How to get up to speed with Star Trek before watching the Picard Show on CBS All Access

I haven’t seen the new Picard show yet, but I’m extremely excited, and according to the trailers, it picks up where the long-running (non-JJ Abrams) Star Trek TV and movie series left off… Just 20 years later. And we are 20 years older.

It’s time to recall and rewatch what Star Trek episodes and movies focus on Picard, the Borg, Picard’s family, more Borg, and the characters we expect to see in the new series (like Data/B-4 and Seven of Nine in lead roles, although Stewart announced we’ll see cameos from everyone eventually).

I have a lot of Voyager episodes listed, almost entirely about the Borg. If you just want the Picard stuff, you can cherry pick off the Voyager list.

The Next Generation: (Yes, most of the MUST SEE stuff in bold are TNG episodes)

Encounter at Farpoint 1 and 2 (Not a great series premiere, but it introduces and sets the stage for everything to follow over the years)

Q-Who (Q, and our first run-in with The Borg)

Samaritan Snare (With a weirdly amusing A-story, you have to bear with me here. The B-Story, about Picard’s Starfleet Academy days, is important. But you can skip it and go right to Tapestry if needed)

Measure of a Man (The best Data episode and an important look at Federation values)

Yesterday’s Enterprise (Because if you’re going to all this trouble, don’t skip one of the best episodes ever, in an alternate timeline that may come into play)

The Offspring (A fantastic look at Data’s loneliness and how he tries to make a family of his own)

Best of Both Worlds 1 and 2, plus Family (this is a trilogy) A MUST SEE. Among the Star Trek’s finest hours. And will absolutely come into play in Picard. If nothing else, you must see this trilogy. Or else, why the hell are you bothering with a show about Jean-Luc Picard?

The Drumhead (An ouchy interpretation of Picard’s choices over the years and how they could be seen in a negative light. It name-drops a lot of previous episodes to remind you how far we’ve come)

I, Borg (Hugh the Borg is supposed to show up in Star Trek Picard)

Descent I and II (A bad two-parter, but it’s got Hugh the Borg in it, plus Lore the android)

The Inner Light (The Best Star Trek episode EVER. I will hear no argument. Generations tried to do this again…and failed miserably. You still have to see both though. Like Best of Both Worlds/Family, you can’t skip this)

Chain of Command Part 2 (Just to show another trauma that Picard probably hasn’t overcome yet. Understandably)

Tapestry (Another It’s a Wonderful Life look at Picard)

All Good Things 1 and 2 (It’s a Wonderful Life again, plus Q… Plus this series’ finale rocks on any level known to man)

Voyager: (Expect most of these to be Borg-crucial)

Message In a Bottle ( A rare non-seven, non Borg episode that allows one to understand how lonely the crew of Voyager is, and allows for a crowning moment of awesome by our favorite EMH. It’s also pretty funny)

Scorpion 1 and 2, plus The Gift (a trilogy about Seven of Nine)

The Raven (Seven’s childhood)

Timeless (Another future reality episode that provides insights into the future of the TNG and Voyager crews. Also, the 100th episode, with a cameo of Captain Geordi La Forge!)

Prey (Remember Species 8472?)

Dark Frontier 1 and 2 (BORG QUEEN ALERT)

One (Can a Borg survive a month without companionship? The answer is no. But the story is worth viewing on its own)

Hope and Fear (A great Borg thought-piece)

Drone (Seven makes a Borg baby. Nothing ever hits us as hard as “Please, you are hurting me.” “You will adapt.”)

Survival Instinct

Unimatrix Zero (I hope this silly two-parter is not going to come into play)

Imperfection (One of the best looks at what drives the Borg in a spiritual way. It’s amazing when Seven sees a glimpse of “God”)

Someone To Watch Over Me (Charming, funny, and one of my favorite episodes in Trek lore)

Human Error (I guess we have to accept the Seven-Chakotay pairing as cannon)

Endgame Parts 1 and 2 (The lame Voyager series finale that is nonetheless required viewing. Also, more Borg Queen!)

 

The TNG Movies:

Whether you liked them or not, these uneven films are considered canon.  I tried to disavow a few developments in Generations and Nemesis, but the Picard show confirms these are all materials we have to accept as true. So yeah, Robert and Rene are dead, some stupid things happened with Remus, and there’s a miserably dumb Picard clone to deal with. Plus, the stuff with Data’s emotion chip, the thing that happened to him in Nemesis, and B-4. (To not spoil things much if you’re out of the loop).

Make yourself rewatch all the TNG era films (you can skip the TOS stuff for now) if you want to understand the current Picard and his late-life mindset alone in the wineyards of the French Picard estate. Anything in bold is a must-see to understand Picard after leaving the Enterprise-E.

Generations (Why do we keep reprising It’s a Wonderful Life with Picard? Whatever… You have to see this anyway)

First Contact (The best of the movies and it’s all about the Borg!)

You can totally skip Insurrection. YAY!

Nemesis (Awful movie, but you need to know what happens at the end of the official TNG run)

If nothing else, make sure you see The Best of Both Worlds/Family, Generations, First Contact, plus Nemesis. You don’t have to like them. Just understand them.


I’m annoyed as hell that CBS All-Access is trapping the Picard Show on their payola premium channel. I’ve avoided Star Trek Discovery on the same channel because it’s awful and I prefer The Orville, but I need this new infusion of Jean Luc Picard. He’s my personal hero  — a man who I aspire to be like, or at least marry someone like him. And I miss Seven as well. And Data (B-4?).

Don’t spoil things, folks! I’ll review the series when I can afford to run the CBS show. Damn it all. Premium channels my ass. And now The Orville is moving to Hulu. SIGH.

Sir Patrick Stewart Back as the Beloved Jean-Luc Picard in New Star Trek

Star Trek Characters We Will Probably See Again

Star Trek 4 Movie News Updates

Every Time Die was in the title of a James Bond Film

daniel craig bond die another day
Bond can never die. He just keeps respawning. Just ask Sean Connery!

We’ve got the “last” Bond film with Daniel Craig coming out in early April. Of course, DIE is in the title. This is a recognizable Bond thing. But how many 007 movies really have die in the title after all? Let’s take a look.

Live and Let Die (1970)

I can’t complain about the film that started the Die TrendLive and Let Die, with its weirdo voodoo, deep-south characters straight out of the TV original  Dukes of Hazzard, New Orleans creepiness, and a Tarot Master Bond Girl that wasn’t completely helpless makes for a fantastic rewatch every time. Plus, we have a perfect Beatles song to frame the proceedings, titled, aptly, Live and Let Die.

To be honest, this is my favorite James Bond film. ( I also loved Moonraker, so my tastes might be subjective.)

Bond: Roger Moore, in a great freshman outing I cannot deny.

Movie Grade: A 

Too much fun not to include here: 

Grade: A

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

I honestly don’t remember the Bond gap between Roger Moore and Daniel Craig. Ooops. Doesn’t say much for poor Pierce, whom I’d been rooting for 007 status for a decade. I think it was just too late by then for me. Also, I expected he would bring the easygoing warmth and smugness he made a name from in the 80s TV show Remington Steel…but no. He was way too serious and bored me. Bond needs charm. Bummer. Next!

Bond: Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as Bond. He goes to China with Bond Girl Michelle Yeoh.

Grade: No idea. You tell me. 

Die another Day (2002)

I don’t know. I was already turned off by his Bond. This is the one with Halley Berry. There’s Cuba, and North Korea, and a diamond mogul funding the development of an international space weapon.

Bond: Brosnan again. Sigh.

Grade: Probably in the C range. 

No Time to Die (2020)

Who doesn’t love Daniel Craig’s turn at 007? Reportedly, this is his last outing as the secret agent, pulled out of retirement for one last job. So they say…

I have no worries about his career: after a scene-stealing performance in 2019’s Knives Out and a hysterical turn in Logan Lucky, I fear not for this intrepid actor’s future. Good for him.

Bond: Daniel Craig

Grade: To be added in April — can’t wait!

Movie Review – Logan Lucky

Movie Review – Knives Out

The political subplot in Knives Out that tells the real plot


 

Harley Quinn Adventures You May Have Missed

Birds of Prey And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn comes out on February 7.  I, for one, cannot wait to see Margo Robbie return as the clown princess of crime.  I’ve loved the character Harley Quinn since I first saw the episode “Mad Love” on Batman: The Animated Series.  If you’re a Harley fan too, you may want to check out some of her other cinematic adventures.

Note: The following are all animated feature films. Watch them anyway.

Where’s Waldo,er, Harley?

The Lego Batman Movie 

Harley (voiced by Jenny Slate) has a sizeable role in this spin-off from The Lego Movie.  She helps the Joker as he tries to exact revenge on Batman for hurting his feelings.  In this movie, Harley sports red and black pigtails, like she does in the early days of her solo comic book series.  This movie is rated PG for rude humor and some action.  It is appropriate for kids. We’ve reviewed it positively here. Good stuff.

 

Batman: Assault on Arkham

Harley (voiced by Hynden Walch) and Deadshot are recruited as part of The Suicide Squad to break into Arkham and retrieve a microchip from the Riddler’s cane that has all the past, present, and potential members of the squad on it.  Harley gets distracted from her mission by the Joker and they have something more than a lover’s quarrel.  This is a good appetizer before seeing Birds of Prey as it shows the bad blood between Harley and Joker.  Harley’s look alternates between her harlequin outfit with a bare midriff, to a plain clothes Harleen Quinzel with blonde pigtails-style.  This movie is rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and language.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay

This R-rated, straight-to-video release has the rough and gritty feel of a ’70s revenge drama.  This one is not for the kiddos, with its violence and adult themes.  Harley (voiced by Tara Strong) makes for good comic relief amid the action sequences.  Like Assault on Arkham, this movie features a different set of Suicide Squad team members than the live action film, but it does reunite Harley with Deadshot.  Amanda Waller is dying and sends the team to retrieve a literal “Get out of Hell free” card.  Harley’s look in this film is more original, less inspired by the comics.  She has her classic harlequin outfit and white makeup, but no hood.  She has large blonde pigtails and her signature mallet.

Batman and Harley Quinn

For the true Harley Quinn fan, this one is pure frosting.  How much more Harley can you get?  To quote Spinal Tap, “None more.”

Bruce Timm wrote and produced this feature, so it has the look and feel of an old Batman: The Animated Series episode.  Except this one’s PG-13 for language, violence, and sexual content.  Batman and Nightwing are forced to team up with Harley (voiced by Melissa Rauch) to find Poison Ivy, and stop her from turning Earth’s population into plant people.  It’s a lot of fun to watch Batman stuck with one of his most annoying enemies, kind of like a Gotham version of Midnight Run.  Despite her second billing in the title, Harley pretty much drives the bus, er, Batmobile in this one.   She sports the classic look from the ’90s cartoon series.

If you love Harley Quinn, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  She appears in some other films as well.  But she also stars in graphic novels, video games, and TV shows.  She’s a very busy woman.  Her Wikipedia page and your local comic book store can point you in the right direction.

Is Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey a Sequel, Soft Reboot, or a Standalone Movie?

 

Newbie Movie Review – Suicide Squad (2016)

Movie Review – Suicide Squad

Movie Review – The LEGO Batman Movie – One of the BEST Batman films, ever

 

 

Is Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey a Sequel, Soft Reboot, or a Standalone Movie?

margot robbie in suicide squad at Harley Quinn
When she gets that look in her eyes, it’s time to clear out.

Margot Robbie reprises her standout role from Suicide Squad as Harley Quinn, epic psychotic ex-lover of the Joker. But is this a continuation of 2016’s Suicide Squad, or a soft reboot of the popular character with the same actress? How will this fit into the upcoming Suicide Squad 2, helmed by the beloved James Gunn?

Okay, is Birds of Prey going to be a sequel…or even the middle of a  trilogy?

The answer, to all sources, is YES. To both questions.

You’re welcome.

Will the Joker be in Birds of Prey?

So far, no. Let’s hope it stays that way.

To many people, Quinn is the best part of the Batman multiverse, often played for laughs, but also understood as a poignant role. Quinn started out doing good (a psychiatrist for the criminally insane), but turned to the Dark Side after being completely worn down and built up by one master manipulating bastard called Joker. Quinn, as in any good case of Stockholm Syndrome, fell madly, completely, and dementedly in love with the Clown Prince of Mayhem.

In her feature film debut in Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn stole the show (her animated incarnations are awesome too).  Audiences fell in love with her entirely. Robbie’s Quinn and Will Smith’s Deadshot carried the entire film. It’s worth watching just for those two. I can overlook Jared Leto’s pitiful Joker rendering and the terrible (Seriously. TERRIBLE) evil villain Wonder Twins in favor of enjoying the good parts of the movie ( I can compartmentalize).

When Quinn smashes a store window to steal a purse and complains, “What? We’re bad guys”, she also stole my heart. You go, nutso lady with no pants!

Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad 1 and 2

Besides Will Smith’s Deadshot (not Deadpool; keep up!), only Harley Quinn  makes the original Suicide Squad feature film stand out. Robbie was fun, funny, and even deeply messed up.

Here is an example of a good actor elevating a mostly-poorly-written role. I think without Robbie’s Quinn, there’d be no talk of a sequel. And certainly no standalone feature about her, which will essentially make Birds of Prey the middle movie in a Suicide Squad trilogy.

The actual Suicide Squad sequel is currently and hopefully helmed by James Gunn, after a clusterfrak of back and forth problems between Disney and Director Gunn.

While this hot Disney mess broke my heart at San Diego’s Saturday’s Comic Con (At Hall H, no less) when Gunn was booted from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 because of decades’ old tasteless Tweets, it’s all worthwhile now. Gunn is back in the saddle for the MCU’s GotG vol 3, plus we get him to fix Suicide Squad 2 in the package.

There aren’t a lot of MCU/DC cross-over talents, so I’m crazy thrilled at how this troubled circle has come around. Two for one, babies!

While Quinn moving from Suicide Squad to the Birds of Prey and back again hasn’t been explained yet, I’m willing to handwave anything that isn’t simply stupid. Perhaps this trilogy will be good enough to fix DC’s notorious story and villain issues?

We’ll see soon if the crazy person in the Harlequin outfit can carry her own movie. As our own ex-Joker-lover Harley Quinn would say, “So what if I’m crazy? The best people are.”

Harley Quinn Adventures You May Have Missed

All Joker Performances — Ranked

The Essential Will Smith

First View Movie Review: Star Wars – the Battle for Endor

Because I’m a crazy geek and want to understand all the canon Star Wars material out there, I decided to view all the ‘extra’ shows and movies Lucasfilm created, some of which may or may not be part of the larger narrative. Have you seen The Mandalorian yet? It’s amazing. Have you seen The Star Wars Holiday Special yet? It’s atrocious.

I decided I need to see Rebels and Clone Wars, which are considered quite good…and the really, really bad films that no one to owns up to watching. So, sit back and see if what you ignored the first time around is still as awful as you thought.

Here’s the 1985 Ewok made-for-TV movie review of Battle For Endor (I’m having trouble finding a free version of 1984’s Caravan of Courage, so stay tuned):

While it’s not easy to get your hands on a copy of these Lucasfilm Ewok TV movies, I found a terrible copy of the 1985 Battle for Endor on You Tube — and will review it right here and now, because, why not? I don’t want to miss my chance before someone takes this link down! (Like maybe you, George Lucas!)

With the Skywalker saga coming to a close in Rise of Skywalker — and The Mandalorian and the Cassian Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ shows in the works — I felt it was time to catch up on all the live action and even animated Star Wars specials…anything that might be considered part of the over-arcing story.

I’m surprised I skipped such miserable yet amusingly wacky outings like the Star Wars Holiday Special after all this time. I’m going to rectify this now.

Let’s continue after the Holiday Special with the Ewok duo of movies. George Lucas apparently liked Ewoks so much he made two films about them. He even got Warwick Davis to reprise his “Wicket” role! Too bad he didn’t ask anyone first if they wanted more Ewok tales. We could have saved Lucasfilm a bit of money.

Here’s one copy of the Battle of Endor (a bad copy, true) on You Tube to watch along with my commentary:

The Battle for Endor (1:20 minutes long — be ready)

Notes:

— This is a bad You Tube copy. I can barely hear it. I can’t even tell if the sound track sounds anything like John Williams.

— This Ewok has crazy looking eyes. Is this Wicket? Why does he look so bad?  I’m in the uncanny valley alread. If you didn’t hate the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, you’ll want to look away from the terrible costuming going on here. I wish they tried better to make Warwick David’s Wicket character work. Seriously, Davis deserves better than this.

— I totally cannot hear this You Tube recording. I might need to sign up for Disney + to get up to date with old Star Wars cannon.

— The little kid is cute, but I can’t tell if it’s a girl or a boy starring in the role.

— The teen kid is a lot like Luke Skywalker. I like the role, but we never see him again. That’s too bad. He’s better than the kid or the Ewok or anyone else we’ve seen so far. (Note: I hear he plays a larger role in the Ewok’s Caravan of Courage.)

— Bad guys are introduced and they suck. I don’t care. Also good guys are introduced. But there is no decent storytelling here, in spite of Paul Gleeson trying his best.

— The production values on the Endor moon look great. Too bad I don’t get the story. Who are these new villains? Can’t the Empire provide decent bad gals/guys?

— Why am I watching this? Bored now. I think this is largely due to not understanding the lines. Does anyone have a better copy for me to review?

— The main Ewok (in spite of being played by the otherwise reliable Davis) is not given subtitles as things progress. This is poor storytelling — it’s not like Ewoks are cool in the first place. Lucas did this same thing to his detriment with Chewie’s family in the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Although maybe there are Orcs in the tale, which are an early Lord of the Rings concept. I think those are Orcs.

15 minutes in and I’m so bored

— Let’s keep going. I don’t mind kiddie stories as long as they are still interesting for adults.

–Pterodactyls. Okaaaay.

— I still don’t get why the kid and the Ewok are doing anything they do. This is pretty, but honestly, the crazy Star Wars Holiday Special is more exciting. Atrocious as that Lucasfilm wacky movie length Star Wars ‘movie’  is! Never thought that would be better than something else Star Wars-adjacent.

— New character making a meal for the kid and the Ewok. This is decent storytelling. But who is this?

— Clearly this is for children to watch, which explains why I missed it all this time. I was 12 when A New Hope came out and never thought Ewoks were a good idea. Battle For Endor has got decent production values at least. I think Lucasfilm decided the home-to-TV-movie would land us enough views to appreciate. But, no. I WISH I could move on from reviewing it. This is for you, fans.

— I’m a half hour in and want to turn this off. Maybe we should have anticipated Jar Jar Binks from this monstrosity…except Jar Jar is actually more interesting than whatever is happening here. I don’t understand why George Lucas made this awful TV movie. (To sell Ewok toys I guess.)

— The kiddo tells the bad guys why it’s not right to kidnap him. I don’t know why they even want this child. Willow did the story much better. Just watch that again instead of this mess.

— Does anyone think this is a good narrative? Who are the bad guys and good guys and why should I care? No wonder I never heard about this.

— Look, it’s Worf the Klingon! No, it’s actually nothing at all. Move along, move along.

An hour is done! Shit howdy and holy Jedi Force tidings, but this is bad. Chewie and his family waiting for Life Day is actually better.

— A battle begins! Do I care? No. Who are these people?

— I appreciated the Dewback mounts from A New Hope on Tatooine reprised here.

— Apparently, a lot of fans tried to watch The Battle for Endor because The Mandalorian was so good. Fans are trying to catch up to the bits of pieces of missed canon film in existence. You know what? Don’t bother.

— The final battle isn’t too awful. But I doubt you’ll make it this far into the film.

— I did it! It’s over. I watched this so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Should you watch The Battle of Endor?

No. Absolutely no, and this is from someone who watched and even sort of appreciated the insanely weird Star Wars Holiday Special. If you have kids that really like the Ewoks from The Return of the Jedi, maybe this is for you. For adults, SKIP. Really.

Otherwise…welcome to a total fail for Star Wars fans. The production values are good enough to keep The Battle for Endor from getting a total F grade, but I think I’m being too kind.

Movie Grade: D-

 

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The Star Wars Holiday Special …Is it really that bad?

Star Wars – Top Seven Reasons to Watch The Mandalorian Now (No spoilers)

The Most Anticipated Science Fiction & Fantasy Shows of 2020

Avengers: Endgame
One “game” you can’t be late to.

In a post-Endgame, post-Star Wars Saga world, I have a hole in my soul where movie anticipation used to live. I had a lot of anticipation in 2019 for the new Terminator film, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Men in Black International, Zombieland 2, and Jumanji 3. All let me down in some way. They weren’t fails (mostly), but didn’t come close to how idyllic the original films were.

Endgame was the only perfect finale. I’m happy enough with Rise of Skywalker, but feel strangely empty knowing 42 years of storytelling is done.

I no longer have a burning desire to know how the next thing turns out. In fact, the only movie I’m excited for offhand in 2020 is Black Widow. And I’m actually a little bit meh on that. Call it a sort of Post-Snap Depression.

black-widow-may-2020The Best Sci Fi is on Television these days

Strangely, it’s TV that’s got me jazzed this year. The 2019 Mandalorian Season One was so good that my faith in Disney and Disney+ is restored. Can Season Two happen now? (What? No more ’til next fall? I cry foul!)

But there are other shows I’m crazy with anticipation for.

Here’s my short, short list for upcoming 2020 sci-fi shows:

The Mandalorian (Disney +)

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All-Access)

The Orville (Moving to Hulu)

falcon-and-winter-soldier-show-disney-plus

The Falcon and Winter Soldier (Disney +)

It’s annoying that all the best shows are being vacuumed up by premium channels. This must stop. Between Netflix, Hulu, CBS All-Access, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, consuming all the good stuff will cost more than cable used to be. Remember cable?

I actually remember when TV had four stations: CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS (for Sesame Street and Mr Rogers Neighborhood). And they were free. That’s what commercials were for. I have more time to pay than money, so commercials are fine in my book. However, I’m not the boss of TV, so I’ll have to figure something else out.

Twinkies not included.

2020 Movies to Anticipate?

There’s also the next Fantastic Beasts film, but no matter how much I like those, I don’t love them. They just aren’t Harry Potter. They kind of feel like The Hobbit movies compared to the Lord of the Rings. Or maybe prequel movies never live up to expectations in general (which might explain my meh-ness about Black Widow).

If you love your superheroes, sci fi, and fantasy features, there’s definitely good stuff coming, but patience is required. Who knows when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 will be — 2022? And Thor 4 is slated for 2021.

eternals

I’m fairly disinterested in 2020s The Eternals. The MCU will probably surprise us with a good film regardless, based on their track record. It’s just that I don’t need new characters in an already crammed shared universe.

What movies and TV shows are you looking forward to this year? Or do you also feel…kind of tired of it all?


RunPee – Our 2109 Movie Review Rankings (and who was stuck with the worst films!)

Jumanji Character Names and Skills

Avenger Superhero Powers, by Category

Critic Movie Reviews v RunPee Family Reviews

The Seven Droids We Love from Star Wars (and what exactly they do)

We love our Star Wars Droids, big and little, especially when they are funny or maybe cute. Moreso when they are funny AND cute — like R2-D2 and BB-8. Every live-action Star Wars movie (plus The Mandalorian) has at least one memorable Droid character tagging along with their human owners.

(Yes, Droids are considered property. This uncomfortable issue about agency and consent rarely comes up in Star Wars.)

Can you name the “Big Seven” Droids we know and love? Do you know what they were created to do? 

First things first. Why are they called Droids?

Unknown. There aren’t any androids in Star Wars. Androids are AI robot machines with flesh on the outside, like a Terminator, or Data from Star Trek…so what exactly are Droids? Every single one is in reality a plain old robot with AI (artificial intelligence) and some degree of EI (emotional intelligence). We never wonder about this. So…go with it. George Lucas must have liked the sound of the word.

Let’s discuss each main Droid with no further ado.

Note: Spoilers follow for all live-action Star Wars films and The Mandalorian

1. C-3P0

Protocol Droid, Human-Cyborg Relations

Job: Language Interpreter and Diplomatic Adviser, Ewok God

Owned By: Anakin Skywalker (his creator), Padme Amidala, Captain Antilles, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and finally, the Rebels/Resistance in general.

Seen In: Every Star Wars film but Solo. (Also, not in The Mandalorian.)

Notable: Knows Bocchi and 6 million other forms of communication. Not permitted to speak Sith by Senate decree. (We assume Palpatine made this law to keep Jedi out of Sith business.)

There are no true Cyborgs in Star Wars, unless you count Lando’s assistant on Bespin in the Empire Strikes Back. Also, those slaves in Solo who had their faces and brains shaved off and replaced with what I assume is a hard drive. This is too awful to contemplate, so let’s move on.

I’m case you didn’t know, a Cyborg is a human with augmented MI (machine intelligence).

So why does Threepio keep saying Human-Cyborg relations?

2. R2-D2

Astromech

Job: General assistant and on-board flight mechanic for StarFighters.

Owned By: Padme, Anakin, Captain Antilles, Luke, and possibly Rey.

Seen In: Like C-3P0, every Star Wars film but Solo. (And The Mandalorian, right.)

Noteable: R2 is scrappy, spirited, opinionated, friendly, and helpful. He holds the distinction of having never been mind-wiped in the entire series. Only speaks Binary. Counterpart and companion to C-3P0.

3. BB-8

Upgraded Astromech

Job: General assistant and on-board flight mechanic for StarFighters.

Seen In: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker

Owned By: Poe Dameron. He seems to share him with Rey at the end, but it’s made clear BB-8 belongs to Poe.

Notable: Actually cuter than R2-D2, but not as wise. Only speaks Binary. He seems to enjoy physical affection from his humans.

4. D-O

To sell cute toys and merchandise.

Does anyone know what this Droid is for? Seriously, this is all the information that even the Wookieepedia could find. If they don’t know what D-O is for, no one does. Feel free to make it up yourself.

Job: ?? He gets plugged in for information sharing at one point by the members of the Resistance, once he learns to trust them.

Seen In:  Rise of Skywalker

Owned By: Ochi, Rey.

Notable: The smallest droid in the ‘verse, it’s entirely unclear what he does or why Ochi (A dangerous Sith Assassin) needed him. Abused in the past. Rey shows him compassion when he joins the new crew. Also, he speaks Galactic Basic in addition to Binary.

5. L3-37

Navigational Droid, self-made from astromech and protocol parts

Job: Programs ships for Hyperspace lightspeed jumps. Droid Freedom Fighter. Possible lover to Lando. And why not? As she says, “it works.”

Seen In: Solo

Owned By: Lando Calrissian. Mental unit later absorbed into the navigational systems of the Millennium Falcon.

Notable: The only Droid self-identifying as female in Star Wars.  Cares deeply about Droid rights. Frees the enslaved mining Droids on the Spice Planet of Kessel.

6. K-2S0

Imperial Security Droid

Job: Murder, mainly

Seen In: Rogue One

Owned By: The Empire, Cassian Andor

Notable: Extremely funny yet sociopathic buddy to Cassian.

7. IG-11 (AKA IG-88 for detail sticklers)

Bounty Hunter/Assassin

Job: Hunt and capture or kill targets for dubious clients.

Seen In: Briefly in The Empire Strikes Back, and several times in The Mandalorian.

Owned By: Not clear — the Bounty Hunters Guild? Eventually reprogrammed by the compassionate Ugnaught Kuiil, and assigned to Baby Yoda.

Notable: Bounty Hunter-turned Nanny Droid? A lethal fighting machine with a snuggly baby-carrier on-board? Yes!

Other Droids seen and sometimes heard:

Diagnostic Droid (A New Hope – talks Binary to Han on the roof of the Falcon in the Tatooine Landing Bay)

Mouse Droid (A New Hope: the tiny one that runs when Chewie roars at him on the Death Star. This makes Chewie very satisfied.)

The Gonk (A New Hope, Return of the Jedi)

Torture Droid (Return of the Jedi, at Jabba’s Palace)

 

Imperial Probe Droid (On Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back)

Surgical Droid (Heals Luke twice, in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi)

Imperial Interrogation Droid (A New Hope, in Leia’s prison cell)

All the unnamed Droids seen in the Jawa Transport Crawler (A New Hope — see above video)

Pit Droids (the weird little things in Watto’s workshop in The Phantom Menace)

And, finally, the Droids we really, really hate:

Too many ridiculous Soldier/Battle Droids (From the Prequels, especially The Phantom Menace)

Ultimately, there’s a whole Galaxy of other Droids seen in Star Wars. Tell me who I missed in the comments below.


Who appears in every Star Wars movie?

Star Wars – Every Force Ghost Heard in Rise of Skywalker

Every Type of Starship and Starfighter in Star Wars, Explained

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker in 4D

4d-rdx-poster
They actually don’t allow you to sit in other people’s laps at these things.

Somehow at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con I scored a free Regal Cinemas 4D movie ticket, handed to me by Dan Fogelberg — Jacob Kowalski himself — from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I decided the best possible use of this golden ticket was a 4D showing of Rise of Skywalker, the finale of the  Skywalker Star Wars Saga. I couldn’t think of a better use of this expensive freebie besides a Fantastic Beasts film (which wouldn’t come out soon before the ticket expired). So, I’m about to see my very first 4D movie excursion right now at the Regal Edwards Cinema in Mira Mesa, CA. (That’s in Northern San Diego.)

Spoilers start for Rise of Skywalker. I have to be specific, or not bother writing it up at all. 

entrance-rdx-4d
Welcome to the 4D chamber of delights. Or torture chamber. There’s some overlap.

Okay, I’m back. Here’s what I have to say about the 4D 3D D-Box experience for Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker

Good things, mostly:

The 3D was clear and worked well with the 4D story nods. Worth paying for both together if you’re going to bother with the extra expense.

The vibration feature was effective. This was probably the most effective element in the Rise of Skywalker‘s 4D version.

The wind feature helped set the mood well.

Temperature changes: I felt chilly a few times, but I’m not sure if it was just the wind feature in action. But this is supposed to happen. There probably should have been a few heat scenes during the fights.

Strobe lighting: A few times this worked, but it got distracting after the first few times. Mostly used in lightsaver scenes and anything with Palpatine. I think if you’re an epilectic you’ll want to NOT see Rise of Skywalker in 4D.

The seats rocked and bucked and yawed in tune with the spaceship action. But you stop noticing after a few times, and maybe this could have been done better. Or maybe they didn’t want people vomiting in their chairs. It felt like those old Star Tours rides at Disneyland, but without needing seat belts. I would have preferred more flying action AND seat belts.

Each lightsaber stab gave me an actual poke in the back, in different locations that loosely matched the movie fighting. More or less.

Some water mist on the ruined Death Star scenes were okay. Not enough, though. You are able to turn off the waterworks option on your seat console, so why not do this right for those who wanted it? More was needed. I barely noticed.

Smoke. Although it felt a little gratuitous since this wasn’t really that kind of film.

Scent: Um…a few times I smelt burnt rubber and that was it.

Overrated Things: 

Well, all of it, really, It still felt like they were trying too hard, and the few additions weren’t amazing enough to put me into the action. The effects got gratuitously repetitive, too.  It felt more like, “Oh, hey, they added a thing here. Now stop it.”

Oh, and if you get motion sickness easily, or have other health problems, don’t see RDX 4D motion movies.

There’s a long list of health warnings! 

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Look it up online if you’re unsure 4D is healthy for you.

 

Ultimately: should you shell out money for Star Wars in 4D?

Overall: 4D is still a cash grabbing gimmick. It’s fun to do for the occasional film (a RunPee fan told us it’s superb for Ford v Ferrari, and you can feel each gear shift and corner turn), but for Star Wars it was…meh?

I’d wait for the tech to improve before paying $25 for the experience. Do it once at a movie you’re excited about, and see if you’re willing to do it again.

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

Star Wars – Death Stars and Planet Killers: Enough Already

Star Wars – Every Force Ghost Voice Cameo in Rise of Skywalker

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Force Ghost Busting.

Are you a huge Star Wars fan? I think Rise of Skywalker puts me — a die hard science fiction fan — to shame.  Can you place every Force Ghost voice we hear mentally chatting to Rey in the climactic and emotional Skywalker Saga finale?

 Spoilers follow for Rise of Skywalker. This should be obvious. 😉

When Rey asks her Jedi fan club to Be With Her, we finally hear them. It’s great fun to tease out each voice, and some of these callbacks were just thrilling. Who are all these Jedi voice cameos? Could you name them all?

In my first #RoS viewing, the lights came up as soon as the credits rolled, and I missed something crucial: each Force Ghost voice was listed by character and actor in its own section. So I missed that. In my second viewing (in 4D!), I saw this little list scroll by about two minutes after the credits began. It’s not an Extra Scene, but it’s worth waiting for if you want to catch every Force Ghost actor and character name.

Rey and her Force Ghost Voices

Who are the Jedi who finally respond to Rey’s request to “Be with me?” Here’s the list of characters encouraging Rey in Rise of Skywalker:

Luminara Unduli

Ahsoka Tano

Aayla Secura

Mace Windu

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Yoda

Anakin Skywalker

Adi Gallia

Kanan Jarrus

Qui-Gon Jinn

Luke Skywalker

 

I really tried to figure this out on my own from listening during the critical scene, but even if I’d seen every single bit of Star Wars canon that would be kind of rough. I had to make sure to look it all up. About 30 lines go by very fast, almost on top of each other. Tellingly, the messages that stand out the most are from Obi-Wan, Anakin, Yoda, and Luke. If you’re a Skywalker Saga fan, this should come as no surprise.

Anakin’s line is actually the most significant, story-wise, telling Rey to bring about balance in the Force, “as he did.”

(Remember Obi-Wan’s Force Ghost in Return of the Jedi as he cops to his lies to Luke?)

What else stood out:

Both voices for Obi-Wan Kenobi seemed layered over each other (using the same repurposed line from Sir Alec Guinness in the Force Vision in The Force Awakens over lines from Ewan McGregor). This is cleverly done. Instead of telling Rey she’s taking her first steps, Obi-Wan encourages her to take her final steps. Awwww. 

Frank Oz. Duh.

Liam Neeson! Samuel Jackson!

Hayden Christensen, in his best line reading yet.

Carrie Fisher, and finally (of course) Mark Hamill, putting a cap on the Jedi Ghost lineage.

The other voices, especially the female ones, I just could not place on my own. Since I’ve never seen Rebels or The Clone Wars, I figured the extra voices came from those animated — yet canon — materials.

Catching Up with The Clones

This is why I feel like I need to turn in my Geek card. There’s a lot of Star Wars canon I’ve missed. While I’m currently following (and loving) The Mandalorian, I previously turned up my nose at the animated Star Wars: Rebels and The Clone Wars. All sources report excellent stories therein and I’ll watch them eventually.

I also skipped The 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, because it’s so bad even George Lucas hates it. I’m going to catch it soon anyway. There are wonky copies of it on You Tube that pop up quicker than Lucasfilm can tear them down.  I think it’s something like a geek rite of passage to see something so awful that everyone agrees stinks like a family of wet Wookiees.

(Here’s a copy now. OMG, the opening crawl actually calls this Episode IV 1/2. Does this make it canon?)

I look forward to reviewing these previously undiscovered Star Wars stories here on RunPee. Re-watching the Force Ghost scene in Rise of Skywalker will be more meaningful if I know who those other characters were. In the meantime, I’ll try to avoid story spoilers…besides knowing all the characters must be dead (being Force GHOSTS and all).

What Force Ghost voices did you notice and appreciate the most? Discuss Rey’s cathartic #BeWithMe scene in the comments below. 


Star Wars Analysis – What does balance in the Force mean?

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

Star Wars – Top Seven Reasons to Watch The Mandalorian Now (No spoilers)

If you’re a Star Wars fan burned by uneven movies in the franchise, you should  enjoy The Mandalorian. Available only on the Disney+ premium channel, these short but extremely competent episodes in the Star Wars lexicon need to be seen and savored. It’s giving the concurrent Rise of Skywalker a serious run for the money. As it should.

While only one season is available yet, “I have a very good feeling about this.” Creator Jon Favreau is a superb choice to run this first live action Star Wars TV series. If you binge the 2019 season all at once, you’ll have five hours of excellent viewing to enjoy. Here’s why you should watch The Mandalorian now.

Seven Reasons to Love The Mandalorian

  1. It’s not connected to the Skywalker Saga. In fact, no one you know is in it! Only die hard Star Wars fans will notice the fun nods to continuity. Yup. The fanservice is just right. And no, the titular Mandalorian isn’t Boba Fett… Enough retconning already.
  2. New timeline. The episodes occur between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This is uncharted territory. The Mandalorian feels entirely new and entirely right.
  3. New characters and plots. This isn’t tethered to elite Force families or planet-killing weapons. We don’t balance the Force, tell half-lies, or worry about evil fathers. It’s about small stories with intimate stakes. No prior Star Wars knowledge needed! Understanding the Original Trilogy helps, but isn’t required.
  4. The episodes look like a million bucks. Actually, $12-15 million apiece: Disney+ spared no expense for The Mandalorian. Each episode is like a mini-movie. It’s blatantly gorgeous, in that trademark Original Trilogy “lived-in” way.
  5. This FEELS like Star Wars, even if tonally it’s a space Western instead of a rollicking adventure serial. The Mandalorian also sounds like Star Wars, despite lacking a John Williams score. Mood-wise, place it between Rogue One and the first hour of A New Hope. It’s both a spare and moving story, and gets better with each installment.
  6. The Mandalorian is highly rated. Rotten Tomatoes gives the show a 94% Critics Score and 93% Audience Rating. This might be the least divisive Star Wars outing in decades. Maybe ever.
  7. Finally, there’s something really cute here. But not too cute. (No Ewoks; thank the Maker.) It’s a MacGuffin, but a welcome one. Fortunately, the trailers don’t spoil the reveal. Feel free to watch them both.

The Mandalorian, Overall

You don’t need Peetimes to watch The Mandalorian because TVs have pause buttons, but so far — and may the Force be with us — it gets the RunPee Seal of Approval. I can’t wait for Season Two next fall.

Have you watched The Mandalorian yet? Discuss what you think of the Disney+ show in the comment section below.

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

13 iconic scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had the RunPee app