cinema back then was like someone taking you to a magical land.  Of course I said yes.

The cinema was a small two screen affair.  No multi screens in those days, well at least not around our way.  One screen was showing Star Wars and the other screen some other movie that no one seemed to care about.  I vividly remember the queue being huge!  It was like a modern-day comic con queue.  It stretched right around the building.  We joined the back and waited for what seemed hours.  It probably was!  Eventually we made it inside and Star Wars entered my life.  Now I don’t actually have any memories of the first time watching Star Wars.  As Mike Booth mentions in his “Collect All 21!” book the reason could be I’ve seen Star Wars so many times that the memory of those two hours or so may have been overwritten.

What I do remember is coming out of the cinema and being so excited.  It was like someone had shown me this new universe for the first time and its all there for me to play in.  On the way home we sat on the upper level of a double-decker bus and the entire journey home consisted of me nagging my brother to hum the theme tune to Star Wars or asking him to recall a particular scene in the movie.

a new hope behind the scenes
From that point on it was my mission to get all things Star Wars.  My family didn’t have a huge amount of disposable income but they made sure I had Star Wars figures.  They were perfect for a family on a low income.  The first lot that came out were around the one pound mark. So my first figure was of course Vader himself followed by Luke.  Just with these two figures I was able to imagine a story line and what I thought at the time was a complex one.

My weekly pocket money (which was around 50 pence) usually went on the Star Wars trading cards.  Many times I would get told off by my parents for spending all my money on these cards especially when they found out that they were all doubles too.  “What a waste of money” my mum would say.  Of course it didn’t stop me. I was determined to at least finish the montage image of the classic poster artwork on the back of the cards.  The gum was an added bonus and even now smelling original flavoured bubble gum instantly takes me back to my Topps Star Wars collecting days.

The school playground was the Ebay of the day. The sound of kids saying “got, got, got, need, got, need” was all that could be heard.  There was always one kid in the playground who had the most cards and the hardest to get him to part with the cards you needed.  The deal usually consisted of me giving away five of my cards to get just the one I was missing.  Probably the reason why he had so many.

Needless to say I never managed to get a full set of any of the cards.  Be it Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back or the Return of the Jedi stickers.  Well not until I had my own disposable income and the ease of the internet many years later.

That’s how it was for the next few years.  Spending my money on all things Star Wars.  The odd comic, poster and nagging my parents for that breakfast cereal which came with those transfers you would rub on the back of the box with a pencil depicting a scene from the movie.  I could never get them quite right. Sometimes only half would stick and then I would spend ages trying to line up the other half.

a new hope behind the scenes

Eventually I got my first ship, an X-Wing fighter.  My collection of figures was growing and I filled in the missing characters with other figures.  I may have had Maximillian from Disney’s The Black Hole.  Naturally he was a baddie who did Vader’s bidding.  Then one day I had the best present a kid in the 70’s or early 80’s could get.  The Millennium Falcon.  It was amazing.  This huge ship with hidden compartments, a ramp and with two size C batteries you could get it to play a buzzing sound.  It was incredible and my made up stories centred around the Falcon.  It was the good guys base while the Empire had to settle for my Big Trak.  Many times the Empire tried to acquire the Falcon, ultimately failing every time.

Being a kid I always wanted more and my friend from school who lived across the road had an At-At from Empire Strikes Back.  It was the biggest toy I had ever seen and I wanted one.  I never got one.  I remember it was one of the most expensive toys and even today I still don’t have one.

I loved my Kenner Star Wars collection and trading cards as a kid.  They were my Star Wars fix.  Imagine my horror one day when I found some of my figures had been stolen.  I had foolishly left them in my garden while I went in for my dinner.  When I returned they were gone!  A neighbour’s kid had stolen them, I could see him playing with them in his garden.  When I confronted him, he claimed they were his.  He had even taken the cape of my Vader and replaced it with some black fabric to make it look like it was his.  Eventually, parents talked to parents and I got them back.  I could hear the kid crying in his house as his father told him off. The good guys won in the end.

Years went by and I, along with all the other kids were growing up.  Most grew out of Star Wars but not me.  When I went to the big school I was still a Star Wars fan.  I still played with my figures.  I would get teased at school for still being a kid even though we still were.  Being called a geek back in those days didn’t have the cool attachment it has associated with it these days.  I found it hard but I never walked away from Star Wars.  It made me a stronger person sticking up for the things I liked.  In fact, thanks to Star Wars I became a Sci-fi fan in general.  Anything space was my thing. Star Trek, Battlestar, Buck Rogers, even Battle Beyond The Stars was on my list.

When I look back on my childhood the first thing that I remember is that day I watched Star Wars for the first time with my sorely missed brother. Little did I know that day would mould the person I am today.

Thank you Star Wars.

Happy 40th Birthday Star Wars.


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Back in 77 when I was lucky enough to watch Star Wars for the first time, I remember leaving the cinema with my brother full of excitement and a craving that really hasn't gone away.  Sitting down to watch Star Wars for the first time initiated my need for a daily dose of that galaxy far far away.

Way before the Internet or multi channel TV, Star Wars fans of the seventies would find their Star Wars fix in any way they could.  For me this fix would be finding any snippets of Star Wars on TV, whether it be an interview with a member of the cast (usually on Saturday morning kids TV,) collecting the Topps trading cards, collecting the Kenner figures and ships, buying Star Wars books and comics or by listening to the soundtrack.

It was this last one for me that really helped my fix.  The first Star Wars album I owned was not the original soundtrack but it was as close as you can get.  Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra the album consisted of side A having a selection of tracks from the movie and side B having tracks from 2001 A Space Odyssey and if I remember rightly, Gustav Holst’s The Planets.  Needless to say I didn't play side B very much.

The album design was simple but somehow effective.   Sporting a space blue cover with a dense star field and the words “STAR WARS” prominently displayed in the middle.  It did the job.  The back had the track listings and an X-Wing flying in from the top left corner.  Simple but somehow effective.

For years I thought this was the official release of the movie soundtrack.  I didn't understand or realise there were albums with different interpretations of soundtracks.  To me this was THE soundtrack to Star Wars.  The album was hardly put away and always got played when the next episode in my Kenner Star Wars play time was up.

The record player I had at the time was an orange coloured Fidelity HF34.  It had four speeds, 16, 33, 45 and 78.  I have many happy memories playing records on the wrong speed.  Playing LPs at a slower 16 or speeding them up to 78.  The player had a built in speaker, no headphones here.  If you wanted to play without anyone hearing you turned it right down and put your head on the speaker.



Star Wars by the London Philharmonic Orchestra was never far away from the record player and I’m ashamed to say hardly ever in it’s cover.  In fact my often played LPs were usually piled up by the player.  Think of it as my “frequently played” playlist conveniently sitting near by waiting to be played.

As mentioned, side A of the album had Star Wars and consisted of a number of tracks, curiously not in the same order as the movie.  The tracks were:

The Main Title
Imperial Attack
Princess Leia Theme
Ben’s Death and Tie Fighter Attack
Land of the Sand People
The Return Home
End Title

All the tracks were conducted by Colin Frechter who has done many movie and TV soundtracks in the past including the 2006 movie Prestige and TV American sit-com Everyone Loves Raymond.  As a child I never noticed the music wasn't conducted by John Williams.  I never realised the London Philharmonic Orchestra was different to the London Symphony orchestra who recorded the original soundtrack with John Williams.  To me this album was my Star Wars soundtrack and would stay that way for many years to come.  Fretcher's version was as close to the original you could possibly get.  My particular favourite was the TIE-Fighter Attack which was always played loud.  I often sat upside down on my bed with my feet on the wall pretending to be in the Falcon's gunner seat blasting those pesky TIE-Fighters in my mind.

In fact it wasn't until The Empire Strikes Back came out and it’s accompanying soundtrack album did it dawn on me that what I had was an interpretation of the original soundtrack.  My friend had the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack LP and when I noticed it was the London Symphony Orchestra it suddenly dawned on me that my album wasn't the original.  I felt slightly disappointed that I had been listening to the wrong version for all these years but I soon realised the version I had was as close to the original as you could get and it brought me hours of enjoyment so it didn't matter.

Today, of course my Star Wars playlist consists of the original soundtracks by the great John Williams, but I still have a fondness for variations on the movie soundtrack and other movies too.  Geoff Love and his Orchestra are part of my collection along with many others.  Some great and some not so great.  The bad versions can be as entertaining to listen to as the originals.  In fact I recommend you fire up Spotify, type in Star Wars and take a look at the various versions.  In my next post I will be talking about some of the worst renditions of Star Wars.  Have any suggestions?  Please let me know

Rob
@thebeardedtrio

Photos from http://snakeandboris.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/london-philharmonic-orchestra-music.html


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Star Wars Arcade

Ever since I first watched Star Wars in 1977 I’ve wanted to be part of that wonderful and mysterious galaxy far far away.  In the beginning my Kenner Star Wars figures helped me with that craving but it wasn’t until I was on a British holiday camp in the early eighties did I realise there was another form of entertainment that could overload your senses and place you right in the middle of the Death Star attack.  Of course that medium was video gaming and it all started with the Star Wars Arcade machine.

I was at a Pontins or Butlins holiday park in the early eighties and in the small arcade room that they had, were the usual array of pinball machines, fruit machines and the odd video games machine.  Defender, Space Invaders and Galaxian were the standard for those days.  But something caught my eye or rather my ears.  I could hear the familiar Star Wars theme being played.  I scanned the room eagerly, trying to determine where it was coming from and then I saw it!  There in the middle of the room was this thing of beauty.  A sit down Star Wars video game complete with yoke controls, stereo sound and wonderful artwork plastered all around the machine.  I immediately sat inside.  It felt good.  The outside noise seemed to disappear as the speakers behind you played a rendition of the classic John Williams score.

You assumed the role of Red Five in his X-Wing.  Your mission was simple.  Destroy the Death Star.  I knew then I was going to be spending quite a bit of money on this piece of art.  I looked at the


names scrolling up displaying the highest scores.  I was determined to get my name or at least my initials on ‘Princess Leia’s Rebel Force’ hall of fame.  The speakers blasted out the music and even quotes from the movie.  As I placed my ten pence into the machine I heard Luke say “Red five standing by.”  I had goose bumps.

Coin after coin disappeared into the machine.  Slowly but surely I got better.  Fending off waves of Tie-Fighters, blasting towers on the surface of the Death Star and eventually powering my way through the trench run leading to my opportunity to destroy this huge battle station.  Ben would remind me to use the Force and in fact if you could get through the trench run without blasting anything except the exhaust port you would get a bonus for using the Force.  I always tried this and for a brief moment I actually thought I was strong with the Force.

Some people would stop and watch as I delivered a bitter pill to the Empire.  It felt good.  I felt part of the universe and was making a difference.  Never have I been so immersed in a Star Wars environment outside of watching the movies.  You started the game with nine shields and every time you were hit by a firing Tie-Fighter or hit a tower you would lose a shield.  R2-D2 was with you and


would scream when shields were getting low.  “R2 try and increase the power” could be heard over the action and the familiar John Williams music.  Once you destroyed the Death Star you would start all over again with difficulty increasing every time but not before you witnessed a spectacular explosion of white circles on the screen representing the destruction of the Death Star and Han Solo screaming “great shot kid that was one in a million.”  Ben would chip in too and tell you “the Force will be with you, always.”  It felt good.

Eventually I got my name on the top of the list.  RJW was displayed proudly and stayed there for the rest of the day until they switched the machine off.  Never mind, I would start all over again tomorrow.  I spent a lot of money that week on that video game.  Getting into a lot of trouble with my parents for wasting all my pocket-money on this fine machine.  Day after day while on the holiday camp I would wait for the arcade room to open, arm myself with ten pence pieces and head over to face my mission.

The Atari Star Wars arcade game was released in 1983 and was my first encounter with Star Wars video games but certainly wasn’t my last.  It opened the door to the start of my gaming addiction.  It showed how good a video game could be, especially a Star Wars one.  I think throughout the years from the eighties to modern time I have played every Star Wars game that has been released.  Some, captured the magic of the movies while some have sunken quicker than an X-Wing in a swamp.  But it was the Star Wars Arcade machine that first opened my eyes to the wonders of Star Wars video games.  It was frantic, action packed and felt authentic to Star Wars.  The graphics were something called vector graphics which basically meant line graphics and geometric shapes to represent Tie-Fighters and the Death Star.  It worked beautifully and even to this day I don’t think it looks that bad.



I’m not alone either.  Some well-known people are fans of the Atari Star Wars Arcade game and one famous movie director in particular, Steven Spielberg.  During a regular visit to Lucasfilm in the early eighties he set his eyes on the Star Wars arcade machine that just happened to be taking residence.  Little did Spielberg know that the machine that was at Lucasfilm was being used and studied by Peter Langston (Ball Blazer and Rescue on Fractalus!) who was there for Lucasfilm Games (later to be Lucasarts.)

Lucasfilm actually had little involvement in the Atari arcade machine but the machine was shipped to them for reference and for Langston to study.  After studying the manual he discovered a switch that would convert the game into debug mode and allow all sorts of options to be applied.  One in particular was the option to freeze the game and using the fire button you could advance the scene one frame at a time and still move the cursor on-screen and blast away those Tie-Fighters.  Langston loved this feature and added the option to the cockpit and labelled it “The Force.”

A few years later Spielberg once again was visiting Lucasfilm and asked if he could borrow the game while filming Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to help with the quiet periods.  Well of course Spielberg fell in love with the machine and decided to order one for himself.  When the game arrived at his home he was immediately on the phone to Atari, the makers of the game asking where the “Force” button was.  Atari had to explain to the director that this feature wasn’t part of the original game.




George Lucas tries out the sit down version of the Star Wars Arcade machine.

Other fans also fell in love with the arcade machine.  Singer and huge Star Wars fan, Darren Hayes is, like Spielberg also lucky enough to own a Star Wars Arcade machine and I recently asked him what he finds so special about it:

The sit down Atari Star Wars Arcade machine was the first arcade game I ever played, at TimeZone in Brisbane City in 1982.  It was a thing of legend and remained there a decade later even when much more advanced technology took over the old vector games.  It was just a classic experience so close to the feeling of flying an X Wing that fans kept it around.
Almost 30 years later I have a stand up version of the game, a mint condition cabinet version that has moved with me all around the world.  It is still the one treasure in my life I’d try to carry on my back in a fire!  It’s also a guaranteed way to make visitor’s mouths drop open in awe.  It’s amazing.
Naturally when I left the holiday camp I wanted to continue my X-Wing adventures.  Inevitably due to the success of the arcade version there were numerous home conversions of the arcade game too.  Parker Brothers brought out a conversion for the Atari 2600 and other 8-bit consoles.  Obviously they weren’t a patch on the original but it was incredible to be able to play this classic game in your own home.  Every console or home computer format that came along seemed to have a conversion of the game.  Spectrum, C64, Amiga, Atari ST and others.  Even now there is a modern version loosely based on the original for mobile devices called Star Wars: Trench Run.






Atari 2600 version. Obviously the graphics were more basic than the original

When I look back at my Star Wars memories, the original Star Wars arcade game is right up there with my other Star Wars memories as a kid.  Watching Star Wars for the first time, playing with my Kenner figures and destroying the Death Star for the first time at a holiday camp somewhere in the UK.  If I ever see an original Star Wars arcade machine these days I cannot walk past without having a go and defeating the Empire one last time.

“Red Five standing by.”

Rob Wainfur
@thebeardedtrio







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I was lucky enough to have caught Star Wars in the cinemas when it first hit the big screens way back in 1977.  From the moment I left the cinema screen in South Wales I couldn’t get enough of that galaxy far far away.  My favourite Star Wars fix were my Star Wars figures, recreating scenes and inventing an elaborate expanded universe all from the comfort of my bedroom.

My first figures were Luke Skywalker with his yellow telescopic lightsaber and Princess Leia with her white plastic cloak.  Filling in for the ‘baddies’ back then was a figure of Maximilian from Disney’s The Black Hole.  The cast was a mishmash and a bit small but it didn’t stop my imagination.  Soon they were joined by a cocky Han Solo and a Millennium Falcon.  Now we’re talking, although the plot from that moment on involved the Empire somehow trying to steal the Falcon.  Sometimes they succeeded which would carry over to next play time.

That was my Star Wars fix for a number of years.  My figures were my expanded universe.  The cast grew, well it drop once after a neighbour opposite stole my figures from my shed while I went inside for dinner.  I spotted him playing in his garden with the very same figures that were missing.  He claimed they were his, even though the five that were missing were the ones right there.  He even went as far as taking off the black plastic cape from my Darth Vader and replacing it with a home-made cloth version.  I kind of liked it so kept it on when I eventually got them back thanks to my Dad coming around and settling the dispute, peacefully I will add.

Speaking of my Dad it was my father who made me decide which figure was my favourite.  My dad has a window cleaning round and one summer’s day I decided to give him a hand.  It was hard work but I didn’t expect any reward.  My dad walked into the local corner shop and bought a Yoda figure for me.  I was overjoyed and so surprised.  We didn’t have a huge amount of money back then so these little surprises meant a lot to me.  Yoda is on my shelf and will always remind me of my father.

The years went by, other kids grew out of their Star Wars figures and collection but not me.  I carried on collecting.  I recall that I sent a letter to the address on the back of one of my figures.  Palitoy in Leicester if I recall telling them how much of a fan I was.  I even put one of my spare Stormtrooper blasters in the envelope.  Looking back I’m not sure why, surely they would have a whole factory of these.  Anyway I waited for my reply.  I’m still waiting…



My Millennium Falcon was joined by an X-Wing, Speeder Bike and Big Trak.  If you’ve not heard of that last one, that’s because it’s not Star Wars.  It was from MB and it was a huge programmable futuristic looking tank.  This, in my mind was the Empires new super weapon which Han, Luke, Leia and the others had to either steal or destroy.  I used to play my records on my record player which provided the soundtrack to the movie I was creating in front of me.  The preparation music from The A-Team always seemed to get used if I recall when the Rebellion were planning their missions.

One toy I always wanted as a kid was an At-At Walker.  It was just too expensive being around £30 back in 1984.  A friend had one from school and I couldn’t believe the size of this thing.  I was amazed at how the laser cannons lit up and had sound effects too.  I always wanted one.  A few years ago at a toy fayre I bought my first At-At for the grand price of £20.  I love it even if the adult in me thinks it’s just too big.

When I think of my childhood, my Star Wars figures are right up there in my memories and always make me smile.  I now have them on display in a glass cabinet but I still take them out from time to time to play.  Just like my Dad buying me Yoda all those years ago I have a special place for my Yak Face which my Wife got me for Christmas a few years back. 

Star Wars has been in my life for 40 years.  The movies are ingrained in my memories but the Star Wars figures from the 70’s and 80’s will always be my expanded universe.



Rob Wainfur


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TOPPS CELEBRATE 40 YEARS OF STAR WARS

On the 40th anniversary of the very first Star Wars film, Topps, the UK’s leading collectibles company, is proud to present their biggest and most immersive sticker collection yet: Star Wars Universe!

The latest collection from Topps spans all eight Star Wars films from the past 40 years, including the recent Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The collection of Star Wars Universe stickers is the ultimate compendium for collectors of all ages.

Fans will be able to explore the world of Star Wars from the time of the Clone Wars through the rise of the First Order, discovering the history of the Jedi and seductive power of the dark side along the way.

Additionally, there will be added incentives including special foil stickers, die-cut shaped stickers, and even historic movie stickers.

With 344 stickers to collect, Star Wars fans will learn about all the weapons and ships from the franchise including the Death Star, the evil Sith, and the heroic Rebel Alliance.

Louise Ramplin, Entertainment Marketing Manager at Topps, comments: “Star Wars was unleashed to the world and changed the cinematic landscape forever on May 25th, 1977. Now on the 40th anniversary, we are proud to celebrate the thrilling space saga with our biggest Star Wars collection yet. We’re confident the collection will be an instant hit with collectors and movie goers alike.”

The Star Wars Universe collection will be on sale May 25th. Starter Packs will retail at £2.99 including six packets of stickers. Individual packs of five stickers will retail at 50p.

For more information, visit: www.toppsdirect.com. For the latest updates, follow @MyTopps on Twitter or visit https://www.facebook.com/MyTopps.      

TOPPS CELEBRATE 40 YEARS OF STAR WARS



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Wednesday, 24 May 2017


This is a compilation of interviews with cast members from Star Wars plugging and talking about the movie back in 1977. Sequels were mentioned, even back then. George Lucas hints that Luke is "interested" in Leia. Rumours of an ice planet in the sequel and Gary Kurtz talking about the new Kenner Star Wars figures about to come out.

Hope you like it. Happy 40th Anniversary Star Wars. Thank you for being a loyal friend for all these decades.




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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kayla Scodelario, Kevin R. McNally, David Wenham and Geoffrey Rush
Screenplay by Jeff Nathanson
Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg







Out of Four





Reviewed by Patrick & Paul Gibbs


2003's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was one of the biggest surprise mega-hits of the past 20 years, It was a movie based on a theme park attraction, in a genre that, historically speaking was not at all bankable (1995's Cutthroat Island sank an entire studio). It also didn't help that the star of the Disney film was Johnny Depp, who didn't have a great track record at the box office. No one expected it to blow The Matrix Reloaded out of the water, or for Captain Jack Sparrow to become the most iconic film character on the decade. But the movie made it big on its own merits: it was fresh and charming, offering audiences something new and exciting, and it turned Johnny Depp into a superstar and even got him a Best Actor nomination.

That, as they say, was then and this is now. Over the course of three bloated and wildly self indulgent sequels, the franchise has become increasingly stale. But there has always been enough action, enough whimsy, and enough special effects wizardry to make it at least kind of work. Until now.

Dead Men Tell No Tales begins with a boy named Henry Turner looking for a way to free his father, Will (Orlando Bloom) from an endless imprisonment aboard a voyage of the damned, and by the end of the film, we can certainly relate to how Will Turner must feel. As you may recall, the third film ended with Will becoming the Captain of the Flying Dutchman, living a lifetime at sea collecting the souls of the dead. But young Henry has studied up on nautical mythology, and he firmly believes that he can break the curse if he can only find the fabled Trident of Poseidon, and he knows just the pirate to help him: yes, you guessed it, Captain Jack Sparrow.

Nine years later, Jack is down on his luck and without a proper ship,and is reduced to robbing banks on land and getting even more cartoonishly drunk than the constant state  of inebriation we've come to expect (Depp holds firmly to his time honored credo of "walk strangely and carry a big shtick."). But when Jack gets arrested and sentenced to be executed, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) must come to his rescue. Also set to die is a young astronomy buff named Carina Smyth (Kayla Scodelario), who has been accused of being a witch. But as it turns out, the death sentence is the least of Captain Jack's problems, because he is being pursued by one Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), an undead pirate hunter from the Spanish Navy who has a score to settle with Jack and has his eyes on the Trident himself.

This is an absolute mess from beginning to end, rivaling even At World's End for sheer incoherent loudness and over reliance on spectacle, and it doesn't even come close to pulling the latter off with the kind of skill we're used to from the series (say what you want to about the other sequels, but they are indeed spectacular.) Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon Tiki) are way over their heads trying to breathe life into a witless and extremely lazy script, and it is hard to imagine that they are going to get a lot of offers pouring in from this bungled effort. The action is more chaotic than thrilling, and all semblance of charm is absent this time around, with the memorable word play and cleverness are replaced by a steady stream of bad double entendres that decidedly are out of place in a movie that proudly displays the Disney banner.  Worst of all, the script seems to have no feel at all for the franchise characters.

In addition, the production design and visual effects are not up to the usual standards, and that again needs to be placed partially upon the directors, who make some bad choices with the effects. In fairness, part of it is that viewers eyes are more sophisticated and less easily dazzled now, but the the walking dead in this film are constantly walking around in the sunlight so you can get a good look at the imperfections, and the effect used to give us a young Jack ranges from solidly successful to recalling the recurring Conan O'Brien sketch where the a person's mouth is superimposed onto an image of a celebrity's face and frequently moves awkwardly in and out of frame.

Depp finally appears to be getting as bored with the character as the rest of us, unable to put his heart in it, and the rest of the cast just kind of fumbles their way through, with Thwaites being the only who seems to really be excited about what he is doing, though whether the fault is with the actor or the script he comes across as a rather bland, cardboard leading man, and there's no chemistry to be found between him and leading lady Scoledario. Bardem throws himself into his part with gusto, but unfortunately the usually entrancing actor is extremely annoying in this scenery chewing role.

If this is really the final installment, as has been stated in some  of the advertising, it's a sad way to finish off a franchise that was once a lot of fun. If it isn't, they got to find a way to breathe some life back into the series. All we wanted out of this film was for it to bring back some fond memories of the original, and it only worked on the level of making us wish we were watching any of the previous films.


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Yesterday we reported that Vanity Fair have four exclusive covers featuring Star Wars: The Last Jedi ready to hit news stands this month.  Well Lucasfilm contacted us today to tell us that the magazine released some juicy behind the scenes and  on set photos from the movie today.  The movie as you all know will hit cinema screens at the end of the year.  Also release is a video from the set.  All below for you to enjoy and be sure to check Vanity Fair for more details.


the last jedi behind the scenes

the last jedi behind the scenes

the last jedi behind the scenes

the last jedi behind the scenes




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