*TV SERIES RECAP: THE MANDALORIAN (Season 2)

The Mandalorian First season was excellent, but the second season is unbelievably fucking good. Here is the thing, if you are a hardcore Star Wars fanboy like myself, you are going to love season 2. if you disliked the sequel trilogy or barely stomached them as much as I did, then you are in for a special treat.

In this season, we continue to explore other parts of the galaxy. Also, the western sci-fi elements are still there, as well as some Eastern philosophical vibes. The show’s episodic nature makes it a lot more exciting to watch; I was impatiently waiting each week for a new episode to drop. And after the whole season was done, I binge through the entire thing in one sitting, well, almost in one sitting; I had to go to work at some point.

Season 1 brought forward everything we love about Star Wars, especially the original trilogy’s tone, but there really wasn’t any direct connection to the Skywalker saga. However, In this season, the Easter eggs begin to drop early on. The nostalgic nods are sprinkled brilliantly throughout each episode, and things are put in place for established characters to show up at some point.

The structure for every episode is nicely executed, and the side quests on every episode worked well for me. We get to explore new systems, new characters, new villains, and new heroes in each new episode.

Episode 1 — THE MARSHALL (Episode 9, In chronological order from season 1): Written and Directed By Jon Favreau.

Din Djarin AKA Mando (Pedro Pascal) has been tasked with reuniting “The Child” with the Jedi — he seems skeptical and somewhat reluctant at first, but as we all know; This is the way. 

Mando goes to a Tattoine mining town searching for a fellow Mandalorian to assist in his quest to reunite Baby Yoda with the Jedi. The mining town is called Mos Pelgo and is run by the local Marshal Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), who shows up wearing Bobba Feet’s armor. Cobb explains he bought the armor from some Jawas. Mando wants Cobb to give up the armor since it doesn’t belong to him. Cobb makes a deal with Mando to surrender the armor if Mando teams up with him and with some Tusken Raiders to destroy an underground Krayt Dragon.

Some of my favorite and most memorable highlights from this episode are Gor Koresh (John Leguizamo) playing this underworld crime figure type and the scene-stealing Pell Motto (Amy Sedaris). But Temuera Morrison showing up in the last scene was fucking amazing. Is he supposed to be Bobba Fett? Has he been living in the outskirts of Tattoine all these years? or is this mysterious character a member of the original clone army who has survived all this time living in hiding in Tattoine? Whatever the case might be, this was an extraordinary scene.

Episode 2 — THE PASSENGER: Directed By Peyton Reed — Written By Jon Favreau.

Mando’s mission in this episode is to transport a passenger to another planet safely. This passenger is referred to as “frog lady” who carries a jar of eggs to be fertilized and save her species from extinction. The main plot conflict here is that Mando’s ship cannot use the hyperdrive because it would jeopardize the eggs. She is putting them in a tough spot and making them vulnerable to pirates and space criminals.

There are a bunch of cool space chase scenes all over this episode. We get to see the Razor Crest battle and outmaneuver new Republic X-wing patrols. The idea of including the X-wing patrols in this episode was a rad decision. Probably the weirdest and most awkward episode of the season, but lots of fun and lots of cool visuals.

Episode 3 — THE HEIRESS: Directed By Bryce Dallas Howard — Written By Jon Favreau.

This episode has a lot to digest; Mando ends up in a compromised position and needs urgent assistance — when three Mandalorians show up to rescue Mando. They immediately removed their helmets, revealing their faces, which we know is believed to be forbidden by the Mandalore way.

The rescuers’ leader is Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), who is on a quest to capture the DarkSaber, which is currently in possession of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). Important to note that Katee Sackhoff initially voiced the character in the animated series.

We learned that Mando belongs to a fundamentalist faction of Mandalorians who follow an ancient creed called “The Way.” On the other hand, Bo-Katan belongs to a different faction of Mandalorians called “The Watch.” We hear about a past war between followers of The Way and members of The Watch due to their conflicting ideologies. The Way stood against more progressive changes to their ancient creed, and thus division and infighting began.

There are so many well-executed action sequences all over this episode. The battle scenes in tight corridors within the imperial ship are excellent, pure Star wars fan service. The Razor Crest is left in bad shape by the end of the episode and literally falling apart

Episode 4 — THE SIEGE: Directed By Carl Weathers — Written by Jon Favreu.

The first thing I have to say is that Carl Weathers should direct more episodes. I was very impressed with how he put this episode together and the choices he made.

This episode’s side quest is for Mando and friends to break into an old and almost abandoned imperial base operating in Nevarro. The thing is that this imperial base is not entirely abandoned and is full of Stormtroopers. There are also Speeders and Tie fighters, which are direct throwbacks to the original Star Wars trilogy.

Mando returns to the planet Nevarro from season one to perform emergency repairs on his ship. We get to see Cara dune (Gina Carano) and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) return to the story. Also, we have the return of Mythrol (Horatio Sanz) from the first episode of season one.

Episode 5 — THE JEDI: Written and Directed By Dave Filoni.

Man, this episode kicks some major asses. Mando arrives at a forest system called Corvus, where he is supposed to find a Jedi. He finds Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), who I guess has been living in hiding for all these years. In the way this episode is presented, I get the sense that Ahsoka has been living like a Ronin warrior.

We learned Baby Yoda’s name (Grogu), and we have a small cameo by Michael Biehn, but most importantly, the foundation for the Ahsoka Tano spinoff series is set in motion.

Episode 6 — THE TRAGEDY: Directed By Robert Rodriguez Written By Jon Favreau.

I loved this episode where things move at a fast pace, and we get to see Robert Rodriguez execute some of his trademark action sequences; Rodriguez fits Star Wars like a glove and should be involved in future Star Wars projects for sure.

The monster size revelation here is that Bobba Fett (Temuera Morrison) is alive and back in the middle of things. They decided to make Bobba Fett’s armor look small and tight-fitting, which I do not have any issues with; let us remember that Bobba is older, and it makes sense that he has somewhat outgrown his armor. I wasn’t a big fan of Bobba Fett growing up, but this series got me overly excited about the idea of Bobba Fett being back in the Star Wars Universe. He still remains fresh and exciting, as we have so much more to explore about this character.

Baby Yoda goes to an ancient Jedi temple and sits on a rock that serves as a medium to connect with other Force-sensitive beings throughout the galaxy. We get to see Dark Troopers introduced, and they are AWESOME.

The only small beef I had with this episode was trying to understand a continuity issue regarding Mando’s jet pack. Maybe I need to watch this episode again and see if it makes sense.

Episode 7 — THE BELIEVER: Written and Directed by Rick Famuyiwa.

This episode is pretty intense; Migs Mayfield (Bill Burr) is back and teaming up with Mando this time to access a base that holds information on Moff Gideon’s coordinates. Bill Burr shines bright here. Mando taking off his helmet for a good chunk of this episode is pretty compelling stuff.

Episode 8 — THE RESCUE: Directed by Peyton Reed  — Written By Jon Favreau.

This is where everything comes together beautifully. Some of the most exciting and suspenseful moments in all Star Wars history happens in this episode.

The Mando fight scene with the Dark Trooper is terrific. Moff Gideon is creepy as fuck, especially when he delivers this epic line; “Assume I know Everything.” Gideon and Mando dueling it out was also a pretty fantastic scene. We learned that the DarkSaber could only be taken by winning it in combat.

Then we have the build-up to the most astonishing surprise in recent Star Wars history. We see a lone X-Wing showing up, then a cloaked figure emerges from the X-wing, lights up a green lightsaber, and awesomeness ensues.

By now, the whole world knows that Luke Skywalker was the mysterious figure arriving on the X-Wing. Luke’s battle scenes were out of this world, similar to Vader’s Rogue battle scene. Also, R2D2 showing up was glorious, and of course, the emotional scene between Mando and Baby Yoda was very touching. All in all, this was a special episode and a gift for hardcore Star Wars fans such as myself.

I was not too impressed with Luke’s de-aging. This is the same company behind Nick Fury’s de-aging in Captain Marvel and Michelle Pfeiffer in Ant-Man. So I assume that those productions had bigger budgets, and higher emphasis was placed on CGI effects. Hopefully, as we advance, we get to see an improvement in Luke’s de-aging special effects.

MANDALORIAN SEASON 2 FINAL THOUGHTS:

I have to say that this season opens up the door to fix what Rian Johnson and Disney did to Luke in a big way. The timeline of his arrival in the show makes sense since Luke is supposed to be starting a Jedi Academy, and Grogu could become the star pupil.

The Book of Bobba Fett is coming out in December 2021, and I’m beyond excited to know that Robert Rodriguez will be behind this project.

When it comes to Star Wars, There is no such thing as too much fan service. Mandalorian has delivered two unforgettable seasons. This is precisely what we hardcore fans have been hoping for all along, unlike the sequel trilogies that lacked a singular vision. The Mandalorian under Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni seem to be organically following a singular vision in terms of knowing exactly where the show is heading and what the endgame will be.

I am looking forward to more Star Wars content from Disney+.

Five out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

The Mandalorian (Season 2). Streaming on Disney+

*MOVIE RECAP: TOGO

First of all, I am surprised Disney did not release this movie out in theaters back in December of 2019 or early 2020 and opted instead for a direct to streaming release. I think Togo would have provided excellent competition against CALL OF THE WILD (FOX), which came out in theaters in early 2020, and it was not well received and performed somewhat poorly at the box office.

Some of these direct-to-streaming movies don’t usually get much attention, mostly because people are quick to assume that the quality of those films is not as good as theatrical releases.

However, I enjoyed TOGO more than I expected; I thought it was a fun movie.

I always thought BALTO was the hero of the world-famous “Serum Run” of Nome, Alaska, in 1925. I thought Balto completed the run covering over 600 miles of treacherous, snow-covered terrain while transporting antitoxins desperately needed to combat a diphtheria outbreak.

Man, was I wrong… Balto wasn’t the hero I was led to believe. It was TOGO all along.

The 1995 BALTO movie completely misrepresented the real story of the Serum Run and wrongly established Balto as the lead sled dog throughout the entire run, which was actually a relay run. Balto only completed the final 55-mile leg of the relay. A remarkable achievement, indeed, but erroneously glorified by Hollywood. In reality, TOGO was the lead dog who accomplished the majority of the incredible feat—covering 264 miles.

This TOGO movie would have looked gorgeous on the big screen, considering all the magnificent visuals, the terrain, the snow, the mountains, the ice lakes — they are all perfect and tailor-made for a theatrical experience.

The accuracy of the real Serum Run story is impressive. Minor details of the real story are highlighted and covered pretty accurately, with just a few exceptions here and there, so kudos to director Ericson Core and screenwriter Tom Flynn. The relationship between Togo and his trainer, Leonhard Seppala (Willem Dafoe), is emotionally moving. Dafoe’s acting keeps things interesting, especially while delivering monologues in multiple solo scenes.

TOGO is not so much a retelling of the famous Serum Run of 1925 but an attempt to revisit a legendary real-life story. This is a hero’s journey that continues to amaze and inspire.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

Streaming on DISNEY+

*MOVIE RECAP: CAPTAIN MARVEL

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) finally catching up and giving female superhero characters their own front and center movies is long overdue…. (Cannot wait for Black Widow, 2020).

Captain Marvel is essentially the precursor to Avengers Endgame, putting the last piece of the marvel cinematic universe puzzle together — I confess that I waited until most of the Avengers movies were available on streaming to catch up… (thanks Disney+).

I am not a massive expert on MCU or DC Extended Universe (DCEU), but I consider myself to be a fanboy of some of the individual characters like Captain America, Winter Soldier, and Thor. I have been reading this excellent comic series: Red Skull by Joshua Williamson and Hail Hydra by Rick Remender I highly recommend them. The Captain America movie trilogy is fantastic, by the way —watch all three in one seating if you can.

I have some mixed feelings regarding Captain Marvel — there were a bunch of things I liked, and a few I did not: The Stan Lee appreciation opening logo was awesome. Everyone should stand and clap whenever this new logo hits the screen. Sam Jackson’s de-aging CGI was impressive. Jude Law is always fantastic in whatever he is in, and he is exceptional here again. Ben Mendelsohn, as Talos, is pure joy to watch. The twist with The Skrulls storyline was my favorite part, and the end credits easter eggs/spoilers are also pretty cool.

However, it was hard for me to connect with Captain Marvel as much as I connected with other marvel characters or even Wonder Woman. Trying to turn Captain Marvel into MCU’s version of Wonder Woman was not a success, which is what this movie attempted to accomplish — Simply put, she is not as charismatic as Wonder Woman. I saw a bunch of online criticism surrounding Brie Larson’s performance, but I cannot entirely agree; I think Brie Larson is an outstanding actress… the hell with it; she is an Academy Award-winning actor. So If you want to blame anything, blame the script.

We all know where Captain Marvel fits within the hierarchy of Superheroes. We all know she is the most powerful Avenger in the MCU, so we know the stakes are low as far as danger or vulnerability is concerned. Plus, we know where she and the rest of the superheroes will end up — which makes this movie just a simple origins story and, in a way, an introduction to Carol Danvers/Vers AKA Captain Marvel to a casual and more extensive audience. Even as an origin story, this movie rushes in and comes off as flat and unoriginal.

There was way too much military jargon and overplayed military terminology being used. Even the friendship between Rambeau and Danvers was not compelling enough for me. Annette Bening was terrific, but I felt like her Supreme Intelligence/Dr. Wendy Lawson’s character needed more screen time.

By far, Captain Marvel is the least impressive of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero movies; nonetheless, some interesting and compelling parts make this movie worth watching a couple of times.

Two out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿

Captain Marvel (2019).

*TV SERIES RECAP: THE MANDALORIAN (Season 1)

Well, we finally have a live-action Star Wars TV show… and what a show it is.

I signed up for Disney+ back in November of last year, and as soon as the streaming service was up and running — I wasted no time on binge-watching the whole thing. However, It took me a while to write up a quick blog post about it. Mostly because throughout the last few months, I have continuously been watching the first season multiple times.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), also known as Mando, is a Bounty Hunter who takes on bounty hunting jobs and gets paid upon delivery of the fugitive. Mando is a member of a warrior culture called Mandalorians, known for their unique way of life and a strict code of ethics. You can either be born or adopted into the Mandalorian culture…. (Jango Fett was supposed to be a Mandalorian who went rogue). We learn that weapons are part of their religion, and they never remove their helmets in front of other people. Pascal is excellent here playing this character while wearing a helmet, and the way he uses his body language and tone to project Mando’s mood is remarkable.

The show takes place about 5 years after Return of the Jedi (before Force Awakens). The Galactic Empire is no more, and there are rogue imperial factions still roaming around the galaxy.

The force, Jedi or Sith, is never mentioned in any way. There are Easter eggs all over the place — you gotta pay attention and maybe watch it multiple times to notice things.

By now, everyone knows about “The Child,” or Baby Yoda, which is what we will call him for now until we learn his real name next season. We know very little about Baby Yoda and his origins We know “The Client” (Warner Herzog) has been tracking Baby Yoda, and they want something from this force-sensitive child. We also notice the cloning symbol of the Kamino cloners from Attack of the Clones on the uniform of Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahl).

Could this child be a clone of Master Yoda? Or a test subject for clones? Or maybe a clone of future Yoda-like clones?

…. and here are some things I found to be pretty interesting:

We finally get to see “force healing” officially become part of the canon (before we got to see Rey use force healing on The Rise of Skywalker). We get to see some awesome droids, especially the bounty hunting droid IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi). We have jet-flying Mandalorians, mercenaries, assassins, and all kinds of cool, exciting characters. We visit Tattoine and our favorite “wretched hive of scum and villainy” in Mos Eisely spaceport. Jawas get some much-needed screen time. We also have some castaway storm troopers working alongside former agents of the Empire before the creation of The First Order.

All in all, The Mandalorian is a well-crafted, entertaining show. There is a space western vibe to it, leaning towards the vibe and spirit of Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV), closer to Rogue One in tone. I sense a Sergio Leone influence here — I only wish each episode was an hour instead of shy of thirty minutes. Hardcore Star Wars fans will love this show…. Kudos to Jon Favreau and his team of writers: Dave Folini, Rick Famuyiwa, and Christopher Yost.

Five out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

The Mandalorian (Season 1). Streaming on Disney+