Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 10-11 (Television Review) – Farewell Kanan

The mid-season breaks of Star Wars Rebels can be quite arduous, especially if the mid-season finale ends on a cliff-hanger. ‘Rebel Assault’ certainly brought the first half of Season 4 to a stage of uncertainty. Indeed, Hera was captured by the Empire after the failure of the assault on the TIE Defender factories on Lothal. The rest of our heroes needed to regroup and come up with a plan to rescue Hera. We have had to wait a long time to see what would happen.

The Beginning of the End

However, this final season of Star Wars Rebels has begun again and these latest episodes, titled ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’, are a couple of the last few remaining instalments we will get of this TV show. As such, I expected the resolution of this entire series to start in these episodes. One of the ways in which Star Wars Rebels would wrap would be through the deaths of certain characters.

For the longest time, I expected that most of our heroes in this television show would die. As a series centred on key figures in the formation of the Rebel Alliance, it seemed obvious to me that the protagonists would have to die. This is because they are not around or referenced in the Original Trilogy. That view has, over time, changed slightly. Indeed, thanks to Rogue One, we found out that Hera and Chopper make it out of Star Wars Rebels alive.

Kanan grabbing a Stormtrooper with The Force in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 10 Jedi Night

Additionally, an episode of Forces of Destiny showed that Hera was on Endor around the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Through Star Wars content such as this, I realised that some of the characters in Star Wars Rebels can survive after the show ends and still be around during the Original Trilogy thanks to the expansion of the Star Wars universe.

However, something which has not changed is my belief that the Jedi in Star Wars Rebels had to go by the time this show ended. Yoda tells Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi that he will be the last Jedi. That statement has always made me feel that the only Jedi around once Star Wars: A New Hope begins are Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Once they are gone, Luke is the last Jedi. No others remain at that time.

My Thoughts on ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’

I believe that the end of Star Wars Rebels will coincide with the events of either Rogue One or A New Hope. Consequently, this meant that both Kanan and Ezra had to either die or be in a position where they are no longer around during the events of the Original Trilogy by the end of Star Wars Rebels. Sadly, one of them did die in ‘Jedi Night’. This episode was focused on the rescue of Hera and the mission cost Kanan his life.

Kanan and Ezra in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 10 Jedi Night

Yes, Kanan Jarrus sacrificed himself to save Hera and, throughout ‘Jedi Night’, it seemed as though he knew what was coming. His conversations with Ezra had an ominous tone to them, as though he was mentally preparing Ezra for what was to come. Looking back at the end of ‘Rebel Assault’, it is evident then that Kanan knew what his fate would be. Still, even though his death was foreshadowed, it was still hard seeing a character we have all become so attached to meet his demise.

It was an incredibly emotional moment which was beautifully enhanced by an awesome piece of music. I cannot stress enough how important music can be in enhancing a scene/moment in an episode of television or a film. The music in Star Wars is essentially a character in this franchise thanks to the incredible work John Williams has done when it comes to the films.

From a television perspective, it is Kevin Kiner who has composed the music in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels and he has done a magnificent job. For me, the piece of score which accompanied Kanan’s death is amongst the best work he has done. It elevated the scene to make it that more of an emotional gut punch.

Ezra and Dume in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 11 DUME

The Continuation of the Darker Tone in Season 4

In addition to its emotional weight, Kanan’s death was just one element in both ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’ that continued that darker tone which has been established in Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels. Indeed, as a prisoner of the Empire, Hera suffered torture at the hands of Governor Pryce and Grand Admiral Thrawn both physically and mentally. Moreover, Zeb almost brutally killed Rukh as retaliation in the aftermath of Kanan’s death.

Clearly, Kanan’s death had a severe impact on every member of the Ghost crew which was showcased in ‘DUME’. This episode was entirely devoted to the fallout of Kanan’s death and the different ways in which the rest of our heroes were emotionally dealing with this loss. For Zeb and Sabine, it was anger. For Hera, she was overcome with sadness about the death of someone she loved. Insecurity plagued Ezra who felt unprepared for the mantle of responsibility bestowed upon him.

The Fight Continues

However, in the end, everyone came together with renewed purpose and resolve to continue the fight against the Empire. A big factor in this was through Ezra’s contact with the Loth-wolves. He met what looked to be the leader of the Loth-wolves who was called Dume. As such, the uttering of Dume by the Loth-wolves throughout Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels clearly has a double-meaning as Kanan’s real name was Caleb Dume.

Thrawn and Governor Pryce in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 11 DUME

The Loth-wolves have been a guide for both Ezra and Kanan in Season 4 and I am still unsure about where this will go. However, for now, I will go along with what is happening, especially as Ezra was told by Dume to go to the Jedi temple on Lothal to uncover secrets. This will be the next objective for our heroes now that the mission which failed in ‘Rebel Assault’ has been achieved. Indeed, the way Kanan died caused the fuel depot for Thrawn’s TIE Defender project to be completely destroyed.

As a result, the mission eventually turned out to be a success which obviously displeased Thrawn who himself was on his way to Coruscant to meet with Emperor Palpatine. This came about after a conversation Thrawn had with Tarkin which linked in very nicely with Rogue One and set up what could be an extremely engaging scene with Palpatine. The only thing that could make it better is if Darth Vader shows up.

My Final Thoughts on ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’

Still, we will have to wait until the next episodes to see what transpires. Overall, I thought ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’ were great episodes that did a tremendous job of reintroducing us to Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels. They rank amongst the most emotional and important episodes of this show and I am sure more of the same is in store.

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episodes 10-11 Jedi Night and DUME

Coco (Film Review) – Pixar Does It Again

Coco is an animated film directed by Lee Unkrich and produced by Pixar Animation Studios. The voice cast of the film includes Edward James Olmos, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt and Anthony Gonzalez. The story of Coco focuses on Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a 12-year-old boy with a love for music. During the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead, he is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead. He seeks the help of his deceased family members to return him to the land of the living.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Coco

Anytime a Pixar film, which is not in the Cars franchise, is about to come out, it becomes an event. Certainly, I believe that Pixar is one of the best film studios working today. The majority of the films made by Pixar are fantastic and Coco looked like another hit for the animation studio. The film was released in the United States in 2017 and received rave reviews when it came to its story, emotional weight, themes and music. This has made the wait to see it in the United Kingdom pretty arduous.

Elena and Miguel in Coco

Moreover, it has meant that avoiding spoilers for Coco has been tough. Luckily, I did well to go into the film with no idea about what would happen. I always hope that a new Pixar film becomes one of my favourites ever created by the animation studio. I did my very best to keep my expectations grounded. Still, after hearing all the praise Coco received, I could not help myself in thinking that I was in store for another emotional, brilliant Pixar film.

My Thoughts on Coco

Overall, I really liked Coco. Was it as great as I hoped it would be? No, sadly not. I do not consider Coco to be one of the best Pixar films ever made. However, it is still a very good film worthy of your time. A lot of things in this film should be admired. For one, the animation is absolutely gorgeous. Pixar has always pushed the boundaries of animation since Toy Story and they do it once again with Coco.

Day of the Dead in Coco

The use of colour and the vivid imagery keep you engaged in a visual capacity from beginning to end. The themes in Coco are also something to admire. The theme of family is at the very heart of this film as well as themes such as life, death and following your dreams. The way they are used in Coco makes for some poignant moments in the film, especially towards the end. While I was not as emotionally moved as I wanted to be by Coco, it was nonetheless a very heartfelt film thanks to its themes.

The Music and Story of Coco

The music also added to the quality of Coco. Indeed, ‘Remember Me’ was a very sweet, tender song deserving of its Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. While I do believe that it will probably lose to The Greatest Showman’s ‘This Is Me‘, ‘Remember Me’ is still a very good song. The story in Coco was good as well. It had a nice blend of drama and comedy and it delivered well on its overall message which is the importance of family.

Miguel and Mama Coco singing Remember Me in Coco

Yet, I would have liked the film to have had a few more comedic moments. Furthermore, as I previously said, the more emotional moments did not move me to the degree where I was crying. The best Pixar films always bring me to tears and Coco does not rank amongst them. That being said, Coco is absolutely worth seeing, especially with your family.

Additionally, I consider this film to be worthy of its Best Animated Film nomination at the Oscars. It will probably win too. Although, the film would have stiffer competition if The Lego Batman Movie was nominated which it should have been. Still, even then, Coco would be the favourite to win. After seeing the film, you will hopefully see why this is the case.

Coco Film Review

 

Darkest Hour (Film Review) – Gary Oldman Shines In An Okay Film

Darkest Hour is a British war drama directed by Joe Wright. The film stars Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James and Gary Oldman. The film is set during World War Two (WW2) and focuses on Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman). We gain insight into his early days as Prime Minister and how he deals with the threat of Hitler and Nazi Germany as they close in on Britain after their ruthless conquest throughout Europe.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Darkest Hour

Since its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2017, Darkest Hour has been lauded by film critics. Indeed, the main consensus I have seen in the reviews for this film has been that Gary Oldman is terrific as Winston Churchill. In fact, even though Daniel Day-Lewis is involved in the race to win Best Actor as the Oscars, it seems as though Gary Oldman is a lock to win that award. Forget just being nominated, a win seems likely if film critics and pundits are to be believed.

I could not wait to see his performance as one of the most notable historical figures in British history. Certainly, Churchill is a man who has earned his place in history as one of the great wartime leaders. However, he is flawed and I wanted Darkest Hour to explore that. I did not want this film to be a fluff piece that is completely one-sided in favour of Churchill. I hoped Gary Oldman would portray Churchill in a way where we explore the positive and negative side of the man.

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour

Still, while Gary Oldman has been the primary focus of critical acclaim, I was looking forward to see the rest of the cast too in the story that would be told. Interestingly, the story of Darkest Hour is based on subject matter that we have seen recently; the Dunkirk evacuation. Films centred around WW2 and specifically the Dunkirk evacuation seem to the norm these days. In 2017, we had Their Finest and Dunkirk and we now have Darkest Hour. I hoped the latter would be the best of those films.

My Thoughts on Darkest Hour

Sadly, I did not like Darkest Hour that much. It is an okay film that has a tremendous central performance by Gary Oldman. Make no mistake, he is awesome as Churchill. I have mentioned before about how one great performance can steal the film from the rest of the cast. In Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman does not just overpower the cast, he overpowers the entire film. For me, his performance carried a film which, as a whole, is quite boring and drab.

Indeed, I was yawning quite a lot during the film. Unless I am tired, this is not a good sign for the ability of a film to keep one hooked from beginning to end. The only thing that kept me engaged was Gary Oldman’s performance. After seeing Darkest Hour, I can see how deserving Gary Oldman is of his Oscar nomination for Best Actor. On the other hand, it completely baffles me how Darkest Hour got nominated for Best Picture over films such as Blade Runner 2049, Molly’s Game, Wind River and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill and Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour

The Humanisation of Churchill

Still, one thing that I strongly believe Darkest Hour does well is humanising Churchill. Certainly, notable figures such as Churchill take on a legendary status in history. However, we must not forget that historical figures like Churchill are still people and, as such, flawed. Darkest Hour portrays these flaws. I was happy that the film did what I hoped it would do; expose the strengths and weaknesses of Churchill. Darkest Hour is not a propaganda piece that portrays him as a God. Throughout the film, we see his doubts and insecurities which grounded Darkest Hour.

I also liked how, at certain points, we see black bars on frames/scenes of Churchill to illustrate isolation. These little touches were very important to showcase Churchill in a very human way. The relationship that he had with his personal secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) also humanised him. I found their interactions in Darkest Hour to be very genuine. I could connect to Churchill as a person rather than a historical legend.

My Final Thoughts on Darkest Hour

The humanisation of Churchill was something I did appreciate about Darkest Hour. However, the film as whole did not reach a level where I liked it. As I said, the film is quite boring. While Gary Oldman’s performance is awesome, it is not enough to save the film. Gary Oldman is the sole reason you should watch Darkest Hour. Nothing else comes close to the quality he shows in this film. He overpowers the rest of the cast and you forget about their performances. Without Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour would completely fail as a film.

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill at Parliament in Darkest Hour

The film does enough to be better than Their Finest. However, I did not like that film at all. Darkest Hour is not as good as Dunkirk. Dunkirk is a very good film but not the masterpiece some proclaim it to be. Darkest Hour sits right in the middle of these recent films that have been based around the Dunkirk evacuation. In the end. it is an okay film. Still, I will not deny that Darkest Hour has a brilliant performance by Gary Oldman which is deserving of the praise it has received.

Darkest Hour Film Review

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Film Review) – Good, Not Great

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a black comedy crime film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film starts Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand. The story of Three Billboards focuses on Mildred (Frances McDormand), a mother whose daughter was brutally murdered. The police have not been able to find a suspect so Mildred takes matters into her own hands. She rents three billboards to call attention to the unsolved crime which has an impact on the local community.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This is a film I was really looking forward to, particularly when you consider the amount of award recognition it is receiving. In fact, many see Three Billboards as a frontrunner to win Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. The director was a big reason why I was excited to see the film. Indeed, Martin McDonagh directed In Bruges which is a great film that not many people have seen. If Three Billboards was on the same level of quality as that film, then I would be delighted.

The casting for Three Billboards was fantastic too. We all know Peter Dinklage from his outstanding work in Game of Thrones and I was excited to see what he could do in the film. Sam Rockwell is a great character actor and has worked with McDonagh before in Seven Psychopaths which was a positive. Woody Harrelson has proven time and time again how talented he is as an actor. The same can be said for Frances McDormand. Her work in films such as Almost Famous, Mississippi Burning and Moonrise Kingdom proves how gifted she is. I was looking forward to seeing her performance in Three Billboards.

Woody Harrelson as Willoughby and Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This was particularly the case when you consider that she is a favourite to win Best Actress at the Oscars. Indeed, both McDormand and Rockwell are in contention to win in their respective acting categories. I hoped that these performances which have received such high praise would elevate what looked like a compelling story. Certainly, the subject matter provided a lot of opportunity for the film to have depth. I wanted Three Billboards to be great and consider it to be worthy of the critical acclaim and award recognition it has received.

My Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

While Three Billboards was not the film I wanted it to be in terms of quality, I did like it. Similar to Call Me By Your Name, it is a good film with great performances that did not make me feel like it deserved a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Still, I will start with the positives.

Firstly, the performances in Three Billboards. Most of the cast are fantastic in the film. As I previously stated, the film as a whole does not feel worthy to have been nominated for Best Picture. Nonetheless, the performances given by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell deserve the award recognition they have received so far.

Sam Rockwell as Dixon and Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

They were exceptional in Three Billboards. I am more than pleased that Oscar nominations were given to them. Yet, I am not sure whether they deserve to win in their respective categories. This is simply because I still need to see more films and performances that are Oscar contenders. I have not seen enough of them yet to give you a solid opinion about who should win. However, I am confident enough to say that both McDormand and Rockwell warranted Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively.

Peter Dinklage, Woody Harrelson and Lucas Hedges were all good too but they were overshadowed by McDormand and Rockwell who are the stars of Three Billboards. The only negative with the cast was Abbie Cornish. She was completely miscast. It felt like she was in a completely different film which was a shame. Still, this is quite a minor negative in the grand scheme of things.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Is Engaging But Depressing

Three Billboards was, for the most part, engaging throughout. Despite its slow pacing, the excellent dialogue helps the film move at a good pace and keeps you entertained. Indeed, certain conversations in Three Billboards did make me chuckle, particularly when Mildred was involved. One flashback scene in a kitchen also comes to mind in regards to the comedic moments. These were the moments of levity in what was a very depressing film. I cannot deny that I was caught off guard at just how sad and dark Three Billboards was.

Frances McDormand as Mildred and Peter Dinklage as James in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Even the comedic moments are dark in nature. The depressing nature of the film does harm the chances of me re-watching Three Billboards again. For me, rewatchability is a big factor in the greatness of a film. True, certain films do exist which are very dark but have a lot of rewatchability. The masterpiece that is Schindler’s List comes to mind in that regard. However, Three Billboards is not one of these films.

The film never reached a high enough level of quality to make it qualify as a depressing film with tough subject matter that I will watch multiple times. Moreover, the ending of Three Billboards did not sit well with me. The film ended with a lack of resolution that left me unfulfilled with my viewing experience. I sat through the credits disappointed which was a real shame. I understood the meaning of the ending but I would have preferred it to be somewhat less ambiguous than it was.

My Final Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

In the end, Three Billboards is a good film that I never have to see again. You can get a lot of enjoyment out of the great performances in the film as well as the excellent script which contains some brilliant dialogue. Still, Three Billboards is not on the same level of quality as In Bruges and it is not worthy of a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The performances are worthy, but the film as a whole is not in my opinion. Still, I think that you should go see Three Billboards. Every film impacts different people in different ways. Three Billboards is good enough for you to give it a chance. Moreover, I have seen the film be adored by enough people that you could end up loving it. However, it is not good enough for me to say with confidence that you will likely love it. I really hope that you do though.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Film Review