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Star Wars Holocron Blog

What’s New in Star Wars – December 2020

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

While 2020 has certainly been a rough year to say the least, it has seen a whole host of quality Star Wars projects to brighten our mood. This trend continues in the month of December, featuring several new episodes of The Mandalorian and various new and exciting comics, magazines, and books. All in all, there’s something for all types of Star Wars fans coming this month. It is important to note that these release dates are subject to change. Below includes a list and description of upcoming Star Wars projects in the month of December:

December 1 – The Art of The Mandalorian (Season One)

Abrams Books’ Star Wars art compilations always deliver incredible artwork and insights and The Art of The Mandalorian is no exception. Written by Phil Szostak with a foreword by Doug Chiang, the book includes never-before-seen concept art and sketches from the Disney+ series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian takes fans behind the scenes of the first ever live-action Star Wars television series. Filled with concept art, sketches, and interviews with key cast, crew, and creatives, including executive producer/showrunner/writer Jon Favreau and executive producer/director Dave Filoni, The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian will provide readers with an exclusive look at a whole new universe of Star Wars characters, locations, and vehicles.”

December 1 – The Mandalorian: Allies & Enemies

December kicks off with a couple new Mandalorian books for young readers. Published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press and written by Brooke Vitale, this World of Reading Level 2 book features some of our favorite characters from the Disney+ series and includes stickers! 

December 1 – The Mandalorian: A Clan of Two

Brooke Vitale has also written a storybook retelling the first season of The Mandalorian for young readers.

December 8 – Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales

Michael Moreci’s five-part comic-book series Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales is compiled together in this paperback collection published by IDW Publishing. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Return to a time of great upheaval in the galaxy, the final years of the Republic, in this anthology based on the beloved animated series! While Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and other Jedi Knights fight against incredible odds, two Republic squadrons must hold their position against an encroaching droid army of the Separatists. Pinned down for the duration, Commander Cody, Captain Rex, and other clones swap war stories that feature your favorite characters from The Clone Wars animated series, such as Padmé Amidala, General Grievous, and many more!”

December 4 – The Mandalorian: Season 2, Chapter 14

The Mandalorian Season 2 has been amazing so far and the season continues into December with Chapter 14, once again written by Jon Favreau.

December 8 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Tales of the Jedi Vol. 1

Marvel Comics continues to honor the Star Wars Legends continuity with a compilation of John Ostrander’s Dawn of the Jedi series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The origins of the Jedi order are revealed! Journey all the way back to the beginning, more than 25,000 years before the saga of the Skywalkers, and discover how the Jedi began! Before lightsabers, before hyperspace travel, before the Jedi’s message spread throughout the galaxy. When connections to the Force were strange and new. There, on a distant planet, a group of beings strive to balance the mysterious Force. Behold the Jee’dai! But a stranger is coming, one who has a connection to the Force all his own – and the doors to the galaxy are about to swing wide open! COLLECTING: STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI – FORCE STORM (2012) 1-5, STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI – PRISONER OF BOGAN (2012) 1-5, STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI – FORCE WAR (2013) 1-5, STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI (2012) 0.”

December 8 – The Clone Wars: Season 7: Volume 1

The final season of The Clone Wars was one of the highlights of 2020 and the season is reworked into a new graphic novel-style adaptation in the classic Screen Comix format. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Star Wars: The Clone Wars Screen Comix is a graphic novel-style retelling with full-color images and dialogue from the show! The first six episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ revival seventh season are retold in the new Screen Comix format. Follow classic characters like Ahsoka Tano, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Yoda–voiced by the series’ original cast–in the epic story of the deadly Clone Wars in the new season on Disney+. The Star Wars: The Clone Wars Screen Comix is a 320-paged graphic novel-style retelling of the show, featuring final frames and dialogue from the series in vibrant full color, will delight fans of all ages.”

December 9 – Star Wars 9

Charles Soule’s main Star Wars comic continues with his ninth issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “”OPERATION STARLIGHT” BEGINS, AS THE REBEL PATHFINDERS UNDERTAKE A DESPERATE MISSION TO THE IMPERIAL CORE. In the Imperial Museum on CORUSCANT, an ancient droid holds the key to salvation of the REBEL ALLIANCE. The Rebels’ elite operations team, the PATHFINDERS, must pull off a daring heist right under the nose of the EMPEROR himself, with LANDO and LOBOT along for the ride!”

December 9 – Star Wars Insider 199

The 199th issue of Titan Magazine’s Star Wars Insider hits newsstands this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “It’s all about the Jedi in issue 199 of Star Wars Insider, with a host of features and interviews to prepare you for a new golden age of Star Wars storytelling with the launch of The High Republic this August. We speak to Charles Soule, Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Cavan Scott, and Daniel José Older about their work on and hopes for the ambitious publishing project-and drop some plot teasers along the way. Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano) and Sam Witwer (Darth Maul) reveal what it’s like playing characters on opposite sides of the Force in The Clone Wars, and we go behind-the-scenes on ILMxLAB’s Vader Immortal VR series.”

December 11 – The Mandalorian: Season 2, Chapter 15

The Mandalorian continues with Chapter 15, once again written by Jon Favreau.

December 13 – The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III 1999-2005

Taschen’s Star Wars Archives series has been so insightful and interesting so far and this trend continues with the brilliant The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III 1999-2005, which details information from the Star Wars prequel trilogy. This is a must for Star Wars fans around the holiday season, showcasing cool behind the scenes images, beautiful concept art, and interesting trivia facts.

December 16 – Darth Vader 8

The continuation of Greg Pak’s Darth Vader series is one of our most anticipated projects for December. The issue will follow the aftermath of Palpatine’s punishment of Vader and introduce the Eye of Webbish Bog, a character who was originally supposed to appear in The Rise of Skywalker. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “INTO THE FIRE! Hungry for vengeance after his brutal punishment at the hands of THE EMPEROR, can DARTH VADER uncover his master’s secrets in the depths of MUSTAFAR? Stripped of his greatest weapons, can the dark lord survive the fire and the EYE? Or will he be overcome as the EYE turns Vader’s every question back to his own terrible secrets?”

December 16 – Star Wars Adventures 4

The fourth issue of the Star Wars Adventures comic series, written by Michael Moreci, illustrated by Megan Levens, and released by IDW Publishing, debuts this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Join the Wookiees of Kashyyyk for part one of a special Life Day celebration! Plus, an exciting adventure featuring a beloved bounty hunter!”

December 18 – The Mandalorian: Season 2, Chapter 16

The finale of season 2 will release on Friday December 18 and is written and directed by Jon Favreau.

December 23 – Bounty Hunters 8

Valance has quickly become one of the best characters from Legends to emerge into canon, as exemplified by his brilliant inclusion in Ethan Sacks’ Bounty Hunters series. The publisher’s summary for the Marvel Comics series’ eighth issue is as follows: “A DEADLY FAVOR! To pay back a debt, VALANCE undertakes a rescue mission to save the crew of a crippled REBEL transport. That dangerous job will take the bounty hunter deep into the heart of the pirate-infested space in THE OUTER RIM. But lying in wait is both an old enemy…and a new threat!”

December 23 – Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run 1

Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run 1 is the first issue of the Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run comic series, which is a reprint of a previously released miniseries. Written by Greg Rucka and Alec Worley, illustrated by Ingo Römling, and released by IDW Publishing, the publisher’s summary is as follows: “After the Battle of Yavin, Han Solo and Chewbacca intend to use their reward to settle their debts. But Princess Leia asks them to accept a secret mission for the Resistance. Mortal dangers, traitorous enemies, and thorny situations mark the path of these two heroes of the Star Wars saga.”

For reference, a condensed list of upcoming projects in December without descriptions is included below:

December 1 – The Art of The Mandalorian (Season One) 

December 1 – The Mandalorian: Allies & Enemies  

December 1 – The Mandalorian: A Clan of Two  

December 8 – Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales  

December 4 – The Mandalorian: Season 2, Chapter 14

December 8 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Tales of the Jedi Vol. 1  

December 8 – The Clone Wars: Season 7: Volume 1  

December 9 – Star Wars 9  

December 9 – Star Wars Insider 199  

December 11 – The Mandalorian: Season 2, Chapter 15

December 13 – The Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III 1999-2005 

December 16 – Darth Vader 8  

December 16 – Star Wars Adventures 4  

December 18 – The Mandalorian: Season 2, Chapter 16

December 23 – Bounty Hunters 8  

December 23 – Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run 1  

Images courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Marvel Comics, Random House, IDW Publishing, Abrams Books, Taschen Books, Titan Magazines, Disney+, and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season 2, Chapter 13

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 13 of The Mandalorian

Our reaction to the newest episode of The Mandalorian could be summed up in a single word: speechless. Written and directed by Dave Filoni, Chapter 13: The Jedi was arguably one of the series’ best, most breathtaking and unpredictable installments. This episode sees Din Djarin, following the guidance of Bo-Katan, pursuing Ahsoka Tano to deliver the Child to her. However, upon finding Ahsoka, Djarin finds himself stuck in the middle of a conflict between the former Jedi and a villainous magistrate.

Chapter 13 gripped us from start to finish. The audience is welcomed to the city of Calodan on the planet Corvus, a dark, foggy, incredibly designed landscape. The episode’s superb production design is on full display from the moment the episode kicks off. The dense and mysterious foggy forest surrounding the imposing gates of Calodan, brought to life by the stunning cinematography of Baz Idoine and director Dave Filoni’s steady hand, made Chapter 13 perhaps the most visually impressive episode of the series so far. Dave Filoni does not wait around to introduce Ahsoka Tano, with the Jedi making a grand entrance mere moments into the episode. While Rosario Dawson’s appearance in The Mandalorian was reported back in March, it was still breathtaking to see the iconic character be brought to life in live-action. The costume designers and make-up artists nailed Dawson’s look, creating a seamless transition for Ahsoka from animated appearances to her live-action debut. Her opening sequence feels like something out of a Star Wars fans’ wildest dreams. Ahsoka stealthily navigating the forest landscape, systematically taking out mercenaries one at a time, was incredible to behold. Ahsoka’s dual white lightsabers looked amazing in live-action and really stood out amidst the darker cinematography of the episode. The confrontation between the magistrate Morgan Elsbeth and Ahsoka was tense and introduced a bit of mystery as to why Ahsoka is interested in this tiny town, a fact that is not revealed until the end of the episode.

The episode then shifts to Din Djarin and the Child. Seeing Djarin be a father figure to the Child is still really beautiful to see and one of the understated highlights of the season so far. Upon receiving coordinates from the magistrate regarding the location of the Jedi, Djarin confronts Ahsoka in another stunning sequence. Just seeing a lightsaber wielding Ahsoka battle the beskar wearing Mandalorian felt too good to be true. It’s upon the convergence of Djarin and Ahsoka that Chapter 13 truly excels. Unexpectedly, Ahsoka is able to communicate with the Child through the Force and reveals his surprising backstory. Not only is the Child’s real name finally revealed (Grogu!!!), but we find out that he was raised and trained in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, before being taken away following the rise of the Empire. In testing Grogu’s Force abilities, Ahsoka refuses to further train the Child, citing that his strong attachment to Djarin could lead him to the dark side as it did with her master Anakin Skywalker. It’s this kind of dialogue that makes Star Wars so interesting project after project. A few lines of dialogue from Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka immediately makes the entire Star Wars universe feel connected, as if we’re watching yet another chapter of the same, big history book. It’s somewhat questionable, however, that Ahsoka came away from the downfall of her master with the lesson that attachment inevitably leads to the dark side, as it is this same reductionist attitude that the Jedi Order wrongly adopted, which forced Anakin to choose with no healthy middle ground. Regardless, this episode had some great revelations, executed beautifully by writer Dave Filoni and Rosario Dawson.

Speaking of beautiful execution, the entire battle sequence in Calodan was just that. Once again, the amazing production design of the city, evoking iconic Akira Kurosawa films, was on full display. Djarin’s confrontation with Lang, played by Michael Biehn, mirrored standoffs in classic Western films like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, continuing The Mandalorian’s pattern of paying homage to tropes from the Western genre. Ahsoka’s duel with the magistrate was one of the best action sequences we’ve seen in The Mandalorian so far. From the gorgeous night setting, with the glow of Ahsoka’s lightsabers reflecting in the water below, to the stunning silhouettes when the camera panned back, to the intimate close ups of Ahsoka and the magistrate speaking, this entire scene was amazing And, just when you thought the episode couldn’t get any better, it is revealed that Ahsoka pursued the magistrate in order for her to disclose the location of her master – none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn. This reveal was jaw dropping and definitely teases what’s to come, potentially in an Ahsoka standalone series. 

As the episode concludes, Ahsoka affirms that she will not train Grogu, but sets Djarin and Grogu on a path to the planet Tython, which contains a Jedi temple that will guide Grogu’s fate and, potentially, draw other Jedi to him through the Force. This conclusion sets up where The Mandalorian will go from here, but also gets us speculating, as any good Star Wars project does, as to the direction the show will head from here. What Jedi will seek Grogu? Could this be Luke? Are there others? The possibilities are endless.

Chapter 13: The Jedi is a rare episode of television that has few, if any, notable flaws. As we’ve grown accustomed to with The Mandalorian, the episode is full of great little easter eggs and references, including the planet Tython and HK-series assassin droids from Legends. Ahsoka’s live-action debut couldn’t have landed more perfectly. Any time a character is brought from one medium to another, it can raise concerns about continuity across projects and if the character still feels like the same person. This was not an issue whatsoever with Rosario Dawson’s performance as the actress expertly portrayed the empathy, wisdom, and bravery of the character initially brought to life by Ashley Eckstein. Dawson really honors Eckstein’s legacy, while adding a new dimension of her own to the character, something that isn’t easy to do. The episode also triumphs in furthering the relationship between The Mandalorian and the Child. As we’ve noted in previous reviews, their bond is really the emotional crux of the series and to see this bond be further developed is touching to see. You can see and feel the difficulty Djarin was having in readying to give Grogu to Ahsoka. You can see and feel the tangible bond between the two as Djarin urges Grogu to take the knob from him using the Force. Every little, intimate moment like this between the two characters subtly adds so much to the show. 

With Chapter 13: The Jedi, Dave Filoni and company delivered one of the best episodes of The Mandalorian yet. Chock full of surprising reveals and easter eggs, the episode delivered on pretty much every level with incredible action, production design, emotional moments, and the live-action debut of Ahsoka Tano. Star Wars doesn’t get much better than this.

Verdict: 9.75/10

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season 2, Chapter 12

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Warning: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 12

The second season of The Mandalorian crossed the halfway mark this week with an action packed, surprisingly revelatory episode directed by Greef Karga himself Carl Weathers. After being informed of the location of Ahsoka Tano, Din Djarin and The Child attempt to journey to the Jedi, but struggle to do so with the badly damaged Razor Crest (blame the Mon Calamaris). Knowing that the ship needs repair before journeying to Corvus, Djarin returns to Nevarro, a planet frequently seen in the show’s debut season, to visit some old friends and repair the Razor Crest.

Chapter 12: The Siege begins with another adorable moment between The Mandalorian and the Child, something this season has excelled at some far. It’s easy to dismiss scenes like Djarin directing the Child as he tries to repair the ship or the two eating together as merely being cute little moments, but there’s quite a lot of dramatic, understated weight to these scenes. Seeing the bond between the seemingly cold bounty hunter and his de facto son is truly heartwarming and serves as the emotional anchor of the show so far. The quick glimpse of Djarin underneath his helmet was an interesting little moment as well, potentially hinting at a change in heart regarding wearing one’s helmet following his conversations with Bo-Katan.

Chapter 12 also sees the re-introduction of Cara Dune and Greef Karga. Dune’s first appearance this season, handedly dealing with a couple Aqualish goons, was, as one would expect, badass. With the little passage in time between seasons 1 and 2, it’s interesting to see how the relationship between Dune and Karga has developed and how each of these individual characters have grown accustomed to new, more legitimate roles. Chapter 12 also saw the reappearance of the still unnamed Mythrol, played brilliantly by Horatio Sanz. Sanz delivers his lines to perfection and provides some great humor in the episode, especially when he’s bantering back and forth with Carl Weathers’ Greef Karga.

The central objective of this episode plays very much like a video game mission, and that’s not a complaint whatsoever. As we’ve noted in previous reviews, one of the highlights of The Mandalorian is its ability to balance more story-oriented episodes full of massive implications to canon with more contained, seemingly inconsequential one-off episodes. And The Siege, akin to season 1’s The Gunslinger or The Prisoner, does the latter very well. Djarin, Karga, Dune, and the Mythrol travel to an old Imperial base on Nevarro to destroy it and, in turn, wipe out the remnants of the Empire entirely from the planet, allowing Karga to turn it into a trade anchor for the sector. What proceeds is a really entertaining, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. Director Carl Weathers expertly navigates some brilliant action sequences. This is emphasized by the incredible dogfight between Din Djarin’s Razor Crest and several Imperial TIE fighters in the episode’s final moments, possibly one of the series’ best action sequences yet.

Perhaps most shocking in Chapter 12 was the way in which it furthered the show’s central plot and teased what’s to come. Djarin and his friends come across a lab in the Imperial facility containing several deformed Strand-Casts. A transmission from Doctor Pershing details how he conducted a blood transfusion using The Child’s blood, but that the experiment is rejecting the blood. Pershing makes note of the Child having a high “M-count,” referencing midi-chlorians. This entire sequence is filled to the brim with intriguing story hints. Is the Strand-Cast in the background a proto Snoke or even a Palpatine clone? Is Gideon trying to use the Child’s blood to create Snoke or resurrect Palpatine? The scene leaves a lot of questions to ponder, but the intrigue doesn’t stop there. The episode’s conclusion with the traitorous Mimbanese planting a tracking device on the Razor Crest and Gideon standing amongst a room of, what looks to be, Dark troopers was definitely something to behold. It looks like Gideon will begin to play a bigger role as the season progresses and, especially with this role entailing the incorporation of Dark troopers, this is something we’re really looking forward to.

There’s little to complain about in The Mandalorian’s twelfth installment. The middle of the episode, in which Djarin and the others raid the Imperial facility, is alright, but nothing mind blowing or particularly novel. The episode’s action excels more so when the chase begins as this is more exciting and dynamic than the hallway combat in the facility. Chapter 12 also poses a few questions that we may not ever get the answers to. These are more nit-picky, but still worth pointing out. After Chapter 8, did Gideon really think it was a good idea to continue experimenting on Nevaro? If he did and he has such an army at his disposal, wouldn’t he have already sought his revenge against Karga and Dune by wiping their town off the face of the planet? It just seems a little odd and illogical that Gideon would not have either relocated his lab or destroyed Karga and Dune’s town already.

Either way, Chapter 12 is a thoroughly entertaining installment of The Mandalorian. With thrilling action directed by Carl Weathers in his Star Wars directorial debut and the return of characters, including Cara Dune and the Mythrol, The Siege is a great contained episode with many intriguing hints as to what is to come.

Verdict: 8/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special

by @holocronJulie for @sw_holocron

Warning: This review contains spoilers for The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special

One of the brilliant things about Star Wars is its ability to take things fans previously did not like or even ridiculed and, over time, honor their legacy in unique ways. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the much discussed Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978. Following the overwhelming critical and financial success of the original Star Wars film, the Holiday Special featured some of the wackiest Star Wars content we’ve ever seen, so much so that George Lucas has essentially tried to bury the project ever since. These attempts haven’t stopped Star Wars fans from loving the original Holiday Special in a “it’s so bad, it’s good” sort of way and we’ve seen this love translate to a number of modern Star Wars projects. Not only did the Holiday Special feature the debut of Boba Fett, but it also included the pulse rifle that would eventually become Din Djarin’s signature weapon and showcased the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk for the first time.

Now, 42 years later, the legacy of the original holiday special continues with the release of The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, a fun, friendly, largely-kid oriented project streaming on Disney+. LEGO and Star Wars have collaborated in a number of ways over the years, including the iconic LEGO Star Wars video games and a series of other LEGO Star Wars shorts and specials. But, by far, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is the biggest profile collaboration between LEGO and Star Wars yet and, all in all, the special really works. 

The non-canon LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special follows the events of Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in showing what Rey, Finn, Poe, and company are up to after the fall of the First Order. The special sees Rey, in seeking to become a better Jedi master for her apprentice Finn, journeying across time using a mysterious object she finds in an ancient Jedi temple. Along the way, Rey encounters a whole host of classic Star Wars characters and plays her part in various significant events throughout the saga. Meanwhile, Finn and the others are aboard the Millennium Falcon preparing for Life Day celebrations.

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special feels like a wacky trip down memory lane, re-experiencing iconic Star Wars moments infused with that hallmark sense of humor we’ve grown accustomed to in LEGO projects. The special, similar to its notorious predecessor, does not shy away from the ludicrous and this is definitely a good thing. With the gravity of the plot in the sequel trilogy, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is refreshing in being a no-holds-barred, inconsequential thrill ride. The wackiness of the plot lends itself to some hilarious moments that are sure to delight Star Wars fans, one of the highlights being three versions of Obi-Wan all meeting one another and proclaiming, “Hello there!” There’s plenty of easter eggs in the special as well, including an appearance from none other than Max Rebo himself! This is followed by arguably the special’s greatest joke, delivered by Poe Dameron about Max Rebo’s bandmates. The adventure Rey goes on is really engaging and doesn’t overstay its welcome with the special’s tight 44 minute runtime. Quick transitions from iconic event to iconic event, essentially in the first half of the special, are quite entertaining and really lean into the fast-paced, nonchalant style the LEGO movies tend to go for. 

Arguably one of the coolest things about the special is the notion of Rey training Finn. Finn’s Force sensitivity was finally revealed in a brilliant way in The Rise of Skywalker, but this was left relatively unexplored and open-ended in the film. Fans have yearned to see what Finn’s path as a Jedi may look like and, even though it’s non-canon, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special does just that. If anything, the special definitely made us want to see more with Rey and Finn’s relationship and Finn’s evolution as a Jedi in a future canon project.

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special clearly won’t be the infamous project that the original holiday special was, and that’s not necessarily a problem. The original holiday special is, largely, famous for being so unexpectedly bad and yet, somehow simultaneously, captivating. This is not the case with the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. This special is an intelligently crafted project that embraces the craziness of its predecessor, while avoiding its unintentional hilariousness. 

The special does, however, struggle in a few areas. Although it is very entertaining, engaging, and fast paced, it is, ultimately, quite forgettable. There may be a few jokes or moments that linger afterward, but, in large part, it is quite disposable. It is also more geared towards children than families, a criticism that has been (unfairly, in our opinion) been lodged against other Star Wars projects like Star Wars Resistance. The kid-oriented focus on the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special isn’t a criticism per se, but it should be noted. Perhaps most disappointingly in the special is the voice-acting. While actors like Billy Dee Williams, Kelly Marie Tran, and Anthony Daniels reprise their roles from the films, the core cast are voiced by different actors, with varying degrees of success. It is not that the voice acting of Rey or Finn or Poe or Palpatine or Kylo Ren are poor, but it takes a while to get used to the fact that the voices of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Ian McDiarmid, or Adam Driver respectively have not returned. 

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is a welcomed addition to the Star Wars saga, featuring hilarious moments, iconic moments, and a surprisingly interesting narrative. While some of the different voice acting may take some getting used to, the special’s fast-paced journey through the Skywalker saga and its re-introduction of the Life Day holiday make this well worth watching.

Verdict: 7/10

Images courtesy of Disney+, Lucasfilm, and LEGO.

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season 2, Chapter 11

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 11

Following two somewhat contained episodes, The Mandalorian propels forward with a more story focused, exhilarating installment. Chapter 11: The Heiress follows Din Djarin, The Child, and the frog lady as they arrive on the moon Trask to find more Mandalorians. And while The Mandalorian succeeds in finding others of his kind, he must face off against a villainous creature, a gang of Quarren, and remnants of the Empire.

Chapter 11 kicks off where its predecessor left off as the damaged Razor Crest attempts to make a safe landing on Trask. The entire opening sequence was the sort of tense, edge-of-the-seat material Star Wars excels at. The Razor Crest’s choppy landing, plummeting to the surface of Trask, was reminiscent of the Invisible Hand crash landing on Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith and a similar sequence in the series finale of The Clone Wars. Upon (somehow) safely landing on Trask, the viewer is welcomed into yet another incredible Star Wars location The Mandalorian has introduced us to. While Tatooine in Chapter 9 and Maldo Kreis in Chapter 10 are beautifully designed, their aesthetic is somewhat familiar, making a more novel location like Trask really stand out. The beautiful production design of the Trask port and inn, in addition to the ship Djarin and The Child sail on, made Chapter 11 one of the most visually appealing installments of the series yet.

Aboard this ship is where the crux of Chapter 11’s plot begins to unfold. We’ve come to expect that things often do not go as planned on Din Djarin’s journeys and this perilous cruise was no exception, with the Quarrens attempting to kill The Child and capture Djarin for his valuable Beskar armor. The Quarrens’ duplicitous plan is thwarted, however, upon the epic arrival of none other than Bo-Katan Kryze and her Mandalorian comrades. While Katee Sackhoff’s appearance in The Mandalorian had been leaked in trade reports earlier this year, it was still jaw dropping to see this iconic character, who first appeared in The Clone Wars, make her live action debut in such stunning fashion. From the moment she arrives, Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan steals the show, delivering line after line in the composed, calculated manner we’ve come to expect from the last remaining member of Clan Kryze. This scene also saw the Star Wars debut of WWE wrestler Sasha Banks, credited as Mercedes Varnado, as Koska Reeves. While many (including ourselves) suspected that Varnado may be playing Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels, Chapter 11 revealed that this theory was unfounded. Nonetheless, with her limited dialogue, Varnado was still a notable presence in the episode, delivering some great hand-to-hand combat throughout.

The arrival of Bo-Katan and the other Mandalorians also introduces audiences to quite a few important plot details. For instance, we’re finally given an explanation as to why Djarin always wears his helmet, while other Mandalorians do not. We’re also given an update on the status of Mandalore, in addition to Bo-Katan’s mission to reclaim the darksaber and, subsequently, her homeworld from the remnants of the Empire. While these reveals are amazing to see and are surely triggering an array of thoughts among theorizing Star Wars fans, their inclusion did highlight a particular issue with Chapter 11. As a series so far, The Mandalorian has never overstayed its welcome, not dragging out runtimes to meet a predetermined length, but, rather, concluding when an episode’s narrative naturally concludes. Chapter 11, however, was the first time The Mandalorian felt a little rushed. After the first two episodes of the season advanced the overarching plot very little, Chapter 11 soared forward in regards to its narrative content, which was somewhat jarring. Not to mention, all of the new character reveals, plot points, world building, and adventure-of-the-week were packed into an extremely tight 35 minute episode. Long story short, the reveals in Chapter 11 were brilliant in their unpredictability and ability to set the stage for what’s to come later this season, but the episode struggles with some pacing issues and would have benefitted from an extended runtime.

Besides some unfortunate pacing choices, Chapter 11 carries forward in exceptional fashion. The entire action sequence of the Mandalorians raiding the Imperial Gozanti-class cruiser was thrilling. The blaster and hand-to-hand combat was excellently choreographed and Ludwig Göransson’s epic score took the sequence to another level. Titus Welliver’s appearance as an Imperial captain was an unexpected treat, as was the return of Giancarlo Esposito’s menacing Moff Gideon. Although the Moff has been seen very little in the series so far, his villainous presence looms large and we can’t wait to see what’s to come of him in future episodes. 

It’s hard to review Chapter 11: The Heiress without commenting on the mention of Ahsoka Tano in the episode’s final moments. Ahsoka’s appearance in The Mandalorian has been widely reported since March of this year, but hearing a live-action Bo-Katan say her old Jedi friend’s name still gave us goosebumps. Ahsoka has become one of the best characters in Star Wars canon, as emphasized by her amazing arc in the final season of The Clone Wars earlier this year. This tease of Ahsoka’s imminent run-in with Djarin and The Child is exactly the sort of thing The Mandaloran does so well.

Overall, Chapter 11: The Heiress was, once again, an enthralling installment of the acclaimed series. The episode unfortunately struggles with some pacing issues, but overcomes these with incredible plot reveals, action sequences, locations, and more. With Ahsoka’s live-action debut incoming, we can’t wait for what the rest of this season has in store.

Verdict: 8/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: Star Wars: Myths & Fables – Galaxy’s Edge Edition

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

Young kids are told all sorts of fascinating fairy tales or legends, perhaps most noticeably with the Grimm’s fairy tales. These stories have been passed on for generations and convey enduring life lessons in interesting and frightening children’s stories. Author George Mann and illustrator Grant Griffin approach what types of fairy tales people in the Star Wars universe would be exposed to with their short-story collection Star Wars: Myths & Fables. Despite initially being released over a year ago, Myths & Fables has been re-released by Lucasfilm Press with six new legends as part of the Galaxy’s Edge media project. The beautifully designed, hard-bound book collectively contains 15 short stories, each of which are coupled with a stunning illustration by artist Grant Griffin.

Myths & Fables is a really intriguing, novel project in the Star Wars universe that is a refreshing shift away from the structure of other media. This is an almost a meta take on the Star Wars universe, presenting what sort of legends or bedtime stories kids would be exposed to if one lived in a galaxy far, far away. In this sense, the stories and the project overall will largely appeal to children and may serve as a gateway into other, more mature Star Wars content down the line.

But this isn’t to say the collection does not have plenty to offer for adolescent or adult Star Wars fans. Given its title, Myths & Fables (intelligently) does not commit to a stance on whether the tales are canon or not, but one could interpret them as such. The stories really excel if they are viewed as exaggerated fairy tales, potentially grounded in some semblance of reality, as many of our fairy tales are in real life. For readers primarily interested in canon details and stories, Myths & Fables does feature several iconic Star Wars characters, including General Grievous and (perhaps) Obi-Wan Kenobi, in addition to a frightening new Sith lord named Darth Caldoth, amongst others.

Speaking of Darth Caldoth and other things related to the dark side, Myths & Fables excels when its stories lean into darker territory, as some of the best fairy tales do. In fact, this is one of George Mann’s greatest accomplishments in this collection in delivering stories that are completely suitable for children, but still have plenty of chills and thrills. Particular highlights in the collection are “Gaze of Stone,” “The Witch & the Wookie,” and “The Dark Wraith.” Some stories are more intriguing than others and seem as if they would appeal to audiences of different ages differently. In this sense, one’s enjoyment of the collection will likely vary across stories.

Given that this is a re-release of Myths & Fables with new stories, the question becomes: is this new edition worth purchasing? Well, for those who never read the original release of Myths & Fables, this edition is a clear improvement given its inclusion of more stories. For Star Wars completionists, Myths & Fables – Galaxy’s Edition is definitely worth the purchase. Not only does the book feature beautiful new binding and cover art, but it includes six new stories, three of which were initially included in the Target exclusive edition earlier this year and the other three being brand new stories altogether. These new stories vary in quality, but succeed in a similar fashion to the collection’s core stories. “An Unwilling Apprentice” is the highlight of the collection’s new stories and one of the best tales in the entire book. This legend features a gorgeous illustration by Grant Griffin and follows a young boy who fears a mysterious, hooded visitor of his mother. The visitor senses the boy’s talents and wishes to groom him as his apprentice. Although not explicitly stated, the story is clearly about a young Maul and how he was recruited by Sheev Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious, to be his Sith apprentice. From The Clone Wars to Solo, Star Wars fans really do love Maul and to see the character re-appear, although not named, in Myths & Fables is great to see.

Verdict:

Myths & Fables was a really unique short story collection when it was initially released last year and became even better with the addition of several new stories in the Galaxy’s Edge collection. The stories are primarily geared toward younger audiences and, therefore, may not appeal as much to people outside of this target audience. However, the book offers an interesting, meta perspective on Star Wars, looking at fairy tales that exist within the universe, and excels in delivering frightening, engaging tales featuring both established and new characters. 

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm Press

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season 2, Chapter 10

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 10

Following last week’s acclaimed season premiere, The Mandalorian returned with an entertaining, albeit lightweight follow-up episode. Continuing the season’s overarching narrative, Chapter 10: The Passenger sees Din Djarin attempt to transport a woman and her eggs to her husband, who has information regarding Mandalorians. Things don’t exactly go to planned, however, as Mando, The Child, and the cargo must withstand the New Republic, a difficult terrain, and a host of threatening creatures on a desolate ice planet.

The Passenger kicks off where the last installment left off, with Din Djarin and The Child on Tatooine. A brilliant little action sequence begins the episode, culminating in a humorous moment that fits perfectly with comedy fitting for a Star Wars project. Speaking of humor, Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto returns with some great lines and an intriguing set up for the episode. Seeing Mos Eisley at night, including Chalmut’s Cantina again, was really cool and looked better than the somewhat dry depiction of the cantina from Chapter 5: The Gunslighter that lacked personality. Dee Bradley Baker’s impressive Star Wars career continues as the voice of the frog lady, the woman Djarin is tasked to transport in exchange for information about Mandalorians.

Once their adventure begins, the episode delves into interesting territory, but doesn’t quite reach the heights of other episodes in the series. Djarin and his cargo become derailed upon a confrontation with New Republic X-Wings. This sequence was beautifully constructed and followed Chapter 9 in similarly feeling grand and cinematic. The chase capped off with the Razor Crest crashed on Maldo Kreis, the ice planet from Chapter 1. Many speculated this planet would be Ilum, but this was clearly not the case, once again highlighting how we Star Wars fans may get a little ahead of ourselves on occasion. The production design of the episode, highlighting the icy landscape of the planet, is amazing and is especially evident during the climatic action sequence with the spiders. Director Peyton Reed evokes similar scenes from the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series in depicting an enthralling, intense chase sequence with spider-like creatures. With perhaps one of The Mandalorian’s best easter eggs yet, these spider creatures are clearly based off of Dagobah concept art by Ralph McQuarrie, evidencing one of the series’ greatest strengths in referencing or paying subtle tribute to other aspects of Star Wars. And the fun easter eggs continue with the return of Dave Filoni, who reprises his role as Trapper Wolf from Chapter 6 to save Din Djarin and the others.

As an entire episode, Chapter 10 is a fun, somewhat lackluster installment that falls short of Chapter 9’s brilliance, but still delivers some great moments and a thoroughly entertaining 40 minutes of Star Wars content. One of the main criticisms of The Mandalorian as a series so far has been its number of contained, one-off episodes. And, while this criticism may have some validity, we’ve never really bought into it as the more contained episodes have simply been so good. These one-off episodes follow an ‘adventure of the week’ style that still connects to the overarching plot in a way that makes them feel contained and yet consequential at the same time. Unfortunately, relative to the other contained episodes like Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 9, Chapter 10 comes across as a little lightweight. While the key side characters in the other one-off episodes, such as Cara Dune or Xian or Cobb Vanth, elevate the episode, the unnamed key side character in Chapter 10 is not as interesting or engaging, largely attributable to her limited dialogue. Despite several intense sequences in the episode, Chapter 10 isn’t as immersive or edge-of-the-seat entertaining as previous episodes. Aligned with the actual narrative of the episode, the whole episode feels like a detour of sorts, which, had it been more engaging, would be welcomed as other, more contained episodes of The Mandalorian have been.

Nonetheless, there is still plenty to love about this episode. After taking somewhat of a backseat in the last installment, The Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, plays a much greater role in Chapter 10, something that is sure to delight fans. The Child has so many cute, funny, endearing moments in the episode, including the hilarious running joke about wanting to eat the frog lady’s eggs. The intimacy The Child and Din Djarin showcased in this episode strengthens their already strong bond and really makes the audience buy into and care about their relationship. Beyond The Child, Chapter 10 excels in once again delivering an unpredictable narrative. With very limited footage of the season released prior to its premiere, fans are quite in the dark as to what will happen this season, making each episode feel really unseen and novel. Chapter 10 continues this trend. And, as Chapter 9 did, Chapter 10 leaves audiences clambering for more, teasing what is to come and making us speculate as to which Mandalorians Djarin is being led to.

Despite being a weaker episode of The Mandalorian overall, Jon Favreau, Peyton Reed, and company still delivered a fun adventure-of-the week style chapter. Great moments with The Child, some intense action sequences, and a good usage of humor throughout offset what is otherwise a less engaging installment of the acclaimed series.

Verdict: 7/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+