Posted in Television

A Few Words on Gina Carano

Sad to hear Gina Carano won’t be back in The Mandalorian. I was also sad to see she said all the terrible things she did.

If there’s one thing we’re learning in America right now, it’s that actions have consequences. Or at least SHOULD have consequences…

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Return to Tatooine

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E5. “Chapter 5, The Gunslinger”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Amy Sedaris, Jake Cannavale, Ming-Na Wen
WRITER/DIRECTOR:
Dave Filoni
PREMIERE DATE:
December 6, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
After stopping on Tatooine for repairs, Mando takes a job alongside a young bounty hunter.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So did we need to come back to Tatooine? No, not really. But I’m glad we did. Going to a classic Star Wars setting reinforces that this is, in fact, the universe we know and love. And yes, nostalgia is a factor. It’s nice to see Mos Eisley again.

I’m a little surprised they used pit droids, i.e. the “hit the nose” robots from The Phantom Menace. I don’t mind Episode I as much as some people do. But you’d think in this, the first live action Star Wars television show, you’d want to avoid allusions to what’s often considered the franchise’s worst film. (It’s not. But that’s another story.)

Question: Aren’t most rifles in Star Wars blaster rifles? If so, Peli Motto asking the droids to get her blaster rifle doesn’t really make sense. It should probably just be, “Get my rifle!”

Yeah. I’m nitpicking at that level, folks. But it’s because I care, damn it!

So he just left the child on the ship? That’s uncharacteristically stupid for Mando.

Dr. Mandible, the giant bug in the cantina, is also stupid. He makes his debut in this episode.

Fun fact: The Mos Eisley Cantina has a name. Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina.

Another fun fact: They squeezed Mark Hamill into this episode. He’s the voice of the droid at the bar (shown below). Apparently that’s the very same droid that spoke to Threepio in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. What a remarkable coincidence…

I wonder if Mando would have taken Toro Calican under his wing before he picked up the child. Perhaps being a father figure softened him in short order.

That’s a recurring theme in the original Star Wars trilogy. The “scoundrel” who becomes a good man. The big one is Han Solo. But it applies to Lando Calrissian as well.

I must confess, I’ve never seen Agents of Shield, or much of anything else with Ming-Na Wen. But she makes a pretty good bounty hunter. And Fennec Shand is yet another powerful female character added to the Star Wars universe.

I don’t recommend watching this episode in a room with a lot of sunlight. I did so, and could barely make anything out during the nighttime scenes.

So the general consensus was that the person who comes to Fennec’s aid at the very end of the episode is Boba Fett. In the end, that obviously turns out to be true. That speaks to the amount of foresight the showrunners hopefully have.

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: The Samurai

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E4. “Chapter 4, Sanctuary”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal (Voice), Gina Carano, Julia Jones
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Bryce Dallas Howard
PREMIERE DATE:
November 29, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
Mando and the child seek sanctuary on the planet Sorgon, but are drawn into aiding a village against vicious raiders.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Oddly enough, Pedro Pascal wasn’t there for the filming of this episode. He was apparently on broadway doing King Lear at the time. Apparently the performance we see in this episode comes from a combination of stunt doubles Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder. Apparently Pascal and Wayne worked closely together in developing the title character. What’s more, Wayne is the grandson of screen legend John Wayne. Ironic, considering what Mando has in common with a lot of the characters John Wayne played…

When Mando looks at the child and says, “Stop touching things,” he briefly becomes the personification of every parent who’s ever had a toddler.

Here we have Cara Dune, played by Gina Carano. Mrs. Primary Ignition isn’t sold on Carano as an actor. Me? I think she’s perfectly adequate for the role she’s in. The one aspect of the character I’m not completely sold on? The tiny Rebel Alliance/New Republic tattoo she has on her cheek. She’s supposed to be making her living as a mercenary, right? Isn’t that an odd thing for a mercenary to keep tattooed on her face? You’d think she’d want the thing removed.

The samurai film influences on The Mandalorian are quite evident in this episode. And that’s even if you discount the fact that this village on Sorgan matches many depictions of such places in feudal Japan. You’ve got the nomad warrior sought out by a community of innocents to help them overcome an invasive evil. Thus, he trains the villagers to fight alongside him. It’s essentially the same plot as the classic film Seven Samurai, by Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa was famously one of the filmmakers who inspired George Lucas during the conception of Star Wars.

On the subject of connections to Lucas, our director for this episode is Bryce Dallas Howard. She’s, of course, the daughter of Ron Howard, who starred in Lucas’ first big hit, American Graffiti. She’s gotten quite a bit of praise for her work on The Mandalorian, and rightfully so. Carano credits Howard with helping her figure out how to best translate the Cara Dune character from script to screen.

The combination puppeteering/CGI work with Baby Yoda is at its strongest yet in this episode. It blends so seamlessly. It’s not a fair comparison, given the near 20-year gap, but it’s a far cry from how fake CGI Yoda looks in Attack of the Clones.

I give a lot of credit to Julia Jones, who plays Omera, Mando’s kinda/sorta love interest in this episode. She performs the hell out of her scenes here, playing off someone who essentially has a bucket on their head. Now that’s acting.

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

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: An Attack of Conscience

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E3. “Chapter Three: The Sin.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, Omid Abtahi,
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
November 22, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
After returning the child to his client, Mando has an attack of conscience.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I assume those stormtroopers have to keep their armor on full-time, as if they were still on duty. One would think they’d want to avoid outfits that would get them recognized. But I suppose you can’t be recognized if you don’t go out in public.

I wish we had something to call the Werner Herzog character besides “the client.” Even the mad scientist character has a name: Dr. Pershing. Granted, that sounds like the name of somebody’s pediatrist. But at least it’s there.

While we’re on the subject, are we to assume Baby Yoda has no name? See, that one I’m okay with, as we can assume he’s been in Imperial research facilities for much of his life.

Carl Weathers’ Wikipedia page says that he took the Greef Karga role on the condition that he be able to direct an episode in the second season. Take everything you read on Wikipedia with a grain of salt. But if it is true, that’s some clever bargaining on his part.

With this episode, Deborah Chow became the first woman to direct a live-action Star Wars project. Those kinds of milestones are a double-edged sword for me. Yes, you obviously want diversity in the director’s chair. But the fact that it took more than 40 years for it to happen is cringeworthy.

Then again, it’s not like there’ve been a massive surplus of live action Star Wars projects. The Mandalorian is, after all, the franchise’s first live-action TV series.

Don’t get personally involved. That’s got to be, like, the first rule of bounty hunting, right? If it’s not rule #1, it should be rule #1A.

One of the big themes in The Mandalorian, and Star Wars at large, has to do with fatherhood and parenting. We’ve had Luke and Vader, Boba Fett and Jango Fett, Han and Ben Solo, etc. And now, we’ve got Mando and the child. Heck, even Mando himself has some lost parent issues.

What I like about this episode is that we’re with Mando as he makes the decision to become a parent, albeit a surrogate one. We see the struggle between his mercenary instincts and his conscience. And we get through the whole thing with minimal dialogue from him. It’s beautifully done.

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

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 Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Wait, That’s Not Hoth!!!

***As the second season of The Mandalorian rapidly approaches, it’s time to take a look back at the foundation laid by the first season. This is “Rob Watches The Mandalorian.”***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This opening scene is, of course, our tone-setter. And once of the best I’ve ever seen. As far as space westerns go, you can’t do much better than this. Our lone gunman walks into a saloon, finds trouble, and has to shoot his way out. Everything is perfect.

For whatever reason, when I think of The Mandalorian the first thing that comes to mind is that poor guy getting cut in half by the door. Maybe it’s because, like the series itself the whole thing is so damn smooth and cool.

So why is this snow planet not Hoth? Because, as Admiral Piett told us in The Empire Strikes Back, “The Hoth system is supposed to be devoid of human forms.” Originally I was miffed that a later episode took us back to the friggin’ Mos Eisley Cantina, but we couldn’t go to some random bar on Hoth. Whoops…

That’s a problem Star Wars creators are running into these days. The more films and TV shows that are made, the harder it is to make all these planets feel distinct and different. A lot of the worlds in the sequel trilogy, for instance, look alike.

Our blue friend, who I don’t believe has a name, is played by SNL alum Horatio Sanz. I knew I recognized him from somewhere…

Is this the first time we’ve seen a bounty puck? There certainly weren’t any in the movies.

Practically every Star Wars project has to do the cantina. Or at least some version of a cantina. Some setting where aliens from various different worlds come together for a drink or a party or the like. In this episode alone we get two of them. At least The Mandalorian had the guts to take a stab at the Mos Eisley Cantina, the cantina setting, later on.

I love that the client, the guy that hires Mando and really gets the plot moving, is part of this tiny little faction of Imperials, complete with a few beat-up looking stormtroopers. It’s a great bit of world-building. It’s one thing for Mando to say the Empire is gone. It’s another thing for us to actually see what it’s been reduced to.

Whenever I watch the scene with Mando trying to ride the Blurg and talking with little Kuiil, I always think of the prequels. If the prequels had blended practical and CGI effects as seamlessly as The Mandalorian, people would talk about them in such a different light. They’d still be badly written, but at least they wouldn’t look like giant video games.

In writing this, I at one point had in my notes, “I’m happy they didn’t give him a quirky droid sidekick.” A character like K-2SO in Rogue One or L3-37 in Solo. That’s another Star Wars trope people have to be mindful of going forward.

Then I realized, “Oh wait, they did give him a quirky droid sidekick.” It’s just that IG-11 isn’t around the whole time.

I do like IG-11, largely because his presence in the climactic shoot-out sequence explains how IG-88 works. In The Empire Strikes Back, IG-88 was essentially just a tall prop that stood next to Boba Fett and the other bounty hunters. It couldn’t have been on screen for more than a second or two. But like many a bit player in Star Wars, it gained a cult following. But of course, we never got to see the IG-88 in action. We were never meant to. As such, I always wondered how this tall, seemingly cumbersome, ridid-looking robot was supposed to do the same job as Boba Fett…

Turns out, these IG droids may be all of those things. But they’re also fast, and make for a hell of an action scene!

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