Rebels Review –  “In The Name Of The Rebellion Parts 1 & 2”

“In The Name Of The Rebellion Parts 1 & 2”


Oh Rebels, why are you making it so difficult for me to love you every week.  If this keeps up, I think we will need to go to couples therapy to sort out my feelings on this show.  We are four episodes into this final season and you’ve already acquired a long list of fresh and unsqueezed raw Star Wars awesomeness, but you’ve used that in all the episodes as a crutch for the rest of the show to stand on.  Last week we had a flawed but suitable and possible conclusion to the epic Mandalore saga which had Mandos shooting rocket jetpacks at TIEs.  This week we return with basically a prequel to Rogue One featuring lots of Saw Gerrera, Mon Mothma, U-Wings & even some laughs with the world’s sweetheart, Two Tubes!  While there’s no denying the coolness of the simple fact that we are are getting animated versions of all these beautiful things, they constantly upstage and overshadow the characters this show is supposed to be about.   This season more than ever feels like the Rebel Alliance aspect of Rebels is in red and underlined, but with only a handful of episodes left and some very big questions about what happens to who that need to be answered, I just wonder if this is the time or place for the Saw Gerrera Hour.  Which physically hurts me to write that as i really did love it so much.  Maybe just give Saw his own show?  The New Adventures of Saw Gerrera?  With his sidekick Two Tubes!

Anyways, the basics of this two parter finds the Ghost crew meeting up with Hera and Zeb at the new secret base on Yavin IV.  There we quickly are greeted by the new Rebel, Hot Kallus and then it’s straight into the planning room with Mon Mothma and a sweet hologram of Bail Organa.  Clearly, this is all Star Wars gold so far.  There’s some stuff about a mission to head to giant Imperial Radar Dish and Sabine, Ezra and Chopper volunteer to go all 2009 Star Trek and dive down to the dish.  Naturally, things don’t go quite as planned and they are picked up by Saw & Two-Tubes who somehow are flying around in a presumably stolen Rebel U-Wing.

Let me back up here and talk about a scene with Saw that happens a little before the radar dish mission.  It’s nighttime at Yavin and mysterious droid suddenly begins projecting a GIANT hologram of Saw’s head basically telling all the Rebels on Yavin that they are a bunch of babies and that the only true way to fight the Empire is to fight dirty. Out walks Mon Mothma and the two of them have a brief but juicy debate over the morals of war.   Written by Rogue One co-writer Gary Whitta, this is an amazing moment that makes you look at both Saw and Mothma’s roles in Rogue One in a whole new light.

The thing that bums me out with scenes like that is thinking about how a moment that strong and with that much Star Wars heaviness is the kind of thing Dave Filoni and crew seem to have such a hard time harnessing into our main Rebels characters.  Major things happen to these people, but feel quickly passed by in sometimes the very next episode.  Week after week, the show’s best moments are often left for characters that have been borrowed from Star Wars films, books or Clone Wars.

As the episodes go on, Saw’s quest to discover the secrets of the Empire deepens as he finds a gigantic Kyber Crystal (perhaps the same one last seen in the unfinished Utapau arc of Clone Wars) and sees the awesome power of the Crystal when it is used as weapon.  Ezra, Sabine and Chopper make it back home and once again probably learn that family is the greatest power there is or something.

So is this a good episode and should you as a Star Wars fan reading a review of a Star Wars cartoon on a website for a Star Wars podcast watch this episode?  Definitely yes to all those questions.  Do I have hope that Rebels will start to address it’s own characters and tell it’s own stories now that we’ve got Mandalore and Rogue One stuff out of the way?  A little bit.  But then as we all know, rebellions are built on hope…

Final Grade : B 

Editorial – The Importance of Jyn Erso

The Importance of Jyn Erso

By Jason Gibner 


There was a disturbing trend that started around the release of Rogue One with major entertainment journalists writing about how Jyn Erso’s character was left on the cutting room floor or how she lacked personality or wasn’t as strong of a character as Rey and blah and blah and blah.  I didn’t understand that then and now that the film has been out for over a month now, that kind of chatter seems to be the new norm amongst a certain percentage of fans out there.  Not only do I not like that icky way of thinking, I would even argue that Jyn Erso is not only a complex and fascinating character, she is one of THE MOST important characters in Star Wars history.

Let me explain:

When we first meet Jyn, she is a young girl watching her family literally torn apart as The King of Bad Luck Orson Krennic takes away her father and Deathtroopers kill her mother.   She is later rescued by Rebel guerrilla fighter Saw Gerrera and I’m sure has a fun time living in stinky caves being taught to fight until she’s 16 and Saw ditches her in cave with only a knife, loaded blaster and a pack of gum.  So here we have a person who looks at the Empire and the Alliance with equal disdain and distrust.  Her whole life has her being an afterthought in this giant galactic civil war and every move she’s made has been wrapped around these two sides fighting.  Because of this confusion and heartache, Jyn has turned herself off to all the political activity of her time.  She travels around the galaxy with an alias.  She has left her old life behind and would rather now just be nobody and blend in with the crowd looking out for only herself.  Awoken in an Imperial prison by water dripping on her face, she stares longingly at the Kyber Crystal necklace given to her by her mother.  “Trust the Force”, she said.  Surely, at that moment she does not have much faith in that ancient religion, but then as we know “the force moves in mysterious ways…”

Things change once her father befriends an Imperial cargo pilot named Bodhi with the hope that maybe his message of how to destroy the Empire’s destroyer of worlds will get to Saw and just maybe his daughter is still there with him.  Within his extremely important message of hope for the galaxy is also a personal message to his daughter if she is still alive.   Completing her father’s mission becomes Jyn’s personal quest and she will do it with or without the Rebel Alliance.   Her quest of mentally getting back home  and repairing the damage done to her family is greater than any of the back and forth of the Empire or the Alliance.  During her passionate speech to the Alliance council, you can see the looks on Mon Mothma and Bail Organa’s faces.  Her fire is exactly what the stagnant, fragmented Alliance needs at that moment.  After they tell her that a mission to Scarif can’t happen, what does she do?  Against the odds, she goes anyways.  This is the kind of David vs Goliath attitude that the Rebellion was founded on but had become lost under rules and battling opinions.   Mon Mothma’s smile when she is told that Raddus is commanding an attack fleet to Scarif to protect Jyn’s team says it all.

Let’s look at Jyn Erso while she is stealing the Death Star plans.  Over and over again, it becomes clear for her that there is no getting off Scarif alive in this mission.   Even when Cassian is knocked out, Jyn “No Retreat, No Surrender” Erso keeps climbing and shoves herself through a death trap heat vent hole thing.   Finally confronted on that catwalk by Krennic, Jyn wastes no time reminding him and herself who she is what she is fighting for.    She still may not care for either side of the war that explodes in the sky around her, but she does care about her family that loved her and for what’s the right to do.

Had Jyn not begged the uptight Alliance to listen to her and then go off and rebel on her own, the Empire would eventually find Yavin and destroy it.  Ben Kenobi & Yoda would grow old alone in their huts on far away planets, Leia Organa would likely be captured and terminated on the Death Star, and the last Jedi would sit on the moisture farm looking up at the sky and wondering what else is out there for him.  With her compassion and ability to never quit the fight, Jyn Erso not only lights the fire of the Rebel Alliance, she plants the seed that ends up saving the entire galaxy and brings about the return of Jedi.

The history books in the Star Wars universe may not have a chapter on the brave Jyn Erso and her unbelievably heroic actions but us viewers of these Journals of the Whills have Rogue One to see just how things went down.  The only one who would live to tell the story of Jyn and the daring crew of the Rogue One would be likely Mon Mothma.   I would love a story or comic one day as she tells of a passionate criminal daughter of an Imperial scientist who inspired the very spirit of the Alliance that carried forward.  Mothma would likely tell the young eager soldiers of the Alliance or the New Republic that everything they have is because of a woman she met once who was named Jyn Erso.   People may think that Mothma is just telling a story to inspire others, but we know the truth that often some of the greatest heroes are not the ones who get the medals.

Episode 58 – 20 Years of The Star Wars Special Edition. Whimsy Thoughts & Crazy Crazy Nights

Take a trip back to 1997 as Jason and Gabe remember all the hype, insanity and good times that was the Star Wars Special Edition. How many times did Jason see it in two days? Did Gabe discover anything new while watching the old VHS tape again? Just how much Taco Bell did they eat to get all those awesome little Star Wars kids meal toys?
Before that there’s Gabe’s thoughts on the Disney Star Wars Land & his one on one with E.T. after his recent trip to Orlando AND they both discuss the many, many possibilities of the Episode 8 title, THE LAST JEDI!
So get comfy, grab your Ronto action figure and celebrate the love with BLAST POINTS!

May the Force be with you, always.

Listen to the Episode

Episode 57 – The Episode Of The Whills

This week, Jason & Gabe take a deep look at one of the greatest mysteries of Star Wars, The Whills. Though they have been almost in Star Wars since George Lucas’ first drafts, the name Whills been spoken about on screen until Rogue One. Blast Points goes in depth with their history, possible meanings and theories on what they may have to do with the saga’s future….
Before that there’s some news on if Woody Harrelson is playing a certain character, a blurry look at Episode 8 Christmas ornaments, an emergency broadcast on breaking news, and the story group talking Rogue One secrets!
So learn the great gift, celebrate the love and listen today!

May the Force be with you, always.

Listen to the Episode

Chirrut and Baze art by Darren Tan

Rogue One – Rebelling In The Land Of The Rising Sun

a look at Rogue One in Japan by Dave Hackerson

I took a bit of a detour on the way home Friday evening to go see the Japanese dub of Rogue One. This viewing marked the third time I had seen the film, with my previous two viewings being in the original English. Though the movie is doing really well in theaters, it has been tough finding theaters that are doing multiple showings of the dubbed version in the evenings. Fortunately a Japanese user on Twitter provided me with a pretty comprehensive list of theaters in the greater Tokyo area showing the dubbed version, so I was able to make my mission a success.

Prior to going to see the film, I did some research on impressions of the dub and the voice actors who handled the characters. One thing that struck me was the number of people who recommended that parents wanting to see the film with their children should go see the dubbed version. Unlike English, where we learn all 26 letters we need to know and the basics for putting them together to form words in our first two years of school, Japanese uses a combination of two phonetic alphabets (which combine for over 100 characters) and Chinese characters (or kanji, with the average person expected to be able to read over 1200 by the end of middle school). Star Wars is filled with lots of specialized sci-fi vocabulary and expressions, many of them including kanji characters kids won’t learn until they are far along in grade school. The daunting task of following along with subtitles that you can only partially read would quickly dim any kid’s enthusiasm, not to mention concentration. In addition, subtitles in Japanese are generally kept short and must eliminate some information in order for people to keep up with the pace of the story. However, a dubbed version spares you all the trouble of reading and allows you to focus nearly entirely on what is transpiring on screen. I was not a big fan of dubs in the past, particularly when it came to anime, but after seeing a number of western films dubbed in Japanese now over the years, I have a greater appreciation for their ability to engage you and help you better experience a movie free of distractions.

Ultimately, the success of the dub relies on the quality of the voice actors, and fortunately for the Japanese audience there is a wealth of outstanding voice actors here in Japan. I would say that the Japanese dub of Rogue One did the original justice, so much so that I forgot I was actually watching a dubbed version at times. Here I will introduce the characters, the respective voice actors, and their profiles.

Jyn Erso: Haruka Shibuya
Veteran of numerous Western film dubs. Often handles the dubs for Keira Knightley and Rachel McAdams.

Cassian Andor: Yasuyuki Kase
Popular voice actor known for simply outstanding work. Recent dubs include Dead Pool and Captain America: Civil War.

Orson Krennic: Satoshi Mikami
Actor/voice actor that often covers parts acted by Benedict Cumberbatch. Recent dubs include Dr. Strange and Imitation Game. Rogue One marks his SW voice acting debut.

Chirrut Imwe: Yasuhiko Nemoto
Voice actor that specializes in mainly western films and animated features. Has done a lot Disney film dubs, such as Frozen, Toy Story, and Brave. Also has done many of the Marvel films.

Baze Malbus: Katsuhiro Kitagawa
Another veteran voice actor with an outstanding track record, including Transformers, Frozen, and Disney animated series.

Bodhi Rook: Takuya Kirimoto
Wide-ranging voice actor who has done many Western films and dramas. Possess a dramatic flair that he puts to good use for roles acted by Bradley Cooper and Robert Downey, Jr, as well as Asian stars such as Andy Lau and Hyun Bin.

Galen Erso: Masahiko Tanaka
Original Gundam veteran. Often handles roles acted by Alec Baldwin.

Lyra Erso: Marika Hayashi
Voice actor responsible for the dubs of major actresses such as Cameron Diaz, Claire Danes, Kate Winslet, and Mary Lyn Rajskub.

Saw Gerrera: Fumihiko Tachiki
Voice actor that has done a number of anime titles. Most recently “appeared” in Independence Day: Resurgence. Has done Forrest Whitaker roles numerous times in the past.

K-2SO: Hideki Nonaka
Best known for his dub work on the CSI series. Has covered a number of foreign films, dramas, and Japanese anime titles as well. Rogue One marks his first major blockbuster.

Mon Mothma: Ai Satou
Voice actress that does primarily anime, Western films, and foreign dramas. Wide variety of work, including the Space Ranger series, Speed series, Ghostbusters, and 007 series. She also did the voice of Mon Mothma in Return of the Jedi.

Darth Vader: Taiten Kusonoki
The second person to voice Darth Vader after Toru Ohira. Pretty much handles all of Darth Vader dubs today. He’s done a tremendous job in Rebels.

I was fairly impressed with the job that Disney did on the dub for The Force Awakens, but it pales in comparison to the job they did with the dub on Rogue One. As I mentioned earlier, the quality of the dub made me forget that I was actually watching a dubbed version for 95% of the film. One aspect in which the Star Wars franchise may have an advantage when it comes to dubs is that the films take place in a “galaxy far, far away”, so our willing suspension of disbelief makes it easier for us (or me at least) to further separate what we see on screen from every day life. I knew we were in for a great ride upon taking in that opening dialogue between Galen and Orson. Actors Mikami and Tanaka did a fantastic job of producing the same gravitas as the original characters, but almost perfectly matching the tone and delivery. Galen holding Jyn and then looking at Lyra and saying “Ike (“Go” in Japanese) sounded exactly the same. Time and again throughout the film, I found the Japanese in the dub matching how I imagined things to be translated from English, and that made it all the easier for me to fully immerse myself within the experience.

Shibuya’s portrayal of Jyn was excellent, and while the standard Japanese she spoke lacked the atmosphere we get from Jones’s British accent, her voice conveyed all the nuances of the character quite well. Indeed, I could sing the praises of every voice actor, but there are two that I believe are worthy of special attention: Nonaka (K-2SO) and Kirimoto (Bodhi). Nonaka’s portrayal of K-2SO was simply sublime, and sounded exactly how imagined the character would have sounded in Japanese. Nonaka produced the same dead-pan delivery that Alan Tudyk perfected for the character, and I found myself laughing at all the same lines as the English original. In a certain sense, the different levels of honorifics used in Japanese helped to further enhanced the character, adding another dimension that made his lines work even better. The language and expressions he used clearly indicate that K-2SO is there to serve Cassian and others, while at the same time the over-the-top politeness made his initial encounter with Jyn all the funnier and goofy. As for Bodhi, Kirimoto’s work on the dub made appreciate that character’s transformation all the more. In fact, and this might sound strange, but the dub left me more impressed with Riz Amed’s performance all the more. His performance provided the template for Kirimoto to work off of, and he did that and more. The sense of confusion and fear when he first meets Saw’s men, the growing confidence he gains as he interacts with the other members of the rogue motley crew, and the ultimate sense of assurance he exudes by the end of the film… each of these small elements were perfectly captured within the dub Japanese, and fully conveyed by Kirimoto’s delivery of the characters’ lines.
There are only two major gripes I have with the dub. The first is that dub removes the added flavor we enjoy from the accents of the truly global collection of actors, many for whom English is not their first language. Their performances lend a sense of authenticity to our beloved galaxy far, far, away, where many of the humanoid and alien characters speaking a first language that is something other than Galactic Standard. This is lost in the Japanese dub, where all the characters sound like native Japanese speakers and speak in a natural tone. I loved Kase’s work on Cassian in the Japanese dub, but I must admit I was momentarily taken aback when I first heard him speak at the beginning of the film. The second is the translation of one single line of dialogue. It may sound trivial, but Bail Organa’s response to Mon Mothma regarding Leia’s capacity to handle the mission to find Kenobi could have been handled much better. In English, Bail says “I would trust her with my life.” The Japanese translation contains far less gravity, and reduces this weighty line to “She’s more than up to the task (literal translation: “She’ll be fine”). Considering how well they did with the translation for the dub, I wish they could have done a little more to capture the implied meaning of Bail’s response in this scene. Again, a minor gripe, but reflecting back on the dub I can’t get this one point out of my mind. On an interesting note, I think they created a Japanese dub for the Death Troopers as well. I listened really close, and I swear I heard them utter things that sounded like Japanese, such as garbled “stop right there” to Lyra when she approaches Galen and Orson. Finally, and this will probably come as no surprise, but Two Tubes and all the other characters who spoke a dialect other than Galactic Standard sounded just as they did in the English original

Well, there you have it. In conclusion, I give the Japanese dub two very big thumbs up, and may choose to watch it again when I take my son for another viewing of the movie (he’s eager to watch it again, and now claims it’s his third favorite of all the films).

Rebels Review – Ghosts of Geonosis

“Ghosts of Geonosis”
By Jason Gibner

Let me guess: you suddenly heard a Mardi Gras style marching band going down your street on Saturday night and you were confused why this outburst of joy was happening.  Let me help by letting you know that the unbridled happiness you heard was from Star Wars fans unable to contain their excitement that FINALLY, we’ve entered the age of the Rebels / Rogue One crossover.  No more are we twiddling our thumbs while the Rebels hang out with teenage space waffle eating pirates!  That’s right, happy days are here again and who can believe it but we’ve got Forest Whitaker back as a slighter younger Saw “Lies! Deceptions!” Gerrera!  Like a freaking magic trick, they somehow got an actor from everyone’s new favorite Star Wars movie (until next year when it’s out of nowhere cool to make up elitist nitpick reasons about how much you didn’t like it) on the show.  Like peanut butter and chocolate, pizza and beer or Captain and Tennille, this new friendship between Rebels and Rogue just feels so right.

The episode starts with our Ghost crew heroes sent to the beautiful planet of Geonosis to find out why Saw’s crew hadn’t been to the Alliance and what they found on their mission to the planet.  Once they get there it’s clear that Geonosis is a planet of spooky secrets and a sweet little Geonosian buddy named Klick Klack just adds to the fun.  It’s a dark and moody episode filled with references to awesome Clone Wars history and little nods to the slightly more off the rocker Saw we see in Rogue One.  Sadly, we do not see the handsome Bor Gullet in this episode.  There’s always next week, I guess to go insane with Bad Boy Bor.

The episode wraps up feeling like just maaaaaybe it could have been just an excuse to bring Saw and some Rogue One action.  Our heroes don’t really learn a lot about the mysteries of Geonosis, the secret Death Star project that was there or Saw or anything in general.  Saw gets a nice little arc as he’s reminded of his humanity and his late, great sister but that’s kinda it.  Maybe it was in this episode he remembered that he left that sixteen year old Erso girl in a cave with a loaded blaster and a box of pop tarts.   Maybe he started to feel bad about that and got the Bor Gullet for her for a present?  I’d like to think the did.

Final grade : B+
Tons of fun having Whitaker back as Saw so quickly after Rogue One but I just wish the episodes had just a little more to them.

Also:  Was that Imperial Rae Sloane?!? Probably not, but man, that would be cool bringing her in even for just one episode.