Star Wars: The Hype Awakens | *Updated December 12*
Welcome to week seven of The Hype Awakens, PorchDrinking.com’s Star Wars-centric journal of one passionate nerd (me) who’s very excited for The Force Awakens to come out. If you’re new to the blog, you can catch up here:
And if you just want all the latest stuff, skip ahead here:
Sunday, December 6
I’ve said before that it’s going to be a challenge for me to listen to Kylo Ren’s voice in The Force Awakens and hear anything other than Adam Driver, the guy from “Girls.” The trailers have him saying a few scary dark-side-y things, though, and it sounds as if the producers have been generous with the voice modulation for Kylo. It’s somewhat reminiscent of another Star Wars villain with a modulated voice.
The Darth Vader voice is iconic. His heavy breathing and deep baritone voice, coming out of a helmet which hides its occupant’s true face, was effective at terrifying audiences and intimidating characters in the Star Wars movies. But if you were on set for the first Star Wars film, you wouldn’t have imagined that was possible.
At first, the man inside that suit, an English bodybuilder named David Prowse, provided the voice of Vader. It was only after he’d shot his scenes – delivering all lines on set – that George Lucas hired a new voice. James Earl Jones worked for one day on the first Star Wars, and was paid only $7,000 for recording the lines.
But did they really need to replace David Prowse’s dialogue? Wellllll, here’s this clip of David Prowse reading Vader’s lines in A New Hope:
And here’s the voice of James Earl Jones in the same scene:
Got a bit more bite, huh?
And as if being replaced wasn’t bad enough for David Prowse… he was (according to legend) very upset to find out that Vader was Luke’s father only when he saw the completed Empire Strikes Back movie. On-set, in order to preserve the reveal of Vader and Luke’s relationship, George Lucas gave David Prowse fake dialogue for that scene. When Luke says “[Obi Wan] told me you killed my father,” Prowse said, “No, Obi Wan killed your father.” He didn’t know that Vader was in fact the real father until later, and was not too pleased.
At least Adam Driver won’t suffer that fate.
Monday, December 7
Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! Counting today and Friday, December 18, there are 12 days left until Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “Twelve Days of Christmas” references: here goes! (12 Sith revenging, 11 Jabbas choking, 10 wampas freezing, 9 Jedi training, 8 Jar-Jars screaming, 7 pods a’racing, 6 troopers storming, 5… goooooold… droooooids…. 4 emperors, 3 wookies, 2 Obi-Wans, and a Jedi in a tauntaun!)
I’m a sucker for Christmas. And there’s plenty of room to celebrate Star Wars and the birth of the Messiah in the Christian faith at the same time, right? Okay, maybe that’s blasphemous. But I don’t think Baby Jesus would be any MORE upset by the addition of a couple Star Wars ornaments to an already-co-opted-pagan-symbol like the Christmas tree, right?
My roommates and I have a couple dozen real ornaments before we just start incorporating toys to fill out the unoccupied branches. The resulting tree is a thing of beauty:
In case anyone is wondering, the “Days to (our) Christmas” sign atop this tree is not so much a countdown to The Force Awakens as it is a countdown to a dinner/gift exchange between roommates. The fact that it coincides with the new Star Wars movie is just a happy coincidence.
Ornament close-ups below. No idea what those planets are, but they’re Star Wars planets, really!
Tuesday, December 8
There’s one more “ornament” that was missing from yesterday’s Christmas tree post. In the past couple years, once the regular ornaments have all been hung, my roommates and I invariably include toys and tchotchkes to fill out the branches. One such “ornament” from years past was this Stormtrooper action figure, which actually has a much more significant backstory than it lets on.
For starters, that’s not really a Stormtrooper action figure. It’s a Han Solo action figure.
Kind of cool, right? It’s a depiction of that scene in A New Hope when Han & Luke don Stormtroopers’ armor to rescue Princess Leia aboard the Death Star. That scene freaked me out when I was six years old; for the first half-hour of the movie, I assumed that Stormtroopers were actually robots, not people. It was morally alarming for me, but still pretty cool to see Luke & Han dressed up in the cool white armor.
The action figure was difficult to get. As I recall, this wasn’t available in stores. To get it, I had to collect Proof-of-Purchase cutouts from 6 (or so) boxes of Kellogg’s cereal. I don’t remember the specifics, but I know I ate a crap load of cereal to get this action figure and waited for what seemed like years for it to arrive in the mail.
Finally the package arrived, and I was ecstatic. It was a two-for-one! A good guy and a bad guy! Trooper-Han was a staple in Star Wars action figure time. There were versions of playtime where Han even turned to the dark side and became a Stormtrooper. It was one of my favorite action figures.
Then one day I buried it.
Don’t ask me why I buried it. I dunno. I was playing with a friend at the park across the street from my house, and for some reason playing with action figures meant burying them. Maybe trooper-Han was getting swallowed by quick sand. Or the mulch by the trees was my stand-in for carbonite. Kids are stupid.
When play time was over and I had to go home, I went to go dig up my Han action figure. Problem was, it wasn’t where I (thought that I had) buried it. Or anywhere near the place where I thought I had buried it. I had lost Han. In a damn tree planter across the street from my house. I had to go home empty-handed (and probably crying) and apologize to my parents for not taking better care of my things.
Then I grew up, and got a job that gave me JUST enough disposable income to snag a replacement Stormtrooper Han off eBay. So he stands at attention on a shelf at the door of my bedroom, my daily reminder to take care of the things I value (and that even when something’s lost, it’ll work out in the end).
Also, if you find yourself at the Village Green in Terrace Park, OH… please bring a shovel and dig through the mulch, please. I think there’s a pretty rare Star Wars action figure down there.
I’d be very reluctant about trying this in my neighborhood. My neighbors might kick my ass.
Impromptu lightsaber duels on the street with strangers. Check it out!
This is weird, too:
Wednesday, December 9
I have bad news that makes me worry about The Force Awakens: George Lucas likes it.
According to LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas saw the first non-George-Lucas Star Wars movie and he “really liked it.” I’m sure it’d surprise no one if Lucas gave a “meh” to “boo” rating, given his pretty dour statements about Star Wars and the Disney takeover. And yet George was either charitable and classy to make Star Wars look good, or he really thinks The Force Awakens is a good film.
Should you care about George Lucas’s opinion? I dunno.
- On the one hand, this is the man who created the galaxy far, far away, and he’s co-signing on the continuing adventures of his own characters.
- On the other hand, this is the same man who is on video saying “Jar Jar is the key to all of this.”
So maybe I’ll take his review with a grain of salt.
This guy played the opening theme from Star Wars on guitar. In fact, he played all 31 orchestra parts on the guitar. And it’s REALLY impressive.
In a similar vein, a house in Newark, California tricked out their Christmas lights to sync with Star Wars music. I checked; it’s a 6 hour drive from my house to Newark, CA. There are worse ways to fill the agonizingly long 210 hours between now and the moment I see The Force Awakens in theaters (though there are also a lot of better ways).
Please don’t let me be one of these people.
Please don’t let me be one of these people.
Please don’t let me be one of these people.
Thursday, December 10
Serial is back. If you’ve been on PorchDrinking.com for awhile, you know how much I love that show. I was an early adopter. I’m a podcast hipster – I liked Serial before it was cool. And this is now happening:
This has nothing at all to do with Star Wars, but my levels of Serial hype are near-Star Wars levels. Please do yourself a favor and download this podcast. You will be addicted.
Hey, Denver people (of which I’m assuming there a few, seeing as Denver is the international headquarters of PorchDrinking)… apparently there’s a pretty cool Star Wars exhibit which will be coming to your area. It displays original costumes – as well as concept art – from the Star Wars films. Aaaaand it comes to Denver in November. You can wait another 11 months for it, right?
Crazy Dedicated people have already started lining up for their screening of The Force Awakens here in Hollywood. The Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard (y’know… the place with the handprints) is currently the site of 100 weirdos camped out and seemingly unaware of the advent of reserved seating.
I love Star Wars more than most people I know. But I don’t feel the need to spend more than a few hours in a line to ensure a decent seat for a Star Wars movie. So today I salute the people who have way more dedication – and evidently way more vacation days – than I do.
These 100+ fans have chosen to spend the remainder of their pre-Force Awakens life firmly ensconced in the belly of Star Wars hype. I can only imagine they’ll be trading theories, analyzing footage, and even maybe whispering spoilers in each other’s ears.
I’m more tempted to go the other way. Instead of spending MORE time in the thick of Star Wars news, part of me wants to spend the next 9 days in the wilderness, far away from Wi-Fi and Twitter and more information about what’s going to happen in The Force Awakens.
If anyone knows where I can find a “Kimmy Schmidt” bunker where I can escape the outside world for a few days and then get in line a few hours before my 7:00 screening on December 17… lemme know.
Friday, December 11
Not that you need a reminder, but we’re now within a week of the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It has been 20 years since the first time I saw a Star Wars movie, 10 years since the last time I saw a new Star Wars movie, and seven weeks since I started a column here on PorchDrinking.com to express how excited I was for something that’s less than a week away.
I hope you’ll keep joining me for more hype, viral Star Wars content, and personal anecdotes over the next (last) week. Starting with these three gems:
What’s the most expensive toy you’ve ever owned? Think back to before you had an iPad or a FitBit or any expensive electronics. What’s the one toy that kid-You had that was to be prized for how valuable it was? A first-edition Beanie Baby? A full life size Barbie? That inflatable car that the kid in Blank Check used to float around in his pool?
How about Legos? Anyone remember their parents shelling out $150 for a Millennium Falcon Lego set?
And even if you WERE lucky enough to get such a nice gift, did the childhood version of you have the patience to assemble a Lego set with 1,329 pieces? Let’s say your midichlorian count was high enough that you could add a new piece to your set every six seconds… that set would take 133 minutes to put together. That’s a full 8 minutes longer than the run time of A New Hope. So you could save 140 bucks by buying a copy of Star Wars instead of building a Falcon of your own in the same amount of time.
Not to mention how delicate that $150 toy is. Legos come apart with anything other than the most gentle touch. Which is why it is INSANE to me that these guys decided to PURPOSELY smash the hell out of a fully-constructed Lego Millennium Falcon. Watch in glorious slow motion, and hope that such a Falcon crash is not how The Force Awakens ends:
Speaking of powerful destruction…. NASA apparently has a few suggestions on how to build a Death Star. According to Brian Muirhead at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the best way to start building a Death Star like the ones in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi is to begin with an already-existing asteroid.
Interesting. But, um…. why is NASA involving itself in the hypothetical construction of a super-weapon space station capable of destroying planets? I mean this not in a “waste of taxpayer money” way, but more in a “what does NASA want with a Death Star?” way.
At what point in researching asteroid re-direct contingencies (which is his primary responsibility) did Muirhead look up at an asteroid and go “y’know…. that’d be a really good foundation for a killing machine?” Thanks for the intel, Mr. Muirhead. Or should I say…. DARTH Muirhead?!?!
One more company trying to get in on the Star Wars hype and cross-promote their brand… Forever 21. Now, I’m all for affordable clothing that looks good. And I’ve come to terms with the fact that Star Wars is ubiquitous to the point of diluting its own brand. But what occasion calls for an outfit like this?
Saturday, December 12
Holy crap, this is one of my favorite Star Wars mashups. Thank you to my friend Tim for sharing this video, and a plug to Auralnauts, the same source of “Star Wars Minus Williams” … this time, they’ve integrated Donald Trump’s actual words into Darth Vader’s scenes. Granted, some of the humor inherently comes from taking comments out of context. But regardless of politics, you have to admit this is a clever use of audio.
Many people are tempering expectations about the box office results for The Force Awakens. A lot of us are so hyped, we’re anticipating this being the top-grossing film of all time. Not so fast, says Forbes. As evidence, they site the fact that The Force Awakens is “only” playing in 3,900 theaters across the US, which is only the 11th-largest theater count in history. Quick counter-points:
- Many, many theaters will be showing The Force Awakens on several screens. One megaplex with Star Wars on five screens can easily out-earn a movie showing on one screen in four different theaters.
- 3D and IMAX tickets cost more… and JJ Abrams has been encouraging fans to experience The Force Awakens in IMAX.
- 3,900 theaters in America, sure… but this marketing blitz is international. Let’s not forget about the rest of the world and its hundreds of millions of dollars.
But really, I don’t care if it’s the biggest opening weekend of all time. I’ll ignore all the fake-pessimistic reports of “disappointing” at the box office with “only” a few gazillion units. Because what matters is… there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out NEXT WEEK.
Why is Star Wars special?
Clearly I have a special place in my heart for the Star Wars galaxy. But it can be difficult to succinctly say why it’s the greatest/most beloved/most innovative/most timeless movie franchise in the history of cinema. Name a few facets of its enduring appeal (cool space ships, a compelling hero with lovable companions, action….), and you can also find other examples from much less iconic movies.
A filmmaker was tasked by Time magazine to make a video explaining what makes Star Wars special. He has the same struggle I just mentioned, but he’s way more eloquent than I have been.
It’s really damn hard to boil it down to a sentence. I’ve taken seven weeks to try to elucidate it, and it has been anything but concise. For me, the best I can do is this: Star Wars is special to me because when I was a kid, it filled me with wonder, and its ability to inspire that wonder has endured throughout my life. It has persevered and overcome all cynicism, disillusionment, changes in taste, evolving style…. it has crossed over friend groups, been incorporated into decor and conversational references…
A 25-year old guy sitting in a TV studio in Los Angeles, California loves Star Wars as much as a six-year old sitting on his grandmother’s living room floor in Picture Rocks, Pennsylvania (that was me, by the way, for anyone who forgot the intro of week one).
Star Wars is meta-special. It means a lot because it has always meant a lot. It builds a lifetime of goodwill in its audience from the moment they see it.
Just my theory.