Other Stuff Speed Round
Here’s some parting thoughts on Book of Boba Fett.
- Many of the action scenes are pretty good, so they aren’t wasting Ming-Na Wen. That said, the “town under siege” finale stretches out the suspense moments a bit too long, does rely a lot on Infinite Respawn (just how many Pykes were there), and maybe Boba’s new pet Rancor can’t be both the tide-turner for the protagonists and something they then have to fight. Cheer moment or terrible monster, pick a side.
- Din Djarin getting a Naboo fighter and describing it as “wizard” means we are now deep into the Prequel Redemption Era of this franchise. Gonna be a rough ride until the kids who grew up on the Sequel Trilogy are old enough to monetize their nostalgia.
- Episode five is worth watching on its own just for the scene where the Mandalorian learns Amy Sudekis’ history with Jawas. And you don’t have to watch any other episode of this series to enjoy it because it’s completely unrelated! That’s an endorsement and a burn!
- The end credit theme feels like it’s trying to be a more tribal version of the Mandalorian theme. The tunes aren’t the same but they follow the exact same pattern, if you follow me.
- You know, for a planet that’s supposed to be remote, we sure end up on Tatooine a lot.
- I did not care for Deep Fake Luke Skywalker and I do not care for the fact that Disney has invested so much money into perfecting the technology to do this, I don’t love where this is leading (CGI Harrison Ford doing 17 mediocre Indiana Jones movies), but I guess we should have seen it coming. Ever since a digital recreation of Humphrey Bogart made a cameo appearance in Last Action Hero and Fred Astaire was resurrected for a vacuum cleaner ad, Hollywood’s been trying to crack this.
And now Peacemaker.
- I love James Gunn’s habit of name-dropping oddball DC characters and thus declaring them DCEU canon. Green Arrow’s no longer obscure, swaths of DC fandom are crying out for a Black Canary movie or series to introduce him, but also mentioned are Matter-Eater Lad, Doll Man, and best of all, Bat-Mite. The visual of Ben Affleck’s grimdark Batman having to deal with a whimsical Bat-themed Mr. Mxyzptlk is hilarious to me.
- Is the humour sometimes crude? Sure. Will those moments land for everyone? Probably not. But if you get through that the next scene will probably be great.
- That said if you can’t get into how Gunn scores key scenes with hair metal that’s on you, he’s killing it with the soundtrack.
- The action scenes are all spectacular. It’s no surprise that John Cena is good at fight scenes, but so are everyone else, and they’re excellently shot. The big final showdown between the 11th Street Kids and the Butterflies is pretty spectacular.
- James Gunn wants you to see the credits, so in addition to making one of the best opening title sequences in recent memory, he puts an outtake after the end credits of each episode. No teasers, no season two hints, just fun bonus scenes that are always worth it. Especially any with Christopher Heyerdahl.
So in the final analysis, The Book of Boba Fett assumed we were automatically on board with their lead character because he has super neat armour and was a popular action figure, and didn’t think they needed to make effort beyond that. Of course we’ll want to see him take over Jabba’s criminal empire, everyone will be excited by that, no real need to motivate that at all. It’s not like some schlemiel playwright with a podcast is going to come up with a much better, more dramatic, higher stakes version of this exact story with almost no effort.
From there they just did a series of “Ha, fooled you” twists where the villain changed from someone we didn’t know or care about to someone we might know but don’t really care about, and when they finally settled on a villain, noticed they were two episodes short and just switched to a more interesting lead to run out the clock for two weeks. They came up with personal stakes but then kept the protagonist far away from the resolution. The only part of the show that feels like any thought was put into it beyond “What memorable Star Wars-y alien should we put in this week” was which specific cybernetic and pastel colour each member of the scooter gang got. It never felt like they were doing more than coasting.
Peacemaker, however, never coasted. And it could have. In so many ways.
It could have coasted on John Cena’s charms. He has charms to spare. But no, Gunn is here for every member of the ensemble, everyone gets their time to shine, and shine they do.
It could have coasted on familiar characters. It’s a full part of the DCEU and clearly Gunn was able to get some familiar faces involved. Maybe Idris Elba would have passed, Margot Robbie was probably busy, but six to five and pick ’em Daniela Melchior would have turned up as Ratcatcher 2 if he asked. But no, instead he makes us love each and every character in this story* so that it never occurred to me to think “I hope Bloodsport shows up.” What cameos are present are delightful but quick and perfect, a garnish on a perfect meal.
(*Except Auggie, fuck that Nazi asshole, again that’s directed to the character, Robert Patrick is apparently the nicest man and was great in the role)
It could have coasted on humour. The cast are all incredibly funny (Robert Patrick is given few options to be funny because his character is a monster but, you know, the capacity is there), that could have been the whole show, but it isn’t. They’ll make you laugh, to be sure, but that just makes the moments where they go for the heartstrings hit even harder, because if John Cena’s dancing to hair metal you are not braced for this to be one of the saddest moments in the series.
I guess my actual final thought? Peacemaker was a labour of love and that love is clear in every episode, The Book of Boba Fett was someone at corporate (or maybe Dave Filoni) saying “We need a Boba Fett show” and making up what that might be as they went along. So I’m excited to see what DC projects James Gunn has next (and the long-awaited conclusion of his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy), but deeply, deeply apprehensive about the Obi-Wan Kenobi series. And I don’t feel I should be, Ewan McGregor’s back, that should be exciting, but damn it, I am not doing the work for you this time, Star Wars.
Anyhoo, watch Peacemaker, see you next time.