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Forget J.J. Abrams and Star Wars Episode VII! What we really want to talk about is Episode VIII! Rian Johnson, a beloved director thanks to his contributions to Breaking Bad and cult movies like Brick, The Brothers Bloom and Looper, was announced as the man behind the next, next chapter of the new Star Wars trilogy earlier this summer, and while he’s not going to be talking about major plot points or casting (yet), he is in a position to discuss his feelings about being thrown into such a high pressure project, and reinforcing the seemingly new aesthetic in the Star Wars universe, which is to go more practical. All that and new spoilers about Episode VII after the jump.

While talking to the Girls in Hoodies podcast (via Comic Book Movie) Johnson talked initially about his level of nervousness about making Episode VII, and it turns out that he’s not that nervous… Yet.

“It’s boring to talk about because the only thing I can really say is I’m just happy. But I don’t have the terror that I kind of expected I would, at least not yet. I’m sure I will at some point,” he said. “And coming at the time it does where we’ve – like if there’d been no Star Wars movies since Return of the Jedi, there’d be a lot more pressure, but the fact we’ve had them, we’ve had the prequels, we’ve had the TV shows, we’ve had Angry Birds Star Wars … I play it all the time!”

Very true. In a sense, Abrams and Johnson, as well as spin-off film directors Josh Trank and Gareth Edwards, in some respects, have no where to go but up. Then again, the fact that such quality directors have been attracted to the franchise speaks to the idea that they’ll be allowed to develop projects that say something and are substantive beyond just being loaded with fan service and being an excuse to test drive new effects technology.

On the subject of the latter, there’s been a lot of talk about whether or not Abrams was going to ratchet down the dependence on green screen and CGI. We’ve seen the puppet alien in one set video, pictures of a full-size Millennium Falcon and a new X-Wing fighter, plus the return of Stormtroopers. Johnson confirms after a visit to the set in London that there is indeed a move afoot to make the Star Wars universe a little more tangible once again.

“They’re doing so much practical building for this one. It’s awesome,” he explained. “I think people are coming back around to [practical effects], yeah, it feels like there is sort of that gravity pulling us back towards it … I think that more and more people are hitting kind of a critical mass in terms of the CG-driven action scene lending itself to a very specific type of action scene, where physics go out the window and it becomes so big so quick.

“I probably sound like a grumpy old man talking about it,” he added, “but the thing is, I do wonder because I think kids are growing up watching those and that’s the thing that they love now so I don’t know whether it is a generational thing, and it could be.”

Abrams, Johnson, et al all grew up on the original Star Wars trilogy, thrilling at all the practical effects, models and puppets and the like, that made the whole thing seem so real despite the fantasy. That was one of the demerits to the prequels, that even though the CG was impressive for its vastness, you never really felt invested into those worlds and characters because in the back of your mind was this nagging scratch that told you that that person or place was really a tennis ball on a poll, or a room filled with blue screens. But I digress…

Here’s some stuff you’ll be more interested in knowing: potential Episode VII spoilers! If you don’t want to know, you can leave now. If you do want to know, scroll down past this adorable Ewok portrait.

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According the Indie Revolver (via Geek Tyrant), the folks that broke the image of the new Stormtrooper helmet last week, they have new details about what Han Solo and Chewbacca are up to when we encounter them in the new film. There’s no word on whether or not this fits in with previous reported plot points regarding the lost hand and lightsaber of Luke Skywalker, and the two kids from Tatooine played by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley that find it, but according to Indie Revolver, the Millennium Falcon isn’t Han and Chewie’s ride anymore. THIS IS:

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From the website:

“Han and Chewie are piloting a Super Star Destroyer….I believe the Falcon is in the hands of Oscar Isaac’s character, who is very much the Lando Calrissian of this movie – all the way down to wearing a cape. There are other familiar spaceships in this movie, including three variations on TIE Fighters. There’s the classic design, the TIE Interceptor and a new generation TIE Bomber – the pods on these are stacked, not side-by-side.”

And more thing:

“Back to Han – you will get to see him use a lightsaber once again.”

Sweet. No wonder Harrison Ford injured his foot on set since Han Solo is living large like a bad @$$, even in his golden years.

Like all Star Wars rumors, assume there’s an equal chance of this being complete hokum as there is it’s 100 per cent incontrovertible. Such a weighty part for Ford, including being the skipper of a Star Destroyer and wielding a lightsaber, would certainly be appealing to the actor who does look like he’s trying to have more fun these days. The question is though, are all these story leaks legit? And if you think back to all the story rumors that came out during the development of the prequel trilogy, and how way off base they were, we have every right to skeptical.

Anyhoo… We’ll have more Star Wars news as it inevitable comes in.

Category: Film

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