Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 1, Episode 11 – “Devil’s Deal” – Weighing the Costs of War

“Devil’s Deal” feels the most like an episode of “The Clone Wars” as the Bad Batch barely make an appearance and focus is on a family dealing with the Empire and what peace with them means. It is a good episode and I appreciate how it explores Ryloth and the conflict they face. I definitely recommend checking it out.

The episode was directed by Steward Lee and written by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson.

The story follows the Syndulla family as tensions rise between family members and among the people of Ryloth on if there can be peace with the Empire.


The Pros:

Return to Ryloth – This episode we return to Ryloth and witness the tension between the citizens and Empire. We get to see this expressed through the tension in the Syndulla family where Hera’s father wants peace and laying down weapons where his brother does not and Hera is caught in the middle of it.

Vice Admiral Rampart – Rampart was effective finally as we see him frame General Syndulla and capture the fledgling rebellion in Ryloth. It was well done and his calm and outwardly kind nature was good for disarming. I could see why he was promoted by Tarkin.

Crosshair and Imperial Effectiveness – Crosshair puts a tracer on Hera’s Uncle’s ship and later shoot it down leading to an Imperial ambush where he kills the Rylothian senator, framing the Syndulla family. It is a complex play and Crosshair is shown to be smart and dangerous when working with Rampart. Curious how the rematch with Clone Force 99 is going to go.

The Syndulla Family – We get young Hera who wants to be a pilot and her Uncle smuggling weapons to Ryloth as her father tries to make peace with the Empire. It is a good drama and I liked what the conflicts revealed about each character and I’m glad Hera escaped the Imperial ambush with Chopper.

Clone Force 99 Cameo – Clone Force 99 is the one selling weapons to Ryloth via Cid and Hera and Omega become friends. It is a cool scene as the hand-off happens on a moon. It was nice seeing the crew but not as main characters.

Captain Howzer – Howzer is a clone who still has unique hair and painted armor and is seen questioning Rampart’s orders. Did he ever get Order 66? Is the chip wearing off? All these are questions his every existence shows and he seems to be friends of General Cham Syndulla. His arc is the one I am most curious about in ow it will unfold.

The Cons:

Senator Orn Free Taa – This guy was selfish, envious and annoying and I have no idea how he was elected senator. I can see why the episode killed him off to frame General Syndulla and his family.

The Cliffhanger Ending – I get why it was a cliffhanger as Clone Force 99 barely appeared in the episode but it was still annoying. I’ve been liking the completed story format and self-contained stories. Let finals be done as arcs but everything else is just fleshing out the galaxy.

Once again I could do without a cliffhanger and a more complete story, but this episode was really good at capturing tension between Ryloth and the Empire and I’m curious where Captain Howzer’s arc is going to go as he doesn’t have the aggression of other clones post Order 66. This episode is worth checking out. Felt the most “Clone Wars” in tone out of all the episodes so far.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Shoot ‘Em Up (2007): A Dark Comedy Satire of Action Films

Shoot Em Up

       “Shoot ‘Em Up” is a film that is a lot of fun. When watching it was hard to know what was purposeful satire and what was what the director actually believes, but like “Lucy” it was one of those films that takes you on a ride and doesn’t stop until the end. There aren’t really likable characters in this film and each of them are a different action cliche, but they are each fascinating in their own ways as I would have hated this film if they weren’t actual characters and if the point was only satire. If you can’t tell an interesting story, you at least need enjoyable characters to watch.

     The film was written and directed by Michael Davis and produced by Susan Montford, Don Murphy and Rick Benattar.

      The film involves Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) protecting a baby after he is unable to save the mother was being hunted by a group of mercenaries lead by Hertz (Paul Giamatti) and seeks help from Donna (Monica Bellucci), a prostitute who is the closest thing he has to a friend. Together they must find out who is hunting the baby and why, before they and the child are killed.

The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography reminded me of Lucy and has a unique color feel to it. It feels vibrant and alive and has a great contrast of dark and light. It fit the feel of the film really well. Peter Pau did a great job on it.

Cliche Awareness – There is a level of cliche awareness in this film, which is why I call it satire. Hertz yells the hero is really good or they really suck at shooting after he’s lost 2 armies of men to Smith. He and who he works for also explain their plan to Smith rather than just killing him and forgetting about the baby as the plot was redundant after Smith killed the Senator.

The Action – The action is really great! It reminded me a Tarantino or Rodriguez film where the color of the blood splatters in such a way as to compliment the colors around. The use of rock and metal worked in this instance too to compliment the action.

Mr. Smith – Clive Owen is good at playing the anti-hero and even though we don’t learn much about him in this besides his eventually carrying about the Kid and Donna is that he like carrots and hates most people and things. In this way he is hilarious as he satires the tough guy macho role that appears in a lot of these flicks.

Hertz -Hertz is a creepy mastermind who is also a family man. We see him making a card for his kid and talking to his wife at multiple times throughout the film. He also is genre savvy and figures out where the hero will be running to next really fast. He’s the creepy average joe and seeing his downfall is rewarding. Giamatti created a great bastard with this guy who can’t see beyond himself, his ego and making his plans work.

Okay: Donna – Monical Bellucci does alright but she isn’t given much to do beyond call Smith out for being an ass and taking care of the baby. I don’t know if Davis knew what to do with her character, but when she does do stuff she is at least compelling. There was so much more they could have done! She could have been his partner and the one making connections on the outside when he went to take out the expendable army of mercenaries.

The Cons: The Writing – Just as I enjoyed the action cliches, there are things that could have been done better. Donna never gets the chance to fight for herself and always has to be protected, and we never learn Smith’s backstory or why Hertz’s wife left him (we have no idea if she knows what he does). So the story felt incomplete and rushed even within the guidelines it followed for itself.

The Other Villains – The Senator and gun manufacturer were two men I cared nothing about. They were blank slates and were empty suits compared to the charisma that Giamatti brought to his role. They weren’t even needed as characters and that brought down the script as they could have just been referenced by Herst but never seen.

Lack of Character Arcs – This is a film where no one really changes. We learn more about them and feelings that they had all along (Donna and Smith) are revealed but we don’t learn anything new. Our characters are exactly the same at the beginning of the film as they are at the end, so nothing has changed beyond them just being out of harms way.

    If you like dark comedies and action films that are mostly focused on action but have enough self awareness to satire themselves, you will probably enjoy this film. It wasn’t a favorite but I won’t deny that I enjoyed the ride. This would be a great film to see with friends who like this genre and with the added addition of drinks would be a really fun time.

Final Score: 7.4 / 10. Enjoyable but not great.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 6 – “Party Night” – Heero’s Heart



“Party Night” really shows how much the show is now taking off. Hope the show can sustain this. This episode shows that Relina is finally becoming a character in her own life (due to the events of last episode that makes sense) and we get to see the lives of some of the other pilots and get a glimpse into Heero’s soul. I really liked this episode, especially the reveal at the end.

The episode was directed by Nana Harada, Yoshihito Hishinuma and Masatsu Shino and written by Akemi Omode.

The episode begins with Relena confronting Heero about his past that she learned from Dr. J after she hears Heero is leaving the school. This leads to the first confrontation between them in the episode. Wufei attacks, we see Trowa’s life at the circus and Duo’s love of life as well as Lady Une’s attack to try and end Relena. These are the stories that unfold.

The Pros: Trowa – The pilots want to die, most of them do anyway. Trowa stays still when daggers are thrown at him for his job and Catherine sees that he desires death. This show is dark in so many great ways. Can’t wait to learn Trowa’s story.

Duo – Duo expresses his sympathy for how broken Heero is and his love of life and the world. He describes how beautiful the moon is from Earth and how desolate it is from the Colonies. It’s a powerful scene as we see that Duo has a reason to live beyond the war.

Lady Une – Is pretty driven and is probably going to be the main minor antagonist to the pilots as she’s willing to go to any lengths to succeed, regardless of if civilians are part of the cost. I’m curious what her relationship is like to Zechs given it was a favor Zechs asked for that lead to Treize calling off the hit.

Treize and Zechs – Zechs asks for Relena to be protected and Treize honors it because Zechs is a friend and a good soldier. The reasons  for this have yet to be fully discovered but given how Zechs is similar to Char they are probably related. The Princess Undercover (which both Sayla and to some degree Relena are, not surprised). Curious to see how it unfolds nonetheless.

Relena and Heero – Relena reveals what she learned from Dr. J and faces death without fear (like Heero) Heero can’t kill her and protects her from Lady Une. He doesn’t know why yet but it’s obvious that he isn’t completely broken and there is still good in him that Relena brings out. So glad to see Relena standing strong and Heero being more than sociopath. This is what makes this show good.

This episode hit all the right notes and I loved it. I can’t find any issues with it as the characters get exploration and we see how they relate to one another and how they reveal different parts of themselves in what they ask. This is drama.

Final Score: 10 / 10. No issues.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Season 1, Episode 3 – “Five Gundams Confirmed” – The Pilots Make Contact


“Five Gundams Confirmed” is the episode where the pilots outside of Duo and Heero begin meeting each other and we see what this means in relation to their relationships and the UESA and OZ react to these new threats. It’s a good character episode that does a great job showing rather than telling.

The episode was directed by Yumekichi Minatoya and Nobuyoshi Nishimura and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa.

The episode picks up with the pilots continuing their missions and Heero in an Alliance hospital. Relena goes to try and help break him out, but Duo is already on it. From here the story unfolds as Trowa attacks the base with Heavyarms where Zechs discovers Tallgeese and Quatre makes contact with Trowa in Sandrock and his forces. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Major Sally – Major Sally shows us that not all members of the Alliance are incompetent or manipulators as we see her resist using truth serum on Heero since he’s a kid. She’s ethical and driven to find the truth. I’m hoping she survives as she made a good first impression as a character.

The Specials – We learn in this episode the Specials are an elite military force that doesn’t need military oversight to act. Zechs is a member of the specials and Treize is their leader as he is nobility and is a the leader also of the mysterious Romafeller Foundation as well as the organization of OZ.

Zechs and Treize – Treize is good at using Zechs’s curiosity and passion to his advantage as they change tactics to see what the Gundams can do and to account for all of them. It’s a great scene and you can tell that Treize is almost like an older brother to Zechs in how he acts around him.

Zechs – Zechs is a special and always looking towards the future. This is what motivates the soldiers he talks to in their battle against Trowa and Heavyarms as they know that what is discovered during the battle will create better soldiers to defeat the Gundams later.

Heero and Duo – Duo is a cool guy who is really laid back compared to Heero’s seriousness. Duo also loves living and is having fun in the mission. He is undercover as a farmer too and clearly enjoys his undercover job. Heero is miserable and at one point almost kills himself and doesn’t pull his parachute. Whatever happened to him in the past mus have been pretty horrific.

Trowa and Quatre – Trowa is the overly serious guy who doesn’t want help, even though if Quatre hadn’t arrived with Sandrock he would have been killed by Alliance and OZ forces. He respects Quatre’s strength though and recognizes they are on the same side in the final scene between them.

Okay: Relena – Her dialogue is still stilted and it doesn’t feel like her character is fully formed. Her drive is entirely Heero at this point which is messed up given how he threatened and tried to kill her.

This is a great episode and shows that it really is the character dynamics that drive this show, since at this point there isn’t the political depth of “Mobile Suit Gundam,” that has yet to come. Still does a great job at letting us know all of the Pilots in different ways and seeing Zechs and Treize interact.

Final Score: 9 / 10. It was a solidly great episode.

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 2 – “Into the Dalek” – Of Soldiers and the Soul of the Doctor

Into the Dalek


“Into the Dalek” feels the like the sequel to “Dalek,” one of my favorite episodes back in Series 1 where a Dalek was changed by Rose’s DNA and the Doctor is forced to confront his PTSD from the Time War and his Dalek prejudice. I’ll get into more details in the assessment, suffice to say I was impressed though with this episode.

The episode was written by Steven Moffat and Phil Ford, and directed by Ben Wheatley.

The story involves the Doctor and Clara going inside a Dalek in order to help it, since it is the only good Dalek in the Universe. From here the story unfolds as more of Clara’s life at school is revealed and the story of the rebels fight against the Daleks and the Doctor’s relationship to his past and the Daleks.

WARNING – Spoilers ahead 

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The New Intro – Lots of clocks and time…the music also fits the theme of the show during the introductory credits. Also introducing us to Journey Blue (our face in the Resistance against the Daleks) by the Doctor saving her after she loses her brother and takes him to the injured Dalek is a great hook.

Danny Pink – I’m glad this guy is going to be a reoccurring character and possibly a new companion. The man is a soldier who is dealing with PSTD from the war he fought in and is Clara’s colleague. He loves reading and dislikes how everyone judges him before getting to know him. He has an awkward relationship with Clara as she brings up his past and jokes about him crying after killing people. Samuel Anderson brings a lot of depth to this role and I can’t wait to see more.

The Rebels – Whether it’s Uncle, Journey Blue or Gretchen, none of the named resistance get wasted. Uncle is there to help Journey through helping heal the Dalek (Rusty) and fighting the enemy Daleks when they board the ship. Gretchen sacrafices herself to help the Rusty find his soul through Clara and the Doctor’s help and Journey Blue defends and fights for them all the way, as well as making the choice to trust the Doctor. They are a great group of characters.

Inside Rusty – From the anti-bodies that are like tiny Dalek eye sockets, to the mixture of metal and organic…the inside of the Dalek is done well and really creatively. It’s a shame “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” didn’t receive this much effort and creative thought.

Rusty – Rusty is the Dalek who Clara, Gretchen, Journey Blue and the Doctor are shrunk to go inside of in order to help it heal. He is the Dalek who found beauty in life and with it an extreme hatred for the Daleks. After he is healed he represses his memories and summons the Daleks to aid him until Clara, Gretchen, The Doctor and Journey help it get the memories it repressed back. The Doctor than tries to get it beyond hatred of it’s own kind but cannot find anything but hate for the Daleks in the Doctor’s mind so embraces it to defend the rebels before going back to continue the hunt against the Daleks.

Missy – Appears again in “Heaven: after Gretchen sacrifices herself. I’m curious where this is going, so far she’s collecting characters…for what purpose remains to be seen.

Clara – Get’s fleshed out as a person…we see her relationship to her colleagues and students and why she is a teacher. She helps teach the Doctor to look beyond his ego and his limited scope of physical healing and is the one who gives the Doctor the idea of trying to change Rusty back to good through his memories and to make him truly good. She’s honest with the Doctor and more than a plot device, I love it. Why couldn’t we have got this Clara last season? Jenna Coleman deserved this great level of writing much earlier.

The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor – The 12th Doctor is once again fantastic. We see how his ego and prejudice blind him to the fact that Rusty (the name he gives the Dalek) beauty and he scoffed at it…and when he does get over his assumption it is too late as he has held hatred for all Daleks for so long that Rusty once more latches on to that and becomes the War Doctor of old. He is now a weapon against his people living in self hatred…much like the Tenth Doctor, the War Doctor and the Ninth Doctor to different degrees. It is tragic and fits the theme of the season. Because of this the Doctor doesn’t want soldiers with him, he realized he still carries the war still so close and doesn’t want to have to kill again. Capaldi shows the layers of this, and still having a sense of humor along the way.

Okay: The Daleks – The Daleks are there as a force of nature, but there is nothing to show them as unique, you can’t even tell command positions…they are all just golden. Still an awesome threat in this episode but rank is part of what made the Daleks unique. There wasn’t enough, “I OBEY.”

Con: The Doctor’s Pep Talk to Rusty – It was a great pep talk but how it was directed was kind of awkward. The Doctor is staring right at us, which was meant to be dramatic, but after a time kind of comes off as funny.

Boyfriend – Once again annoying. Stop telling us that Clara has a crush on Danny and that it might be mutual and let it unfold on it’s own. Good God, The Tenth Doctor and Rose had more subtlety.

This episode is worth watching for sure. One of the better Dalek Episodes and a good exploration of the Doctor and Clara’s characters. I’m hoping we see more of the Daleks and Rusty and that Missy isn’t just dropped. Stop having the myseterious woman appear unless she actually gets fleshed out. Madam Kovarian didn’t get any fleshing out and could have been an amazing antagonist because of the mysterious set-up. Moffat you need more than mystery, please deliver this season. This was an amazing episode though and one of my favorites.

Final Score is 9.6 / 10