The Book of Boba Fett – a Postmodern Mashup

This week, the final episode aired of The Book of Boba Fett, an action bonanza featuring the biggest laser gun battle Star Wars has ever seen. It’s directed by Robert Rodriquez, who shows he is still a true action cannoneer.

The series initially got a luke(skywalker)warm reception, but during the second half the reviews improved. Not coincidentally, this was after the Mandalorian showed up and took central stage for an entire episode. And this reveals the show’s weakness, namely the title character. Who ever said Boba Fett, who barely had any lines in the original movies, was an interesting enough character to give his own television show? The Mandalorian on the other hand is great; he’s mysterious, a badass, can crack a joke once in a whole and follows a strict code of honor. Therefore his show is widely considered as the most successful Star Wars production under Disney since the acquisition from Lucasfilm in 2012.

The Mandalorian – like TBoBB developed by actor-director Jon Favreau – was loosely based on the classic Japanese manga Lone Wolf and Cub, about an assassin traveling through feudal Japan with his infant boy. The boy in The Mandalorian was Baby Yoda, an instant audience favorite. The Book of Boba Fett is based on another classic: The Godfather. Boba Fett, after surviving being swallowed by the Sarlacc and taken prisoner by the Tusken Raiders, moves to Tatooine to take over the crime syndicate previously ruled by Jabba the Hutt. Unfortunately, Boba is closer to Fredo than Vito, Michael or Sonny Corleone. He is just not particularly intelligent or cunning and it’s hard at times to figure out what’s even driving him at all. And frankly, Temuera Morrison is not the most versatile actor in the world. Why would he be suitable for a lead role?

So far the bad news, because TBoBB certainly has its merits. The supporting characters are excellent for one thing. The first one is called Fennec Shand (portrayed by Ming-Na Wen), a female assassin who partners up with Boba. She’s an interesting character and has good chemistry with Boba/Temuera. Second, the already mentioned Mandalorian shows up and the same applies for Baby Yoda (Grogu) and Luke Skywalker (the post Return of the Jedi-version). Finally, Cad Bane arrives in style in episode 6 and I can truthfully say that this one of those genuinely terrific bad guys Star Wars is known for. So thumbs up for that.

Another reason to watch: the amazing set pieces. This is pure Star Wars cinema quality. It’s incredible what they can do nowadays in cinema let alone television. It looks and smells and feels 100% like Star Wars. What might also persuade movie lovers is the tons of references, both visually and verbally, to classic cult movies. To Star Wars itself obviously (Wookies really do pull arms out of sockets), spaghetti westerns, Robert Rodriquez-references, The Godfather (‘it is the smart move’, ‘my offer is this: nothing’), The Untouchables, Lone Wolf and Cub, and probably many more I missed or forgot. You really get the feeling that you’re watching a show made by people who didn’t have an original concept to go on, but do love movies and had a huge budget to spend, so they threw in all this stuff from the classics.

Therefore, though obviously not as great as The Mandalorian, it still provides plenty of bang for your spacebucks.

My Greatest Cinema Moments Ever

There was a terrific feature in Empire Magazine last month, especially during a pandemic when all cinemas are shut down and barely any major movies are released. They invited their readers and celebrated filmmakers, like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Bong Joon-Ho to share their favorite cinema moments.

They are specifically looking for moments in which the whole audience experienced movie magic. Think Hannibal Lecter escaping from prison in The Silence of the Lambs. Can you imagine the audience’s response when he pulls the face off in the ambulance? I sure can, even though I never saw Silence in cinema. Or the ending in Buffalo Bill’s house where the depraved serial killer is stalking Clarice Starling with night vision goggles? These are memories from filmmaker Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead), who initiated this feature.

Wright: “I vividly recall riotous screenings of A Fish Called Wanda and There’s Something About Mary, the unforgettable sound of massed sobs in E.T. or Titanic, or just the palpable energy of the first weekend crowd of Scream or The Silence of the Lambs, which was so electric, you’d think it could power a city. I’ve been lucky enough to have made a few scenes myself where the crowd have drowned out the next scene because they are laughing or whooping (I’m thinking the ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ scene in Shaun of the Dead, JK). Such moments are truly infectious, but again, that’s an adjective that needs to be retired for the moment.”

Other notable contributions in the issue are:
– Darth Vader’s dilemma right before he kills the emperor in Return of the Jedi. By Simon Pegg.
– Luke throwing down his lightsaber, also in Return of the Jedi. By Mark Hamill.
– Neo stops the bullets, but the whole film really, in The Matrix. By Chris Evans.
– The tragic reality of Menace II Society. By Patty Jenkins.
– The ear scene in Reservoir Dogs. By Joe Russo.
– And many many more….

My favorite cinema moment by far is The Lord of the Rings. I went to fellowship on opening day and it was a magical experience. You could feel the whole room just be completely absorbed by the wondrous world Peter Jackson and his team had painted on the screen. It was breathtaking. I remember highlight after highlight, but the ultimate audience engagement happened in Moria where the fellowship faces one challenge after the other. When finally Gandalf sacrifices himself to let the others escape, the audience felt like Frodo: totally and utterly defeated. By the time they face the Uruk Hai at the end, the audience was re-energized, and left the room in pretty good spirit, but also sad because of the loss of both Boromir and Gandalf.

The Two Towers even topped this experience. The way it starts is just a master move. Gandalf being pulled into the abyss and falling and fighting the demonic Balrog. Everybody in that cinema went apeshit. After that: one great scene after the other. But the real show stealer of the evening was off course Gollum. Never before had a digital character been so fully realised. Andy Serkis’ performance is mind blowing. He should have won the Oscar for best supporting actor that year, no question. The movie ends at Helm’s Deep and this is a groundbreaking battle scene in terms of pure scale and spectacle. It is the only movie I saw in cinema three times.

Of course, at the moment there are no cinema experiences at all, but the memories remain. And like many of our favorite movie characters, they will return at some point. No question. True cinema moments are magical. There is no substitute.

Wat ik gemeen heb met Donald Trump

Gelukkig heel weinig, maar sinds gisteren één ding. We zijn allebei permanent verbannen van Twitter.

En net als Trump, beweer ik ook volledig onschuldig te zijn. Een verschil is dan weer dat dit in mijn geval echt zo is en dat Trump dit alleen maar denkt in zijn narcistische brein.

Wat is er gebeurd? Anderhalve maand geleden kon ik niks meer met mijn Twitter-account. Er stond dat ik bepaalde regels had overtreden, maar niet specifiek welke dan. Ik ging in beroep tegen de blokkade.

Lange tijd hoorde ik niks en gisteren ontving ik deze e-mail:

Hello,

After investigating your appeal, we have determined that your account posted content that was threatening and/or promoting violence in violation of the Twitter Terms of Service. Accordingly, your account has been suspended and will not be restored.

You can learn more about suspended accounts here: https://help.twitter.com/managing-your-account/suspended-twitter-accounts

Thanks,
Twitter

WTF? Ik heb iemand bedreigd? Dat lijkt me toch stug of ik heb een gespleten persoonlijkheid zonder dat ik het zelf weet. Ik ben even door mijn tweets van het laatste jaar gegaan en dacht nog, misschien kun je deze retweet beschouwen als een oproep tot geweld?

Maar Twitter zal toch wel begrijpen dat dit een onschuldige parodie is op Return of the Jedi?

Toen ging ik op zoek naar ‘lotgenoten’ en vond ik op Reddit de mogelijke dader van mijn block:

The origin of Threat Destroyer comes from Threat Slayer which happened notably in 3rd November 2017. Threat Slayer is a rogue Twitter user who managed to exploit Twitter’s reporting system for tweets containing words relating to threats, namely “kill you” or “just die.” The reported tweet is then sent to Twitter’s automated review system and is automatically detected as a violent threat – and that makes the posting account suspended and cannot be appealed – what a god he is.

Een kwaadaardig algoritme heeft het gedaan! We leven in gekke tijden.

Ik houd er een gek gevoel aan over. Echt een big deal is dit natuurlijk niet, al ben ik wel ruim 4000 volgers kwijt. Wat me meer dwars zit is dat ik vals beschuldigd ben en gestraft voor iets dat ik niet gedaan heb. Ik kan me nu een heel klein beetje voorstellen hoe het moet voelen om op te draaien voor een misdaad die je niet gepleegd heb. Kortom, ik heb enige empathie. En dat kunnen we van Trump dan weer niet zeggen.

Update 28 april 2021

Hello,

After further review, we have unsuspended your account as it does not appear to be in violation of the Twitter Rules.

Your account is now unsuspended. We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.

Please note that it may take 24-48 hours for your follower and following numbers to return to normal.

Thanks,
Twitter

Er is gerechtigheid!

Why Bringing Back Palpatine in Ep IX was the Right Decision

Like always when a Star Wars movie is released, the fans and general public are bitching and complaining. One of the major complaints about the recently released Episode XI: The Rise of Skywalker, was that it brought back the presumed dead emperor Palpatine. They think this is a chickenshit move to please fans who were unhappy about the direction the previous installment – The Last Jedi – was taking the franchise. I’m about to tell them why they are wrong.

First of all, if you accept the decision to make episode VII, VIII and IX in the first place, you’ll have to accept the rise of a powerful new enemy. It is called Star Wars after all; there has to be conflict between the forces of good and evil. This enemy must also be very powerful. At least as powerful as the defeated empire. Or there won’t be much tension. This new force of evil became The First Order.

Secondly, who is gonna command this mighty new enemy? It seemed that Supreme Leader Snoke was the brains behind it, but that would have been strange and unsatisfying. Don’t forget, it took Palpatine a whole trilogy (episode I, II, and III) to build up the Galactic Empire through an elaborate Master Plan. Are we supposed to believe that out of nowhere, a dark lord would arrive and overpower the newly established republic? No way. Only the master of the dark arts of the Sith could manage such a feat.

And thus, Palpatine somehow survived his fall in Return of the Jedi, and in the shadows of Exegol worked on his revenge. I like the idea that he created Snoke to do his bidding. And now, finally after 42 years of Star Wars films, he is finally defeated and the force is balanced once again. Yes I know, Anakin Skywalker had already brought balance. But again, if you accept the decision to make new movies in the Skywalker timeline, you’ll have to accept that there are still major tremors in the force that have to be evened out.

Yes, The Rise of Skywalker, is a safe movie. Rather than taking chances it sticks to the familiar elements Lucas created long ago. But it is visually stunning, features great acting, and brings an emotional punch or two. J. J. Abrams did an excellent job and now, Star Wars is really really finished. We might have to wait a very long time before the next really epic fantasy series comes along…