|KNIGHTS OF RENJ.J. ABRAMSBABY YODASTAR WARS|
Fans have demanded to see more of the Knights of Ren in the new Star Wars trilogy, and they’re finally getting their wish with The Rise of Skywalker. Kylo Ren’s old buddies are back, and they all look like goofy steampunk hockey goalies. The characters are still shrouded in secrecy, so much so that we don’t even know their names. Until now! Well, at least one of their names. According to a Topps card, one of the Knights has a name, and it’s Trudgen.
Behold! Trudgen! This is one of the goofiest Star Wars names of all time, and I love it. I really hope the rest of the Knights have equally silly names, because that would be truly something special. Up until now, the Knights of Ren were only being identified by their weapons. Funko Pops figures were providing them nicknames like Scythe, Club, Blade, Axe, Arm Cannon, and so on. I suppose a trudgen could be a weapon here, but I’m just going to go ahead and assume that it’s this fellow’s name.
The Topps card provides the following description for the Knight of Ren: “Members of an enclave of masked warriors wielding distinct weapons for ranged and close-quarter combat, the Knights of Ren are elite, fearsome enforces of Kylo Ren’s dark will.” Again, the emphasis is on weaponry, so perhaps that weapon really is called a trudgen. There is a type of club called a truncheon, after all, and that’s kind of close, I suppose. We’ll have to wait and see.
Wookiepedia has even more background info on the Knights:
The Knights of Ren were neither Jedi nor Sith, but a new generation of dark side users that emerged to fill the void left by the demise of the last Sith Lords, Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. They had a sort of code, which they were flexible in following: living life the way they wanted, taking what the galaxy gave them and consuming what the dark side send them.
The archetype of this generation was Kylo Ren, the master of the Knights of Ren and heir to the bloodline of the most powerful Jedi and Sith in galactic history. They served as Kylo’s most mysterious and deadly servants.
Despite the ties of Kylo Ren to the First Order, however, the other knights were not aligned with the Galactic Empire’s successor, as Kylo and Supreme Leader Snoke were the only two beings who could command the Force in that hermit state.
I was never particularly interested in the Knights of Ren, and would’ve been fine if we had never seen them again But I also know many fans wanted them, and so here they are. How big of a part will they play in The Rise of Skywalker? I’m guessing it’ll be small, but I could be completely wrong. In any case, I’m loving the absolute goofiness of the name Trudgen, and I look forward to learning the rest of the Knights’...
Quarantined viewers tuned into Saturday’s all-day, virtual ScreenCraft Screenwriting Summit were treated to a special surprise in the evening when filmmaker and TV titan J.J. Abrams crashed the party as the surprise special guest. He arrived just after his fellow “Star Wars” scribe Tony Gilroy “Rogue One” and the upcoming Cassian Andor series finished his conversation about the craft of screenwriting.
Abrams’ Q&A touched on a range of topics, from the origins of 2015’s “The Force Awakens” to scaling “the mountain,” as he called it, of writing a screenplay, and to the Golden Age of television happening now. It’s an era Abrams helped to launch with his ABC mystery series “Lost.” “I know my role in that. I’m not talking as if I had nothing to do with this,” he said.
“It’s the Golden Age of television, as they call it, even though I don’t know what television really is anymore,” Abrams said. “That’s because huge chances are being taken. Talent that might not have gotten the chance otherwise suddenly have the opportunity. For me, when I watch a show like ‘Atlanta,’ which takes the most spectacular risks in point of view, in genre, structure, and character […] every story has been told, it’s kind of all been done before,” remarking that the FX series tells its stories in unique ways.
Abrams also praised the Emmy-winning Prime Video series “Fleabag,” created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
“You see ‘Fleabag’ and you’re like, well, yes, the fourth wall has been broken [before], but not like that,” he said, referring to the protagonist’s tendency to face the camera and address the audience. “Yes, there have been amazing love stories, and stories of family, but not like that. What I love is the thing that makes you feel like, ‘Oh my god, this is so amazingly specific.'”
Abrams pivoted to discussing Hollywood’s place in a moment dominated by streaming content with originality that far exceeds what’s being reproduced on the big screen. “Hollywood used to be a place where something would happen, there’d be a movie where people would see it and think ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing. Here’s my answer to that,’ or ‘here’s my version,'” he said.
“Hollywood has become a place where, for the most part, studios say, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing. Let’s do that literally again.’ And that’s OK, and I think that will continue, but I really hope that all the writers who are here and others in the guild are as excited as I am about this new opportunity with streaming platforms. How many different stories are going to be...
A concept artist on The Mandalorian still refers to the Child as Baby Yoda. Lucasfilm and Disney have confirmed dozens of times that his official name, for the time being, is the Child. He is not an infant version of the little green Jedi Master, though he looks just like him. In the Star Wars timeline, the real Yoda is dead at the time of The Mandalorian. There is still a ton of mystery surrounding the Child and the species that he is.
The Mandalorian concept artist Doug Chiang posted some concept art from the series on social media. The image is of Din Djarin as he holds the Child in his hand. Chiang posted the image, along with a caption that reads, 'Time for a Mando and Baby Yoda sketch!' We all know he's the Child, but Baby Yoda just fits so much better, especially since we know next to nothing about the little green dude.
The Mandalorian season 2 should debut in the fall. Disney+ and Lucasfilm have confirmed that the show is supposed to come out in October, but that could all change at any moment, due to the current state of world affairs. The entertainment business has been stalled as we all wait for this to pass. Regardless, season 2 should give us a bit more insight into who and what Baby Yoda is, or at least tease more of his backstory. We do know that Moff Gideon will be trying to get his hands on him, which could prove to be massive problem for Din Djarin.
A lot of Star Wars fans have been curious about the original Yoda's species for decades. It's never been explained before and some fans want to leave it that way. It's unclear how far Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni will go into the Child's history, but there are still a lot of people who want to learn more about the original Yoda in The Mandalorian. It will be interesting to see how much information they will be coming up with. Regardless, if it goes far enough, it could anger a lot of Star Wars fans, which seems inevitable at this point.
For now, we'll just have to wait and see what season 2 of The Mandalorian brings. We have yet to see any footage from the upcoming season, though that makes sense. If Star Wars Celebration ends up still happening at the end of August, we'll probably see the first footage there, or around that time. Disney and Lucasfilm have not yet commented on whether or not the annual celebration will happen this year, though San Diego Comic-Con seems to be going ahead, at least as of this writing. Things could change at any minute now. You can check out The Mandalorian concept art below, thanks to Doug Chiang's Instagram account.
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...