The Mandalorian is owned by Disney
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
We’re back with another episode of Star Wars After Dark; which admittedly is still pretty family friendly considering its being made on Disney’s dime. That said, the first episode did establish a tone for itself as a less goofy and more grounded interpretation of this universe and was quite good on top of that! Was that episode a one off fluke, or does Disney really have something here that’s worth paying attention to? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with THE MANDALORIAN… okay, I’m not gonna keep calling him that, so until they give him a real name let’s try out a different one each episode. Let’s go with… Jim for this one! So Jim (Pedro Pascal) is taking the Yoda Baby with him after “rescuing” it from the “bad guys” last time (it’s still unclear whether they were good guys or not) and it’s unclear what Jim plans to do with it once he gets off world. Will he take it back to the DEFINITE BAD GUY Werner Herzog, or find a Space Orphanage to drop it off at? These are questions that will have to be tabled for the moment as Jim gets attacked by a bunch of… I guess they’re Tusken Raiders, who try to smash his head in with sticks. Jim manages to fight them off however in a really well choreographed action scene, and after the dust has settled he notices that one of his attackers had a tracking device on him. The same one that Werner Herzog gave to him to find the Yoda Baby. So yeah, if being played by WERNER HERZOG wasn’t enough of a clue, this pretty much cements it that Jim is working for the wrong team. They didn’t even give him a chance to find the baby before handing the job off to someone else, and I guess that begs the question of just how many more people are after this little green brat? Speaking of whom, the little bugger is actually a pretty impressive effect. They LOOK like a really good puppet with CG modifications, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re just a REALLY good CG effect. While it can’t talk or seem to communicate with Jim, it seems to be much more aware than a typical baby would be (considering he’s fifty years old, he BETTER have picked up on a few things) but Jim has no time for such things as he ignores it like any good surrogate father figure does in the first two acts of a story!
Eventually the duo make it back to Jim’s ship which would normally be good news, but as it turns out a Jawa sandcrawler has happened upon it and the little jerks are currently stripping it for parts which Jim doesn’t take too kindly and starts shooting at them. They scurry off at the first sign of danger and try to bail in their sandcrawler with whatever parts they have, but Jim doesn’t take too kindly to that either and tries to chase it down. The show is still knocking it out of the park with the action as this scene where Jim chases the sandcrawler is really well made and does a much better job of blending grit and comedy than we got in the last one. Jim eventually jumps on the side and starts climbing with grim determination and ruthless skill while the Jawa’s are scrambling to knock this guy off of their truck; throwing trash and hurling insults like space soccer hooligans. He somehow manages to crawl his way up to the top of the sandcrawler and is ready to bust some heads, but he didn’t stop to think that MAYBE a bunch of them would be waiting up there for him and sure enough he gets blasted with enough stun weapons to fall over the side like a sack of space potatoes. Well that didn’t go too well all things considered! With the Jawas now far off in the distance with a bunch of the ship’s parts, Jim has no choice but to go back to the guy who helped him out in the last episode (Nick Nolte) and beg him to find them a way off planet. His solution is pretty simple which is to go back to the Jawas and ASK them for the parts back which is a plan Jim doesn’t seem to fond of, but sure enough it actually seems to do the trick as they agree to return what they took as long as they do something for them. There’s a creature in a cave not too far from here that has an egg the Jawas want. If Jim can get the egg, he can have his parts back. Not too shabby a deal considering how many of them he’s already killed, but hey! Why let a wee bit of murder get in the way of perfectly good transaction!?
So Jim goes off to get this egg and for some reason brings the Yoda Baby along which doesn’t seem like the BEST of ideas. I mean sure, he wouldn’t want to leave them with the Jawas who already stole everything else he had, but he couldn’t trust that baby with adorable alien dude Nick Nolte? Oh well, it can’t be THAT dangerous right? I mean everything else on this planet has been pretty small, so how big could this creature be? Turns out; quite big! Imagine a rhinoceros the size of a Wampa and you get the idea, and for Jim this is less than ideal situation as the creature bashes him all over the place; knocking his weapons away, pretty much destroying his armor, and presumably with far fewer bones intact than when he went there in the first place. Then something MAGICAL happens! Seemingly by some sort of… shall we say… FORCE, the monster starts rising several inches off the ground and hangs there mid charge. Surprising Jim and literally no one else, it turns out Yoda Baby can use the force and just barely saved Jim’s life as well as keeping the animal still long enough for Jim to jab a knife in its neck in a particularly grim moment in the series. Jim grabs the egg, brings it back to Nick Nolte and the Jawas, and he finally gets the parts he needs to put his ship back together. Well… for NICK NOLTE to put his ship back together at least. Seriously, I understand being neighborly and all that, but considering he pretty much rebuilt this ship from the ground up for absolutely no fee, I’m starting to think that Nick Nolte is less the Ned Flanders of this planet and is actually hiding something here and which is why he wants Jim to go away as fast as possible. And so ends the second episode of THE MANDALORIAN as Jim and the Baby say their goodbyes to Nick Nolte and ride off into the stratosphere with uncertain futures and probably more than a few targets on their back.
What really came together for me while watching this episode is that it seems to be taking inspiration not just from the other films and some of the lore, but from Genndy Tartakovsky’s more serious works like Samurai Jack and even that Clone Wars show he did. This episode is light on plot and dialogue but excels at setting its scene, establishing clear and straightforward goals for its characters, and showing off some flashy action on top of it. I’m not sure if every episode will be this way now that we’re presumably going back to the more talkative and character based world of bounty hunters, but it was a real treat to watch this episode unfold and I’m glad they’re willing to just let some of the story speak for itself instead of filling it with redundant dialogue or pointless subplots. Sometimes all you need is a guy in a helmet, a desert planet, and a force sensitive baby of unknown origin who can lift monsters with their mind! Keep it simple!
The Lighthouse and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24
Directed by Robert Eggers
The director’s last film The Witch was a PHENOMENAL film that is easily one of the best horror films in the last decade (certainly better than Hereditary), so I was excited to see what he was going to do next. Lo and behold, his next movie starts two of the best character actors working today, is presented in Black and White, and is about something relatively mundane but will no doubt lead to horror and intrigue! Jeez, you might as well have wrapped it up, put a nice bow on it, and put it on a drone to crash into my house! Does Robert Eggers’s second film exceed the high bar he set with his first outing, or is a talent as great as his still not immune to the dread Sophomore Slump? Let’s find out!!
Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattison) is the new assistant lighthouse keeper watching over a crappy little light house on a crappy little rock not too far from shore but far enough that you wouldn’t survive an attempt to swim towards it. His supervisor Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) is an old sea captain with the accent, peg leg, and pipe to back it up, and his task is to whip this young whipper snapper into ship shape if he’s to one day maintain a lighthouse of his very own. Seems simple enough, and they certainly have more than enough work to do maintaining this house and the light therein, but over time it starts to become clear that maybe Captain Wake isn’t all he claims to be and that maybe Winslow isn’t as cut out for this work as he initially thought. Oh well, it’s not like he’s gonna be there FOREVER, right? He’s only there for a month before being moved somewhere else… oh what’s that? There’s a big storm coming that’ll make it impossible for his ship to come anytime soon? Well then! That’s… unfortunate for everyone involved. So Ephraim is stuck there for a while and with each passing day it seems that little bit of his sanity has gone with it as things get weirder and weirder around here; not the least of which being Captain Wake who REALLY seems to like the light at the top of the tower. I mean… he REALLY likes that light! So much so that Ephraim hasn’t had a chance to maintain it despite that being part of his training because Wake wants to keep it all to himself… for some reason. Can Ephraim keep his head down, focus on his work, and stay out of trouble long enough for the lighthouse company to send him another boat? What is going on up there at the top of the tower, and is that just the tip of the iceberg as far as strange happenings on this unassuming island? After seeing Pattinson brood his way through this, is there anyone else who COULD be Batman!?
AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
With the fallout of Full Gear fresh in our minds, this week’s episode of Dynamite has a lot to live up to as well as a lot of storylines to start building back up. Will Cody live up to his word and not challenge for the AEW title again? Will MJF be able to explain himself for his betrayal of Cody? Will Jericho continue to be a smarmy jerk that we all love to hate? Hopefully the answer to all three is a HECK YES, but let’s find out!!
Before our first match, we get an update on Kenny Omega who (in storyline; I’m pretty sure it’s just a work) is not cleared for tonight’s show due to the injuries he sustained in the Light’s Out match he had with Jon Moxley at Full Gear. We also learn that Michael Nakazawa is a friend of his which is relevant because…
Jon Moxley Vs. Michael Nakazawa
You know a Nakazawa match is serious business when he foregoes the baby oil! Right off the bat he just tosses it away and starts coming after Moxley with everything he’s got to avenge his bleeding buddy, but to no avail as Moxley makes short work of him in a match that barely goes on longer than a minute. I didn’t mind it though! I like being showed that Nakazawa can have a serious side to him and it’s important to make Moxely look as strong as possible if he’s going to continue being a top guy in the company; neither of which requires a whole lot of time and is a refreshing change of pace for a promotion known for REALLY long matches. Besides, the real point of all this is to give Moxley the mic afterwards who proceeds to gloat as hard as he can and promise to destroy EVERYONE at AEW until the company itself is destroyed and he is the only one left remaining. He issues an open challenge to the locker room for anyone to take a shot at him which at this point may be just as prestigious a challenge as going for the title itself. Jon Moxley is THAT good at being pissed off, aggressive, and in complete control of his surrounds. Surprisingly the crowd is pretty mixed on the guy which is great because it shows that the audience is willing to play their part in the story because of how invested they are in the product. What’s even MORE surprising though is that no one from the locker room takes him up on the offer which either means that everyone backstage is scared or that they want to drag this story out a bit more so we that fans can speculate on who would be the best person in the company to try and take Moxley down a peg. I prefer it if a show like this doesn’t drag things out early on and this was a great start right off the bat!
The Mandalorian is owned by Disney
Directed by Dave Filoni
Since Disney+ is the new hotness and so are the shows that Disney will be producing for it, I figured I’d check out the Star Wars show (which is set about five years after Return of the Jedi) and let you know if it’s worth your time and attention! It’s being made by Jon Faverau which is a good sign as even the movies I’m not too fond of like The Jungle Book and The Lion King are still notable for their technical achievements, and the amount of money Disney is putting into this show is absolutely ludicrous which means at least the visual side of things will be interesting to see unfold. Heck, if nothing else a production of THIS scale, if it’s destined to fail, can only fail in the most SPECTACULAR of ways, and I want a front row seat if it’s going to be one big hot mess! Does Disney’s latest venture into the Star Wars universe provide an intriguing introduction into a part of the universe we’ve yet to see on screen, or is this an underwhelming attempt to further cash in on their very expensive license? Let’s find out!!
I knew nothing about this series going into it, and by the end of the first episode it was kind of exactly what I never knew I wanted out of a Star Wars series. It’s almost childish in just how much it appeals to the basest of my tastes, and yet it never sinks into being crude or garish with it. It’s a fan film made by professionals; not wanting to subvert the source material to their own ends but to give us a glimpse at something we haven’t seen in this world before.
If there’s anything it reminds of specifically it’s Solo which has a similar stylistic bent to it as both of these draw from cowboy stories, old fashioned machismo, and plenty of gun play to satisfy your action cravings. Where this one differs though is that where Solo was about charm and wit, this is much more about stoicism and grit which is a valid approach to take as long as its handled well, and I think they do a fine job of it here. The opening scene of the episode where THE MANDALORIAN (Pedro Pascal) silently walks into a bar, immediately gets the heat from local tough guys, and then cleans house with barely any effort, is taken whole cloth from any number of cheesy B-movies or old school action anime, but seeing it in the Star Wars universe and done with a decent enough budget is definitely novel if nothing else. So why is it that THE MANDALORIAN is in this bar in the middle of nowhere in the first place? Well the tough guys were hassling this blue guy (Horatio Sanz) and after THE MANDALORIAN tears them to pieces, we find out that said blue guy is actually his target. He drags him back to wherever it is bounty hunters take their captives. This return trip includes a cameo from none other than Brian Posehn who drives them from the bar to their ship, and during this scene we learn that THE MANDALORIAN has a problem with droids that we’ll no doubt get further into in later episodes.
Doctor Sleep and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Now that we’re a good few years into the Stephen King revival that was kicked off by IT (actually Stranger Things if we’re being honest) it was about time we start calling back to OTHER Stephen King adaptations, and not just that brief shot of the original Pennywise in IT or the numerous random callbacks in The Dark Tower. This is a sequel not only to Stephen King’s original Shining novel, but is the sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation, so describing the making of this movie as Quixotic is not that much of a stretch. Then again, there’s no reason not to swing for the fences if you’ve got the chance, and the director has proven time and time again with films like Gerald’s Game and Ouija: Origin of Evil that he’s capable of making very good horror films, so perhaps the untouchable triumph that was The Shining is not so out of reach after all! Is this a worthy sequel to the original film and a great movie in its own right? Let’s find out!!
Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has had a rough time of it since he and his mother managed to escape from the Overlook Hotel where his dad tried to murder the two of them before dying in the snow. It seems that he took after his father in the second worst way possible as he may not be an axe murderer, but he is an alcoholic who’s using his addiction to avoid dealing with his own problems as well as the powers that seem to have done nothing but cause him trouble as the ghosts from the Overlook Hotel try to haunt him to this day. He manages to find a bit of stability though in the town of True Knot where he meets a friend named Billy (Cliff Curtis), manages to give up the booze, and even gets a job as an orderly in a hospice care facility where he uses his power to sooth those who are about to die with those gifts that have given him nothing but heartache for the past thirty years. He also seems to have made a connection with another psychic user as they communicate with each other anonymously, but circumstances are about to change that will force them to finally meet one another. It turns out that there is a cult of other psychic users who have found out that eating the souls of psychically powerful people will give them everlasting life and so they roam the country looking for people to eat (mostly children as they are the most potent) and are ostensibly led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) who’s powers are among the strongest out there. Our mysterious pen pal to Dan whose a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) catches psychic wind of these monsters as they feast upon a child, and Rose the Hat catches a glimpse of her as well, so now that both parties know of the other’s existence there will surely be some serious X-Men like conflict coming soon and Abra could use all the help she can get to bring these fiends to justice. Will Dan be willing to help his friend Abra with her little problem of cannibal psychics trying to hunt her down? Who exactly are these murderous psychics, and why is one of them wearing such a distinctive hat? Will they find an excuse for going back to the Outlook Hotel so they can sell this movie on Shining nostalgia? Well of course they will, but will it be a GOOD excuse!?
Full Gear and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan
While technically being the fifth AEW PPV (sixth if you count All In which was basically AEW Zero), this is the first one since they’ve gotten the TV series and have started to focus more on long term storylines. Not only that, but it’s coming off of a MASSIVE amount of success from Dynamite which has consistently beaten NXT in the ratings, so there’s a lot of hype and high expectations surrounding this PPV which is always a double edged sword as it means more people are interested in seeing it but that they’re also much more easy to disappoint. Can AEW continue their streak of high quality wrestling action with their latest PPV? Let’s find out!!
Britt Baker Vs. Bea Priestly
The only match they had on the pre-show for Full Gear was this match against Britt Baker and Bea Priestly which I GUESS is supposed to be the blow off to a feud, but they never HAD a feud to begin with. They had one match all the way back before they got on TV and I think they were on a tag team match a few weeks ago, but at no point did they interact in any meaningful way to sell this supposed rivalry between them. There’s a video package before the fight where Britt talks smack about Priestly and I just don’t think it works because Britt brings up stuff we’d NEVER heard of until now about her being possibly injured in the Fight for the Fallen match and it’s also completely one sided as Priestly doesn’t even show up in the video, so for all we know she’s just out there doing her thing and being respectful towards everyone while Britt is off to the side seething for no good reason! Now all that having been said, when the two of them actually DO get in the ring they are fighting like this match means something. Britt is definitely all scowls and fury which is a far cry from the babyface she often portrays, and Priestly is definitely relishing just how much she’s gotten under her skin. The moves as well are less coordinated and flashy as they are just slugfests and pain clinics which is how you definitely want to pay off a feud even if this particular one still didn’t feel properly set up.
Terminator: Dark Fate and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Tim Miller
Terminator Genisys came out right when I started reviewing movies for this website and BOY was I being thrown into the deep end as far as having to write about wretched movies! The fact that someone is actually trying to come back from that disaster is either a show of great arrogance or of great faith in the material because you couldn’t possibly have salted the Earth in a worse way than with that piece of self-aware trash; even if you get James Cameron back as a producer. Dude produces a lot of thing is what I’m saying! Do you remember Sanctum? Of course not. ANYWAY! Does this new attempt to breathe life into this franchise produce at least one more fun adventure, or would we have had a better chance getting this to work again if we stuck it in a bag of rice? Let’s find out!!
Decades after Doomsday was avoided and Skynet was destroyed, the world seems to be at… well I wouldn’t call the current situation PEACE, but we’re staving off the techno-apocalypse for the time being if nothing else. Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is just going through her day to day life of helping her brother with his music, taking care of her sick dad, and working at a car factory (that’s what those things are called, right?) when things start to get a bit strange. Her dad shows up out of nowhere at her job, some giant blonde lady shoots him in the face right in front of her, and then it turns out dear old dad was a robot. This seems bad even by Monday standards, but she goes along with the gun toting woman named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) who informs her that her chances of living are contingent upon her ability to be depart with her post haste! It doesn’t take long for Dani to learn (and even less time to accept) that she is in fact being hunted down by future robots who want her dead for some very important reason, and that Grace is a cybernetically enhanced human from the future as well who was sent to protect her. She certainly makes a game effort of outrunning the robot (Gabriel Luna), but this dude is a K-Reve unit which is basically a SUPER T-800 combined with a SUPER T-1000 and it doesn’t take long for their backs to be at the wall. If ONLY there was a character from this franchise that could save them before it’s too late! Oh that’s right! They threw a bunch of money at Linda Hamilton so Sarah Connor comes in JUST at the right moment to save the two of them and buy them all some time to regroup, figure out what’s going, on and how they can stop this latest threat to the future. Can Grace fulfill her duty of protecting Dani from this mechanical menace, and why was she chosen for such an important mission? What is Sarah Connor’s role in all of this, and what has she been up to since the events of T2? Is Schwarzenegger’s role in this a cleverly explained bit of time travel trickery, or is the will of the producers of Paramount Pictures the most powerful force in this Terminator universe?