Author Archives: Bethany Blanton

Star Wars Rebels: A Look Ahead Trailer Thoughts

There was SO much geeky news coming out of Comic Con that it was hard to follow! But, one of my favorite trailers I’ve seen coming out of all this news was the “Star Wars Rebels: A Look Ahead” trailer. This trailer was debuted especially for Comic Con at “The Heroes of Star Wars Rebels” panel.


The trailer starts with the Lucasfilm Ltd. image (I’ve always loved how that sparkles), and jumps straight into our heroes (Ezra, Sabine, Hera, Kanan, Zeb, and Chopper) of the show being chased by TIE fighters and a Star Destroyer in a manner that definitely reminds me of “Star Wars: A New Hope”.

CaptureIn fact, as I watched the trailer the first time, I thought it reminded me quite a bit of “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” both in setting and in style. The cockpit setting of some of the scenes was reminiscent of “The Empire Strikes Back,” especially some of the cockpit banter, and seemingly constantly being chased by the Empire.

CaptureIn fact, being chased by the Empire was a common theme. (This definitely makes sense given the time period it’s set in.)

CaptureWith all the sneaking around, being chased by the Empire, guerrilla warfare style of fighting, and the simple fact that the Empire is what’s in control in this series, the flavor of the fight will be quite different from some of “The Clone Wars” series I believe. It seems unlikely there will be any long battles between large forces in this series. The remnants of the Jedi are few and far between, the Rebellion likely hasn’t grown to be as strong as we see it in the original trilogy, and the Empire I assume is still aiming as some sort of pretense of benevolence (the board of governors should still be in existence at this time).

CaptureThe space skirmishes and stark black, gray, and white colors the Empire seems to prefer in the original trilogy also abound.

CaptureIt’s Hans! Er, I mean Agent Kallus. Also, could they make his friend to the right any grayer?

CaptureIn-spite of all this original trilogy feel and influence that I felt strongly when I first saw the trailer, this trailer also reminds me how much of a “The Clone Wars” flavor the show has. The appearance of the characters, plus the good animation, both really give me a TCW feel.

CaptureThe younger characters also give the show a younger feel, and will hopefully do as much for “Rebels” as Ahsoka did for TCW. Plus, some of the planets and locations featured in the trailer reminded me a lot of the different worlds we were able to explore in TCW.

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CaptureOther characters reminded me of TCW as well. Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, Kanan, and Ezra all remind me of some of the Jedi in TCW, and having these characters tells me (hopefully) that “Rebels” will prominently feature Force-users. This thought was reinforced for me because of the trailer clips showing both Kanan and Ezra using the Force, and of Ezra learning from Kanan. Also, the Inquisitor showing up for a lightsaber duel with Kanan reminded me of the many lightsaber duels of TCW: non-fatal, and likely to be between the same opponents several times.

CaptureThe Inquisitor reminds me a lot of Darth Maul (the TCW version), Savage Oppress, and the Secret Apprentice. This is also a connection to TCW for me. With a feel as powerful as those three, a double blade like both Maul and Oppress, and the glowing eyes of those two, the Inquisitor will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. His armor and manner of calm deadliness reminds me of the Secret Apprentice, who was voiced by Sam Witwer, who also voiced Darth Maul in TCW. The Inquisitor’s spinning lightsaber was even an unused design from “The Force Unleashed”. The episode also featured its fair share of droid humor, a la TCW.

CaptureThe use of more aliens as speaking characters and main characters was also reminiscent of TCW, as is the use of more female characters.

CaptureWhen “The Clone Wars” series started, Ahsoka Tano was a young, snippy, and somewhat naive character. She could handle herself in battle, but seemed unfamiliar in that environment. The series became slowly darker in nature as Ahsoka aged, the characters saw more battle, and Anakin Skywalker flirted more with the Dark Side (and with the approach of Order 66). From this trailer and other clips, interviews, and discussions though, I think “Rebels” will start in a darker place. The galaxy is under the shadow of the Empire. Desperate, battle hardened rebels without a home fight back. While there are younger characters, there is little innocence or discomfort I see (currently) in them when they’re in battle, being shot at, chased, and fighting for their lives against overwhelming odds. This makes sense given the time period, but what will this do to characters that we, the fans, are already getting attached to? Will this series last long enough for the characters to develop a new hope within themselves? Or will we see them suffer more from personal losses (“I have no parents…”), the Jedi being nearly extinct, and the Empire having one? If we thought TCW was taking a dark path towards the fall of the Republic, what will Rebels look like after it has fallen? What happens to children who grow up as warriors on the seemingly losing side?

Let me know what you think of the new trailer!
~ Bethany Blanton

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Monsterama Convention: Atlanta – 1-3 August

PRESS RELEASE:

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MONSTERAMA –Atlanta’s new convention celebrating classic horror and the fantastic—has already announced an exciting list of guests representing an interesting cross-section of film, literature, and art experiences and is preparing to welcome guests who enjoy horror and the fantastic. In its first year, Monsterama is already causing a great deal of excitement because of the depth of horror and the fantastic that will be provided for the fans to create the best entertainment experience possible. Taking place August 1-3 at the Holiday Inn Select on Chamblee Dunwoody Road in Atlanta, Monsterama promises to be an exciting addition to the Atlanta convention scene.

“By classic horror,” says media programming director Derek Tatum, “we are talking about the Universal Monsters such as Frankenstein and Dracula, as well as classic 1950s monster and horror movies, and 1960s-‘70s Hammer gothic horror films from England and beyond. Our emphasis will not be on zombies and slasher films, but we will be discussing them.”

Currently there are over twenty guests announced for Monsterama. Headlining appearances include horror film star Veronica Carlson (Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, The Horror of Frankenstein), director, writer, and actor Larry Blamire (Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, Dark and Stormy Night, Steam Wars), and Victoria Price (daughter of horror legend Vincent Price). Joining them will be directors Jeff Burr (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3) and Robert Tinnell (Frankenstein and Me). Authors this year include New York Times bestseller Brian Keene (The Rising) and James Tuck (creator of the Deacon Chalk series). Scott Tepperman, from Syfy’s Ghost Hunter’s International series , has just been added to the guest list.

Local Atlanta talents are strongly represented in the Monsterama Guest List: Voice actor and pop culture maven, C. Martin Croker (The Brak Show); Horror Event host and make-up expert Shane Morton (Professore Morte); renowned book and magazine cover artist Mark Maddox; and local comedy troupe Cineprov. “We are bringing in guests from around the country,” said convention chair Anthony Taylor, himself an expert on horror and science fiction film, “but we are also very proud to have so much local Atlanta talent at Monsterama’s first convention.”

In addition to celebrities, artists, and authors, Monsterama features screenings of classic horror movies on 16 mm film, makeup and costuming demonstrations, panel discussions, and performances.

“We’re very pleased to be working with the Holiday Inn Select Atlanta-Perimeter / Dunwoody. This location is known for being home to many great genre conventions in Atlanta, and it’s a great spot to launch Monsterama.” According to Media Relations Director, Dan Carroll, “Rooms for up to four people are just $89.95 per night and are available from the Monsterama website.”

What: Monsterama, Atlanta’s Classic Horror Convention
When: August 1-3, 2014
Where: HOLIDAY INN SELECT
4386 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30341

For more information, check out the official website and follow the convention on Twitter!

Why Star Wars Legends Still Matters

A few months ago, Lucasfilm announced that they were putting together a new team called the Story Group. This group of Canon champions (including Leland Chee and Pablo Hidalgo, two long-time curators and mavens of the EU) had the task in place to ensure that everything that was created within the Star Wars universe would be interconnected and adhere to Canon. Everything. This included movies, TV shows, Novels, comics and games. No more Mandalorian Contradictions. No more Even Piel double-deaths. None of the contradictions that had long troubled the Expanded Universe and annoyed us detail-oriented fans. This noble group was going to fight for consistency and universe-building on behalf of EU fans everywhere. No group since rogue squadron had ever been created to fight for the good of the EU.

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Except that they also blew the whole thing up.

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That’s right. While the Story group will be doing incredible things moving forward (and I really AM excited to see how much they will improve the new canon) they completely nullified everything before. In order to allow complete freedom to the new, integrated, multimedia universe that was blooming, everything that already existed would have to go (as far as canon was concerned). It seemed, at first, like a huge blow to the gut of this Star Wars fan. All of that time and effort sunk into the Expanded Universe seemed to have been wasted. My favorite characters would never make it to the movies. There really is no such thing as a Yuuzhan Vong?!

Yuuzhan Vong

But after some time to digest, that reaction seems silly now. The “old expanded universe” now known as Legends is still a great read and a worthwhile part of my fandom. Here are a few reasons why:

1)   The story is still the same:

This may seem unnecessarily obvious, but nothing about the story told among those Legends novels has changed. No really, it hasn’t.

When we consider the stories as the history of the universe we all love, sure… in that case it no longer exists. But if we take a deep breath and remember that they are stories… that hasn’t changed at all. We all have stories that we love that are not tied to a franchise we obsess over. And you know what? We still love those stories. If you separate the stories from Star Wars, what do we have left?

We have great characters. As a matter of fact, most fans of Legends would say that the Big Three are the least compelling and interesting of the bunch! Jaina, Jacen, Saba, Daala, Vestara, Plagueis (for the most part) all exist completely within the Legends Universe.

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We have great stories. The X-Wing books are incredible as adventure stories with or without Star Wars attached to them. The same goes for every other book and plot as well. The stories are still great.

We have an improved Canon. This is probably a tough concept to grasp, but is incredibly important to realize. That internal canon of the novels still exists… it’s just not the canon of Jacen SoloStar Wars. Characters live and die on the same timeline. Jacen’s decisions during the Dark Nest crisis still causes a Galactic Civil War that leads to Luke’s expulsion from Coruscant. Thousands of years later, the Yuuzhan Vong still tell the legend of The Ganner. It’s all Legends canon… it’s just not Star Wars canon. As a matter of fact, the canon gets improved when you look at Legends in isolation. Most of the continuity errors came from cross-platform media (and when I say “cross-platform media” I really mean The Clone Wars). Now that the books are disassociated with the new continuity, they get to exist on their own and many of the canon-debates can be closed.

Just because they aren’t officially Star Wars doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy every thing about these books that we always have. And if you’re someone who hasn’t read Legends before, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy them as great stories in a self-contained universe.

2)   Who knows what will stick around:

As I watched the prequels, one of the most interesting aspects of the story to me was the planet Coruscant. I was pretty intrigued by the idea of a galactic political base and an entire city-planet. It seemed like a pretty thriving place full of diversity, urban challenges and an overwhelming sense of business and urgency. It was the exact opposite of Tatooine in every way… and pretty dissimilar to Hoth and the forest moon of Endor as well. I remember being impressed that they seemed to really break the mold that had been established by the original trilogy.

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I should point out here that I didn’t get into the Legends novels until after the saga was completed… meaning I hadn’t read the Zahn trilogy until after Episode 3 was out. I point this out because Lucas didn’t create Coruscant, Timothy Zahn did. To be fair, he may have based the idea on Lucas’ notes and outlines…. But that’s not the same thing. Zahn named the planet. Zahn gave us our first description of the planet. Zahn decided what it looked like, who lived there, and how the government center was organized. Zahn made it real and Zahn made it known.

Star Wars fans can be finnicky and so we tend to focus on all of the times that there was tension between the “George Lucas” Star Wars and the “Expanded Universe” Star Wars. But we shouldn’t forget that George and other LucasFilm producers borrow successfully from the Expanded Universe all the time. Coruscant is probably the most obvious example, but did you know that Kashyyyk and Twi’lek are expanded universe words as well?

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Countless ideas in the Prequels and in The Clone Wars were taken from the Expanded universe and, while occasionally it led to continuity disasters, for the most part it was exciting to see the species, people, and creatures I had read about being brought to life on the screen. I can only imagine how much MORE intrigued I would have been with Coruscant had I already been invested in it from the novels.

With this change to continuity, there’s no reason to expect that the Story Group won’t still be pulling material from the Legends stories. I imagine we will see plenty of planets, species and concepts from the Legends universe. No, the events didn’t happen… but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few Barabel in the coming movies. And with the new story group in place, it means we could see similar creations showing up in movies, TV shows and even future novels, as well.

I can’t wait to see what gets carried over either as central aspects of the new canon or even as little easter eggs in the films, and I can’t wait to see what improvements they make in the process.

3)   It’s going to take a while before we have a new universe to take its place:

So most of my reasoning comes from the perspective of an existing fan responding to the changes, but this point is for all of the potential fans wondering whether or not they should get started on the Legends books despite their lack of canon status.

Legends

The cold, hard truth is that it is going to be a long time before the new efforts of the Story Group come to fruition. It’s already been a long time and there hasn’t been a new book written yet. Of course it takes a lot of preparation and planning to undergo an effort this big…. I’m not begrudging them the ability to make this transition and to do it right; I’m simply stating that it will be a while before it gets up and running.

And then it will be another while before it is as full and vibrant as the Legends universe is today.

For most fans of the Star Wars novels, we got into them because we wanted more than watching the movies over and over (although we still do this). Many of you might be thinking the same thing and Legends is there for you, just like it was for me. Rather than waiting and waiting for the new Canon to take hold, why not dive into Legends and enjoy the ride?

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Canonicity is something that I really do believe is important. The internal Canon of the Legends books will always be what draws me to them. Thousands of years of interconnected Star Wars Classichistory in the Galaxy Far, Far Away makes for an incredible reading experience. Officially, it’s no longer canon… I get it. But if a new reader were to jump in today, it would still be great and it would still be Star Wars. Some day, when the new canon is vast and developed it may be time to say that Legends became a mystical relic of the past, but that time is not now. Now it should still be embraced as the greatest expansion to the greatest franchise we all love. It’ll help pass the time until Episode VII comes around. It’s going to be a new era for the franchise once that happens anyways.

~ Mitchell Hanan

Top 7 Star Wars His & Her Gifts

Gift shopping isn’t always the easiest task–so many last minute shopping ventures flooding my mind right now. However, the good thing about being in a relationship that embraces inner quirkiness is the abundance of awesome gift options out there! I’ve saved you the trouble of endless browsing. Here are my top, hand-picked, nerd-approved selections that are sure to strike up a romantic force with your loved one.

1.) Matching Bow Ties and Hair Bows

Bows

The perfect gift for that couple who can rock geek-chic seamlessly: have you seen unique novelty pieces like these anywhere else? These bow ties are pre-tied and adjustable, and the hair bows are available on different types of clips and headbands. You can also request any kind of customization on these from the shop seller.

2.) Star Wars Cookbook

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Ideal for the gourmet couple who loves experimenting in the kitchen, this cookbook has tons of recipes (including hits from previous Star Wars cookbooks) and even comes with three ultra cool cookie cutters to create your wookiee pies and clone scones. The recipes are fun, creative, and tasty, yet simple enough for beginners or children to follow.

3.) Lightsaber Chopsticks

lightsaber chopsticks

Okay, these are just awesome; they actually light up! Surprise your loved one on a Sushi date with these! Or pop them out on a lazy evening with a Star Wars marathon and Chinese. You just can’t miss with these.

4.) Couples Keychain

key chains

These little hand-stamped keychains are too cute! It can be hard to find charms like these that aren’t just on necklaces, so for those who don’t really like jewelry much, this is the perfect alternative.

5.) Bath Towels

Bath towels I love you

Keep a daily reminder of your strong bond. Those famous lines “I love you” and “I know” celebrate one of the most romantic loves scenes in film history. Each towel is embroidered with this quote and silhouettes of Leia and Han in a pretty silver-grey color.

6.) Silly Travel Mugs

Mugs

Morning coffee just got better. For the couple that is busy and on the go, it’s always nice to have little reminders of each other, especially silly ones that make you smile.

7.) C-3PO & R2-D2 Necklace

R2 and C3PO

If your S.O. is also your best friend, this necklace is the best symbol of your lasting, forever friendship. Each of you get one half of the adored dynamic duo that sticks together no matter what.

-Emily Vasquez
Born and raised in Florida, she is currently a student at USF pursuing a degree in English. She is a self-diagnosed workaholic and freelance writer who is involved with MyAreaNetwork, EmilyRose Couture, GirlZone, and Glass-Book. In her free time she loves practicing yoga, a good book, blogging, bubble baths, and eating Taco Bell with her boyfriend. For updates, follow her on twitter: @xoemilyleigh.