Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian – The Genius of Baby Yoda

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E2. “Chapter Two: The Child.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Misty Rosas, Nick Nolte (voice)
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Rick Famuyiwa
PREMIERE DATE:
November 15, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
After the Razor Crest is stripped for parts by Jawas, Mando must retrieve a bargaining chip in the form of a beast’s egg.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, is a stroke of genius. Walk into a Target, Walmart, or Costco these days and you’ll see why. His diminutive size and not-so-diminutive cuteness appeal make him a marketing gold mine. In the grand tradition of Star Wars merchandising, his visage begs to be put on clothes, posters, and of course toys. Frankly, I’m shocked we didn’t see more Baby Yoda merchandise as the first season was in progress. That’s a giant missed opportunity you’d never associate with a titan like Disney.

But at the same time, Baby Yoda teases at answers to questions Star Wars fans have had for decades: What species is Yoda? Why are there so few of them? Did something happen to them? Did they get wiped out? Are they somehow tied into the Jedi and the Force? When you add it all together, Baby Yoda has that rare combination of geek appeal and corporate appeal.

Indeed, the Jawas are back. I remember seeing an “Offworld Jawa” action figure in stores, and wondering what the deal was. The irony is if you came into this episode as a relative newbie, you wouldn’t think they were offworld, i.e. not on Tatooine. Sadly, Arvala-7 is yet another indistinguishable desert planet.

The sequence with Mando chasing the sandcrawler reminded me of a level from Super Star Wars, the old Super Nintendo game. You play as Luke, climbing all over the thing and slashing at Jawas with a lightsaber. That’s basically what Mando is doing here, sans lightsaber.

In terms of the Kuiil character, voiced by Nick Nolte, it’s funny to me how once you know what a voice actor in question looks like, you sometimes start to read their face into the character. For instance, Kuiil looks like Nick Nolte to me, even though they objectively don’t share many features.

“I’m a Mandalorian. Weapons are part of my religion.” I love that line. It’s my favorite in the series thus far.

The hero fighting a big monster is a recurring theme in the George Lucas Star Wars movies. You’ve got the snow monster in The Empire Strikes Back, the rancor in Return of the Jedi, the arena monsters in Attack of the Clones. Depending on how liberal you want to be with the concept, you can extend it to various other moments in the Star Wars saga.

Odd as it sounds, I appreciated how muddy Mando got during the fight with the… *checks Wookiepedia*…mudhorn? That’s the name they came up with?

Anyway, the mud added a bit of a grittier texture to the whole thing. I can’t imagine it was fun to film. But it was appreciated.

So Baby Yoda uses the force to lift the mudhorn into the air so Mando can make the kill. Obviously, this only lends credence to the theory that Yoda’s species is somehow linked with the Jedi and the Force.

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

Posted in Movies

George Lucas on Star Wars: Chewbacca and the Ewoks

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Scene: To aid in their final defeat of the Empire, the Rebel Alliance finds unlikely help on Endor in the form of the diminutive, fuzzy, primitive ewoks.

George Lucas Says (Via From Star Wars to Jedi): “In the original screenplay [the ewoks were] a society of wookiees who had this giant ground battle with the Empire at the end of the film. And also a space battle. They were trained to fly ships, and they were able to take over the Empire. Well, in the evolution of the script I realized I couldn’t do this giant battle. When I came to the third film and the battle was back in again … I couldn’t use wookiees, because I’d established Chewbacca as being a relatively sophisticated creature. … He [wasn’t] the primitive that he was in the original screenplay. So I had to develop a new kind of wookiee or a new kind of creature that was primitive … [what I decided to do was] instead of making them incredibly tall the way wookiees are, I’d make them incredibly short. And at the same time to make them look different from the wookiees I’d give them short fur instead of long fur. That’s really where the ewok evolved.”

George Lucas Also Says (Via the Return of the Jedi Commentary Track): “It was a wookiee planet. Since I had fallen in love with the wookiees so much when I made Episode IV, I decided to make [Han Solo’s] co-pilot a wookiee, which meant that he was technologically advanced. And the whole concept originally was that the people that overthrew the Empire were not technological. So I had to reinvent a half-sized wookiee.”

I Say: “Before Jar Jar and the gungans became as despised as they are, we had Wicket and the ewoks in Return of the Jedi. I don’t hate either group the way a lot of fans do. I actually enjoy the ewoks quite a bit. But I do reject the notion that a society of wookiees couldn’t have worked in Jedi. I’m fairly certain that even back then, Chewbacca’s backstory was that of a slave, freed and taken in by Han Solo. Given enough time, you can teach technology to a primitive. Chewie could have been unique among his people, and thus been that much more distinct.

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Astonishing Art: Star Wars Trilogy by Florey

By Rob Siebert
Going from Boy to Man…Very Slowly.

I’m a sucker for posters like these. Ones that maintain a consistent design and take you through multiple stories, often following the same character.

Yes, I’m a little late for Star Wars Day with this one. But let’s be honest: This site has never been hurting for Star Wars content. Ergo, I present to you Florey’s take on Luke Skywalker’s journey in the original Star Wars Trilogy.

The posters are for sale now at Bottleneck Gallery. Florey can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Posted in Books

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Rey Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the third of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
A.K.A. Rob Skywalker

1. Force-Healing Powers.
Why did everybody get so bent out of shape about Rey’s Force-healing powers? Forget the fact that if you’re into Star Wars lore, you already know there were Jedi healers. But let’s say you’re not, and you’re still upset…

So the Force is a mystical energy field that binds the galaxy together, and the Jedi have access to it. What does that mean? For story purposes, it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

In the original film, it meant Obi-Wan could control people’s minds and make Stormtroopers hear things that weren’t really there. It also meant Luke could see through solid objects, hear Obi-Wan’s voice in his head, and move a proton torpedo with his mind.

Then in Empire, it also meant Luke could jump really high to avoid being frozen in carbonite, and that Darth Vader could stop blaster bolts with his hand.

In Return of the Jedi, it meant that if you were a bad guy, you could shoot lightning out of your fingers.

In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan could run super-fast like the Flash.

In The Last Jedi, it meant Luke could essentially project a hologram of himself across the galaxy. Oh, and that Snoke could link Kylo Ren’s mind with Rey’s.

Now in this movie it means Rey can heal a serpent monster, and Ben can save Rey’s life.

Folks, I know a lot of Expanded Universe stuff has been written about the Force, Jedi powers, etc. But at the end of the day, George Lucas was making this stuff up as he went along. He didn’t bend the rules of reality too far, but he used it to suit the story’s needs.

So if Force-healing has always been a thing, why didn’t Luke use it to save Vader’s life? Why didn’t Obi-Wan use it to save Qui-Gon’s? I don’t know. I just know they didn’t. That’s enough for me.

2. Rey Fixed Luke’s X-Wing
Okay, so healing someone with your magic powers? I’m okay with that. But fixing a spaceship that’s been underwater for years and is missing a wing? That’s where I draw the line, damn it!

In the movie when Luke raises his X-Wing out of the water on Ahch-To, it seems like it’s primed and set. As if he’s somehow been fixing it underwater in a translucent scuba suit or something. The book gives us further details. They don’t make the notion that Rey flew Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing into the unknown regions of space any less silly. But I’m glad they’re there.

On page 200 (of the original hardcover edition), we learn Rey didn’t just have to patch the wing that was serving as the door to Luke’s hut. She also had to use parts from Kylo Ren’s Tie Whisper, which she’d just set ablaze, and do a bunch of rewiring. The ship, might never fight againBut it was still fighter class, and its transition from vacuum to atmo was seamless.

Of course it was.

A little Wookiepedia research tells me that, assuming Luke went into exile soon after Ben destroyed his temple, that X-Wing was probably down there about six years. Jedi or not, plop my dirty Honda Civic in the ocean for six years and see how quickly you can get it running. Just sayin…

3. “Be With Me”
Like the movie, the book doesn’t specify who exactly is talking to Rey as all the Jedi of the past are rooting her on. It’s better that way, of course. After all, how would Rey know what Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, or Anakin Skywalker sound like? The only obvious tell is Yoda based on his speech patterns. And of course, she recognizes Luke.

There’s also an interesting line in here about not all these voices necessarily coming from beyond the grave…

Presences filled her awareness, some recent, some ancient, some still anchored to the living in a strange way. Rey didn’t understand. But she accepted.

I assume that’s in there not just to keep Ashoka Tano’s fate a secret, but because certain Force sensitives around the galaxy could feel what was happening and were cheering Rey on. Even if they weren’t quite aware they were doing it. “Broom boy” from The Last Jedi comes to mind. And of course there’s Finn.

4. The Lars Homestead; “Rey Skywalker”
Upon second viewing, the movie is better at covering Rey’s exploration of the Lars Homestead than I remembered. We get a lot of familiar shots, only these places are now partially buried in sand. Probably stripped for parts too.

The implication, at least the way I interpreted it, was that Rey would now be the one to train a new generation of Jedi. She’d do it from the Lars Homestead, where Luke’s journey began, and where Anakin also had strong ties.

As it turns out, that’s not the case. At the end of the book, she and BB-8 get back in the Falcon and fly off. Presumably back to Ajan Kloss.

That’s disappointing. Yes, I’m sure different Empire/First Order survivors or sympathizers across the galaxy know where Anakin and Luke were born. They’re likely more than capable of following their trail back to Tatooine.

But in terms of closing the book on the so-called “Skywalker saga,” it’s poetic not just to see it end where it began. But to see it begin there again. I understand why they closed the movie with the image of Rey and BB-8. But in terms of the book going with the whole “alone with friends” theme might have been better. Sure, BB-8 is there. But we’ve also got C-3PO to help translate old Jedi texts. R2-D2 to do astromech droid stuff, and provide anecdotes from his days with both Anakin and Luke. Then there’s Finn. Rey’s first student.

Finally, the book gives us a brief moment where Luke, as he and Leia’s spiritual presences look on at Rey, grants her permission to use his family name.

It’s yours, Rey.

And so we reach an ending. But every ending is also a beginning.

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

Posted in Books, Movies

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Leia Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the second of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
Would not be called “General Rob”

1. “General Leia”
When The Force Awakens came out, I understand why she was marketed as “General Leia.” The world had known her as Princess Leia for almost 40 years. Calling her General Organa, or even General Leia Organa, might be confusing for some. I don’t think the name Organa is said at any point in the original trilogy.

In the movies they did the right thing. She wasn’t General Leia. She was General Organa. Or just Leia. But in the Rise novelization she’s called “General Leia” a handful of times. It’s off-putting. Consider this: In Return of the Jedi we didn’t have General Han or General Lando. It was General Solo and General Calrissian.

So let’s get this down once and for all: In licensing meetings she can be General Leia. But in-story? She’s General Organa.

2. Luke Was Speaking to Leia From Beyond.
As the story begins, Leia knows she’s dying. Thanks in no small part to getting blown into space during The Last Jedi. She knew she had to maximize the time she had left. What’s more, she had a persistent voice telling her that her time to go was now.

Between helping Rey and bugging Leia, Luke was a busy Force Ghost.

Their first exchange in the book is simply…
“Leia. It’s time.”
“Not just yet.”

Brother later told sister, “There is only one thing left. Then you can rest.”

Finally, when Leia sacrificed herself reaching out to Ben and passes into the Force, she feels “a surge of welcome from Luke, who was not alone…”

I’d like to think he’s not talking about all the other Jedi we hear from later. Though that would mean she’d get to see her father, and even Obi-Wan Kenobi. To yours truly, the ideal vision is Anakin, Padme, Luke, Leia, and Han. The Skywalker family reunited in full. Sticklers will tell us that neither Padme nor Han could have preserved their consciousness in the Force.

But it’s intentionally left vague. I imagine there’s a reason for that.

3. Leia’s Jedi Training
With Luke gone, Leia was the only one left who could offer Rey anything remotely resembling Jedi training. She wasn’t a Jedi herself. But as we’d later learn, she was very much a qualified teacher.

The novel delightfully yet briefly touches on Luke’s training of Leia. Nothing too extensive. But we learn that her training, or at least much of it, took place on Ajan Kloss, the planet the Resistance is based on when the story begins. Luke would often compare Leia’s training to his with Yoda. Thus, he tended to refer to Ajan Kloss as “nice Dagobah.”

Certain things came naturally to Leia. Not long after the Battle of Endor, Luke tried to teach Leia a lesson in patience by having her stand on her head for a long period of time. Much like he did with Yoda. In response to taunts he threw her way, she used the Force floated up and on to her feet. “You’re going to make me a better teacher,” Luke said.

4. The Tantive IV
Remember the first ship we see in the original Star Wars? The blockade runner that gets captured by the Star Destroyer? Yeah, apparently that’s not only still functioning 34 years later, but it’s in this damn story. It’s even in the big space battle at the end. It goes down, though. Among the casualties aboard are Nien Nunb, Lando’s co-pilot from Return of the Jedi.

This movie and it’s original trilogy collectibles. Honestly.

5. “Leia Was Stronger Than All of Us”
Luke says that to Rey during their scene on Ach-To.

This book practically worships Leia. Which I’m actually okay with. Not because of Carrie Fisher’s death, though that does make it more poignant. It’s because in the end, Leia was the strongest person in the saga. There’s actually a line in the book

Rian Johnson touched on this in the commentary track for The Last Jedi. Over the course of her life, Leia…

– Was taken from her birth parents.
– Lost her adoptive parents when her world exploded, as she was forced to stand by and watch.
– Discovered her father was Darth Vader, who was the one to hold her in place and make her watch aforementioned explosion.
– Lost her son to the dark side, just as Vader had been lost to it.
– Lost her husband when he was murdered by aforementioned son.
– Lost her brother when he sacrificed himself to save the Resistance.
– Endured the death of so many friends. In the sequel trilogy she also lost Holdo, who’d been a childhood friend, and Admiral Ackbar, whom she’d known since the days of the Rebellion.

And yet, when the galaxy needed her to fight, she kept on fighting.

Turns out Leia, like Carrie Fisher, was as tough as they come.

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

Posted in Books, Movies

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Palpatine Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the first of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
Has a LOT of free time during quarantine.

1. After the Big Boom
The book confirms something that a lot of fans already suspected: The Palpatine we saw in The Rise of Skywalker was indeed a clone. Or rather, the real Palpatine’s consciousness in a clone’s body.

There are more than a few Darth Plagueis references in the novel, which is a nice touch. Having learned from his old master how to cheat death, the Emperor began working on his contingency plan when he sensed the conflict in Darth Vader.

Palpatine’s consciousness left his body as he fell toward the Death Star core in Return of the Jedi. It traveled “far, far away to a secret place he had been preparing.” I can only assume that secret place was Exegol. But his new body wasn’t fully prepared, and his various Sith heretics rushed to sustain him. Obviously they never fully succeeded, as he would eventually plan to take Rey’s body as his own.

I know some fans thought Palpatine’s survival essentially negated the end of Return of the Jedi. I never really got that logic. Darth Vader was redeemed, the Empire was dealt a fatal blow, and the galaxy had three decades of peace. Not a bad deal as far as I’m concerned.

2. “They turned our kids into our enemies.”
Since The Force Awakens, one concept that’s both fascinated and frustrated me is the formation of the First Order. How they came together, what they want, how they’re different from the Empire, etc.

Lando has a few lines in this book that I really wish they’d put in the movie. During the scene on Pasaana where he tells Rey and the others he’s not coming back with them, he says…

“First Order went after us – the leaders from the old wars. They took our kids. … My girl wasn’t even old enough to walk. Far as I know, she’s a stormtrooper now. … They turned our kids into our enemies. My girl. Han and Leia’s son, Ben. To kill the spirit of the Rebellion for good.”

When you take into account Palpatine was been behind the First Order from the start, and that he’s essentially the most patient villain in pop culture history, that makes all the sense in the world. What better way to not only take the galaxy back, but to exact revenge on the heroes of the Rebellion than by targeting the next generation? You turn Han and Leia’s son into your unwitting apprentice, and you get Lando’s daughter as a bonus. The movie never even indicated that Lando had a daughter…

To an extent, the whole “They took our kids” thing applies to Luke as well. Remember, all his students ended up dead. All of them.

Ultimately, Palpatine’s plan worked, didn’t it? Han and Leia’s family imploded, Luke went into exile, and Lando ran away from it all.

3. Stormtroopers and Sith Troopers
The book tells us that the Sith Troopers, a.k.a. the red stormtroopers, were pulled from the regular stormtrooper roster, and designated lost in action somehow.

While the novel never indicates this explicitly, I think putting Palpatine in charge of the First Order adds a nice little irony to the stormtroopers being taken as children and forced into training. Because, to an extent, that’s exactly what the Jedi did.

Granted, you can make that argument without Palpatine. But it’s much more poignant with him.

4. You Have One Unheard Message
The first paragraph of the opening title crawl tells us “The galaxy has heard a mysterious  broadcast, a threat of REVENGE in the sinister voice of the late EMPEROR PALPATINE.”

Gotcha. But what did he say exactly? We never hear it in the movie.

Thankfully, the book fills us in…

“At last the work of generations is complete. The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith.”

5. More From Dark Empire
While I’m about to talk about this book yet again in relation to The Rise of Skywalker, it must be said that Dark Empire is one of the most atrociously colored books I’ve ever seen. Obviously it was a style choice. But hindsight being 20/20, a different choice would have been better.

This isn’t so much about the novelization as the story itself. In Dark Empire, Palpatine comes back in a clone body and has a fleet of “World Devastators” at his disposal. In the end, he’s defeated by Luke and Leia as they draw strength from words spoken by Yoda as he trained Luke.

Would Star Destroyers with attached Death Star lasers count as “World Devastators?” Asking for a friend…

I’m not trying to make any sort of salacious allusions here. I just find it amazing how prophetic this story from 1995 would turn out to be in terms of a movie that would come out 25 years later. And feature a much older Luke and Leia.

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