Saturday, 29 October 2016

Star Wars Rebels S03E05 "Hera's Heroes"


"Hera's rebel supply mission to Ryloth becomes personal when she and the Ghost crew brave overwhelming Imperial forces to recover a memento from her ancestral home."

What I thought?

I wasn't really looking forward to this Hera episode. She's not my favourite character but overall this wasn't anywhere near as bad as I feared. There were however numerous ridiculous moments during various battle scenes that, even though this is a cartoon, I couldn't overlook as there were just too many "What?" moments; We've stormtroopers missing from close range, animals outrunning those speedbikes, a rocket launcher being used to knock a portion of cliff off when they could have taken out the Imperial walker and Kanan suddenly a blind jedi ninja. On the latter topic, I realise Kanan has accepted his blindness but the transformation in one episode is so great that it's almost as if not having eyesight is no problem to him. Surely it would take longer to adapt and learn to solely use the force for sight?

Quite how the Empire conquers anywhere is highlighted this episode with an incompetent and arrogant captain in charge. Sure, it's the might of the Empire that wins them their battles but with so many stupid people in their ranks, and incompetent stormtroopers, you do really wonder how they manage anything when you see them in an episode like this. There also didn't appear to really be that much of the Empire controlling Hera's "house" either. Where were they all? Only ever saw about 10 in total. It's ridiculous. Then there's the lack of an ID checks when Hera and Ezra drove up to the entrance. Sigh. If that's not bad enough, Hera then shouts to Chopper (in Empire disguise) across an open courtyard whilst there are stormtroopers nearby. What's she thinking???

It wasn't all ridiculous enough to not be interesting, We got more cool calculating Thawn to admire, as well as Chopper at his daftest and funniest. However, there wasn't a lot of quality in the episode, although there was enough to make it a decent watch.

Good = Kanan back in Jedi action, Admiral Thawn's calculative manner and that brief show of aggression. Chopper's scenes. Empire's "Endor" stormtroopers on those bikes.

Not so good = So many ridiculous moments in numerous battle related scenes. Clearly a filler episode concentrating on Hera and introducing Thawn to rebels, Kanan a blind master too quickly.

Rating 6/10 (Good)

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Food: Tic Tac 'Mint Rush'

Food Rating: 6
Value for Money: 6
Overall: 6

In A Nutshell

There I was waltzing through Tesco this week, when I saw something new on the shelf that caught my eye. Well, it said they were new. You never really know these days do you? Needless to say, my trained sweet eyes caught sight of an unfamiliar packet of Tic Tacs, making them a compulsory purchase a few minutes later.

We all know that on the imaginary chart for daily sweets, Tic Tacs are acceptable as part of your "5 a-day". What with something like 2 measly calories per Tic Tac, you can pop these like, ummm, candy all day and not feel too much like you're overdoing the sugar intake. Unless that is you consume the whole packet in a day, whereabouts you've just guzzled about 250 calories, which is roughly what's in your average mars bar. Ooops.

So, what do we have in this packet? Is it even a packet? Should it be a tub? A container? Whatever, it's a packet as far as I'm concerned. Inside there are two flavours of mints: there's the dark blue for strong, and the light blue for 'not strong'. I'd call the light blues much like your spearmints. It's soothing. It's seductive. Oh, and it's light and harmless. Much like a tea bag. The dark blue is the opposite. It's one of those herbal tea bags. Well, not literally, but it's a different kettle of fish to the light blue. It's strong, like those triple X mints you see on the shelves.

With stronger and not very strong mints in one packet, you'd think you could do a nice handful of Tic Tacs in the hand and throw them in your mouth with confidence, right? Sadly, the combination doesn't work for me. I'm not sure what it is in my mouth, but it feels like someone's deposit of sick from a late night out. Ugh.

What I liked

You have to admit they look pretty. I'm reminded of an old bubble bath product I used to have when really young that was a shade or two of blue. The combination of dark and light blue is delightful to see in this packet. Do I think people will be tempted in purely on the colours? Well, I was!

There are mints, and you can't have enough flavours of mints on the shelf can you? Even better, there's two variations of mints in one packet. That's gotta be good value? It is if you like at least one of them I guess.

These were on special offer, because they were new I would assume, at about 85p for 100 Tic Tacs, compared to the usual ~ £1.25 for existing same sized Tic Tacs. This tempted me in, I admit it.

What I Didn't Like

The combination doesn't work. At least not for me. It should. There should be some sort of neutralising effect for strong versus not so strong mints but it ends up being a right old mess.


One of the ingredients is apple extract! What's that all about?

And Finally

They look beautiful and likely to tempt in even the most unwilling of sweet enthusiasts, but unless you are going to be strange and selectively eat the dark and light blue mints separately, or (shudder) share your Tic Tacs with someone, it's best not to guzzle these together unless you really need to wake up your senses in the morning.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Star Wars Rebels S03E03 "The Antilles Extraction"


"Sabine goes undercover as a cadet in the Empire's elite flight academy to help break out several young pilots who want to defect to the rebellion."

What I thought?

After last week's excellent and dramatic episode, you might think that this week would be a little quieter? Well, guess what? Yes, it was. Lol.

Let's face it, all this episode was about was essentially Wedge. Yes, that star wars household name that we see in the films and hear Luke waffle about. Well, this week Wedge is one of the Empire cadets whom Sabine infiltrates the Empire to break out. How she gets into the academy, wearing full cadet costume and with valid ID card, is lost to us all as it's never explained, although I guess the new Fulcrum helped out. Yes, there's a new one in town. Well, loads of them as it seems. It's their codeword which they seem to have taken great liberties to use a lot of for other secret rebel cells. Why not change the words a bit? Oh well. Anyhow, whilst Sabine is strutting her stuff, the only sub-story here is Ezra being taught some patience in the rebel ship that's waiting nearby to assist Sabine. No, I don't mean the card game, I mean the Jedi skill of patience. Anyhow, if Sabine's entrance into Empire territory and was straightforward, how she finds the pilots who want to break out is even more straightforward and quick. One nice sympathetic conversation with Wedge, and he's told her who else is with him and they are planning their escape ... of which Sabine doesn't appear to have much of a plan.

To add spice, Thawn's sidekick senior official lady, who's name escapes me, arrives with Kallis as they've had a tip off too. One simple trick later and Sabine and two of the escapees are prisoners. A kick-ass fight to get away again by Sabine is very impressive, which combined with Kallis's rather "Where did that come from" helpful assistance to aid her escape, and not long later they've joined up with the Rebel shuttle and chop's away, the rebels have two new recruits. Yes, one recruit got killed earlier, which was rather predictable for the unfortunate extra. Ok, so I know why Kallis helped, but it did lack any real build up. He just appeared from nowhere and told them how to get away. Here's hoping that isn't the last of Kallis helping the rebels. I rather think not.

Overall, this was an ok episode. Some great visuals of the Empire Academy and insides of Tie-Fighters, but the sole reason of breaking out recruits seemed so heavily weighed in on Wedge that it lost much tension as we all know he gets out ok.

Good = Kallis repaying the favour to Zeb, Sabine's aggressive escape, and some further insight into Empire environments.

Not so good = Sabine's all rather too fluid entry into the academy, and quick escape (yes, there was help, but still) as well as it all being far too heavily centred on Wedge. I mean, they did call the episode after him as well! Jeez.

Rating 6/10 (Good)

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Star Wars Rebels S03E02 "The Holocrons of Fate"


"Maul is back, kidnapping the crew of the Ghost in order to force Kanan and Ezra to hand over the Sith & Jedi Holocrons to him."

What I thought?

Second episode in and we're already rocking quality. I've not been the biggest fan of Maul's return from being cut in half in the 1st Star Wars film, but this was my personal favourite episode of his in a long time. He's calculating, fierce, mystic and dominating as he captures the crew of the Ghost (off screen) and demands Ezra and Kanan (who were elsewhere) to hand over both holocrons in return for the crew. Needless to say this is a ruthless Maul, who we find out has little to no sentiment for being nice, as he tries to kill Kanan as soon as the opportunity arrives and gives the order to his droids to kill the crew a little later. This is great stuff and everything I wanted to see from Maul as he strides about looking a considerable foe. Despite being ready to kill everyone, he still sees Ezra as his apprentice, as they both join together the two holocrons. This particular bit was a little of let down. Supposedly, so Bendu tells us earlier in the episode, when such holocrons are joined together, they will tell you whatever you want to know. Ezra wants to destroy the Sith (not totally sure why that's his crusade entirely but hey ho) and Maul wants to know ... well, he doesn't tell us. Kanan stops the unification just as both are getting answers, in order to save Ezra's soul I guess. Ezra ends up knowing only random things that are no use at all, and Maul dashes off muttering "He lives" as if he had seen that scene from last season with Ashoka finding out about Anakin. I'd guess Maul refers to Kenobi here. And given that's likely the case, they wouldn't start such as storyline without seeing it through, so I'm pretty sure we'll see Obi-Wan sometime in the near future! How cool is that? Or did he mean Anakin? Nah, Maul hated Kenobi so one would think it was about him.

As with all cartoons, it's hard to get over some oddities, such as how the pathetic droids in Maul's possession could keep the crew at bay, especially as Chopper seems very easily subdued on multiple occasions. Doesn't quite make much sense how Chopper manages very little in this episode when he doesn't appear to be that injured/chained up. The first escape that the crew attempt sees them destroy 3 droids in less than 3 seconds, yet they are at their mercy most of episode? Seems daft to have us believe that, but then this episode was all about Maul and the holocrons so let's not worry about technicalities too much huh? And, after wondering what on earth Kanan was thinking when he gave a sith holocron to a total stranger last week, we see that nothing bad came of it, as Bendu tells them where he stored it, using the opportunity to reunite Kanan and Ezra as a partnership in order to retrieve the device. Very nicely played. A bit much to see the hug between them though. Is this the end of Ezra's dark path? I certainly hope not. It's been toyed with for so long that I'd really not want it to be over that soon. Did anyone see where the holocrons were at the end of the episode? Hmm.

Good = Maul's portrayal is top-notch, Master/Apprentice reunion for Kanan/Ezra and Kanan kicking some ass again. Strong hint of Obi-Wan returning.

Not so good = Ghost crew's easy incarceration, Bendu turning out to be as he seems (i.e. neutral and pleasant) and not much found out from holocrons combining.

Rating 8/10 (Excellent)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Star Wars Rebels S03E01 "Steps into Shadow"


"Led by a more powerful Ezra, the rebels break a friend out of prison to help steal ships for the fleet. Ezra’s leadership goes wrong and Kanan discovers Ezra’s new skills come from a dark place."

What I thought?

We're back! It seems like such a long time since the end of series 2. But wait. How much time has passed in Star Wars Rebels land between the finale of series 2 and this one? Ezra is now noticeably taller, slimmer and with the shortest hair you can get without going bald. Sabine has aged slightly, whereas Kanan has gone for the hairy facial look of all mature Jedi Knights. We're led to understand that Ezra has led many missions very successfully since the end of series 2, thanks to his new skills (largely powered by the sith holocron I guess) and his new air resistant hairdo. You'd think at least a few months has transpired but the fact we have Kanan still sulking from his blindness, and all that went down last season, I'm guessing maybe 6 months? Only that period of time, minimum, could explain the physical changes to Ezra, his multiple missions, and his use of the holocron to gain knowledge. The reason I mention timescales is largely because of Kanan, who one can understand would be finding times hard, gets help from a force wielder on the same planet, and goes from not having a clue about how to continue as a blind Jedi, to suddenly spurting into life within only a 2 minute training exercise from his new friend. I know this is a cartoon, and we have to accept some plot oddities as par-for-the-course, but this was quite a leap for me.

Still, this was an enjoyable episode and a very good feature-length opener. We got introduced to Admiral Thawn whom many Star Wars fans who are much into their history than me know about from the books. I was somewhat disappointed after all the hype by his entrance scene, but his vision and reflective verbal words show this is a man much more in the mould of Tarkin than any of the usual hapless Empire commanders. The fact he's playing a long game to find out the size and location of the rebel fleet means we're going to see much more of his masterful plans throughout this season, with a probably finale of serious consequences for the rebels. Not too serious one suspects as they manage to keep going up until A New Hope with a very decent size, so one wonders exactly what Thawn's fate will be, although the books have him still around for a long time. And where will Vader figure this season? There's also multiple mentions of the Emperor which seems a little unusual as I wasn't sure that he was so freely spoken about at this time?

As is becoming more common with Star Wars Rebels, there were some beautiful visuals in this episode. The space station in the clouds was absolutely gorgeous to watch. Everything has much improved dramatically in this show from the rather bland season one visuals. It's just a delight to watch at times now just to simply observe the detail and depth in what we're watching. Hondo was his usual charming self and a great addition to this show. His interaction with everyone, especially the Ugnaughts was amusing and reminiscent of Dory in Finding Nemo communicating with Whales.

Overall, a decent opening, fast-paced, action-packed, entertaining episode that quickly brings us up to speed and sets things out for the rest of the season. 

Rating 7/10 (Very Good)

Ezra is kick-ass bad-ass this season, using his lightsabre and force powers ruthlessly.

Kanan is spending his time kneeing and playing with objects it seems.

Enter Thawn. Not the great visual introduction I hoped for but he's a masterful character.

Beautiful visuals this episode, especially during the space station in the "clouds".

Hondo was his comic best this episode with his language skills.

Kanan's two minute lesson into how to cope without his eyes was really one of those fast-tracked educational courses.

We all cheer when a Star Destroyer appears, right?

A renewed Kanan really shows he doesn't care about the lack of eyesight by hanging out of the ship to catch Ezra.