Tag Archive: Pedro Pascal


Review by C.J. Bunce

In the hour-long second “season” of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian–Making of Season 2, executive producer/director Jon Favreau says he hoped to bring all the kinds of Star Wars fans together for a special moment, and he seems to have done that in this year’s superb second season of The Mandalorian, although it’s difficult to compare Disney Gallery‘s eight-episode first season of behind the scenes glimpses to the single, albeit packed, episode fans got from Disney+ this year, released on Christmas Day.  As far as making all the groups of fans happy, expect that fans of the last episode’s special climactic scene won’t get to see a “making of” feature on that component yet.

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Today we move from the big screen to the small screen with the Best TV Series of 2020.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2020 here and the best Kick-Ass Heroines of 2020 here.  We watch a lot of television, and probably love a good series even more than a great movie.  We preview hundreds of series, but outside big franchise content you want to know about, we only review what we recommend–the best genre content we’re watching.  The theory?  If we like it, we think you may like it.  The best shows have a compelling story, a full range of emotions, great characters, tremendous action, a sharp use of humor, and all kinds of well-executed genre elements that satisfy and leave viewers feeling inspired.  Even better if we see richly detailed sets and costumes.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:

Best Borg SeriesAltered Carbon (Netflix).  Showing life in a world well past the merger of the organic and inorganic via stacks placed in human individuals’ vertebrae in the back of the neck, the second season of the series further revealed the dark side of being able to live forever.  What parts of life have the most value in a cybernetic world?  What crimes emerge when body and mind can be separated and re-shuffled?  Honorable mention: Star Trek: Picard (CBD All Access)–revisiting Star Trek’s old nemeses The Borg and introducing the cyborg-like nonbiological humanoids called Synths, the same term used in the BBC’s Humans.

Best TV Borg, Best TV VillainDarth Maul (played by Sam Witwer and Ray Park), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Disney+).  The athletic performer Ray Park provided the best-ever lightsaber duel scenes in his co-starring performance in The Phantom Menace.  Watching the animated series this year it was clear Darth Maul wasn’t just another animated character.  Add another great duel to the books–Park’s motion capture abilities live on and continue to set the bar for Star Wars action sequences, and Witwer voices a character we never want to see go away again.  Honorable mention for Best TV Villain: Grand Moff Gideon, Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian (Disney+).

Best Sci-fi TV Series, Best TV Fantasy, Best Western TV SeriesThe Mandalorian (Disney+).  Not a lot needs explaining with this series, which continues to be compared to the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back more than anything with the Star Wars label on it since.  The Western motif is still alive, not all that hidden here in space fantasy garb.  And we won’t get started on the impact of The Child (aka Baby Yoda) now called Grogu, on the genre-loving world and beyond.  Credit Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau’s visible enthusiasm and love for the original movies for a series that only gets better with each episode, despite their short lengths.  Honorable mention for Best Sci-Fi TV Series: Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access).

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Happy holidays!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2021!  But wait!  Next year’s list sure looks a lot like the the films we previewed last December.  The covid pandemic has delayed hundreds of film projects, but some made it through.  When you walk back through last year’s list and compare it to movies released after theater lockdowns, you get some insight into how Hollywood thinks.  Big movies and movies predicted to be successes were universally held back, while less popular films were released to low box office returns from theaters that remained open, and yet other films went directly to home streaming or related media platforms.

Last year we pulled 85 of the hundreds of films then slated for the 2020 movie calendar.  The first two dozen made it to theaters (films like Underwater, Dolittle, and Birds of Prey) before the national shift began on March 11 with news of the NBA reacting to the pandemic by suspending pro basketball–the first national awareness of the scope of the problem.  Suddenly we saw Vudu and other home platforms coming to the rescue for our entertainment fix, adding a new Theater at Home option, which captured movies like Anya Taylor-Joy’s Emma, Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, and the animated Scoob!  Disney began an interesting tiered release of Mulan, which for half the year showed a studio doing its best to maximize returns on what would have been a key release in any other year.  After another delay The New Mutants made it briefly to theaters followed by home release after three years of getting kicked aside as the last vestiges of the Disney-Fox merger were shaken out.  Other films, like Vast of Night, Extraction, The Old Guard, Rebecca, Radioactive, and Fantasy Island safely premiered on Netflix and Amazon Prime, with Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction standing out as the clear popular winner–the entire world needed some new entertainment and after what would only be the first of several months of shelter-at-home, it tentatively filled the void.

So our predictions for the year’s big genre films were flat wrong, every single one except Mulan was delayed to 2021, including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Black Widow, No Time to Die, a new Fast & Furious, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, and superhero flicks Venom 2, Eternals, and MorbiusWonder Woman 1984 is expected to have a theatrical release by year end.  Altogether 35 of last year’s 85 movies previewed on our annual list are back again below, plus we found more than 35 new genre films we think will appeal to borg readers.

So what’s left and what’s new?

Grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2021.  Then compare the below list to our 2020 list, and look back to the 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list.  Last year we noticed studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services, and the pandemic only stepped up that migration.  Note:  Warner Bros. has reported it will issue its 2021 releases simultaneously on HBO Max.  Netflix has mostly dramas slated for 2021, but a few genre films are in pre-production, so expect a few surprises throughout the year.  Amazon Studios has fewer, most partnerships with Blumhouse Productions.

As we learned well this year, many of these films will have revised release dates, and even get pushed to 2022.

January

Mortal Kombat Based on the video game.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.  HBO Max.

Wrath of Man Next Jason Statham action flick.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.

The French Dispatch.  Wes Anderson and his familiar actors in new quirky film about journalists.  New!  January 28, 2021.

The DigA film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan.  January 29, 2021.  Netflix.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

With the second season opener “The Marshall,” I thought the new season would be more of the same (see my review here).  A bit light on plot, and so similar to a few episodes from the first season, I figured Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, & Co. were going to deliver some more good entertainment, but not take too many risks.  Not one week later I had to take that back, as the episode “The Passenger” delivered a spectacular single-story episode reminiscent of Alien and The Thing.  The fourth episode of the season, “The Siege,” was a return of characters from season one and more of the single most important, far-reaching draw for any age group or other demographic, Baby Yoda, given the name Grogu in last week’s episode.  But if you take a look at this season, especially episodes 11, 13, and 14, what you may find is the third greatest Star Wars movie.  Or at least your third favorite.  I’ll avoid spoilers for yesterday’s new episode “The Tragedy” below except to mention the director and that the episode blew me away, but let’s dig into this season so far.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the oldest sayings of actors is never take a role with an animal or a child, because you’ll always get upstaged.  That’s where the Disney+ series is currently stuck–they created a character in The Child (aka Baby Yoda) that we’d all probably rather see more than Pedro Pascal’s title character.  Yes, The Mandalorian is back this weekend with the first episode of Season Two, more than welcome fun in the year of COVID-19 and real-life, high-stakes politics.  The series is full of Easter eggs and good throwbacks to the original trilogy, the prequels, bits and pieces of the entire franchise.  But the plot for the season opener is a retread of themes and scenes from last year, light on our favorite young green-eared friend.

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Disney+ shared a new trailer for The Mandalorian late Monday, adding more great clips and images from the coming season, tying viewers back to the original 1977 Star Wars.  The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), who we now know as Din Djarin, flying around with his backpack?  Check.  Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) putting an Imperial troop transport through its paces?  Check.  Someone found Yondu’s Yaka Arrow?  Check.  The Abyssin cyclops from the Mos Eisley cantina?  Check.  More of The Child (we know, you know him as Baby Yoda)?  Check.

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Every new glimpse, new scene, new image from the Disney+ incredible, monumental hit series The Mandalorian provides another dream come true for any fan of the original 1977 Star Wars.  Take a look at this week’s trailer for the second season below, and see if you don’t think this is one of the best trailers from the entire franchise.   Now with 100% more Banthas, 200% more Gamorreans …and throw in a cyclopsian Abyssin straight out of the cantina at Mos Eisley.

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Why do you wear a mask?

I think they are just terribly comfortable.  I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.

Since–like everyone else–actors are unable to do their jobs until the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, many have offered up some of their time over the past 120 to 150 days to provide fans with extra interviews, table reads (like the Community table read we discussed here at borg), and comic-cons at home, creating some content for the fan base we wouldn’t have otherwise had access to without this strange new normal of sheltering at home, social distancing, and masks.  If you don’t subscribe to or know what Quibi is, you may have missed the latest–an ensemble of actors from popular to more obscure re-enacting scenes from Rob Reiner’s fan-favorite fantasy, comedy, and romance, The Princess Bride.

The style is all intentionally low budget–think of the kind of backyard films you might have made as a kid, and in fact, the film is called Home Movie: The Princess Bride But it’s great fun, all filmed with quarantine safety rules in place (those filming together were already living together), and the kind of thing any classic film fan base would be overjoyed to see created.  The best part is learning who had actual historical costumes in their closet to work with (Mad Men man Jon Hamm had a Renaissance shirt in his closet, as did comedic actors Neil Patrick Harris and David Spade, and Rogue One’s Diego Luna), those who didn’t, and who might be better actors than you’ve given them credit for.

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When my wife bought me the six seasons of Community I secretly wondered if she was trying to kill me–because I’d laughed so hard watching episodes of the show before I frequently thought I was going to pass out.  I hadn’t seen an episode when I watched their big panel at Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012, but since became a fan.  “Six seasons and a movie” was their mantra, and they almost made it.  We’ve seen no sign of a movie yet, especially with the success of Donald Glover (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Spider-Man: Homecoming), and ongoing rise in the careers and clashing schedules of Alison Brie (GLOW, BoJack Horseman), Ken Jeong (Magnum, PI, Scoob!), Jim Rash (The Descendants, Harley Quinn), Yvette Nicole Brown (Avengers: Endgame, Mom), Joel McHale (The X-Files, Stargirl), Gillian Jacobs (Love, Come Play), and Danny Pudi (Powerless, The Argument).  But then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and now many of our favorite creators and performers are bringing a full-on assault against isolation via podcasts and other online videos.  And it’s not a movie, but it is a welcome surprise: A table read of a classic episode of Community with the main cast is coming your way–with The Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal, as a guest.

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Baby Yoda 1

Plenty of genre television is out there right now for viewers at home to consume.  But discovering that one that is so exceptional is truly an exciting thing.  So you might stumble through Tales from the Loop or Locke & Key or Briarpatch and give up before you even get to the halfway point, but then you land on The Mandalorian and know what great genre television has the potential to be.

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