April 18, 2015 | 7:15 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: ‘The Force Awakens’ is a ‘transference of generations’

Harrison Ford, right, as Han Solo with Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." (Lucasfilm / Disney)
Forget the shiny digital gloss that marked the three “Star Wars” prequels. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the upcoming seventh episode in the space fantasy saga, drew its primary inspiration from the late 70s and early ’80s look of the original trilogy, said key members of the new film’s visual effects team on Saturday at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. Speaking on a panel on the third day of the four-day fan expo, the effects wizards assured fans that “The Force Awakens” emphasizes characters over digital magic. “It’s almost liked ratcheting it down,” said Christian Alzmann, part of the production team for “The Force Awakens.” Alzmann, who worked on “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” was asked how the J.J. Abrams-directed film would distinguish itself amid today’s landscape of effects-heavy genre films. “To me, there’s almost like […]
April 18, 2015 | 6:39 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Fans explore all corners of the convention universe

Zachary Clayson, 13, maneuvers his homemade scrubber droid, interacting with convention-goers at Star Wars Celebration 2015. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)
The Mos Eisley Cantina theme played over loudspeakers on the Anaheim Convention Center’s second floor as 13-year-old Zachary Clayson, clad in Jedi robe and tunic, maneuvered a remote-controlled yellow robot to where a young woman was standing with an infant. The little robot — a replica of a “Star Wars” hangar deck scrubber droid — nudged the woman’s ankles. She smiled and bent down, giving the baby a closer look. “My favorite part of Star Wars Celebration is probably just driving this thing around and seeing people’s reactions when they see it,” said Clayson, who traveled with his father from the San Francisco Bay Area to attend the fan expo. At Celebration, the big panel presentations with the likes of J.J. Abrams, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels may be generating the most buzz online, but for the estimated 60,000 “Star […]
April 18, 2015 | 2:56 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Familiar faces return for ‘Rebels’ season two

Scene featuring Darth Vader from the second season of "Star Wars Rebels." (Lucasfilm)
Executive producers Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg were joined by members of the cast of “Star Wars Rebels” on stage Saturday to give fans a peek at what was ahead for the show’s upcoming second season. Based on the first official trailer, they’ll get a lot of chilling Darth Vader action, plus the return of some familiar faces from the previous “Clone Wars” animated series, including Ahsoka, Captain Rex and Hondo Ohnaka. And there were many other bits just glimpsed in the three-and-a-half-minute trailer. “There are things designed to hit you immediately,” Filoni said at a press conference following the panel. “As you watch a trailer over and over, if they’re designed well, the are layers and there are things you see and you get a little more out of it. It keeps you engaged.” While he wasn’t elaborating too […]
April 18, 2015 | 9:10 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Anthony Daniels praises J.J. Abrams

Anthony Daniels
If C-3P0 brings a little comic relief to the “Star Wars” saga, then the man who inhabits the robot, Anthony Daniels, is the one who brought the humor to Star Wars Celebration. While fans may have wanted dirt on the upcoming J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Daniels instead wanted to dish on unfortunate product placement and the uncomfortable places sand can find itself in a robot suit. Daniels treated his hourlong discussion Friday night at Celebration as if it were a variety show, playfully flirting with an audience member dressed as C-3P0’s robot companion, R2-D2, and interjecting numerous jokes into his tales of “Star Wars” past. The conversation brought to a close the second day of panels and discussions at the four-day fan expo, one that had earlier hosted lively conversations with the likes of Carrie Fisher and Ray Park. A […]
April 17, 2015 | 6:14 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Carrie Fisher takes fans on a racy date with a princess

"Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher, joined by her dog Gary, talks onstage during her presentation at Star Wars Celebration on April 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
If Carrie Fisher has anything in common with Princess Leia, the forceful character she made famous in the “Star Wars” films, it might be her impulsive attitude. In her Friday afternoon Star Wars Celebration presentation, Fisher, 58, told racy jokes, autographed the host’s shoes, took pictures with fans and even planted a long, wet kiss on a member of the audience. What she didn’t do was talk much about “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the upcoming seventh installment in the space opera and a main focus of the fan expo, which runs through Sunday at the Anaheim Convention Center. Fisher reprises her Leia role in the new film, due out in December, but said she couldn’t “figure out what I was supposed to not tell.” “I think they keep me away from stuff because they know that I have an […]
April 17, 2015 | 5:28 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Ray Park on his beginning and Darth Maul’s end

Ray Park has gotten to be in some high-profile projects. Snake Eyes in “G.I. Joe.” Toad in the “X-Men” films. The martial artist even got to play Chuck Norris  in “The Legend of Bruce Lee.” But killing a Jedi puts you in a whole different stratosphere of fandom. As Darth Maul in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” Park helped create the most well-known and popular villain in the franchise since Luke Skywalker’s dad and fellow Sith Darth Vader choked out his first victim. And in the panel “Ray Park: The Man. The Sith. The Legend” at the Star Wars Celebration, Park was treated as the royalty that befits any wielder of a double-sided lightsaber. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Darth Maul. It was the best feeling in the world to get […]
April 17, 2015 | 5:18 p.m.

‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ trailer released early after online leak

'Batman v Superman' trailer
The wait is over early for Batman and Superman fans. The new “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” trailer was officially released Friday in advance of the announced IMAX screenings set for Monday. The trailer offers viewers a glimpse into the gritty world that exists after the events of 2013’s “Man of Steel” that exposed the populace to Superman. “Is it really surprising that the most powerful man in the world should be a figure of controversy?” asks a mysterious voice as various scenes featuring Superman, played by Henry Cavill, flash across the screen. As the trailer jumps between more scenes featuring the Man of Steel, various voices are heard discussing saviors, aliens, hope, power and corruption before focusing on a desecrated statue of the extraterrestrial superhero. Fans who have been anticipating more looks at Ben Affleck as the titular […]
April 17, 2015 | 4:45 p.m.

Paycheck Friday: Celebrate ‘Star Wars’ with a collection of your own

Dressed as "Star Wars" character Oola, Moe Hunt of Chicago poses with Roxy the Rancor during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Welcome to a special “Star Wars” edition of Paycheck Friday, a roundup of some of Hero Complex’s favorite toys, books, games and other merchandise. In honor of Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim this weekend, this week’s paycheck goes to expanding (or starting) the “Star Wars”-themed shelf in your geek cave. Included are picks for items available outside the confines of the Anaheim Convention Center, as well as some exclusives from the expo. First up we have the Lego Slave I set. When building a collection, it’s quite apropos to have a trophy that also displays your building skills. What better way to celebrate the “Star Wars” franchise than with a model of a ship that appears in films from the original trilogy and the prequel series? The Lego Slave I set also includes figures for Boba Fett and a carbonite-sealed […]
April 17, 2015 | 11:11 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: ‘Battlefront’ gets franchise back in the game

"Star Wars: Battlefront" is the first major video game release since Disney dismantled LucasArts. (Dice / Electronic Arts)
THE PLAYER On Thursday morning “Star Wars” fans received a glimpse of the next cinematic episode in the fantasy saga. On Friday it was time to learn how to play in it. “Star Wars: Battlefront” took center stage as Day 2 of the four-day Star Wars Celebration fan expo opened in Anaheim. The game, the first under a 10-year pact between Lucasfilm and Electronic Arts, is due Nov. 17, about a month in advance of the J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Early glimpses of the game reveal it to be a sort of blaster-heavy “Star Wars” greatest hits collection. Want to play with lightsabers? Those are here. Want to shoot a blaster like Han Solo? You can do that. Want to pilot an X-Wing? Of course that’s a possibility. Want to play as Darth Vader on Endor, the planet […]
April 17, 2015 | 7:53 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Emperor Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid recalls ‘Return of the Jedi’

"Star Wars" actor Ian McDiarmid, pictured at Skywalker Ranch in San Rafael, Calif., on May 4, 2005. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
“And I thought you hated me,” actor Ian McDiarmid quipped as he took the stage to raucous applause for a Q&A at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention Thursday in Anaheim. Granted, McDiarmid played the most purely evil character in the entire “Star Wars” universe: Emperor Palpatine, the gravelly voiced Sith lord who corrupted Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker and turned him to the dark side of the Force. But at a love-fest like Celebration, all is forgiven, and fans were happy to hear the 70-year-old McDiarmid reminisce for an hour about his work on 1983’s “The Return of the Jedi” and the three prequels that later followed. The Scottish McDiarmid, who has spent the greater portion of his career acting on the stage, recounted the story of how he was first cast in the role more than 30 years ago. […]
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