Thor: Ragnarok (Film Review) – Another Fun MCU Film

Thor: Ragnarok is a superhero film directed by Taika Waititi and it is the seventeenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is the third individual Thor film in the MCU and it stars Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth.

The story of Thor: Ragnarok focuses on Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who is trying to save Asgard from Hela (Cate Blanchett) and the prophesied Ragnarok. He enlists the help of The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to do this.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Thor: Ragnarok

I went into Thor: Ragnarok with no baggage when it came to the individual Thor films in the MCU. I have never seen Thor or Thor: The Dark World and those films have been divisive. Some say that Thor is great, others say it is okay while Thor: The Dark World is considered to be very mediocre and one of the worst films in the MCU.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor Ragnarok

As a result, my only exposure to Thor in the MCU has been through films such as The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron which I thought were very good and I liked Thor in those films. Chris Hemsworth, for me, has always done a great job at portraying the character he was seemingly born to play. I was looking forward to seeing him in Thor: Ragnarok as well as the rest of a great cast.

Certainly, I would argue that Tom Hiddleston portrays one of the better villains in the MCU as Loki and to see him in a sort of anti-hero role intrigued me. Obviously, Cate Blanchett is a phenomenal actress so I knew that she would deliver as would Mark Ruffalo who I feel is severely underrated as an actor. Moreover, to see Anthony Hopkins and Tessa Thompson (both starring in Westworld) in Thor: Ragnarok was sure to lend some more class. Oh, and Idris Elba; brilliant.

Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk in Thor Ragnarok

Everything seemed to be pointing towards Thor: Ragnarok being great. Certainly, from the marketing, the film looked to be very funny and when you see that Taika Waititi is directing Thor: Ragnarok you must know that you are not in for a typical, conventional film. Before Thor: Ragnarok, the only Taika Waititi film that I had seen was What We Do in the Shadows and I really enjoyed it. It is weird but very funny and it showcases his type of humour quite well.

If he could bring that humour to Thor: Ragnarok, then I was in for a good time with this film and it would cap-off a great year for films in the MCU. Indeed, 2017 has seen the release of both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming which were very entertaining films and, for me, they rank amongst the best that the MCU has given us. I hoped that Thor: Ragnarok would continue this trend of non-stop entertainment before we get to more serious entries in the MCU next year in the form of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.

Surtur in Thor Ragnarok

My Thoughts on Thor: Ragnarok

My hopes were realised. Thor: Ragnarok is hilariously entertaining and, once more, the MCU continues to give us fun, consistently good superhero films. From the very beginning, the film established the beautiful cinematography, tone and type of humour we would be getting and it never lets up from there. There were so many brilliant comedic moments that I was surprised Marvel let Taika Waititi get away with some of it.

In fact, I would strongly argue that Thor: Ragnarok rivals Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of pure entertainment. Whether it was the brilliant cameo from Matt Damon or Loki’s reaction to seeing Hulk again after their “incident” in The Avengers, I was laughing at various points throughout the film. All of the characters in this film have their moments of humour yet, to be honest, I have to say that Korg was the stand out character in this regard.

Taika Waititi as Korg in Thor Ragnorok

Korg was actually played by Taika Waititi in Thor: Ragnarok and, by far, he was my favourite thing about the whole film. He had so many great lines in this film and I pray to god that Marvel sees that they have a gem on their hands with this character. I hope he has a much bigger role in MCU films in the future, especially in Avengers: Infinity War because he could provide some great comedic relief in a film that I expect to be very dramatic.

Thor and Loki

While Korg was my favourite character and part of Thor: Ragnarok, that does not take away from the great work that the rest of the cast did in this film. Chris Hemsworth once again proved how great he is as Thor and his dynamic with Loki really showcased how great their chemistry is with each other. Moreover, seeing Tom Hiddleston as Loki in an anti-hero role was a nice thing to see after his villainous role in The Avengers. His character and relationship with Thor was really fleshed out in Thor: Ragnarok and it made the film better as a consequence.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor Ragnarok

The Hulk was another character who had some brilliant moments in the film, especially with Thor. Indeed, seeing these two argue like petulant brothers in one scene was hilarious and credit should go to Mark Ruffalo in this regard. It is not easy to play what is essentially two different characters in Hulk and Bruce Banner and he found the right blend of being funny but also dramatic and poignant when he was wrestling with his identity in the film. He has done this brilliantly in previous MCU films and he did it again in Thor: Ragnarok.

I mentioned that Matt Damon had a small cameo in Thor: Ragnarok but that was for comedic purposes rather than something that would further the story. However, another cameo in Thor: Ragnarok was important in this regard and that was the small role that Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) played. We essentially saw an extended version of the post-credits scene that we saw in Doctor Strange and it was cool to have these two films connected like this.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk in Thor Ragnarok

More importantly, I think that the interaction between Thor and Doctor Strange has established a relationship that will have importance in future films in the MCU. It also led us to a great scene between Thor, Loki and their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Clearly, Anthony Hopkins brings a lot of gravitas to any role he is in and the scene that took place in Norway between Odin and his sons was very poignant. In a film such as Thor: Ragnarok, you needed a good blend of comedy and drama and the moments that involved Anthony Hopkins as Odin gave the film the dramatic heft that was required.

The Negatives of Thor: Ragnarok

Still, this brings me onto something that is not really a negative of Thor: Ragnarok but it did hinder my appreciation of it. Seeing as I have not watched Thor or Thor: The Dark World, my appreciation for moments in the film such as the one between Odin, Thor and Loki were not as big as they could have been bigger. Moreover, some stuff in the film that involved Loki as well as Heimdall (Idris Elba) kind of went over my head because I do not know what happened with these characters in Thor or Thor: The Dark World. So, it is not the film’s fault that I did not appreciate some of the stuff in it but my own.

Cate Blanchett as Hela in Thor Ragnarok

Nonetheless, one element of Thor: Ragnarok that I believe was a negative was Hela. Marvel has always had a problem with its villains. Most of the time, they come across as one-note and bland. While I think Cate Blanchett gave a good performance as Hela, the arc that her character went through in this film was not one that allowed her to shine or have a lot of depth. Overall, Hela was quite forgettable and, to be honest, so was Jeff Goldblum. I enjoyed him in the film because he is Jeff Goldblum but I could never take him seriously. He was more of a caricature than a character.

My Final Thoughts on Thor: Ragnarok

On the other hand, one character who was not forgettable was Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). Some film critics/pundits argued that Tessa Thompson was the best thing about Thor: Ragnarok. While I give that accolade to Korg, there is no denying that she was great in the film and her character went through every scene she was in with a drunken swagger that was very entertaining.

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Thor Ragnarok

Indeed, the whole film is entertaining and it solidifies 2017 as a great year for comic book films. If you have not see Thor: Ragnarok, then I urge you to do so as soon as you can because it also caps off a year where the films in the MCU have been funny but also dramatic where it needed to be. Now, we look forward to Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War which I am sure will be just as good if not better than the MCU films of 2017 but in different ways.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episode 9 (Television Review) – A Good Mid-Season Finale

The most recent episodes of Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels have been building to the assault on Lothal by the Rebel Alliance. It was therefore apt that this episode was titled ‘Rebel Assault’. In my review of the previous episodes of Star Wars Rebels, I mentioned how I expected the Rebel Alliance to win the Battle of Lothal but at a massive cost.

As the week progressed, I came to the realisation that a force of Rebel fighters would attack the Imperial presence of Lothal but, in the end, come up short. Certainly, this season of Star Wars Rebels has been much darker in tone than previous seasons of this show. Hence, it would make sense that the mid-season finale would end on a note of defeat rather than victory.

Battle of Lothal between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 9 Rebel Assault

My Thoughts on ‘Rebel Assault’

It seems that, for the most part, I was right when it came to my thoughts on how ‘Rebel Assault’ would pan out. This episode was a good way to bring the first part of Season 4 to a close. It laid the foundations for the second half to pack a serious punch for a number of reasons because Hera, who led the assault on Lothal, was captured by the Empire and this will have huge ramifications. Obviously, we know that Hera will be rescued because she is part of the Rebel Alliance during the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (watch a recent episode of Forces of Destiny to see this).

I expect her rescue to happen early on in the second half of Season 4, perhaps the first episode. However, I feel as though her rescue will have to come at a cost. We all know that the characters we have grown to love in Star Wars Rebels are not going to have a happy ending. Certainly, I expect everyone but Hera and Chopper to die by the time Star Wars Rebels ends. We could see some deaths in the next couple of episodes in Season 4 and Hera’s capture could be the catalyst for this to occur as her inevitable rescue will not be easy.

Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 9 Rebel Assault

The Space Battle in ‘Rebel Assault’ and Thrawn

Indeed, in ‘Rebel Assault’, we see how much Thrawn admires Hera’s skills and, because of this, he will not give her up without a fight. In fact, we see Hera’s ability as a pilot and a leader in the very beginning of ‘Rebel Assault’ and the cold open for this episode was great. The start of this episode began with a space battle that was very good and felt very much like it was plucked out of the Original Trilogy.

Moreover, it gives us more insight into how calculating and ruthless Thrawn is as a military leader. Throughout the entire battle and the Rebel Alliance’s attempts to break his blockade and attack Imperial factories, Thrawn was in total control. He was calm and willing to even sacrifice a TIE Defender to get to the stage where he could crush this Rebel attack. As expected, they were crushed despite getting though the Imperial blockade.

Hera, Rukh and Governor Pryce in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 9 Rebel Assault

Rukh vs. Hera

This itself gave us some beautiful imagery of seeing the entire Rebel force in flames, crashing into Lothal and it left Hera in a desperate situation. Indeed, the second half of ‘Rebel Assault’ dealt with Hera’s attempt to reunite with the remnants of her squad and escape from the Empire who were hunting her. The person leading this hunt was Rukh and it was cool to see him in combat against Hera. Certainly, there was good choreography in their fight scenes and, despite fighting the good fight, Hera eventually succumbed to defeat which led to her capture.

Before this, Kanan witnessed the Rebel fighters crashing into Lothal’s surface which heavily affected him. Obviously, Kanan went to rescue Hera but he was interrupted by the Loth-wolf and it clear that this mystical creature sees Kanan as needing to go down a different path. Kanan himself realises that something bigger than his attachment to Hera is happening on Lothal. I was worried that he would die while trying to save Hera but it seems like he still has a purpose. I am glad that his journey is not over yet, even though it probably will be soon enough.

Loth-wolf in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 9 Rebel Assault

‘Rebel Assault’ Ends in Uncertainty

‘Rebel Assault’ ended on a cliff-hanger with Kanan rescuing Mart, who we last saw in ‘Iron Squadron’, and retreating to fight another day. The last image of this episode of Star Wars Rebels centred on the Loth-wolf looking at Kanan and, while this sub-plot seems important, I am still at a loss trying to figure out what it means to the story. I expect the second half of Season 4 to delve more into the mystery of Kanan and the Loth-wolves and, as a mid-season finale, ‘Rebel Assault’ was good. Not great, but good.

I would argue that Season 3’s ‘Visions and Voices’ is the best mid-season finale that Rebels has had. But, that does not take away from the fact that Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels has been very good so far. Hopefully, the remaining episodes of Season 4 will elevate this final season of Star Wars Rebels as being the best season of this television show.

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad (Book Review) – A Fascinating Look At The Empire

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad is a canonical Star Wars novel written by Christie Golden and it is set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The book serves as a prequel to the upcoming video game Star Wars: Battlefront II and focuses on the formation and early missions of Inferno Squad which is led by Iden Versio.

Iden Versio, who will be played by Janina Gavankar in the video game, is the lead character in this book and is one of a few survivors of the destruction of the Death Star. She is recruited by her father, Admiral Garrik Versio, to lead a team of elite soldiers known as Inferno Squad whose mission is to infiltrate and eliminate the last remnants of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

I have wanted to read this book since it came out in July but I was never able to find the time to read it. However, seeing as Star Wars: Battlefront II is just about to come out, I found it necessary to read this book before the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II as it will tie-in heavily to the video game. The way Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad ties-in is that it introduces us to the primary characters of the video game and gives us insight into how they came together as well as their beliefs and ideologies.

Front and Back Book Covers for Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

In reading Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, I was hoping that it would enhance my experience of playing Star Wars: Battlefront II once it is released and tell a gripping story that would expand the Star Wars universe. Additionally, having a story being told from the perspective of the Empire really interested me.

Obviously, the Empire are the bad guys but what has been great about the new canon material that has been released since 2014 is that it has been portraying the grey nature of the Star Wars universe very well. Nothing is black and white anymore and to see this continued to be explored in the form of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad  potentially made for some great storytelling.

My Thoughts on Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad is a fantastic book that has made me well prepared for Star Wars: Battlefront II. From the very start, I was invested and I have to give a lot of praise to Christie Golden in this regard, especially as the writing in this book flows very well. Moreover, whenever a Star Wars book begins at an iconic event which in this case was the Battle of Yavin 4 and the destruction of the Death Star, this will always put me in a good mood.

Christie Golden with Kristian Harloff and Ken Napzok on Collider Jedi Council

I am always going to love it when this sort of stuff happens because it gives us different viewpoints of that event and, in turn, this enhances my future viewings of such event. This is a big reason why Lost Stars remains my favourite Star Wars book because it tells a new story set during the Original Trilogy. The main events still happen but it is told from a new point of view. Therefore, whenever I watch the films, my experience will be enhanced because I have read these books which have links to the films but are their own unique stories.

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad does this in spades. Obviously, due to the time period it is set in, the book has a lot of references to Star Wars: A New Hope and, as I said, the beginning of the book takes place at the end of that film. However, now that we have Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad also references the events of that film. Galen Erso, the Battle of Scarif and the destruction of Jedha are important points that are referenced throughout the book and it is a source of a lot of anger for our Imperial protagonists.

Iden Versio

This is especially true for Iden Versio. I found her to be a fascinating character, especially as she was one of a handful of survivors of the Death Star. She also managed to escape from Yavin 4 during the Rebel celebration of the Death Star’s destruction which, itself, will make me watch the end of Star Wars: A New Hope in a different way. As I was reading Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, it became clear how fanatical Iden is when it comes to her loyalty to the Empire.

Janina Gavankar as Iden Versio

Certainly, this was evident as we learnt more about her past and her relationship with her father. As a child, Iden was always striving to excel and be the best she could be which, to her, seemed to be the only path to get acceptance and respect from her father. Undoubtedly, the relationship between Garrick Versio and Iden is not a typical father/daughter relationship.

Interestingly enough, it is implied that her father’s treatment of her has caused some bitterness, perhaps even hate towards him. I hope that this is explored further in Star Wars: Battlefront II. Iden’s devotion to the Empire is even more believable seeing as both her father and mother were devout Imperials. Hence, she was indoctrinated from an early age to be the same and hold the same ideologies that they did. With all of this in mind, Iden came across as a very driven individual who was determined to exact revenge on the Rebel Alliance in any way she could.

As it turned out, the way that this would be achieved would be through infiltrating the remnants of The Partisans who were formerly led by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera. As we saw in Rogue One, his partisans have a big influence on the events that led to the destruction of the Death Star so, obviously, they would be a target for any kind of retaliation from the Empire.

Janina Gavankar as Iden Versio, Paul Blackthorne as Gideon Hask and TJ Ramani as Del Meeko

The Members of Inferno Squad Are Great Together

Iden would have to be seen to betray the Empire in order to join the Partisans and become the face of this extremist group. By doing this, Iden could destroy the group from the inside but she would not be able to do this alone. She would need the other members of Inferno Squad to make this mission successful. Gideon Hask, Del Meeko and Seyn Marana made up the rest of Inferno Squad and another great thing about Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad was the rapport between the members of this group.

From the beginning, we see that Iden and Gideon are already friends (well, friends in the Empire is not really a typical friendship so they are more like allies). I liked the relationship they had and there was a good deal of respect between the two. In fact, there was respect between all the members of Inferno Squad. Additionally, the blend of humour and seriousness within the group was just right and all of this meant that, going into Star Wars: Battlefront II, I now know what to expect from each group member. I look forward to seeing the journey of Inferno Squad continue in that video game.

The Dreamers Lack Morality

Most of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad focuses on Inferno Squad infiltrating Saw Gerrera’s Partisans who are now known as the Dreamers. All the members of the Dreamers have a love for Saw Gerrera and there base is on the planet of Jeosyn. From this, we get some great tie-ins to the wider Star Wars universe. For instance, one of the main figures in the Dreamers was Staven who appeared in Rebel Rising which is another canonical Star Wars book that I have been reading recently so it was cool to see his character again.

Gideon Hask and Seyn Marana in Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

Additionally, it was fascinating to see how, in many ways, Staven is just as bad as the Empire he despises. Indeed, the tactics of Staven and the Dreamers are very extreme and the fact that they even target children is proof of how they are morally bankrupt in their aim to free the galaxy from the tyranny of the Empire. You can see why Mon Mothma sought to distance herself from Saw Gerrera and those who admired and followed him. This was evident to see in ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ which was a recent episode of Star Wars Rebels.

Again, this shows how beautifully interconnected Star Wars is but, at the same time, the universe gets expanded and fleshed out in the process. The impact of the Dreamers on Inferno Squad is definitely fleshed out in Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. Clearly, the Dreamers hate the Empire but what interested me was seeing how Inferno Squad was unmoved to become torn about the Empire themselves. To be that deep into this undercover mission and not question your motives proved how loyal the members of Inferno Squad were to each other and to the Empire.

The Mission’s Impact on Inferno Squad

Still, some members of Inferno Squad did become somewhat attached to individuals within the Dreamers. Del developed a nice friendship with Piikow while Seyn grew to have a romantic relationship with Sedori. This made it even more tense and intriguing once things began to unravel in a very gripping way. This all began once Inferno Squad decided to pit the Dreamers against each other and, after that, when Seyn is not able to fulfil the mission that targeted children which, in turn, led to the death of Sedori.

Lux Bonteri in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

While Seyn would not admit this, she had grown attached to Sedori and she was very affected by his death and her part in it. This leads to her making a slip which brought suspicion and accusations that she was an Imperial spy. She eventually dies because her cover was blown but her death was at the hands of Iden. Again, Iden is devoted to the Empire so it makes sense that she would have done anything to keep the mission alive, even if it meant killing a member of her team. This just added to the depth of her character and the quality of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad as a Star Wars novel.

Who is The Mentor?

From this, Inferno Squad decides to wrap this mission up and it is here where we get a fantastic revelation that made me love this book. One member of the Dreamers was shrouded in mystery throughout Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad and he was known only as The Mentor. We learn small bits of information about The Mentor as the story of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad progresses which includes the fact that he was around during The Clone Wars. He also comes from a prestigious family and he fought alongside Saw Gerrera and his sister, Stella.

I started putting these bits of information together and it led me to come to a thought that The Mentor was Lux Bonteri. In the end, I was proved right. Iden goes to confront him on his own after finding out about his true identity and it is here where my theory was proven right. I was so pleased that The Mentor was Lux not only because I was right, but because it is another great tie in to the wider Star Wars universe. For those of you unaware of who Lux Bonteri is, he was the senator for Onderon during The Clone Wars and he was first introduced in the animated show Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Lux Bonteri, Saw Gerrera and Stella Gerrera in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I love it when Star Wars connects the wider universe together and to have the reveal and tie-in done in this way was great, especially as Lux’s fate was left ambiguous. Indeed, it seemed like Iden had killed him once she got everything she wanted from him. But, it is heavily implied that he lives as Iden basically admits to Del that she set her blaster to stun after a debriefing from her father.

Final Thoughts on Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

In the end, Inferno Squad ended up killing all the Dreamers instead of capturing them for interrogation which infuriated Iden. Yet, it did not worsen the bond that Iden, Del and Gideon formed between each other and they were all impacted by the mission in their own way. Overall, Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad is a great addition to the Star Wars universe.

Poster for Star Wars: Battlefront II

I am well prepared for Star Wars: Battlefront II after reading this book and I am very much attached to the characters despite their allegiance to the Empire. This itself proves how effective Christie Golden was in crafting a great story that makes you care about characters who you would normally despise due to their allegiance to a totalitarian regime.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 7-8 (Television Review) – The Stage Is Set For The Battle of Lothal

The story on Lothal continued with ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’ and I expected these episodes of Star Wars Rebels to continue right where we left off with ‘Flight of the Defender’. At the end of that episode, we saw Ezra and Sabine being safely returned to the Rebel Base on Lothal by the Loth-wolf.

With a title like ‘Kindred’, I suspected that some part of that episode would be devoted to the mystical nature of Lothal in terms of the Loth-wolf and The Force. At the very least, I wanted both episodes to push the story forward when it comes to Lothal and its importance in the early days of the Rebel Alliance.

Loth-wolves in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 7 Kindred

My Thoughts on ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’

I am combining my opinions on both episodes due to the fact that, honestly, nothing of mind-shattering significance really happened. Despite this, both ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’ fulfilled their primary purpose which was furthering the story in this season of Star Wars Rebels.

Certainly, these episodes were setting up the Battle of Lothal that will occur in the next episode which is fine and necessary. But, because ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’ were setting up more important story-lines and episodes going forward, they do rank amongst the weakest episodes of Season 4 so far.

Rukh in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 7 Kindred

Still, there was some interesting stuff to take away, especially in ‘Kindred’ which was a good episode of Star Wars Rebels. The episode started with Hera and Kanan and their discussion about no matter what they do or what adventures they go on, they always come back to Lothal. Lothal’s deeper importance to Star Wars Rebels is heavily implied in this conversation which is important for the story but it was also nice to see Hera and Kanan get some time alone before the chaos begun once again.

Hera and Kanan’s Final Goodbye?

Indeed, the mission to get the flight data of the TIE Defender back to Yavin 4 was the primary focus of ‘Kindred’. This was achieved but not before Hera and Kanan said their goodbyes by kissing for the first time on Star Wars Rebels. This has been naturally building for a long time and it was nice to finally see it happen. Still, I cannot help but feel that this signalled the last time these two characters will see each other.

Ryder Azadi, Ezra, Sabine and Zeb in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 8 Crawler Commanders

Certainly, I would not be surprised if Kanan dies in the next episode which would fit with the darker tone that Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels has had so far. At the very least, I do not feel that Hera and Kanan will be on-screen together again in Star Wars Rebels. Yet, for now, Kanan is still here and he would go on to have another important role in ‘Kindred’ by connecting with the Loth-wolf just like Ezra did before him.

The Force

Some revelations that occurred in ‘Kindred’ were that the Loth-wolves are deeply connected to The Force and the whole of Lothal. We also found out that when the Loth-wolf said “Doom” he actually meant “Dume”. Dume is the true last name of Kanan. Indeed, Kanan Jarrus’ real name is Caleb Dume and, looking back, this should have been pretty easy to decipher. Yet, with the darker tone that has been established in this season of Star Wars Rebels, it seemed apt that the Loth-wolf was saying “Doom” to warn of the impending fate of our characters.

Mon Mothma, Hera and Chopper on Yavin 4 in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 8 Crawler Commanders

Nevertheless, what ‘Kindred’ confirmed is that, as Ezra stated, all the paths are finally converging and I do not feel that it will be a happy end. I also feel that due to how strongly connected the Loth-wolves are to The Force, they will also play a part in what is to come as Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels progresses. One last thing that I will say about ‘Kindred’ is that it was cool to see Warwick Davis be involved in another Star Wars project by voicing the character of Rukh.

Rukh is an assassin who works for Thrawn and, while the part the character played was purely crafted to introduce him to us, it is always nice to see Warwick Davis continue his involvement with Star Wars. Whether it is Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Warwick Davis has been involved in this franchise for decades and long may it continue.

Kanan in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 8 Crawler Commanders

‘Kindred’ Was The Better Episode

I would absolutely say that Kindred was a far better episode than ‘Crawler Commanders’. ‘Crawler Commanders’ was purely created to get us to a stage where Hera successfully convinces Mon Mothma and the rest of the Rebel Alliance to attack Lothal. This episode’s other purpose was to show us how the rest of our characters successfully established long-range communication with Hera to find out that the attack was happening. ‘Crawler Commanders’ was decent. I enjoyed the episode for what it was and there were some funny moments but it is absolutely the weakest episode of Season 4 so far.

If next week’s episode that focuses on the Battle of Lothal delivers, then I will look on ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’ in a much better way and I expect that this will happen. Star Wars Rebels has always delivered on its most important episodes so I cannot wait to see how the Battle of Lothal will shape out as we know that the first real victory for the Rebel Alliance was stealing the plans for the Death Star at the Battle of Scarif. With this in mind, I feel as though the Battle of Lothal will be bittersweet. The Rebel Alliance will achieve some semblance of a victory but at a massive cost. This is likely to be some of the characters that we have grown to love dying in a heroic sacrifice.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 5-6 (Television Review) – A Good Return to Lothal

The Occupation’ and ‘Flight of the Defender’ were the titles of the latest episodes in this season of Star Wars Rebels. In these episodes, we returned to Ezra’s home planet of Lothal after the Rebel Alliance received a message from Ryder Azadi who has been a recurring character in Rebels since Season 2. We saw Ryder in Season 3 in episodes such as ‘An Inside Man’, ‘Secret Cargo’ and ‘Zero Hour’.

In these latest episodes of Rebels, he asked for assistance from the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. During Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels, we have had two episodes air each week that focused on one particular place/issue. In ‘Heroes of Mandalore’, it was set on Mandalore (obviously) and ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ focused on the meaning of the Rebel Alliance.

Sabine and Kallus in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 5 The Occupation

With these latest episodes being set on Lothal, we would stay in one location and focus on the impact that the Empire has had on a planet that is very important in Star Wars Rebels. Obviously, Ezra was born on Lothal and has a deep connection to that planet. I was interested to see how Lothal has changed under Imperial occupation and how it would affect Ezra.

My Thoughts on ‘The Occupation’

Let us start with what I thought about ‘The Occupation’. This is probably my favourite episode of Season 4 so far. A big reason why this was the case was because my expectations were exceeded when it came to Ezra and his reaction to returning to Lothal. At the beginning of this episode, we see that Ezra is still uneasy about Lothal and how he feels that the Rebel Alliance has not made the liberation of his home planet a priority.

Lothal in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 5 The Occupation

This made it all the more sad when Ezra sees Lothal in ruins. Truly, the Imperial occupation of Lothal has had a devastating impact on the planet which is consumed by fire and destruction. Essentially, it seemed like the Empire had adopted a “scorched-earth” approach to Lothal. What made this particular scene very impactful was the great piece of music which accompanied it. It was very haunting and added to the atmosphere of despair which encompassed this scene in ‘The Occupation’.

Additionally, Ezra’s heartbroken reaction to seeing his home planet in ruins was devastating to see and what made me love ‘The Occupation’ even more was how the state of Lothal plagued Ezra as the episode progressed. Certainly, Ezra was very affected by what he saw on Lothal and believed that the planet he knew was gone. In fact, he goes back to thinking that Saw Gerrera was right. I feel that all of this will motivate Ezra to liberate Lothal from the Empire to an even greater degree than before.

Jai Kell and Ezra in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 5 The Occupation

Other Highlights of ‘The Occupation’

There were other things in ‘The Occupation’ that I really liked. There was a nice moment between Hera and Kanan that showcased the deep relationship they have with each other. It was also cool to see Jai Kell, voiced by Dante Basco, return to Star Wars Rebels. We last saw this character in Season 1 and to see Rebels link back to past episodes is always great to see.

Towards the end of ‘The Occupation’, we also got to see a great chase scene in the tunnels of Lothal that was very tense and atmospheric. All in all, ‘The Occupation’ was a great episode of Star Wars Rebels, possibly my favourite of Season 4 so far and it set my expectations for ‘Flight of the Defender’ very high.

My Thoughts on ‘Flight of the Defender’

While I liked this episode, I would say that ‘Flight of the Defender’ is probably the weakest in this season of Star Wars Rebels so far. ‘The Occupation’ was so great that it probably raised my expectations for ‘Flight of the Defender’ to an unrealistic level. This episode focused on the new TIE Defender under construction on Lothal and the plan to get information on this new ship. This mission eventually leads to Ezra and Sabine attempting to steal the flight data of this TIE Defender so they can learn more about its strengths and weaknesses (if it has any).

Thrawn and Governor Pryce in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 6 Flight of the Defender

However, Thrawn appears to make this more difficult. It is always great to see Thrawn as he brings a lot of gravitas to Star Wars Rebels. He was his usual calm and calculating self in ‘Flight of the Defender’ and I do hope that we get to see much more of Thrawn going forward in Season 4. Indeed, he has not been used as much as he was in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels. For me, he is the best villain this show has so I always want to see him as much as possible.

The Loth-wolf and Ahsoka Tano

We also got to see the return of the fan-favourite Loth-cats in ‘Flight of the Defender’ and these animals provided some laughs. But, herein lies a problem with this episode and the series in general; I do not understand what the running theme of animals means to the story of Star Wars Rebels.

Is it simply used to show us how powerful Ezra is with The Force or do they have a larger purpose? Still, despite this, it was cool to see a Loth-wolf from an animation standpoint alone. In terms of purpose, I have seen theories which suggest that the Loth-wolf is Ahsoka Tano reincarnated but I find this to be a pretty stupid idea.

Loth-cats, Ezra, Sabine, Ryder Azadi and Zeb in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 6 Flight of the Defender

I would not rule out that Ahsoka has a connection with the Loth-wolf and I am certain that she will appear in Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels in some way. But, hopefully this is as a result of surviving her duel with Darth Vader, which we saw at the end of Season 2, rather than some reincarnation in a Loth-wolf.

I imagine that we will be staying on Lothal for the next few episodes and I expect the Loth-wolf to play some role in them. Maybe this will give us some insight into the importance of animals in Star Wars Rebels. In the end, when you combine ‘The Occupation’ and ‘Flight of the Defender’ together, we end up with a good return to Lothal which I am sure will have a lot of importance as Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels progresses.

American Vandal Season 1 (Television Review) – Ridiculous Yet Gripping

American Vandal is a mockumentary television series that was made exclusively for Netflix. The show was designed to be a satire of true crime documentaries such as Making a Murderer which was also a Netflix Original. The story of American Vandal focuses on the aftermath of a high-school prank where faculty cars were vandalised with male genitalia being spray-painted on them (a great premise for a show).

Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) is accused of committing the crime due to his reputation of being a troublesome student that does not respect authority. After an investigation, he is subsequently expelled. Yet, another investigation into the incident is launched by Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez), a fellow student, who tries to find out whether Dylan was truly behind the crime.

Tyler Alvarez as Peter Maldonado and Jimmy Tatro as Dylan Maxwell in American Vandal Season 1

My Knowledge and Expectation of American Vandal

American Vandal was a show that I had no idea was even coming to Netflix prior to its release. Then, suddenly, it was the only thing that anyone was talking about. It got universal acclaim from everyone who saw it and I could not get away from the hype. Naturally, when something gets as much praise as American Vandal did, I have to check it out. Besides, 2017 has been a pretty good year for Netflix Originals. Indeed, 13 Reasons Why, GLOW and Season 5 of House of Cards were great and I was hoping American Vandal would be the same.

My Thoughts on American Vandal

I was worried that the hype for American Vandal would lead me to be underwhelmed if I did not think the show was as brilliant as everyone else made it to be. This was far from the case. This first season of American Vandal was an absolute blast. I should be honest and say that the first episode did not blow me away but it definitely hits its stride in the second episode and it does not let up from there.

Jimmy Tatro as Dylan Maxwell in American Vandal Season 1

Throughout this whole first season of American Vandal, there were times when it was excruciatingly funny. Certain moments in this television show that stand out in terms of comedy include the mystery surrounding the “hey with two ys’ text, a discussion about Christopher Nolan’s Inception and the case against Peter Maldonado (obsession with dicks theory). There were plenty of others though, including this:

American Vandal GIF

Certainly, with American Vandal being a mockumentary, the comedy had to deliver and it does through very clever writing. Moreover, in addition to how the great script makes for some great comedy, the drama in American Vandal is very good too. Let me get this clear, the story is absolutely ridiculous but it is so engaging and gripping. I was so invested into finding out the truth about who draw the dicks and, at the same time, I found it insane that I cared so much considering the absurd premise!

The Characters of American Vandal

In terms of the characters, I would have to say that Mr. Kraz (Ryan O’ Flanagan) was one of the funniest, especially when we got some more insight into him when his Twitter profile was showcased. I also thought that Jimmy Tatro did a great job in the lead role of Dylan Maxwell. I felt that the arc that Dylan went through was a great way to showcase how shitty high-school can be. In fact, I would argue that American Vandal is, in its own way, a commentary on the high-school experience.

Ryan O' Flanagan as Mr. Kraz in American Vandal Season 1

As I said, Jimmy Tatro was great and I was extremely surprised to find out that he does not have a large filmography given how good his performance was. Still, I expect that American Vandal will be a great help to his career as an actor and, with a second season on the way, I look forward to hopefully seeing more of him in this great television show.