Star Wars Celebration London 2016: Episode I

Conventions like this have a weird effect on me: On the one hand am I very attracted to go to such geek-fests, on the other hand do I still try to tell myself that I am a grown up man ( hahaha, I know! ) and I should rather do stuff like get a mortgage and play squash with my hedge-fund manager.

Whatever, having avoided Cons in the past I thought Star Wars Celebration is the right place to pop my convention cherry, especially as I had a friend and fellow Star Wars obsessive attending as well.

Listen to the Light Side of the Force, you must…

Researching the event I felt pretty giddy and excited: People from all over the world were heading to London to feel The Force! As my ordered trooper helmet didn’t arrive in time I had to brave the celebration of a galaxy far, far away bare as God created me: Wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt!

On the way to the event I ran into the first people who made a bigger effort than me outfit wise: There is just something special about seeing Queen Amidala waiting for the tube in Shadwell.

It’s just great to be able to geek out with fellow Star Wars fans without having to worry about getting anybody up to speed first! There is just nothing worse than trying to have a proper SW conversation with a mate who has no clue about the subject matter. Now this will NEVER happen at Celebration: No apologies, no regrets, just full on Star Wars geekdom at it’s peak. THUMBS UP!

After a quick touchdown with my Star Wars homie Jools aka The Real Boba Fettâ„¢ I did what every self respecting nerd does: Head towards the official merch store to get some special celebration items!

After another bit of queueing where I mingled with some fellow Star Wars fans from Germany I entered the official Celebration store area. After a quick scan of the goods on display I quickly picked my favorites. Top of the list: An official Celebration T Shirt. Classic! Nice touch: Each shirt was hand screen printed before your own very eyes!

Another bit of hot merch: The Force Awakens holographic vinyl double album. More on this topic over on Dj Foods blog. Let’s just say it has a Tie Fighter and Millenium Falcon hoovering above the vinyl when you play it, alright?

The other, more unexpected piece of merch was a 10″ picture disc of the Star Wars song “Jabba Flow”, remixed by none other than Rick Rubin and A-Track! As the cover art of LSD Kylo Ren ( with BB-8 on the flip ) just looks great so it ended up in my bag.

Then  it was time to hit the exhibition floor. I didn’t bother with trying to get into any of the panels as the tickets to see Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher speaking on the main stage where long gone. So I just jumped head first into two halls full of Star Wars-ness…

Oh… balls. Space Balls that is!

Some casual outfits on display…

Hey! Who are these two jokers?

I think Disney buying Lucasfilm  was the best thing that could have happened to Star Wars and I am more than psyched for the new movie(s). Donnie Yen kicking Stormtrooper butt? Hell yes! The newly released sizzle reel for Celebration 2016 really had me hyped. Can’t wait…

Another thing was the Rogue One costume exhibition. Man, that white Imperal outfit with the cape? #starswag! Who cares about Yeezys…

Talking about outfits… I do believe the white outfit of main Rogue One baddie Director Krennic has been inspired by one of the most beloved Expanded Universe characters who just made it back into the official canon: General Thrawn. Who? THRAWN! …the blue guy, ok? *sighs*

I just love the feisty look on that kids face! Some people thought Rey was too kickass in The Force Awakens, I personally think it was just the right amount. All the Rey cosplay around the convention seems to support my statement! Can’t wait to see her kick Kylo’s butt after some training by Master Luke himself…

If I am honest, the thing that entertained and amazed me most attending Celebration was the commitment of all the fans who came down in full costume from all over the globe to connect and have fun. When I visited the booth of the Norwich Star Wars Club and checked out the patches on the wall I saw how far the global commitment to Star Wars truly reaches! Plus: #patchgamestrong

There is much more to say about Star Wars Celebration 2016… so stick around for Episode 2 coming soon to a blog to you in a galaxy far, far away!

Now I need to take a quick break to go to Toshi station… to get some power converters… 

Kapow! A Solaris 100 guide to comic movie mania!

Holy comic books Batman!

Who would have foreseen the tidal wave of comic book adaptations hitting us this year: Deadpool, Batman v Superman, X Men Apocalypse, Civil War, Suicide Squad, Dr. Strange…

If you have been a comic book phobe so far, better get with the program as there is no end in sight for men and women in spandex entertaining us on the big screen… and I am not talking about your YouPorn playlist here!

So this post is aimed at all the clueless boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands, wives and casual Tinder dates who are still scratching their heads when the conversation comes to comic book movies…

Ok teach me, what are these weird “comics” then?

Think of it as adventure stories like your Tom Clancy books. Just with added awesome outfits, convoluted backstories and buff bodies! And unlike a purely written book, it comes with awesome artwork. It can be pulpy and naff like this…

…or masterful and arty like this…

Ok, got it! So it’s all about super heroes then?

Not really! As there are many genres of comics there are many adaptations that don’t look like a classic comic book movie but still originated as drawn panels! So you might have already watched some comic book movies unknowingly… shocking isn’t it!

You just blew my mind! So if comic book movies have been around for awhile now, why the sudden boom? Why is everything on the big screen currently a bloody Marvel movie?

Because comic book movies just got extra awesome lately, ok?

1) They nail the movies

A lot of current writers, directors and movie producers grew up on a steady diet of comic books and know what they are doing. Especially Marvel is very clever in hiring talent that proved themselves worthy with other movies and then bring their skill, love and understanding to the adaption. The “Thor” movie was directed by Shakespeare director Kenneth Branagh for chrissakes! 

2) The hype is with them

Another reason comic book movies do so well these days is the global spread of the pre-movie hype, leaked pictures and the geektastic discussions leading up to the latest movie thanks to the internet!

DC and Marvel can whip up enough hype to get people excited for their product in a way a regular poster promotion back in the days could have never do it.

Plus it’s just a lot of fun seeing other nerds going crazy over the latest trailer or casting announcement!

3) Better costumes!

First the costumes looked too silly ( just google “Bat Nipples” ), then they looked too black and boring. With Marvel trying to stay as true as possible to the original look of their heroes, it’s finally ok to rock some colourful garms and still kick butt!

Then ( boring ):

Now ( awesome ) :

4) Everything is finally connected

A massive appeal of comic books is the soap opera like structure that builds over years and years of interconnecting storylines, alternative universes and parallel dimensions. It’s really like Eastenders just with laserbeams and cowls.

But whilst comic books have their crazy continuity, movies still kinda stayed self contained. Only Marvel had the massive balls to imply that all their heroes exist in the same universe with this post-credit sequence from Iron Man that blew geeks minds!

Since then the biggest sign of being a comic book movie NOOB is to leave the cinema just after the movie ends and the credits start rolling… NEVER LEAVE THE CINEMA UNTIL YOU SAW EVERY POST CREDIT SEQUENCE!

5) Taking risks

There has been a time where the only heroes you could enjoy on the big screen were Superman and Batman. Marvel cleverly pushes new heroes into the limelight to keep things fresh and combat the dreaded “super hero fatigue”. Racoons with guns and magicians travelling through the 5th dimension? AWESOME!

Ok, great so comic book movies are awesome AND big business. What movies do I need to know so I don’t not look like a sucker?

In order to prove that you didn’t just jump on the hype train recently you need to know these classic comic book adaptations…

Whilst the first movie is more iconic, Tim Burtons sequel delivered more weirdness and the best Catwoman we have seen on screen so far. Funny that Batman is not only the super hero that kinda kicked off the comic book movie hype, but nearly buried it as well! But more of that later…

Based on the manga from 1989 this animated adaptation of the comic books has been ripped off and referenced over and over again. So you better watch this first so you can call out all the imposters and imitators out there!

Whilst Iron Man gets all the praise of kickstarting the MCU ( Marvel Cinematic Universe ), it’s really this movie: Blade!  Half human, half Vampire, this ass kicker hunts and kills vampires whilst wearing sunglasses at night. Lots of gore, amazing art direction and a banging soundtrack made this movie a fresh breath of air for the tired super hero genre in 1998. 

The first big onscreen assemble movie! Spot on casting and the more serious approach talking about how minorities are treated and viewed by society paved the way for maturing the genre. And ripped Hugh Jackman aka Wolverine has done more to get the ladies into the geek game than all the Supermen in their tight outfits combined!

One of the best out there, Spiderman 2 directed by Sam Raimi of Evil Dead fame is a highlight of the genre. Again it’s all thanks to the casting, great CGI and the comic book love of a director that knows what he is doing. 

Watchmen by Alan Moore has a very special place in the pantheon of comic books as it’s a complex meditation on superheroes and their role in society. Set during the Reagan Era in the 80ties, the comic explored the theme of real life super hero issues entangled in politics, betrayal and cold war paranoia.

The direction and look created by Zac Snyder makes this one of the best and mature comic book movies out there in my opinion.

The one that brought Marvel back to life after the studio nearly went bust: RDJ as genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark and the mix of slick cinematography and snappy dialogue made this the Big Bang of Marvels movie universe!

Widely hailed as the best comic book movie ever made, Nolan brought his own brand of seriousness to his Batman trilogy, rebooting the franchise as a gritty crime saga. Heath Ledger as the Joker first created a shitstorm with the fans but ultimately created the definitive portrayal of the character, earning him a posthumous Oscar in 2009. Instead of putting the comic book antics first, the director crafted a solid crime thriller first and a super hero movie second. Bingo!

Important! You will not only be judged by what you love but even more importantly, what you hate! Here are te 5 movie you must hate…

The third one is always the worst! With Bryan Singer departing the franchise to work on his Superman dream project Brett Ratner was called in to pick up the pieces and screwed it up. And let’s mention Wolverine: Origins as well which still get’s a lot of crap for not getting the character of Deadpool right…

Bat Nipples and campiness dialled up to 11… this movie buried the Batman franchise and had the director apologise to Bat-Geeks everywhere for years to come.

Spidey Part 3… see, there is a theme emerging! With a horrible dance scene and mishandled characters this killed off Spiderman until the reboot… which sucked as well and forced Sony to ask Marvel for creative help. Oh the humiliation! Just say “They totally shafted Venom, dude!” whenever asked for your opinion on this matter.

DCs attempt to catch up with Marvels movie masterplan to get a slice of the connected movie universe money could be called “divisive” but I will be a bit more frank and call it A CRAP, RUSHED, BITTERLY DISAPPOINTING MOVIE! The only thing worse than the movie is this trailer that gave away all plot points, twists and turns. Before you call me a Marvel fanboy and DC hater read this meditation on Batman to see that I really looked forward to this!

Ok so I hope you are all clued up now!

I could ramble on and on but like I said, there is a lot of fun to be had getting involved yourself! And with a plethora of comic book movies in the pipeline this year there has never been a better time toput on your cowl and mask and head to your local multiplex…