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REVIEW: The Mandalorian: Junior Novel

by @holocronGeorge by @sw_holocron

The events of The Mandalorian’s debut season are brought to life in an approachable and exciting new junior novel. Published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press and written by Joe Schreiber, The Mandalorian: Junior Novel follows in the footsteps of previously released middle-grade Star Wars adaptations of theatrically released films and other television shows by expertly condensing a wealth of characters, plot lines, and events into a concise, entertaining novel for younger readers.

It’s important to keep in mind the target audience of any Star Wars project and the junior novel adaptation of The Mandalorian is no exception. The title obviously indicates the book is a junior novel and, in that regard, it excels. The book offers a great opportunity for younger readers to re-experience the events of The Mandalorian or even experience it for the first time for those who haven’t seen the Disney+ series yet. Schreiber writes in an approachable and age-appropriate manner, while never compromising on what makes The Mandalorian’s tale so great.

The junior novel intelligently disregards certain elements of the first season, such as the opening capture of the Mythrol, which makes the story, in a written format, come together more seamlessly. As this is a novel and not a series of junior comics, it makes sense that certain components of the first season that are less relevant to the overarching narrative are removed. While these moments are fantastic in viewing The Mandalorian, Schreiber makes the right decision in excluding what’s not completely necessary and focusing more exclusively on framing the season as a coherent narrative.

Regardless of the novel’s intended audience, there’s plenty to be enjoyed by fans of all ages in The Mandalorian: Junior Novel. For adult readers, the novel presents itself as a more lightweight, straightforward retelling of a season fans universally enjoyed. As with the adult novelizations of Star Wars films, it’s just cool to consume the story again in a different medium like a book. It’s one thing to watch characters like Cara Dune and Kuiil come to life on screen, but it’s another to turn page after page and further immerse oneself in their stories, especially at such a formative age.

Verdict:

The Mandalorian: Junior Novel retells the events of the Disney+ series’ first season in a fast paced, cohesive narrative geared toward younger readers. The book is a fun read for kids and adults alike in reliving the events of The Mandalorian in a new way.

Images courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Disney+, and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

Easter Eggs, References, and Trivia Facts from The Mandalorian Season 2

by @holocronJulie, @holocronJosh, @holocronWilliam and @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The Mandalorian created an amazing tradition of including incredible references and easter eggs to the broader Star Wars universe in its debut season and this tradition continued with the recently concluded second season. Here is a rundown of all the easter eggs, references, and trivia facts we noticed from The Mandalorian season 2 (this list is not exhaustive):

Chapter 9: The Marshal

Graffiti of Stormtroopers and C-3PO can be seen on walls at the beginning of Chapter 9.

Gor Koresh is voiced by actor John Leguizamo. Koresh is an Abyssin, a species with a single eye and green skin first seen in the Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope.

Mos Pelgo was first introduced in the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion pack for the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic. In canon, Mos Pelgo was first mentioned in Aftermath.

Cobb Vanth first appeared in an interlude chapter in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novel. Chapter 9 marks his first live-action appearance. Vanth is played by Timothy Olyphant, who has created somewhat of a reputation of playing lawmen. He played lawmen in Deadwood, Justified, The Crazies, and even an actor playing a lawman in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Timothy Olyphant and W. Earl Brown play Marshal Cobb Vanth and the Mos Pelgo bartender respectively. Olyphant plays Sheriff Bullock and Brown plays the bartender of the Gem Saloon in Deadwood, paralleling their roles in The Mandalorian.

Cobb Vanth’s speeder resembles Anakin’s podracer in The Phantom Menace.

The hologram depicting the destruction of Death Star II is footage from Return of the Jedi.

Cobb Vanth’s destruction of the raiders in Chapter 9: The Marshal of The Mandalorian resembles a similar scene in Iron Man. Both projects were directed by Jon Favreau.

Ben Kenobi does a Krayt dragon call to scare Tusken Raiders away in A New Hope. In Chapter 9, Tusken Raiders collaborate with Din Djarin and Cobb Vanth to defeat a Krayt dragon.

Din Djarin, Cobb Vanth, and the Tusken Raiders trying to defeat a Krayt dragon in The Mandalorian was inspired by a mission in Knights of the Old Republic, in which Revan and Komad team up to kill a Krayt dragon and take its pearl.

Djarin hitting Cobb Vanth’s jetpack is almost identical to Han accidentally smacking Boba Fett’s jetpack and subsequently sending him flying in the air in Return of the Jedi.

Temuera Morrison makes his first live-action appearance as Boba Fett at the end of Chapter 9, confirming in canon that the character survived his fall in the sarlacc pit.

Chapter 10: The Passenger

A mark on the wall left by Greedo’s blaster in A New Hope can be seen in concept art of the Mos Eisley Cantina in Chapter 10.

A WED-15 Treadwell droid can be seen roasting meat on a pod racer engine. At Galaxy’s Edge, an eatery called Ronto Roasters claims to cook its meat in the same way, although the burning pod racer engine is just for show.

Before appearing in season 2, the frog lady appeared in Chapter 5: The Gunslinger. She is voiced by Star Wars veteran Dee Bradley Baker and played by Misty Rosas, who played Kuiil in the first season,

This character’s name is Dr. Mandible and he too appeared in Chapter 5: The Gunslinger. Interestingly, Chapter 10 was directed by Ant-Man director Peyton Reed and this character resembles an insect.

Din Djarin, The Child, and Frog Lady in Chapter 10: The Passenger are stranded on Maldo Kreis, the same planet that Din Djarin captures the Mythrol on in Chapter 1.

The spider egg scene in Chapter 10: The Passenger of The Mandalorian is a reference to a similar sequence in Alien in which the Nostromo crew discover a nest of facehugger eggs.

The spider creatures in Chapter 10: The Passenger of The Mandalorian resemble the Krykna, creatures that appear in Star Wars Rebels, and Ralph McQuarrie’s Dagobah concept art for The Empire Strikes Back.

Chapter 11: The Heiress

The crane in the port on Trask in Chapter 11 of The Mandalorian has the same basic four-legged body plan as the AT-ATs first seen in The Empire Strikes Back.

Janina Gavankar, who played Iden Versio in Star Wars Battlefront II, puppeteered the nostrils of a Mon Calamari seen in Chapter 11

The sound of Bo-Katan’s helmet coming off in Chapter 11 of The Mandalorian resembles the sound of Vader’s helmet being placed on in Revenge of the Sith

The Gozanti-class cruiser Din Djarin, Bo-Katan Kryze, and the Mandalorians is raided in Chapter 11. This cruiser has previously been seen in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, The Clone Wars, and Rebels, amongst other Star Wars projects.

Corvus, the planet Ahsoka Tano is located on as revealed in The Mandalorian, is also the name of Inferno Squad’s ship in Star Wars Battlefront II 

Chapter 12: The Siege

A statue honoring IG-11 can be seen in the background on Nevarro.

The protocol droid teacher in Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian mentions a number of notable locations, including Coruscant, Chandrila (the homeworld of Ben Solo), and Akkadese Maelstrom, which Han Solo navigated during the Kessel Run.

One of the students in the classroom on Nevarro in Chapter 12 shares the same hair style as Rey.

The cookies that Grogu eats in Chapter 12 are called Nevaroo Nummies Macarons and are on sale at williams-sonoma.com

Dr. Pershing’s message to Moff Gideon references the “M-count” of the blood of his test subject. This is a reference to midi-chlorians, the cells in blood that indicate Force sensitivity that were first introduced in The Phantom Menace.

The test subject in Dr. Pershing’s lab resembles the tanks with Snoke seen at the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker.

The traitorous mechanic who plants a tracking beacon on the Razor Crest in Chapter 12 is a Mimbanese. Mimbanese are from the planet Mimban, seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Chapter 12 gives us our first look at dark troopers. Dark troopers first appeared in the Legends video game Dark Forces.

Chapter 13: The Jedi

Not trivia from the episode per se, but it’s interesting to look back at a tweet posted by Rosario Dawson back in February of 2017 commenting on fan art depicting Dawson as Ahsoka. Three and a half years later this fan art became reality in Chapter 13.

The magistrate Morgan Elsbeth is played by Diana Lee Inosanto. Inosanto’s godfather was Bruce Lee and Inosanto has an accomplished career in the martial arts world, in addition to film, television, theatre, and writing.

The magistrate’s assassin droids in Chapter 13: The Jedi of The Mandalorian are HK-87 models. This is a reference to HK-47, the Jedi hunting assassin droid in the Knights of the Old Republic video game.

The way in which one of the soldiers in Calodan scans the Razor Crest resembles what the Rebel sentry did when the Millennium Falcon arrived on Yavin IV in A New Hope.

Several tookas can be seen roaming around Calodan. Tookas first appeared in canon in The Clone Wars, before a specific breed of tooka- the Loth Cat – appeared in Rebels. A tooka is also seen in Chapter 4: Sanctuary. Tookas are named after Dave Filoni’s deceased cat Tuuk.

Morai, the convor who watches over Ahsoka, can be seen sitting on a branch in the forest outside Calodan in Chapter 13: The Jedi of The Mandalorian.

Din’s usage of the grapple against Ahsoka resembles Jango’s move against Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones and Boba’s move against Luke in Return of the Jedi.

John Williams’ classic Yoda theme hums in the background as Ahsoka states, “I’ve only known one other being like this, a wise Jedi master named Yoda.” When Yoda’s name is stated, you can see Grogu slightly looking to Ahsoka. Did Grogu know Yoda?

Ahsoka also references her old master and dear friend Anakin when she states, “I’ve seen what such feelings can do to a fully trained Jedi Knight…to the best of us.”

It’s revealed that Ahsoka is searching for Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn was first introduced in Legends, but first appeared in canon in Star Wars Rebels. Thrawn was last seen vanishing with Ezra and presumably Ahsoka is searching for the pair.

Ahsoka tells Din Djarin to bring Grogu to a Jedi Temple on Tython. Tython appeared in the Legends series Dawn of the Jedi as the birthplace of the Jedi Order and has previously appeared in canon in Doctor Aphra.

Chapter 14: The Tragedy

Grogu sitting atop the stone on Tython greatly resembles imagery from The Last Jedi in which Luke sits atop a rock on Ahch-To. This visual parallel becomes even more striking upon the shocking appearance of Luke in Chapter 16. 

Boba’s line, “I’m a simple man making his way through the galaxy. Like my father before me” is an obvious callback to Jango’s line to Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones, but the last sentence also resembles Luke’s proclamation that he is a Jedi like his father before him in Return of the Jedi.

This shot of Gideon aboard his cruiser resembles Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.

Chapter 15: The Believer

Boba’s line, “Let’s just say they may recognize my face” is a reference to both Boba being a clone and his notorious collaborations with the Empire.

The explosive substance rhydonium has been seen in canon several times before, including The Clone Wars and Rebels.

The Juggernaut cargo vehicle is a version of a prisoner transport tank that has been used since the Clone wars, the HCVw A9 turbo tank.

The shoretroopers seen guarding the imperial mining hub on Morak first appeared in Rogue One.

Valin Hess shares the same first name as Legends character Valin Horn, a Jedi Knight who appeared in Specter of the Night and other projects.

To cover for Din, Mayfeld says that Din is an Imperial officer who served at Taanab. Taanab first appeared in the video game Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and first appeared in canon in Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure.

Mayfeld calls for a toast of Operation: Cinder. Operation: Cinder, seen in Battlefront II, was part of Palpatine’s contingency plan to destroy Imperial worlds in order to ensure that the Empire did not outlive its Emperor.

Concept art of Chapter 15: The Believer of The Mandalorian features Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron as one of the pirates.

Chapter 16: The Rescue

Cara Dune’s response, “Which one?” to the Imperial pilot’s statement, “I was on the Death Star” is an obvious jab at the fact that the Rebellion destroyed both Death Star and Death Star II. 

A Gauntlet starfighter can be seen outside of the bar Bo-Katan is in. This type of ship was used by Death Watch and later the Shadow Collective in The Clone Wars. Maul had his own Gauntlet starfighter called the Nightbrother. 

Koska Reeves threatens Boba by saying, “You’ll be talking through the window of a Bacta tank.” These healing tasks were seen in The Empire Strikes Back after Luke was attacked by a Wampa.

An RA-7 droid can be seen roaming the halls of Gideon’s light cruiser. This drop appeared in A New Hope and Chapter 7 of The Mandalorian.

Dank farrik has been thrown around constantly in season 2 (too many times to count!). Cara Dune drops one last dank farrik in the season finale.

Gideon says that harvesting the Child’s blood will “bring order back to the galaxy.” This line greatly resembles Vader’s statement to Luke at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, “We can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.” This scene is also the first time we’ve seen the darksaber in action since Star Wars Rebels. Howevver, it seems like the rules have changed regarding how to pass the saber on.

Luke Skywalker. Enough said.

And R2!

Bib Fortuna says “maclunkey” at the end of Chapter 16. This word, said by Greedo in a new edition of A New Hope, is a Huttese word meaning, “This will be the end of you!” Fortuna is played once again by Matthew Wood, who portrayed the character in The Phantom Menace.

The debut post-credits scene of Star Wars sees the reveal of the rumored Boba Fett series titled “The Book of Boba Fett.”

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season 2, Chapter 16

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 16 of The Mandalorian

Wow. Just wow.

The second season of The Mandalorian concluded with what can only be described as a Star Wars fan’s wildest dreams come to life. The show has repeatedly indulged fans with brilliant connections to canon and thrilling moments, but it has never reached the jaw-dropping level that Chapter 16: The Rescue does.

The episode does not waste any time as the audience is immediately and unexpectedly thrown into an action sequence from the get-go. Every time the Slave I has showed up in The Mandalorian it takes a moment or two to sit back and return to reality, because the inclusion of this iconic symbol in Star Wars lore is so breathtaking. That being said, the opening, pre-titles sequence of Chapter 16 felt a little choppy. The interchange between Cara Dune and the pilot holding a blaster to Pershing’s head was interesting in highlighting that the galaxy’s conflicts are more complex than merely good versus evil. The pilot’s point that millions died on the Death Stars was a sobering note and something Star Wars fans have spoken about for a while. Nonetheless, the dialogue feels a little forced and unnatural and it isn’t until the title card comes up that the episode really kicks into gear.

It wouldn’t be Star Wars without an intense cantina scene and Chapter 16 delivers just that. Similar to the conclusion of season one, which saw many fan favorite characters from previous chapters re-appear, we were thrilled to see Bo-Katan Kryze and Koska Reeves again (although Simon Kassianides’ Axe Woves is mysteriously absent). The entire exchange between Din Djarin, Boba Fett, and the two Mandalorians both served a story purpose in setting up the plot of the episode, but also offered an interesting glimpse into Bo-Katan’s motivations and how Boba Fett is perceived by Mandalorians. The highlight of this sequence was Bo-Katan mockingly responding to Boba’s statement that the armor belonged to his father by saying, “Don’t you mean your donor?”, ridiculing Boba’s status as a clone and acknowledging that she’s heard thousands of voices like his before. Just seeing characters like Bo-Katan and Boba interact in a post-Return of the Jedi era in live-action was something amazing to behold.

After the team is assembled and the rescue plan is formulated, Chapter 16 delivers relentless action to the very end. The plan to deceptively board Gideon’s cruiser by using Slave I as a distractor was really well conceived and entertaining to watch unfold. Upon boarding, the team splits up in classic Star Wars fashion, with Djarin trekking through the cruiser on his own, while the rest of the team try to breach the bridge of the cruiser. Djarin secretly weaving through the halls of the cruiser reminded us of Rey on Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, not to mention countless other stealthy missions seen throughout the Star Wars universe. Seeing this plan unfold was really intense as the stakes were high with the dark troopers slowly being turned on and innocent Grogu helplessly captured somewhere aboard.

Djarin’s battle with the dark trooper was perhaps the episode’s most intense action sequence. Not only are the dark troopers incredibly intimidating and beautifully designed, but the brutality they exhibit while fighting was startling. Seeing Djarin thrown around the halls of the cruiser like a rag doll as he desperately attempted to defend himself further affirmed how intriguing it is to have a vulnerable protagonist, rather than an invisible, perpetually successful one. 

Djarin’s confrontation with Gideon was also a highlight of the episode. Giancarlo Esposito’s villainous character has always lurked in the shadows of The Mandalorian so far, so it was great to see the Moff play a more significant role in the season two finale. And, as always, the incredible Esposito does not disappoint. Gideon luring Djarin in to take Grogu in exchange for letting him go actually felt genuine, in large part due to Esposito’s threatening, yet charismatic performance. The fight sequence that ensued was something fans had predicted ever since Djarin got Morgan Elsbeth’s beskar spear in Chapter 13: The Jedi. The fight, however, was a little underwhelming. It was brilliantly choreographed and entertaining while it lasted, but felt rushed and concluded too prematurely.

Everything that occurs from this point onward in the episode was truly unexpected. Gideon’s giddy demeanor upon playfully revealing that Bo-Katan must now challenge Djarin for the darksaber sent chills down our spines. However, we can’t help but think that Bo-Katan had no issue taking the darksaber from Sabine in Star Wars Rebels, so why is this an issue now? Hopefully, this point of confusion is cleared up in the future. Nonetheless, this added even more tension to an already intense episode. We thought that this confrontation between the two may happen then and there, but the arrival of the dark troopers quelled that idea. It felt like we were in store for a massive fight when the dark troopers began threateningly pounded on the door of the bridge like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots.

But, perhaps no other moment in The Mandalorian so far has surprised and delighted us as much as the arrival of the lone X-wing fighter boarding the cruiser. The sense of “No…it couldn’t be” flashed through our minds. Are we actually going to get Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian? Was it Luke that Grogu was communicating with in Grogu? Is this real life? Well, all of these questions were answered upon the breathtaking reveal of Luke Skywalker. The build up to this reveal was palpable, seeing a hooded figure wielding a lightsaber easily take out dark troopers one by one on the cruiser. When the hooded figure is revealed to be Luke, it felt like our wildest dreams coming true. Luke’s hallway fight sequence with the dark troopers evoked memories of the brilliant hallway sequence with Luke’s father at the end of Rogue One.

This may seem blasphemous, but we had some mixed thoughts regarding the final moments of Chapter 16. Yes, it’s absolutely jaw-dropping to see a badass Luke Skywalker appear out of nowhere and chop down a battalion of dark troopers in epic fashion. But, when Luke removed his hood and finally revealed his face, things just didn’t look right. The computer-generated depictions of characters’ younger versions has become somewhat of a regular occurrence in big franchises. Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia notably appeared in Rogue One. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has featured de-aged versions of Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell, and more appear in their films. And, for the most part, these depictions work really well. Perhaps a few years down the line, the looks of Tarkin and Leia in Rogue One don’t hold up as well, but this is to be expected. At the time, I had no issues whatsoever with the looks of these characters and, in fact, found them quite convincing. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Luke in The Mandalorian. Luke looks best the first time he removes his hood in Chapter 16, but every shot of him after that is downhill from there. There’s just an off, unsettling look about the character with the head not looking like it fits on the body and an unnatural looking mouth being slightly out of sync with the dialogue. Even the way the scene is directed suggests that they were trying to avoid lingering on Luke for too long as the computer-generated imagery just wasn’t really up to the standards we’ve seen in other major blockbusters, not to mention the incredibly impressive array of visual effects on display in The Mandalorian more broadly. These issues somewhat dampen upon the appearance of Luke.

The goodbye between Djarin and Grogu was perhaps the most heartfelt moment of the series so far. We’ve come to really buy into the bond between the two and to see Djarin take off his helmet to look Grogu in the eyes was so touching. It was hard to not get choked up seeing the de facto father and son be split apart like this, especially when R2-D2 appeared out of nowhere and Djarin watched as Grogu is taken away. I’m somewhat torn on this ending though. The emotional impact of this moment is not in question at all. We’ve said time and time again that The Mandalroian’s emotional crux is the relationship between the titular character and the Child and, when the show has placed greater emphasis on this bond, it has really excelled. That being said, I feel as if the show has always been converging on the conclusion that the Child’s rightful home is being with the Mandalorian. It’s not that this cannot happen in the future, but there was something slightly off about these final moments as it didn’t feel right that Luke was taking Grogu away.

Just when we thought the episode couldn’t get any more unexpected though, we were greeted to the Star Wars universe’s first post-credits scene. I can see how some fans may claim that this feels too similar to an MCU film or superhero film and, while they may have a point with this, the fact that the post-credits scene is so cool in what it portrays and what it sets up makes us happy about its inclusion. Seeing Jabba’s Palace in live-action again was incredible, not to mention the glorious return of Matthew Mood as Bib Fortuna. Boba and Fennec easily taking down the palace guards, killing Fortuna, and claiming Jabba’s throne for themselves once again felt like a dream come true and sparked lots of speculation regarding the upcoming The Book of Boba Fett project.

All in all, The Mandalorian caps off an amazing second season with a truly stunning finale. This is a season that has set a high standard, with brilliant appearances by Cobb Vanth, Ahsoka Tano, and more in some of the best Star Wars content we’ve ever seen. So, Chapter 16 had a lot to deliver and, for the most part, it really did. The episode showcases thrilling action sequences and concludes the season’s overarching narrative on an emotional and unexpected note. We can’t wait to see what The Mandalorian has in store with the future as it seems like one chapter has come to an end while others have opened.

Verdict: 9/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holiday Gift Guide 2020

by @holocronJosh and @holocronJulie for @sw_holocron

We’re right in the midst of the holiday season, which means it’s the perfect time to gift yourself and others some brilliant Star Wars presents. Here are some of our recommendations for what would make great gifts for any Star Wars fan this holiday season!

Darksaber by Hasbro

This is a perfect gift for those who finally want to own one of the most popular lightsabers in Star Wars. Wielded by Maul, Bo-Katan, Sabine Wren, and now Moff Gideon, fans are bound to see the Darksaber again soon in the final episode of the Mandalorian season two, making it a relevant gift for Star Wars enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Star Wars Premium Playing Cards by theory11

theory11 always delivers exceptionally crafted products and their Star Wars playing cards are no exception.

Star Wars Custom Collection by Original Stitch

We had the pleasure of receiving a fully customized Original Stitch shirt earlier this year and we have to say it’s an incredible product. Original Stitch offers high quality, fully customizable shirts that Star Wars fans will enjoy, making it the perfect gift for a loved one (or for yourself!)

The Lightsaber Collection by Insight Editions

One of our favorite books of 2020, Insight Editions’ The Lightsaber Collection is a must buy for Star Wars. The book is filled with beautiful depictions of iconic lightsabers and characters and a whole host of interesting trivia facts. Check out our review at swholocron.blog!

Star Wars Squadrons by EA

Released in October, Star Wars Squadrons has become a big hit with fans of a galaxy far, far away, and is a perfect gift for all gamers with an exciting multiplayer mode and interesting campaign.

The Art of The Mandalorian: Season One by Abrams Books

Another of our favorite books this year, Abrams Books always delivers with top quality, comprehensive art books, most recently demonstrated with their The Rise of Skywalker release. This tradition continues with The Mandalorian’s first season.

The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005 by Taschen

For fans of the Star Wars prequels, The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005 is a must have. Featuring exclusive interviews with George Lucas and other cast and crew members on the second Star Wars trilogy, this book details the behind the scenes process and making of the prequels, including some jaw dropping behind the scenes images.

The Black Series Holiday Figures by Hasbro

For collectors of Hasbro’s Black Series line, the all new holiday edition is a must have. Features holiday versions of clone troopers, stormtroopers, and other soldiers across the Star Wars galaxy.

Myths & Fables – Galaxy’s Edge Edition by Disney-Lucasfilm Press

George Mann’s short story collection was a great read when it was initially released and this Galaxy’s Edge edition makes it even better. Featuring even more amazing stories and beautiful illustrations, this collection is a fine addition to any Star Wars fans’ collection.

Images courtesy of Hasbro, Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Insight Editions, Taschen, Abrams Books, EA, theory11, and Original Stitch

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REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season 2, Chapter 15

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 15 of The Mandalorian

With the penultimate episode of The Mandalorian’s second season, writer and director Rick Famuyiwa delivers a fast-paced heist mission packed full of interesting character development. Chapter 15: The Believer sees Djarin recruit Migs Mayfeld, the treacherous mercenary played by Bill Burr in Chapter 6, to break into an Imperial mining hub and find the location of Moff Gideon’s cruiser.

I’ll be the first to admit that I questioned the reintroduction of Mayfeld. Although Chapter 6: The Prisoner was one of the standout episodes of last season, Mayfeld wasn’t a particularly captivating character and, at times, it felt like Bill Burr was perhaps slightly miscast in the role. All of these doubts were quelled, however, upon watching Chapter 15. Burr is fantastic in the role, delivering witty one-liners with ease, but also conveying the complexity of and trauma inflicted upon a former Imperial sharpshooter. Mayfeld continues The Mandalorian’s great tradition of focusing on a different side character each episode to accompany the titular character.

The episode’s opening sequence excellently sets the stage for what’s to come. The New Republic labor camp was reminiscent of the beginning of Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order, in which Cal Kestis was working on Bracca as a rigger. And Mayfeld’s look upon seeing Din Djarin again, after getting confused by Boba Fett’s appearance, was priceless. Speaking of Boba Fett, it’s awesome to see the badass bounty hunter return with a fresh paint job. It’s definitely a nice juxtaposition to the worn and weary armor seen in Chapter 14. Unfortunately, Boba doesn’t have much to do in the episode after stealing the show in the previous installment, but Boba really shines in the moments he takes centerstage, as we’ll discuss later.

Upon recruiting Mayfeld, Chapter 15 really kicks into gear with the heist mission. Early on, the episode begins to hint at the possibility of Djarin removing his helmet, something that comes to fruition later in the episode. Until then, though, the audience is welcomed to a spectacular action sequence akin to similar scenes in movies like Skyfall or The Wolverine. Seeing Djarin, dressed as a Range Trooper, disposing of raiding pirates one by one was great to see and, once again, showcases The Mandalorian’s brilliant hand-to-hand combat. Besides the action, this sequence allowed Mayfeld and Djarin to engage in some interesting conversations regarding the merit of wearing one’s helmet and comparing the fallen worlds of Alderaan and Mandalore.

Chapter 15’s intensity only increases when Djarin and Mayfeld finally make it behind enemy lines at the Imperial mining hub. This part of the episode really felt like a classic heist film, with the protagonists infiltrating a base and needing to do everything they can to avoid detection. Before the inevitable detection occurred, however, we were welcomed to what was perhaps the highlight of the episode as Din Djarin removed his helmet to access the network terminal. This moment was monumental for several reasons. Simply seeing Pedro Pascal’s face again as the character was dramatic, given that we’ve only seen Djarin’s face briefly in Chapter 8. Beyond the sheer shock value of seeing an unmasked Pascal though was the emotional weight behind this moment. Throughout the series, Djarin has tightly held onto the conviction that Mandalorians should never remove their helmets in front of other living beings for any reason. So, to see Djarin willingly remove his helmet in order to protect “his kid” was truly touching. This little moment conveyed just how much Grogu means to Djarin and why he is so motivated to rescue his child. 

With the introduction of Richard Brake (Batman Begins, Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Officer Valin Hess, Chapter 15 briefly takes some cues from Inglorious Basterds in capturing the intensity of a simple conversion over a table. It’s interesting and unexpected that it is Mayfeld, not Djarin, that blows their cover by being unable to contain his anger toward Hess and the Empire more broadly. Similar to the weight added to Djarin’s character this episode, Mayfeld came on leaps and bounds as the audience gets to resonate with the character’s disgust and hatred for the superiors who adopt such a position of blatant disregard for their soldiers. 

After blowing their cover, Chapter 15 explodes into a massive climatic action sequence. Seeing Fennec Shand and Cara Dune systematically pick off stormtroopers from afar was epic, in addition to the true redemptive moment of Mayfeld equipping a rifle himself and executing the fatal blow to the facility. Although this moment was clearly designed to convey how far Mayfeld had came, it felt a little out of place given that, just moments ago, he was dismayed at the needless deaths of innocent Imperial soldiers. This felt a little hypocritical for Mayfeld to so callously take out the Imperial mining hub and, inevitably, kill many ‘innocent’ Imperial soldiers, a behavior he just executed Hess for. Besides that, however, the final action sequence was great to behold. As hinted at previously, its standout moment involved Boba, who, until that point, had largely taken a back seat in this episode. To see Boba drop a seismic charge from Slave I as his father Jango did so many years ago was jaw dropping. The sound design of the seismic charge will forever be one of the coolest sounds in cinematic history and this brilliant callback once again exemplified that. Chapter 15’s concluding moments set the stage for the dramatic finale next week. While Djarin’s repetition of the same speech Gideon gave last season about Grogu was a bit on the nose, it still added some weight to the stakes at hand in the next episode.

Chapter 15 suffers slightly in that it follows, arguably, The Mandalorian’s two best episodes with Chapters 13 and 14. That being said, Rick Famuyiwa makes the most of a somewhat throwaway installment by meaningfully adding to both Djarin and Mayfeld’s characters and including a unique perspective on the Empire that further emphasizes how the battle between good and evil is not so binary. 

Verdict: 8/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

New Star Wars Projects Announced on Disney Investor Day

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

It looks like Christmas has come early for Star Wars fans as a slew of new projects were announced on Disney Investor Day. Here’s a breakdown of all the announcements and updates:

Films

Rogue Squadron

Kathleen Kennedy revealed that Petty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman and the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984, is on board to helm Star Wars: Rogue Squadrons, the next theatrical release in a galaxy far, far away. The film is described as a story that “will introduce a new generation of starfighter pilots as they earn their wings and risk their lives in a boundary-pushing, high-speed thrill-ride, and move the saga into the future era of the galaxy”.

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

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

Rogue Squadron will fly into theaters December 2023.

Untitled Taika Waititi film

Announced earlier this year, Kennedy confirmed that Academy-Award winner Taika Waititi is still in active development. Kennedy described the film as “fresh, unexpected, and…unique,” and describes Waititi as “enormous talent [with an] sense of humor will ensure that audiences are in for an unforgettable ride.”

Shows

Andor

Officially titled Andor, the Diego Luna led show has begun filming in England and is described as a “tense nail-biting spy thriller”. Alongside Luna, other cast members include Stellan Skarsgard, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller, and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma. Rogue One scribe Tony Gilroy returns to the franchise as showrunner.

A sizzle reel was released for Andor, highlighting new concept art and interviews with the cast and crew.

Andor will premiere on Disney+ in 2022.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

The Ewan McGregor led show, set 10 years after Revenge of the Sith and directed by Deborah Chow, added another major cast member: Anakin Skywalker/ Darth Vader himself, Hayden Christensen. Christensen returns to the role of Vader for the first time since 2005, and will face off once more against McGregor’s Kenobi in what Kennedy described as “the rematch of the century”.

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

Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t yet have a release date, but is scheduled to start filming next month.

Ahsoka

After making her live action debut in The Mandalorian: Chapter 12 – The Jedi, Ahsoka Tano will finally get center stage in her own series for Disney+. Developed by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni and written by Filoni, the show will star Rosario Dawson in the title role.

Speculation is rampant that this series will continue the story of Star Wars Rebels, and answer the question of what happened to Ezra Bridger after the events of the show.

Rangers of the New Republic

Set during The Mandalorian, Rangers of the New Republic is a new live action spin-off series that will intersect with Mando and “culminate into a climactic story event”.

Lando

A live-action series centered around Lando Calrissian was also revealed to be in development from Justin Simien, creator of Dear White People and a massive Star Wars fan. It is currently unclear if Billy Dee Williams or Donald Glover, or both, will reprise their role as Lando.

No release date has been set.

The Acolyte

From the mind of Russian Doll creator Leslye Headland comes The Acolyte, a female centric mystery thriller series that will center on “a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic era”.

The Bad Batch

First introduced in the seventh season of The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch is a group of experimental and enhanced clones that will explore a changed galaxy in their own animated series set after the events of Revenge of the Sith. A sizzle reel of the series was released today.

The Bad Batch is yet to be given a release date, but it is speculated that the series will arrive in 2021.

Other shows

Other shows announced at Investor Day include Star Wars: Visions, a series of anime short films, and A Droid Story, in which a new droid is accompanied by C-3PO and R2-D2.

Images courses of Lucasfilm & Disney

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Lightsaber Collection

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

“This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.” The iconic words spoken by Ben Kenobi in the original Star Wars kicked off a decades long obsession with lightsabers that continues to this day. The lightsaber is truly honored in Insight Editions’ Star Wars: The Lightsaber Collection, a beautifully assembled  visual guide that brings to life the legendary lightsabers found throughout the Star Wars universe.

While The Lightsaber Collection provides a comprehensive overview of iconic lightsabers and their users, the guidebook begins with a series of introductory chapters that really highlight the meaningfulness of lightsabers. Author Daniel Wallace explores the origins of lightsabers, dating back to George Lucas’ original conception of the weapon in writing Star Wars and subsequently delves into the creation of lightsabers, their design, and their overall meaningfulness. These introductory chapters brilliantly set the stage for the impressive visual guide that follows in really conveying the importance of lightsabers.

The subsequent sections of The Lightsaber Collection showcase an individual lightsaber and its wielder in extraordinary detail. The collection is split into three distinct sections: ‘Jedi of the Galactic Republic,’ ‘Acolytes of the Dark Side,’ and ‘A New Jedi Tradition.’ Collectively, the sections highlight a whole host of Star Wars characters, ranging from iconic ones like Luke Skywalker or Darth Maul to more obscure ones like Lord Corvax and Cin Drallig, not to mention a cool look at Stellan Gios from the upcoming High Republic series. It was certainly unexpected to see the breadth of characters and their lightsabers included in this collection. We obviously expect characters like Obi-Wan or Rey to be featured heavily, but the more unusual choices like Even Piell, Taron Malicos, and even the unseen Darth Atrius are awesome inclusions.

Each individual lightsaber is truly brought to life thanks to some incredibly detailed, drawn to scale illustrations by Lukasz Liszko. Although it’s obviously amazing to see these lightsabers in fast paced action throughout Star Wars movies, shows, and games, there’s something really cool about seeing each lightsaber hilt in such vivid detail up close and personal. Every lightsaber illustration is coupled by a similarly impressive character illustration by Ryan Valle. These character illustrations are breathtaking, especially when we get to see animated characters like Ahsoka Tano or Ezra Bridger brought to life in such a novel way. It’s also cool to see a new image of young Ben Solo as Luke’s student in the new Jedi Order and a great look at his padawan lightsaber.

Aside from the impressive visuals on display, The Lightsaber Collection also includes an interesting written section to accompany each character and their lightsaber. Daniel Wallace manages to pack in a ton of great information in just a few paragraphs for each character. These sections include relevant canon details about the character and his/her lightsaber, but also some great trivia or behind the scenes facts that are sure to interest both casual and hardcore Star Wars fans alike. 

Verdict:

Star Wars: The Lightsaber Collection is one of the best Star Wars books to be released this year. In reading the collection, it’s hard to not get swept up in the history and emotional resonance of this legendary weapon. This is a true and definitive tribute to the graceful weapon first envisioned by George Lucas and expanded upon by others in subsequent years. The collection is more than just a showcase of the beauty of a lightsaber, however, in detailing amazing new looks at iconic characters and descriptions full of interesting background and trivia facts. The horizontal design of the hardcover book aligns with the elegance of the weapon it is the focus of. And the book, similar to some of the best Star Wars projects, appeals similarly to all ages across the lifespan. The Lightsaber Collection is a must own for Star Wars fans and would surely be a welcomed gift amidst the incoming holiday season.

Images courtesy of Insight Editions & Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season 2, Chapter 14

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian

Following the exhilarating Chapter 13, featuring the live-action debut of Ahsoka, some jaw dropping reveals, and incredible action, it was easy to predict that the subsequent installment of The Mandalorian would take a step back in delivering a more contained, inconsequential episode. However, this was certainly not the case as the Disney+ series continued delivering the punches with another enthralling episode. Chapter 14: The Tragedy follows Din Djarin and The Child, now known as Grogu, arriving on Tython following Ahsoka’s instructions. As is often the case with the Mandalorian’s adventures, things do not go as planned as he must withstand Imperial forces and the return of a fan favorite character.

It’s difficult to kick this review off without making note of the stunning way in which director Robert Rodriguez navigated this episode. Rodriguez has a diverse array of films in his catalogue, from the Spy Kids franchise to Sin City to Alita: Battle Angel most recently, but Rodriguez’s work on the Desperado Trilogy can clearly be felt in Chapter 14. Rodriguez masterfully handles Chapter 14’s action sequences, which take up a significant portion of the episode, perhaps more than any installment to date. 

The emotional centerpiece of the series is on full display again in highlighting Djarin and Grogu’s relationship. The little training sequence aboard the Razor Crest at the beginning was both funny and heartwarming, something The Mandalorian and Star Wars more broadly excels at. All these moments conveying the growing bond between the bounty hunter and the child make the tragedy that the episode is named after all the more powerful.

Despite the emotional moments, the real highlight of the episode is obviously the triumphant return of Temeura Morrison as Boba Fett. After appearing in season two’s premiere episode, we’ve been eagerly waiting to see how and when the infamous bounty hunter will reappear and it was quite unexpected to see Boba show up in Chapter 14. Just the shot of Djarin staring off into the distance to see Slave I entering the atmosphere gave us goosebumps. And from that moment onward, Morrison stole the show. His conversations with Djarin felt like a Star Wars’ fan’s dream come true. Packed full of great references (“I’m just a simple man”) and new canon information (like Jango being a Mandalorian foundling), their interactions added so much depth to an already incredible episode. It’s great to see Morrison come alive as Boba after his scene stealing performance as Jango in Attack of the Clones. And when Boba comes alive, he really comes alive. The relatively brief half-hour episode of The Mandalorian arguably contains more badass Boba Fett content than we’ve ever seen, capped off by Boba donning his classic armor once again and handedly disposing of a battalion of stormtroopers. 

Speaking of the episode’s length, despite its brief runtime, the episode packs in a ton of great content. Not only do we see the return of Boba Fett, but also the return of Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand. Fennec was great in Chapter 5: The Gunslinger and Chapter 14 confirmed many fans’ suspicions that it was Boba who approached her at the end of her debut episode. We also see the destruction of the Razor Crest, another shocking moment in an already unpredictable episode. It’ll be interesting to see what ship Djarin will be flying in the future, because it definitely seems as if the Razor Crest is beyond repair at this point, especially with no Kuiil around. The eventfulness didn’t stop there as Djarin, Boba, and Fennec team up to rescue Grogu and begin their rescue by visiting Cara Dune on Nevarro for information about Mayfeld. All in all, this episode set up a lot for the season’s final two installments, while also serving as a great 30 minutes of standalone Star Wars content.

Really the only criticism I have toward the episode is the somewhat lackluster setting relative to other episodes of The Mandalorian. This season we have been welcomed by incredible landscapes, whether it be the sandy plains of Tatooine in Chapter 9 or the black market port of Trask. Unfortunately, Chapter 14 had a relatively bland setting with Tython merely being a grassy, Earth-like landscape. In this sense, Chapter 14 wasn’t the most visually appealing installment of The Mandalorian from a cinematography perspective. 

Overall, The Mandalorian came up with another thrilling episode, delivering emotional moments, incredible action sequences, and adding significantly to canon. This is all in addition to giving Boba Fett centerstage in a way Star Wars fans have been clamoring for for years. Robert Rodriguez expertly directs the episode, something that is even more commendable given that he was a last-minute hire for the position. In looking forward to what Chapter 14 set up, we can’t wait to see what the remainder of season 2 has in store.

Verdict: 9.5/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

Lucasfilm Announces 50th Anniversary Celebration for 2021

by @holocronJulie for @sw_holocron

Lucasfilm has announced that it will commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2021 with new products, games, publishing offerings, and more. The anniversary celebration is due to kick off mere weeks away in January with a series of special edition product releases.

Details about what the new products are remain unknown, but this announcement’s revelation that we can expect new Star Wars games in 2021 is definitely noteworthy. Rumors of a sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order have circulated for months and it’s possible that this is one of the games released to commemorate Lucasfilm’s 50th anniversary.

George Lucas founded Lucasfilm in 1971, with the company subsequently becoming incorporated as Lucasfilm Ltd. following the release of Star Wars in 1977. Lucasfilm’s first film was the classic, George Lucas directed American Graffiti, which went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and has since been entered in the U.S. Library of Congress. Since its debut film, Lucasfilm has overseen the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, in addition to other classics like Labyrinth, Willow, and The Land Before Time. In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm for an astonishing $4.05 billion and has since overseen the release of the Star Wars sequel trilogy and The Mandalorian, amongst other projects.

It’s great to see Lucasfilm honor its accomplishments and legacy with this 50th anniversary celebration. Stay tuned to Star Wars Holocron for more news about the 50th anniversary Star Wars Projects!

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm