Categories
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

Categories
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

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 7

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 7

After a few episodes stepping away from the spotlight, Boba Fett returns centerstage (mostly) for an action-packed finale of The Book of Boba Fett. Chapter 7 follows Boba and his assembled syndicate as they have a final showdown with the Pykes in Mos Espa.

The bold decision to relegate Boba Fett to a side character, at best, in the last two episodes in favor of a continuation of The Mandalorian’s central plot meant that, heading into Chapter 7, it felt like a while since we’d caught up with Boba. Indeed, amidst the myriad of flashbacks that dominated the first half of the show and the focus on Din and Grogu in Chapters 5 and 6, Boba’s return to the spotlight was refreshing and also slightly jarring. Just when the series was gaining momentum in its narrative following Boba’s fight with the Pykes, the series pivoted away toward two absolutely brilliant, but ultimately rather unrelated installments. Thankfully, Chapter 7 shifts the focus back to Boba in order to provide closure to the series’ core plot.

Chapter 7 plays out like a sprawling action set-piece one would come to expect from a classic Western film. The underdogs are fewer in numbers and resources, but most hold their ground against the powerful and villainous invaders. Director Robert Rodriguez harkens back to his work on The Mandalorian by crafting a series of captivating action sequences in this episode. Rodriguez knows how to make his characters look and feel badass, and we definitely see this realized with Boba, Cad Bane, Din, Fennec, and various others in Chapter 7. The episode maintains a level of tension throughout, which is a compliment considering the finale plays out in a largely predictable manner. We know Din will escape and live another day. The same can be said for Boba and probably Fennec. But, Rodriguez manages to capture some incredible suspense and intensity in the narrow streets of Mos Espa. This isn’t a sprawling final battle like one would see in The Rise of Skywalker with the Battle of Exegol. The battlefield here is much tighter and intimate, and further lends itself to the Western film comparisons.

Amidst the action, the finale delivers plenty of truly satisfying moments. The interactions between Boba and Cad Bane were long-awaited, especially after their deadly duel was cut from The Clone Wars following its cancellation. It’s clear that these two characters have a rich history, and those who know this history will enjoy Boba and Bane’s scenes even more. Cad Bane is a menacing figure in live-action, as he is in animation, which is why it was a shame to see him die after only two brief appearances. That being said, seeing Boba use his Tusken weapon to deal the fatal blow brought the plot of the show full circle.

Speaking of satisfying moments, Grogu plays an unexpectedly major role in Chapter 7. Grogu’s reunion with Din was sweet and touching, and his use of the Force to subdue the Rancor was so cute. It seems somewhat unusual that season 2 of The Mandalorian ends with the dramatic departure of these two characters, only to see them be reunited fairly shortly after before we even get to The Mandalorian season 3. Does it undermine some of the emotional weight of The Mandalorian’s second season finale? Possibly. But, we all want to see Grogu and his dad together again and knew it would happen eventually.

Before Cad Bane’s death, the bounty hunter and Boba briefly discuss Boba’s reputation as a cold-blooded killer and his motivation for cleaning up his act to rule and protect Mos Espa. Ultimately, The Book of Boba Fett didn’t do a great job conveying the audience why Boba was so motivated to change his ways like this. The Boba we know is ruthless, seen in various comics and the original trilogy, as a formidable threat. The flashbacks offer some insight into Boba’s emotional side and the trauma he experienced in losing his Tusken family. But it’s quite a leap to go from losing his Tusken family to wanting to take Jabba’s position as daimyo of Mos Espa. Chapter 7 could have explored Boba’s motivations a little more explicitly, but, ultimately, it was probably too late in the run of the series to do so.

Unlike The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t conclude on a big twist or reveal. There’s no moment like Gideon wielding the dark saber or Luke showing up to save the day that brings the series to an epic conclusion. Usually, this would be a harsh criticism to throw at the show, but The Book of Boba Fett definitely felt like it was missing some incredible twist or spin on its main plot. The Pykes are very disposable as the bad guys, which made us think that a reveal of someone pulling the strings would come in Chapter 7. Without a reveal like that, The Book of Boba Fett’s finale ultimately felt a tad underwhelming.

Verdict: 7/10

The Book of Boba Fett caps off its season with a finale full of exciting action and satisfying moments. Boba’s return to the spotlight is welcomed, and director Robert Rodriguez excels in crafting a finale high in intensity and suspense. The finale falls somewhat flat with the resolution of the Pyke narrative and the absence of some twist or unexpected reveal. Nonetheless, Chapter 7 remains thoroughly enjoyable and has us eagerly awaiting the next appearances of these characters.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

How The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 6 Pays Tribute to the Prequels and Foreshadows The Last Jedi

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 6

Chapter 6 of The Book of Boba Fett was breathtaking to say the least. The return of Grogu. The live-action debut of Cad Bane. Ahsoka and Luke together. But, although there was plenty for fans to feast on in this episode, the latest episode of the Disney+ series subtly plays an interesting and ominous role in the larger Skywalker saga.

The episode concludes with a “duel of the fates” of sorts. Grogu must decide between following the path of the Jedi with Luke or following his emotional attachment to The Mandalorian and return to his adoptive father. The theme of attachment resonates throughout the Skywalker saga, but is particularly evident in the prequel trilogy as it plays an integral role in the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader. Anakin’s journey in the prequels largely encompasses a struggle between two ends of the same spectrum: total, almost obsessive attachment to another and the complete negation of emotional attachment. The former represents the stance of Palpatine and the appeal the dark lord of the Sith held in the eyes of Anakin. Meanwhile, the latter represents the almost impersonal stance of the Jedi Order. George Lucas has spoken extensively about the warring pulls of attachment and detachment that ultimately led to Anakin’s fall:

“The thing with Anakin is that he started out a great kid, he was very compassionate. So the issue was, how did he turn bad. How did he go to the Dark Side? He went to the Dark Side, Jedi aren’t supposed to have attachments. They can love people, they can do that. But they can’t attach. That’s the problem in the world of fear, once you are attached to something, then you become afraid of losing it. And when you become afraid of losing it, then you turn to the Dark Side, and you want to hold onto it, and that was Anakin’s issue ultimately, that he wanted to hold onto his wife who he knew, he had a premonition that she was going to die. He didn’t know how to stop it, so he went to the Dark Side to find… in mythology you go to Hades, and you talk to the Devil, and the Devil says ‘this is what you do’ and basically you sell your soul to the devil. When you do that, and you’re afraid and you’re on the Dark Side and you fall off the golden path of compassion because you are greedy, you want to hold on to something that you love and he didn’t do the right thing and as a result he turned bad.”

Ultimately, one of the lessons of Anakin’s fall is that both the Jedi and the Sith were wrong. The devil-like qualities of the Sith that Lucas speaks of glaringly show the wrong-doing of the Sith, as Palpatine seduces Anakin on the premise that he can save his beloved wife from certain death. But the Jedi are also misguided in their views on attachment as well. In so bluntly discouraging attachment, the Jedi exhibited compassion, but not the deep rooted emotional connections we associate with love. In a way, the Jedi feared what would happen if a person became too emotionally attached (as seen with Anakin). The Jedi, though, are also off-base. In maintaining such a strong stance on attachments and adopting an attitude so devoid of emotion and compassion, the Jedi inadvertently pushed Anakin toward the dark side. Anakin was struggling with his feelings and fears and, when given a choice between unrelenting attachment and total detachment, it was inevitable he would lapse to the dark side. The lesson this all serves is that the Sith were wrong in overly prioritizing attachment and the Jedi were wrong in neglecting the importance of attachment. A balance, of sorts, is necessary.

So, how does this relate to the latest chapter of The Book of Boba Fett? Luke and Ahsoka both speak of Grogu’s attachment to Din Djarin in a somewhat negative light. In The Mandalorian Season 2, Ahsoka outright refuses to train Grogu on the basis of his attachment to The Mandalorian, which is seen as in direct opposition to the dogma of the Jedi Order. Luke holds similar sentiments in The Book of Boba Fett. Luke and Ahsoka have seemingly failed to learn the lesson of Anakin’s downfall: that attachment is inherently wrong. Instead, Luke and Ahsoka seem somewhat blind to the balance in attachment that would’ve saved Anakin and likely the Jedi Order altogether. Now, Grogu is being placed in a similarly impossible position between two mutually exclusive choices that do not need to be mutually exclusive. Grogu can train in the ways of the Force and be a Mandalorian foundling. But, Luke and Ahsoka don’t see it this way.

Flash forward to The Last Jedi and we have a hardened Luke scarred by his urge to kill his nephew Ben Solo. Totally cut off from the Force, Luke laments the failures of Jedi dogma. He criticizes the hubris of the Jedi Order in believing they always knew what was best. He criticizes the Jedi Order in claiming that their attempts to help led to unfathomable harm. And he points out the hypocrisies in the Jedi that Palpatine also identified. Many of the failings in the Jedi that The Last Jedi-era Luke points out are exhibited by the Luke we see in The Book of Boba Fett. On the surface, Luke is more powerful than ever, confident in his abilities in the Force as he trains Grogu and attempts to restart the Jedi Order. But, in putting Grogu in such a difficult position, Luke is evidencing his narrow mindedness that the Luke of 30 years later is hyper-critical of. We can feel the hubris and confidence in Luke. He has no doubts in regards to his stance on attachment, despite how similar situations led to the fall of his father to the dark side.

Moving forward in the Disney+ run of Star Wars series, it will be interesting to see if this theme is explored more deeply. As a viewer, we have this excitement and love for the return of Luke that, in some ways, may blind us to the possibility that he is overly confident and misguided in his perspectives. Nonetheless, the incredible writing in Chapter 6 contains brilliant references to the broader Star Wars saga, but also touches on more intimate and subtle themes that nicely tie the prequel and sequel trilogies together.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 6

by @HolocronGeorge and @HolocronJosh

Warning: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 6 of The Book of Boba Fett

After a slow burn start to the series, The Book of Boba Fett is certainly racing to the finish line. The first four episodes were largely flashback focused, with writer Jon Favreau teasing the Pykes as the present day threat for Boba Fett and Fennec Shand. Chapter 5 flipped the script, with Fett not appearing at all, with the Mandalorian the center focus of the episode. Chapter 6 spends a bit more on the villainous Pykes and the actual plot of the series, but also continues to focus on expanding the world of The Mandalorian.

As teased at the end of the last episode, Din Djarin and Grogu are set for a reunion…or so we thought. Djarin traveled to see his adopted son, and was greeted by R2-D2 and even Ahsoka Tano before finally giving and leaving, allowing Grogu to train with Luke without attachment, as is the Jedi way. There’s some amazing scenes here with Luke and Grogu in particular, and Dave Filoni does a great job as director to show us this amazing new planet that they’re on. Fans never got to see Luke with a Padawan like this in live action, with the Jedi a recluse and beyond his prime in the Sequel Trilogy. It definitely seems as if they’re going down this route to show us what fans have always wanted to see, Luke as a Jedi master.

All of this culminates in an incredibly emotional way, as the episode certainly hits these beats. Djarin being so close yet so far from Grogu, the little green alien training with Luke and even an Order 66 flashback, and Ahsoka telling Luke that he’s similar to his father are all some of the strongest emotional moments in Star Wars in recent years. Emotionally, this episode succeeds wholeheartedly.

The rest of the episode takes place on Tatooine, where Cobb Vanth has been reintroduced and is not fond of the Pykes and the spice they’re bringing into his town. Boba Fett needs warriors, and Mando arrives to help, and goes to Vanth to recruit him. Vanth is hesitant, particularly as he doesn’t want to risk the lives of the people he’s supposed to protect, so Djarin leaves uncertain if he’ll get the help Fett needs. Vanth then has a shootout with none other than Cad Bane, and looks hurt as he gets shot by the bounty hunter first seen in The Clone Wars.

Overall, this episode is full of cameos, from R2-D2 to Ahsoka to Cobb Vanth and many others. With so many, it would be relatively easy to struggle to fit all these characters in to the same episode, but Filoni and Favreau do a good job with it here. All of it seems logical and not simply an appearance for the sake of having a famous character return. Luke and Grogu are training together, so if they latter was going to show up then it would be strange to not have Skywalker with him. Cobb Vanth is a formidable and honorable warrior on Tatooine, so Fett trying to recruit him makes sense. Some have criticized fan service in recent years for being a disservice to the overall story, citing their belief that it’s designed purely for an initial thrill of seeing something that the audience recognizes from the past, but it’s hard to see how one could be against the events of Chapter 6 of The Book of Boba Fett. Again, it’s all logical and feels right.

Once again, Boba Fett takes a backseat in this episode. As purely an episode of Star Wars TV, it doesn’t make much of a difference, as the story of Fett’s show is progressed as well as expanding the world of The Mandalorian more broadly, and it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is an amazing episode. Still, with only one episode left of the season, it’s unclear how much character development Boba Fett will have in this initial solo outing, or how much more audiences have learned about the character. It seems a bit of a missed opportunity to not explore Fett further in his own show, but future seasons are now the most likely place for that.

Verdict: 9/10

Chapter 6 of The Book of Boba Fett feels more aligned to the Skywalker Saga or the Star Wars franchise more broadly than just Boba Fett. It’s an incredibly emotional episode that hits all the major beats it attempts, and is well directed by Dave Filoni. The Pykes are more interesting now that we’ve learned more about them, but Boba Fett once again is almost non-existent. It’s a shame that more hasn’t been done with Fett in his own show, but it doesn’t take away from how great this episode is.

Images courtesy of Disney and Lucasfilm

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

What’s New in Star Wars – February 2022

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

February looks to be the month of dramatic finales for Star Wars fans. Not only does The Book of Boba Fett’s first season draw to a close, but we will all see phase 1 of The High Republic come to a powerful end. Below includes a list and description of upcoming Star Wars projects in the month of February. It is important to note all of these release dates are subject to change.

February 1 – The High Republic: The Battle for Starlight

This new children’s book by George Mann runs concurrently with Claudia Gray’s The Fallen Star.

February 1 – The High Republic: Midnight Horizon

Daniel Jose Older helps bring the High Republic’s first phase to a closing with his new YA novel from Disney-Lucasfilm Press. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “After a series of staggering losses, the Republic seems to finally have the villainous Nihil marauders on the run, and it looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Until word comes of a suspected Nihil attack on the industrial cosmopolitan world of Corellia, right in the Galactic Core.Sent to investigate are Jedi Masters Cohmac Vitus and Kantam Sy, along with Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jomaram, all fighting their own private battles after months of unrelenting danger. On Corellia, Reath and Ram encounter a brazen young security specialist named Crash, whose friend was one of the victims of the Nihil attack, and they team up with her to infiltrate Corellia’s elite while the Masters pursue more diplomatic avenues. But going undercover with Crash is more dangerous than anyone expected, even as Ram pulls in his friend Zeen to help with an elaborate ruse involving a galactic pop star. But what they uncover on Corellia turns out to be just one part of a greater plan, one that could lead the Jedi to their most stunning defeat yet….”

February 2 – The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 6

After Din Djarin’s jaw-dropping appearance in Chapter 5 and the tease that we will soon see Grogu (and possibly Luke) again, the anticipation is sky high for the penultimate chapter of The Book of Boba Fett.

February 2 – Crimson Reign 2

The second issue of Charles Soule’s Crimson Reign series debuts this month.

February 2 – Halcyon Legacy 1

Ethan Sacks kicks off a new Star Wars comic series for Marvel Comics this month. The publisher’s summary for the first issue is as follows: “THE VOYAGES OF THE GREATEST OF ALL-STAR CRUISERS! As the legendary HALCYON embarks on a momentous…cruise, the ship heads toward a confrontation with THE FIRST ORDER! But what secret from THE HIGH REPUBLIC ERA can help the passengers and crew all these years later? And how did JEDI NIBS and BURRY fend off a NIHIL attack on one of the ship’s first ever voyages?”

February 2 – Star Wars Adventures (2020) 14

George Mann and Justina Ireland bring new Star Wars adventures to life in the new issue of IDW Publishing’s underrated series.

February 2 – The High Republic 14

Cavan Scott’s thrilling High Republic comic series continues to out do itself and works so well in conjunction with other High Republic stories. The publisher’s summary for the newest issue is as follows: “THE EDGE OF DESTRUCTION! From Hero of Hetzal to…murderer? Can Keeve Trennis stop Marshal Avar Kriss from making a fatal mistake? Death and danger await the Starlight Jedi as they finally close in on their enemy. Tying directly into Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: The Fallen Star, phase one of Star Wars: The High Republic enters its cataclysmic final wave of stories. Everything is about to change.”

February 8 – Star Wars Legends: Rise of the Sith Omnibus

A new Omnibus collecting classic Legends comics debuts this month. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming collection is as follows: “The road to The Phantom Menace! Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn has a close encounter with the Dark Side while trying to prevent a civil war! And can Qui-Gon and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi deal with an out-of-control cloud cruiser — and the lawless world of Ord Mantell? As Mace Windu’s Jedi Knights face the deadly threat of the Yinchorri, Darth Maul strikes from the shadows — cutting down all obstacles in his mysterious master’s way! And meet teenage Queen Padmé Amidala and young Anakin Skywalker — a boy with a dark destiny! Collecting STAR WARS: JEDI — THE DARK SIDE #1-5; STAR WARS: QUI-GON & OBI-WAN — THE AURORIENT EXPRESS #1-2; STAR WARS: QUI-GON & OBI-WAN — LAST STAND ON ORD MANTELL #1-3; STAR WARS: JEDI COUNCIL — ACTS OF WAR #1-4; STAR WARS (1998) #0-6; STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL (2000) #1-4; STAR WARS: EPISODE I — THE PHANTOM MENACE #1/2 and #1-4; STAR WARS: EPISODE I — ANAKIN SKYWALKER, QUEEN AMIDALA, QUI-GON JINN and OBI-WAN KENOBI and material from STAR WARS TALES #1, #3, #5, #7, #9-10, #13-14, #20 and #24.”

February 8 – Star Wars: Inner Jedi

Insight Editions is here with another enthralling reference book. This time around, we’re treated to a guided journal focusing on the philosophy of the Jedi Order.

February 9 – Darth Vader (2020) 20

Greg Pak’s Darth Vader series is one of the best Star Wars comics currently running, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store in this upcoming issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE QUEEN’S SHADOW RETURNS! Darth Vader continues his quest to destroy the agents of Crimson Dawn, abetted by an unlikely crew of heroes and assassins. But every twist in the tale gets thrown into question with the shocking return of SABÉ, handmaiden of Padmé Amidala! Who’s the hero? Who’s the villain? And will they choose chaos or order in the age of Crimson Reign?”

February 9 – The High Republic: Trail of Shadows 5

The mystery-thriller series from Daniel Jose Older comes to an end this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “It all comes crashing together in this finale as Emerick and Sian come face to face with mystery they’ve been hunting. Who will survive? Phase one of Star Wars: The High Republic culminates in this crashing conclusion.”

February 9 – The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 7

The Book of Boba Fett’s first season concludes with its seventh chapter this month.

February 15 – Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes

Check out our exclusive preview of Titan Magazine’s upcoming Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes here, featuring insightful interviews with George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Mark Hamill, and more!

February 15 – The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two)

Once again written by Phil Szostak, a new Star Wars art book spotlighting season 2 of The Mandalorian is one of our most anticipated projects this month.

February 15 – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Legacy of the Sith

The eighth Digital Expansion to the BioWare MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic will release mid-February. Summary is as follows: “The expansion’s storyline takes place on the planet of Manaan, and will send players headfirst into a new military campaign with the mission of securing a very important planet for their faction. The narrative will center around Darth Malgus. The level cap is raised to 80. There will be new missions to take on, including a Flashpoint set on the remote planet of Elom, in addition to a new Operation that players will need to complete, as well.”

February 16 – The High Republic: Eye of the Storm 2

Charles Soule’s deep dive into Marchion Ro continues this month. 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.”

February 22 – Star Wars Insider Presents: Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season Two Collector’s Edition Volume One

Titan Magazines spotlights the first half of The Mandalorian’s second season in a new collection this month.

February 22 – Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, Volume Two

A new book from IDW Publishing brings together The High Republic Adventures 6-8, the 2021 annual, and the 2021 Free Comic Book Day story. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “An even longer time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the adventures continue for Lula and her fellow Padawans in the Republic’s golden age! The High Republic is an unexplored period in Star Wars history, set hundreds of years before the events of the Skywalker Saga—when the Jedi were at their height and Master Yoda was much younger, and still training Padawans in the field. It is here where we find Jedi Padawans Farzala and Qort, who are taking a break from the ongoing battle against the dangerous marauders known as the Nihil. As part of a secret mission, they join an aging Jedi Knight on the starship The Vessel to negotiate a peace treaty with the Hutt crime family. Hey, what could go wrong? As it turns out: literally everything. Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures is part of a broader storytelling initiative exploring a mysterious, bygone era of the Galactic Republic through comics and prose.”

February 23 – The High Republic 15

The final issue of Cavan Scott’s comic series has us waiting eagerly in anticipation. 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?”

February 23 – The High Republic Adventures 13

Also marking an end to the High Republic’s first phase is the final issue of The High Republic Adventures. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “With their latest mission behind them, the Padawan face their greatest challenge yet: the future. Farzala and Qort are ready to take the next steps, but Lula can’t shake her emotions, as is the Jedi way. She’s been trained for battle, for diplomatic relations, for rescue missions… she was never trained for a heart that aches for more. Through it all, though, they are guided by wise words of the Jedi: for light and for life.”

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

February 1 – The High Republic: The Battle for Starlight 

February 1 – The High Republic: Midnight Horizon 

February 2 – The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 6

February 2 – Crimson Reign 2 

February 2 – Halcyon Legacy 1 

February 2 – Star Wars Adventures (2020) 14 

February 2 – The High Republic 14 

February 8 – Star Wars Legends: Rise of the Sith Omnibus 

February 8 – Star Wars: Inner Jedi 

February 9 – Darth Vader (2020) 20 

February 9 – The High Republic: Trail of Shadows 5 

February 9 – The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 7

February 15 – Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes 

February 15 – The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two) 

February 15 – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Legacy of the Sith

February 16 – The High Republic: Eye of the Storm 2 

February 22 – Star Wars Insider Presents: Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season Two Collector’s Edition Volume One 

February 22 – Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, Volume Two 

February 23 – The High Republic 15 

February 23 – The High Republic Adventures 13

Images courtesy of Disney+, Lucasfilm, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Titan Magazines, Insight Editions, Abrams Books, Disney-Lucasfilm Press

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

The Book of Boba Fett: Chapter 5 Review

By @HolocronJosh and @HolocronGeorge

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers for Chapter 5 of The Book of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 5…or The Mandalorian Chapter 17? The most anticipated episode of the season arrived today with Return of the Mandalorian, which had Din Djarin in the starring role. The audience catches up with the character that won everyone’s hearts with his relationship with Grogu, and seeds are planted for the final two episodes of The Book of Boba Fett. Oh, and, plenty of Easter eggs and references to boot.

Din Djarin is introduced almost immediately, in similar fashion to Ahsoka’s arrival in The Mandalorian Season 2. Both were Chapters that hardcore fans knew were going to feature the return of iconic characters, and these heroes appeared quicker than most expected, and with lightsabers ignited almost instantly as well. Djarin walks into a meat packing plant, a first in the Star Wars universe, to collect a bounty. But he’s a Mandalorian after all, and weapons are part of his religion, as the creed goes, so what begins with a conversation quickly turns into a battle. Djarin uses the darksaber, the same ancient Mandalorian weapon he won the last time we saw him, to bring in a wanted criminal cold.

This action sequence is incredibly well directed, as is the entire episode. Bryce Dallas Howard has gone from strength to strength in her behind the scenes role on Star Wars every since Chapter 4 of The Mandalorian in 2019. This episode is the highlight of her three directed features so far, with the action ramped up to another level and showing the broader galaxy in a beautiful way. The directing has been under the spotlight from some Star Wars fans who were critical of certain chapters of The Book of Boba Fett, in particular the chase sequence with the biker gang. Regardless of one’s feelings on that sequence or the directing of the show so far, it’s hard to see how anyone would have an issue with Chapter 5 in this regard. Return of the Mandalorian is easily the best directed episode of the season so far. Hats off to Bryce Dallas Howard.

The episode later goes on to serve as a catch up with Djarin, as he meets The Armorer and Visla, duels for the right to keep his saber, and heads to Tatooine to get a new ship. It’s something that fans arguably expected to come in the first episode of The Mandalorian Season 3, but it works nonetheless, as Djarin is such a compelling character that his mere presence lights up the show in a way some felt was needed. Djarin has a new ship, a Naboo Starfighter to be specific, which is fittingly silver in color. The Starfighter is just one of many Easter eggs, callbacks, and references in this episode, but it works. It all makes sense and adds up to the overall story. Some are critical of fan service, saying that it serves no overall purpose and is there to please hardcore watchers of a given franchise, but that’s certainly not the case here. Like Luke’s appearance in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale, the story seems to lead to some of these events, not the other way around as some allege at other film and TV projects more broadly. It makes sense to see K2 droids on Mandalore, for example, as they were Empire controlled mercenaries during the time of the Original Trilogy, which is when the Great Purge occurred. Overall, it’s clear they are working towards something with forward momentum, rather than landing on an idea and going backwards to make it fit the story. All of it feels natural in a great way.

There’s so many callbacks that it’s hard to reference all of them, but one in particular deserves a shoutout: the appearance of what seems to be BD-1 from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Cal Kestis’ droid was a big part of the game, and seems to appear here, or at least a droid of the same model. BD used his scanning abilities to help with the ship build just as he did with Kestis in Fallen Order. All of this a cool reference that could go further than that, as Djarin’s new ship does have a space made for a droid.

Djarin’s story is further, too: the episode ends with him stating he needs to go visit the Child to give him what appears to be a Mandalorian helmet. A Grogu and Luke Skywalker arrival seems imminent, and maybe the latter will help with the pressing Pyke situation that Boba Fett needs to deal with if he is to establish authority on Tatooine. It’s truly beginning to feel like a mini-cinematic universe with Din’s arrival in this show, and the possibility of other famous characters coming in too. There haven’t been too many successful cinematic universes outside of Marvel, with DC in particular struggling to build an interconnected world of characters, but it’s so far, so good for The Mandalorian. It helps, of course, to have Iron Man and original MCU director Jon Favreau at the helm. It seems as if the world in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens will only continue to get bigger as further shows are added in, such as Ahsoka. It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan.

Interestingly, Boba Fett doesn’t appear at all in this episode. It’s certainly an unexpected creative decision, and one that many may not even mention or think about too deeply simply due to Djarin’s incredible screen presence. However, it has to be noted that the episode serves as a Din Djarin quest of sorts, with no forward momentum for the plot of The Book of Boba Fett. With only two episodes left, it’s beginning to seem like this show will have a first season akin to many Star Wars shows before it, with a teaser initial outing before going deeper in future seasons. Perhaps it should have been expected given the history of Star Wars TV, but it still feels a little jarring. Jon Favreau definitely seems at his most comfortable when writing Din Djarin as well, with a certain confidence and swagger in the writing whenever he is at the center. Boba Fett has done plenty of great character work to move the famed bounty hunter beyond just a faceless, immoral mercenary, and it would benefit the show greatly if they committed to that even further in the final two episodes and beyond.

Despite those concerns, Return of the Mandalorian is a stunning episode of Star Wars TV, and arguably the best we’ve ever gotten, directly rivaling Chapters 9 and 13 of The Mandalorian. The directing and action are incredible, hardcore fans will rewatch again and again to find new amazing references, and Djarin’s character continues to grow and evolve. He’s already one of the most iconic characters in Star Wars, and his beloved status with fans is only set to grow with this episode. Despite the lack of Boba Fett, and no forward momentum of the Pyke plot more broadly, the episode just about gets away with it due to the tease of Djarin coming to help Fett in the final two episodes. First, though, a Grogu reunion. The countdown to next week begins once again.

Verdict: 9.5/10

Return of the Mandalorian is the best episode of Star Wars television so far, leaving a tense wait for next week’s episode and the many imminent reunions at hand: Mando and Grogu, Mando and Boba, etc. It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan, and this episode only furthers this.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: The Book of Chapter 4

by @holocronJosh & @holocronGeorge

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 4

Another Wednesday, another episode of The Book of Boba Fett. After last week’s (relatively) present day heavy episode, which featured a showdown between Boba and Black Krrsantan amidst the looming presence of the Pykes, Chapter 4 reverses the structure and is set mainly in the past again. More gaps are filled in a polished and entertaining episode as Ming-Na Wen shines in a terrific central role.

After Chapter 3’s somewhat strange decision to abruptly kill Boba’s newfound Sand People family off, Chapter 4’s flashbacks follow Boba as he deals with the aftermath of this tragedy. Boba is broken and haunted by their deaths, but far from defeated. Rather, he seems intent on doing one thing: getting revenge on those who harmed his friends. It’s a plot that elevates Boba as a character immensely, with Chapter 4 furthering the character work that the series has done so far. Fett is not merely the action figure-like caricature that was presented in the original trilogy. The flashbacks are fleshing out Fett’s character and, importantly, give the audience a real sense of why he wants to be a crime lord and not just a bounty hunter; as he tells Fennec, he wants a tribe, a family, and ruling (with respect, of course), which gives Boba the opportunity to regain what he lost with the deaths of the Tuskens. All of this deepening of Boba’s character in Chapter 4 occurs subtly, and is elevated by Temuera Morrison’s simultaneously understated and heightened performance. Morrison plays the role with such gravitas that we wish he appeared in every Star Wars project (which seems semi-realistic at this stage given that there are so many clones around in the timeline, all of whom share the same face as Boba). Chapter 4 is easily Morrison’s best performance in Star Wars so far.

Similarly, Ming-Na Wen also shines in this episode. The plot brings Boba to the events of Chapter 5 of The Mandalorian, where he rescues Fennec from the desert and helps her recover. Wen excels in playing off Morrison, with Boba being the more sympathetic, heartfelt character and Fennec seemingly more ruthless, especially as she wants to rule with more of an iron grip in the present day scenes. The duo’s great chemistry is on display here more than ever, and are almost like Yin and Yang in terms of their personalities. Their dynamic makes the series, and this episode in particular, even more captivating.

Fennec is brought to a droid-style hospital where the mods from the previous episode seemingly got their “improvements.” Those characters were the brunt of a degree of criticism from Star Wars fans this past week, with some saying their bikes and overall personalities were ill-fitting with the franchise. Favreau and company certainly double down on the mods here, with more bikes, more droid-enhanced humans, and unique music that evokes Blade Runner. Regardless of one’s feelings regarding this aspect of the show, it’s indicative of an overall attempt to push the boundaries of what Star Wars can be by Favreau and Filoni. It’s certainly an interesting concept, and the idea itself deserves praise for the sheer uniqueness and boldness from Favreau and colleagues to open the door to different characters and personalities of the ever expanding Star Wars galaxy.

This episode is masterfully directed by Kevin Tancharoen, a newcomer to the behind the scenes team behind these Disney+ series. It’s undeniably the best directed episode in the series so far, with Tancharoen handling the action scenes with a deft hand. It’s a testament to Tancharoen that, despite the events of Chapter 4 being largely predictable, the episode manages a consistent level of tension and suspense. The Sarlaac Pit sequence, where Boba returns to the pit to look (unsuccessfully) for his armor, could have been a difficult scene to craft, but Tancharoen directs it with horror-film like intensity that evokes Han and Leia’s harrowing escape from the Exogorth in The Empire Strikes Back and improves the event exponentially. There’s also some great shots of Tatooine in this episode, with one night time look at the suns and moon of the planet a particular highlight.

The big event of the episode, though, occurs at the end: a direct tease at Din Djarin’s impending arrival in the series. Boba needs warriors to fight the Pykes, and at this time in canon, who else than the Mandalorian himself? It makes the anticipation for next week’s episode even greater. Will he have a new ship? Will we see the darksaber again? Perhaps wishful thinking, but maybe a reunion with Grogu? It’s amazing to think about. Despite that, it actually makes sense for the story. It’s not simply Favreau putting Djarin in this new series for the sake of it, but because Boba Fett is in need of help and he has a relationship with Djarin now. 

Verdict: 8/10

The Book of Boba Fett’s fourth installment proves to be the best in the series so far, with incredible action and acting alongside great character work for Boba and Fennec. Things are certainly heating up, with a confrontation with the Pykes pending. The anticipation grows once again for next week’s episode with the impending arrival of The Mandalorian and we’re certainly counting down the days.

Images courtesy of Disney and Lucasfilm

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: Star Wars: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes

by @holocronGeorge & @holocronJosh

If you’re like us, you love insights from behind the scenes of Star Wars. Interesting facts, behind the scenes stories, and reveals add so much depth to our beloved adventures in a galaxy far, far away. Next month, we’ll have a chance to go behind the scenes even further to discover how the most iconic Star Wars’ heroes were brought to life. Star Wars: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes is an upcoming collection of interviews and articles from Titan Comics. In this new collection, actors and creators discuss the ins and outs of bringing iconic characters and stories to life. The collection includes interviews with George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, to name a few.

Check out here an exclusive preview of a feature on Ahsoka Tano and an interview with Ashley Eckstein.

AHSOKA TANO – From a Padawan learner to a Jedi to an exile from the Jedi Order, Ahsoka Tano’s emotional journey gave Ashley Eckstein an opportunity to create a unique character in the Star Wars saga.

Making her Star Wars debut in the 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie, Ahsoka Tano soon became a much-loved character in the Star Wars mythology. When we first meet her, she is an effervescent youngster placed under the mentorship of Anakin Skywalker.

Ashley Eckstein’s performance as the character would take the young Togruta in a multitude of surprising directions, not least when she brandished two lightsabers!

Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano): Two lightsabers are always better than one! I thought that was awesome that she got a second lightsaber. One of them is shorter, almost like a lightsaber dagger, which I thought was really cool. She definitely toughend up. She spent so much time with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Plo Koon that she began taking on their fighting skills, especially Anakin’s. Ahsoka has no fear, no fear at all. She just goes right at it. Sometimes Anakin is so spontaneous that he doesn’t think about the Jedi way of doing things. Obi-Wan is more by the book. Ahsoka is definitely a combination of them both. I wouldn’t say Anakin is a bad influence, but he’s not necessarily the best influence for promoting the Jedi way. Anakin does things his own way, so Ahsoka has definitely become more like Anakin. At times she acts in ways that would be against what they would teach at the Jedi Temple. But thinking outside the box like Anakin and Ahsoka do is sometimes the best way to accomplish what you want. You have to take the good with the bad.

The third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars featured a trilogy of episodes set in the mysterious world of Mortis.

Ashley Eckstein: The scripts of the three Mortis episodes really blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that they were allowing us to tackle that storyline. There are some heavy questions about Anakin and who he is. It really affects the movies and ties them into our series. I think that’s what was so nice about our show—as we went along, we helped explain things that happen in the movies and answer people’s questions about why things are the way they are.

When we first started, some fans complained because our show would be part of Star Wars canon, but now I think they welcome the fact that they’re getting some answers they always wanted. I had to approach them differently because Ahsoka goes through many personality transformations during this story. She grows up, and she goes through some extremely tough times. Just having to explore those different personalities, but still keeping them true to Ahsoka, was quite difficult for me. There was one scene I wasn’t quite hitting on the first try. Usually when we record an episode we only to three takes on every line, and then we move on. It’s rare to do more than three takes of something, but this one particular scene we were doing over and over again. I was getting really frustrated that I couldn’t nail it. I was so blessed to have James Arnold Taylor [Obi-Wan] in the studio with me. He came over and said, “Okay Ashley, calm down, you can do this. Try it this way,” which was completely different than how I was doing it. It worked and that’s the take they ended up using. It was like going to school every time I went into a recording session. I’m constantly learning from the cast. The animation in that particular scene just blew my mind. The animators continued to raise the bar, but they really went to town for the Mortis episodes. There’s some stunning shots that we truly haven’t seen before.

As an actress you always look for challenging opportunities and roles. As the cast all became more and more familiar with our characters, it could have become routine because playing your character becomes second nature. We’d been working on the show for five years, so you automatically know how your character would say certain lines. To have opportunities that are challenging and [that] give you the chance to stretch your talents is definitely something that I always looked forward to. Putting Ahsoka into different situations, whether she seems evil, or whether she grows up, or exploring where she is heading is something that can be very rewarding to perform.

For Eckstein, there was a feeling of unfinished business as she returned to play an older, wiser Ahsoka.

Ashley Eckstein: I’m a huge fan of the characters in Star Wars and so, as a fan, I became so invested in them. We spent six seasons on The Clone Wars getting to know these characters so deeply—we really did. They’re animated characters, but we became emotionally attached to them. I can’t say enough about Captain Rex and what he means, but also Hondo Ohnaka is a personal favorite of mine. So for The Clone Wars to end like it did, kind of on a cliffhanger and not knowing where these characters ended up, it meant so much for them to come back in Star Wars Rebels because we needed more from these characters. We need more of their storylines, we need to know where they went and what they’ve been doing, and what happened to them.

__

Star Wars: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes is out February 15 and available to purchase here.

Images courtesy of Titan Comics

Categories
DC Motherbox

New Images From The Batman Released

by @HolocronGeorge

We’re less than two months out from the highly anticipated ‘The Batman’. Directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson, the movie will be the first Bat-flick in nearly a decade. The film is described as a year two tale, in which they will not tell the character’s famous origins story once again but will depict Bruce Wayne as a young Batman. Check out the new pictures below:

New, clearer looks at The Riddler and Penguin, along with some great behind the scenes shots which give us a fresh look at the incredible new Batsuit. We’re certainly excited.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros and DC Entertainment