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Star Wars Holocron

What’s New in Star Wars – March 2022

by @holocronGeorge

Books, comics, audio scripts, activity books, and a hotel (!!) are all in store for Star Wars fans this month. Below includes a list and description of upcoming Star Wars projects in the month of March 2022. It is important to note that these release dates are subject to change.

March 1 – The High Republic: Mission to Disaster

From Lando’s Luck, Justina Ireland has shown time and time again that she is an expert in crafting beautifully written Star Wars characters and stories, a trend that continues with her latest middle grade novel set in the High Republic era. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The Jedi think the dreaded Nihil marauders have been all but defeated. Their leader is on the run and their numbers have dwindled. Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh hopes this means she will finally have time to really train her Padawan, Imri Cantaros—but reports of a Nihil attack on Port Haileap soon dash those hopes. For not only have the Nihil attacked the peaceful outpost, they have abducted Vernestra and Imri’s friend, Avon Starros. The two Jedi set off for Port Haileap, determined to figure out where the Nihil have taken their friend. Meanwhile, Avon must put her smarts and skills to the ultimate test as she fights for survival among the Nihil—and uncovers a sinister plan. Can Vernestra and Imri find their friend before disaster strikes?”

March 1 – Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser

Galactic Starcruiser is an upcoming hotel in Walt Disney World Resort that is set on a starship named Halcyon operated by Chandrila Star Line. 

March 2 – Star Wars (2020) 21

Charles Soule’s excellent Star Wars comic set between Episodes V and VI continues this month. The publisher’s summary for the 21st issue is as follows: “STRANDED ON A STAR DESTROYER! After a mission gone wrong, ace Rebel pilot SHARA BEY (POE DAMERON’S mother) was left for dead aboard the TARKIN’S WILL, a huge Star Destroyer. Shara survived and has been hiding deep inside the massive ship ever since, evading COMMANDER ZAHRA’S notice. But her time is up. Can she live long enough to escape?”

March 2 – The High Republic 15

The fifteenth and final issue of Cavan Scott’s High Republic comic hits shelves this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “EVERYTHING CHANGES! Phase one of Star Wars The High Republic reaches its galaxy-shaking conclusion. Only one person can save the Jedi from the mysterious monsters that stalk Starlight Beacon. Who will live and who will die?”

March 2 – The High Republic: Eye of the Storm 2

Learn more about the villainous Marchion Ro in the second issue of Eye of the Storm. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “ACT TWO: Marchion. The Wreckage. The Hunt. The Storm. In which the Eye of the Nihil exults after a job well done. In which Marchion Ro reveals the source of the Jedi’s greatest fear. In which the future of the Nihil is revealed.”

March 8 – The Ultimate Star Wars: The Mandalorian Sticker Collection

What’s better than a combination of Star Wars and stickers? That’s what’s in store in this upcoming sticker book highlighting everything we love about The Mandalorian.

March 9 – Crimson Reign 3

The highly anticipated Lady Qi’ra comic continues with its third issue this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “ODYSSEY OF THE ARCHIVIST! LADY QI’RA’S ultimate plan to reshape the galaxy continues as we focus on one of her most key operatives – the mysterious SAVA MADELIN SUN, former expert in the DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE, now known only as THE ARCHIVIST. Qi’ra has given this woman a crucial task and put all the resources of CRIMSON DAWN at her disposal. The Archivist’s search will find answers to mysteries at the very heart of the EMPIRE’S formation……and the ultimate fall of THE JEDI ORDER.”

March 9 – Halcyon Legacy 2

Ethan Sacks delivers the second issue of the Galactic Starcruiser tie-in comic this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “YOUR TICKET TO THE HOTTEST RIDE IN THE GALAXY! The Halcyon comes under fire from pirates –with little chance of escape! Who is the mysterious Resistance spy on board that may lead to the fiery end of the ship’s 275-year run? And find out how, years earlier, bounty hunter AURRA SING and a mysterious partner gambled with their lives during the galactic starcruiser’s era as a flying casino!”

March 9 – Han Solo & Chewbacca 1

Han Solo and Chewbacca take center-stage in a new comic series set before A New Hope. The publisher’s summary for the first issue is as follows: “NEW SERIES – HAN SOLO IS BACK! But wait! Isn’t HAN still frozen in Carbonite? Yes. But you can’t keep a good smuggler down. Set a few years before Episode IV: A New Hope, Han, his partner, CHEWBACCA and GREEDO, embark on a heist for JABBA THE HUTT. It’s supposed to be an easy job. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, how about a reunion with the very last person Han expected to see? The last page is a jaw-dropper…”

March 15 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Legacy Vol. 4

Relive adventures from Star Wars Legends with this new collection that assembles Star Wars: Legacy 1-18, material from Star Wars Tales, and Star Wars Visionaries 1.

March 15 – The High Republic: Tempest Runner script

The fullscript of Cavan Scott’s audio original Tempest Runner starring Lourna Dee releases this month!

March 15 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian: May the Force Be with You

A new children’s activity book from Dreamtivity is out this month. 

March 16 – Bounty Hunters 21

Delve deep into an underworld of bounty hunters with the continuation of Ethan Sacks’ Bounty Hunters series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “T’ONGA’S BOUNTY HUNTERS FACE THEIR DEADLIEST MISSION YET! T’ONGA, BOSSK, TASU LEECH, ZUCKUSS, 4-LOM and LOSHA are plotting to kidnap the leader of a major crime syndicate. But is the crew walking into a trap? And what is the diabolical DENGAR planning that could jeopardize everything?”

March 16 – Doctor Aphra (2020) 19

Check out the 19th issue of Alyssa Wong’s Doctor Aphra series this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “ETERNALLY YOURS! The trap has been set! DOCTOR APHRA and SANA STARROS are ready to steal the ASCENDANT’S GREATEST TREASURE! But their search for the SPARK ETERNAL will lead them somewhere they never expected…back to the place where Aphra’s archaeological adventures began!”

March 22 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian Colortivity: Good Luck with the Child

More fun with Grogu in this new activity book!

March 23 – Darth Vader (2020) 21

Sabe returns in the 21st issue of Greg Pak’s Darth Vader series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE RETURN OF THE HANDMAIDEN! A figure terrifyingly close to VADER’S dark heart returns – but with a shocking new allegiance that threatens total chaos! The band of heroes who have bound themselves to Vader’s cause finally learn the true nature of their new lord. And how long can OCHI OF BESTOON keep his desperate secret?”

March 29 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian: A Search-and-Find Book

Enjoy a new search-and-find book in the world of The Mandalorian!

March 29 – Doctor Aphra script

The script version of Sarah Kuhn’s Doctor Aphra audio original debuts this month.

March 30 – Star Wars (2020) 22

The publisher’s summary for the 22nd issue of Charles Soule’s Star Wars series is as follows: “THE DAWN ALLIANCE – PART 1 OF 3 “The Last Division” The time has come for THE REBEL ALLIANCE fleet to bring its final lost division home… …but to do it, LEIA ORGANA, MON MOTHMA and the other Alliance leaders will need to rely on intelligence provided by the notoriously untrustworthy criminal organization CRIMSON DAWN. Meanwhile, Starlight Squadron and a group of rogue PATHFINDERS led by KES DAMERON head out on an unauthorized rescue mission to save one of their own…!”

For reference, a condensed list of upcoming projects in March 2022 without descriptions is included below:

March 1 – The High Republic: Mission to Disaster 

March 1 – Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser

March 2 – Star Wars (2020) 21 

March 2 – The High Republic 15 

March 2 – The High Republic: Eye of the Storm 2 

March 8 – The Ultimate Star Wars: The Mandalorian Sticker Collection 

March 9 – Crimson Reign 3 

March 9 – Halcyon Legacy 2 

March 9 – Han Solo & Chewbacca 1 

March 15 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Legacy Vol. 4 

March 15 – The High Republic: Tempest Runner script 

March 15 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian: May the Force Be with You 

March 16 – Bounty Hunters 21 

March 16 – Doctor Aphra (2020) 19 

March 22 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian Colortivity: Good Luck with the Child 

March 23 – Darth Vader (2020) 21 

March 29 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian: A Search-and-Find Book 

March 29 – Doctor Aphra script

March 30 – Star Wars (2020) 22 

Images courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Marvel Comics, Del Rey

Categories
Film Codex Horror Necronomicon

REVIEW: Fresh

by @holocronGeorge

From Carrie to Get Out to Audition, there have been a fair few entries into the subgenre of ‘romantic’ horror films, but none quite as refreshing (excuse the pun) as Fresh for quite some time. Fresh marks the directorial debut of Mimi Cave, working from a sharp screenplay by Lauryn Kahn. Fresh is an infinitely better experience if you go into it knowing as little as possible. At its bare bones, the film follows a young woman named Noa (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones), who, amidst her struggles in the modern dating scene, falls for a charming man named Steve (played by Sebastian Stan).

Fresh highlights why fans love horror films. This is horror cinema at its most disturbing, timely, and, oddly enough, fun. Director Mimi Cave and screenwriter Lauryn Kahn throw away many of the conventions of cinema we’ve come to expect, which makes Fresh a stylized and gripping film that always keeps you on your toes. For a surprisingly sizable chunk of the runtime, it’s almost entirely unclear what direction the film is heading in. While some may find this pacing frustrating, it positions the audience firmly in the perspective of our lead, making all of the twists and turns that come feel particularly visceral.

Fresh also excels in its excellent demonstration of how horror can (and often is) more effective when it is suggested rather than shown. Disturbing imagery is seldom seen, in favor of an approach that lets your own mind create the horror as the plot unfolds. Screenwriter Lauryn Kahn also demonstrates this approach to horror with a subtle, yet poignant, incorporation of themes related to toxic masculinity and objectifying attitudes toward women. The themes at play here are very much relevant in day-to-day living and, with a sharply written screenplay, brought to life in newly horrifying ways in the film.

All of this wouldn’t work without compelling leads, which, thankfully, Fresh has in abundance. Daisy Edgar-Jones, who viewers may know from television shows such as Normal People, Cold Feet, and War of the Worlds, is perfectly cast as the film’s lead Noa. Edgar-Jones performs so naturally and intuitively, and immediately becomes a protagonist we empathize with and root for. Sebastian Stan plays her counterpart Steve in an equally immersive performance. Stan has had his fair share of excellent performances in projects like I, Tonya, Destroyer, and Pam & Tommy, but this may be his best work yet. From the moment he enters the film, Stan captivates.

Verdict: 9/10

Fresh is a surprisingly stylized and poignant entry in the subgenre of romantic horror cinema. Discussing the plot of Fresh is a disservice to the brilliant twists and turns in store, so simply sit back and watch this film knowing as little as possible beforehand. Commanding lead performances from Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan are accompanied by a sharp and mysterious screenplay from Lauryn Kahn in a gripping horror film from Mimi Cave in her directorial debut. Fresh is a film that is equally disturbing, timely, and fun, making it a must watch for horror fans and general movie lovers alike.

Fresh is available for streaming on Hulu March 4.

Images courtesy of Searchlight Pictures and Hulu

Categories
DC Motherbox

REVIEW: The Batman

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh

Ten years after the last solo Batman outing hit theaters, the caped crusader finally returns to the big screen in director and writer Matt Reeves’ highly anticipated DC film. Much like its titular character, The Batman has been elusive and mysterious as it slowly works its way into theaters. First announced as part of the DCEU, The Batman was originally due to be the product of Hollywood Renaissance man Ben Affleck, who would have directed, written, and starred in the film. Changes in front of and behind the camera led to Affleck stepping down as director/writer and eventually star, making way for Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) to step in and craft a new Batman film of his own. Five years later, after a lengthy production and several release data changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Reeves’ film is finally here. And, much to our delight, The Batman excels in almost every department.

The Batman follows the dark knight (played by Robert Pattinson) in his second year of fighting crime in Gotham. The Batman teams up with Lt. Gordon (played by Jeffrey Wright) to uncover the mystery surrounding a series of gruesome murders committed by the Riddler. With the character being 83 years old at this point, every iteration of Batman, whether it be film or television or comic or video game, needs to have a unique quality to it – a reason to exist, if you will. Reeves has spoken at length about how his Batman film stands out from others in regards to it being a detective story, something other theatrical Batman films have surprisingly ignored over the years. It’s in this regard that Reeves centers his film, and does so brilliantly. The Batman is a bonafide murder mystery. Narratively and aesthetically, it bears closer resemblance to David Fincher films like Se7en and Zodiac than it does Batman films helmed by Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton. Pattinson’s Batman is the Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot of the film, uncovering clue after clue with the audience by his side. The mystery itself is gripping from the very first scene. It deals with themes of corruption and accountability effectively and maintains its momentum for much of its three hour runtime. Unfortunately, when the pieces of the puzzle finally come together and characters’ true motives are revealed in the film’s final act, the narrative and the mystery at its core conclude somewhat flatly and uneventfully. For a film that doesn’t take any short measures in regards to the complexity of its narrative, The Batman’s core mystery unfolds to reveal an acceptable, albeit underwhelming, conclusion.

Any narrative shortcomings are offset, however, by virtually every other element of the film. The first 20 minutes of The Batman may be some of the best content we’ve ever gotten in comic book movie history. These first 20 minutes set a tone for the film that is decidedly dark, moody, mysterious, and, on occasion, downright frightening. This is the darkest Batman film yet. Even though Nolan’s trilogy was similarly grounded, it featured more fantastical elements (i.e. League of Shadows, Bane) that are entirely absent in Reeves’ effort. The Batman exists in a very grounded, only slightly heightened world, in which Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, The Mandalorian) gorgeously bring a dark and depraved Gotham City to light. Every shot is so meticulously constructed and the superb production design makes the Gotham of Reeves’ film a character unto itself. The same can be said for Michael Giacchino’s epic and moody score. Anchored by the grand Batman theme seen in promotional footage, The Batman bolsters one of the most impressive scores in a comic book film of all time (it’s hard to resist humming the main theme after watching the film).

Another standout element of The Batman is the way in which its main character truly is a main character. Other Batman films, even ones as great as The Dark Knight, often struggle under the weight of their villains’ brilliance (i.e. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Jack Nicholson in Batman). While Dano delivers an excellently menacing performance as The Riddler, this is very much a Batman film with Batman at the center. Pattinson’s character is in almost every single scene of this three-hour epic. And, the character appears in suit as Batman for the vast majority of his screen time with an unmasked Pattinson featuring relatively little in the film. Moreover, the film is narrated by Bruce, evoking elements of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One comic. All of this makes for quite the challenge for Pattinson as an actor, but he proves to be a commanding lead more than capable of helming the cape and cowl.

Other characters and performances range from serviceable to outstanding in The Batman. Zoe Kravitz plays Selena Kyle and is very much the film’s second leading character. Kravitz has shown time and time again why she is such an incredible actress, producing such a range of performances across films like Dope, Big Little Lies, High Fidelity, and most recently Kimi. Unfortunately, while the actress makes for a compelling Catwoman, the character’s role in the film’s second half loses momentum and her subplot ultimately doesn’t prove to be very interesting.

Also supporting Pattinson’s Batman are Jeffrey Wright’s Gordon and Andy Serkis’ Alfred. The latter features surprisingly little in the film and, as such, doesn’t make the level of impact that an Alfred like Michael Caine did in the Nolan trilogy. That being said, an emotional scene between Alfred and Bruce ends up being one of the film’s most touching moments. Wright triumphs as Gordon, essentially featuring as Batman’s side-kick for much of the film. Wright brings a certain gravitas to the role as Gordon delicately navigates a fragile middle-ground between Batman and the Gotham City Police Department.

Facing off against Batman are Colin Farrell’s Penguin, John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone, and, of course, Paul Dano’s Riddler. Dano is very much the film’s central villain, but provides an impact off-screen almost as much as he does on-screen. Dano’s scenes are almost always shrouded in darkness and captured in poor quality on a camera. Nonetheless, Dano is a menacing and haunting presence throughout. Colin Farrell is also excellent as The Penguin. He proves to be The Batman’s most theatrical character, but is less in the vein of Danny DeVito’s performance in Batman Returns and more akin to slightly over-the-top gangsters in Scorsese pictures. It was always an odd choice casting Farrell in this role and having him wear such extensive makeup and prosthetics, and the film doesn’t necessarily justify this odd choice. If Reeves wanted to go for a Penguin of a certain look, he could have cast someone who looks more like his image of the character without the use of makeup and prosthetics. Similarly, Reeves could also have gone with a more unconventional Penguin in having Farrell play the character without such additions. The odd casting choice doesn’t take anything away from the movie per se, other than being somewhat of a distraction at times. Finally, Turturro plays the big bad crime boss Falcone in The Batman. Although Falcone’s role in the grand mystery of the film feels a bit out of place when all the pieces come together in the conclusion, Turturro nails the charm and menace of the character.

Verdict: 9/10

The Batman is easily the best Batman film since The Dark Knight. Matt Reeves crafts a sprawling and intricate mystery film that evokes elements of Fincher mysteries like Se7en and Zodiac. A slightly underwhelming conclusion to this mystery is offset by superb work in every department. DP Greig Fraser and Reeves team up again to deliver a truly beautiful looking film that is bolstered by Michael Giacchino’s dramatic and grand score. Pattinson proves to be an excellent choice for Batman and navigates the role particularly well considering the character is masked and suited up for the bulk of the running time. All of this makes for a unique, grounded, and beautiful take on Batman that finally explores the detective side of the character, while delivering everything we love about the caped crusader. Three hours fly by in a film that leaves you desperately wanting more from this world.

The Batman is in theaters March 4th.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Official Collector’s Edition

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh

After the conclusion of its seventh and final season last year, celebrate Star Wars: The Clone Wars with a new release from Titan Magazines! Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Official Collectors Edition is a new hardback magazine featuring tons of behind the scenes information and insightful interviews about the acclaimed series. The magazine features in-depth guides to every single episode of The Clone Wars, packed with concept art, story details, unused ideas, thoughts from Dave Filoni, and more.

Check out an exclusive look at Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Official Collectors Edition here!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Official Collectors Edition is out March 29th and can be purchased here.

Images courtesy of Titan Comics

Categories
Film Codex

REVIEW: Death on the Nile

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh

Agatha Christie remains one of the best selling authors of all time, only outsold by Shakespeare and The Bible itself. It makes sense then that we’ve seen iteration after iteration of her most famous stories and characters on the big and small screen. The latest is Death on the Nile, once again starring, written, and directed by Kenneth Branagh in a follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express. The latest Hercule Poirot mystery follows the legendary detective, who finds himself in Egypt with the life of a wealthy heiress under threat.

Death on the Nile is a refreshing, intelligent, and, ultimately, thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery. The film adopts a slower paced structure than what viewers may be used to in this genre, which is a good thing, because the pacing contributes significantly to the tension and intensity of Death on the Nile. Like the incredible source material the film is based on, the ‘murder’ part of this murder mystery doesn’t occur until roughly halfway through, leaving plenty of time for the audience to understand each of the characters and their motives. And, when the murder eventually occurs, we see Branagh’s Poirot fully in action as he unravels the case.

Branagh is the real star of the show here. He’s more settled in the role of Poirot compared to Murder on the Orient Express. With his second film as the character, Branagh is growing more and more confident in the role and has put enough unique spins on the character to make it his own. Unlike Christie’s original novel, Branagh dedicates more time to developing Poirot as a character, which is a little hit-or-miss. A beautifully crafted black and white opening sequence sets the stage for the powerful themes of love in the film, but the attempts to connect this theme more closely to Poirot himself feel a little forced – in particular, a love interest for Poirot that never really works. Outside of Branagh, the effectiveness of the cast is mixed. Performances from Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright fall flat or, unfortunately at times, but across as unintentionally funny. Meanwhile, supporting players Emma Mackey, Tom Bateman, Dawn French, and Jennifer Saunders excel in their roles.

Beyond the characterization of Poirot, Branagh remains faithful to Christie’s novel to a film that he makes feel like a grand, cinematic endeavor. The film is beautifully shot, and the on-location shoots add to a sense of genuineness and grandiosity that the film has in abundance. The ship on which the bulk of the film is set is also terrific in feeling like a character unto itself. Branagh intelligently introduces the audience to the geography / layout of the ship, which viewers feel closer to the mystery and characters at hand. 

Verdict: 8/10

Death on the Nile is a faithful adaptation of Agatha Christie’s iconic novel, marking another grand theatrical effort from writer, director, and star Kenneth Branagh in bringing the iconic Hercule Poirot to the big screen. Some weak performances and misguided characterization of Poirot take away little from what is an enthralling and visually stunning murder mystery. Fingers crossed there are more Agatha Christie adaptations like this in the future.

Images courtesy of 20th Century Pictures

Categories
Film Codex

REVIEW: Uncharted

by @holocronJosh and @holocronGeorge

Uncharted has had a rocky and interesting road to the big screen to say the least. Fifteen years in development, a myriad of directors circling the project, and pandemic-related difficulties and delays have seen fans eagerly wait for this long-awaited video game adaptation. Uncharted follows Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) as he teams up with veteran explorer and scavenger Sully (Mark Wahlberg) in an effort to find Drake’s long lost brother and recover a lost Spanish treasure.

Uncharted is a tricky movie to adapt. The video game is heavily inspired by the Indiana Jones franchise (so much so that Harrison Ford did a nod of the cap to the franchise in a commercial for the game. In translating a franchise to another medium (film to video game), Naughty Dog were able to overcome potential pitfalls with unoriginal storytelling and, eventually, craft one of the best video game franchises of all time. However, with an Uncharted film, we’re dealing, in some ways, with a film to video game to film adaptation. That’s not to minimize the characters, style, humor, puzzles, and everything that the Uncharted games do so brilliantly. It’s just that, unfortunately, this journey to the big screen makes the film feel quite unoriginal. Indeed, viewers who have never played the Uncharted video games are likely to be confused as to what all the fuss was about the source material.

Uncharted plays like a cross between Indiana Jones and National Treasure (which is not necessarily a bad thing). The film has an old fashioned adventure feel to it, with the characters uncovering clue after clue to reach the treasure. It’s not anything we haven’t seen before, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. Fans of the video game will enjoy the puzzles Drake and the others solve along the way, although these fall short of being immersive experiences for the audience. The action is intense, but ultimately serviceable. However, a set piece involving the characters falling from an airplane was very impressive.

Carrying us along this adventure are Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. The two actors really anchor the film and they have great chemistry from start to finish, often mimicking the relationship of Drake and Sully from the games. That being said, Holland and Wahlberg are ultimately just Holland and Wahlberg in this film. This is nothing we haven’t seen from Mark Wahlberg in a handful of other movies in the past. The same can be said for Tom Holland, who was initially a questionable choice for the role of Drake when announced. Holland does what he can with the writing at hand, but it’s difficult not to imagine what this film would have looked like had it been led by an actor more akin to Drake in the games. As far as villains go, Antonio Banderas is certainly a presence on screen, but unfortunately doesn’t amount to much as the big bad. Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle though are terrific as other treasure hunters.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Uncharted is a serviceable action movie, but, unfortunately, not much more. It’s certainly an entertaining watch, with charismatic leads, an easy-going treasure hunting story line, decent action set pieces, and some twists and turns. The film, however, is sorely lacking in originality and, as a video game adaptation, fans may be slightly underwhelmed.

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

Easter Eggs, References, and Trivia Facts in The Book of Boba Fett

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh

In addition to an enthralling plot line and great character work, The Book of Boba Fett also triumphs as a tribute to Star Wars and its long-standing fans. Seemingly every frame of the series is filled to the brim with easter eggs and references, making rewatches of the seven chapters all the more necessary. Here is an episode-by-episode breakdown of easter eggs, references, and trivia facts from season 1 of The Book of Boba Fett:

Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land

Boba looks upon the helmet of his recently deceased father Jango in a flashback in the opening moments of the series.

Fans have waited a long time to see Boba Fett escape the infamous sarlacc pit.

The Tusken Raider warrior in The Book of Boba Fett is played by Joanna Bennett, who has performed as a stunt double in many films and shows, including Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Aquaman, and Captain America: Civil War.

The legendary Max Rebo appears in various episodes of The Book of Boba Fett, starting in Chapter 1.

The Trandoshan who pays tribute to Boba Fett in The Book of Boba Fett delivers a Wookiee pelt. This is a reference to the history of Trandoshans hunting Wookiees for fun. The character is also played by executive producer and director Robert Rodriguez.

Sam Witwer voices the Rodian prisoner in The Book of Boba Fett.

Darth Vader says to Boba Fett, “No disintegrations” in The Empire Strikes Back. In Chapter 1, Boba Fett disintegrates one of his attackers.

Chapter 1 of The Book of Boba Fett is titled Stranger in a Strange Land, a reference to Robert A. Heinlein’s novel. The book’s lead was born on Mars, where sharing water was a sign of brotherhood. This mirrors Chapter 1 when the Tusken shares water with Boba Fett.

Crimson Dawn’s theme from Solo: A Star Wars Story can be heard in parts of The Book of Boba Fett’s end credits each episode. Despite rumors, the crime syndicate didn’t end up making an appearance in the series.

Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine

The cinematographer of Chapter 2 is Dean Cundey, famous for his work on Halloween (1978), Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, and Back to the Future.

We see a brief flashback featuring young Boba following the death of his father Jango.

Boba takes the speeders from Tosche Station, which was referenced in A New Hope as a place Luke frequented. Two of Luke’s friends, Fixer and Camie, from a deleted scene of A New Hope reappear as the people saved by Boba Fett.

Boba tells Garsa Fwip, “You’re sweating like a gumpta on Mustafar.” Mustafar is the lava planet Obi-Wan and Anakin fought on in Revenge of the Sith, and has also been seen in Darth Vader comics and The Rise of Skywalker.

The twins delayed their trip to Tatooine to stay on the Hutt homeworld Nal Hutta. This planet has appeared in various stories, including The Clone Wars and The High Republic in which it’s explained its swampy climate is due to Drengir invasion.

Black Krrsantan, the villainous Wookiee bounty hunter, makes his live-action debut in Chapter 2 of The Book of Boba Fett. Krrsantan first appeared in Darth Vader 1 alongside Boba Fett.

Director Steph Green recreates a piece of Ralph McQuarrie concept art in this chapter of the series.

Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa

Boba can be seen burning the stick of the young Tusken child in Chapter 3’s flashback. 

Peli Motto and her company of pit droids can be seen in the background of a flashback in Chapter 3.

A roasted nuna is one of the delicacies on Boba and Fennec’s dinner table in Chapter 3. Nunas are frog-like creatures that appeared in The Phantom Menace and other Star Wars projects.

The new Rancor keeper is played by Danny Trejo, who is a frequent collaborator of director and executive producer Robert Rodriguez.

Danny Trejo’s Rancor keeper says, “It is said that the Witches of Dathomir even rode them through the forests and fens.” Witches of Dathomir like Asajj Ventress and Mother Talzin were shown in The Clone Wars.

Boba’s statement “I’ve ridden beasts ten times its size” as he looks upon his new Rancor is a callback to The Star Wars Holiday Special.

During the speeder chase in Chapter 3, a speeder flies through a Ralph McQuarrie concept art painting of Jabba the Hutt for Return of the Jedi.

The fruit stand the mayor’s assistant crashes into in Chapter 3 is full of meilooruns, which were previously seen in Star Wars Rebels.

Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm

The Modifier who patches up Fennec in Chapter 4 is played by bass guitarist, singer, and songwriter Thundercat, who won a Grammy in 2016 for Best Rap/Sung Performance and in 2021 for Best Progressive R&B Album.

The cook droid in Chapter 4 is a COO-series cook droid. This type of droid first appeared in Attack of the Clones. The droid in The Book of Boba Fett also adopts a battle stance similar to General Grievous.

The seismic charge that ultimately kills the sarlacc has become an iconic feature of Star Wars cinema and television. It first appeared in Attack of the Clones when it was used by Boba’s father Jango.

Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian

The creature who crows like a rooster on Tatooine is known as a Sand Bat. They previously appeared in the Star Wars: The Old Republic video game before showing up in The Book of Boba Fett.

The BD droids first seen in Jedi: Fallen Order reappear in Return of the Mandalorian. The BD is short for “buddy droid.”

Mando’s new ship is an N-1 starfighter. Peli Motto notes that the ship was “handmade for the royal guard and commissioned personally by the Queen of Naboo.” These ships were previously seen in The Phantom Menace.

Peli Motto also says the N-1 starfighter is as fast as a fathier, a reference to the horse-like creatures seen in The Last Jedi.

The X-wing pilot Lt. Reed in Chapter 5 is played by Max Lloyd-Jones, who was Luke Skywalker’s body double in the season 2 finale of The Mandalorian.

Din uses the term ‘wizard’ to describe what it was like to fly his new ship. This term has been used by Kitster Banai when speaking of Anakin, Zeb when speaking of Ezra, Owen Lars used it as a derogatory term towards Ben Kenobi & Ram Jomaram coined it in the High Republic era.

Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger

Like master, like apprentice. Mirroring Yoda’s demonstration of the Force by raising the X-Wing in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke demonstrates the Force to Grogu by lifting frogs from the pond.

The symbol of Barriss Offee can be seen in the background of the Jedi Temple during Grogu’s Order 66 flashback.

We see the beginning stages of Luke’s Jedi Academy in Chapter 7 of The Book of Boba Fett. This was previously seen in The Rise of Kylo Ren as Luke trained young Ben Solo and others and in The Last Jedi when we tragically see it burn to the ground.

The dilemma Luke poses to Grogu – to choose between the path of a Mandalorian or the path of a Jedi – is a duel of the fates-esque scenario, harkening back to various pivotal points in the Star Wars saga in which central characters were tasked with making monumental decisions with widespread implications.

Cad Bane made his long-awaited live action debut in Chapter 6 of The Book of Boba Fett. And Corey Burton returned to voice the character following his work on The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch.

Chapter 7: In the Name of Honor

Cad Bane’s arrival to the Pyke headquarters is framed the same way as Boba Fett’s first appearance in The Mandalorian when he approaches Fennec Shand.

The majordomo references the planet Oba Diah when negotiating with the Pykes. Oba Diah is the home world of the Pyke Syndicate that first made its appearance in The Clone Wars season 6 when Anakin and Obi-Wan visit to learn more about Sifo-Dyas.

Boba Fett and Cad Bane come face to face in the finale. This marks a rematch between the two deadly bounty hunters following an unaired clash in The Clone Wars.

“Well, If That Isn’t The Quacta Calling The Stifling Slimy.” Cad Bane uses the same line to Boba Fett as Boba used to insult Koska Reeves in The Mandalorian.

During the final battle, Peli Motto arrives in a RIC droid, the same type of droid that carries Anakin and Padmé in Attack of the Clones.

Grogu can (possibly) be heard saying “dada” as he leaps into Mando’s arms.

Grogu reaches out to lift Mando’s helmet, which is a throwback to the last time the two met when Djarin finally unmasked.

In Legends, the Scorpenek Annihilator droids were supposed to replace Droidekas, but their expensive price tag prevented this from happening.

The Rancor’s destruction of Mos Espa is a reference to the original King Kong film.

Before Boba rode on top of his Rancor, Rancor riding has been seen several times in Star Wars, including Avar Kriss in Cavan Scott’s The High Republic series.

Skad’s much spoken of spin move during battle mirrors a similar move used in Desperado, another project directed by Robert Rodriguez. And, in the words of young Ani, spinning is a good trick.

And, as many expected, the astromech space in Mando’s new ship is where Grogu will be as the two fly into the next season of The Mandalorian.

The Book of Boba Fett’s end credits tag marks the second time we’ve seen a post-credits scene in the Star Wars universe. Is this something we should expect in Star Wars moving forward?

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Uncharted

by @holocronJosh and @holocronGeorge

Uncharted has had a rocky and interesting road to the big screen to say the least. Fifteen years in development, a myriad of directors circling the project, and pandemic-related difficulties and delays have seen fans eagerly wait for this long-awaited video game adaptation. Uncharted follows Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) as he teams up with veteran explorer and scavenger Sully (Mark Wahlberg) in an effort to find Drake’s long lost brother and recover a lost Spanish treasure.

Uncharted is a tricky movie to adapt. The video game is heavily inspired by the Indiana Jones franchise (so much so that Harrison Ford did a nod of the cap to the franchise in a commercial for the game. In translating a franchise to another medium (film to video game), Naughty Dog were able to overcome potential pitfalls with unoriginal storytelling and, eventually, craft one of the best video game franchises of all time. However, with an Uncharted film, we’re dealing, in some ways, with a film to video game to film adaptation. That’s not to minimize the characters, style, humor, puzzles, and everything that the Uncharted games do so brilliantly. It’s just that, unfortunately, this journey to the big screen makes the film feel quite unoriginal. Indeed, viewers who have never played the Uncharted video games are likely to be confused as to what all the fuss was about the source material.

Uncharted plays like a cross between Indiana Jones and National Treasure (which is not necessarily a bad thing). The film has an old fashioned adventure feel to it, with the characters uncovering clue after clue to reach the treasure. It’s not anything we haven’t seen before, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. Fans of the video game will enjoy the puzzles Drake and the others solve along the way, although these fall short of being immersive experiences for the audience. The action is intense, but ultimately serviceable. However, a set piece involving the characters falling from an airplane was very impressive.

Carrying us along this adventure are Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. The two actors really anchor the film and they have great chemistry from start to finish, often mimicking the relationship of Drake and Sully from the games. That being said, Holland and Wahlberg are ultimately just Holland and Wahlberg in this film. This is nothing we haven’t seen from Mark Wahlberg in a handful of other movies in the past. The same can be said for Tom Holland, who was initially a questionable choice for the role of Drake when announced. Holland does what he can with the writing at hand, but it’s difficult not to imagine what this film would have looked like had it been led by an actor more akin to Drake in the games. As far as villains go, Antonio Banderas is certainly a presence on screen, but unfortunately doesn’t amount to much as the big bad. Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle though are terrific as other treasure hunters.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Uncharted is a serviceable action movie, but, unfortunately, not much more. It’s certainly an entertaining watch, with charismatic leads, an easy-going treasure hunting story line, decent action set pieces, and some twists and turns. The film, however, is sorely lacking in originality and, as a video game adaptation, fans may be slightly underwhelmed.

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Death on the Nile

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh

Agatha Christie remains one of the best selling authors of all time, only outsold by Shakespeare and The Bible itself. It makes sense then that we’ve seen iteration after iteration of her most famous stories and characters on the big and small screen. The latest is Death on the Nile, once again starring, written, and directed by Kenneth Branagh in a follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express. The latest Hercule Poirot mystery follows the legendary detective, who finds himself in Egypt with the life of a wealthy heiress under threat.

Death on the Nile is a refreshing, intelligent, and, ultimately, thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery. The film adopts a slower paced structure than what viewers may be used to in this genre, which is a good thing, because the pacing contributes significantly to the tension and intensity of Death on the Nile. Like the incredible source material the film is based on, the ‘murder’ part of this murder mystery doesn’t occur until roughly halfway through, leaving plenty of time for the audience to understand each of the characters and their motives. And, when the murder eventually occurs, we see Branagh’s Poirot fully in action as he unravels the case.

Branagh is the real star of the show here. He’s more settled in the role of Poirot compared to Murder on the Orient Express. With his second film as the character, Branagh is growing more and more confident in the role and has put enough unique spins on the character to make it his own. Unlike Christie’s original novel, Branagh dedicates more time to developing Poirot as a character, which is a little hit-or-miss. A beautifully crafted black and white opening sequence sets the stage for the powerful themes of love in the film, but the attempts to connect this theme more closely to Poirot himself feel a little forced – in particular, a love interest for Poirot that never really works. Outside of Branagh, the effectiveness of the cast is mixed. Performances from Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright fall flat or, unfortunately at times, but across as unintentionally funny. Meanwhile, supporting players Emma Mackey, Tom Bateman, Dawn French, and Jennifer Saunders excel in their roles.

Beyond the characterization of Poirot, Branagh remains faithful to Christie’s novel to a film that he makes feel like a grand, cinematic endeavor. The film is beautifully shot, and the on-location shoots add to a sense of genuineness and grandiosity that the film has in abundance. The ship on which the bulk of the film is set is also terrific in feeling like a character unto itself. Branagh intelligently introduces the audience to the geography / layout of the ship, which viewers feel closer to the mystery and characters at hand. 

Verdict: 8/10

Death on the Nile is a faithful adaptation of Agatha Christie’s iconic novel, marking another grand theatrical effort from writer, director, and star Kenneth Branagh in bringing the iconic Hercule Poirot to the big screen. Some weak performances and misguided characterization of Poirot take away little from what is an enthralling and visually stunning murder mystery. Fingers crossed there are more Agatha Christie adaptations like this in the future.

Images courtesy of 20th Century Pictures

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Star Wars Holocron

Are Post-Credits Scenes a Thing in Star Wars Now?

by @holocronGeorge & @holocronJosh

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett rounded out its first season with an action packed finale and, like its predecessor The Mandalorian, ended with a post-credits scene teasing what’s to come. While post-credits scenes are a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they were entirely absent from the Star Wars universe, but now we have to ask: are post-credits scenes a thing in Star Wars now?

Post-credits scenes are a long-standing fixture in cinema and television. The first one was tagged at the end of The Silencers, a 1966 spy parody film. Since then, we’ve seen playful post-credits scenes in films like Airplane and intriguing post-credits scenes teasing what’s to come in films like Masters of the Universe. With the surge of superhero films over the last 20 years, post-credits scenes have become an expected feature of some of the biggest franchises. Star Wars, however, remained an exception to this trend – that is, until The Mandalorian Season 2.

After the credits rolled and the stunning concept art faded away, The Mandalorian Season 2 teased fans with a look ahead. Boba Fett takes Jabba’s throne from Bib Fortuna and we got an official announcement of The Book of Boba Fett. The Book of Boba Fett’s finale proves this tag at the end of The Mandalorian was not an isolated incident. At the end of Chapter 7, we see Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth healing in Boba’s bacta tank following his duel with Cad Bane. With the help of the Modifier who helped Fennec Shand, the Marshal seems to be on his way to appear in future Star Wars adventures.

Post-credits scenes are a regular occurrence now, and it makes sense for Star Wars to jump on this trend as well. Fans are always anticipating what’s coming up next, and teases give you that little bit of information to theorize about and hold you over for the time being. This isn’t an MCU-ification of the Star Wars universe. Rather, it shows how Star Wars can continue to evolve over time. Rogue One was notable for the absence of an opening crawl. Solo was notable for a continuation of the “long time ago” text. The Mandalorian was notable for showcasing concept art over the credits. Even The Clone Wars film in 2008 was notable for being an animated theatrically released Star Wars film. Star Wars is defined by its themes, its characters, the emotions it evokes. And post-credits scenes are just another spin and evolution of the brilliant Star Wars franchise.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm