Star Wars Visions: The Twins

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A pair of Sith twins work to create a weapon that can destroy entire star systems but then turn on one another.

This episode was disappointing. It was not bad so much as it was deeply average, and I feel like they could have done so much more with it. I am a big fan of Studio Trigger and so I was very excited for this episode which only made the disappointment worse.

I think the issue with this episode is that the plot is played out. How many times have we seen two siblings turn on each other and battle now? To many times to count, and that goes outside of Star Wars as well. It was entirely obvious that the brother was going to turn out to be the hero.

Moreover, there were also weird gaps in logic that I found to be jarring. An example of this would be that the twins can breathe in space, but their robot butler can’t? It makes no sense and when you start thinking about it, it just ruins the episode more and more.

The one thing I will compliment this episode on is that I enjoyed how into exploring kyber crystals it was, and I think that we need more of this from the Star Wars universe.

Overall, I was expecting a lot more and was deeply disappointed.

Pros.

Exploring kyber crystals

The battle scenes

The ending

Cons.

It was predictable

The plot was cliched

The gaps in logic  

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Star Wars Visions: Tatooine Rhapsody

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young band must perform the show of their lives otherwise Jabba The Hutt will have one of their member killed.

This may be the worst episode of Star Wars Visions, though as of the time of writing I am only three quarters of the way through. This episode is just so disappointing mainly because it doesn’t feel like it fits into the Star Wars universe at all, swap out a few character skins and references and this could be any other anime. It felt jarring.

All of the characters bar Jabba were kids, and I don’t understand the reason why? For the central foursome it makes sense I suppose but why was Bobba Fett pintsized? It makes no sense.

Moreover, the whole episode is built around these big concert scenes where the band perform, this in an off itself is not a red flag, however, when the band actually starts to perform it quickly does become an issue. To be blunt the music just isn’t good, and as it is so pivotal to the episode having it be bad makes the episode infinitely worse.  

Finally, the central cast of characters are annoying and whiney which makes it impossible to form any kind of attachment to them and again kneecaps the episode.

Overall, one to skip when binging the series.

Pros.

It is short

A few interesting visuals

Cons.

The songs are bad

The characters are annoying

It makes no sense that almost everyone is a child

It doesn’t feel like it fits the brand

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Star Wars Visions: The Duel

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Some time after the sequel trilogy a lone wanderer comes across a Sith lord and her army of stormtroopers terrorising a village, a battle ensues.

This was an incredibly strong start to Star Wars Visions, both artistically and in terms of story. The concept of the episode is interesting, and its setting post sequel trilogy is rife to explore; so far we have seen very little set after the Rise of Skywalker. I would love to see more of this world and its inhabitants, in that regard I think there should be another Star Wars show exploring Ronin and how he came by all those other Sith kyber crystals

Moreover, I thought the animation style was beautifully done and distinctive. I enjoyed the roughness of it and thought the hard edges and minimal use of colour really helped to form a strong personality for the episode.

The fight scenes were easily the highlight of the episode particularly those between the Sith and Ronin towards the end were each was pulling off crazier and crazier moves in an effort to best the other.

Overall, a beautiful start to the series with a keen personality and edge.

Pros.

The art style

The fight scenes

The ending

The tease for what comes after the sequel trilogy

Cons.

We need more.

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What If: T’Challa Became Star Lord?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

T’Challa becomes Star Lord instead of Peter Quill, and maybe even does it better?

I think this was a very average episode. Nothing really blew me away about it, really it just feels like they are recycling the plot’s of other Marvel films for extra profits, yes with a few changes but the story structure feels much the same.

I thought the idea of space Black Panther was interesting, Chadwick Boseman has a lot of fun and it is nice to see him back in the role, even if it is bittersweet when you remember. Moreover, I thought the idea that Black Panther was in fact a better Star Lord than the one we have come to know quite amusing, I liked how even Drax liked him more.

The biggest issue with this episode is by far its plot, because once it gets past the initial charm of T’Challa in space, it is just a generic heist plot that has no stakes at all. Once the episode switches to the heist my mind just turns off, I don’t care about some McGuffin that the characters are trying to steal that likely will never come back in the MCU again.

Moreover, I thought the sting at the end about how the Peter Quill of this universe is getting on was actually more entertaining and interesting than the story we got.

Overall, though Boseman is strong the rest of the episode isn’t, and it feels incredibly mediocre.

Pros.

Boseman

The concept

Thanos but as a good guy

Cons.

The heist plot

It is very generic  

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Jungle Cruise: The New Pirates Of The Caribbean?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Based on the Disney Park ride, Jungle Cruise sees an adventure, Emily Blunt, and her well-meaning brother, Jack Whitehall set off into the heart of the jungle to find a mythical treasure.

If I had to describe this film in a few words it would be dumb fun. Really it is neither hugely good, nor hugely bad, it is just dumb watchable entertainment that passes a few hours.

Certainly this film is trying to be the next Pirates of The Caribbean, you can feel it throughout, and though the film has similar vibes to POTC it lacks the compelling edge. The story for the most part is very throwaway action fare; a group of people head out looking for a mythical treasure and get into high jinks along the way- nothing new.

However, the cast do manage to elevate it somewhat. Rather surprisingly Dwayne Johnson is not on top form here and though he is passable enough in the lead role, he is increasingly out done at nearly every turn by Blunt. Blunt really is the star of this film and her presence helps it immensely. Originally, when I heard that Jack Whitehall had been cast in this I was expecting a disaster, as though he is hilarious he is not a proven actor by any means, however, this film entirely convinced me that he can hold his weight with the big guys and made me feel a lot more confident about his Clifford film.

I won’t go into the villain issue here but suffice it to say it is bad. There are two villains, one of which is entirely needless, and the other is Jessie Plemons who looks like he is having fun, but the film doesn’t know what to do with him.

Overall, a fine film to watch once.

Pros.

Blunt

Whitehall

The world

Cons.

Johnson is off form

The villains

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The Bad Batch: Bounty Lost

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

The episode starts out by ditching Crosshair once again and instead focusing entirely on Omega, a very bad decision. The reason why this is bad is because it loses all the tension and excitement from the previous episode and immediately makes the situation easier for the heroes as now they are just free to track Omega down no bother- which makes it less interesting.

We spend most of the episode with Omega as we find out more about her origins and watch her try and escape from Cad Bane. None of this makes you warm any further to the character, and the point still stands that without Omega the Bad Batch as a show would be much more interesting.

The best thing that comes out of the kidnapped Omega storyline is the bounty hunter fight between Bane and Fennec Shand, which is entertaining to watch as each tries to out do the other with some nice set pieces thrown in for good measure.

The series still seems directionless, yes we know that Omega is wanted and is valuable as she is a perfect clone of Jango Fett, but other than that we have no idea where the series is heading. Are we going back to more villain of the week episodes now that Crosshair has been sent back into the ignored void? Or are we going to get more origin story for Omega? Both prospects seem equally bleak.

Overall, Omega has easily become the worst part of the show and it needs to ditch her as soon as it can- she is no Grogu.

Pros.

The bounty hunter fight

The ending tease of intrigue

Cons.

Omega is a weak character and worse still annoying

They forget about Crosshair once again

The tension and build up from the previous episode is lost almost immediately  

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The Bad Batch: Reunion

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This episode finally brought back Crosshair. Finally.

I thought this was easily the best of the recent batch of Bad Batch episodes, we finally got the tense standoff between the inhibitor chip free clones and the possessed evil Crosshair that the series has been building towards. Luckily for all, this confrontation feels meaty and well-paced, neither can truly best the other and both sides are hurt. The only way I think this could have been made better is if Crosshair killed one of the Bad Batch or at least gravely wounded them, this would have added to the impact of the episode.

I thought the re-emergence of Cad Bane was both a pro and a con to the episode. It is a pro in that the character is cool and it is nice to see him return and carry on his storyline, but at the same time it is a con as it feels very random and there was little to no build up to him returning. With him taking Omega at the end of the episode I hope she stays out of commission for a while so the Bad Batch can properly deal with their defeat and really rally to the cause.

Overall, a high point for the series so far I can only hope the next lot of episodes keep the same pace and tone.

Pros.

Finally bringing back Crosshair in a meaningful way

The tense cat and mouse elements

The action

The ending

Cons.

Cad Bane’s return feels a little random and unplanned  

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Loki: The Variant

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

So, the second episode of Loki is good, there is no doubting that, however it does slump a bit when compared to last weeks mostly stellar opener. Mainly this is due to what I would argue is a rushed story decision on the part of the episode’s ending, but I can see why with a limited six episode run they chose to do it this way.

I am of course talking about Loki’s decision to chase after his evil variant and effectively leave the TVA. Like I said plot wise it makes sense, but I would have liked more time with the Loki and Mobius buddy cop dynamic, Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston have great chemistry together- hopefully they will still get to share a lot of scenes together.

As for the who the internet have dubbed prematurely Lady Loki, who is more likely Enchantress, it is far to early to cast any kind of judgement on her: though I will say it was a neat development to have it be her that truly begins the destruction of the Sacred Timeline it makes her vital to the narrative going forward.

Overall, a solid episode though one that is slightly in the shadow of its better predecessor.

Pros.

Loki and Mobius

A few very funny scenes

The destruction of the timeline

The things it sets up

Cons.

The plot feels a little rushed

It underwhelms after a strong first episode

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Thor: Natalie Portman’s Second On Screen Stilted Relationship

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I am seemingly one of the few people that actually seem to like the first Thor film. I don’t mind the Shakespeare esque dialogue, or the forced romance between Hemsworth and Portman where both look like they hate each other; instead I actually enjoy it.

Firstly yes it is widely known and widely mocked that the chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman was not there during this film, however, I actually quite like them together on screen as a pair I think they work well together and could have been a lot more. Maybe Thor 4 can fix it.

I also think though not as zany as in his more recent appearances Thor is still a very likeable lead character and Hemsworth is very charismatic. I like the unworthy arc and the fish out of water style comedy, both work for me. Moreover, I appreciate the family drama between Thor, Odin and Loki I think it works well and makes for one of the best endings in the MCU. Try and tell me watching Loki float away into the void didn’t make you sad.

I also think that Lady Sif and the Warriors Three have huge potential in this film, sadly Marvel seems content on doing nothing with them. What a waste.

Overall, one of the better early MCU films that often gets overlooked in favor of Ragnarök and though I love Taika Waititi as much as the next guy, this film has a lot of stuff going for it as well.

Pros.

Hemsworth

Portman

Sif and The Warriors Three

Cons.

Darcy

A slow start

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Loki Episode 1 : Glorious Purpose

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Though I enjoyed Wandavison’s first episode more so than most, I think this is easily the best first episode of a Marvel Disney + series to date; the reason I did not mention, Falcon And The Winter Soldiers first episode is because it wasn’t very good and proved no real competition to this.

This episode had everything you would want out of a Loki series and then more on top. It has humour, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Owen Wilson’s Mobius have great on screen chemistry together and provide us with quite a few strong comedic scenes. It has heart and depth, such as when variant Loki, who had never seen the events of Thor The Dark World, saw his adoptive mother die for the first time. It also has a promising mystery, and pits Loki against himself.

I thought one of the best things about this episode was the introduction to the Time Variants Authority and the widening of the MCU as this fills in some blanks and also changes how we see the events of the MCU as a whole. The one thing I didn’t like in this respect is that they basically confirm that Agents Of Shield is non-cannon: there is a moment where one additional line of dialogue would have confirmed the shows place in universe, but we never get that conformation.

Finally, outside of Loki and Mobius the rest of the characters are sparse and only really seem to exist to facilitate one purpose and are quite one dimensional: hopefully this will be fixed later in the show and these characters might get to see more exploration.

Overall, a very promising first episode.

Pros.

Widening the MCU

Owen Wilson

Tom Hiddleston, particularly during the more emotion scenes.

Cons.

A few annoying side characters

Even more signs pointing to AOS being non-cannon

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