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New Escapist Column! On How the Bad Batch Adds Nuance to the “Star Wars” Hero Mythology…

I published a new piece at The Escapist last week. With the release of the second season of The Bad Batch, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about one of the more interesting facets of the series.

The Star Wars franchise has become synonymous with the idea of bloodlines, particularly the Skywalkers and the Palpatines. This can lead to a sense that the heroes of this massive saga have to be “insiders”, that they have to belong to a particular grouping, the membership of which is determined at birth. Part of what is interesting about The Bad Batch is that the show is an explicit rejection of that. It focuses on a group of people who are genetically identical to the armies of the First Galactic Empire, but who still find the strength of character to stand against it. Heroism is a choice, not a pre-determined genetic destiny.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

320. The Star Wars Shows: The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guest Andy Melhuish, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, a special New Year’s Treat. A discussion of the Star Wars television shows: The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor.

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New Escapist Column! On How the Bad Batch Are the Worst Part of “The Bad Batch”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist last week. With the release of the second season of The Bad Batch, it seemed like a good opportunity to review the series.

The Bad Batch is an interesting series. It is essentially a spin-off from The Clone Wars, but one that rejects the anthology nature of that show for a fixed central cast and a linear series of episodic adventures. This is somewhat frustrating, as it strips the most compelling part of The Clone Wars in favour of a generic riff on The A-Team or Kung Fu. Still, when the show gets out of its own way, The Bad Batch is a surprisingly compelling and thoughtful addition to the Star Wars universe, a meditation on what happens to soldiers at the end of a Forever War.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “The Last Jedi” as a Movie About Optimism in a Cynical Time…

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. Given that Star Wars: The Last Jedi just turned five years old, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on one of the most ambitious franchise films of the twenty-first century.

In the years since its release, a certain narrative has settled around The Last Jedi, arguing that the film is a subversion or deconstruction of the larger franchise. However, this seems unfair. At its core, The Last Jedi is a fundamentally optimistic movie, a celebration of the importance of standing against tyranny and a rejection of moral relativism in the face of oppression. It is an unabashedly earnest and sincere movie that believes that some things are worth fighting for, even when the situation seems grim and odds are stacked in opposition. It is an unapologetic love letter to the romance of Star Wars.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

316. Solo: A Star Wars Story (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Luke Dunne, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

This week, we’re continuing a seasonal tradition of talking about Star Wars movies: Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Growing up on the rough streets of Corellia, young and reckless orphan Han learned the hard way that he has to fend for himself. Escaping to a life in the Imperial Navy, Han stumbles into a daring heist. Joining a team of galactic outlaws, the young man finally finds his place in the universe. Crossing paths with new friends and old lovers, the dashing young rogue finds himself on course to become the man that he must be.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Podcast! The Spookies Podcast – “Fanboy Industrial Complex II: With Darren Mooney”

I was thrilled to be invited to join the wonderful Michael and Stephanie Little for an episode of their new podcast, The Spookies Podcast.

It was a fun conversation, if a little bit chaotic. We got to talk about everything from Aquaman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: Way of Water, through to the state of the Star Wars brand, and even to the differences between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

You can listen directly to the episode below or by clicking here.

New Escapist Column! On “Willow” as a Show About Divorce…

I am doing weekly reviews of Willow at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the legacy sequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Willow is very obviously a show steeped in the fantasy and the blockbusters of the eighties, reflecting the originl film on which it is based. However, the show is rooted much  more film in that era than it might appear. As the show approaches its middle point, it becomes clear that showrunner Jonathan Kasdan has built Willow as an extended metaphor for familial dissolution, tapping into the themes of divorce and separation that permeated so much pop culture during the decade.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

315. Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – Bird Watching 2022 (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Deirdre Molumby and Graham Day, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

This week, we’re finishing up a season focusing on the work of one particular director: Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland: A World Beyond.

As a young boy, Frank Walker discovered a secret society of geniuses who lived apart from the rest of the world in the hopes of creating a better tomorrow. However, Frank was soon cast out, and found himself increasingly disillusioned with the future. At the same time, a young woman named Casey Newton finds herself drawn back into this web of secrets and possibilities. Can Frank and Casey save the world? And Tomorrowland?

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Video! “Andor is the Best Star Wars in a Long Time”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie and television reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a five-minute review of the first season of Andor, which can now be streamed on Disney+.

New Escapist Column! On “Andor” as the Most Consistent “Star Wars”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Andor at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the Rogue One prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Rix Road brings the first season of Andor to an end, closing the cricle by bringing the primary cast back to where it all began. It’s a fascinating and compelling way to close out the season, underscoring how much these characters have changed by bringing them back to their starting position. Rix Road is a breathtaking and impressive season finale to what has been the most consistent run of Star Wars ever produced.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.