Andor: Rix Road

3/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Things come to a head at the funeral of Maarva, played by Fiona Shaw.

In many senses this finale felt cathartic after all the build up of previous episodes as we do see some full scale signs of rebellion against the Empire, but I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed that more didn’t happen.

I think the main issue for me with this episode is that it lacked stakes, unlike other episodes that have perfectly encapsulated this idea of grit and that anyone can die at any time, this one felt very plot armour heavy as you knew none of the important characters were going to die and that is where the episode lost me.

I liked the ending of the episode wherein Cassian, played by Diego Luna, finally confronts Luthen, played by Stellan Skarsgard, and thought that it teased interesting things to come, but therein lies another issue with this show a lot of it is teasing things to come rather than delivering answers to big mysteries or giving us set pieces, which again is both a blessing and a curse.

Overall, a good season finale that would have been better if it had been bolder.

Pros.

The ending

The first signs of large scale rebellion

A good pace

It teases a lot of interesting directions for the next season

Cons.

There is a lot of plot armour going round and it effects the stakes of the show

It teases more than it delivers

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Andor: Daughter Of Ferrix

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Cassian, played by Diego Luna, experiences a loss and Mon Mothma, played by Genevieve O’Reilly, edges closer to marrying off her daughter in exchange for help moving her rebellion earmarked funds around.

This was probably the weakest episode of the show so far, nothing really happened and at best it was boring. The focus on Mon Mothma is really what hurt this episode as a lot of the early season promise the character had has been widely lost by now, and the character mainly exists to show awkward party scenes and scheming that never really seems to amount to anything.

The Luthen, played by Stellan Skarsgard, and Saw, played by Forest Whittaker storyline is slightly better and more interesting as we see the walls start to close in around Luthen to an extent and see him re-characterised in the context of shifting power dynamics.

Overall, a fairly boring episode wherein nothing of any note happens.

Pros.

Luthen is finally facing resistance from the Empire

It is watchable

Cons.

Nothing much happens

Mon Mothma is being wasted

It is boring

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Andor: One Way Out

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Cassian, played by Diego Luna, finally busts out of prison.

The three episode structure of this show is really becoming quite trite, it was pretty clear before this episode even started that Cassian would be getting out of prison this episode as it was time for this mini arc to end. The show really needs to start mixing things up.

However, that gripe aside this was an incredibly strong episode and probably one of the best segments of Star Wars media in a long time. I think the power of this episode came almost exclusively from Andy Serkis’ Kino as he becomes a rebel leader and gives one hell of a speech, it is a shame where the episode leaves him and hopefully he comes back at some point, but I think that in terms of looking at the early Rebellion his whole character and what he symbolises is incredibly important.

Moreover, the final sequence with Luthen, played by Stellan Skarsgard, is also incredibly interesting as it gives us the biggest peak behind the curtain yet, and also highlights the twisted morals with which he operates furthering the thesis of this show that nothing is morally black and white.

Overall, a very strong episode only let down by the repetitive three episode structure ruining any form of surprise.

Pros.

Skarsgard

Serkis

The ending

The moral ambiguity

Cons.

The three episode structure really ruins the surprise

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Andor: Nobody’s Listening

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Cassian, played by Diego Luna, continues to plan his escape from prison, meanwhile his friend Bix, played by Adria Arjona, is tortured by the Empire for information.

I am starting to find these three episode arcs to be quite tiring at this point. The Cassian prison storyline is for the most part dull and uninteresting, and to make matters worse it just feels like it keeps getting stretched out, the escape could have at least started in this episode but no they had to push it till next week.

I found the wider Empire stuff more interesting, I am enjoying seeing how they are dealing with this early form of the Rebellion and are starting to realise more and more that this is a serious threat that needs to be dealt with.

The Mon Mothma, played by Genevieve O’Reilly scenes are also quite dull, but I won’t spend too much time talking about this as I have covered it in previous reviews. We can only watch her chat to people secretly at dinner parties so many times before it gets dull, and we have already reached that point.

Overall, quite a dull episode.

Pros.

Vel’s back

Andy Serkis is having fun

It sets up the prison escape for next week

Cons.

It is too slow and the three episode arc structure is starting to harm the show

Mon Mothma needs to do something other than just be constantly chatting to people at dinner parties

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Andor: Narkina 5

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Andor, played by Diego Luna, goes to prison.

I think this was probably the worst episode of the season so far, mainly this was because nothing really happened. At least in last week’s episode, which I also didn’t hugely like, they set up fun stuff for down the line in this episode we get precious little. On the one hand we get Andor serving his prison sentence, which other than meeting Andy Serkis’s character who does have a few good moments, is fairly dull we know it is just a matter of time until he breaks out, but it doesn’t happen in this episode. On the other hand we have yet another dinner party scene with Mon Mothma, played by Genevieve O’Reilly, which is just more of the same that we have seen before.

We do get some interesting scenes even if they are far between such as the Empire cracking down on Cassian’s friends, which the episode ends on, as well as Vel, played by Faye Marsay, returning on the hunt for Cassian. Plus added Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whittaker.

Overall, a fairly boring episode with a few brief moments of excitement here and there.

Pros.

The Empire finally coming after Cassian

The return of Vel

Saw Gerrera is back

Cons.

Cassian’s storyline is boring

So is Mon Mothma’s

It feels like killing time  

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Andor: Announcement

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Cassian, played by Diego Luna, faces some of the consequences for his actions and things are set up for later in the season.

Certainly this won’t be anyone’s favourite episode, very little of interest happens here it is mostly just a lot of set up for later on, that is not to say that set up isn’t interesting or without promise, but there is only so much excitement you can have for teasing things to come.

I think Luna gives a great performance when he is talking to his character’s adoptive mother, played by Fiona Shaw, it is so raw and full of emotion that for a moment you forget that you are watching a TV show and question whether or not these are real people. I do think that Luna has been such a boon not just for this show but for Star Wars more broadly as he is capable of giving such excellent performances.

Where this episode falls down for me is with the ending. For plot reasons Cassian is accused of a crime he had nothing to do with and sent off to prison. Basically that sums up the whole scene for you there is nothing more to it then that he is just sent off to prison for no reason other than the show needed to do something with him next week as he seemed a bit at an end after the events of last week. It reeks of lazy writing and plot convenience to me.

Overall, a fine episode but one that is very much filler.

Pros.

Luna

Exciting things to come

It is watchable

Cons.

There is only so much excitement you can have for set up, defiantly a filler episode

The ending is stupid and clearly just done for plot reasons.

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Andor: The Eye

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Cassian, played by Diego Luna, and co finally rob the Imperial base.

I thought this was a strong episode, I liked that we got to see the native people who lived on the planet it helped the world to feel more realised.

I think rather predictably we got several deaths here and more than a few loose ends. Nemik’s death was the most obvious and when it happened I thought finally, however, it also packed an emotional punch and feels like it will be important to Cassian’s wider journey. Skeen’s turn to the dark side is again not particularly surprising, however, what is surprising is just how quick Cassian puts him down- pretty dark for a Disney + show. There are several other characters that just seemingly walk off into oblivion for no real reason, to me these are irritating loose ends but hopefully the next few episodes will explore what happened to them.

I do appreciate that this show continues to play with moral ambiguity and go a lot harder than we have seen any other Star Wars property go in a long while. I am curious to see where the show will go from here as nothing particularly has been set up, but I do hope they don’t bring Kyle Soller’s Syril back again as I feel he would be a weak villain for the series on the whole.

Overall, a strong episode but one that also raises the question where do we go from here?

Pros.

The tension

The stakes

Luna

The darkness and moral ambiguity

Cons.

Too many loose ends

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The Greatest Beer Run Ever: Friends Are Worth Risking It All For

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The true story of John ‘Chickie’ Donohue’s, here played by Zac Efron, efforts to support his friends fighting in Vietnam.

This film really wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, I thought based on the name and comedy work that Efron has put out that this film would be raunchy, dumb and more than a little gross out, but in actual fact it is actually quite emotionally engaging and complex. Whilst it is hard to call this film a comedy as it isn’t funny, it is a film with a surprisingly big heart.

I thought Efron was on great form here, this film gave him a number of ample opportunities to flex his dramatic muscles and he pulls this off nicely, conveying the horrors going on around him and the anguish he feels for all to see. In that vein I think this film really does show us the undercurrent of the Vietnam war and doesn’t hold back in its brutality.

Russell Crowe and Bill Murray make supporting turns here to varying degrees of success. Crowe is a very welcome presence and plays off of Efron well when on screen together whereas Murray is seemingly pigeonholed into the old timer who thinks things should go back to how they were in his day. Though it is always nice to see Murray pop up on screen, here he is very much not utilised.

Overall, a surprisingly sweet film.

Pros.

Efron

The message

Showing the horrors of the war

Crowe

Cons.

It wastes Bill Murray  

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Andor: The Axe Forgets

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The crew further plan for the heist.

I would say this episode was good and watchable but was certainly the filler episode before next week’s heist. We get a lot of slow character interaction scenes, which don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed, but for those expecting weekly action this week would have been somewhat of a turn off.

I appreciated the focus this episode had on building out its world and its characters. It was nice to see Cassian, played by Diego Luna, interacting more with the other members of the heist team, I feel like bonds are being established before no doubt a bunch of them die in next week’s episode.

I didn’t much care for the Syril, played by Kyle Soller, subplot about him being dressed down by his overbearing mother, it felt far to obvious and generic in terms of character motivations for him to then renew his search for Cassian. Widely this section of the episode felt like it was stalling for time.

Overall, a good episode but certainly a lot more slow and filler like.

Pros.

Luna

Cassian and his fellow rebels

The ending of the episode

Wider exploration of Mon Mothma as a character

Cons.

Some parts of it feel like filler

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Top Gun Maverick: Men And Their Feelings

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Maverick, played by Tom Cruise, returns to teach the next generation.

That premise sounds generic and lame but actually proves to be quite entertaining. I think by using just the right amount of nostalgia whilst also tying in elements from the first film in an interesting way that felt like it benefited the story and drove things forward rather than just being used for cheap member berry moments.

I think Tom Cruise was good here, though I would not say he was the star of the show as he was upstaged by both Miles Teller, playing the son of Maverick’s old friend Goose, as well as an also returning Val Kilmer. Cruise plays Maverick in much the same way he does all his other action movie characters, see Ethan Hunt or Jack Reacher, so if you like that then you will be entertained, but if you were hoping for something new then you will be disappointed.

Personally, I found this film to be enjoyable and very watchable but I don’t understand why it is so big right now or so critically beloved. Maybe it’s because I didn’t watch the first film as a kid or maybe it’s because I often find Tom Cruise starring in a film to be an off-putting factor, however to me this really was a case of the film being good not great.

Overall, a fun movie but by no means a must see.

Pros.

It is a lot of fun

It uses nostalgia sparingly and well

It is well paced

Teller is terrific

Cons.

Cruise is just playing the same old same old

Jennifer Connelly’s character is a big bunch of sexist cliches

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