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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Bonus Material

To say that I was more than a little excited to receive my Star Wars TFA Blu-Ray / DVD copy the other day might be an understatement. As a long-time Star Wars fan, I am beyond excited for this revival and am delighted with the new wave of fans that are becoming excited for this franchise. I genuinely believe it provides a common language that allows us all to relate in some way. Just like American Football gives many a people something to talk about, Star Wars is on that level for us nerds – it’s our bond.

Anyhow, I digress!

This piece is all about spreading the word on the bonus material you can look forward to – that is, if you’re a slacker who hasn’t gotten their copy yet, or are on the fence if it is worth it, or if you’re just going to hold out for the complete set.

Either way, if you didn’t pre-order… you may be in trouble.

So… uh, bonus material and movie spoilers ahead? You have been warned!

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Secrets of the Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey (Chapters 1 – 4)

In this four chapter documentary of sorts, the story of making The Force Awakens is told start to finish. From the abject terror/excitement of being a part of the new production, to the mind-blowing sensation of old and new cast coming together for the first table read, to the hard work and detail put into every prop and every second of CG – this four part series covers it all. I will admit to being one of those greedy fans who wants more – more about how the story came to be, more about how the creators felt about the motivations for the characters and where they envisioned the story going – even though I have a strict rule against spoilers.

Some interesting take-aways for me was how the concept art very much propelled different parts of the story, rocketing the characters from one sticky situation into another. Discussions surrounding Han and Leia’s relationship, and how it affected Ben was great to gain more insight on. Carrie Fisher’s return to the screen was something I had never really thought about – which, in my opinion, reflects on how well she revived the character. She reported having the worst first day on set, but stuck with it and came back on the second day, ready to be faithful to the character and all her fans.

It was great to see and hear about Daisy and John’s reaction to the casting news. Daisy claims, while every part of her wanted to hear the words that were eventually delivered, she was completely dumbfounded and unable to form coherent words. John Boyega was convinced he was still auditioning during the Table Read, remembering how the script was upside down in his binder and frantically wondering if it was the final test before he actually landed the role.

Many times the characters and crew reflected on how Star Wars is now a family experience – passed down from one generation to the next. This resonated with me especially, since it was my Uncle who introduced me to Star Wars when I was 13. It DID give us a common language, among he and I and among the rest of the fan base.

Fun Fact: Poe Dameron’s character was originally slated to die early in the movie. While Oscar Issac obviously jumped at the chance to play Poe, he did complain to JJ that all the movies he’d been in to date, he had died early in the film. After some consideration, JJ found a way to avoid that fate for Poe. Good thing, too, since Poe is surely a fan favorite and we’ll look forward to seeing him in future movies!

The Story Awakens: The Table Read

The Table Read is briefly touched on in the Cinematic Journey, but this bonus feature really drives home how emotional this event was for the veteran actors as well as the new additions. It was stunning to hear Mark Hamill read the opening credits and I felt chills all over again.

Amusingly, Daisy Ridley reported she thought her table read was rubbish, and felt confirmed in the belief when JJ insisted she and John Boyega begin day-long rehearsals immediately.

Crafting Creatures

While I would have LOVED for this bonus feature to go more into the making of all of the amazing costumes, I can understand why they couldn’t – there were just so damn many! It was fascinating to see how the crew worked to make such authentic props, enhancing them with CG only when necessary yo further enhance their authenticity.

One great takeaway from this segment for me was JJ’s approach to design – instead of giving a vision and having the artists fulfill it, he challenged the artists to make what inspired them. The artists had no guarantee that anything they made would make it into the movie – their work had to be good enough, and inspirational enough, for JJ to choose them for the film. I love this approach because it is obvious in the quality and uniqueness of the end result that the artists were really motivated to create memorable creatures and costumes.

When it came to the iconic costumes like Chewie, there were absolutely no corners cut, or even an attempt to improve on the original design. Crafters called on the methods and techniques used in the original films to ensure Chewie would translate well to us very detail-oriented fans.

Building BB8

Similar to how the Creature Crafters were challenged, the creators of BB8 were given quite the challenge by JJ when he delivered a rough sketch of the droid on a post-it note. The solution? ALL THE VERSIONS of BB8.

The builders found ways to construct BB8 in ways that best suited how he would need to be seen on screen. From a hand-driven version that had puppet qualities, to a drive-powered version that was awkward to maneuver but worked best in tight spaces, to a free-standing version with controls for body and head movement.

By far the best clip in this segment is one of the controllers dressed in a green skin-suit, pushing BB8 as quickly as possible around the desert in the Jakku escape scenes with Rey and Finn. Cardio is evidently a huge requirement in making this film.

Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight

As someone with a martial arts and fencing background, I was beyond excited when I got to this feature in the bonus material. And I have to admit, up front, I was a little disappointed. The segment seemed too short and mostly covered the construction of the set – WHICH IS AMAZING. Don’t get me wrong – they built a forest on an indoor set with real trees, and a 360 drop off. You basically felt like you were in the woods on the Starkiller Base.

But, I was really looking forward to learning more about the choreography of the fight. I suppose I’ll have to wait for more documentaries. Star Wars: The Gift That Just Keeps Giving.

ILM: The Visual Magic of the Force

These people are genuinely magic. Their work on the Falcon alone is breathtaking, and the time they took to study the physical models from the original production is just one of the indicators of their above-and-beyond approach. With all their magic, the folks at ILM were thrilled to have as many real-world props and settings as JJ delivered – open and honest about the fact that ‘real is real’. But they truly took it to the next level and their graphics are so well integrated into this film, it is genuinely difficult to pick them out.

John Williams: The Seventh Symphony

John Williams is a god among men – on this I think we can all agree. This segment was great to see Williams reflecting on how absolutely on board he was for Star Wars 7 – unable to fathom not contributing to the franchise, or breaking his streak. There is a huge emphasis on how much of the music in Star Wars is a part of the film, seamless but if removed, would be a terrible detriment to the film – and it’s true. I popped in the Blu-ray after watching the Bonus Material and really tried to focus in on the music. I found myself drifting into the story, and I think it’s because the score is so masterfully interwoven with the film, you cannot pay attention to just one or the other.

Deleted Scenes

Finn and the Villager

I can see why this scene was deleted – it breaks up the action of the initial invasion of Jakku in search of Poe and his star map. In this scene, Finn takes cover from the battle and stumbles onto a villager. There is a pause where neither Finn nor the villager knows what to do. After some clear conflict in Finn, he lets the villager run away, presumably saving her life.

Jakku Message

I am bummed this didn’t make the final cut. Essentially, a message is received by the Resistance that details the fate of Poe. This would have been the first scene with Leia in it – so I guess it would have ruined the big reveal later in the movie when Leia and Han are reunited. But still! It would have meant more Leia screen time, and it would have filled in the blank about how the Resistance was so quick to retrieve Poe from Jakku.

X-Wings Prepare for Lightspeed

This scene appears to be constructed to give Greg Grunberg a line or two. Of course there’s a little extra time for Poe

Kylo Searches The Falcon

This is once scene I would have loved to see in the film. The moment Kylo walks onto the Falcon, you can feel the tension and conflict within the character. I immediately find myself wondering how much time Ben spent on the Falcon as a kid, what memories it holds for him, what he’s feeling in that moment. He walks to the Cockpit – not unlike what Han does after his confrontation with Rey and Finn when he first regains his ship. In the cockpit, Kylo takes a long moment to reflect, until his head bows and he senses his father is nearby.

Snow Speeder Chase

I want to take a moment to thank JJ for not including this scene in the final cut. Finn and Rey are in a snow speeder, headed to the oscillator in an attempt to blow it up. My first question is – where the hell is Han and Chewie? My second question is, why is Finn driving? Rey is the pilot of the group. Third, when they get shot at, Rey screams. She screams! This is so out of character for her, I was immediately put off. Then she tries to shoot at their pursuers and misses. This is also out of line with what we know about Rey. It become clear very quickly the whole scene is set up so Finn can give Rey they steering and use his rare-Stormtrooper-sharp-shooting skills to take out the other Stormtroopers.

Again, thanks JJ!

Finn Will Be Fine

This scene is beyond awkward without music. Finn is being treated by Resistance doctors when the doctor seen treating Chewie earlier approaches Rey to tell her “Your friend is going to be just fine,” and then pauses to stare at Rey with a creepy smile for like… way too long. Again, I’m sure with music this scene would be more impactful, but I think it was smart to leave it out.

Force For Change

This was a neat addition to the Bonus Materials where some of the production’s charity activities were highlighted. It was a genuinely sweet and moving piece, and it reminded me how powerful and prevalent Star Wars is all over the world. Pretty damn cool, if you ask me.

NOT seen in the Bonus Materials…

All the dancing that seemed to happen on set. What the hell?? I was fully expecting these adorable moments, with some more context. Where’s my context, JJ??


Eve2Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novels Children of the Fallen and Unforgettable as well as science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot.

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The (Literal) Pain of Being an Introvert

Obligatory disclaimer: I enjoy being an introvert. I am not lonely, I am not a victim of circumstance, nor malcontent with my social life.

When I am not spending my time nerding out, writing, surfing the internet or binging NetFlix, I work as an analyst. It’s one of those things popularly referred to as a ‘day job.’

Overall working as an analyst is a good fit for me. I get to dig into details, solution, improve and innovate on a regular basis – checking a lot of boxes on the things-I-need-to-enjoy-my-job list. There are times, however, where collaboration is an all day activity. These sessions are immensely productive and results driven, which means my satisfaction level with them is high.

However.

Of course there is an however.

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The more I experience day-long collaborative events, the more I realize how painful it can be to be an introvert. For no other reason other than being totally and completely drained by constant discussion and proximity to other people. Keep in mind; I am engaged in these sessions, talk frequently, problem solve, plan, etc. etc. – these are all things I enjoy doing. And yet, as the hours drag on, I am in physical pain.

We’re talking neck/shoulder strain, headaches, body stiffness, fatigue and even the occasional nausea.

How do I know this is the product of being an introvert?

I spent 10 minutes afterwards in a room all by myself and felt almost entirely better, or more ‘myself’. There is a lot of conventional wisdom that acknowledges the need for introverts to recharge, but I’m not sure extroverts fully understand what that means. It means recovering from some level of discomfort, and if we don’t get it… well, ‘cranky’ might be an understated descriptor of what may occur.

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AAAAHHHH PEOPLE!

As an introvert, all this physical discomfort seems like a signal from my brain telling me to GTFO of wherever I am and sit quietly alone with my own thoughts. And I can tell you from my hangry episodes alone, my brain can be VERY insistent. It turns out that there is some science behind this – and it makes sense. The way our brains react to the chemicals produced during times of high interaction with others is absolutely bound to have a physical effect on us introverts.

But like many things happening in our brains, it can be nearly impossible to communicate these concepts in ways others – who don’t experience the same – will understand. It’d be like someone trying to explain their bipolar disorder to me. Or even a need to be around people all the time. It genuinely baffles me and while I understand on an intellectual level, I’m not sure I’ll ever ‘get it’.

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So I don’t blame people for not understanding the introversion that is a huge part of my life. I have a very supportive group of friends and coworkers who don’t make concessions, but accept me for who I am, and that’s pretty cool.

I do appreciate the effort others go to in order to understand weirdos like me – which is the whole reason I’m crafting this article. I’m fortunate in that I don’t often have day-long collaborative obligations where I work, but I used to work front-line customer service. And oh boy, was that not the job for me.

It started at a small bar and sandwich shop. That was okay and manageable. I knew most people, they knew me, and I got what they needed quickly and efficiently.

Then I moved onto a national chain sandwich shop, which will not be named. This job involved high-volume interactions with different people every day. Different, demanding and unforgiving people. It was genuinely terrible for me, and I spent every day working there depressed and hopeless.

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(I took a lot of naps during my time working at the sandwich chain that shall not be named)

From there, I ‘upgraded’ to a call center job where I only had to talk to strangers over the phone instead of face-to-face. This was helpful at first, but as the volume picked up and spending a solid 8 hours of doing nothing but talking to other people turned into a painful and stress-filled experience. Seriously; just the memory of it can make me break into a cold sweat.

And it’s not because I hated my job, or the company, or the customers. It was simply an over-exposure to interaction with others and very little time to myself during my work day. And ‘to myself’ doesn’t mean goofing off with non-work related activities. It just meant my entire job was to interact with other people and let me tell you… this is not the best fit for any introvert. I was good at my job, like I’m good at my job now… but it was slowly killing me inside. 🙂

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Aah, not another soul in sight. Perfect!

Shout-out to all my introvert hommies: if you’re in a depressed, discontent place in your life and you work at a job that requires constant interaction with other people, that’s probably the reason. Figure out how you can work without all the… you know… people stuff. Again, this advice does not come from a place of disliking others on an arbitrary level. Introverts just have needs that, when not met, genuinely impact the quality of our lives. Admitting it is the first step to recovery!

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Introverts – or at least this one – can be in physical pain if we don’t get our alone time. Please keep this in mind when interacting with your friendly neighborhood introvert. Spend time with us, just not TOO much time. We will love you forever for it!


Eve2Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novels Children of the Fallen and Unforgettable as well as science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot.

 

Hannibal, Where Have You Been My Whole Life?

Let me begin by saying this; I have a bad habit of holding out on books and shows that I have some arbitrary sense that I wouldn’t enjoy. I didn’t get into Harry Potter until I randomly read the 5th book, then went back and devoured them from beginning to end. I avoided watching Battlestar Galactica when it was on the air because ‘I was already a Star Wars fan’ – as if you can’t enjoy more than one space opera in your life. I thought LOST was silly and nonsensical until I caught an episode during my second shift job in college and was left with my mouth gaping open in ‘WTF?!’ – you know, in a good way. So you’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now.

But, in usual fashion, I held out on the show Hannibal. I had a lot of reasons. For instance, who wants to watch a show about cannibals?

Well, you do, if you enjoy amazing visuals, unending plot twists and genuinely decadent dialog with an interweaving story that is always referencing itself.

Recently, for whatever reason, I randomly agreed to watch this show with a friend. It is one of her favorite shows and I thought I was doing her a favor by agreeing to survive the 3 season run. As of last night, I have already begun re-watch #1. Allow me to explain why.

Hannibal

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You have to start with this guy, even though the show does not. Hannibal is introduced as a psychiatrist who is asked to help the FBI. Played by Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal is proper, polite, cultured and extremely intelligent. I have now watched all of the Hannibal movies, excluding Red Dragon (you’re on the list, don’t worry), and I have to say, Mads is my favorite. Unlike Hopkins, Mikkelsen is a quieter, less boasting Hannibal. He is still living his life, unburdened by imprisonment and constantly curious about what will happen next as he’s pulled into the trusting arms of the FBI, and Will Graham – an FBI special agent that immediately snatches the attention of our favorite cannibal.

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The Hannibal character is introduced in such a way that while you know – by pop culture references alone – that he is bad news, yet he is still somehow charming, witty and intelligent. I often found myself second guessing where the show was going, or where it intended to go because they did not set up Hannibal to be a villain from the onset. Well, they did, but they didn’t.

That is why this show is so amazing.

The Premise

The TV show is, from what I understand, a kind of reboot of Thomas Harris novels – where producer Bryan Fuller took the concept and themes and re-imagines them with stunning artfulness. Many of the mostly male cast from the book are transformed into female characters in the show – something I rather enjoyed from the Battlestar reboot, as well. New character dynamics form based on the change, and the intricate relationships, motivations, intentions and plans that evolve from those dynamics are, and I realize I may be using this word a bit much, stunning.

The initial premise is this: Will Graham is pulled back into the field by Jack Crawford – despite the protests of therapist Alana Bloom, who is intrigued by Will, but can see how his empathy makes him susceptible to outside influences. Putting him in touch with serial killers is, she believes, a bad idea.

So Jack ignores her but assuages his guilt by hiring Hannibal Lecter, a referral of Bloom to evaluate Will.

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Hannibal is immediately enraptured by the man who seems to understand serial killers, but isn’t one himself.

Forget about the serial killer aspect – which there is much of. I have openly admitted that I am not a fan of gore, and that remains true. That said, however, this show makes killing an art – something I never really thought I’d say. This show has the highest stakes of any show I’ve ever watched in my entire life. At any moment – any, it could all be over for the characters we have learned to love.

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You don’t ever want to see this. This… this is bad.

The premise uses the relationships so carefully cultivated in the narrative to weave a tale about a constant game of cat and mouse. It is so subtle, but so deeply wound into the pit of your stomach as you watch. Never has a show held me in a level of suspense for as long as this one, and never have I enjoyed it so much.

In my post-Hannibal depression haze (you know the one, after you binge watch a show that has now become a big part of your life), I was reading up on Hannibal discussion boards that those who watched the show while it aired had a hard time maintaining that sense of suspense. I implore you to go back and binge watch. You will not regret it.

The Imagery and Score

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The cinematography is top notch when you consider this show aired on Basic Cable. The colors, the transitions, the artistic balance of life and death. It is genuinely hypnotizing at times, and is constantly paying homage to the genuinely good horror in the world, like the Shining. I can’t tell you how many times I was watching this show and was completely blown away by the artistic shots, perfectly timed to allow you to reflect on the mind-blowing revelations or suspicions that coalesced from the scene before. The score was so immersive that it blended perfectly with every scene and helped to transport you into this high-stakes universe of cat and mouse.

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The Cast

I could go on at length about how amazing this cast is – from Jack (Morpheus from The Matrix), the FBI Behavioral Science Director at the FBI and his wife Bella (Zoe from Firefly), to Will Graham the Special Agent with a unique empathy disorder, Alana Bloom – Hannibal’s mentee, Abigail Hobbs – the surrogate daughter of Will and Hannibal, and Bedelia – Hannibal’s enraptured but fearful therapist. Freddie Lounds the tabloid journalist, Frederick Chilton the menacing psychiatric director, Margo Verger… even Mason Verger, the at-odds siblings that lead to Hannibal’s first genuine brush with danger.

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The character development is phenomenal and no one, and I mean no one, is the same at the end of this story as they were at the beginning. They’re all changed, and it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s gradual, and steeping like a slow kettle to boil.

As you can tell… I might have ventured into the realm of “Fannibal” – and I guess I have to be okay with that. I get it, I get how this show has captured so many people’s interest. And despite being 1000+ words into this article, I still find it hard to explain, exactly, why this show is so damn good.

I guess you’re going to have to watch it yourself and let me know.

The first two seasons of Hannibal are eligible for Prime streaming on Amazon, and you can purchase the third digitally, which I did. Because I had to know what happened. #noregrets


Eve2Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novels Children of the Fallen and Unforgettable as well as science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot.

8 Nerdy Jokes Everyone Needs In Their Lives

1. How do you organize a space party?

You planet

2. At atom walks into a bar. Says to the bartender, “I think I’ve lost an electron.” Bartender asks, “Are you sure?”

The atom replies, “Yes, I’m positive.”

3. How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?

FISH!

4. There are 10 types of people in the world.

Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

5. Helium walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve noble gases here.”

Helium doesn’t react.

6. I would tell another Chemistry joke but…

The good ones argon.

7. Did you hear about the guy who got cooled to Absolute Zero?

He’s 0K now.

And my personal favorite…

8. There are two kinds of people in this world.

Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.


Jokes provided by…

SandySandy is a writer and maker from Perth, Western Australia. She keeps busy with homesteading, horticulture, football, martial arts, games, code, tinkering, DIY, fussing the cats, and drinking tea. She blogs long things at sanlive.com and tweets short things at @sandysandy.

 


Barb2Barbie O’Havoc has been considered a nerd since the first time she pissed someone off for having a weird opinion. Since then, she’s been spending her time indulging in the surprisingly expensive habits of reading trashy vampire novels and hitting people while playing roller derby. Both of her main hobbies have led to a love of terrible puns, much to everyone’s dismay.

Barbie O’ also loves coffee and local restaurants, and occasionally rambles about both on the Johnstown Food Blog.


Eve2Eve is the founder of Some Nerd Girl and the author of urban fantasy novels Children of the Fallen and Unforgettable as well as science fiction novel Colony One. She has been writing since the age of 13 and has been flying her nerd flag for the past 16 years. Fandoms include Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Basically if it has ‘star’ in it, she’ll give it a shot.

 

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