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A new special look at the next Star Wars movie has been released at the Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim. Whilst the teaser is relatively short, it is intriguing and raises multiple questions, so it’s worth having a deeper look.* That said, let’s dive into it.

*The feature starts off with some clips from the other Star Wars films, so we will start the breakdown about half way through the video when the new footage kicks in.

 Group Up

The new trilogy of heroes — Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Issac, looking dashing in that lovely scarf and Nathan Drake style outfit again) — form up with C3-PO (Anthony Daniels) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) in the first shot of the new footage. The group seem tired and a tad fed up, so it could be that they have been travelling for a long while. They appear to be in a desert setting, possibly a planet named Pasana (the existence of which was confirmed several months ago after Vanity Fair visited the set of the film).

We could also be being thrown off the scent of the real destination of the team; could they be on a different desert planet, such as Rey’s home planet of Jakku, or Luke Skywalker’s home of Tattooine? It would make sense for Rey to want to return to Jakku at some point, as she was adamant to go back there in The Force Awakens. We can see a peek of the Millennium Falcon on the right, and the crew appear to be looking at something with confusion and curiosity. This leads us to the next shot…

Desert Party

A bazaar of sorts fills the next shot with colourful smoke, towering decorations, and bright, flowing kites floating through the sky. This seems more than likely to be a new planet, and if that’s true, what could be their purpose there? Following The Last Jedi, the rebels are few and far between; perhaps they are on a mission to recruit more to the cause? It is also possible that they have had intel leading them there. The story details are still unknown, so at this point it is pure speculation, but that is part of the fun of these breakdowns!

Our Princess

A shot of General Leia in a jungle setting is seen next. This was always going to be an emotional moment for Star Wars fans — and fans of Carrie Fisher in general — due to her passing in 2016. It is curious as to what her role will be here, but J.J Abrams referred to her as “the heart of this (the Skywalker saga) story,” so she is sure to have an important role even if she is not hugely present. Abrams also confirmed that they will be recycling previous footage of Fisher as Leia to enhance her role in The Rise of Skywalker. I’m looking forward to how they will go about this, and hope that they give both Carrie Fisher and General Leia the send off that they deserve.

The Resistance Flies

Next we see a fleet of rebel ships flying through the air, possibly on the way to some of kind of space battle. There are X-Wings, Y-Wings, A-Wings, and the Millennium Falcon, but the group is also quite small, emphasising what little is left of the Resistance following The Last Jedi. The theory of a large space battle is furthered by the next shot that we get…

A LOT Of Star Destroyers

One of the more ominous shots of the trailer is this dramatic moment where a huge amount of First Order Star Destroyers emerge from a stormy sky as lightning crackles in the background. This scene is important to the trailer for a few reasons. The first is that it shows just how outnumbered the Resistance are by the First Order; this fleet is enormous, and the Resistance only have a handful of ships at their disposal. Just like in the original films, the rebels are the underdogs here, and are at a very real risk of being wiped out entirely.

Another important element to mention here is that these ships look like old Imperial Star Destroyers. We know that Emperor Palpatine will play some kind of role in this film (whether he is still alive or definitely dead remains to be seen), so is it possible that these are old Star Destroyers that were hidden somewhere in the galaxy by Palpatine before his downfall?

Finn and Jannah

Finn is seen looking pretty distraught in the next shot, possibly due to the overwhelming number of First Order Star Destroyers on the Resistance’s doorstep. Of course, this is likely just clever editing, but Finn’s expression certainly suggests some kind of peril is heading his way. He is joined by a new character named Jannah, played by Naomi Ackie. Jannah crosses paths with the group and joins them on their adventure, but her role is still uncertain. It has been rumored that she may be related to Lando Calrissian, but even if not, I’m always happy to see a strong female character introduced in the Star Wars series.

Seeing Red

The next moment showcases everyone’s favourite neurotic droid, C3-PO, except he is looking a little more ‘dark side’ than I’m comfortable with due to his ominously glowing red eyes. This could be for a number of reasons, but the chaotic nature of the colour red within the Star Wars universe can’t be ignored. Red is usually associated with the dark side, as the light sabers of the bad guys are usually red, as well as the general colour schemes of the Empire and First Order troops (in comparison to the Rebels, who usually adopt earthy tones such as oranges and greens). Could the underrated droid be turning to the dark side? Or is he being controlled against his will? The trailer seems to be throwing curve balls, so this could be something completely different, but it is a striking image to see a classic character looking so…evil.

Big Laser

A shot of an explosion is seen next, and it looks like it is coming from a pretty big laser. Could this be yet another Death Star, or is it coming from a space ship of some kind? It certainly looks pretty evil, since the good guys don’t usually tend to shoot things with giant lasers (plus that whole red-is-an-evil-colour thing again). No matter where it is coming from, this laser certainly looks to be causing a significant amount of destruction.

Rey’s Training

Rey is next seen performing some pretty cool moves with her light saber alongside a small training droid similar to the one that Luke uses in A New Hope. Rey is distinctively looking a little more furious than expected though, as she angrily throws her light saber, which cuts through a tree before returning to her hand like a deadly laser boomerang. She seems to hit the training droid as well, suggesting that her pent-up aggression may be stemming from her lack of a teacher. At the end of The Last Jedi, Rey was certainly learning to control her Jedi powers, but she still had much to learn. With Luke’s supposed death, she is still missing the valuable training that she needs. Her anger is understandable, and this rage may be causing her to lose some of her control.

The Kylo Ren Strut

Kylo Ren returns in the next shot with his infamous red light saber, along with his TIE Fighter looming in the background. He looks like he is on the warpath, as he charges across some kind of dry and barren landscape. His relationship with Rey is one of the most interesting elements of The Last Jedi, so hopefully this will be expanded on in The Rise of Skywalker. However, they are still at each others throats despite their connection, which becomes clear in the next scene.

Death Star II Fight

Rey and Kylo Ren are seen engaging in a lightsaber battle upon the wreckage of the Death Star II, which was destroyed in Return of the Jedi. The ocean crashes in the background as they continue to fight, making for a very cool shot, and I look forward to seeing it on the big screen. However, it is the last moment of the trailer that has really gotten people talking…

Dark Rey

After hearing the undeniable laboured breaths of Darth Vader, we see a glimpse of Rey, looking like she has fully embraced the dark side. Dressed in a black outfit with a stereotypical bad-guy hood, she wields a red light saber (there’s that evil red again!) with two blades. The shot then pans out to show her flipping the light saber down to reveal…

Darth Maul Would Be Proud

…a Darth Maul-style, double-edged light saber. This is a shock to see, as Rey has always been a good, heroic character, but her dabbles with the dark side were briefly suggested in The Last Jedi. I am pretty certain, however, that this moment is going to be one of three things: a dream sequence, a vision, or a trial similar to the one that Luke experienced in The Empire Strikes Back. I think that Rey will battle her dark thoughts, and I have no doubt that she will be tempted to join the dark side. However, I do not think that Disney will be brave enough to turn one of their heroes completely evil. As interesting as it would be, it wouldn’t make sense for the franchise or the Star Wars brand.

Rey is a character that little girls have looked up to since her introduction in 2015, so to turn her from awesome female lead to evil doer doesn’t seem like a decision that Disney would allow to come to fruition. Of course, being evil wouldn’t stop Rey from being a great character, but she wouldn’t have the same effect on the young fans. It could be very interesting to see Rey’s internal struggles in The Rise of Skywalker, however, so this is something I am looking forward to.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released on December 20th, 2019.

Antonia Haynes resides in a small seaside town in England where she has lived her whole life. She's a simple girl with a passion for zombies, writing, film, television, drawing, superheroes, Disney and, of course, video games. Her ideal day would consist of junk food, fluffy pyjamas and video games because quite frankly going outside is overrated. Follow her on Twitter on @RainbowMachete

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Skyler Martin

    August 27, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    So give it some thought people. The end scene on the trailer is REY’S MOTHER. Perfect way to end a saga and complete the Star Wars era. Just think about it, to show in the final film who Rey’s mother is would end the theories and end the series all in one fatal blow.
    Skylord 4 life

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Let’s Discuss the Revamped Sonic the Hedgehog Design

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The internet has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Sonic The Hedgehog movie. Some leaks a few weeks back that turned out to be correct showed the design that we see but the trailer shows a lot more of the new redesign of the world renowned video game character. The movie has been the subject of much attention-mostly negative- after the initial trailer was released six months ago. The first trailer (which initially announced a release date of November 2019) was incredibly poorly received due to the odd design choice for the titular character. With small eyes, a tiny snout and human teeth, the original design was weirdly realistic and resembled an odd humanoid rather than the blue cartoon hedgehog that we all know and love.

The first design for Sonic looked a bit like a child in a Sonic the Hedgehog suit. Creepy to say the least.

The new trailer shows off a brand new look for Sonic which is far more in sync with what we already know for the character. He is definitely an animated character, with the exaggerated features that he has always had in every other iteration. The movie itself still looks cheesy as hell but it looks like a tolerable, even kind of enjoyable sort of cheesy.  The controversy surrounding the terribly received first Sonic design has been so prolific that some even argued that the whole thing has been a marketing ploy and that the character was never meant to look as bad as he originally did. Whatever the case may be in terms of what went down behind the scenes of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, it is clear that even if the film is terrible it will attract a substantial audience of people just curious as to how the whole thing is going to turn out. As a fan of Sonic since the 90’s when I was little, I’m probably going to be one of those people.

Sonic is now appropriately cute, fluffy and more in line with his usual style.

I’m still kind of hoping it can break the curse of the video game movie-like Detective Pikachu did- but alongside the aforementioned cheesiness, it looks like a pretty generic movie aimed at kids rather than diehard fans of the Sonic franchise. Flop or not, at least Sonic is looking far more adorable and less like he might murder you in your sleep. It also shows how the filmmakers were willing to listen to their audience and implement changes following feedback. Incredibly vocal feedback at that.

The comparison between the two designs shows just how much the animators have worked to create a brand new Sonic. Their hard work has certainly paid off.

Sonic the Hedgehog is due for theatrical release on February 14th, 2020.

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Anamanaguchi – [USA] (Album Review)

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Few acts boast such renown amongst uber-nerdy video game enthusiasts as Anamanaguchi. Unveiling their debut EP ‘Power Supply’ in 2009, the Chiptune pioneers have pushed their unique brand of 8-bit powered Rock and Pop across various releases, including 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game soundtrack, and 2013’s Kickstarter funded 22 track LP ‘Endless Fantasy’. And with ‘Endless Fantasy’ being their last LP (excluding their stuffed to the brim ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ compilations), to say fans have anticipated ‘[USA]’ is an almighty understatement.

Six years is a while, so has Anamanaguchi’s latest batch of tracks been worth the wait? Seasoned fans Harry and Kyle are on the scene to offer their takes, from how ‘[USA]’ stacks up against the band’s other offerings, to its effectiveness as an artistic whole.

Background With Anamanaguchi

I first heard Anamanaguchi around 2010. At the time I was neck deep in my Slipknot phase (a phase I’ve yet to grow out of judging by how much I replayed ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ this year), so their goofy electronic schtick didn’t tick my boxes. But as time passed I developed a stronger fondness of them, so much so that I enthusiastically backed their 2013 LP ‘Endless Fantasy’ on Kickstarter. Now I’ve seen them live twice, followed their progress over the years, and can proudly proclaim my superfan status. – Harry

The late 2000s saw a shift in pop culture: suddenly, geek chic was all the rage. G4 was at the height of its popularity, pixel art infested countless pieces of media, and video games were undeniably cool. Few other pieces of media encapsulate this cultural zeitgeist more than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Based on the popular comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the Scott Pilgrim game featured Anamanaguchi’s crunchy pixelated Rock sound, which melded perfectly with the colorful 16-bit beat-em’-up gameplay. Older Anamanaguchi albums are more than just music: they’re a trip back in time to a brighter, more innocent era of pop culture and gaming. – Kyle

Introducing [USA]

I was excited for ‘[USA]’, but that’s stating the obvious based on my prior words. The LP kicks off with its titular track, introducing affairs with an amalgamation of predictably glitchy bleeps ‘n’ bloops. It’s straight up Anamanaguchi, their Chiptune flair intact. This is good, as Anamanaguchi sans Chiptune is like spaghetti sans sauce (still awesome, but lacking a key ingredient). “USA” is chanted as instrumentation morphs stylistically, crescendoing in dynamics and tempo, and setting the stage for the lead single.

“Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is an LP highlight. Stepping out the gate with Vocaloid-y singing, an aesthetic of grandiose gorgeousness is speedily cemented. This later juxtaposes with the rapid-fire rhythms of Luke’s drumming and manic synthesizer arpeggios that run around like an 8-bit-ified (Sega Master System) Sonic the Hedgehog. This mental meld of melody, Drum and bass, and all manner of other musical magic finally sinks into a sea of atmospheric spookiness, concluding in an out of left field (yet utterly engaging) way. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” avoids predictability through each and every beat of its journey, but nails catchy accessibility to a tee. A masterclass in creative songwriting, it sets ‘[USA]’s’ bar sky high. – Harry

The weeks to ‘[USA]’ releasing were positive ones, marked by enticing singles like “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” and “Air On Line”. Anamanaguchi’s distinct Rock-flavored Chiptune style had undergone a stylistic shift in the band’s 2013 release ‘Endless Fantasy’, where the band shed off some of its punk flair in favor of dreamier synth tones. In the six years between LP releases, Anamanaguchi experimented with singles and EPs featuring sonic palettes characteristic of modern J-Pop (“Pop It”, “Miku”). While the band stretched its legs with poppier beats, it did mark a further departure from the traditional Rock-oriented sound that had defined much of their earlier work.

‘[USA]’ in many respects displays a return to Anamanaguchi’s roots. Tracks like “On My Own (feat. HANA)” and “Air On Line” boast driving guitar riffs, thumping drums, and fluidly complex intricacies. Yet, it’s more than clear that Anamanaguchi has evolved beyond their geeky beginnings to cultivate an airy soundscape of bright pastel colors and crystal clear tones. It doesn’t always hit the mark, but the highs that ‘[USA]’ can reach prove that the guys have still got it. – Kyle

Negative Bits

Unfortunately, said sky high bar is scarcely met again throughout the rest of ‘[USA]’. Plenty of tracks, like “The C R T Woods” and “Overwriting Incorporate”, are serviceable, but fall short of the laser focused compositional direction and melodic magnificence that Anamanaguchi are so super slick at. ‘[USA]’ suffers from banality, with tracks like “Tear” and “We Die” meandering noisily without focus, and big chunks (particularly the interlude-like tracks “Speak To You [Memory Messengers]” and “Apophenia Light [Name Eaters]”) feeling akin to ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ cuts (i.e. decent demos, but not kickass LP standouts). – Harry

Much like Harry, I found a large chunk of the album rather dull to get through. Admittedly, Anamanaguchi has an undeniable talent for their synth instrumentation. However, what pushes their work beyond generic electronic music is their ability to anchor that instrumentation to a melodic through line built on catchy hooks and unexpected turns. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is one of the few tracks that manages to pull off this floaty, ethereal sound because it moves forward with purpose and constantly engages your curiosity. The same can’t be said for several of the other synth-heavy tracks, too lost in their own sound to offer anything truly engaging. – Kyle

Positive Bits

Nevertheless, there are flashes of brilliance here. “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)” is Anamanaguchi firing on all cylinders, delivering energetic poppy bombast in spades. Porter Robinson’s co production is evident in “Air On Line”, resulting in a smooth stomper of happy hooks. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” incorporates choppily glitched-out singing from the iconic Vocaloid, serving as a pseudo-sequel to the 2016 single “Miku”. “On My Own (feat. HANA)” sees Anamanaguchi’s Chiptune/Pop/Rock melting pot bubbling away again. And speaking of Chiptune, it’s wonderful to hear mountains of 8-bit eccentricity throughout ‘[USA]’, proving even as their sound matures, Anamanaguchi still celebrate where they came from with beaming pixelated smiles. – Harry

As a whole, ‘[USA]’ still deserves a place worthy of praise in Anamanaguchi’s discography. Porter Robinson only collaborated with the band for “Air On Line”, but his style bleeds wonderfully into tracks like “Up to You (feat. meesh)” and “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)”. The kawaii-infused J-Pop rhythms and hooks are infectiously catchy, but don’t let that fool you: Anamanaguchi haven’t lost their edge. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” and “On My Own (feat. HANA)” show that the band can reach back into their deep musical pockets and bring out their signature hard Chiptune Rock to surprise you with something intimately familiar. – Kyle

Final Thoughts

In typical Anamanaguchi fashion, ‘[USA]’ is ambitious from start to finish. ‘Endless Fantasy’ is bloated, but stylistically spot on, whereas ‘[USA]’ trims the fat, but gets a little lost in its journey. Glistening gold sits alongside stale pies, and that description is a fitting metaphor for elements of ‘[USA]’: it’s odd, and doesn’t make much sense (and perhaps that in itself is a metaphor for the real life USA?).

Still, when Anamanaguchi’s latest is good, it’s really good, and there’s bundles of genius in the 8-bit boys yet!

Check out, stream, buy or consume ‘[USA]’ in your preferred capacity by clicking HERE!

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Star Wars Fan Films Embrace the Essence of A Galaxy Far, Far Away

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There is no doubt that dedicated fans are capable of creating brilliant, fan-made content, but the Star Wars fan base has a habit of going above and beyond in making incredible works of art that often surpass official entries in the franchise. Two relatively recent short fan films — one released last week, the other released in March of this year — are great examples of this.

The first is a 1970s/80s-style cartoon from YouTuber Wilkins Animation called Dark Empire Episode One: The Destiny of a Jedi. This animated short is incredibly reminiscent of classic cartoons — so much so that it is difficult not to feel a pang of nostalgia upon watching it. The style gives off a He-Man vibe due to the quirky animation, stellar voice work, and vibrant colour scheme. The story is set after The Return of The Jedi as Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO embark on a mission to save Luke and Lando, who are stranded on war-torn Coruscant. I won’t spoil anything in case you want to check it out for yourself, but the story is engaging, and I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to see more when it came to an end.

Have a watch below if you want to see more, and to check out Wilkins Animation’s Patreon to support their work, click here.

The second fan made film is a slightly older (from March 2019) one called Battle of the Dreadnoughts, by YouTuber EckhartsLadder. The film is significantly shorter than the 12-minute Dark Empire cartoon, clocking in at about three and a half minutes. It depicts a space battle between the New Republic’s Viscount Class Star Defender and the Empire’s most dangerous of all its weapons, the Eclipse Super Star Destroyer. Battle of the Dreadnoughts may be short, but it is astounding in quality. Upon my first viewing, I was certain I had accidentally clicked on a scene from the movies rather than a fan-made project. The accuracy, attention to detail, and sheer scale blew my mind and — as with the Dark Empire animation — left me wanting more from the content creators involved.

Check out EckhartsLadder’s Patreon here and their Twitch account here.

There is no doubting the talent of the Star Wars fan base, but these two films in particular are incredible works of art both in their own right and as Star Wars fan projects.

For more Star Wars, have a read of our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer breakdown.

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