Rob Watches The Mandalorian: From Animation to Live Action

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2:E3. “Chapter 11: The Heiress.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Katee Sackhoff, Mercedes Varnado
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Bryce Dallas Howard
PREMIERE DATE:
November 13, 2020
SYNOPSIS: 
Mando meets a trio of his own kind, and winds up taking on the Empire once again.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode requires a decent amount of exposition, only some of which we actually got. Katee Sackhoff’s character is Bo-Katan Kryze. Long story short, her sister was the duchess of Mandalore. Thus, her trying to get the Darksaber. 

“The Purge,” meanwhile, was when the Empire killed most of the Mandalorian people, forcing the survivors into hiding. All this stuff was covered between the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon shows.

I’m fairly certain this is the first time we’ve seen an ocean dock in live-action Star WarsIt makes for a different vibe. I like it. That’s one of the things that’s been so great about The Mandalorian. It shows us the Star Wars universe from different angles.

When Bo-Katan dropped out of the sky, Mrs. Primary Ignition exclaimed: “It’s a lady Mandalorian!” I’m hoping there were a lot of little girls in the audience saying the same thing.

There’s been a lot of talk about what a “true” Mandalorian is. We know Jango Fett and Boba Fett weren’t. And now we get talk that Din Djarin isn’t. Can we maybe get some clarification on this issue? I’m a Star Wars geek, and even I’m confused….

I was curious to see how they’d credit WWE’s Sasha Banks, who plays Koska Reeves. They used her real name, Mercedes Varnado. Which makes sense, of course. I’m not the world’s biggest Sasha Banks fan. But I was proud of her for this. She even got a decent number of lines and wasn’t just a muscular body in the background.

Even after all this time, I’m still getting used to Star Wars music that isn’t a classical score. Case in point, the sort of industrial-style beat they had going during the action sequence aboard the Imperial ship. It works. It’s just not traditional Star Wars.

Hey! Stormtrooper! When you see a grenade rolling toward you, maybe…I’unno…kick the damn thing away instead of staring down at it like a friggin’ nincompoop!!!

And there it is. Destination: Ahsoka Tano. Here’s my question: Katee Sackhoff voiced Bo-Katan Kryze for the cartoons, and now she’s playing the role live. Did they even ask Ashley Eckstein if she wanted to play Ahsoka? Nothing against Rosario Dawson, of course. But it seemed like Eckstein was up for it. Yes, Dawson is a renowned on-camera actress, as opposed to Eckstein who’s more famous for voice acting. But Eckstein had a hand in the creation of the character. She should have had the chance to play Ahsoka if she wanted it.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches The Mandalorian – The Galaxy’s Best Halloween Costume

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2:E1. “Chapter 9: The Marshal”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Timothy Olyphant, Amy Sedaris, John Leguizamo
WRITER & DIRECTOR:
John Favreau
PREMIERE DATE:
October 30, 2020
SYNOPSIS:
Din Djarin’s search for the Jedi bring him to Tatooine. There, he encounters a familiar set of armor.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The first minute or two of this episode is fantastic. Like the opening moments of Chapter 1, it’s a tremendous tone-setter.  And our hero once again gets an excellent entrance. I particularly enjoyed the graffiti on the walls. Have we ever seen graffiti in the Star Wars universe? I’m inclined to say no. At least as far as the movies are concerned.

Whenever we see the Din Djiarin in some kind of hand-to-hand combat situation, it always feels so hard-hitting. That’s a credit not just to the fight choreographers and the performers, but the sound team as well.

The Mandalorian is great at disguising established actors. I’d never have guessed in a million years that was John Leguizamo. Ditto for Horatio Sanz last season.

Mos Pelgo is a nice addition to Tatooine. It feels like one of those sparsely populated, desolate old west towns, which is a nice way to distinguish it from Mos Eisley and Mos Espa.

Upon seeing Timothy Olyphant’s character, Cobb Vanth, Mrs. Primary Ignition asked me, “Is he a new character, or have we seen him before?” My answer was that he’s new, but apparently that’s not the case. He makes some appearances in Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath novels, which are set closer to the events of Return of the Jedi. I must admit, I’ve read two of those books and didn’t remember him…

Vanth looks like a kid in a Halloween costume in Boba Fett’s armor. But of course, that’s the idea.

So the big monster shows up on screen, and Mrs. Primary Ignition asks me what it is. My answer: “If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a krayt dragon.” Low and behold, moments later they call it a krayt dragon. Now there’s something I did remember from a Star Wars book.

Part of me was disappointed that we started season two out on Tatooine. The Mandalorian has been so good at adding to the mythology of Star Wars, I’d have appreciated them either going somewhere new, or returning to one of the new locations from season one. On the other hand, the show has also been good about breaking new ground with classic Star Wars stuff…

Having the sand people use sign language was a stroke of genius. And yet it didn’t contradict anything from the movies. We’d never seen the Tuskens communicate directly with humans. Not in the movies, at least. But the Tusken language can be learned, as Din illustrates.

The music we hear when the Tuskens arrive in Mos Pelgo, and during their subsequent journey to the abandoned Sarlacc Pit is amazing. Pitch perfect work by Ludwig Göransson.

Boba Fett must have had a faulty jet pack. First an errant strike from Han Solo sends Fett into a Sarlacc Pit. Then a strategically placed strike from Din sends Cobb Vanth flying.

Question: When the dragon swallows Din, why doesn’t he fall victim to the stomach acid, or whatever it was that the monster puked up on to the Tuskens? Some of it appears to be on his armor. Is that what protected him?

So at the end of the episode we see a mysterious figure that is undoubtedly Fett. I give the show credit for not immediately bringing a classic character back in his classic outfit.

It’s always good to come out of an episode with questions that need to be answered. We certainly have no shortage of those here. Based on the few seconds we’ve seen of Fett, it looks like the last five years or so have been rough for him. But how does he have eyes on Din Djarin? Is he masquerading as a Tusken Raider? Is that why he has the gaffi stick? And what will Din think of Fett when they inevitably meet? As Fett isn’t a true Mandalorian, you’ve got to believe there won’t be good feelings there…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Astonishing Art: Karen Hallion’s He/She Series

By Rob Siebert
Has great taste in art. Just sayin’.

Every year during C2E2, Mrs. Primary Ignition and I make sure to drop by Karen Hallion’s table over in Artist’s Alley. The wife is a big fan of hers, so naturally I became one too.

As far as that tradition is concerned, this was a pretty special year for us. We purchased a pair of very special prints that I’m happy to say are currently hanging in our living room.

The above two selections are from Hallion’s “She Series” and “He Series” respectively. The premise is fairly simple: Hallion draws profile shots of inspiring people, role models, etc. Next to them she places a verb associated with that individual. “Lead” next to Harriet Tubman, “Care” next to Fred Rogers, etc.

If I’m not mistaken, this concept started with Hallion using powerful female fictional characters, such as Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes. For my money, the concept is much more powerful with real-life heroes and role models.

As a new father, it warms my heart to see these every day. Because naturally, one day my daughter will ask who these people are. And we’ll be able to tell her about some of the best minds, hearts, and souls to ever grace humanity.

For more from Karen Hallion, check out her web site or her Etsy shop. She can also be found on Instagram.

Hallion also has a children’s book coming out called Never, Never Quit, which was funded via Kickstarter. It can be pre-ordered here.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Mental Health Monday: Maybe Tomorrow by Charlotte Agell and Ana Ramírez González

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When it comes to crying over movies, books, TV shows, etc, I’m a tough nut to crack. Until a few days ago, only one book had the distinction of making me tear up: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. I’m sure it was read to me as a kid. But as an adult? I didn’t stand a chance…

But now, The Giving Tree has a companion this regard. Last week, Mrs. Primary Ignition showed me Maybe Tomorrow, written by Charlotte Agell and illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez.

It sounds odd to call this a “non-spoiler” write-up, as we’re talking about a kids picture book. But I want to be as vague as I can be, as it’s really worth going out and reading the book yourself.

Written for readers four to eight years old, is about a hippo and an alligator. (You know, that old trope…) Norris, the alligator, is perpetually happy. So happy that he’s always accompanied by a cloud of butterflies.

Elba, on the other hand, is very sad. She’s tethered to a big black block, which stays with her all the time. Norris makes it his mission to cheer Elba up. But it’s not as simple as it seems.

We later learn that the block represents a specific kind of grief that Elba is literally carrying around with her. But one of the reasons I adore this block metaphor so much is that it can represent virtually anything. When I saw it, it instantly came to represent anxiety, depression, and Attention Deficit Disorder. But whatever you might be living with, even if it’s not a mental illness, it’s so easy to project yourself into this story and relate to this little pink hippo.

One way or another, we all have our own “big black blocks” to drag around.

Every bit as important as the block, is how the Norris character reacts to its everlasting presence. He becomes a model for how to be a friend to someone in Elba’s situation. He does all the right things.

Maybe Tomorrow? also doesn’t have a cut and dry “happily ever after” ending. It’s not a sad ending by any means. I actually found it pretty uplifting. But the book doesn’t shy away from reality, albeit through its unique and colorful veil.

This book is meant to teach children about bad feelings, and how to help someone else when they have bad feelings. But the sad truth is, there are a lot of grown adults in this world who could learn from Norris the dancing alligator and his butterfly buddies.

That might be the best possible praise I can give to this, or any children’s book. It’s lesson is so elementary that even adults, mired in everyday callousness and cynicism, can learn from it too.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

 

Toy Chest Theater: Link and the Eyes

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When I first saw this image a couple of months ago, I didn’t get it.

Obviously, it’s an amazing pic from Samia, a.k.a. @everydaylink. The placement of Link, the creepy and foreboding eyes, the murky green setting. It’s fantastic.

I’ve only played on Zelda game, A Link to the Past. But it had been so long, I didn’t understand the significance of the eyes. I naturally assumed it was a level in one of the games. But I wasn’t sure…

Then, Mrs. Primary Ignition got me a Super Nintendo Classic Edition for Christmas. One of the games on it is A Link to the Past. Wouldn’t you know it, eventually I would up eyeing down those same…er….eyes. Actually fighting the eye monster directed me toward an easy-to-miss, but still awesome detail in the image: The ground. When you give it an initial scan, it’s easy to dismiss it as dirt or something. But if you look under Link’s feet, it’s actually flooring. That attention to detail is one of the things that separates this image from the pack.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Why Brooklyn Nine-Nine Has TV’s Funniest Cast

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As the sixth season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine continues to air on NBC, I was recently fortunate enough to be invited by Fandom to record for a video called, “Why Brooklyn Nine-Nine Has TV’s Funniest Cast.” I’d love for you to click the link and check it out.

Oddly enough, when I recorded the copy I hadn’t seen the show yet. But Mrs. Primary Ignition and I have recently jumped in, and are really enjoying it. I’ve you’ve never seen it, and are into shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, then it’s definitely worth a shot.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Toy Chest Theater: Bird Box Starring TMNT

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’ve got a soft spot for Bird Box, for obvious reasons. Mrs. Primary Ignition and I finally got to watch it the other night, and really enjoyed it.

So naturally, I love this image from Eric, a.k.a. @heatfour on Instagram.

In Bird Box, Sandra Bullock’s character has to guide to children through the wilderness as a ghostly monster pursues them. To further complicate matters, all three have to be blindfolded. It’s a very TMNT-ish look, so this shot is a natural play-off of the movie. Plus, using the figures based on the 1990 film always gets you extra points with me.

Intended or not, this image also has a certain intrigue to it in terms of the kids. How the heck did we get young mutant turtles? Are they supposed to be Raph’s kids? If so, how did that process work?

This image needs a backstory. Just sayin’.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

A Christopher Robin Review – What Would Pooh Do?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I really love Winnie the Pooh.

As a 30-something dude, it’s weird to hear myself say that. But it’s true, and has been for a few years now. I wrote something about this a few years ago. Long story short, I keep it as a daily reminder to be kind in a world that’s increasingly mean. Almost like a sign that asks, “What would Pooh do?”

This weekend, Mrs. Primary Ignition and I went to see Christopher Robin. I almost couldn’t help but go. Keep in mind what I just said about the world we’re in right now, and look at the trailer…

Christopher Robin was essentially marketed as a movie where Pooh and his friends put the title character, a cynical and withdrawn adult who neglects his family in favor of work, back in touch with his inner child. Something you can take your kids to see, while also taking something home for yourself. And that’s what it turns out to be. It’s a very nice movie. It’s true to the characters, Jim Cummings hits all the right notes as the voice of Pooh (and Tigger), and Ewan McGregor is a fine choice for an adult Christopher Robin.

All that said, Christopher Robin underachieves. Or at least it feels like it does.

As we were leaving the theater, Mrs. Primary Ignition and I realized what we’d been expecting, based on the trailers and advertising: Toy Story 3. Or perhaps Toy Story 3 in reverse.

If you were an adult when Toy Story 3 came out, I’ll bet what you remember most about it is the ending. Andy has to leave his childhood, i.e. Woody and the gang, behind as he goes off to college. In Christopher Robin, our main character has long since left his childhood behind. But now his old toys have popped back up to remind him of who he used to be, and what’s really important in life.

Whether Disney meant for this or not, the trailers for Christopher Robin very much evoke that sentimental tearjerker vibe we got from Toy Story 3. But it doesn’t deliver on that.  So it ends up being just another movie. Which is a real shame.

I’m not suggesting Christopher Robin should have been a more mature movie. It doesn’t need to be. But I think it could have benefited from Ewan McGregor being a little more Scrooge-ish. The movie depicts him as someone who’s lost touch with his own heart because the world has ground him down so much. Let’s see a little more of that. He didn’t need to yell or scream. We just needed him to be a little more…cold. Then it’s that much more impactful to see his heart warm in the end.

Christopher Robin is a perfectly serviceable night at the movies. But it could have been so much more. It could have prompted moviegoers to look into their own lives, and ask that all-important question: “What would Pooh do?”

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Astonishing Art: Classic Justice League by Mike Mahle

***In “Astonishing Art,” we spotlight a particular work or series of works from a specific artist or creative team. The only requirement? That the work be simply and purely astonishing!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mrs. Primary Ignition and I stumbled across Mike Mahle’s table at C2E2 this year, and were immediately struck by what we saw. Specifically, posters featuring his digital renderings of DC Comics superheroes in their unabashedly colorful glory. These pieces celebrate the iconic looks of characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, with a delightfully retro (and often retro-futuristic) flair.

We purchased a print of Mahle’s take on Superman, as I found myself hopelessly drawn to it. In an era where so many want to darken the character, or make him a moody brooder, Mahle casts the Man of Steel in the idealistic light he was meant to be shown in. This is the true face of Superman.

Mahle actually sells a collected book of these DC posters, which is the size of a standard comic book. It’s got his tributes to most of the big DC names, as well as some of the lesser known characters. Booster Gold, Power Girl, Captain Atom, etc.

Particularly popular at the convention was Mahle’s take on Batman: The Movie, with Adam West and Burt Ward (shown left). Like so many, my first exposure to the character came from the 1966 show. So this one hit me right in the feels. Especially now that Adam West is gone.

Mahle’s art isn’t limited to retro DC stuff, of course. In his portfolio, you’ll find more modern takes on comic book heroes, including Marvel’s cast of characters. You can also find his take on posters for both classic and current films. Mahle has also crowdfunded his own book, Empire City, an art and design collection scheduled for release later this year.

Mike Mahle’s work can be found at MikeMahle.com. I’d also recommend checking out his Instagram and DeviantArt for his latest stuff.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Talking Star Wars: Looking Back at The Force Awakens

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mrs. Primary Ignition and I are going to see The Last Jedi tonight. So naturally, last night we sat down to watch The Force Awakens. It was her idea, actually. Ladies, if you’re husband is a geek, ask him if he’s up for sitting down with some chili and a Star Wars movie. See what happens.

Obviously I’ve seen it a number of times already. In addition to officially reviewing it two years ago, I’ve discussed numerous elements here and there. The Force Awakens rightfully got a lot of flack for mimicking the original film. But I still love it. I can’t help it. There’s just something about Star Wars that brings out the inner child in so many of us. The Force Awakens did that in a way the prequels didn’t.

Moreso, The Force Awakens was a hell of an accomplishment. It breathed so much new life into the franchise, by introducing new faces and telling new stories. It restored some of the magic of the original trilogy by incorporating more practical effects, and not leaning so heavily on CGI. We had yet another epic score from the incomparable John Williams. In the end, it set the bar pretty damn high for Disney’s foray into the Star Wars universe.

What follows are a some notes I jotted down during the movie. This was my last stop on the road to The Last Jedi. Sometimes in order to appreciate where we’re going, you must first remember where you’ve been…

Mere minutes into the movie, Mrs. Primary Ignition asks: “Who built BB-8?” A fair question, I suppose. It’s sometimes tough to wrap your head around the idea that these robots, who play such pivotal roles in these movies, were mass produced in a factory somewhere. Unless you’re C-3PO, of course.

What The Force Awakens suffers from more than anything is a lack of exposition. When we were last in this universe, the Empire was being dealt a fatal blow. The implication was that they were gone for good. Then in the opening title crawl we’re told the First Order has “risen from the ashes of the Empire.” So where did they come from, and when? How did they acquire all their resources? Has there been relative peace in the three decades since Return of the Jedi? I understand certain things had to be kept a mystery. But little tidbits here and there to fill in the gaps would have been helpful.

Captain Phasma has a great look. Her armor is a nice extension of the stormtrooper get-up, and works as a symbol of the unwavering strength of the First Order. It’s also perfect to base toys off of. That always helps.

On a similar note, I’ve never liked the blasters the First Order troopers use. The mix of white and black makes them look like toy guns.

You can pinpoint the moment the audience is supposed to understand Rey is a good guy. When she’s sitting there cleaning off the parts she found in the old Star Destroyer, she looks at a frail old lady across from her doing some cleaning of her own. We see sympathy and compassion on her face. Thus, we make a positive connection with her. Remember, t this point in the film Rey hasn’t spoken yet. So it’s a nice subtle move.

The Empire’s last stand took place on Jakku. That’s why we see the crashed Star Destroyer, the downed AT-AT that Rey lives in, etc. But no one else us this. Again, lack of exposition. It doesn’t make or break the film either way, but it would have helped.

There are a lot of little details that are meant to make your brain associate The Force Awakens with the original trilogy. The noise the mouse droids make. The placement of the gas masks on the Millennium Falcon. The belch noise from the rathtar monster. That’s to say nothing of the more overt stuff, like the chess board and remote on the Falcon.

The Mos Eisley Cantina has to be one of the most imitated settings in cinematic history. Even within in the Star Wars universe, creators can’t help but put their spin on the idea. We obviously get that here with Maz Kanata’s cantina. It was fine. But it was pretty obvious what they were doing.

Should Kylo Ren/Ben Solo have had a pale, worn face that hadn’t seen light in awhile? When he takes his helmet off, he just looks like a normal guy. But I picture him never wanting to be seen without it, much like Darth Vader.

There’s a great little moment with Leia that was cut from the movie. Now that Carrie Fisher is gone, I really wish they’d kept it in. Leia is talking to someone about contacting the Senate and insisting action be taking against the First Order.

“Not all the senators think I’m insane. Or maybe they do. I don’t care.”

That line, and the way she delivers it, are so great. Considering how open Carrie Fisher was about her own mental illness, I bet she loved that line. I don’t think the line between Carrie and Leia was ever thinner than during those three sentences.

My favorite exchange in the movie happens between Han and Finn while they’re trying to infiltrate the Starkiller Base.

“Solo, we’ll figure it out. We’ll use the Force!”

“That’s not how the Force works!”

Han’s death scene is still hard to watch. Even when you know it’s coming, it doesn’t help. That horrified roar from Chewie might be the worst part of it all.

There’s a fan theory that Han actually pointed the lightsaber at himself, allowing Ben to turn it on and kill him. The idea being that he knew Snoke would kill Ben if he failed to carry out the deed. It doesn’t make the most sense. But stranger things have happened.

I love the fight between Kylo Ren and Rey. There’s very little fancy fight choreography, and neither look like extremely polished fighters. They’re just wailing on each other. It’s also a different environment than we’ve ever seen a lightsaber fight, which is accentuated when Rey uses the snow to extinguish Ren’s weapon.

The music callback from A New Hope when Rey catches the lightsaber is a touching moment. We heard it when Luke accepted his call to adventure, and now Rey is accepting hers. A hero is born.

On paper, you’d think the ending to this movie would be infuriating. We finally find Luke Skywalker, and then the movie ends. But it works.

Despite only appearing on camera for a matter of seconds, Mark Hamill did not have an easy job. He had so much to covey in so little time. This is the first time we’ve seen the character in so many years, and so much has happened. So the audience is just staring at him, taking in all the details.

I’ve heard that Hamill steals the show in The Last Jedi. I hope that’s the case. It’s time for mainstream moviegoers to see what we in the geek community have known for a long time: This man is a gem.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

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