2023 is the year of STAR WARS!

Never before have fans of the Star Wars universe been able to access such a wide variety of content in support of their (completely understandable) obsession. While new Star Wars movies aren’t on the near horizon, the next few months will see new releases of The Mandalorian (Season 3), Star Wars Visions (Volume 2), a new Young Jedi Adventures animated series and the long-awaited Star Wars: Ahsoka series.

Stay tuned to this website for updates as these releases near.

R2D2 – The Little Droid Who Could

R2D2 Character Profile

R2D2, also known as the “little astromech that could”, is a spunky and determined droid with a heart of gold (or should we say, circuits of gold). Born in a galaxy far, far away, R2D2 quickly made a name for himself as the go-to droid for all things technical and mechanical.

Despite his small stature, R2D2 is a force to be reckoned with. His quick thinking and resourcefulness have saved the day (and the galaxy) on numerous occasions. He’s been known to fix starships mid-flight, hack into Imperial systems, and even outwit the likes of Darth Vader.

But don’t be fooled by his technical prowess. R2D2 also has a mischievous side. He’s been known to play pranks on his friends, such as switching C-3PO’s language circuits to Huttese, or shorting out Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber.

Despite his tough exterior, R2D2 has a soft spot for his best friend and companion, C-3PO. The two have been through countless adventures together, and their friendship has only grown stronger over time.

When he’s not saving the galaxy, R2D2 can often be found tinkering with his own systems, or grooving to some of his favorite tunes (which, of course, only he can hear).

In short, R2D2 is a true hero of the Star Wars universe, and a true original in the world of droids. Whether he’s outwitting the Empire, or just cracking a joke, he’s always ready for adventure and always up for a good time.

Where Rise of Skywalker Went Wrong

Rise of Skywalker promotional image

It’s fair to say that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) received a mixed reception from audiences and critics. On one hand, many fans were excited to see the conclusion of the latest trilogy in the Star Wars franchise and a culmination of the decades-long Skywalker saga. The return of Ian McDiarmid’s Palpatine and Billy Dee Williams’ legendary Lando Calrissian were welcomed by many, who appreciated these and other nods to the original trilogy. However, some were disappointed with the handling of key characters and a jumbled intertwining of plot elements, ultimately feeling that the film failed to live up to expectations.

Many critics noted that The Rise of Skywalker tried to please everyone, but in doing so, failed to take risks and deliver a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It’s easy to understand the weight of expectation bearing down upon a production that needed to wrap up so many character arcs in as succinct and entertaining a fashion as possible, but some felt that the film was overly reliant on fan service and nostalgic moments, and that it retconned important aspects of the previous films. Most obvious were the dismissals of elements from The Last Jedi that were unpopular with some segments of the Star Wars fandom, including an embarrassing exclusion of the character Rose from participating in the action, an apologetic return to worship of Jedi rites and the erasure of one of the elements that made Rey most interesting – her apparent independence from the known Sith and Jedi bloodlines.

Further criticism surrounded the film’s pacing; indicating that so many plot points were introduced as to make the conclusion to the main characters’ arcs feel rushed. Trying to fit such a significant diversity of story elements into one movie arguably resulted in a cluttered and confusing narrative. Further adding to the visual confusion, many considered the reliance on CGI and special effects excessive.

On a positive note, the performances exhibited by key cast members was roundly praised. Particular enthusiasm was granted to young leads Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and the dynamic Adam Driver. The film’s action sequences were also well received, with some calling them among the best in the franchise.

Like every film in the nine-feature run of the main Skywalker saga, in terms of box office performance, The Rise of Skywalker was a commercial success. The film comfortably grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. However, it was not as well received as The Force Awakens (2015) or even the divisive The Last Jedi (2017); ultimately receiving the lowest Rotten Tomatoes critical score of any Star Wars film to date.

Given these factors, it’s clear that The Rise of Skywalker was a polarizing film that received a mixed response from audiences and critics. While it was a commercial success and had its fair share of fans, many felt that it failed to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the latest Star Wars trilogy and fell short of expectations. Since we sadly won’t see the unproduced Colin Trevorrow epic play out, or witness where Rian Johnson could have taken the story for its concluding chapter, we’ll have to accept this as the finale of the central saga. Fortunately, we’ll always have The Mandalorian and Andor to lean upon as this vivid universe expands beyond the adventures of a few gifted families.

Skywalker Rises on Disney+ This May the Fourth

Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker

It’s unclear as to whether this was always Disney’s plan, or its release to the streaming platform has been accelerated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the final installment of the Skywalker saga, Star Wars Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, is set to arrive on Disney+ from 4 May, 2020. Yes, Star Wars Day, May the Fourth is finally coinciding with a major release.

Disney+ has been a boon for fans of the Star Wars Universe, with the other eight episodes of the Skywalker saga already available there, along with Rogue One, Solo, a new season of the Clone Wars animated series and the brilliant debut season of The Mandalorian. The arrival of The Rise of Skywalker is icing on the cake, however, as it brings together all nine episodes in a convenient format in most global territories.

Now, even if most of us remain stuck in isolation as protection from a real-world threat to civilization, we have an excuse to take a mental break from the doom-and-gloom and to embrace the escape to an incomparable creative universe.

While you wait, the launch announcement video from Disney is available below, to help set the scene. Or, of course, you can start your movie marathon right now, so that you complete The Last Jedi by May the Third, in anticipation of what is to come. May the force be with you… always.

Incredible fan film: Star Wars Downunder

Star Wars fan films are a dime a dozen. There are plenty that have been created and while it’s easy to admire the effort that has been injected into the process, most are lacking that special magic that separates professional-quality films from passion projects. Star Wars Downunder, however, is an entirely different case.

This ‘short’ film, which actually clocks in at just over 30 minutes, is a work of brilliance. It’s a tribute to the style, culture and aesthetic of Star Wars, but does two things differently from most fan films. The first of these is that it has infused the script, performances, character design, machine design and locations with an overtly Australian cultural twang. The second factor is that the quality of the writing, effects, stunt work and 3D animation is of a standard that is fully professional. How this was produced on an indie budget, I do not know, but it’s something special.

When it comes to the Australian-isms, you’ll be treated to a barrage of Aussie slang throughout. If you are Australian, you’ll follow the entire script. Others may struggle with some of the terms, but will probably recognise phrases such as “stone the flamin’ crows”, “cheers love”, “she’ll be right mate”, and a vocabulary that includes references such as: cobber, g’day, strewth, too right, larrikins, righty-o, mate, sweet, ripper and knackered. Character names include Bluey, Burko, Nugget and Bushwacka. Troopers are designed to resemble Australian bush ranger Ned Kelly and their arsenal includes kyber crystal-powered boomerangs. Walkers have been replaced by kangaroo-inspired “leapers”, and the big bad is one Darth Drongo (Aussie slang for ‘idiot’), who at one point invites the hero to bite his bum.

There are liberal references to beer, and our hero even uses his force pull to attract a cold can to his hand at one point. His droid’s initials feature the letters “VB”, which is short for Victoria Bitter, a popular brand of beer, and one of the end credits gives recognition to the production’s “Keg Operator.” It’s clear that those involved were having plenty of fun with the source material and in sending up Australian colloquialisms.

Outside of the fun script and character design, you’ll find a visually mesmerising film. The entire production is free to stream below.

How impressive was that? Comment below.

Why does so much hate surround The Last Jedi?

SPOILERS FOLLOW. Please don’t read until after you have seen The Last Jedi.

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Even as a lifelong Star Wars fan, I absolutely adored The Last Jedi. Its pace, self-reflective humor, incredible action set pieces, evolved performances and the surprising fates of Snoke, Luke and ‘broom boy’ were all rewarding in their unexpected nature, which hint at new directions while freshly transitioning away from the legacy that came before. I had issue with moments such as Leia’s Mary Poppins revelation and some of the Finn/Rose journey, but overall appreciate how the first recognises Leia’s innate force sensitivity and the latter helped to establish the ‘class war’ nature of the battle that is sure to take place in Episode IX. Other long-time fans, however, appear to have been deeply offended by how Rian Johnson and team handled Luke’s personality, Rey’s rapid force mastery, Snoke’s identity, Rey’s parentage, Rose’s role and other aspects of the film. While it’s fine to be critical, many have expressed their anger with a sense of vitriol.

Why is it that some fans have responded this way, and driven the Rotten Tomatoes’ fan score for the film into territory that differs so greatly from the ultra-fresh score it acquired from film critics? The video below attempts to uncover what elements of the film triggered such an emotive, divisive fan response, and looks into whether this was fully justified, or could be indicative of an early over-reaction.