“The Mandalorian: Chapter Two” Review!

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Okay, so a quick rundown of everything that happened in Episode 2 of The Mandalorian, a.k.a. Chapter 2: The Child.

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing. That was quite possibly one of the most inconsequential episodes of television I’ve ever watched. I don’t even feel like spoiler tags are necessary for this review, but here’s your quick warning anyway. SPOILERS AHEAD. If you want to call them spoilers. Honestly nothing happened.

The episode picked up where the last one left off, with The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) escorting baby Yoda through the desert. The two are immediately attacked by other mercenaries, whom the Mandalorian dispatches without trouble. The rest of the episode follows the pair as they hunt down a group of Jawa aliens who had ransacked the Mandalorian’s spaceship for parts, leaving the bounty hunter and his cargo trapped on the desert planet. Finally, the Mandalorian reaches an agreement with the hostile scavengers: in exchange for the needed parts, he will bring them an egg from some sort of alien rhino monster. He does so, just barely surviving the experience, and the trade happens: with the help of the alien Kuiil (Nick Nolte), he fixes his spaceship and leaves the planet with baby Yoda.

And that’s it. There’s one big “reveal”, but it’s predictable: during the fight with the alien rhino, the Mandalorian is beaten up and on the brink of death when he is saved at the last moment by baby Yoda, who wields the Force, allowing the Mandalorian the time he needs to regain his footing and plunge a knife into the monster’s flank. At which point baby Yoda falls asleep, apparently exhausted by the effort. And all that would be hugely exciting…if the baby in question wasn’t obviously a miniature version of one of the greatest Jedi masters of all time. Whether this Yoda is a clone or a child of the original, it was kind of inevitable that he/she (we still don’t even know its gender!) would have the same powers as the previous Yoda. Honestly, I was expecting a couple of clues, or at least some hints or teases, of what’s to come. But instead we got an entirely pointless escapade with the Jawas, just so we could confirm something that pretty much everybody already guessed was coming.

And beyond that…literally nothing. This little side-quest did not need to be an entire episode – it could have been summed up in maybe five minutes at most. Unless, of course, the Jawas and the Egg have some important part to play later on in the series: though, the Jawas did eat the Egg immediately after receiving it, so it might be a bit late for that.

As we wait for the next episode, I have to wonder what was the point of Chapter 2, and how much longer we’ll have to wait before something of consequence happens. Now that the Mandalorian is finally on the move again, it’s hopefully only a matter of time before something happens: but, in a show that just wasted a half-hour episode on Jawa scavengers, nothing is certain.

Everything frustrating about the first episode is made even more annoying in the second: the Mandalorian himself is, in fact, more clumsy and incompetent than before – he’s easily defeated by the Jawas (the Jawas, who even the notoriously lame stormtroopers were able to kill with ease in A New Hope), and the big rhino almost succeeds in killing him. He’s just not a particularly interesting protagonist as of right now, and this episode does nothing to change my perception of him.

So…until next week, Star Wars fans. Let’s hope that when we rejoin the Mandalorian and baby Yoda, they’re actually doing something important.

Episode Review: 1/10

“The Mandalorian: Chapter 1” Review!

The first segment of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s The Mandalorian is an intriguing introduction to a darker, grittier corner of the Star Wars universe, doing a whole lot of worldbuilding, establishing a compelling mystery spanning several planets, and leaving viewers with plenty of questions.

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Set sometime after the fall of the Empire in The Return Of The Jedi, the series presents us with a region of deep space that seems unaffected by the peace and prosperity we saw blossom across the universe in Jedi‘s celebratory finale. The aliens and humans we encounter in the pilot episode are barely scraping by, surviving only by hunting down their enemies and killing them – or hiring others to do so. The nameless protagonist played by Pedro Pascal, known only as the Mandalorian (or “Mando”, as he is disparagingly called in one space cantina), is supposedly one of the most legendary bounty hunters in the parsec, though he does surprisingly little to earn that reputation in this episode: the action sequences are few and far between, and the big battle at the end of the episode is really just a whole bunch of red laser-bolts dancing wildly across the screen, leaving the Mandalorian himself with little room to prove his own tactical or military prowess. His uncomfortably awkward encounter with an alien monster named a Blurrg undermines the character even further. As of right now, I can’t understand why everyone is so terrified of the Mandalorian, or how he has somehow established such command in the bounty hunter guild he works with – but his ally, the hunter droid IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi), while undeniably more malevolent, is even more clumsy, so perhaps this is a trait shared by all of Star Wars‘ bounty hunters – even the mighty Boba Fett fell into a Sarlac pit, after all.

It’s an unpleasant reality, but Pascal’s Mandalorian is simply not as interesting as some of his co-stars in the first episode, who receive far less screentime but far more personality and character. Even the Armorer, a female Mandalorian who designs a shoulder pauldron for the Mandalorian (I get that they’re a secretive people, but names would be really helpful right about now), is marginally more interesting than him: Mandalorian culture in general is something that I’d love to see explored in greater depth as the series progresses – though at present, there’s a much greater mystery unfolding, one which definitely takes precedence over “why are shoulder-pads so important to the Mandalorians?”

Werner Herzog plays the Mandalorian’s nameless client, who appears to be a survivor of the Empire’s demise: he commands a host of trigger-happy stormtroopers, and is working closely with a suspiciously enthusiastic scientist named Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi). The two men employ the Mandalorian to hunt down a dangerous target on the other side of the galaxy, though neither is willing to give many details about their prey – save that Pershing wants it alive at all costs. We’ve known for quite some time that this series could give us crucial details about how the fallen Empire rebuilt itself into the First Order that currently threatens Rey and the Resistance: if I had to make a guess at this early stage, I would assume that Pershing and his mysterious friend have something to do with that. And I’ve even got the beginnings of an idea as to why that might be, but it requires us to get into spoiler territory – so without further ado, here’s your SPOILER WARNING!

At the end of the episode, after the Mandalorian and IG-11 have broken into an alien base on a desert planet, they come face to face with the unidentified asset they’ve been hunting via tracking fob. And while some of us might have been expecting their target to be a prominent Star Wars character such as Obi-Wan Kenobi or Princess Leia, they are instead greeted by…a tiny floating cradle. It would have been absolutely outstanding if the cradle’s occupant had turned out to be baby Rey, but no…

It’s baby Yoda.

Now, The Mandalorian takes place after Yoda’s death, so obviously this isn’t the Jedi Master himself – which means there are only a couple of reasons why this character would even be introduced, and why the Empire would be so desperate to hunt him/her down and capture him/her. It could be that Baby Yoda is a completely unrelated member of the Jedi’s same species (which, let’s face it, isn’t likely). It’s possible that Baby Yoda is Yoda’s child, which is at least theoretically plausible. But I happen to think this baby is none other than Yoda’s clone: an infant messiah who the Empire might want to capture for two reasons – firstly, because letting it live isn’t exactly Imperial protocol; and secondly, most importantly, because at this point in the Star Wars timeline, with the Empire collapsing into ruin across the galaxy, with the forces of evil on the run, the Sith Lords are desperate for something to restore their greatness and glory. What better way to do so than to bring back Emperor Palpatine himself – something we know will happen in The Rise Of Skywalker – through use of cloning technology? Why else would a scientist be so desperate to get his hands on the seemingly harmless child? Why else, unless he wanted to study the secrets of cloning and use that technology to resurrect the Emperor?

But the Empire didn’t count on Pedro Pascal’s Mandalorian being a kind-hearted softie who can’t bring himself to hurt the baby when he confronts it – even killing (or at the very least injuring) IG-11 when the droid tries to “terminate” Baby Yoda. The episode ends with a powerful shot of Baby Yoda holding the Mandalorian’s hand, staring up at him with adorably naive eyes and making cute cooing noises. I don’t know what to expect from Episode 2, but somehow I don’t think that the Mandalorian will be responsible for taking the baby back to the Imperial baddies.

Aside from Baby Yoda, the episode’s finale leaves us with a couple of big questions. Is IG-11 really dead? Will the Mandalorian be able to escape with Baby Yoda? – his Ugnaught guide Kuiil (Nick Nolte) was adamant that people who enter the desert don’t come back alive, but the Mandalorian seems to have taken care of all of the infant’s alien guardians pretty easily. As for the Mandalorian himself, who is he? Glimpses of his backstory as a war refugee played in a montage while the Armorer was designing his shoulder-pad, so it looks like Pascal’s character might have had a tragic past during the Clone Wars.

When all is said and done, the series’ pilot episode is merely good – with hints and teases of better material down the road. At the very least, it’s worth watching for Ludwig Göransson’s beautiful score, which sounds almost more fantasy than sci-fi. And with characters like Ming Na-Wen’s assassin Fennec Shand yet to appear onscreen, there’s plenty to look forward to in later episodes.

Episode Review: 7/10

Marvel On Disney+ – Updates, Rumors And Theories!

Disney+ is speeding towards its launch date on the 12th of this month, and people are already eager to finally have the streaming service and its boatload of content, both old and original, at their fingertips. But those of us who are Marvel fans, and have thus already watched all of the Marvel films that will be on Disney+ about ten times over, are looking much further ahead to when we will finally have original Marvel content to stream on the platform. There are eight Disney+ exclusive miniseries in the works, but all of them are still a long way off. So here I am to tide you over, while you wait, with all the latest updates on Marvel’s venture into the world of streaming.

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The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: first up is the series which will follow Sam Wilson (“The Falcon”) and Bucky Barnes (“The Winter Soldier”) as they fight evil in the name of the late great Captain America. Rumors suggest that the duo will face off against one of Marvel’s most controversial villains – US Agent John Walker, a Southern conservative who receives the title of Captain America from the US Government after the powers that be decide that Falcon, a black man, isn’t fit to carry the Captain’s shield and legacy. Created in the Reagan era as a warning against hyper-patriotism, Walker is an interesting character to explore, especially given the current political climate. Baron Zemo, first seen in Captain America: Civil War, will also serve as an antagonist in the show, and one of the central plot elements is rumored to be a killer virus that Falcon and Winter Soldier will have to stop from spreading across the United States – it’s unclear what the virus will be, but the Russo Brothers originally planned to use a similar storyline for Civil War, in which Captain America would have to stop the spread of the Madbomb virus, which turns people into mindless, bloodthirsty berserkers: Madbomb could be brought back for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and would make for a pretty compelling story. Thankfully, we only have to wait until next Autumn to find out how the two superheroes will deal with that onslaught of dangerous threats: the show is currently filming in Atlanta, Georgia.

WandaVision: a direct tie-in to Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, which will release in the summer of 2021, WandaVision will explore the life of Wanda Maximoff after the events of Avengers: Endgame, as she descends into insanity and constructs an elaborate alternate reality for herself and a resurrected version of her dead lover, the Vision. A new rumor suggests that when Vision is brought back to life in the series, he will appear as the White Vision, an alternate version of the character that became very popular in the 1980’s – basically just Vision, but without any human emotions or memories of his past life. The series is also apparently looking to cast two babies, which strongly implies that Wanda Maximoff’s twin children from the comics, the heroes Wiccan and Speed, will make their MCU debuts in this show. WandaVision will probably begin filming fairly soon. Randall Park and Kat Dennings will reprise their roles as comedic relief characters Jimmy Woo and Darcy, respectively, while Teyonah Parris joins the series as Monica Rambeau, whom we last saw as a child in Captain Marvel.

Hawkeye: an upcoming Marvel project that has generated some controversy already is the Hawkeye miniseries which will focus on the current Hawkeye, Clint Barton, and the future one, Kate Bishop. Jeremy Renner, who plays Barton in the MCU, has been the target of a whole bunch of allegations from his ex-wife recently, accusing him of physical and emotional abuse. There’s still no official word on whether or not Renner will remain as the star of the series, though reliable sources have hinted that Disney has considered recasting the actor if the allegations are true. According to Marvel executive Trinh Tran, one major element for the series will be explaining Barton’s origins: presumably his time as a circus performer, and then as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. – maybe even another tantalizing reference to the infamous Budapest incident. The series doesn’t have a production start date, but will release in Autumn of 2021. Hawkeye is just a boring character in general, though (at least, in my opinion), so no one is really too upset that we have to wait a little longer for this series. Just sayin’.

Ms. Marvel: speaking of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a prominent member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team could be joining the MCU through the Ms. Marvel series. The show, which will start production in April of next year, has just hired Krista Husar, the casting director from the ABC TV series Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, leading to speculation that Ms. Marvel might be looking to cast actress Chloe Bennet, who plays Inhuman heroine Daisy Johnson on S.H.I.E.L.D., in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: it could be a stretch, but it would make sense story-wise, since Ms. Marvel is already rumored to include multiple Inhuman characters, including the Royal Family of Attilan, and, of course, Ms. Marvel herself. Marvel is currently looking for an actress to play the shape-shifting teenager, and is now casting her entire family, including her parents Yusuf and Muneeba, and her brother Amir. A villain is also reportedly being cast for the series – and here’s where I want to take a moment to just admire the fact that, if the rumors are reliable, then Disney+’s roster of characters will be weirder than anything we’ve seen from the MCU before: because apparently the villain that Marvel is looking to cast is none other than (bear with me here) The Inventor – a clone of legendary genius Thomas Edison who, due to an accident with his DNA, ends up becoming an anthropomorphic bird-man hybrid who operates out of Bayonne, New Jersey. Between that and Ms. Marvel herself being a walking rubber-band, this series is shaping up to be…interesting, to say the least. Even Ms. Marvel’s original creator, G. Willow Wilson, is afraid the lead character will lookreally creepy” in the live-action format.

Moon Knight: finally, the Moon Knight series is also getting off to a good start, with casting underway for a Jewish actor to portray troubled antihero Marc Spector, the former CIA mercenary who becomes the unwitting servant of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu (these premises are crazy!). And a recent rumor indicates that Marvel is looking to adapt another absolutely bonkers villain for the small-screen story: Stained Glass Scarlet, the psychic, crossbow-wielding ninja nun/vigilante/former prison guard who kills her own son after he turns to a life of crime, and forms a telepathic bond with Spector through his dreams, is apparently destined for a place in the series as a lead antagonist. In the comics, she has something close to a redemption arc, in which Spector learns to pity her, and eventually allows her to escape from the police. How much of that will be transferred over to live-action is still unclear.

At this point I can only imagine what the casting calls will be like for series’ such as She-Hulk or Loki. It looks like Disney+ will be home to some of the wackiest heroes and villains from the Marvel Comics, and I hope to hear of more in the near future: from the reality-bending antics of WandaVision to the polymorphous weirdness of Ms. Marvel, it looks like there’s plenty of room for more insanely unique storylines on the small screen.

So what do you think? Share your own thoughts and theories in the comments below!

Is There Any Chance Of Hela Returning?

It’s time for a Marvel theory, because we haven’t done one in a little while, and because I don’t really know what there is to say about the fact that a Love, Simon series is coming to Disney+, and I don’t want to get embroiled in the catastrophic mess that is Disney’s live-action Mulan, unless I absolutely have to. So, instead, let’s talk about something nice – the Goddess of Death.

The last time we saw Marvel’s iteration of the iconic villainess Hela (portrayed by legendary actress Cate Blanchett), she was being crushed under the weight of the fiery giant Surtur, and the crumbling wreckage of Asgard at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. As if that wasn’t enough, the entire planet around her then blew up, to the point where it would be entirely possible to ever rebuild, at least according to Korg, the helpful blue rock-monster. So, the general consensus among fans is that whatever remains of Hela is floating somewhere in the frozen void of space. But is it that simple?

According to Cate Blanchett, the character doesn’t have to be permanently dead, and she’s perfectly willing to reprise the role, if director Taika Waititi allows. What with everything else supposedly going on in the fourth Thor movie, Thor: Love And Thunder (two versions of Thor, Valkyrie looking for a girlfriend, possibly a last hurrah from Loki himself) it might be difficult to find a place for the Ragnarok villain, but there’s a few ways that it could work.

Firstly, there wouldn’t need to be any elaborate explanation for how she survived. She’s the Goddess of Death. Maybe she physically can’t die – and if she did, wouldn’t that pose a problem for all the dishonorable dead, who would now lack an overlord? Is her fiefdom now leaderless? What’s happening down in Hel? Honestly, it’s better to just say that Hela survived the destruction of Asgard, fled back to Hel (since she wouldn’t have anywhere else to go), and is now either scheming over some new plan, or has begrudgingly made peace with Thor, her younger brother – even though she kind of killed a large part of his population, cut out his eye, destroyed his homeland and set into motion the tragic events of Avengers: Infinity War. It’s not hard to imagine: take a look at Hela’s Wikipedia page and count how many times people are being brought back to life either by her, or because of her.

So what would she be up to, in the post-Endgame world? Well, it’s obviously too late to have her fill the role of Mistress Death, Thanos’ one true love and divine muse; something that fans had wanted to see. But she could have a few tricks up her sleeve, still.

The one that seems most likely to me, not only because it’s fun but because this is a Taika Waititi movie, and that man is absolutely insane (in a good way), is a storyline from some of the more recent Thor comics, in which the Goddess of Death sets up shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, opening a lair for criminals called the Inferno Club – not to be confused with the Hellfire Club, also from Marvel comics. Here, Hela has met and plotted with some of the greatest villains in the cosmos, including Loki, Mephisto, and even Dormammu (remember him, from Doctor Strange?). Her stories on earth have mostly revolved around her trying to foil the plans of the New Mutants, including Magik and Dani Moonstar, so it provides an opportunity for some X-Men cameos or namedrops. And who wouldn’t pay the price of admission just to see Cate Blanchett, decked out in the character’s campy black-and-green attire and lofty antlers, managing a casino?

As for how she could be tied into the plot, well, that might rely on everyone’s favorite God of Mischief, who may or may not be returning for the final Thor film. If he does come back, it will be a very different Loki than the one who was killed by Thanos in Infinity War: this Loki would be the one who escaped through an alternate reality in Endgame, still very much a villain – i.e., the exact type of person who would get lured into Hela’s club, and who might even strike a deal with his evil sister, if he hasn’t reformed by that time.

So there you have it: a perfectly good, and perfectly Waititi, way to bring the Goddess of Death back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What do you think? Will Blanchett make a return to the role? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Obi-Wan Kenobi Headed To Disney Plus!

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The great Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the most legendary and respected figures in Star Wars lore, is apparently being dished out to the Mouse House’s fledgling streaming service, Disney+, in a new show set to (presumably) cover Kenobi’s exploits in the decade between the Star Wars prequels and the original trilogy.

But don’t give up hope just yet: Disney is making a valiant effort to have this show look and feel like movie-quality material – so much so, that they’ve gotten Ewan McGregor, who played Kenobi in the prequels, to reprise the iconic role. There’s no hint yet of how large McGregor’s paycheck for the series is, but I’m guessing it’s got to be pretty big to tempt the actor to the small screen – then again, he seems to have a pretty comfortable relationship with Disney already, having previously portrayed a grown-up version of Christopher Robin in the 2018 film of the same name.

As of right now, the show has no official title, so we’ll call it “Kenobi” because I like the sound of that. More details will probably be announced at Disney’s D23 event later this month, but until then we have a few things to think over.

Firstly, the fact that Kenobi is only a Disney+ streaming show is already upsetting fans (by the way, I’ve begun to spell the name of Disney’s streaming service with a + sign instead of writing the word Plus, since apparently that’s how we do things in Hollywood nowadays). That’s a pretty rational complaint: it’s still unclear how large the budgets for these shows will be, and whether they’ll actually maintain the same level of quality as the movies they’re based on – let’s not beat around the bush; people are worried that it’s going to look like a CW show. I’m sorry, CW, you get a lot of flack for stuff you have absolutely no control over (except the ridiculous costumes; those are entirely your fault), but this is how the public thinks. Some are also frustrated that someone of such prestige in the franchise would be demoted in such a way, instead of getting his own film trilogy: in my opinion, the Star Wars prequels were already a perfectly good Obi-Wan Kenobi trilogy, since he was arguably more of an interesting protagonist than Anakin Skywalker. But yeah, this news probably means that all those rumors of a Kenobi movie are just that – rumors. Even if they did come from Deadline.

As for the show’s setting, we have no indication as of yet: but we have to assume it will take place in the decade or two between The Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope, while Kenobi is off…wandering the barren wastelands of Tattooine? I don’t know about you, but a whole series of Obi-Wan just hanging out with Jawas sounds like fun to me: unfortunately though, the showrunners probably will deny us the content we deserve, and instead give us some half-baked story about Obi-Wan before he arrived on the desert planet, stoking the fires of rebellion, fighting rogue Sith lords and running into CGI reconstructions of characters from the original trilogy. Nowhere near as entertaining, I know.

Do I sound slightly cynical and annoyed in this post? It might be because I’m still trying to sort out how I feel about this news: am I happy, or am I one of those angry fans ranting about how Obi-Wan Kenobi, the greatest Jedi in history, was demoted to a Disney+ series? Or is it just because I’m annoyed that I have to use a dumb + sign from now on?

You know…it might be that.