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‘The Book of Boba Fett’ Episode 5 Brings Back The Mandalorian and Plays Into Prequel Era Nostalgia | Review

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‘The Book of Boba Fett’ Episode 5 Brings Back The Mandalorian and Plays Into Prequel Era Nostalgia | Review

Chapter 4 of The Book of Boba Fett closed on Ludwig Göransson’s iconic theme from The Mandalorian, so it was no surprise that Chapter 5 was entitled “Return of the Mandalorian.” Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and written by Jon Favreau, Chapter 5 takes a bit of a detour from the main plot of The Book of Boba Fett, sidelining its own cast in favor of reuniting audiences with Mando. For anyone who is a fan of television series that exists within the same universe, this type of episode should be familiar. Oftentimes the first episode in a crossover event catches you up to speed with where the character has been before diving headlong into the main event, which is exactly what “Return of the Mandalorian” did.

The episode opens in an industrial butcher shop, providing Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) with a very dramatic entrance. In the wake of reuniting Grogu with his own kind, Din has returned to bounty hunting—though, without the Razor Crest, he’s stuck with commuting via public transportation. When the mark decides to put up a fight, Mando draws the Darksaber in combat and proves that he hasn’t exactly been training with it since the last time we saw him. While he comes out victorious from the violent fight, he limps away from the scene with a self-inflicted Darksaber wound.

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After turning over the Klatoonian bounty, Din limps off in search of an elevator to take him down through the substrata, where he is reunited with two of the Mandalorians from Navarro: The Armorer (Emily Swallow) and Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher/Rich Cetrone).


RELATED: How ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ Reinvents Everyone’s Favorite Bounty Hunter

From there, it’s a crash course lesson in Mandalorian history, courtesy of The Armorer. For casual fans of Star Wars, who most likely haven’t watched The Clone Wars or spent their lunch breaks browsing Wookieepedia, “Return of the Mandalorian” provides vital details about the Darksaber and who the Mandalorians are as a people. While some might balk at The Book of Boba Fett turning into an episode of The Mandalorian with three episodes left, it should be noted that Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) is a Mandalorian, and all of this is most likely setting up information that we’ll need to know in the finale.

The Armorer confiscates Din’s beskar spear, cautioning him that, while beskar deflects the blow of a lightsaber, beskar can also pierce beskar armor and cause harm to a Mandalorian. He asks her to melt it down to fashion a piece of beskar for a foundling—a specific foundling. The Armorer reminds Mando that the Jedi do not believe in forming attachments, which stands at odds with their belief in The Way. I couldn’t help but wonder if his sudden desire to see Grogu again was inspired by the revelation that the Darksaber had been forged by someone who was both a Mandalorian and a Jedi. Mando might be painfully naive, but he does pay attention to information that is relayed to him.


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With the revelation that the Darksaber was forged by Paz Viszla’s clan back on Mandalore, Paz demands a duel with Din in order to win the blade in combat. The pair duke it out, with Din ultimately winning—despite his inability to wield the Darksaber. The Armorer stops them from killing each other, but then she delivers a blow more devastating than defeat. She asks both Mandalorians if they have ever removed their helmets, whether by force or by choice, and Din cannot lie. Because of his actions in The Mandalorian he is cast out of the start-up covert, called an apostate, told that he’s no longer a Mandalorian, and sent packing. And again, this all seems very relevant to the titular character of The Book of Boba Fett, whose identity as a Mandalorian is often called into question because of how he was raised and how he chooses to live. Even throwaway lines and moments find a way to come full circle in Star Wars.


Mando’s brief return to the covert makes sense with where we last saw him in The Mandalorian. He had lost not only his ship, but his foundling and a distinct sense of self which was lost with the removal of his helmet. If you view the creed as a religious sect (and he refers to it as a religion in the episode) then you can see the through lines of religious trauma. Just look at how quickly he begs for forgiveness and atonement, only to be told that his salvation can be found in unreachable waters. While Star Wars borrows from a lot of cultures, there’s an unmistakable connection to Christianity infused into the Mandalorians, for better and for worse. Hopefully, the next season of The Mandalorian allows Mando to unpack and unlearn these ideologies since they’re holding him back.


With the wind knocked out of his sails a bit, Mando boards a commercial flight and heads off across the galaxy to Tatooine. Of course, he has to shed all of his weapons before he’s allowed to board the flight. Star Wars characters. They’re just like us. In Tatooine, he reunites with Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) who has found a replacement ship for him. While the new ship may not be the Razor Crest, the ship that she found for him is a serious deep-cut throwback for all of the Prequel Trilogy lovers out there: an N-1 Starfighter, once utilized by the Royal Naboo Security Forces. It may be in pieces, and the yellow paint may be worn off, but this starfighter is an unmistakable piece of nostalgia for a generation of fans that Star Wars nostalgia rarely caters to. In fact, this entire segment of “Return of the Mandalorian” scratches a very specific Prequel Era itch, going so far as to even show the old pod-racing grounds, where we first watched Anakin jetting off across the sands of Tatooine. Tatooine has always felt like the sacred ground of the Original Trilogy, but for once the Prequel Trilogy got its day in the light of the twin suns. Sedaris does a phenomenal job of introducing a little levity to the episode here, acting as the audience cheering for Mando’s return, while playing the used car salesperson shtick and revealing that she’s dated the very furry Jawas.


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Once the Starfighter is up and running, Mando takes a joyride up above Tatooine, testing out its speed and maneuverability, which of course gets him pulled over by the New Republic thrill-killers. No matter where Mando goes, he can’t stop running into familiar faces, including Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) who recognizes his voice. Even space cops don’t want to do the paperwork, so Mando gets off with a warning.

In the final minutes of the episode, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) locates Mando and asks him to be that aforementioned muscle. Before he’s willing to commit to helping them out, he tells her that he wants to go see someone. Will we see Grogu next week? It seems that chances are high. But better yet, who else will get pulled into the fight against the Pykes? Mando is just one man, after all.

Bryce Dallas Howard has yet again proved herself as one of the strongest directors of Star Wars on Disney+, delivering a very insightful look into the emotional and mental state of Mando that undoubtedly is gleaned more from her ability to create human connections on-screen over what might be written on the pages of the script. Everything about the episode was a thrilling adventure, from the mundane moments on an elevator to a stress-inducing duel, to commercial flights and the Prequels revisited. Howard knows how to make an episode compelling, fun, and engaging from every front. Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder also deserve more acknowledgment, given that so much of the Mandalorian’s performance and the combat skills displayed are credited to them.

It’s a shame that the best episode of The Book of Boba Fett to date did not feature Boba Fett at all, but with two episodes left, perhaps the best is still yet to come. (Though Howard is always a tough act to follow.)

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Grade: A+

The first five episodes of The Book of Boba Fett are available to stream at Disney+.


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Bullet Train Review: A Wickedly Funny, High-Octane Thrill Ride

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Bullet Train Review: A Wickedly Funny, High-Octane Thrill Ride

Brad Pitt leads a wickedly funny ensemble in a high-octane actioner loaded with twists. Adapted from the 2010 Japanese novel by Kōtarō Isaka, Bullet Train has a bevy of disparate assassins manipulated by a mysterious criminal mastermind. Stuntman turned action director, David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde), stays true to form with unrelenting bloody and flamboyant violence. The codenamed characters get downright verbose before beating, stabbing, and shooting each other to bits. The loquacious banter tends to run long, but the narrative always bounces back with sharp reveals. Strap in for a helluva ride.

Ladybug (Pitt) boards the overnight bullet train to Tokyo with a newfound sense of self. He’s chock-full of philosophy after recovering from a near fatal ambush. Ladybug ignores his unseen handler’s advice to take a gun. Surely any issues can be resolved peacefully. The job seems straightforward enough. Steal a briefcase with a sticker and exit at the next stop.

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Also on board are Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), ruthless “twins” known for their brutal methods. Lemon is obsessed with the British children’s show “Thomas & Friends”. He reads people by comparing them to the anthropomorphized trains. The twins are escorting the previously kidnapped son (Logan Lerman) of a powerful gangster, the White Death (Michael Shannon).

None of the hired guns are aware of the Father, aka Yuichi Kimura’s (Andrew Koji), mission. He’s out for vengeance but foolishly runs into a deceptive figure. The Prince (Joey King) has a score to settle with the White Death. Meanwhile, the Wolf (Bad Bunny) joins the fray after his truly horrific Mexican wedding. He’s also ready for serious comeuppance. Ladybug quickly realizes they’re all unwitting pawns in a dangerous game. Someone has packed the train with killers for an unknown purpose. He desperately wants to get off but can’t seem to escape the carnage.


Related: I Love My Dad Review: Patton Oswalt’s Delightfully Cringeworthy Catfishing Comedy

Cast of Bullet Train

Bullet Train introduces the cast with splashy entrances that flashes back to their dark pasts. The murderous montages are informative but don’t fill in every gap. The script doles out more critical information as the bodies pile up. Alliances bounce back and forth as everyone wonders who’s actually pulling the strings. The whodunit element works well as the audience becomes embroiled in a series of betrayals. You don’t have a sense of the plot’s true trajectory until the third act. The film builds to a showdown that delivers a huge action payoff.

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Bullet Train has complex characters that each contribute slices of devilish humor. Brad Pitt preaching self-help and understanding is an effective gag throughout. Brian Tyree Henry’s constant comparisons to Thomas & Friends aren’t as comical but play an important role in the story. There are a lot of moving parts. Leitch, who worked as Pitt’s stunt double for years, is clearly fond of his players. He gives everyone a chance to babble incessantly. I would have trimmed the dialogue to be more incisive.


The action scenes are worth the price of admission. Leitch has a great eye for mixing stylized set pieces with intimate fights. He knows when to go big and small. You never feel let down by his pacing. There’s always the right amount of adrenaline to keep your pulse pumping. Bullet Train is another feather in a skilled filmmaker’s cap. Watch out for A-list cameos and a mid-credits scene.

Bullet Train is a production of Columbia Pictures, Fuqua Films, and 87North Productions. It will be released theatrically on August 5th from Sony Pictures.

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Bullet Train Review: Brad Pitt Has A Blast In The Silly And Badass Action Comedy

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Bullet Train Review: Brad Pitt Has A Blast In The Silly And Badass Action Comedy

If orchestrated properly, with adjusted stakes, tone, and atmosphere, there can be a beautiful, symbiotic relationship between intense action and comedy. A hero pulling off a rapid and vicious series of blows against an opponent can be savage and dramatic in one context, but it can also be so deliriously awesome that an audience’s first reaction is to laugh. Fast paced martial arts can be used for wonderful physical humor (see: the legendary career of Jackie Chan), and the best examples provide dual layers of entertainment: you marvel at the skill in all the ass-kicking, and cackle at the creativity in the choreography.

This is a sweet spot that filmmaker David Leitch knows well. After peppering funny moments in John Wick and Atomic Blonde at the start of his directorial career, he brilliantly utilized the action/comedy weapon that is Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool 2, and crafted some excellent physicality with the unique styles of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. His latest, Bullet Train, is another effort that takes aim at that particular tonal target, this time with his most expansive ensemble yet, and it’s another success. With a sensibility that could be described as early Guy Ritchie with more specific action focus, it’s a movie that is both silly and skilled and inspires its primary star in particular to do energetic and engaging work.

Based on the novel Maria Beetle by Kōtarō Isaka, the film weaves multiple narrative threads through the cars of the titular bullet train as it speeds through the country of Japan – all of the protagonists being killers with their own particular reason and motivation for being aboard. Ladybug (Brad Pitt), for example, is a hired gun who has been tasked by his handler (Sandra Bullock) to perform what sounds like a simple job: find a briefcase marked with a train sticker and steal it. What he doesn’t know, though, is that said briefcase belongs to a pair of British hit men named Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and that the contents include the recovered ransom for the kidnapped son (Logan Lerman) of a powerful crime lord known as The White Death.

Meanwhile, Kimura a.k.a. The Father (Andrew Koji) is on the bullet train because he is on a mission of vengeance – hunting down the person responsible for nearly killing his son by pushing the boy off of a building. What he doesn’t expect is that the individual he is looking for is a young woman identified as The Prince (Joey King), and that she has purposefully gotten him on the high speed rail with the intention of forcing him to execute an assassination attempt.

And while five killers sharing the space would be enough for most movies, Bullet Train actually has even more that pop in and surprise throughout the film’s runtime – and their roles are worth keeping as a secret pre-release.

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Bullet Train has a chaotic storyline, but the pieces properly connect as a fun puzzle.

Narratively speaking, Bullet Train is a messy movie to put together, as focus briskly ping-pongs between the different players, but everything stays in harmony as the film persistently finds ways to build on each protagonist’s arc. This is particularly cool later in the movie as different characters are drawn together from individual angles and instant conflict is generated from their simple interaction.

The film is at its best when it keeps things simple, but it does let things go off the rails at times (if you’ll pardon the pun). This is especially true as it gets into the third act and it tries to pull off stunts like one of the leads leaping from a platform on to the back of the train as it leaves a station; it’s both a problem for the “rules” of the universe and in its strained use of visual effects. The movie also frequently tries to get a bit too cute and Tarantino-esque with what are admittedly familiar-but-not-quite-stock characters – the most prominent example being an ongoing and quickly tiresome gag with Lemon explaining that he understands people through the lens of Thomas The Tank Engine.

Primarily, though, it’s a movie that is able to generate its entertainment with engaging and quippy dynamics between the members of the ensemble, both when they are talking out their issues and trying to kill one another.

David Leitch puts a lot of exciting and weird fights in a confined space, and is at its best when working with a “less is more” philosophy.

Coming from a stunt background, both as a performer and a coordinator, David Leitch’s bread and butter remains deftly and specifically choreographed action sequences, and Bullet Train proves to be a terrific challenge and opportunity for his skills. Regardless of where you are in the titular transport, space is not a luxury, and the best fights in the movie are those that are being fought only between the characters, but against the limitations provided by the location.

There are guns, knives and explosives in the mix, but Bullet Train also has some terrific “found item” moments that add spice and humor to the various showdowns, whether it’s a pocketed cell phone saving a character’s life from a blade, a laptop making for a solid cudgel, a water bottle making for a useful projectile, or a venomous snake showing up at a perfect moment.

Once again we see David Leitch work a special magic turning dramatic and comedic actors into badasses with slick and stylish moves, and while everyone shows off some terrific skills, it’s very much the Brad Pitt show at the end of the day.

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Brad Pitt’s joy in the role of Ladybug is palpable.

At the nexus of everything good in Bullet Train is Brad Pitt, who very clearly had a blast reuniting with David Leitch (who performed the actor’s stunts in films including Fight Club, The Mexican, Mr. And Mrs. Smith and Troy). He’s a joy to watch in action not just because of the talented craft he demonstrates in his physicality, but how he channels the psychology of the character. As we meet him, Ladybug is reluctantly getting back into his business following a number of important breakthroughs with his therapist, and Pitt does a fantastic job conveying that he doesn’t ever want to choose violence as a first answer – both via verbal pleas and defense-heavy moves. Action/comedy is a genre he should revisit a lot more often.

Bullet Train doesn’t aim to revolutionize hitman movies, but instead plays with a tongue-in-cheek vibe that lets you recognize the tropes and appreciate how the film plays with them. It’s a slick/goofy action movie that is both contained and wild, and a satisfying late summer release.

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Luck Review: A Spectacular Debut Film from Skydance Animation

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Luck Review: A Spectacular Debut Film from Skydance Animation

The world’s unluckiest woman enters a magical land to change the fortunes of a fellow orphan. Luck will make you smile and possibly shed a few tears. The big-budget, CGI animated fantasy shines a spotlight on needy children while telling a truly original story. An assortment of lucky critters and creatures dazzle in a spectacular setting. The highly imaginative narrative gives age-old superstitions a dynamic new spin. Luck is a brilliant first film from Skydance Animation.

Sam Greenfield (Eva Noblezada) reaches her eighteenth birthday with trepidation. She’s finally aged out of the foster care system. Sam never found her “forever family”. She spent her entire life living in orphanages. It doesn’t help that Sam has the worst luck. Everything she does or touches ends in abject disaster. Her only thoughts are for young Hazel (Adelynn Spoon), Sam’s roommate at the girls home. Sam has been set up with a job and tiny apartment. She has to stay in school and employed to remain housed.

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Sam’s first day at Marv’s (Lil Rel Howery) floral shop goes exactly as expected. She sadly eats dinner sitting on a sidewalk. Sam learns that Hazel’s weekend trip with a foster family was canceled. She gives half of her sandwich to a curious black cat. It scampers away but leaves a strange penny behind.

The following day is a revelation. Sam’s lucky penny changes everything. Her ecstatic mood sours when she loses the penny in spectacular fashion. Stewing on the sidewalk, Sam’s surprised when the black cat returns. She’s astonished when Bob (Simon Pegg) asks for his penny. The “travel penny” is the only way a creature from the Land of the Luck stays safe in the human world. She follows an unnerved Bob back through the portal to the Land of Luck. Sam has to find another lucky penny to help Hazel. Bob reluctantly agrees, but they have to be careful. Misdeeds end up in banishment to Bad Luck.

Related: Bullet Train Review: A Wickedly Funny, High-Octaine Thrill Ride

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The Land of Luck

The Land of Luck is an absolute joy to behold. Leprechauns, cats, pigs, and rabbits, lucky creatures, are the bureaucrats tasked with spreading good fortune. Bringing Sam in such a place is a recipe for absolute chaos. Bob, and his leprechaun assistant Gerry’s (Colin O’Donoghue), efforts to contain Sam’s bad luck will have audiences in stitches. I’m still chuckling at Sam’s “Latvian leprechaun” disguise; their harebrained excuse for why she’s so much bigger than everyone else.

Luck’s serious themes are artfully addressed. Sam’s lonely childhood, and her desperate efforts to change Hazel’s, brings a melancholic touch to the narrative. The film reminds us to not take love and family for granted. Every kid deserves care, nurturing, and a safe place to grow. It shouldn’t take luck or chance for a child to find a “forever home”.

Insert sigh here. Recent headlines concerning John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars) will undoubtedly cloud this film’s release. The genius storyteller and animator behind Pixar’s success left to head Skydance Animation after awful “Me Too” allegations. He’s brought his incredible talent to Luck, and it shows. This wonderful film deserves to be judged on its own merits. Sometimes we must divorce ourselves from art and the personality of the artist.

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Luck is a production of Skydance Animation and Apple Original Films. It will have an exclusive Apple TV+ premiere on August 5th.

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