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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Empire Magazine Covers Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Empire Magazine (unfortunately not named after the Galactic Empire) is known for featuring exclusive looks at anticipated upcoming movies on the cover(s) of their monthly issue. Their October issue features Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which they accurately name "the most anticipated movie...ever!"

In the usual Empire fashion, the issue features three different covers, showing the different factions and new characters of the film. 

The first cover showcases the villainous First Order. In the front, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) wields his iconic crossguard lightsaber and cements his position as the commercial face of the movie. Behind him is chrome-plated stormtrooper Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), who director JJ Abrams cited as his favorite character. Next to her is First Order leader General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). Beside them are an army of stormtroopers marching towards a fleet of shuttles, and several redesigned TIE fighters are also visible. They appear to be standing in the hangar of one of the First Order star destroyers shown in the second The Force Awakens teaser. Below Kylo Ren's lightsaber, we can see the First Order's insignia. The blue-white design of the ship is similar to designs in Abrams' Star Trek movies. 


The second cover shows the heroic Resistance. Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger living on Jakku, leads the pack with her staff that appears to be her preferred weapon. Behind her is runaway stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), her companion in the movie as they evade First Order forces. We also see Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), the "best frickin' pilot in the galaxy" who's sent on a mission by a "certain princess" and gets involved with Finn and Rey. And of course, there's adorable rolling astromech droid BB-8. They're standing in the deserts of Jakku, heavily rumored to be just a new name for Tatooine. Next to them is the iconic Millenium Falcon, and there are several TIE fighters approaching them in the sky. The Resistance symbol appears to be identical to the Rebellion symbol from the Original Trilogy, which is appropriate because they're virtually the same. 


The third cover, exclusive to Empire subscribers, is simply a close-up of BB-8. The adorable droid was revealed to be an actual prop, rather than CGI, several months ago, and the filmmakers reveal how exactly they built what "stands as almost singularly as a technical achievement that no one has yet matched", according to Star Wars Creature Shop head Neal Scanlan. "The whole ball-bot concept is something that universities to individuals have played around with," says Scanlan. "We looked very closely at what one would consider existing technology and decided that it was not far enough advanced." 

Empire reports that multiple BB-8's were created, including one that could be picked up to interact with actors, one that could be "thrown into shot" without tipping over, and an "old-school rod-puppet version". Senior Animatronic Designer Joshua Lee also shed some light on BB-8's construction and design. 
It had been sort of burning a hole in me. I started to design this crazy idea of one that would roam around and that we would show to the fans as well. We couldn’t do it for filming, but it had to be done! There are several ways of doing a ball robot, but there was nothing that included an articulated head or anything that could spin on the spot -  and that’s one of BB-8’s signature moves. So, I started to design the prototype while Matt [Denton] adapted his existing software to make control of this new BB-8 possible.
JJ Abrams revealed some new details on Kylo Ren, the highly-anticipated primary villain of the film. 
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)
His origins have served as a mystery to the fans. Is he a Sith? Is he a Skywalker? He gets his name from the Knights of Ren, but what does that mean? Abrams confirmed that Kylo Ren is not a Sith. "He works under Supreme Leader Snoke, who is the most powerful figure on the dark side of the Force." Snoke is the digital character that motion-capture expert Andy Serkis is portraying. We haven't seen anything of him so far (probably because the he hasn't been fully digitalized yet), but he provided the growling voiceover in the first teaser (written on the first poster). 

Abrams also shed some light on the origins of the First Order. He described them not as a remnant of the Galactic Empire, but more like "what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again? What could be born of that? Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn’t get done?” So the First Order is something like a cult that wants to finish the work of the Empire. 

The issue will be on newsstands August 27, and I will update this post with any important information revealed. What do you think of the covers? Tell me in the comments, and may the Force be with you all. 

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