The Mandalorian: Season 2

STREAMING REVIEW:

Disney+;
Sci-Fi;
Not rated.
Stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, Katee Sackhoff, Mercedes Varnado, Rosario Dawson, Timothy Olyphant, Bill Burr, Carl Weathers, Horatio Sanz, Giancarlo Esposito.

The eight episodes of the second season of “The Mandalorian” offer the kind of “Star Wars” moments the franchise’s fans have been clamoring to see for decades.

Series creator Jon Favreau and executive producer Dave Filoni are drawing from nearly all aspects of “Star Wars” lore for inspiration — not just the original trilogy, but also the prequels and animated spinoffs as well.

Instead of trying to reinvent the universe the way the sequel trilogy seemed to be trying to do, “The Mandalorian” unmistakably wants to play in George Lucas’ sandbox. The episodes have all the fun and joy of what it’s like to play with “Star Wars” toys as a kid, and imagine all the adventures possible in that galaxy far, far away.

It’s not fan service. It’s fantastic.

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Picking up from last season, bounty hunter Din Djarin, the Mandalorian of the title, embarks on his quest to return to the Jedi the child everyone refers to as “Baby Yoda” (whose name is finally revealed to be Grogu). But doing so will require a great deal of compromise and sacrifice. Along the way he encounters Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), a Mandalorian from the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” animated shows who desires to reclaim her home planet from the chaos of the Empire’s wrath. She leads Mando to another animated character brought into live-action, the former Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), who needs his help to free a village from a warlord in one of the season’s standout episodes.

Another great episode sees the return of Bill Burr, who has to help Mando on a mission to locate the menacing Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). Their infiltration of an Imperial base leads to some of the tensest moments on the show, culminating in the “Star Wars” version of the great basement shootout from Inglourious Basterds.

And if that weren’t enough, we get the return of Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), last seen being swallowed by the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi. Not only did he survive, but he’s finally living up to the potential for badassery only hinted at in his limited screen time in the movies but which has nonetheless made him a fan favorite since his introduction.

The season also has a few more surprises in store, leading to one of the most emotional and satisfying finales a fan could hope for.

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There have been some grumblings about the wide variance in running times of the episodes — ranging from barely more than a half-hour to more than 50 minutes. But this just demonstrates the creative advantages of posting content to an ad-free streaming service as opposed to needing to fill a set run time to account for a time slot and advertising. The show’s creators are telling the stories they want to tell, and they are using the time they need to tell them. No more, no less. And the results speak for themselves.

 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

BLU-RAY REVIEW:  

Sony Pictures;
Comedy;
Box Office $141.06 million;
$30.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references.
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino, Nicholas Hammond.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood isn’t so much a film as it is a time machine that transports the audience back to 1969, allowing the viewer to swim in the atmosphere and flavor of the era.

The movie is Tarantino’s love letter to the movies and TV shows he grew up with, providing a vast canvas for him to relish in his specialties of memorable characters, rich background detail, and an indelible soundtrack of period-specific songs.

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The story is a tale of contrasting Hollywood paths. On one road is former television Western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a borderline has-been looking to hold onto his fame by taking guest spots as the bad guy in the popular shows of the day, when he’s not too drunk to remember his lines.

Dalton is accompanied everywhere by his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who’s even more down on his luck but gets by on a come-what-may attitude despite a shady past that has led to Rick being the only one willing to employ him.

On the flip side is Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), the up-and-coming starlet giddy over seeing her name on the movie marquee.

And in between them is the Manson family, which gives the film some historical context, grounding it in both a sense of dread and morbid fascination. Of course, anyone familiar with Tarantino’s previous efforts in historical fiction will understand where the real clash of this story is headed.

But as could be expected with Tarantino at the helm, the film transcends the bounds of story to give viewers the experience of living in the fantasy of 1960s Hollywood. A mix of parody and homage, the film is so beautifully shot and faithful to the styles of the time that it just feels like watching a memory — or at the very least, a dream of how things could have been.

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In typical Tarantino fashion, the overarching story isn’t so much the point as the individual scenes that comprise it, offering unforgettable bits of dialogue and character interactions, from Rick being reduced to tears by his 8-year-old co-star, to Rick and Cliff providing a running commentary watching an episode of “FBI.”

Even more of Tarantino’s Hollywood is offered up in the Blu-ray bonus materials, which feature more than 20 minutes of additional scenes, from expansions of scenes already in the movie to faux commercials for some of the products prominently featured.

Also included are five behind-the-scenes featurettes totaling more than a half-hour that detail the intricate re-creation of the period.

 

Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Gets Home Release Dates for Digital, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, the summer theatrical blockbuster Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, will be released to home audiences digitally Nov. 26 and on disc two weeks later, on Dec. 10.

Disc versions will be available in the DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD formats from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, set in Hollywood in 1969, reimagines the Manson murders that shocked the city that year. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as actor Rick Dalton and his longtime friend and stuntman Cliff Booth, with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate.

In the film, Dalton and Booth make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The cast also includes Julia Butters, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Luke Perry, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern and Al Pacino — and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.

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The film earned $140.4 million in U.S. theaters, and was the highest opening weekend of Tarantino’s career at $41 milion. It has been Certified Fresh by RottenTomatoes.com.

The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital releases come with more than 20 additional minutes of footage that delves deeper into world of Rick Dalton’s Hollywood. The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital include an additional behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production design, cinematography, costume design, cars and more.

Also due Dec. 10 is a limited 4K Ultra HD collector’s edition with a 7-inch vinyl record with two of the soundtrack’s 1960s hits,  a poster for the fictitious Rick Dalton film Operazione Dyn-o-mite!, and an exclusive mini-edition of a Mad Magazine parody of the Rick Dalton TV series “Bounty Law,” called “Lousy Law.” The collector’s edition may be ordered beginning Oct. 28 from Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and Target.com.

The Blu-ray Disc release comes with several retailer-exclusive extras, including “Rick Dalton” movie poster cards from Walmart, a vintage-style film magazine with over 26 never-before-seen production photos at Target, and a Steelbook available at Best Buy. All exclusive offerings also may be ordered beginning Oct. 28.