The Uneven Book Of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett is the latest Star Wars TV show and is streaming on Disney+. It serves as a spinoff of the popular TV show, The Mandalorian, and a sequel of sorts to previous Star Wars films, but in this case focusing on the mysterious bounty hunter, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison).

Boba Fett was supposedly killed by a giant sarlaac in the film Return of the Jedi, but being that he was a fan favorite, he had to come back, as he did in various books and stories. In Star Wars canon, he officially returned in the second season of The Mandalorian and the post-credits scene of that show’s season finale showed Boba Fett taking over the criminal underworld in the planet Tattooine with his partner, the assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen).

The series is in some ways part Western, part gangster drama as flashbacks reveal how the bounty hunter survived from being eaten by the sarlaac and his emotional transformation from a cold-blooded killer to someone who is more empathic and honorable. At the same time, the episodes chronicled his ordeal of being a crime lord and dealing with deadly competitors, namely the Pyke gang – intergalactic spice dealers who want to take over Boba’s turf.

There have been many complaints about The Book of Boba Fett, many of them are valid, but overall, the series is fine. It’s just that it should have been better and could have been if it had a better narrative flow and its scripts were more fine tuned. This is surprising considering the episodes are written by Jon Favreau (he shared a co-writing byline with Dave Filoni in the sixth episode), who was the mastermind behind The Mandalorian. What gives? Interference from the top execs at Disney? Maybe one day, we’ll learn the full story behind the scenes.

The narrrative flow of the series was quite jarring at times and also infuriating. The best example of this are with the fifth and sixth episodes. For some reason, the show stopped being about Boba Fett and became a mini-season for The Mandalorian as the story abruptly shifts to Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and we see what he and Grogu have been up to since the second season of their show ended. Boba Fett only appears once in the sixth episode in what is basically a cameo, while he is completely absent in the fifth episode. It did not make sense to do this, especially being that The Book of Boba Fett only has seven episodes. At least, these two episodes were well done.

The impression we are given is that the showrunners or Disney did not like where the main story was going or ran out of ideas and panicked by going back to what excited viewers. This was not fair to Boba Fett’s story and associated characters. Those two episodes could have been used to further develop these characters. We could have learned more about Boba and is time before The Empire Strikes Back. They should have shown more of how he was before his spiritual transformation so that his metamorphosis would have more impact. Maybe they wanted to perserve some of his mystery. Who knows?

Fennec’s back story could have been explored, or Boba’s old rival, Cad Bane (voiced by Corey Burton) could have appeared sooner and being more directly tied to the tragedy that Boba underwent during his recovery. Or even the minor characters of Tatooine could have been fleshed out more. Even the dumb cyborg biker gang, who were poorly conceived and executed.

There are many plot holes that are undeniably irritating and make the characters look stupid. Here’s an example, in the final episode during the big showdown with the Pyke gang, why didn’t Boba or Din get into their spaceships and just lay waste to the criminals as they attacked the town of Mos Espa? Boba Fett kept bragging about how much money he had and could afford to hire extra muscle, yet his army only consisted of the silly biker gang, two Gamorrean pig guards, Din and Fennec, and later some townspeople from nearby Freetown. Did Boba Fett actually expect to defeat an entire army of Pykes and their allies with what he had? Also, it would have made more sense and been more satisfying if the townspeople that helped him where actually residents of Mos Espa. You know, seeing that Boba is fighting for their town, the people could have decided to help him. Why did he hire the biker gang when he first met them? Nothing they did gave the impression they were qualified to be formidable fighters. Then in one flashback scene, Boba takes his spaceship and has it hover directly over the mouth of the sarlaac to look for his armor. Guess what happens? The tentacled monster attacked his ship and nearly killed him. Wouldn’t that ship have sensors to scan the animal from afar? Maybe his time fermenting in the sarlaac’s stomach damaged his brain more than we know.

This does not mean The Book of Boba Fett is a bad TV show. There are so many great things about it. Take Temuera Morrison, who delivers a fine performance as the grizzled former bounty hunter trying to find a purpose in his life. Boba’s spiritual journey when he is first a captive then a valued member of the Tusken Raiders was inspiring as he built relationships with the clan and we learned more about their culture. That is why it was so devastating when later in the flashbacks Boba finds his adopted clan massacred.

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Farewell To The Expanse

After six seasons, The Expanse ended its television run when its last episode “Babylon’s Ashes” streamed on Amazon Prime Video this week.

The sixth and final season of The Expanse was the culmination of the long-running storyline of the tensions among human societies in the solar system. Based on the novels by James. S.A. Corey (the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), The Expanse takes place in a future where humans have an uneasy existence throughout our solar system. Earth and Mars are locked in a cold war with each other, while at the colonies in the outer planets, people, called “Belters”, live under harsh and meager conditions. They detest the “Inners” for their lush lifestyle and strive to be recognized as a legitimate power. During the TV series an alien substance called the protomolecule was discovered. It was able to alter both organic and inorganic matter and eventually formed a gigantic Ring structure near Uranus that functioned as an intergalactic gateway to other solar systems. The latter seasons dealt with the ramifications of this event as humanity began spreading to other worlds.

In the fifth season, a Belter terrorist named Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) rose to power in the colonies and decimated Earth by bombarding it with multiple asteroids. Meanwhile, he joined forces with rogue Martian factions to form the Free Navy and seized control of the Ring and the gateway to other star systems. By the start of the sixth season, Earth was on the verge of becoming uninhabitable from the fallout of the asteroid impacts. In the final season Earth and Mars allied with each other to hunt down Inaros regain access to the Ring and negotiate a peace with the Belters.

The Expanse

The show centered on the crew of the Rocinante, James Holden (Steven Strait) of Earth, Naomi Nagato (Dominique Tipper), a Belter who bore a son with Inaros, Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), a tough mechanic from Earth, and Clarissa Mao (Nadine Nicole), a former criminal struggling to find some measure of redemption. Together they joined the fight against Inarus and his followers. Other characters include Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams), a battle-hardened Martian marine allied with the Rocinante crew, United Nations Secretary-General Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a caustic and practical leader who wants nothing more than to save Earth and end the war, Naomi and Inaros’ son Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens), who joined his father in the struggle but started questioning his father’s fanatic ideaology, and Camina Drummer (Cara Gee), a Belter pirate who rebeled against Inaros and the Free Navy.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home Is The Strongest, Most Emotional Spider-Man MCU Film

Usually the third film in a trilogy is considered the weakest entry even it it is a solid effort. The latest Spider-Man film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Spider-Man: No Way Home, proves otherwise and is actually the strongest entry.

Given the content of the film, it will be nearly impossible to discuss it without going into not just spoilers, but heavy spoilers. So, to be fair to anyone who has not seen this instant classic, this review will only cover broad generalities with more in-depth analysis to follow some other time. There will be some spoilers but only in the broad sense and covers what was revealed in the trailers.

Spider-Man: No Way Home picks ups immediately after the end of the previous MCU Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Far From Home where Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) secret identity of Peter Parker was revealed to the world. The aftermath of the revelation is devastating to Peter and those closest to him like his girlfriend, MJ (Zendaya), his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

The loss of privacy and the intrusive nature of the outside world eventually drives Peter to seek magical help from the sorcerer Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). He asks Doctor Strange to cast a spell to make the world forget that he is Spider-Man, and the sorcerer agrees to do it. However, during the casting of the spell, Peter distracts Doctor Strange, which causes the spell to be corrupted.

The result is that Spider-Man villains from alternate film universes are brought to the MCU, in other words, the foes from the earlier, non-MCU Spider-Man films. These include Doctor Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin/Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), Electro/Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), the Sandman/Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), and the Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).

Spider-Man quickly finds out that tackling with the not-quite Sinister Six and his decisions comes with severe consequences that not only imperil him and those around him, but the fabric of the multiverse itself. These developments force him to recognize that with great power comes great responsibility…and sacrifice.

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A Look Back At Spider-Man 3

The first two Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films are still considered classic superhero films that helped put Marvel Entertainment on the Hollywood map of superhero films.

Then there is Spider-Man 3.

Honestly, the film is not all bad, though it does a lot to earn its infamous reputation, but it is hardly the trainwreck many critics make it out to be. It certainly is not the worse Spider-Man film…that dubious dishonor goes to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. What is frustrating for fans is that Spider-Man 3 has so many elements that would have made a great Spider-Man film, but it is so cluttered thanks to studio interference. Let’s take a look at it’s messy plotline to see for ourselves. Spoilers are ahead.

Spider-Man 3 begins with Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) reveling in his dual role as the masked superhero Spider-Man. He is on top of his game as New York City, his home base, showers him with praise and cheers. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), once a rising star of an actress and model, is suffering a career slump. She gets fired from a starring role in a Broadway musical and is eventually forced to work as a singing waitress in a jazz club. Peter thinks little of Mary Jane’s plight and tells her everything will be fine. On one such occasion, the couple are out stargazing in a park and a meteor crashes nearby without either noticing it. From the meteorite, an extra-terrestrial shapeless mass emerges and hitches a ride onto Peter’s moped when Peter and Mary Jane leave the park. Later, the alien life form stays hidden in Peter’s apartment waiting for the right moment.

After Peter decides to propose to Mary Jane, he is attacked by his former best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco). In the previous films, their friendship drifted apart because Harry blamed Spider-Man for the death of his father, the original Green Goblin. After discovering his father’s weapons at the end of Spider-Man 2, Harry modified the weapons and assumed a new identity as the New Goblin. During the fight, Peter, who never changed into his Spider-Man suit, defeats Harry and then takes him to a hospital to be treated for his injuries. During his recovery, Harry has short-term memory loss, but soon regains them and with his hatred of Peter renewed, Harry begins plotting revenge against his former friend.

While this went on, a common thief called Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) escaped from jail and tried to evade the police by hiding at a sandy testing site for a particle accelerator. The device is activated with Marko inside it and the criminal’s body is altered as it is fused with the surrounding sand. Marko is only motivated to use his powers as the Sandman to steal money to help pay for his young daughter’s medical bills. This activity soon puts him at odds with Spider-Man.

The superhero by now is suffering several setbacks in his life. He faces new competition in his profession as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle newspaper from photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) and his superior photos of Spider-Man. Peter also learns that Marko was actually responsible for the death of his Uncle Ben in the first Spider-Man film and becomes obsessed with finding him. At the same time, tensions grow between him and Mary Jane who feels Peter is not supportive enough. She eventually leaves him after concluding Peter is flirting with a fellow college student, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). But what Peter does not know is that Harry Osborn forced Mary Jane to break up with him as part of his schemes of vengeance.

Making matters worse is that the alien mass bonds to Peter while he is sleeping in his apartment and forms a black version of his Spider-Man suit, It’s revealed that the alien organism is actually a symbiote that enhances Spider-Man’s strength and…his aggression. Peter quickly adopts a new cocky and hostile attitude that alienates him from everyone as his enemies close in on him.

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Tom Hanks Delivers The Emotional Core In The Post-Apocalyptic Film Finch

Finch, originally titled BIOS, is a post-apocalytpic film that was supposed to be released last year and is finally able on Apple TV+. The film is about a dying man (the title character Finch played byTom Hanks) in a barren world, who builds a robot to care for his dog after he dies.

Several years earlier in Finch, the Earth was devastated by a solar flare that shredded the ozone layer and blanketed the world with deadly ultraviolet radiation that killed most life. Finch Weinberg is a lonely robotics engineer in an abandoned and dust-covered St. Louis. He ventures out into the world with his UV suit just to scrounch for food and supplies for himself and his dog Goodyear (played by Seamus the dog). His only other companion is a small robot called Duey that has limited capabilities. Finch has a terminal illness (it’s not made clear in the film but it could be radiation poisoning or cancer) and wants Goodyear protected, so he builds an anthropomorphic robot that he names Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones).

Finch is not able to fully program Jeff because a devastating storm is approaching St. Louis that will last for weeks. The scientist already planned to move to the west coast of North America and so decides to head out early in his recreational vehicle with Goodyear and his two robots, even though Finch is not fully programmed. This means that as they set out on their road trip, Finch has to teach Jeff how to care for his dog and survive after he is gone. During their trip, the two grow a friendly bond as Jeff learns about humanity and experiencing life, while Finch has to trust that the robot will carry out his task. This is difficult for Finch because during his ordeal as a survivor he lost faith in others.

Directed by Miguel Sapochnik and written by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell, Finch is heartwarming film, though it does not have a deep plot. It has many aspects of post-apocalyptic and survival films like WALL-E and even Hanks’ own Cast Away. Still, the film knows just how to tug at the viewer’s heart and there are many moments in the film that require a box of tissues. One instance is the moment when Finch recalls how he came to adopt Goodyear, which led him to find a measure of atonement, culminating in the creation of Jeff.. The film has many beautiful and reflective moments of experiencing the simple joys in life that are buttressed by gorgeous cinematography by Jo Willems.

The dog Goodyear is not some kind of super smart animal with quirky personality traits that is seen in many dog-centric films and it’s clear to see how much Finch is attached to the animal. Be that as it may, being that the driving force is that Jeff must learn to care for Goodyear, the dog is not the main character. Those are Finch and Jeff. The robot is not fully developed emotionally and has an inquisitive nature that is humorous but never annoying, At the same time, this defect is a liability that could endanger his biological companions. However, Jeff has noble intentions and takes initiatives throughout the film that earns his creator’s trust and allows him to grow into the caretaker he was meant to be. The role was well performed and captured as the robot seems realistic thanks to his clumsy nature and a clunky look, which is how a cobbled-together robot would appear.

Of course, the main draw of the film is Tom Hanks, who proves once again why he is such a beloved acting icon. His heartfelt performance is the emotional core of the film. It is so easy to relate to Finch as Hanks injects a noble and gentle everyman demeanor. One cannot help but feel for him and his dog whenever he starts coughing blood or just see them playing a simple game of catch. Throughout the film Hanks delivers a quiet and thoughtful performance that helps keep the film grounded and endearing.

Some will argue that Finch may be emotionally manipulative and simplistic and that is a valid point. Given the film’s premise it can be easy to predict how the film will end up. However, in the end it works as it is easy to get emotionally invested in the characters and wonder what will come next for them. Just as important, despite its pathos, Finch never feels sentimental or cloy.

It is a bit of a shame Finch can only be seen on Apple TV+ since not many people have that streaming app. The film deserves to be seen in wider venues such as full theatrical releases and the powers that be should have waited a bit longer to do so. Hopefully, Finch may find an audience later on in additional venues because it is one of the better genre films for the year.

José Soto