STAR WARS: Laura Dern and Leia in Episode VIII

– by L-R

Whew! Even with all the superhero-on-superhero battles that we’re going to be inundated with from right now on Netflix through Captain America: Civil War in may, the Star Wars universe keeps on a-spinning.

As the production on Star Wars: Episode VIII (Space Bear) finishes off its (fifth?) week, the photo leaks from Dubrovnik are still most of what we know about the plot. Well, that and it looks like the movie will pick up with Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill on Ach-To, pretty much where we left off.

This week, I have something to contribute to what we might know about Space Bear. Unfortunately it’s kind of vague, but it is from the stuff being shot at Pinewood Studios, not the location things that we’re all getting peeks at. This information comes from a source that isn’t as nitpicky about specific details as I am, but it is new info nonetheless.

There’s a stage setup like the interior of a starship. I don’t know what kind of starship, but it is large enough to have a crew and lots of droids manning it. The set has a bunch of practical effect robots and “hairy” alien creatures on it, and given that The First Order seems to be keeping up with the “humans only” hiring policy of The Empire, that suggests it is not a First Order ship to me.

In one of the scenes shot in this stage, a rag-tag group of Resistance fighters have seen some battle. Cut and bruised, they and Poe Dameron are on this ship when Laura Dern, playing some sort of captain or officer. She tells the fighters that they are the last of the rebellion/resistance (I’m unclear on the exact phrasing of the line, so no capitalizing the Resistance) and that Princess Leia has been gravely injured and is receiving medical attention.



Oscar Isaac and Laura Dern have an antagonistic exchange of words and Dern’s character is blunt with Poe, like she has some sort of authority over him.

Things must be tense between these two characters because another scene we’ve gotten wind of has Poe leading a group of Resistance fighters as they take over what is presumably Dern’s ship. The scene included fighters under Poe removing technicians from their computer stations and Poe pointing a blaster at Dern’s character.

That’s all we’ve got. But with Episode VIII so locked down with the production in London, that’s a lot. Before I speculate a bit, this seems like the perfect time to bring up the recently leaked synopsis of Claudia Grey’s Star Wars book Bloodline, which will tell a Princess Leia Organa Solo story set six years before The Force Awakens:

The entire generation has prospered during an era of peace. The New Republic, governed by the Galactic Senate on Hosnian Prime, has held power for more than two decades. The wars that divided the galaxy are fading into legend.

Yet conflict has begun to take shape within the Senate. Two unofficial but powerful factions have formed – the Populists, who believe individual planets should retain almost all authority, and the Centrists, who favor a stronger galactic government and a more powerful military.

As the political gridlock threatens to cripple the fledgling democracy, Centrists leaders have called for the election of a “First Senator”. It is their hope that this powerful position will bring order to the divided Senate. But Populists like Senator Leia Organa Solo know all too well the price of such order. Even as the election nears, the divisions between the worlds of the galaxy are growing wider…

At first glance, this is Star Wars politics, which is a very prequel thing to focus on. From what we’ve seen of Space Bear, it looks like this movie isn’t afraid to start treading on the ground of the prequels in terms of echoing theme and larger plot arcs. If The Force Awakens took vague shapes from the OT movies, maybe this one is going to have some politics and urban centers.

The politics is the linking factor about all this Princess Leia talk, and the report that she may be physically incapacitated at some point in the movie, causing a rift in the Resistance. When I made my wild guesses about who Laura Dern could be playing, one of my guesses was a new political force, and now I’m feeling even better about that.

Since Hosnian Prime was blown up, whatever “good” side of government that had been working for so long is once again in chaos. Leia is a Populist, so one assumption would be that Laura Dern is her opposite, a Centrist. Poe being as close to Leia as he is, that would put him in natural opposition when Dern tries to take power when Leia is down and out.

WHEW! That’s a lot of speculation. Hopefully as weeks go on, more on Dern and this politics plot (or, honestly, any information that can prove me wrong, we’re all in this together) leaks to the internet’s anticipatory ears.

Speaking of leaking, you can’t shoot in Dubrovnik and keep it all a secret. Space Bear wrapped their exterior scenes shot there this week, and there are a few more things of note since the last time we talked. Namely, there were some aliens.

The guy on the right actually appears as an unused smuggler design from The Force Awakens. The guy on the left just looks creepy.

As we suspected, what was being shot was some sort of chase scene.

All these people are dressed really fancy and seem to be background players for these camera car scenes.

There’s also this video, which is puzzling. My best guess is that blue light is being cast from a spaceship from above. Who knows what elements are actually going to be added into this shot.

For instance, we kept seeing speeders, so we kept expecting speeder chases, but then this photo of Finn’s stunt double and a female stunt double riding some sort of alien horse/cat.

What’s chasing who and why is still absolutely up in the air, but it looks like Finn and a female will be the chased while on the back of whatever a city Tauntaun is. Or a feline Tauntaun?

They also shot more scenes on that boat we talked about last week, this time as some sort of fancy party...with aliens.

We’ve gone from having one location on Space Bear nailed down (Ach-To, the Jedi planet) a few weeks ago to three: Ach-To, urban planet and Resistance Starship. We’re on our way!

We already know much more than we knew about Rogue One at this point. The bad news on the Rogue One front is I still have no idea when we’ll see a trailer. The good (?) news about Rogue One is two-fold.

Officially, Marvel Comics announced a 3-issue series plus a “one-shot” about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for this October.

October is after Rogue One Force Friday, so we’ll likely know exactly the state of the Star Wars Universe by the time Rogue One actually opens. Until that stuff starts happening, the only other bit of news that appears to be Rogue One related is that Disney has trademarked “Shadow Trooper.”

Sure it’s not the extreme sounding “Death Trooper” that has been rumored, but the term Shadow Trooper plays into some old Star Wars video games that could be reintroduced to the canon if Rogue One does bring some black-armored Stormtroopers to the fore.

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