Tag Archives: Pedro Pascal

Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 2

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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!!

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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.

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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!

Super Recaps: The Mandalorian – Chapter 1

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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!!

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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.

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Cinema Dispatch: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Kingsman kind of came out of nowhere and surprised everyone with just how big of a hit it became, but then again that’s kind of the most notable thing about Matthew Vaugh’s career so far.  Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman were all movies that no one really expected to become huge hits, but he managed to turn all three into huge money makers and even garnered quite a bit of critical praise in the process!  Now he’s attempting the one thing that so few directors have been able to pull off which is to make a successful sequel to one of his own films; something that even the best directors aren’t always able to pull off (*cough* The Lost World *cough*)!  Will this be yet another unexpected hit from a director who’s known for making those, or is this a challenge that will prove insurmountable even for someone as talented as Matthew Vaughn!?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up some time after the ending of the first film where The Kingsman Organization is thriving under new leadership and Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is living the super awesome secret agent life while also dating Princess Tildae (Hanna Alström) who was the princess he saved in his last adventure.  Now obviously things can’t stay this way for long (lest this be a rather uneventful movie), as Eggsy’s past comes back to haunt him with the sudden reappearance of Kingsman dropout Charles (Edward Holcroft) who somehow survived the events of the last film and proceeds to set off a chain reaction of events that completely decimates the Kingsman Organization; even managing to kill agent Lancelot in the process (Sophie Cookson).  With nothing left and the world facing an imminent threat from an organization known only as The Golden Circle, led up by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the remaining Kingsman members (pretty much just Eggsy and Merlin played by Mark Strong) must turn to their American Counterparts known as The Statesmen in order to fight against whatever nefarious schemes Poppy and Charles have planned.  Can Eggsy save the world yet again despite having lost so much already?  Can the Statesmen be trusted to work with the remaining Kingsman members, or do they have a secret agenda of their own?  Seriously, how the hell do they write themselves out of a bullet to the head in order to bring back Collin Firth!?

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“DON’T MAKE ME USE THIS!  I GOT THIS SHIT STRAIGHT FROM THE PENGUIN!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Great Wall

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The Great Wall and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Picture and China Film Group

Directed by Zhang Yimou

Hey, Disney can’t be the ONLY company making all that money all over the world, right?  Sure, they have Star Wars and Marvel on their side, but there’s certainly room for even more movies that go for a global audience.  Hell, we’ve already got a few we can name off already like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Warcraft, or even the last loathsome Transformers movie which inexplicable set the third act in China.  Still, this particular movie is something different as it’s a US/China co-production that is legitimately one of those instead of a Hollywood film that had some of it done in China.  This is an acclaimed Chinese director with stars from his own country AND the US with financial backing from Universal and a script from Hollywood writers.  Hell, the fact that this movie ACTUALLY has Chinese subtitles yet is STILL getting a wide release in the US is noteworthy in and of itself!  Did all that effort ultimately pay off, or is this a lousy way to kick off this new era in filmmaking?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with William and Pero (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) running their ass off across the Gobi desert in hopes of outrunning the bandits chasing them and also finding out the secret to BLACK POWDER (i.e. gunpowder) from the Chinese once they find someone to ask about it.  Unfortunately for them, they wind up at The Great Wall where a secret army of warriors assigned to guard the wall (how can they be secret if they’re base of operations can be seen from space?) and they aren’t too friendly to tourists.  Fortunately for them (or maybe not so fortunately), they arrived on the EXACT DATE that an army of monsters that comes around every sixty years (I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be aliens) are set to attack and try to break the wall down so as to siege the country behind it.  Because of this, General Shao and the chief strategist Wang (Zhang Hanyu and Andy Lau) who run this secret military called The Nameless Order don’t have the time to lock them in a dungeon and so they get a chance to prove their worth by slicing up a few monsters as well.  This gives them a brief stay of execution and even the respect of some of the members there including Commander Lin Mae (Jing Tian) and an ill prepared lower solider named Peng Yong (Lu Han).  Of course, these newcomers ALSO get the attention of Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe) who’s… a prisoner I think?  He came to China 25 years ago for BLACK POWDER as well, and I guess The Nameless Order just won’t let the dude leave; a fate that both William and Pero fear awaits them if they stick around too long.  So it looks like they have a dilemma on their hands!  Take what Black Powder the order has and leave them to fight on their own, or do what they can to help and hope they can finagle a way out once the dust has settled.  Will they make the right choice in the end?  What does the order have planned to fight this monstrous threat?  How much were they hoping Matt Damon would bring in?  A hundred million?  Two hundred million?

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Wait, HOW much did that last Bourne movie make!?

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