Thursday, October 27, 2016

Star Wars Rebels S3E5 The Last Battle Recap/Review: Is This Clone Wars or Rebels?

I think The Last battle was Dave Filoni wanting to do just one more episode of The Cone Wars.

The fifth episode of season three Star Wars Rebels, The Last Battle, is a good solid fun episode, but didn’t really advance any major story lines for our Rebel crew. The crew of the ghost along with former clone trooper Rex go to recover supplies from a crashed Separatist ship. While there they find old Clone Wars Battle Droids who want to have one final battle to determine who actually won the Clone Wars. The episode is more of a one off, and could be considered filler, but it was still enjoyable filler.

The battle sequences with Rex, Kannan, and Ezra were well done and exciting to watch. It reminded me greatly of many of the Clone Wars episodes. Having two Jedi and a clone trooper take on droids was a good formula for many episode of the former animated show, and this proves it can still be exciting. The best aspect of the episode however was showing how much the Clone Wars affected Rex. We see small glimpse of how badly damaged he is from all of the fighting. PTSD is a heavy and weighty topic to dive into on a kid’s television show, but I applaud them for at least showing some of the consequences of war. Some of my favorite episodes of the clone wars were when they focused on the clones and what they were going through, and I actually wanted more from this episode on this topic. Again it is a kids show, so I’m happy with the small amount shown.

While I enjoyed the subtleness of them showing how Rex is dealing with PTSD, I was disappointed with how they spelled out who actually won the clone wars. Instead of having Zeb just blurting out that the Empire did, and then having Ezra congratulating him like a good kindergarten student they should have just let the Empire show up to simply highlight who did. I’m not sure children who watch the show really care about the intricate plot Palpatine executed to take over the Republic. If they would have simply had Ezra say you both were weekend for the Empire to rise it would have worked better. Instead they were explaining too much to the audience to make sure we understood, and it wasn’t needed.

This small gripe aside the episode was overall very enjoyable and a fun side adventure. The traps the Empire are starting to lay for the Rebels are building to a major battle and loss. With the last few weeks being more side missions apart from the main narrative the show needs to move forward in the next couple of weeks. The show has a week off and then a new one episode drops. Hopefully the next episode starts building towards the overall narrative of the season and we get to see what Thrawn is planning.

What did you think of this episode? Did you enjoy the ride or where you expecting more? Comment and let me know. Like share subscribe and all that fun stuff. 

Star Wars Comic Books Recap/Reviews: Star Wars #24 & Poe Dameron #7

Two Star Wars Comics came out this week. Star Wars #24 and Poe Dameron #7. Star Wars continued a current story arch, while Poe Dameron started a new one. The Star Wars comic continues to impress, but the Poe comic continues to be a miss overall.

Star Wars #24 continues to see Luke, Leia and Han on their stolen Star Destroyer barreling towards a planet under siege. The Star Destroyer is badly damaged and there are weird instances happening all over the ship. Luke and Sana are sent to investigate and run into the elite Stormtrooper squad. What follows is some great dialogue and action within the comic. The strength of the main Star Wars line is how much it feels like reading a story which could be adapted to the screen. It simply feels like an adventure the three heroes would be on. The last issue was a slight departure, but the 24th installment quickly got back on track.

The dialogue and interaction between everyone is spot on. The only line which was out of place was when Luke proclaimed himself a Rebel to the Stormtrooper he was fighting. The rest of the issue was fantastic. Some of the best parts were the interactions between Han and Leia. This issue kept up their flirtatious interactions from the previous issue. It seemed out of place some during the last comic, but fit in nicely during the action of this one. I also liked the scenes with Sana and thought her interaction with Luke seemed more natural. The Stormtrooper elite squadron actions were also well executed. They aren’t the usual inept bucket heads seen in Rebels or other media. They know how to execute a mission and don’t expect to fail.

The big reveal at the end of the issue was also well done. With Darth Vader’s comic ending its run it was good to see him drop back into the main line. It makes sense in the overall story for him to begin hunting down Luke again. We see him continuing this search at the start of Empire Strikes Back, and it is interesting to see him during this phase of the hunt. The way the story flows into the main Star Wars narrative overall is one reason why I will continue to keep reading the main Star Wars line. 

The Poe Dameron comic is another case entirely. I enjoy reading about the character of Poe, but the writing for the comic is its downfall. I thought the last three issues had been an improvement in the dialogue and story, but the 7th issue took a major step back. The dialogue between characters is painful and doesn’t flow well. It doesn’t seem like a natural conversation, and the quips Poe has throughout the issue seemed forced. They feel like they are put into the comic because Poe made quips in the Force Awakens.

The actual story isn’t horrible, but not fantastic either. The other big issue is the first order troops found in the comic are cartoonish. One of the best parts of the new cannon is how nuanced the Empire and First Order have been portrayed. In the main films it is very much black and white, but the new books and comics have greyed many of the people found in the Empire. I would have liked to have seen this within Poe comic as well instead of the over the top mustache twirling bad guys.

I want to like the Poe comic and I thought the last story arc was better than the first. This issue with the introduction of a new journalist recruit just didn’t feel like a story set in the Star Wars universe. It seemed more like a story that could be dropped into our political climate than in the galaxy far far away. Maybe this is just one story and the next will pick back up, but the dialogue between characters has been bad throughout the entire run. I can still hold out hope for the only comic taking place after Return of the Jedi.

What did you think of these two comic releases? Did you like Star Wars #24? Did you like Poe Dameron more than me? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Star Wars Rebels S3E4 Hera’s Heroes Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Thrawn Ove...

How far would you go for a sentimental art?

The fourth episode for season three of Star Wars Rebels, Hera’s Heroes, has the crew of the ghost going back to Ryloth to smuggle in supplies for Hera’s father. Once on planet Hera learns of her father’s struggles and that he had to flee their family home after being attacked by the Empire. While fleeing he was not able to grab a meaningful piece of art which has great value to Hera and she wants to mount a rescue mission for it. This is the first episode of the year I haven’t fully loved. The character moments in the episode are fantastic, but the actual story which highlights the moments are weak and forced.

The main plot of this episode doesn’t mesh with Hera’s established character traits. They make the case for the piece of art being important to the Ryloth culture and it has sentimental value for Hera, but for her to risk herself and the crew doesn’t fit. Hera is the consummate Rebel, or has been portrayed as this up until this point. She only takes action when it benefits the Rebellion overall. I just don’t see her risking so much for something that doesn’t offer value for the Rebellion. I understand why they went with this storyline. It highlighted the fact Thrawn studies the culture of the worlds he tries to conquer. He knew about the artwork and was able to deduce who Hera was because she was retrieving it.

The confrontation between Thrawn and Hera was well done. Thrawn is still perfect and I loved every moment he was in the episode. The fact he was waiting for a response from the Rebels after taking Syndulla’s home shows his cunning. I also want to praise the voice actor, Lars Mikkelsen, who is portraying Thrawn. He has captured the character perfectly from what I pictured from the old Legends books. Seeing Thrawn puzzle out who Hera was and then wanting to know the response is a sign of a master tactician. He gave up a pawn to draw the Rebels into a trap. His machinations were the saving grace of an episodes whose story left something to be desired.

This was the troubling aspect of the episode. They didn’t need to force in the artwork aspect of the story. I would have much preferred seeing Hera and her Dad try to simply retake their home because the house had symbolic and strategic significance to the Rebels on Ryloth. Then during the mission Hera goes off to make sure she gets the artwork. Even better have Ezra or another member of the crew who are more wild try to save it for her.  This of course hurts the character moments with Thrawn because having him know about the piece of artwork highlights his cunning and studious nature. I think they could have found another more plausible narrative to help promote this character trait for him.

The other big issue I had with this episode is the lack of overall timing. We are just dropped into the story with the Rebels showing up on Ryloth to help. We don’t know when this falls within the overall story narrative. The story may be outside of main story arc, but it would be nice to know how long after the events of the Antilles extraction this takes place. The other timing and overall narrative issue was with Chopper. He somehow is magically outside the Syndulla house and wasn’t with Hera or Ezra as the other crew made the diversion. He then was the crux of the main plot. He got and planted the explosives which destroyed the home, simply because he stayed behind to look at his crashed Y-Wing. This was a little bit of lazy storytelling, but I’ll give it a small pass because of the number of episodes the show must produce.

Even if I didn’t like the main story thread the interactions between Hera and Thrawn were enough to make this episode good. The small taste we have gotten of the villain in the first four episodes excites me for the rest of the season. Thrawn has an overall plan and plays the game as a chess match instead of seeing each individual engagement as a must win. Seeing his overall plan unfold throughout the course of the season is what I have been anticipating since he was announced. While I found this episode to be the weakest of the season, it still is teaming with possibilities.

What did you think of the episode? Did you think the main story was weak like me or did you think it all played out well? Did you like the character moments Thrawn and Hera had together and individually? Comment and let me know. Like share subscribe and all that fun stuff. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Star Wars Rogue One Trailer #2 - Review/Discussion: WOW

Hyperbolic overload incoming

This is by far the best trailer to come out for Rogue One A Star Wars Story to date. This trailer was amazing and had everything you could want as a Star Wars fan. It gave us glimpse into the story, more character information, while still not feeling the it was spoiling anything. Plus, we got some more glimpse of the Darth Vader. I liked the first two teaser trailers they released for the film, but this was a step above those. People still might be worrying about the amount of reshoots the film has gone through, but this trailer should help ease almost any concern.

Rogue One looks different than any other Star Wars film to date. While Episode 7 was directed by JJ Abraham and had its own voice separate from the originals or prequels it still very much looked like a Star Wars movie. Rogue One feels completely different because of the shot angles and flair Gareth Edwards is bringing to the film. I loved the camera panning up to see the Star Destroyer hovering in the sky or the shot of the Tie Fighter raising up in the previous trailer. It sets Rogue One apart, which is a good thing. This film is going to stand on its own and hopefully open up the universe for many other different types of movies to be told in the franchise.

I had been a little worried about the stiffness of some of the actors in the previous trailers. The dialogue just didn’t ring true to me from what I had seen previously. I was still giving them a pass because it’s hard to get context in a one to two-minute trailer. This one eased my concerns. Felicity Jones seemed spot on and I can’t wait to see more of her in the film. Who knows if the reshoots went back and fixed some of these issues, or if it was just the limited context of the trailers. Either way it doesn’t matter. The film looks fantastic, and the trailer got me excited for the movie, and I now can’t wait to see it. This is the job of any trailer, and Rogue One hit a homerun with this effort.

The only small gripe I had with the trailer is the way the title of the film seemed shoehorned into the story. Again this could be the context of the trailer, and when it happens in the movie it will flow and make more sense, but for the trailer it just seemed forced. This is just a minor gripe, but on my third or fourth viewing it was something which continued to stick out from the rest of the trailer. Everything else with the line delivery, action, and story points displayed was spot on. If trailers are any indication of how good or bad a movie can be, then Rogue One should be a hit with this effort.

The big concern I’ve had about Rogue One is that the general movie going audience was going to have a hard time understanding when this film takes place. When the first trailer came I saw people questioning when the film takes place in Star Wars fan groups.  People who are big enough fans to be in groups on Facebook or other platforms didn’t even know when the story took place after the first trailer. The general audience who just like movies and aren’t as big on Star Wars fans could be lost on when this movie happens.

This is why the trailers should play up Darth Vader. My biggest gripe of the second teaser trailer was that they didn’t show enough of Vader. We got a small glimpse at the end, but for me this wasn’t highlighted enough to move the needle for mass audiences. This trailer highlights the Dark Lord of the Sith more and we get to see him stalking up to someone in all his glory. This is a fantastic shot and one I hope can highlight the fact of when Rogue One takes place for the vast majority of the movie going audience. I understand it’s a double edged sword on how much you show of Vader. Too much and we get spoiled for the film, but too little and I think you run the risk of people not knowing when this film takes place within the Star Wars universe, even with the Death Star so prominent in all the trailers.

I loved this trailer. Rogue One has always been my most anticipated film of the year, and this trailer only heightened my excitement. When can I preorder my tickets for the movie, can we crash all the ticket services again like we did with Episode 7?  Comment and let me know what you thought of the trailer. Did you love it or just think it was okay? Did anyone out there hate it? 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Star Wars Rebels S3E3 The Antilles Extraction Recap/Review (Spoilers!)

I can’t imagine what an episode titled The Antilles Extraction could be about.

The Antilles Extraction is the third episode of the third season of Star Wars Rebels and has Sabine infiltrating an Imperial pilot training facility to extract disgruntled cadets. One of cadets to the shock of everyone is Wedge Antilles. He is the only Rebellion pilot we see on screen who survives both battles vs the Death Stars. He has always been a fan favorite, and one of mine as well. Some of my favorite Legends books were from the Rogue Squadron series which had Wedge as a focal point. Getting to see how he joined up with the Rebellion is fantastic fan service, and provided an extremely fun enjoyable episode.

Star Wars Rebels so far this season is batting 1000 with three great episodes to start the season. The first two focused on the main characters and setup major story arcs for the season. This was more of an aside or a dreaded filler episode. That is not a bad thing when you have twenty-two episodes to get through in a season. When filler is also coupled with fan service, and the story told executed well it can be welcomed. I really enjoyed most of this episode because I got to see how Wedge joined the Rebellion and because I got to see multiple dogfights in space.
Everyone loves lightsabers battles, including me, but I think my favorite parts of the original trilogy are the space battles. It’s no surprise that I loved an episode that had three of them in it. Watching the episode gave me visions of playing X-Wing vs Tie Fighter, and now I kind of want to go buy it on steam so I can play again.

The dogfights aside I think what I liked best about the episode is how the Empire didn’t seem inept. One of my biggest criticism towards the end of season two was the Empire in the show didn’t seem menacing. The leaders seemed like bumbling fools and the crew of the ghost accomplished their tasks easily. There didn’t seem to be high stakes when they went on missions. The first three episodes and this one particular fixed this. It was fantastic to see Sabine’s initial escape attempt fail. I wasn’t sure if she would escape from the Imperials this episode, and that makes the show more exciting. It made her second escape attempt more satisfying because I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the episode. During the end of last season, I knew the crew was going to accomplish their task no matter the obstacle and just having the Empire succeed initially was a good turn for the series.

I had a few small nitpicks from the episode, but it didn’t have any glaring weaknesses. The first was from the initial escape attempt and having the Corellian Corvette not being able to fend off three Tie Interceptors. I already stated I was a fan of the first escape failing, but there needed to be more than three Ties going up against the Corvette to make it more believable. The Falcon got away from more when it was escaping the Death Star. The corvettes shouldn’t be that weak or why would the Rebels use them?  Still just a minor nerdy gripe though. The other issue is about using the codename Fulcrum and the exposition dump we got at the first of the episode. Why does the Rebellion need to recycle Ahsoka’s code name? Why can’t they come up with another one? I guess they want to honor her, but I think it would have been better to just use a new code. This part felt forced into the episode and not natural.

Though I didn’t like the code name, the question is who is the new Fulcrum? I think the obvious choice is Agent Kallus who let Sabine escape. Even though he said he was doing it because he was repaying Zeb. I think he is having a change of heart and is betraying the Empire. I think he is going to play a pivotal role in the season going forward giving intel on Thrawn, and might be the one thing which saves the Rebels from him in the end. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Thrawn uses Fulcrum to provide disinformation, and then kills Kallus once he has proved useful. Another theory would be that Thrawn is Fulcrum, and is laying traps for the Rebels. For instance, how did the Empire know that an escape by some cadets was planned? Maybe Thrawn leaked the information to the Rebels and setup the trap to try and capture who would take the bait. Either way having another secret agent in the series is a good thing.

The series keeps getting better and better and if first three episodes are any indication of what is in store overall for the third season it will be by far the best season to date. Comment and let me know what you thought of tonight’s episode and who you think Fulcrum could be. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Star Wars S2E3 The Holocrons of Fate Recap/Review (Spoilers!)

So much goodness in twenty-two minutes of television.
Episode two of the third season of Star Wars Rebels, The Holocrons of Fate, might have topped the season premiere, and I really enjoyed the first episode of the season. The episode gets off with a fast start as Kanan and Ezra are investigating a Rebel ship that has been attacked. They quickly find that Maul has kidnapped the crew of the ghost. He wants Ezra and Kanan to deliver the Sith Holocron to him in exchange for the crew's lives. Since Kanan left the Holocron with Bendu they must first retrieve it and then go and rescue their friends.

The first part of the episode helped with some of the small problems from the season premier. We saw Kanan and Ezra working together and resolving their issues with one another. It seemed at the end of the premier everything was good between them, but at the start of the episode there is still friction between the master and student. They have to work together to retrieve the Holocron from Bendu and must get past the spider creatures on the planet. Ezra is humbled by the fact Kanan can get past the spider creatures when he can’t. Ezra’s power has been growing fast and has surpassed Kanan on some fronts. It was good for him to be taken down a notch or two during this scene. Having Ezra once again defer to Kanan was really well done and earned in the episode. It was one of the strongest parts of an episode without many issues.

After the retrieval of the Holocron the rescue attempt from Maul was fantastic. Maul of course double crossed and tried to kill both Kanan and the crew to ensure he got everything he wanted. The scene with Kanan being jettisoned out of an air lock and having to launch himself back into the bay was awesome. There was a brief moment where I thought they may actually kill him off, it of course didn’t happen, but just the fact the show made me think this for a few seconds shows how engaging Rebels can be. Then we get to the end of the episode and the bomb dropped by Ezra and Maul joining the two Holocrons together. Ezra wants to know how to bring down the Sith. Maul doesn’t reveal his question, but we can infer what it is by what he and Ezra say during and after the event. At one point Ezra mentions twin suns, which probably means Tatooine. We then hear Maul say as he is leaving the station that “He lives. I’m going to infer that he means Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The big question from this is are we going to see a confrontation between Obi-Wan and Maul during this season of Rebels? Will the crew of the ghost go to Tatooine and meet with the old Jedi Master? This of course brings up the retcon issue of Obi-Wan saying he hasn’t heard his name in a long time from Episode 4, but I could get over this if we get a confrontation between Obi-Wan and Maul. Maybe Maul will only call him Kenobi and the crew won’t know who he is and he will introduce himself as Ben. Either way I would love to see another fight between Maul and Kenobi. I would have rather seen it in an Obi-Wan movie, but I’ll take it in Rebels if I can get it. This was a major bomb to drop at the end of the episode and leaves me extremely excited for the possibilities it could lead to.

I didn’t really have any issues with the episode tonight. One of the small gripes came from not really showing how the Maul captured the crew of the ghost. They really couldn’t have crammed any more content into tonight’s episode, so I understand not being able to show this, but it still would have strengthened the story. The only other minor gripe would be the sudden realization that the Holocrons can be combined together show an answer to any question. It is a convenient plot device to use, but because of what it reveals I don’t have a big problem with the revelation. These are very minor issues for one of the best episodes of the series to date.

This was a fantastic episode, even more so because it was constrained to only the half hour episode length. There was so much crammed into these twenty-two minutes that not a second was wasted to get all of the story points across. This was a master class on good television and I’m already excited for what the next episode will bring. What did you think of the episode? Did you like it as much as me or did you see other problems? Do you think we are going to get a Maul vs Obi-Wan show down? Comment and let me know.