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New 'Star Wars' theme park rides to be based on 'Force Awakens,' not older films

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Disney has already promised a massive expansion of the presence of Star Wars in its theme parks around the world, and now the company has revealed that it will be basing those new attractions on the latest entries in the franchise.

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A brief illustrated history of great pop-culture spaceships

Space. The final frontier. Also: so hot right now! This year, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy—to say nothing of the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens—continued feeding audiences’ appetites for all things extraterrestrial, picking up where the Oscar-winning Gravity and rebooted Star Trek series left off. There are sequels coming for Star Trek, Prometheus, and Guardians, Marvel will keep expanding its cosmic universe in Captain Marvel, and, on the small screen, Syfy is planning a rebooted version of the grandaddy of all space operas, Arthur C. Clarke’s 3001.

What does that mean for fans? Well, among other things: more spaceships. Whether from movies, TV shows, graphic novels, or sci-fi literature, the great fictional spaceships of the past century-plus have cemented their place in the pop-culture canon as they soared through the cosmos. As we steadily approach the era of Peak Spaceship, it’s worth revisiting some of sci-fi history’s most memorable crafts. To that end we enlisted minimalist illustrator S. Preston of S. Preston Designs, who also provided commentary for each of his spaceship reinterpretations.

1950: X-FLR6, the spaceship designed for Tintin in Destination: Moon and Explorers on the Moon

Tintin

S. Preston: This spaceship is already minimalist since it comes from a cartoon. That made it easy to design—I only needed to crop just enough of the checkerboard pattern to make it recognizable.
Franich: Created by beloved French graphic novelist Hergé a decade before the first actual moon landing, the design resembles a V-2 Rocket, which means it looked futuristic when it first appeared and now looks positively vintage. The X-FLR6 is one of the great Pop Art images—at one point, the Pompidou, a modern art museum in Paris, proudly had a building-sized poster of the spaceship outside.

1966: Enterprise, the Constitution-class Federation starship from the original Star Trek series

Enterprise

S. Preston: It blows that the USSE has gone through more design changes than Lady Gaga does costumes. I decided to just crop and find an angle that is simple yet recognizable. Sorry, no lens flare.
Franich: There is something simultaneously stately and strange about the Enterprise, especially when you see it on the original series, sailing through a spacescape with primordial special effects. The glowing warp drive, the pizza-platter upper level. No one can ever quite agree on just how big the Enterprise is supposed to be, and years of adventures revealed a whole elaborate world within: a bridge, a bar, living quarters, endless corridors, and endless Jefferies Tubes veining throughout.

1968: Discovery One, first seen in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey

Discovery

S. Preston: Deep space is inherently minimalist. So I used the negative space to help recreate a minimalist memorable moment in 2001 when Hal chooses to off Frank.
Franich: The Discovery is one of the great “realistic” spaceships, reflecting both Kubrick’s and Clarke’s penchant for rooting their far-flung philosophical explorations in a gearheaded factuality. A centrifuge creates the illusion of gravity, leading to the memorable scene of astronaut Dave Bowman jogging around his spaceship like a hamster wheel. Any filmmaker who attempts to create a “hard sci-fi” movie is always working in the shadow of Kubrick, Clarke, and the Discovery.

1975: The Eagle Transport, from runaway-moon TV cult classic Space: 1999

Eagle

S. Preston: I’m in my 40s and this is a major flashback even for me. I didn’t need to over-think this design—if you get it, you get it (and you’re old, too).
Franich: The chintzy majesty of Space: 1999 is a delightful throwback aesthetic from the era before glistening digital visions of space travel. The show imagined a Moonbase in the far future of 15 years ago, with the lunar citizens hurling through space. Their preferred method of travel: The Eagle shuttle, a vaguely geodesic gray vehicle.

Next page: The greatest spaceship of them all?

Horsemen and other assorted oddities: 2014's animation highlights

Now is a pretty great time for animation—there’s never been a wider array of strange, smart, and subversive cartoons for audiences of all stripes. While not all of them hit it out of the park in 2014—we’re looking at you, Chozen—the good ones were often brilliant, easily on par with the best live-action fare.

Before we get to our favorites, a small bit of housekeeping: For the purposes of this list, we’ll be excluding films from this roundup. Cool? That said, here are the year’s highlights:

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Stephen Colbert on why 'Star Wars' new lightsaber makes perfect sense

Colbert

Although it may be difficult to believe, not everyone has spent the weekend gushing over the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer. There are some people who have problems with its apparent disregard for the finer points of how a laser sword works. But on last night’s Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert engaged in one of the proudest traditions in all of fandom—telling other fans how wrong they are.

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We'll always have Tatooine: On 'Star Wars,' grief, and family

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Once, when I was a little boy, I tried to explain Star Wars to my Grandma B.

This would have been post-Return of the Jedi, around 1983, when I was pushing 7 and she was about 62. Grandma was a sharp lady, but pop culture wasn’t part of her lexicon. She knew the litany of Roman Catholic saints the way I could rattle off background figures from “a galaxy far, far away.”

This memory came back to me on the day we buried Grandma, who died last week at the age of 93. The funeral was Friday, 10 a.m. on the East Coast, which was the exact same time Lucasfilm unveiled the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, although that was far from my mind at the time.

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Check out the 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' trailer, Lego-style

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Can’t get enough of that new Star Wars teaser? How about watching it remade with Legos?

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'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' trailer: A deep dive

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It’s been a little over two years since George Lucas sold the Star Wars universe to Disney. Those two years have been full of tantalizing rumor and ambitious corporate theatrics. We know that Star Wars: Episode VII will take place many years after Return of the Jedi. We know that the original cast will return alongside an all-star squad of up-and-comers. Director J.J. Abrams has subtly pitched VII as a kind of artisanal Star Wars film: Shot on 35 mm film, with an emphasis on practical effects, a soundtrack by John Williams, and a life-sized Millennium Falcon.

We know that Episode VII will lead into a new trilogy, and also a few spinoffs. We know that the new movie will ignore the last few decades of Expanded Universe mythology, which is sad news for Mara Jade fans and not really news at all for people who have no idea what a “Mara Jade” is. We know that Episode VII will be titled The Force Awakens, which isn’t quite The Empire Strikes Back but is definitely not Attack of the Clones. (I dunno. What would you call a Star Wars movie? Like, I would’ve preferred Star Wars: Showdown on Nar Shaddaa, but that’s why they don’t let me title Star Wars movies.) READ FULL STORY

Here's how the Internet is reacting to the 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' trailer

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The Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer has debuted (below), and unsurprisingly, the internet had a few things to say about it. Some fans loved it. Others were unimpressed. The most committed used it as an opportunity to flex their Photoshop muscles. The only real surprise is the lack of lens flare jokes.

An assortment of inspired reactions are below. Stay tuned to EW for more thoughts about the trailer later today.

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Here's how a 'Star Wars' laser pistol would work in real life

Every Star Wars fan at one time or another has probably made the infamous noise of the franchise’s firearms. But scientists in Poland are trying to find out what one of those lasers would actually look and act like.

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Classic LucasArts games are available again for the first time in years

For many, Lucasfilm is synonymous with Star Wars. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be, either—Star Wars is huge.

But if you were playing video games at any point during the late ’80s throughout the ’90s, chances are you have a very different association to the studio bearing George Lucas’ name. Started in 1982 by the man himself, Lucasfilm Games (later LucasArts) would become a beloved games studio that didn’t just make great Star Wars games (like the classic Star Wars: TIE Fighter), but quirky and frequently hilarious adventure games like Day of the Tentacle and the Monkey Island series. But since many of these were computer games for a niche audience, they disappeared after their initial runs—and if you still have a copy of, say, Sam & Max Hit the Road, getting it to run on a modern machine could prove quite difficult. But not anymore.

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