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Here’s What ‘Star Wars: Battlefront 2’ Gameplay Looks Like

Stormtroopers, clone troopers, gorgeous shots of lush Naboo and all those silly comic relief droids—it’s a veritable Star Wars-ian mashup in this first official gameplay trailer for studio EA DICE’s galaxy far, far away sequel to 2015’s online shooter. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 wants to have it all: Here’s a wookie fighting with the Empire. There’s Boba Fett shooting whatever he shoots from those lovely arm cannons. Check out the Millennium Falcon cleaving through asteroid debris like a scythe, or those Separatist droid armies throwing down against hordes of clone troopers. How about the little green guy himself, looking properly peeved as he tangoes with Darth Maul. And there’s Rey, trading blows with Kylo Ren in what promises to be an experience that scales from individual skirmishes to platoon-sized assaults on up to explosive battalion-ish interstellar clashes. The idea behind Star Wars: Battlefront 2, besides taking your money, is to shore up the 30-year span between Return of the Jedi‘s rebel triumph and The Force Awakens‘ grimmer tidings. It is also fully canon, which means what happens here happened as precursor to the films. As such, you would do well to keep watching past the trailer’s logo splash, for one of the creepiest teases in the history of the Star Wars-verse. […]

Your Favorite New Star Wars Character Is Getting a Comic Book

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been obliterating box office records since it was released on Dec. 18, with the seventh film in the franchise becoming the highest-grossing domestic movie of all time. This is due largely in part to the outstanding cast of characters — both old and new— who star in the latest installment. One new addition to the galaxy far, far away who has particularly caught fans’ eyes is Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron. In fact, audiences have found the X-Wing pilot so intriguing that Lucasfilm and Disney have green-lit a Marvel comic book series about him, according to USA Today. The ongoing Star Wars: Poe Dameron title, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Phil Noto, will debut in April and will focus on Poe’s life prior to the events of The Force Awakens. Star Wars: The Force Awaken's Poe Dameron is getting a comic book by Soule & Noto! https://t.co/0MZOpptWUv pic.twitter.com/PRo8fITZAr — Joshua Yehl (@JoshuaYehl) January 14, 2016 Read More: Oscar Isaac Played Jedi with Room’s Jacob Tremblay After the Golden Globes Soule explained that the series will take a fresh approach to expanding the world of the movie. “Sometimes it can feel like the Star Wars universe is so well trodden and so many stories have already been told,” he said. “But the way the Episode VII galaxy is set up, there are opportunities for new archetypes almost, and the bad guy we’re working with is going to feel fresh and cool.” […]

What the Critics Said About Every Single Star Wars Movie When It Came Out

It’s pretty safe to say that this weekend’s box office numbers for The Force Awakens, the latest Star Wars installment, will have little to do with the reviews the movie gets. By now, the franchise is a bona fide cultural event, and legions of fans will check it out no matter what. But the series didn’t get to that point by not being good. As a look back through TIME’s archives reveals, the early Star Wars films were not just a success with moviegoers, but also with critics. They were such major events that in most cases they didn’t get the typical short reviews in TIME, but rather longer features devoted to their creation. Those do contain critical assessments, however, ranging from “best movie of the year” to “disappointment.” Here’s what those stories had to say about each of them: A New Hope, 1977 “A universe of plenty—as audiences can discover beginning this week in Star Wars, a grand and glorious film that may well be the smash hit of 1977, and certainly is the best movie of the year so far. Star Wars is a combination of Flash Gordon, The Wizard of Oz, the Errol Flynn swashbucklers of the ’30s and ’40s and almost every western ever screened—not to mention the Hardy Boys, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Faerie Queene. The result is a remarkable confection: a subliminal history of the movies, wrapped in a riveting tale of suspense and adventure, ornamented with some of the most ingenious special effects ever contrived for film. It has no message, no sex and only the merest dollop of blood shed here and there. It’s aimed at kids—the kid in everybody.” Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: The Year’s Best Movie The Empire Strikes Back, 1980 “Sequels of giant hits, like children who follow Daddy’s favorite, always have an unfair burden. They are not examined on their own merits but in relationship to the picture everyone loved. In many ways Lucas and Kershner have overcome that handicap. The Empire Strikes Back is a more polished and, in some ways, a richer film. But to imitate Yoda’s way of speaking, and to answer the obvious question, as much fun it is not.” — Gerald Clarke Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: The Empire Strikes Back! And So Does George Lucas… Return of the Jedi, 1983 “Taken on its own terms—’Let’s face it,’ says [Mark] Hamill, ‘we made a film for children’—Return of the Jedi is a brilliant, imaginative piece of moviemaking. But it does not diminish the accomplishment of Lucas and his youthful team to say that there are flaws nonetheless. The most obvious, ironically, is an overemphasis on effects and a too proud display of odd-looking creatures. Some otherwise breathtaking scenes, such as the visit to Jabba’s lair, the hair-raising chases through the redwoods and the climactic space battle, are extended to the point of satiety. The other flaw is the ending: in all three films, Lucas has almost entirely avoided the rank sentimentality to which his story is vulnerable. In the final minutes of Jedi he succumbs, however, and ends his trilogy with one of the corniest conclusions in recent years.” — Gerald Clarke Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Great Galloping Galaxies! The Phantom Menace, 1999 “Somewhere beyond the critics’ dispassion and the cultists’ disappointment lies the likely response of the multiplex masses when the film opens May 19. As one woman said upon leaving the screening, ‘What do you want for $9?’ What you get in The Phantom Menace is a panoramic entertainment with several terrific set pieces of action, stalwart acting from the Brits (and some very raw work by the kids), a precise, luscious visual design, a multilevel climactic battle and a funeral pyre that echo Return of the Jedi, and a triumphal coda from the first Star Wars film (1977). All that, and a lot of talk.” — Richard Corliss Read the full story, here in the TIME archives: The Phantom Movie Attack of the Clones, 2002 “After seeing a rough cut of the film and reading the script, we can say that Clones seems poised to get the series back on track–and provide an exhilarating two hours of serious fun. It should easily ace the last movie in chills (when two icky centipedal creatures called “kouhuns” crawl into the sleeping Padme’s bed) and thrills (when Anakin and Obi-Wan drag-race the changeling Zam Wessel across Coruscant’s wonderfully varied urban nightscape).” — Richard Corliss and Jess Cagle Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Dark Victory Revenge of the Sith, 2005 “After two episodes—The Phantom Menace (1999) and Attack of the Clones (2002)—that often dawdled in political filibustering and starchy line readings, after the fan base’s outrage at the unfortunate Jar Jar Binks incident, Revenge of the Sith shows Lucas storming back as a prime confector of popular art. Again one feels the sure narrative footing of the first Star Wars, the sepulchral allure of Empire, the confident resolution of a dozen plotlines that made Jedi a satisfying capper to the original enterprise. True, Lucas can pack little surprise into a backstory that’s obliged to complete the saga’s circle in the middle. But there’s an origami elegance to his folding of the old (new) story into the new (old) one. Sith will surely start a stampede to resee the 1977 film as a reminder of how the 13-hr. tale proceeds. Lucas is nothing if not an expert extender of his franchise.” — Richard Corliss Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Dark Side Rising The Force Awakens, 2015 “When you’ve been charged with reviving one of the most obsessively beloved franchises in modern movies, is it better to defy expectations or to meet them? With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams splits the difference, and the movie suffers—in the end, it’s perfectly adequate, hitting every beat. But why settle for adequacy? For the first 40 minutes or so, The Force Awakens feels like something special and fresh: For one thing, Abrams and his team of designers and technicians introduce a new star, a droid named BB-8. A roly-poly cueball with a surprisingly expressive half-dome for a head—and a vocabulary of squeaks and squiggles that are more eloquent than mere words—BB-8 is both modernist and old-fashioned at once, a marvelous creation that could have sprung from the imagination of Jules Verne.” — Stephanie Zacharek Read the full review, here on TIME.com: The Force Awakens Is Everything You Could Hope for in a Star Wars Movie—And Less Read TIME’s latest Star Wars cover story, here on TIME.com: How J.J. Abrams Brought Back Star Wars […]

This Is What It’s Like to Watch Star Wars for the First Time

Call me uncultured, but I had never watched Star Wars. Okay, Episode IV was on at a party once, but I didn’t really pay attention. Most people see the series for the first time as children, and I grew up in more of an Oklahoma! household. Space battles—or any battles more serious than farmer vs. cowman—just weren’t on the agenda. In honor of the series’ new digital release on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and other platforms, I settled in to finally see what I’ve been missing, crashing Episodes IV, V and VI (the first three by release date). It’s easy to see why it’s been an international favorite for decades, but—as a whole—it’s so much goofier than I expected. Yet the odd bits (catch phrases, strange creatures, distinctive costumes) are exactly what work to make the franchise so beloved, not to mention culturally potent enough to delay its digital release until now. It’s like The Beatles of the movie business! Without further ado, Episode IV: 1:00 I have to ask, why put the scrolling text at an angle that’s so hard to read? I get it, we’re traveling through space, but couldn’t we at least have a more vertical trajectory? 3:00 Space people always seem so calm in emergencies. “We’re doomed,” says the gold guy, in about the same tone you might use to say “Princess Leia is late for afternoon tea.” 4:45 Darth Vader seems to be the only one who breathes like he has a scuba mask on, even though all his minions have similar face masks. 12:30 These little desert critters, like all of the villains so far, don’t exactly inspire terror. It’s hard to imagine an action movie in the 21st century employing such puny bad guys. 19:45 “Thank the maker!” says the gold one while going into an oil bath. Who is his maker? Is there a god in this world? 34:15 I always thought Darth Vader was the kind of bad guy who’s staging a coup to take power, but now I see he is in power—he’s like the Oliver Cromwell of his day. 36:45 All this talk about the Force makes me think of Joseph Campbell. I guess my high school English teacher was right to make us read his treatise on Star Wars and the hero myth. 42:00 Oh good, they have big band music on this planet. 52:45 You know how people call others Jabba the Hutt as an insult? I now get why that’s really mean. 1:01:00 Is this movie anti-atheism? 1:18:00 Chewbacca’s whining and moaning is the only response that makes sense in all this hubbub. How is everyone else calmly making wisecracks? That said, if he moans one more time, I’ll puncture my eardrums. 1:21:00 The underwater garbage monster is certainly icky, but considering how shallow the depths are and how easy the struggle is, it does not strike fear into my heart. 1:25:00 Why has no one spotted Obi-Wan on the ship in his peasant clothes? Those can’t be dress code. 1:26:00 This movie sure doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, but at least Princess Leia kicks butt. “Listen: I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but from now on, you do as I tell you. K?” 1:32:00 Is it just me or is that a very anti-climactic sword fight? 1:38:00 “You think a princess and a guy like me…” “No.” Oh great, we’re all set up for a love triangle in Episode V. 1:44:00 C-3PO (I learned his name!) and R2-D2 are like a robot version of the Odd Couple. 1:53:00 What’s so bad about the Empire that they have to be doing all this fighting anyway? 2:00:00 Odd that a princess would be a leader of a revolution rather than a target. On to Episode V! 4:00 Oh look, it’s the yeti from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! Did the studio loan him out? 5:30 Apparently puffer vests were all the rage a long time ago in a galaxy far away. 8:00 Han tells someone he’ll see him in hell. Is that a thing in this galaxy? 13:30 Just realized Yoda wasn’t in the first film. 18:00 Princess Leia is basically the only woman we’ve met in this world (besides Luke’s aunt), and to demonstrate to Han what women are like, she kisses Luke to make him jealous. Great representation! 30:00 The more I watch the more convinced I am that the friendship of R2-D2 and C-3PO is a love story for the ages. 39:00 Where is Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain asteroid fields to me? 44:30 What is wrong with Darth Vader’s scalp? 46:00 Every time Han makes a pass at Leia I kind of want to puke. 47:30 Yoda is here! And he sounds like Fozzie Bear. Update: It is Fozzie Bear! Both were voiced by Frank Oz. The more you know. 1:02:00 I’m surprised I’ve never seen a backpack that looks like Yoda clinging to Luke’s shoulders. 1:05:00 Speaking of products, the light sabers so far have been blue and red, so why are the plastic toys usually green? 1:16:00 All this training with Yoda looks a lot like yoga. 1:36:00 Never knew this was where “I love you” / “I know” came from. Kind of a jerk move, Han. 1:51:00 Huh, so he didn’t actually say the “Luke” part of “Luke, I am your father.” And onward to Episode VI. 0:20 The font used in each film for “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” looks like what they should have used as a placeholder before final edits. 11:00 By now C-3PO is definitely my favorite character and I want him to come be my butler. 13:00 What actress wouldn’t want to tell her grandchildren, “I was one of the backup dancers in Jabba the Hutt’s lair”? 12:00 This whole freezing-a-man thing is a great tie-in for Disney. 23:00 Oh dear God. Poor Carrie Fisher—how could they put her in that slave bikini? 31:00 All these Jabba the Hutt scenes are so campy, I wonder whether the series would be more of a cult classic than a mainstream favorite if they had been in the first movie. 42:00 But who is Luke’s mother? 46:00 And did the writers plan for Vader to be his father all along, or change their minds for a plot twist in Episode V? 54:00 How much time has even passed since the beginning of Episode IV? Three weeks? Three years? 57:00 These jungle scenes feel like the Jurassic Park section of Star Wars. 1:10:00 Attack of the teddy bears! 1:34:00 After six hours of Star Wars I’m now starting to feel some serious fatigue, which is making me much less forgiving of the old-school special effects. 1:37:00 The teddy bear army strikes back! 1:56:00 The emperor’s electricity attack on Luke is like something out of a Halloween movie. 2:01:00 Finally seeing Darth’s face is a very Wizard of Oz moment. The man behind the curtain/mask is not as great as he seemed. And that’s all! The force is not strong with me at the end of this marathon, but I hope it will return. Episodes I, II and III await. […]

Cultural Studies: Popularity of ‘Star Wars’ Endures, Even for Children

When preschoolers play games based on a movie they have never seen, something sociological is going on. […]

The Carpetbagger: Where R2-D2 and Rango Meet

Visiting Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects company known for everything from “Star Wars” to nominees this year like its first full-length animated feature, “Rango.” […]

ArtsBeat Blog: Lucasfilm Confirms Change to Blu-ray Release of ‘Return of the Jedi’

New lines of dialogue have been added to a climactic scene between Darth Vader and the Emperor, and faithful fans find them disturbing. […]