IR TV Review: DISNEY GALLERY – THE MANDALORIAN – EPISODE 2 (“Legacy”) [Disney+]

The perception of legacy has to do with how a story is told. Granted “The Mandalorian” owes many things to many people. But structure is a big part of it as well. In the second episode of “Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian” entitled “Legacy”, the approach is balanced in a progression of three very different perceptions: the original films, the prequels and the post-Disney acquisition. None of those differences are spoke of specifically but the aspects of flash points are very evident. The “Jurassic Park” moment is, of course, one many talk about and what influenced Stanley Kubrick to move forward on “AI” which he was not able to make before his death. It also encouraged Lucas to actually move forward on the next “Star War” trilogy. The person who is the most Interesting in this episode is Kathleen Kennedy who doesn’t do many roundtables like this. You can feel her power in the room, It is palpable even next to Filoni and Favreau. What is interesting is the different energies. Kennedy makes an interesting point that Lucas owns many many patents but each person sees the advances differently. Favreau doesn’t really say his but Filoni mentions Edit Droid and I believe “Episode 1” effects coordinator John Knoll mentions motion control. Kennedy says George was thinking of “Star Wars” during Indiana Jones (obviousy since he was still making them then).

Having Carl Weathers and Pedro Pascal (whom we haven’t seen too many interviews with) talking about their initial impact with”Star Wars” is interesting. Pascal’s memory mirrors my own in a way since he talks about his parents I guess getting the hard-to-score ticket to “Return Of The Jedi” on opening night in 1983. The same happened with me with my mother and her cousin getting me a seat for “Return Of The Jedi” at a midnight show opening night where they were standing room only in the back. I have an earlier memory of “Star Wars” but not actually being in the theater. I was only 9 at the time for”Jedi”.That is what legacy means more than anything else.: memory. Taikia Waititi’s reference on his favorite line in “Empire” is very telling. And David Filoni’s explaataion of the mythic representation of the “Duel Of The Fates” fight in “Episode1” is interesting in that it shows the underlying familial breakdown structure of the entire original and prequel trilogy. It shows his breathe and understanding of the universe specifically guided by Lucas. It also reflects the story he told earlier of his first Lucas meeting in episoe 1 of this series. Most of these interviews were seemingly done in the roundtable at one time so they probably last throughout the season. This episode is an important one and more based in the mythology than the process which helps with showing essence of motivation within the creators.

A

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: DISNEY GALLERY – THE MANDALORIAN – EPISODE 1 (“Directing”) [Disney+]

Showing the behind-the-scenes in a “Star Wars” universe has always been an important part of the process. With “The Mandalorian” using ancillary aspects and the fact that this was the jumping off point for Disney+ makes sense. While more ancillary material in a way than an actual new series, it is great to tide audiences over in anticipating of the next iteration (especially with the advent of COVID-19) which might slow down production. Creator Jon Favreau again uses his indie instincts in this perception because he does what he used to do with “Dinner For Five” back in the day. He sits people around a table to talk with people (just no wine like before). While this first episode entitled “Directing” focuses on the directors, one gets a sense of input from different arenas. All the directors are inherently different. But that is what makes them unique. It is hard to say how much they actually were on everyone else’s sets. Favreau seems inherently around a lot even though he was finalizing “The Lion King” at the time. He did not direct an episode in the first season. Dave Filoni was likely consecutively working on “The Clone Wars” at the same time so it is interesting to see that balance that he could find time to direct but again it is perception of how they could balance. Seeing George Lucas sitting on set with Filoni and Favreau watching some of the scenes being directed really added credibility to the proceedings.

The one aspect of the virtual background sets (which again will make shooting post COVID inherently different) seemed to be incorporated almost fully the whole time even though it will be explained later. Even on Bryce Dallas Howard’s episode (which bears certain parallels to “Willow” in many ways) it seems that the wrap around back screen mattes/projection were going constantly. Deborah Chow, who is set to direct the Obi Wan series seems to have her focus extremely visceral which again should be interesting in approaching Kenobi especially with an actor who knows him inherently, Taika Waititi tries appear aloof since he is also a comedy actor after all so there is an interesting play where his tone is. He gels with the people even though he is primarily at a different place than many of the others. It works but it almost seems if he is trying too hard to play up to the paradox. All the episodes are good but his season finale was exceptional. Hearing Bryce’s recollection of being in Japan with her dad (Ron Howard) when he met Kurosawa and she fell asleep when she was 5 was great lore and cemented her perception and love of film making. Continuing episodes especially how they explore the story and creatures should be a treasure trove for Star Wars fans until they can hunker down for the next installment.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: STAR WARS – THE CLONE WARS – FINAL SEASON – EPISODE 11 (“Shattered”) [Lucasfilm/Disney+]

The texture of the end of “The Clone Wars”  is extremely menacing and it should be in the essence of what it shows. This essence and, as an addendum, makes what happens in “Revenge Of The Sith” even more tragic. David Filoni, his directors and even composer Kevin Kiner understands this. These last few episodes are darker and more textured than anything that came before it. The original series was one of strategy and journey. These episodes are about loss and choice. Ahsoka Tano is the focus of it. Without giving too much away in this episode, it starts to bring together the strands that led to later perceptions. The use of one line from “Rogue One” at a certain point means so much in the context of everything. However it makes what is shown undeniable. As much as “The Rise Of Skywalker” wanted to be that moment, there has to be a loss which is felt and stakes where something is primarily so encompassing that it cannot be fixed.

The actions that happen at the end of “Revenge Of The Sith” are just that. But like the previous episode [Ep 10], seeing it from another perspective, specifically the person closer to Anakin than anyone, maybe save for Padme, is undeniable but also heartbreaking. There are crucial points in this episode where small choices are made, specifically by Tano, that are seen as necessary but have repercussions but couldn’t have been done any other way. This comes back in balance to the will of The Force. Tano’s training and Anakin’s teachings have allowed her to be this way, problem solve and think outside of the box. However, and it is not her possibility but ego gets in the way. The revelation is that you see how this affects Maul but it doesn’t take away from his base nature as it doesn’t take away from Tano’s. One progression of the scenes is so filled with dread because of the tone and specifically the music that it takes on a whole different connotation in the Star Wars Universe, a darker one we rarely see. The music is so undeniably changed. The reality is that this doesn’t end well not overly playing the melodrama, Filoni and his team keep it tight and add in Easter Eggs that are both relevant to fans but effective in general as a story. There are odes to “Rebels” but also visions of what is to come without actually showing it which is always tricky in animation. These episodes are getting more and more crucial and the vision is razor sharp. The wrap up episode comes next and sets the next interlocking puzzle piece of what is to come.

A

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: STAR WARS – THE CLONE WARS – FINAL SEASON – EPISODE 10 (“The Phantom Apprentice”) [Lucasfilm/Disney+]

Working the progress of a fall from grace is an interesting diatribe in the current Ahsoka situation with “The Clone Wars”. The traits and failures of her past but almost the ignorance of a path ahead is an interesting choice that blinds her but makes her a more dynamic character than we saw before. This is placed in view by the dreams of Darth Maul of all people. The crux of foresight and Ahsoka’s eventual reveal to him as Anakin’s padewan is a flashpoint for the series in many ways. This final season of “The Clone Wars” continues in the final perceptions of Ahsoka to be dramatically different than they began. But perhaps that was the plan all along. It is about fate but also lack of information. While the aspect of Maul in reflection of Crimson Dawn shows that he lives on past the fall of the Republic, the showdown that happens is in the best Star Wars tradition a sense of scale with the intimate and ironic lying underneath. While the lightsaber battle harkens back to many fights of note, both combatants are clearly confused by what to believe, whereas in most Star Wars battles, somebody has the distinct upper hand.

Whiole Maul is operating with direct assumptions, his vision is cloudy and incomplete as he does not know who Darth Sidous truly is. The politics of the Jedi aren’t in play either. What is interesting is seeing where this interacts with the timeline that was consecutively happening in “Revenge Of The Sith” shielding why we would never have seen her in the film. That is another very dynamic part of this episode in knowing what is going on in the exact same time frame as the Siege of Mandalore. Maul’s essence of revenge overwhelms him with Obi Wan. Many have tried to kill him yet Kobe lingers. There is also a distinct irony that plays in the reveal of life versus death for Ahsoka. She is trying to make the right decisions but The Force keeps trying to wrestle its idea of balance back into question. Like those that have been tempted before, Ahsoka’s choice and reasoning is not as clear as one would think. But the resolve and reveal (and subsequent betrayal) is only a small amount of episodes away.

A-

By Tim Wassberg