Definite Article: Rebel Rising Review

For this review, “I rebel” and walk the path of someone who can’t find their way on either side of the Galactic Civil War. Abandoned by a rebel friend and hunted by the Imperial war machine, Jyn Erso lives life in a grey area of the galaxy. What is she to do when the rebellion brings her nothing but pain, but the Empire does nothing but cause pain for others? Continue reading “Definite Article: Rebel Rising Review”

Definite Article: Inferno Squad Review

Nothing can stop the Empire! In the immediate aftermath of the first Death Star’s destruction, a new Imperial special forces team is formed to deal with the growing threat of well-informed rebel cells. And these aren’t just any run-of-the-mill rebels – these terrorists are the direct successors to the extremist Saw Gerrera! Read on to get some insight on the exciting Battlefront II novel from Christie Golden. Continue reading “Definite Article: Inferno Squad Review”

Definite Article: Story Arcs vs. Long-Form Storytelling

It’s easy to compare Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels and look upon the newcomer with a little disdain. Rebels came about because Clone Wars was cancelled, and many believe Clone Wars was doing everything right and that it was wrong to start over with Rebels. A prevailing criticism in the Clone Wars vs. Rebels debate is that Clone Wars took more time to tell its stories – they felt stronger, more mature, and well fleshed out. But is Rebels slowly starting to find that pattern and get it right? Continue reading “Definite Article: Story Arcs vs. Long-Form Storytelling”

Definite Article: A Rogue One Recap

If I could review Rogue One in one sentence it’d be exactly what I leaned over and whispered to my fiance in the theater right around 15-20 minute mark of this film; “I need to ask them to pause so I can pick up my jaw.” Sure, it has some flaws and nitpicks, but the film is that good. Go see it. If you haven’t, don’t bother reading this. Google a showtime and go. You’ll thank me later (and probably LucasFilm to a greater extent, but whatever)

Continue reading “Definite Article: A Rogue One Recap”

Definite Article: Mandalorian Mayhem

Head canon wearing the best helmets in the galaxy. Check out the Definite Article for a mix of canon, Legends, and head canon takes on everything Star Wars!

I love the Empire and they’ve done nothing wrong. But when it comes to the vast array of unique races and cultures throughout Star Wars, nothing beats the Mandalorians in my opinion. This race of fierce warriors dates back to the days of the (Legends) Old Republic, where they frequently allied themselves with Vitiate’s Sith Empire as bounty hunters and mercenaries. They were known to wear distinct armor colored to reflect family ties and honored traditions, and their suits of tough armor were also renown for turning the wearer into a walking armory. Mandos get all the coolest gear, from jetpacks and wrist rockets to cutting edge blasters, tether cables, and jetpack-mounted missile launchers. Not only do I love them, but the Empire are apparently fans too. And that’s canon now, so let’s talk about it!

“Imperial Supercommandos,” the most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels, pits Sabine and Ezra against Mandalorians on two sides as they reach out to Concord Dawn to reestablish contact. Mandalorian soldiers loyal to the Empire and lead by former Shadow Collective member Gar Saxon have destroyed the encampment of Fenn Rau, and his forces are killed in the process. Seeking to escape rather than join the body count, Rau escapes in the new Phantom after Ezra distracts the other Mandalorians. Long story short, he has a change of heart and turns back to save Sabine and Ezra from the supercommando team. Okay, so that might be an oversimplification of the episode, but honestly I saw that ‘twist’ coming a mile away. However, I liked this episode a lot. Both the supercommandos and Fenn Rau are sympathetic, even though Rau does put the kids in a rough spot by leaving them behind. The Mandalorians under Gar Saxon want power to restore the former glory of Mandalore, and the only way to stay in power is to side with the Empire. Odds are it isn’t going to pay off greatly for them, but you can sympathize with a warrior culture wanting to stick to its ways while, at the same time, trying to cement a better future and hoping they can outlast the Empire.

This episode makes some great contributions to the new Mandalorian canon established by The Clone Wars series. First and foremost, Imperial Mandalorian soldiers are canon now. Originally that was just an idea back in the day when Boba Fett was just a better version of a stormtrooper, not a bounty hunter, and he wore all white armor.

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Image Credit: LucasFilm

Secondly, Gar Saxon is back and has become a pawn of the Empire, given a title of Viceroy of Mandalore. Sabine doesn’t care much for Gar, and rightfully so – he used to ally himself with Maul, who ruled Mandalore for a short time near the end of The Clone Wars. It’s great to see him back after his appearances in the Son of Dathomir comics. The only thing that bothers me is that he teases a lot of backstory on Sabine and none of it pays off in the episode. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Sabine gets the short end of the stick on this show most of the time. All this backstory is teased yet it doesn’t pay off or actually include her. We learn that Gar knows who Sabine’s mother is and that she is looking for Sabine. We still don’t know who she is, if that’s even true or if Gar is bluffing, or who her mother is. The Sabine episodes tease a lot of what I’m hoping will eventually be a very compelling Mandalorian character. But in the meantime, we’ve had several episodes explaining Chopper’s backstory. Chopper has PTSD after crashing in a Y-Wing during  The Clone Wars, and he was rescued by Hera Syndulla (who also could use some more story time in my opinion.) Chopper can fend for himself, is often violent, and is so stubborn that he will often defy direct orders. What do we know about Sabine? She paints. She’s spunky and quippy. She’s from Mandalore and went to the Impreial Academy there, knows several languages, and has a mother she’s been distanced from. We don’t know how she came to the Ghost crew, much at all about her childhood on Mandalore, or what she’s truly fighting for. It’s arguable that she gets plenty of screen time, but I think her time could be used better on this show.

Moving on, the episode does take some steps in the right direction even if they are just teasing again with more light Sabine backstory. I like that this episode didn’t have a single “look how stupid the stormtroopers are” moment and that the rest of the Ghost crew wasn’t in the episode after the initial few minutes. It’s giving Sabine some time to do her own thing, dealing with people she recognizes in the only way Mandalorians know how; helmets on and blasters out. I was expecting Gar Saxon to have the dark saber but that didn’t happen, at least not yet. But we know Sabine gets it later on, and I think getting it from Gar makes the most sense. Either that or it’s in Thrawn’s collection somewhere. I appreciated seeing some Clone Wars loose ends tied up without having another cameo-of-the-week as well, though admittedly I am excited to see Bo Katan come back later on because it means more Mandalorian-centric episodes this season. Mandalorian participation in galactic events beyond mercenary wok is an interesting step in the right direction. Pre Vizla was shaping up to make big changes before he was killed by Maul. And while we’re on that topic, what are these ties between Clan Wren and House Vizla that keep coming up? How deep does that go?

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Something I’m very excited about is that I think these Mando-centric episodes are going to set up some pre-A New Hope Boba Fett stories. These supercommandos probably don’t survive season three, but who do we know who is also an awesome Mandalorian? Boba Fett! I’d love to see him even if it isn’t until season four. He’s known to work with the Empire and we might even get to see how he establishes his connections with Vader. I’m probably dreaming, but that’ the episode I’d make if I was in charge. Oh if I was in charge…

So what did you think about this episode? Like Mandalorians as much as I do? Leave a comment below and let me know! And as always, thanks for reading.

-David

Definite Article: Lego Star Wars Rumors Mega-Post – Summer 2017

Questionably canon, definitely an article. The leaks strike back and early! Check out possible summer 2017 Lego Star Wars set names!

Hoth Bricks has posted a rumor list for Summer 2017, and although a bit vague, it’s very interesting. Special thanks to them for digging this up! I’ve posted a translation below and converted the approximate prices from Euros to USD based on what is usually seen at retail stores. Of course if you dislike toy spoilers and would rather be surprised when the news is released officially, I’d understand if you clicked away now.

The list so far:

  • 75166 Battle Pack (Episodes IV-VII) – € 15 (Battle Packs go from $10-$15, depending on store and sales)
  • 75167 Battle Pack (Episodes IV-VII) – € 15
  • 75178 Quadjumper (Star Wars The Force Awakens) – € 60 ($65-$70)
  • 75179 Rebel Hangar (Price Unknown)
  • 75180 The [Guavian] Death Gang (Star Wars The Force Awakens) – € 80 ($85 – $90)
  • 75182 Imperial Hovertank (?) – 30 € (Around $29.99)
  • 75183 Darth Vader Transformation (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) – 30 € (Around $29.99)
  • 75184 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar 2017 to 30 € (?) ($29.99 to $39.99)
  • 75185 Freemaker The Adventures – € 70 ($70 – $80)
  • 75186 Freemaker The Adventures – € 90 ($90 – $100)

So with what we now know (or can start to assume – this is still a rumor after all) it’s time to speculate!

The battle packs are specifically noted a Episode IV – VII. This variable is, in a word, huge. That gap of time can mean almost anything, barring prequels of course. But does it bar Rebels and Rogue one? Both are still prequels but they are direct prequels in the Original Trilogy timeline or concurrent with the original films. If they go for the earlier parts of that timeline, that could easily mean rereleases of battle packs that haven’t been done in a while, most likely the classic Rebel troopers from Episode IV or maybe Snowtroopers from Episode V. Personaly, I’d like to see the Mandalorians turn up in a battle pack again. Perhaps the new ones from Rebels who are loyal to the Empire? More Mandos would make a welcome addition to the Death Watch and Shadow Collective minifigures Lego has already released.

But who knows? Battle packs sometimes have oddballs like the Senate Commandos pack (Clone Wars) and even pull from the Expanded Universe with the Shadow Troopers pack, one of my personal favorites. You can’t count out the odd chance of getting something like a Tusken Raider battle pack (because we know a new Landspeeder set is coming) or maybe a bunch of Ewoks from Episode VI. And I didn’t even touch on Episode VII yet! But more on that in a bit.

Next on the list is the Quadjumper from Episode VII. I think this is a great choice for a set. If you don’t recognize the name, it’s probably because the name is never spoken in the film. This is the ship that Rey insists is better than the Millenium Falcon (aka garbage), and seconds later it is promptly destroyed by TIE fighters in pursuit.The gigantic engines and unique cockpit would make this a fun build. I would suspect four to five minifigures to be included: Rey, Finn, and BB-8 of course, probably followed by a stormtrooper or two, maybe one of Unkar Plutt’s thugs in place of one trooper. This might be a stretch, but what about Constable Zuvio, who was cut from the final film?  I’d love to see the set include some scenery too, like the iconic archway of Nima Outpost or the pool of water that thirsty Finn shares with the Happabore. Can we have a Happabore and the arch? I actually much like the sound of both!

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Image Credit: Lucasfilm

Perhaps one of the most interesting set names is the Rebel hangar. ok, the name isn’t interesting but I’d wager the contents are pretty cool  I see this going one of two ways. 

1.)  Rebel Hangar (On Yavin) – Similar to how Lego sold Super Heros sets with all the Suicide Squad characters without actually putting ‘Suicide Squad’ on the box, this kit could be a tie-in across between Rogue One and the Original Trilogy regardless of whether or not Rogue One appears on the box. A good Yavin base would have the temple hangar and high-rising scout towers/defensive turrets and some lush green scenery. I suspect Mon Mothma may make an appearance in this base. She isn’t in Episode IV, but she is in Rogue One and a high-ranking rebel leader, so including her still makes sense. Besides that, the base may include a relatively small ship like an A-Wing as well as maintenance crews with tools and small vehicles, probably some crates and the like as well. So for figures, I’d suspect Mon Mothma, some classic Episode IV Rebel troopers, a couple stormtroopers, and possibly Luke Skywalker in his orange pilot suit. I’m having trouble coming up with a main villain for this one, so I’d say an Imperial Officer isn’t unlikely either.

2. ) Rebel Hangar (Home One) – I missed out on this set as a kid and adult me still wants one. Home One is the Mon Calamari cruiser from the huge space battle at the end of Episode VI. The original set included Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar, and Lando Calrissian in his general’s getup. I see a strong possibility that if this set was rereleased, not much would change. The control room of the cruiser sits adjacent to a hangar with an A-Wing and includes a trans-orange globe representing the hologram of the attack plan on the second Death Star. General Crix Madine, a Mon Calamari Officer, and an A-Wing pilot were also included in the set. While maybe not the prettiest set (the control bridge is great, but the hangar is pretty bare in my opinion) I’d love to see an update for this one.

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You’d be forgiven if you didn’t remember who the Guavian Death Gang was in Episode VII, but I bet if I told you they were the red guys with “Tell that to Kanjklub guy” Bala Tik you’d remember the scene. This is an interesting, somewhat unexpected rumor for me. I do hope it’s true though. The first Episode VII Black Series figure I purchased was one of these guys, and I have a love for bounty hunters and all-around weird mercenary characters. These red-armored, heavily-armed mercs look great in the Lego Force Awakens game and would look great in any Star Wars MOC. Speculation is that the set is actually the Eravana, Han Solo’s freighter from Episode VII. Unless it is somehow magically to scale and can fit a Millenium Falcon inside it, I’m not terribly excited. Okay, so of course I’m kidding – it will probably include a smaller Falcon to recreate that shot. Most likely the set will also include a Rathtar to reenact the comical monster chase that happens after Han Solo tries to simultaneously negotiate with the Kanjiklub and Guavian Death Gang. It will most likely also include Rey, Finn, and/or BB-8 since that’s all the characters in that scene. Bala Tik may appear as well as Tasu Leech, though that is somewhat unlikely since he is so minor and already in the newest Falcon set. And back to battle packs for a moment – what if one of them is the gang members from both Kanjiklub and the Guavians? Space scum and villainy might make a good battle pack!

I’m going to skip ahead here to this article doesn’t end on something I know nothing about. I don’t watch the Freemaker Adventures (I just haven’t checked it out) so I’m not going to speculate on what those two sets are. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the shows, but have heard that there are plenty of enjoyable side characters that people would enjoy seeing in future sets.

Anyway, back to the hype train. Up next is the Imperial Hovertank. We’ve already received a set with this same name for Rogue One, so I’m wondering if the name is a stand in. I’m going to throw it out there that if this rumored name is genuine, it’s an Imperial version of this set, similar to how the V-Wing Starfighter had Republic and Imperial variations.7679_republic_fighter_tank

Three figures is about standard for a set at this price point (albeit the Republic Hovertank only had two.) Just venturing a guess, it would come with two to three stormtroopers, one of which possibly being a driver similar to the Rogue One hovertank driver (though I doubt this will be another Rogue One set.) I missed out on this one the first time around, but since my collection is largely Original Trilogy-centric, I’d love to have an Imperial version of this classic tank.

Darth Vader transformation is another surprise to me. I didn’t think it would appear again outside of the Epiode III wave from back in 2005. Another $30 set, this would be a wonderfully cheap way to obtain an updated Darth Vader with his two -piece helmet, new cape, and updated leg and torso printing. Most likely it would also come with the Emperor and a gravely-injured Anakin Skywalker. The Emperor will probably not get an updated appearance in such a small set (looking at you, post-UCS Boba Fett sets) but it will be great to get the medical droids and the Frankenstein-esque lab table. First impressions of this set have been comparing it to the scale of the Carbon Freezing Chamber, and I’d say that’s a fair comparison to make. It’s nice to see Lego throwing some scenery into these kits for a change, too.

Last but not least, the advent calendar. We’ve seen exclusive holiday variations on Darth Maul, Yoda, Jango Fett, R2-D2 and C-3P0, Darth Vader, a clone trooper, and Chewbacca. (I went from memory there, let me know if I missed any) Who will be in the holiday special this year? We can count on the usual variation of troops that happen to feature snow gear, usually one Imperial snowtrooper and one rebel trooper, but I’m always more excited for the other oddballs that make it in, sometimes as exclusives from other sets or background characters with elaborate backstories. For the holiday figure, I would suspect Emperor Palpatine (because he’d go nicely with Vader), but it could be anything from Boba Fett to an Ewok to fat old Captain Rex in a Santa suit. Only time will tell, and as always, you have to pick these up in the summer when they come out to make sure you get yours. Is it just me, or do they always seem limited?

That’s it for my speculation on this list! All in all I think we have a lot to look forward to, judging by this and other leaks I’ve come across. On a side note, I will comply with Lego if they request this to be taken down. They’ve requested to have leaked info taken down before and they have every right to do that. I didn’t find this information myself so I’m just the messenger here.

That being said, I hope you enjoyed the article, and thank you for reading this far! If you liked the article, let me know in the comments, and join the speculation with me if you want!

-David

Definite Article: Rebels Season 3 Premier (Spoiler Discussion)

Rebel or rebel not – not the question, that is. Check out my thoughts on the extended season premier of Rebels!

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Image credits: Disney X D

Jumping right in, isn’t it great how Thrawn just shows up as if he’s been around the whole time? I love it when TV shows do something like this and don’t acknowledge how important something is (in a humorous way, which I think is what they were going for in a subtle way) This show gets a lot of things right, sometimes gets them wrong, but as a lifelong Star Wars fan I can wholeheartedly say I like this show. Maybe I don’t love it, but it has its place in the universe, and that place isn’t perfect, but I believe it to be necessary.

Being primarily a show for children, Rebels tends to not get overcomplicated, and that’s a good thing honestly. Much like one of the movies, most episodes end with hints toward the larger story but wrapped up nicely enough to complete a thought. The show isn’t without its annoying cliffhangers, but that’s par for the course when capturing the short attention spans of children is in play. (Personally, I enjoy having the blu-ray playing when you can watch without constant interruptions and ads – it feels much less choppy when binge-watching)

Season three opens with Ezra having learned some dark side techniques, jumping straight into the fray as he slices up stormtroopers with his new lightsaber and mind tricks an AT-DP pilot into fighting for his squadmates. He’s dangerously powerful, and the fact that we weren’t explicitly shown everything he learned from the holocron (before Kanan takes it from him) leaves many questions to be answered about his place in the Force. Can he sit on the fence and begin to learn balancing his personal conflicts, something even Kanan still struggles with? Or will he fall, and how hard?

Here’s a bit of a fan theory for you. Something I noticed but never put much thought into was how much Ezra talks to himself, almost but not quite straight to the audience. At times his narration can be grating, but thinking about it while I brainstormed for this piece got me thinking. Ezra talks to himself because he’s been alone for his life much longer than he’s been with any kind of family, friends, or the Ghost Crew/Pheonix Squadron. His nervous narration likely comes from a childhood habit of talking to himself; unless he was trying to con the locals out of some food or steal from the Imperials, he’s never had anyone to talk to. It opens up to some meta-humor if the show continues to mature the way it has, and the way Clone Wars did before it. I’d love to see Sabine point out how often he talks to himself, out loud, and Ezra shyly realizing someone is really getting to know him on a more personal level (I suggest Sabine because it’s been a point of speculation since season one whether the two would be a couple, and I do think they’d make a cute couple somewhere down the line)

Watching the crew bust everyone’s favorite pirate Hondo out of prison and using his intel to steal Y-Wing bombers was a lot of fun. Ezra jumps the gun. He’s smart and powerful, but doesn’t always weigh the consequences. When they face setbacks, everyone has a different opinion; Sabine thinks logically, realizing the ships need fuel before they can steal them, and Rex mentions that it won’t be their last setback on the mission. Hearing different reactions to the situation helps make the characters feel less flat, and the show is doing a good job of getting characters more and more fleshed out, even if it is sometimes interrupted or shortened due to the 22-minute run time. I’d love to see some more Clone Wars-style arcs, a good three or four episodes spent in one place on one specific thing, where a lot of growth takes place over the arc rather than a quick lesson learned after a short while. However, I think Rebels is a great show for entry-level Star Wars fans, so having bite-sized chunks of story isn’t always a bad thing. These episodes move and don’t get bogged down. (See my previous point about Thrawn just showing up)

Thrawn was perfect, and I hope this show doesn’t see the end of him. I love these characters but in my opinion, they do not get to kill Thrawn – it isn’t how the story would go in my head. Thrawn is introduced and all of his EU/Legends traits are present. He is cold, calm, and sees a bigger picture whereas his Imperial underlings are much more shortsighted. The voice, provided by Lars Mikkelsen, is spot on. To be a fly on the wall while Disney held auditions for that voice (if they did) would have been quite an experience.The premier does not overuse Thrawn, and ultimately Thrawn lets the rebels escape. I hope this doesn’t become habit, but I suspect in the next couple episodes he will deal at least one crippling blow to Pheonix Squadron.

The Gray Jedi come closer to canonicity with the introduction of a new Force wielder, the Bendu, who helps Kanan see beyond his physical blindness. Kanan is among the best characters in the new canon, and seeing him struggle so much through his life really hits you in the feels when you know his whole story. He’s effectively a war orphan after Order 66, he kills his former clone trooper friends, and struggles for the rest of his life to hide, but not abandon, his Jedi ways. The Bendu, also voiced perfectly by one Tom Baker, was a fun addition to the show, and I hope he pops up again to teach more lessons about the Force.

I was discussing the show with my fiance before the premier, and we agree on a lot of points about this show.Sometimes it feels rushed, like more could be going on, but at the same time it is a show that will get a new generation hooked on Star Wars. I want the show to do well, and I want more spinoff novels about the other characters similar to A New Dawn (Disney, if you’re reading this, mind writing a book about Sabine’s days in the Imperial Academy on Mandalore?) As I said, binge-watching on blu-ray helps this the rewatchability of this show. And with the Ahsoka novel coming out next month, I have high hopes for any spinoff comics or novels we get in the future. To the people who don’t like this show or complain about it a lot, I know it has its flaws, but take it for what it is, not for what it is not. Not unlike Grand Admiral Thrawn, I see a larger picture. Does the show not do much for you? Maybe wait for a book, or get lost reading on Wookieepedia to get the stories in a different format. But give this show a chance, because it is getting better. This premier got. . .I hate to use this word, but darker. It is a well-rounded darkness, a more somber tone. It isn’t annoyingly grim-dark, and although I suspect tragedy will strike our rebel cell this season, I know that the heart of the show will remain in overcoming the odds and the darkness. Will they all make it out? Only time will tell. Trust in the Force, and trust in more entertaining episodes Saturdays this Fall.

Obligatory Review Score: A solid 7.5 out of 10, 1 being Sithspit and 10 being more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

-David

Like this rant? Hate it? Let me know in the comments! You can contact me on the contact page or in the comments. And if you have an idea for something you’d like to see, let me know and I might make a post about it! Thanks for reading this far!