Tuesday 29 August 2023

14 million views for Ahsoka

The two-part premiere of Ahsoka dropped last Tuesday exclusively on Disney+, and the latest Star Wars live-action spin-off series is a huge hit with fans (myself included). The first episode garnered 14 million views.

“Ahsoka has become a fan-favorite with people of all ages and it’s wonderful to see her continue to resonate with viewers in her very own headlining series,” says Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president. “I want to recognize the fantastic work done by our creative team, led by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, the incredible cast led by Rosario Dawson, and our talented crew — and on behalf of the team and all of Lucasfilm, we give our thanks to all the fans who have been with Ahsoka on every step of her journey and to all those who are just learning about her now in Ahsoka on Disney+.”

New episodes of Ahsoka drop every Tuesday only on Disney+.

Sunday 27 August 2023


Ahsoka, the hotly-anticipated Star Wars live-action spin-off series from Dave Filoni, arrives on Disney+. The third season of The Mandalorian didn't generate as much buzz as previous seasons in the wake of Andor's success.

Can Ahsoka reignite the spark of rebellion?

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, assembles a band of rebels to crew the Ghost and goes in search of Grand Admiral Thrawn, Heir to the Empire.

Guest post by Nick Smith

Disney does it all the time – taking a much-loved animated classic and adapting it with a live-action twist. It’s a money-spinning exercise that guarantees gold, as demonstrated by The Little Mermaid with worldwide box office takings of half a billion dollars and climbing.

In the Star Wars galaxy of streaming shows on Disney+, the same waters have been tested; Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Cad Bane (Dorian Kingi) have made a particular splash, originally appearing in the CGI series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and popping back up in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett respectively.

Big bad Boba Fett was first introduced in hand-drawn animated form in The Star Wars Holiday Special (he didn’t get a musical number) and recurred in myriad movies and shows, so there’s a long-held precedent of mixing Star Wars media.

The reception of The Clone Wars character appearances, in particular, has been favourable enough to warrant the latest show set in Lucasland. Ahsoka takes everything learned from previous series like Andor and The Book of Boba Fett and cooks it down to a beautiful brew of careful pacing, action set pieces, scowling bad guys and an undoubted passion for, and dedication to, the Star Wars legacy created by George Lucas.

Ahsoka is a direct sequel to another animated show, Star Wars Rebels, following the lives of its cartoon crew. Star Wars Rebels does not have the following as The Little Mermaid’s movie mob but it is just as memorable, a fan-favourite that received respectful ratings on the Disney Channel. The first season was aimed at kids, with plenty of slapstick humour and bright, big-scale adventure. The show got darker, however, with fatal consequences for some of the peppy young characters.

In Ahsoka, we find a wearier, battle-scarred band of peacemongers in a story set after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. These heroes aren’t in Toon Town anymore; they’re in a real world where a fight wound can put them in hospital; and the bad guys are magically malicious.

In the first episode, the main player Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) is selfish, running away when a huge crowd waits for her to speak. Shades of li’l Leia Organa avoiding her duties in the first episode of the Obi-Wan Kenobi special event series.

As the titular character Ahsoka Tano, Rosario Dawson sleepwalks through her role at first, a calm, collected Jedi master that’s very different from the excitable Snips we met in The Clone Wars movie. Liam Neeson and Alec Guinness incorporated charm and intrigue into their Jedi stoicism; let us hope that Dawson does the same. General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is similarly low-key, older and more sedate than the confident pilot we met in Star Wars Rebels.

These measured performances suit the first episode’s tempo, which is Andor-slow. Considering that Andor’s slow burn gave it time to develop emotionally complex, well-crafted situations, that’s not a bad thing. There’s also time for a welcome pop-up appearance from Clancy Brown (Burg in The Mandalorian) as Governor Ryder Azadi and Doctor Who’s David Tennant lends his distinctive voice to Huyang, a Clone Wars droid who is an amusing foil for the determined Sabine.

Episode two picks up the pace and delivers character twists, intense conflict, sky combat reminiscent of World War II footage and thankfully, energetic, nuanced performances from Dawson and Winstead.

Chopper, the cheeky little droid from Star Wars Rebels, is a joy to watch after a blink-and-you’ll-certainly-miss-it cameo in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. There are other nods to Star Wars Rebels, including a recreation of a scene where Sabine joins Ahsoka on a quest, although the depiction isn’t exactly the same – the suggestion seems to be that the animated show was a fireside retelling of what really happened in the lead-up to Star Wars: A New Hope.

A knowledge of previous shows is not a requirement for enjoying Ahsoka, but it will definitely help to flesh out the new series’ backstory. If you haven’t watched Star Wars Rebels it comes highly recommended, capturing the derring-do, loveable characters and space-age spiritual elements of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Since Star Wars Rebels’ visual style was inspired by Ralph McQuarrie’s ‘70s concept art, Ahsoka’s continuation of the characters and storyline makes for an epic arc, and a rewarding journey for longtime fans.

New episodes of Ahsoka drop every Tuesday exclusively on Disney+.

Have you seen the two-part premiere of Ahsoka on Disney+? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Nick Smith's new audiobook, Undead on Arrival, is available from Amazon (affiliate link).

Saturday 26 August 2023

Ahsoka in Fortnite

Ahsoka Tano is coming to Fortnite on the 26th of September.

The fan-favourite character, currently featured in her own Star Wars live-action spin-off series on Disney+, will be unlockable for Fortnite fans who have purchased the current season's Battle Pass.

Lucasfilm and Epic Games have a storied history and continue to work together on Fortnite, StageCraft and more.

Will you be playing as Ahsoka in Fortnite? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 24 August 2023

Rebel Moon is Star Wars on Netflix

Netflix dropped an official teaser trailer for director Zack Snyder's (Justice League) Rebel Moon.

Read the official synopsis:

"From Zack Snyder, the filmmaker behind 300, Man of Steel, and Army of the Dead, comes REBEL MOON, an epic science-fantasy event decades in the making.

When a peaceful colony on the edge of a galaxy finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force, Kora (Sofia Boutella), a mysterious stranger living among the villagers, becomes their best hope for survival.

Tasked with finding trained fighters who will unite with her in making an impossible stand against the Mother World, Kora assembles a small band of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants and orphans of war from different worlds who share a common need for redemption and revenge.

As the shadow of an entire Realm bears down on the unlikeliest of moons, a battle over the fate of a galaxy is waged, and in the process, a new army of heroes is formed."

Rebel Moon was purportedly pitched to Lucasfilm as a Star Wars movie before Disney acquired George Lucas' company in 2012.

Snyder's adoration of the movies of Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai) and love of Star Wars shines through in Netflix's big-budget Battle Beyond the Stars for the streaming generation.

Fans won't need to campaign for a director's cut.

“The director’s cut is close to an hour of extra content, so I think it’s a legitimate extended universe version. You really get to see a lot. It’s just more painted-in all the way,” Snyder said in an interview with Tudum. “The director’s [cut] is a settle-in deep dive, which I have notoriously done throughout my career. I don’t know how I got into this director’s cut thing, but what I will say about it is that, for me, the director’s cuts have always been something I had to fight for in the past and nobody wanted it. It was this bastard child that I was always trying to put together because they felt like there was a deeper version.”

He continued, “And with Netflix, we shot scenes just for the director’s cut. So in that way, it’s really a revelation because it gives that second kick at the can for big fans, like a real discovery that they would not [otherwise] get. I’m really excited about it!”

Rebel Moon is being built as a new intellectual property (IP) exclusively on Netflix. Part 1: A Child of Fire will premiere on 22nd December. Part 2: The Scargiver will be released on 19th April 2024

Are you looking forward to Rebel Moon? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Chopper creates chaos in Ahsoka

The first two episodes of Ahsoka drop today on Disney+ for Star Wars fans living across the big pond. For UK-based fans (myself included), the episodes will be available on Wednesday morning at 2:00AM (BST).

Disney decided to reschedule Dave Filoni's highly-anticipated Star Wars live-action spin-off series for a primetime audience in the US. Series showrunner Filoni is going full live-action Star Wars Rebels and I'm here for it.

Lucasfilm has dropped an official clip featuring fan-favourite gremlin droid Chopper and Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Rosario Dawson reprises the titular role of fan-favourite Ahsoka Tano from The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. Ahsoka continues her hunt for Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), Heir to the Empire.

Doctor Who fans (myself included) will be delighted David Tennant returns in the role of droid Huyang from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Later this year, Tennant plays Doctor Who for the beloved BBC sci-fi series' 60th anniversary on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ outside the UK and Ireland.

In related news. The first stretch goal featuring Ezra Bridger has been unlocked with over 11,000 backers for the Star Wars HasLab The Ghost. This milestone has taken a while to reach, but the home of the Star Wars Rebels is not an impulse buy. I've cancelled existing pre-orders and sold collectables to back the latest project. Hasbro has announced an upcoming Fanstream for Ahsoka on Tuesday 29th August. Expect exciting product reveals.

Stayed tuned for Nick Smith's review of the two-episode premiere event soon. Our US-based stellar scribe gets to see it today.

Are you looking forward to Ahsoka on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 21 August 2023

Star Wars adventures in Unofficial Galaxies

Back from a fantastic fortnight holiday visiting family in East Anglia.

During a much-needed break, we got to see the Unofficial Galaxies Star Wars exhibition at Peterborough Cathedral. This is the first Star Wars-related event I've attended since Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016. Dad wielding a lightsaber was a highlight.

Among the 121 exhibits, including original props and vintage toys, is a full-size Landspeeder from Star Wars: A New Hope purchased from London's Elstree Studios.

The highly-prized Palitoy Death Star evoked a bittersweet Christmas memory when Santa made a mixup and left Star Bird Command Base under the tree.

Special thanks to the volunteers who made us feel so welcome and part of an amazing community of fans.

Always excited for more Star Wars! I can’t wait to watch the first two episodes of Ahsoka exclusively on Disney+ on Wednesday!

The Unofficial Galaxies exhibition is open to the public from mid-July to 29th August.

Friday 4 August 2023

Ahsoka awakens in Entertainment Weekly

Ahsoka begins this August on Disney+. The highly-anticipated Star Wars live-action spin-off series sees Rosario Dawson reprise the titular role of fan-favourite Ahsoka Tano from The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.

Ahsoka is the cover story in Entertainment Weekly (EW). Since EW went digital-only, I miss receiving physical copies of Star Wars-related issues with the much-appreciated help of our US-based readers.

"I was literally doing jumping jacks," Dawson says with a laugh, speaking to EW in late June of her excitement. "I remember seeing Jon and Dave's faces, like, 'Ooh, did we make the right decision? She's a little bit… hyped fangirl.'"

Ahsoka was first introduced as Anakin Skywalker's Padawan in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Later, they would clash in Star Wars Rebels when Skywalker succumbs to the dark side of the Force and becomes Darth Vader. There are rumours Hayden Christensen will reprise the role of Anakin Skywalker as he did in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.

Lucasfilm has dropped a new TV Spot.

Expectations are running high for this spin-off series from Dave Filoni that builds on decades of lore that began with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. After being successfully backed, the Star Wars HasLab The Ghost may meet all the stretch goals as a result. Like many fans, I'm hoping to populate the beloved spaceship, based on a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress cockpit and the conceptual art of Ralph McQuarrie from the original Star Wars trilogy, with the full crew from Star Wars Rebels.

Doctor Who fans (myself included) will be delighted David Tennant returns in the role of droid Huyang from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Ahsoka premieres with the first two episodes exclusively on Disney+ on 23rd August.

Are you looking forward to Ahsoka on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Ahsoka LEGO Star Wars sets announced

During San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), LEGO announced new LEGO Star Wars building sets for Ahsoka on Disney+. Ahsoka Tano’s T-6 Jedi Shuttle building set and New Republic E-Wing vs. Shin Hati’s Starfighter building set. These join the Ghost & Phantom II building set.

Ahsoka begins this August on Disney+. The highly-anticipated Star Wars live-action spin-off series sees Rosario Dawson reprise the titular role of fan-favourite Ahsoka Tano from The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. Ahsoka continues her hunt for Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), Heir to the Empire.

Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, Design Lead for LEGO Star Wars, commented: “We’re so excited to bring these three notable products to the LEGO® Star Wars™ range. The new Star Wars: Ahsoka series is a major development within the Star Wars franchise, and we absolutely loved bringing these exciting vessels to life in LEGO brick form. We can’t wait for fans to begin on their latest adventure by building these fantastic sets, immersing themselves in the latest epic story from the galaxy far, far away."

You may be wondering where's Grand Admiral Thrawn? I'd imagine LEGO is going to announce more tie-in building sets soon.

LEGO Star Wars Ahsoka sets are available from LEGO AU, CA, UK and US (affiliate links).

Ahsoka premieres with the first two episodes exclusively on Disney+ on 23rd August.

Will you be adding LEGO Star Wars Ahsoka sets to your collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 1 August 2023


Toy giant Mattel is no stranger to live-action adaptations of its beloved brands. I fondly remember renting Masters of the Universe, starring Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV) as He-Man, on home video in a pre-streaming world. However, Mattel lags behind Hasbro's Transformers franchise on the big screen.

Enter Barbie. Is she the Iron Man of the Mattel Cinematic Universe spawning Barney and Hot Wheels spin-offs in an era where kidults (myself included) buy more toys?

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, gets pretty in pink to see if Barbie is plastic fantastic or destined for the pop culture bargain bin...

Guest post by Nick Smith

Great music relies not just on its memorable motifs and crescendos but also on those quiet moments in between, the pauses and hushed beats. These little gaps in the wall of sound add pace, structure and a moment to catch one’s breath.

The same can be said of other forms of art – negative space in a painting, transitions in literature, and the moments of stillness in dance.

Among all its jokes, costume changes, cameos and camera moves, Barbie’s at its best in its emotionally charged slower scenes: flashbacks and flashes sideways to the humans who play with Stereotypical Barbie, authentic slices of life with a tune that plucks the heartstrings. These are director Greta Gerwig’s forte and add depth to a story that, at times, gets very silly.

To get a full analysis of this summer’s pinkest blockbuster, I went to my local Regal cinema with Dana and Kelly, two friends who are both proud grandmothers. Dana is a Will Ferrell fan and Kelly had an original Barbie from the 1950s when she was a kid.

Would this modern take on a classic toy resonate with my female pals? Or would it only work for the rest of the audience in our movie theatre, who were ladies in the 18-25-year-old range coveted by Hollywood marketing mucky-mucks?

Barbie manages to do both, with modern, metacritical gags (Mattel is an antagonist in this movie, produced by Mattel) and an attention span short enough for TikTok teens, along with nods to classic Hollywood (ersatz backdrops, an outré musical number) and references to old toys for the blue rinse brigade.

It would have been fun to see more depth in those references – official, discontinued releases like Earring Magic Ken and Growing Up Skipper are thrown in for a quick laugh and don’t really have anything to do with the plot.

The film is strongest when we’re following a life-sized, human Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling). They live in Barbieland, a vast, brashly coloured playset where every day is the same until someone in the real world affects her well-being.

In Los Angeles, Barbie and Ken face ridicule as they search for the person causing Barbie’s existential angst. Barbie begins to experience emotions for the first time (wonderfully performed by Robbie) and Ken learns about our patriarchal society, the opposite of the Amazonian Barbieland.

By the time Will Ferrell turns up and acts silly, a lot is stewing in this plastic pot but Gerwig balances all the ingredients perfectly. As long as the film isn’t taken too seriously, it’s a lot of fun and the social commentary is never overbearing. The message of female empowerment has been spread before, but it seems fresh and unforced.

There are holes in logic, with Ken and his fellow Kens gaining knowledge out of nowhere for the sake of a joke. A Barbie b*tch rap by Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice (‘Barbie World’) doesn’t gel with Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ song. At all. Talented actors such as Ncuti Gatwa (Doctor Who) aren’t given enough to say or do, and the opening sequence is its least original; Kubrick has been spoofed many times before, most notably by Mel Brooks and in The Simpsons.

Otherwise, the movie rarely takes a wrong step.

After the movie, I asked Dana and Kelly for their verdict. Dana didn’t get it. Kelly liked the nostalgia aspect – it reminded her of visiting her friends as a kid and playing with their Barbie accessories. Is it great art? Probably not, but it’s far better than any toy tie-in has to be, surpassing its source material, acknowledging Barbie’s feminist detractors and showing us a Dream House world of possibilities.

Have you seen Barbie? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Nick Smith's new audiobook, Undead on Arrival, is available from Amazon (affiliate link).