Showing posts with label jon favreau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jon favreau. Show all posts

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

15 years of Iron Man

Marvel Studios' Iron Man celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and director Jon Favreau (The Mandalorian) discuss the film that began Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Read the synopsis:

"In 2008, Marvel Studios released Iron Man, a film that would cement the future of the studio and leave a lasting impact on film and popular culture. Starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Iron Man was a critical and commercial success, helping to launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe."

During an era of middling superhero fare in the noughties, the genre became a multi-billion dollar industry unto itself in the wake of Iron Man's unprecedented success when Disney bought Marvel Comics.

Whilst I missed the first movie in cinemas, it was my inaugural rental from LOVEFiLM (now Amazon Prime). Robert Downey Jr. was charismatic in the lead role of Tony Stark. The movie was a much-needed tonic for my dad and me in the wake of my mum's death in 2007. And we've enjoyed watching the MCU movies together ever since.

Iron Man 3 was arguably the franchise's best instalment! Director Shane Black (The Predator) flipped the tin man on his head in the wake of Avengers Assemble and gave cinemagoers a memorable blockbuster ride with a twist.

Overall, Captain America: The Winter Soldier remains my all-time favourite MCU movie to date. The upcoming Secret Invasion series on Disney+ channels the paranoia of that standout movie directed by the Russo brothers.

Fast forward to 2023. Phase 5 began with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Since the conclusion of The Infinity Saga, the MCU has struggled to maintain momentum. However, there have been highlights with WandaVision, Loki and Hawkeye and the Special Presentations' Werewolf by Night and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on Disney+.

What are your favourite MCU memories on the 15th anniversary? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 8 April 2023

Ahsoka at Star Wars Celebration

On Friday, Lucasfilm dropped an official teaser trailer for Ahsoka at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023.

Dave Filoni's upcoming Star Wars live-action spin-off series sees Rosario Dawson reprise the 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. Thrawn is to the Star Wars spin-offs what Thanos was to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

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.

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

In related news. As previously rumoured, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced three new live-action Star Wars movies during Lucasfilm's Studio Showcase. Helming the movies are James Mangold (Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny), Dave Filoni (Star Wars Rebels) and award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Ms. Marvel).

Mangold’s movie will go back to the dawn of the Jedi and Filoni's film concludes the storylines from The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka and further spin-off series on Disney+. Daisy Ridley reprises the role of Rey from the sequel trilogy as she builds a new Jedi Order in Obaid-Chinoy’s film.

Ahsoka streams exclusively on Disney+ this August.

Are you looking forward to Ahsoka on Disney+? What are your thoughts on the three new live-action Star Wars movies? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 12 September 2022

The Mandalorian at D23 Expo

On Saturday, Lucasfilm dropped a teaser trailer for the long-awaited third season of The Mandalorian during Disney's D23 Expo.

The last time Star Wars fans (myself included) saw the clan of two, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu, was in The Book of Boba Fett.

The Mandalorian is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens when Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is building a new Jedi order before his reckless actions lead to the Knights of Ren and the rise of the First Order.

The Mandalorian returns exclusively on Disney+ in 2023.

Are you looking forward to The Mandalorian? Did you spot the cameo from The Rise of Skywalker? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Mando+ at Star Wars Celebration

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) was most recently seen in The Book of Boba Fett and is expected to return later this year as the titular character in the third season of the award-winning live-action Star Wars spin-off series on Disney+.

Lucasfilm has announced a Star Wars Celebration panel entitled Mando+: A Conversation with Jon Favreau & Dave Filoni. The executive producers will be joined by special guests for a look back and a look ahead at what’s to come for the popular series. The latest season finished filming last month.

Mando+ suggests the panel may include The Book of Boba Fett and Star Wars: Ahsoka.

In related news. There will be panels for Star Wars: The Bad Batch and Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi. The highly-anticipated six-part special event series premieres on Disney+ during the 4-day event.

The official Lucasfilm fan event, which originally began in 1999 to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, returns to Anaheim in May.

Going to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2022 and would like to cover the event for this site? Please contact me.

Which panels are you most looking forward to at Star Wars Celebration? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

The Scrapbook of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett has concluded on Disney+ and I've enjoyed my Star Wars Weekly fix as we wait for Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi and the third season of The Mandalorian later this year. There are going to be spicy spoilers.

Once Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) escaped the Sarlacc pit, and the dopamine nostalgia hit wore off, too much time was spent in flashback with the Tusken Raiders (replete with knowing nods to Solo: A Star Wars Story and Dune) to the series' detriment and character development (looking at you Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen)).

This is typified when Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) arrives and steals the show - with his dangerous Darksaber - as Boba Fett naps in a bacta tank. If you snooze, you lose in this galaxy.

Not for the first time, executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni make the prequels cool with thrilling callbacks as Din Djarin searches for a new starship to replace the Razor Crest with the aid of Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), her derp-droids and Jawa allies. Lucasfilm, give Peli Motto her own spin-off series.

When Din Djarin tells Fennec Shand that he has to see a small friend (Grogu) before battling the Pyke Syndicate for control of Tatooine, I assumed we wouldn’t see him again until the season finale of The Book of Boba Fett. Wrong, was I.

The Force moves in mysterious ways.

On an enigmatic forest planet, R2-D2 greets Din Djarin and I’m an ugly mess. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni bring a young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) back after his surprise cameo in The Mandalorian second season finale. Jedi Masters aren't just for Christmas.

Seeing Luke Skywalker teaching Grogu the ways of the Force, in a reprise of the training scenes in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, is overwhelming. How I wished my mum was alive to see it, she would have adored Baby Yoda. Not only does Luke Skywalker return but Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), too. Seeing the fan-favourites side-by-side is the stuff of sword and sorcery.

The arrival of Jabba the Hutt's twin cousins promised a fun clash with the titular bounty hunter only for the spice-hungry duo to hastily leave Tatooine due to the Pyke Syndicate. These Hutts aren't galactic gangsters worthy of Jabba's family tree.

In the original Star Wars trilogy, Boba Fett would have gunned down the teenage Tatooine biker gang instead of enlisting them as nothing beats a pet rancor, a parting gift from the retreating Hutt twins, channelling King Kong! The cringeworthy Power Ranger rejects added nothing beyond the slowest speeder chase in the franchise's storied history and Marty McFly would have had no problem outrunning them in Back to the Future.

Grogu forsakes Jedi training. As Din Djarin and Grogu fly into an uncertain future aboard a customised Naboo Starfighter, there's a sense of impending tragedy for the survivor of Order 66 and his father figure.

The Book of Boba Fett, dog-eared and frayed around the edges like any well-read comic book should be, begins to weave the connective tissue together. Despite being a scrappier version of The Mandalorian, it was a love letter to fans of George Lucas' space opera on the big and small screen. If you've seen the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Clones Wars, Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Bad Batch, you were in seventh heaven. I know I was.

Deepfake technology is making such rapid progress, a live-action adaptation of Star Wars: Dark Empire feels closer, but may never be. Because reasons.

In a few weeks, we’ll be back on Tatooine for Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. I'm ready to spend more time in a galaxy far, far away… Are you? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Natasha Liu Bordizzo to play Sabine Wren

Deadline reports Natasha Liu Bordizzo (The Society) is to play Sabine Wren in Star Wars: Ahsoka on Disney+.

Bordizzo is expected to join Rosario Dawson (The Mandalorian) as the fan-favourite character from Star Wars Rebels. Sabine promised Ahsoka she would help her find Ezra Bridger in the series finale. It's also worth mentioning when we meet Ahsoka, in The Mandalorian, she's hunting Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Sabine has a storied history with Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff). So, it's always possible she could cameo in the third season of The Mandalorian, which is currently in production.

Hayden Christensen is reportedly reprising the role of Anakin Skywalker in the upcoming Star Wars spin-off. Ahsoka was Anakin's student in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Christensen will be seen first reprising the role of Darth Vader in Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ in 2022.

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

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Mark Hamill in Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian

Luke Skywalker's surprise cameo in The Mandalorian - an impressive feat in this hyper-connected era - was an overwhelmingly uplifting moment in a saga that is renowned for hope in the darkest of times.

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian reveals the cutting-edge technology that brought a young Luke Skywalker (post-Return of the Jedi) back in the second season finale last Christmas.

“You see your crew just staring at Mark [Hamill], and you realize they’re remembering what [Star Wars] meant to them,” executive producer Dave Filoni said. “And you realize you’ve been part of constructing something that’s giving that experience to people. This good feeling.”

“Fundamentally, Star Wars should deliver a good feeling. An uplifting feeling,” he continued. “In you, in your family, in your kids, whatever.”

The second season of The Mandalorian has received 24 Emmy nominations. The third season is expected to go into production in September.

The Book of Boba Fett and Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off series should satiate fans (myself included) whilst we wait for further details.

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian debuts on 25th August on Disney+.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

ILM hires Deepfake expert

When Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) cameoed in The Mandalorian second season finale last Christmas, most Star Wars fans (myself included) were overwhelmingly surprised and delighted to see the beloved Jedi Knight at the peak of his audacious powers.

However, the de-ageing technology, utilised by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), was divisive. And independent VFX wizards quickly got to work on subjectively improving the visuals (following in the hallowed footsteps of Star Wars creator George Lucas' endless tinkering on the original trilogy).

One stood out from the rest. YouTube Deepfake star, Shamook.

His work was so impressive, it caught the attention of the fine folks at Lucasfilm who have subsequently hired him. IndieWire confirms in this quote:

“Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it’s been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances.”

This is a mission statement suggesting there'll be more classic characters appearing in Star Wars spin-offs both on the big screen and Disney+.

“As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilm a few months ago and haven’t had the time to work on any new YouTube content,” Shamook wrote in a comment this month. “Now I’ve settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They’ll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart. Enjoy!”

Are you a fan of Deepfake technology or more concerned with the possible ethical implications therein? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Fan-favourite Fennec in Star Wars: The Bad Batch

The Mandalorian's Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) showed up in Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+ and the ruthless assassin spells trouble for Omega and Clone Force 99.

Whilst I won't go into any story-specific spoilers, the latest Star Wars spin-off series typifies (for me at least) there's no distinction between the live-action and animated series. They weave a cohesive galaxy-spanning tapestry much like stablemate the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Star Wars: The Bad Batch producer Jennifer Corbett discussed Fennec Shand's inclusion in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars spin-off. "This is a younger Fennec, she's new to the bounty hunting scene and it's an interesting introduction for her," she told the Radio Times. "She definitely comes in with a bang and proves to be a formidable force. It's been amazing to see her progression. The action that comes with that particular episode… it's really incredible."

Fennec Shand will be back alongside bounty hunter Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) in The Book of Boba Fett this December on Disney+.

What did you think of Fennec Shand's Star Wars: The Bad Batch debut and who do you think hired her to hunt down Omega? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Galactic Snackin’ Grogu from Hasbro

Hasbro has announced an all-new animatronic Star Wars Galactic Snackin’ Grogu, inspired by the little critter's insatiable appetite (infamously including Frog Lady's endangered eggs), for this holiday season. A follow-up to last year’s award-winning The Child animatronic edition.

“We saw Grogu eating his way through the galaxy in season two of The Mandalorian on Disney+ and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring those memorable moments to life,” Hasbro senior design director Vickie Stratford told “We looked at a lot of different ways to interact with the character and the concept of snacking opened up many fun ideas for our design and development team to create an all-new interactive experience.”

GROGU (THE CHILD), affectionately referred to by fans as “BABY YODA,” is hungry for Force snackin’ fun! With a galaxy of features, including adorable sounds, fun animated motions, and interactive accessories, this STAR WARS GALACTIC SNACKIN’ GROGU animatronic toy is ready for action and adventure! Place any of the included entertainment-inspired accessories in his hand and he’ll react! Put an accessory in his mouth, and he’ll make eating sounds that let you know if he thinks it’s yummy or yucky! When GROGU (THE CHILD) wants to be picked up and held, he’ll reach up with both arms. And with Force activation, GALACTIC SNACKIN’ GROGU will perform a 2-handed Force move, inspired by scenes from season 2 of the live-action series THE MANDALORIAN on Disney+! Additional features include series-inspired sound effects, a premium soft goods robe, moving head, ears, arms, and blinking eyes! Includes figure, 4 interactive accessories, and instructions. Requires 4 1.5V AA batteries, not included.

Pre-order Galactic Snackin' Grogu (affiliate link).

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Luke Skywalker returns in The Mandalorian

Having waited almost a month in the hopes of not spoiling surprises for fellow Star Wars fans, I wanted to share my reaction to Luke Skywalker's return in the second season finale of The Mandalorian on Disney+.

After a torrid year spent self-isolating due to being at high risk from coronavirus, seeing a childhood hero at the peak of their powers during the holiday season was 'emosh', as I originally tweeted without giving anything away to my followers on Twitter.

A week before Christmas, Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni and the fine folks at Lucasfilm had left this lifelong fan (as well as many others) in tatters and shaking - such was its raw emotional power. Overwhelmingly so.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had answered Grogu's AKA Baby Yoda's summons from an ancient Jedi temple, destroyed Moff Gideon's (Giancarlo Esposito) Dark Trooper army with aggression worthy of his late father Anakin Skywalker AKA Darth Vader, and would train the tyke in the ways of the Force if he wished to leave Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal).

Grogu decides to follow Luke and the goodbye between the pair evoked the finale of E.T. - the Extra-Terrestrial. As Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) warned, Grogu has formed an attachment to Din and we all know the consequences for a Jedi coupled with what happens to Luke's academy before The Force Awakens.

If that wasn't enough. R2-D2, Luke's faithful droid companion and my first Star Wars action figure, appears. All too much for this fan - at least I spared social media the ugly mess of my live reaction. Triggered by composer Ludwig Göransson effortlessly segueing from an eclectic fusion of Brad Fiedel and Ennio Morricone to John Williams' lush leitmotivs with goosebump-inducing aplomb as a familiar X-wing flies into view.

Looking to the future of The Mandalorian and the live-action spin-offs already announced. It's increasingly clear showrunner Jon Favreau's endgame is to introduce Grand Admiral Thrawn for a live-action Heir to the Empire trilogy adaptation on Disney+.

Author Timothy Zahn's sequel to the original trilogy was released 30 years ago and ushered in a new era for the franchise created by George Lucas.

If so, then we'll see more of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. He's the hero we deserve as hope leads us out of these dark times...

Monday, 21 December 2020

The Book of Boba Fett

So, it's the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, Mando Monday and Christmas week.

Originally, I wasn't going to post again until the new year. However, the monumental events of The Mandalorian Chapter 16, The Rescue, changed all that.

The live-action spin-off has unified a fragmented and toxic fanbase with its Sergio Leone in space adventures and should be lauded for being Star Wars at its very best - a story of family and friendship in adversity.

Please be assured, there are no spoilers per se for the spectacular season finale. This is more about the surprise spin-off, The Book of Boba Fett, starring Temuera Morrison as the titular character, announced after the end credits. All the more poignant in the wake of fan-favourite actor Jeremy Bulloch, Boba Fett in the original trilogy, passing away.

Ever since the original Star Wars, I've always sat through end credits. Mostly. Not only to see who had worked on the movie but to savour the soundtrack, too. Ludwig Göransson's score for The Mandalorian is fantastic but nothing prepared me (or fellow Star Wars fans) for the dramatic shot of Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine.

The events that followed culminated in the death of an obese Bib Fortuna, whom I'd always assumed had perished aboard Jabba's Sail Barge in Return of the Jedi, before Boba Fett took the throne.

Once I was able to compose myself after all the twists and turns in The Rescue, my immediate reaction was does this mean The Mandalorian series is over? Much in the same way series showrunner Jon Favreau launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with Iron Man, now he's creating a new Star Wars live-action universe for Disney+ set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

There's still some confusion at the time of writing. What do you think? Is there going to be a third season for the Emmy-winning The Mandalorian and are you excited for The Book of Boba Fett? Let me know in the comments below. This is the way.

Friday, 11 December 2020

All the Star Wars things coming to Disney+

As a lifelong Star Wars and Marvel fan, it feels like Christmas Day in the morning, with so many gifts around the tree, you don't know what to open first.

During Thursday's Disney Investor Day 2020, the Walt Disney Company announced so much Star Wars and Marvel Studios content coming to an expanded, more expensive, Disney+ that will include the new Star brand from February 2021.

Star is essentially an international version of Hulu, which will show family and adult dramas including a new Alien live-action spin-off series for FX.

“Alien will be helmed by Fargo and Legion’s’ Noah Hawley stepping into the creator/executive producer chair, and FX is in advanced negotiations with Academy Award winner, Sir Ridley Scott—director of the first Alien film and the sequel, Alien: Covenant—to join the project as an executive producer,” FX chief John Landgraf said. “Set not too far into our future, it’s the first Alien story set on Earth — and by blending both the timeless horror of the first Alien film with the non-stop action of the second, it’s going to be a scary thrill ride that will blow people back in their seats.”

The prospect of a xenomorph series set on Earth is compelling and hopefully more interesting than executive producer Ridley Scott's Raised by Wolves for HBO Max.

The Mandalorian is repeating executive producer Jon Favreau's masterstroke with Iron Man with further spin-offs Star Wars: Rangers of the New Republic and Star Wars: Ahsoka starring Rosario Dawson. These series will have crossovers.

Then there's Obi-Wan Kenobi reuniting Ewan McGregor as the titular Jedi Master-in-hiding and Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader from the prequels.

“It was such an incredible journey playing Anakin Skywalker,” said Christensen. “Of course, Anakin and Obi-Wan weren’t on the greatest of terms when we last saw them… It will be interesting to see what an amazing director like Deborah Chow has in store for us all. I’m excited to work with Ewan again. It feels good to be back.”

Star Wars: Andor, Star Wars: Visions, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Lando... And a new movie, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, directed by Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman).

“It’s been a lifelong dream as a filmmaker to one day make a great fighter pilot film,” said Jenkins. “As the daughter of a great fighter pilot myself, some of the best memories of my life are of seeing my father’s squadron take off in their F4s every morning, and hearing and feeling the awe-inspiring power and grace. When he passed away in service to this country it ignited a burning desire to one day channel all of those emotions into one great film. When the perfect story arrived in combination with another true love of mine, the incomparable world of Star Wars, I knew I’d finally found my next film. I’m extremely honored and excited to take it on, and grateful to Lucasfilm, Disney, and the fans for extending that thrill to me.”

“Patty has established herself as one of the top directors working in the film industry today,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “She’s a visionary who knows how to strike the balance between action and heart, and I can’t wait to see what she does in the Star Wars galaxy.”

If that wasn't enough. There's also Willow and a final Indiana Jones movie starring Harrison Ford. Really wish they'd stopped at The Last Crusade.

After all these announcements, I'm going to need a nap like Grogu AKA Baby Yoda. Suffice it to say, Disney+ has a lifelong subscriber in me but I hope the studio amicably resolves its royalties conflict with author Alan Dean Foster.

What are you looking forward to most? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Way of the Mandalorian

With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker concluding the epic nine-part Skywalker saga a year ago. The Disney+ live-action spin-off series continues to fill the void during the pandemic.

This contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Chapters 12 and 13 streaming now on Disney+. You have been warned, Padawan!

Following Din Djarin's (Pedro Pascal) memorable meeting with Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), Mando and The Child AKA Baby Yoda take a detour to visit some old friends on Nevarro and repair the battle-damaged Razor Crest before continuing the search for the Jedi. Kryze told Mando to seek fan-favourite Ahsoka Tano (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) on the forest moon of Corvus.

Director Carl Weathers, who plays Greef Karga in the live-action Star Wars spin-off, dives into George Lucas' original trilogy sandbox and serves up a thrilling tale filled with 'toyetic' moments that transported me back to childhood; playing with Kenner and Palitoy action figures, playsets and accessories at Christmas.

All the while connecting the prequel, original and sequel trilogies with midi-chlorians sourced from The Child and allusions to the creation of Emperor Palpatine's (Ian McDiarmid) puppet: Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). And that's before Moff Gideon's (Giancarlo Esposito) Dark Troopers, first seen in the Star Wars: Dark Forces video game, seemingly appear aboard his Arquitens-class light command cruiser. Oh, boy!

Ahsoka lives!

Chapter 13, directed by Dave Filoni (Star Wars Rebels), sees Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) immediately enter the fray in an episode that will be long remembered as it explores the grander mythological themes of the Star Wars saga, sets up a new spin-off series and rewards longtime fans (myself included) amidst scorching lightsaber and blaster fire action.

The Jedi is an emotional tour de force in which we learn Baby Yoda's name is Grogu, how he was saved from certain death in the Jedi Temple, on Coruscant, by a mysterious rescuer when the Emperor passed Order 66 as Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) turns to the dark side, becomes Darth Vader and goes on a murderous rampage (Revenge of the Sith). This lent further poignancy to the knowledge Ahsoka was Anakin's former apprentice.

There's tragic foreshadowing as Ahsoka refuses to train Grogu (he'll always be Baby Yoda to me) due to his attachment to Djarin. If Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is any indicator, I've got a bad, very bad, feeling about this.

If this wasn't enough to process, Grand Admiral Thrawn (Heir to the Empire) is namechecked when Ahsoka defeats the Magistrate (Diana Lee Inosanto). Wherever the Razor Crest, tracked by Moff Gideon's Imperial forces, is taking us, it's going to be the very best of Star Wars.

This is the way.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Pirates of the Mandalorian

Spoilers ahoy for The Mandalorian Chapter 11, me hearties!

Chapter 11, with actor and director Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) back at the helm, is a swashbuckling white-knuckle ride that introduces a beloved character from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels to the increasingly mythological live-action Star Wars spin-off on Disney+.

Our interstellar duo cross moon seas ruled by the quarrelling Quarren and Mon Calamari from Return of the Jedi and fall into another trap. Just when it looks like all is lost, a group of mysterious Mandalorians arrive to rescue them. The trio, featuring Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) and Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides), is lead by Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff).

Fan-favourite Sackhoff, best known as Starbuck from the Battlestar Galactica reboot, reprises her iconic role from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels as Bo-Katan gives Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) an abject lesson in Mandalore history as she continues her search for the fabled Darksaber, which is in the hands of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).

With the promise of aiding Mando in his quest to find the Jedi, Bo-Katan enlists him to aid an Imperial weapons heist on a freighter bound for Moff Gideon's fleet. What follows is a memorable shootout that perfectly captures the energy of the original trilogy. In the words of Star Wars creator George Lucas: "Faster, more intense."

Amidst the galactic fury, Howard includes an homage to her father, Ron Howard (Solo: A Star Wars Story). The battle-damaged Razor Crest entering the moon's atmosphere is a nod to Apollo 13.

True to her word, Bo-Katan tells Mando to seek Ahsoka Tano on the forest moon of Corvus. Oh, boy! There's so much to unpack and the notion of seeing Ahsoka in Chapter 12 is overwhelming...

Did The Child AKA Baby Yoda jump the shark last week in an episode that was filled with Easter eggs galore from sci-fi stablemate the Alien franchise?

The beloved tyke kept eating the last eggs of Frog Lady, an endangered species that had information that would lead Din Djarin to his fellow Mandalorians and the Jedi order. This saw some fans suggesting it was in bad taste. No pun intended. Certainly, it gave me pause. However, this new The Child plush toy (affiliate link) restored balance to the Force with special thanks to Claire from Evolution PR. This is the way.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Thank the Force for The Mandalorian

Chapter 9, directed with taut economy by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), connects to the franchise's storied history with a fidelity that blurs the margins between television and silver screen. What follows are spoilers for the sophomore season premiere on Disney+.

You have been warned. Look out! Tusken Raiders...

How can series showrunner Favreau and executive producer Dave Filoni (Star Wars Rebels) follow the Emmy-winning first series of the franchise's live-action spin-off on Disney+? As it turns out, by leaning further into its storied past and keeping to an elegant format lifted from the pages of classic Marvel Star Wars Weekly with Kenner toys upgraded by Epic Games' Unreal Engine.

The Marshal begins with the titular Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) taking The Child AKA Baby Yoda to an illegal fighting match between Gamorrean Guards, which foreshadows the episode's direct link to Return of the Jedi. As an amusing aside. This scene reminded me of when I briefly switched from the BBC to ITV in the late seventies, drawn away from Doctor Who by brash US imports' Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Glen A. Larson's sci-fi series were preceded by wrestling matches between Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. Suffice to say this didn't translate into becoming a lifelong wrestling fan.

I digress.

After this brief foray avoiding a trap sprung by Gor Koresh (John Leguizamo), Mando and Baby Yoda head to Tatooine, a planet synonymous with all things Star Wars. There they reunite with Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) and her hapless droids from The Phantom Menace before encountering the Marshal (Timothy Olyphant) adorned in Boba Fett's salvaged armour. At this point, I was in sci-fi heaven and wasn't ready for an ending that would equal the first reveal of Baby Yoda in Chapter 1. Olyphant plays a fantastic foil to Pascal's Mando and here's hoping this isn't the last time we'll see him play Cobb Vanth (a character introduced in Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy).

Before they engage in a western shootout worthy of director Sergio Leone, a Krayt Dragon shows up in Mos Pelgo and the two are forced to work together and unite the town (Vanth had saved them from marauders following the destruction of the second Death Star and collapse of the Empire) with a band of Tusken Raiders. The dragon has to be stopped before more people die on both sides. The simplicity of the storytelling allows breathing room for organic nods to George Lucas' legacy resulting in much punching of the air - not unlike Tusken Raiders triumphantly wielding gaffi sticks - around these parts.

The dragon is dispatched by our band of brothers and Vanth hands Fett's armour to Mando. All well and good. As Mando and Baby Yoda head off across the dune sea on a speeder to continue their Jedi search, the aspect ratio widens as a mysterious figure is shown watching the fan-favourite duo from afar. Turning away, we see it's a battle-scarred Temuera Morrison. Boba Fett lives and he's going to want to reclaim his armour.

Some critics have noted the sparseness of the first-ever Star Wars live-action series, but I welcome its uncluttered aesthetic and focus on fringe characters populating the expanded universe. The cinematography is as expansive as anything on the big screen.

Favreau helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and has been heralded as the saviour of Star Wars by some fans. Personally, I loved The Rise of Skywalker. Sorry, not sorry. More Star Wars is always good in my book, especially during these troubling times.

This is the way.

Friday, 30 October 2020

This is the day The Mandalorian returns

The wait is over fellow Star Wars fans. The Mandalorian is back on Disney+ and the world needs The Child AKA Baby Yoda more than ever.

The ongoing pandemic means continued social distancing for all of us. However, with GroupWatch, fans will be able to stream new episodes of The Mandalorian with family and friends. Reactions are limited to emojis, but Disney has suggested more features will be added soon.

Are you excited for the new season? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Special look at The Mandalorian on ESPN

Lucasfilm released a special look trailer for the second season of The Mandalorian during Monday Night Football on ESPN.

Here’s the official synopsis: "The Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies as they make their way through a dangerous galaxy in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire."

“I’ll be going toe-to-toe with Mando,” Giancarlo Esposito (Moff Gideon) recently told EW. “It’s an iconic battle. I want to disarm him mentally as well. Who knows? Maybe there’s an opportunity to get him to fight some battles for me. You may think I’m a villain, but I’m trying to harness some energy and some powers for a path that could be best for all. You'll get to see him be somewhat diplomatic and more of a manipulator."

The 8-part second season will premiere new episodes every Friday and continues with the use of chapters:

Chapter 9: Friday, Oct. 30
Chapter 10: Friday, Nov. 6
Chapter 11: Friday, Nov. 13
Chapter 12: Friday, Nov. 20
Chapter 13: Friday, Nov. 27
Chapter 14: Friday, Dec. 4
Chapter 15: Friday, Dec. 11
Chapter 16: Friday, Dec. 18

The series' pioneering use of real-time graphics rendering, powered by Epic Games' Unreal Engine, is being used for upcoming blockbusters. This is the way.

Start streaming the new season on 30th October exclusively on Disney+.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Jedi search begins in The Mandalorian

This is the way! The official trailer for the second season of The Mandalorian dropped on Tuesday. The titular Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is tasked with searching for the Jedi and safely handing over The Child AKA Baby Yoda.

Here’s the official synopsis: "The Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies as they make their way through a dangerous galaxy in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire."

The Mandalorian is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens when Luke Skywalker is building a new Jedi order before his reckless actions lead to the Knights of Ren and the founding of the First Order.

“I’ll be going toe-to-toe with Mando,” Giancarlo Esposito (Moff Gideon) recently told Entertainment Weekly (EW). “It’s an iconic battle. I want to disarm him mentally as well. Who knows? Maybe there’s an opportunity to get him to fight some battles for me. You may think I’m a villain, but I’m trying to harness some energy and some powers for a path that could be best for all. You'll get to see him be somewhat diplomatic and more of a manipulator."

The Mandalorian's second season will launch exclusively on Disney+ on 30th October.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

The Mandalorian strikes back in EW

The Mandalorian and The Child AKA Baby Yoda are back to save 2020.

Entertainment Weekly (EW) had exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the Emmy-nominated live-action Star Wars series' second season, which had completed principal photography prior to lockdown and benefited from state-of-the-art remote technology.

Series showrunner Jon Favreau (Iron Man) explained:

"The fact that the set is much more contained is a benefit because you can limit the number of people. A lot of the people controlling it are doing it remotely from what we call the Brain Bar, which is a bank of gaming computers, essentially. The amount of people near the camera could be much smaller than [usual]. We also shoot a lot outside, which is helpful, too. We build to a moment in filming more like an animated production, where we have a lot of storyboards, a lot of discussions, and scouting in virtual reality. We use cinematic tools in VR much the same way we did for The Lion King and The Jungle Book. A lot of times the actors you are seeing on the screen aren't actually there on set."

The Mandalorian's mythology is being built a la HBO's Game of Thrones.

Executive producer Davie Filoni (The Clone Wars) said: “Everything gets bigger, the stakes get higher, but also the personal story between the Child and the Mandalorian develops in a way I think people will enjoy.”

There's no further news regarding Rosario Dawson, Timothy Olyphant, Temuera Morrison, Katee Sackhoff and Michael Biehn joining the cast lead by Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian), Gina Carano (Cara Dune) and Carl Weathers (Greef Karga). But I like surprises. This is the way.

The Mandalorian's high-anticipated second season begins 30th October on Disney+.